Devotions By Jan


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Mountain Lion Attack

Scripture for Today: I John 4:10 “This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

I cannot imagine the horror a mother felt when seeing her seven-year-old son pinned to the ground by a mountain lion!  Her son was playing in the yard of their home on Vancouver Island in British Columbia when she heard the commotion.  Like any loving mother, she rushed out to save him, throwing herself on the lion.  She vainly tried to pry open his jaws clamped firmly on her son’s arm.  Thankfully, her screams for help caused the young famished lion to run.  Because of her willingness to sacrifice herself, her son emerged needing only some stitches on his arm and head.

Today’s verse speaks of another sacrifice also motivated by love.  God loved us so much that He gave His Son to die in our place (John 3:16).  There is no greater love than this; than to lay down one’s life for another (John 15:13) and that is what the Lord did for us.  Jesus not only paid the price for sin by enduring physical pain but also the pain of separation from the Father.  He did for us what we could not do for ourselves.  What an incredible price He paid to demonstrate His love!

When I think of the cost of His sacrifice I am humbled and overwhelmed that He could love me this much!  God so loved me that He gave.  He gave to save me from certain and eternal death.  He gave in order to begin a love relationship that will last into all eternity.  He gave, not because I deserve Him but because of His amazing grace!

Lord, thank you for reminding me of Your incredible love, especially today.

 

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Happy?

Scripture for Today: Psalm 68:3 “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”

What “smile score” would your city rate?  Jetpac City Guides did a study assigning a smile score to ten American cities.  They based their findings on 100 million photos of smiling faces in 50 cities posted on Instagram.  They relied on special software that saw patterns in the pixels to get their smile score.  Although the Gateway Arch in Saint Louis looks like a giant frown, this city topped the charts!

Today’s verse makes an association with the word, “happy” that for many is the last word to come to mind; righteous.  Those who have placed their faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin can experience true happiness.  To have a heart freed from the guilt of sin is happiness.  To have experienced God’s unmerited favor regardless of a spotted past is a real reason for happiness.  To know that my future in Heaven is secured by His pardon gives a whole other meaning to the word, “happy.”  This is a happiness that cannot be shaken by any circumstance on earth!

There are many things that come my mind when thinking about the word, “happy.”  The pursuit of happiness is usually associated with the pursuit of economic stability.  The thought that happiness is just one purchase away is a hard one to dismiss from my thinking.  But I know better.  I know that material wealth does not mean happiness as seen by the heartache of many well-to-do friends.  True happiness has little to do with what is owned.  True happiness is being loved and accepted by my Creator.  His forgiveness has made my heart light!

Jesus, thank You for that happy day when You washed my sins away!


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Super Bloom

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 61:3 “…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…”

This incredible “super bloom” in Southern California is breathtaking!  The once barren hillsides and scrub lands are bursting with color and people are descending in droves to experience the beauty.  After all the rain we have had, it is a welcome sight.  But in some areas there is an additional reason for this super bloom.  The wildflowers are especially spectacular in areas affected by the Woolsey fire where 97,000 acres were burned.  It is truly a “miracle of nature” to see the blackened ash-covered ground recover itself in vibrant color!

Today’s verse is a declaration of what God would do for the Israelites through His prophet, Isaiah.  He was to replace the ashes on their heads with a crown of beauty.  Those ashes were a sign of sorrow and repentance for sin, along with the sackcloth worn.  That itchy rough garment of despair over sin would be replaced with a garment of praise.  Joy would replace mourning.  God’s forgiveness changes everything!

I do not always feel much sorrow over my own sin.  But when I do, it can feel like a crushing weight.  Thankfully, He promises to be near the one who is brokenhearted over sin (Psalm 34:18).  His forgiveness turns my ashes into a crown of beauty!  When I humble myself and go to Him in confession, the black ugliness of sin disappears.  Despair over my past mistakes and failures is transformed into beautiful colorful praise for the new start He gives me!  He is faithful and just to forgive every single time!

Thank you Lord, for turning my ashes into beauty!

 


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Pinterest Fail

Scripture for Today: Psalm 51:1 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”

Pinterest has raised the bar for all of us.  The creativity and seeming perfection of these projects can motivate and inspire.  But , expectations can fall far short of reality!  There are many hilarious examples of Pinterest fails in the areas of cooking, pet or baby photo shoots or crafts.  Self image can take a serious hit  when our versions cannot compare!  What starts out with hopeful anticipation can sometimes end in abject failure.

