Devotions By Jan


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Holocaust Remembrance Day

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast.”

What a sobering experience it was to tour the Dachau concentration camp. This gate, like the one at Auschwitz, screams the absurdity that “Work Sets You Free.” The horrifying truth was that the only freedom for those prisoners was found in death. The saying comes from the title of a novel by a German author. In that story, thieves and gamblers discovered their redemption through labor.

Today’s verse teaches a truth that for some is counter-intuitive. Very clearly it states that salvation does not come through our work or efforts. We want to think that somehow, something we did contributed to being saved. But no matter how hard one works to earn Heaven, man will always fall short of the perfect standard of God’s holiness. We cannot free ourselves from the damning chains of sin without God taking the initiative. His grace or unmerited favor, is what frees us. Salvation itself is free and a gift from God. Because this is true, none of us can boast about having anything to do with it!

My gratitude towards God grows by leaps and bounds when I grasp this truth. It is all grace and it is amazing! There is tremendous freedom in my spirit to be assured that my salvation depends on Him and not my efforts. Without this truth, I would always be in a state of fear and worry about my eternal destination. Putting my faith and trust in what HE did on that cross rather than in what I can do makes me free indeed!

Thank you Lord, that Your gift of grace saves me and makes me truly free!

(Look familiar? This is a post from 2018 to honor this day)


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National No Housework Day

Psalm 51:2-3 “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”

Did you know this is National No Housework Day? Apparently the cat on the chair does and perhaps the other cat on the table does too! They are totally unconcerned about the clutter! This certainly seems like a busy household with shoes scattered, clothes hanging out, and laundry to be put away. What is puzzling is that water can under the table. I am sure anyone dropping in at my house would find something puzzling as well! But on this day of no housework, washing and cleaning take a back seat!

Today’s verse is all about a washing and cleansing that really has no day off! This verse is a prayer of David’s after his sin with Bathsheba. He asks God for mercy and compassion to blot out what he had done (vs 1). David does not minimize his sin. Because of his feelings of guilt, his sin is always before him (vs 3). Yet he understands that God’s cleansing can make his heart whiter than snow (vs 7) and that God’s washing will give him a pure heart!

What a patient and forgiving God I have! Because of Christ and His sacrifice for my sin, I can humbly come to Him for His cleansing and know that He will not send me away. There is no limit to His forgiveness. He is faithful and just to forgive my sin (I John 1:9) and that faithfulness He shows me reaches to the skies! (Ps. 36:5) With His promise of complete forgiveness, I can start over again and again with a light pure heart!

Thank you Lord, that You are faithful to forgive me.

Photo Cedit Leonora Enking at https://www.flickr.com/photos/33037982@N04/


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Dishwasher Confusion

Scripture for Today: Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.”

I am sure I am not the only one! There have to be more out there who have mistakenly emptied the dishwasher’s contents back into the cupboards and belatedly realized they were not clean! It is my own fault because I rinse too well before loading them into the dishwasher. How frustrating and time consuming to then have to determine which items are clean and which need to be reloaded! The confusion can be avoided with a simple system of magnets on the dishwasher.

In today’s verse, Jesus is calling out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. They were careful to follow ceremonial law without the harder work of confession and true change of heart. Their public image was more important than what what was going on privately. They could look clean on the outside by following accepted standards of religious tradition, all the while concealing the greed and self-indulgence inside. But no matter what rules we follow, it is only Christ who can make us truly clean.  

It is what comes out of me that reveals the true state of my heart (Mark 7:15). I am distracted by working hard on the outward show of religiosity but sooner or later, my words and actions reveal what is really on the inside. Despite the correct moral upbringing, environmental and financial advantages, and advances in technology, evil continues to exist in my heart. The Lord is in the business of true and lasting change. Cleansing me from the inside out is something only He can do.

Lord, keep me from being so distracted by the outside! Change my heart with Your cleansing.


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Golf Carts Only

Scripture for Today: Romans 2:15 “They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.”

The morning beckoned and the path through the golf course was deserted. What a perfect place to take my walk! It did not occur to me that I might be hit by a golf ball or that I might be run over by an approaching golf cart. But apparently, that was the concern behind the rule I was inadvertently breaking! In my defense, there were no signs posted, but I was still breaking the rule and was escorted off that path.

Today’s verse teaches that no such excuse works for mankind when faced with God’s Law. Even when ignorant of that Law, we instinctively do the things of the Law. It is universally written on the hearts of men. That is why so many judicial systems reflect it, at least in part. Stealing, murder and child abuse are considered wrong and are illegal. For the most part, we respect honesty in business, fidelity to a spouse, care for children and generosity to the poor. And God’s Law lets us know what sin is and how guilty we all are (Romans 7:7).

Had I ignored that golf cart rule after being called on it, I could continue walking. But looking over my shoulder, my conscience would be working on overdrive! That’s what law does; makes us aware of our utter inability to perfectly keep it! How thankful I am that there was One who fulfilled God’s Law completely on my behalf! Christ met the perfect standards of God’s Law and saved me from my sinful self. When God sees me, He sees Christ’s gift of righteousness (Romans 10:4).

Thank you, Lord, for the grace You made possible.


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Goldfish Trauma

Scripture for Today: Genesis 1:27 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

As a young girl, I loved my little goldfish but I wasn’t so careful about keeping the bowl clean. My sweet Grandma was just trying to help. She decided one morning to clean that bowl for me. She was quite proud of the result; a bowl sparkling clean with new clear water. But I was horrified! There was no goldfish! She had inadvertently poured that fish right down the drain!

Today’s verse may seem to have nothing to do with this story. But in fact, because mankind is made in the image of God, we all have value. Because of our rebellion, this image is tarnished in all of us. But it is there. Unlike the beasts of the fields, there is a soul in each of us that is made to commune with the Creator. And there is no one who is beyond the reach of Christ to forgive and restore to the relationship for which we are born! But we have the choice to accept His offer of salvation or reject Him and head for that drain.

I tend to write some people off. I sometimes think that an individual is too far gone in their sin to ever be changed. But God’s power far exceeds my limited understanding. He makes new what is old. He cleans what is filthy and unrecognizable. He raises to life what was dead. Because of His power and His desire to see ALL come to repentance, there is hope for every human being who turns to Him in faith. (II Peter 3:9) I am so glad God has thrown out all my dirty water without throwing me out!

Thank you Lord, for Your forgiveness.