Today’s verse is a cry for mercy on the part of King David.  He feels very keenly his failure to live up to God’s standards of righteousness.  This entire psalm is a prayer of confession following his adultery with Bathsheba.  His bones feel crushed with the weight of his sin (verse 8) and his spirit is broken(verse 17).  David declares that God is right to judge him (verse 4) so he throws himself on God’s mercy and unfailing love.  And because of God’s love being constant and unfailing, He answers David’s plea with a new clean heart, restoring his joy.

He will never fail me, nor will His love.  There is nothing I can say or do that will change His love for me (Rom. 8:38).  He knows I am weak and made from the dust.  There is nothing in me that merits His love.  I know I will continually fail Him, but He will never fail me (II Timothy 2:13).  During my times of abject failure and guilt, He extends to me His mercy and His grace.  And with my confession comes His reassurance of unfailing love.  He is the God of second chances and can transform what is dirty into what is clean, white and new!

Thank you Lord, for Your unfailing love.


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Gift Horse

Scripture for Today: Galatians 2:21 “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.”

I know one is,”Never to look a gift horse in the mouth” but the temptation is too strong with this smile!!  This old expression was first a Latin proverb attributed to St. Jerome in the early 5th century.  It referred to the practice of looking into the horse’s mouth to determine its age.  Nothing seems so wrong about that except that to do so in front of the giver of the horse is not well viewed!  It has come to mean being suspicious or critical of something received at no cost.

In today’s verse, Paul does not set aside or diminish the importance of God’s grace.  It is by God’s unmerited favor that we are made righteous.  We cannot be justified by the works of the law but only by faith in His sacrifice for sin (verse 16).  But there is something innate in our humanness that disdains what is freely given.  We want to feel that we had a part in meriting salvation.  We feel we need to work, sacrifice, or do something.  But as Paul says. if that were so than there was no reason for Christ to sacrifice Himself.

The offer of His salvation came at no cost to me but the cost to Himself was enormous!  There is nothing left to do but respond in joyful surrender.  What heartache He must feel when I set aside His grace and start to think that I am really something and deserve anything!  But when I understand how far-reaching His grace is to have taken hold of me, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Thank you Lord, for Your sweet amazing grace.

 


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The Zebra

Scripture for Today: I Peter 2:24 “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.”

Is the zebra an animal wearing a white coat with black stripes?  Or is he an animal with a black coat striped white?  Scientists argue for the first description as the stripes end on their belly and the inside of the legs, the remainder being all white.  Regardless, all I can see are their remarkable stripes!  They are wonderful protection as it can be difficult for a predator to single out just one zebra to chase.

Today’s verse talks about stripes that offer healing.  These stripes are much more remarkable but are anything but beautiful (Isaiah 53:2).  The stripes are the wounds Jesus suffered for our sake.  Before being put on that tree or cross,  He was beaten.  Those stripes made it possible for us to die to sin and live for righteousness.  Before Jesus took our punishment, we were soul-sick from our sin and in dire need of healing.  He accomplish by His sacrifice a healing that gives us a hope and a future!

His healing of my soul means that I am no longer powerless against sin.  Not only am I spared the righteous judgement my sin deserves, but I am also released from sin’s hold on me!  Because of His healing stripes, I can live a life that is righteous and pleasing to Him.  I wish I could say that I always make the right and moral choice. But at least with His healing I have the opportunity to consistently do what is right.  Regardless of what my body may do, my soul is forever healed of sin!

Thank you Lord, for healing my soul.

 


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Walk Ins Welcome

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:19 “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.”

This store name may give some potential clients pause!  Considering the reaction of one’s mother to a tattoo may just dissuade some customers.  But the billboard is very welcoming with the words, “Walk Ins Welcome.”  Normally this means no appointment needed.  Maybe no mental preparation either!  Those three little words appeal to impulse buying and probably account for much of their sales.  One is always welcomed to spend money!

Today’s verse is a psalm of praise for salvation.  The gates of righteousness stand wide open for those who have cried out to God for His salvation (verse 21).  Only those who have accepted Christ’s righteousness can enter these gates.  On our own merits, no one can enter.  We have no righteousness of our own (Eccl. 7:20).  But our faith in the Righteous One and His sacrifice for sin is credited as righteousness (Rom. 4:5).  We cannot just walk in.  It is because of His righteousness those gates are opened.  And for believers, a rich welcome awaits us into the eternal kingdom (II Peter 1:11).

The Lord is, “my one defense, my righteousness.”  I can stand before those imposing gates of righteousness with full assurance.  Not because of my efforts but because of His incredible grace to me!  A rich welcome must mean that no one enters quietly or unnoticed.  When I enter those gates it will be a warm home-coming marked with a rich welcome.  It is rich because I will be greeted by friends and family who will have gone before me.  But it will be especially rich when I am greeted and held in the warm embrace of the Savior!

Thank you Lord, that by Your righteousness I am welcomed!