Devotions By Jan


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Steam Radiators

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 9:14 “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

Our century-old house in France was heated by steam radiators in every room.  I was not too thrilled with them but Tiger, our cat, thought they were the perfect place to  curl up and have a nap!  Central heat may not be so quaint but it is sure more effective.  Air would get inside those valves, causing an annoying dripping sound and block the heat.  Every so often, my husband would use a special turn key to purge the radiators and evacuate the air.

Today’s verse speaks of our conscience being purged.  The Old Testament system of animal sacrifice served its purpose of symbolizing Christ’s death.  But how much more perfect was the sacrifice Jesus made, once for all!  His sacrifice not only cleanses us from our sin, but purges our consciences as well.  His forgiveness is complete.

Satan would like me to think otherwise.  He whispers in my ear his accusations.  He reminds me of times when I really blew it and let the Lord down.  Satan would like nothing better than to take me out of the game and put me on the sidelines.  How thankful I am that he is wrong!  I do not need to live with that constant annoying dripping sound.  My conscience has been purged.  I am a new creation in Him.  No accusation from the enemy can change this truth.  When I lay my head on the pillow at night I can sleep easy knowing that Christ has taken care of every sin and failure.

Thank you, Lord, that You have purged my conscience once for all!

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Leftovers

Scripture for Today:  Lamentations 3:22-23  “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are NEW every morning: great is Your faithfulness.”

I love leftovers.  I especially love what is left the next day after a delicious Thanksgiving meal!  The flavors have had a chance to really mingle and often the taste is better the day after.  However, sometimes there is too much of a good thing and the Mother is stuck with trying to find creative ways of making that turkey taste original and new!

Thankfully, in the spiritual realm there are no leftovers when it comes to God’s compassion!  Today’s verse declares that His compassions are new every morning!  They are new because each day presents a new need for them.  And because He is forgiving, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love, He renews His compassion every day.  He crowns us with love and compassion (Ps. 103:4) and has compassion on us just as a Father does for his children (Ps. 103:13).  It is because He is compassionate that we are not punished as we deserve.  It is because of His love that He took that punishment for our sin on Himself.

Every day I can have a new start.  The disappointments and failures of yesterday are covered by His forgiveness and grace.  I can wake up with hope and expectation only because He is faithful to His promises.  His compassion does not wear out or run out.  He does not put a limit on His compassion for me or His forgiveness.  This renewal of His abounding love for me makes the new day one of possibility and hope!

Lord, thank you for a new start today!


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Ashes to Ashes?

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…”

The traditional practice of saving a loved one’s ashes in an urn is only one of many options.  I recently learned that ashes can be saved as an hourglass, a vinyl record, or a diamond ring.  The ashes can be part of a tattoo when sterilized and mixed with ink.  An artist can create a portrait mixing ashes into the paint.  Stained glass pieces can be bonded together with ashes.  Ashes can be transformed into fireworks or even shot gun shells.  But my favorite idea was storing ashes in the cute cuddly body of a teddy bear!

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 ugliness of sin disappears.  Despair over my past mistakes and failures is transformed into praise for the new start He gives me!  He is faithful and just to forgive every single time!

Thank you Lord, for exchanging ashes for beauty!


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Streaked Windows

Scripture for Today:  II Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow bring death.”

They say it “never rains in California.”  However, I can be sure it will if I have just cleaned my windows!  Serves me right for believing the weather report.  Cleaning windows is not my favorite activity, especially since I cannot seem to avoid the streaks.  I have special products that say right on the label that streaks will not be a problem.  I have all the special equipment and recommended technique at my fingertips.  And although the windows are clean, those streaks seem unavoidable and I try hard not to see them.

Today’s verse contrasts a worldly sorrow for sin and a godly sorrow  The worldly sorrow not only brings death but leaves behind streaks of regret.  The godly sorrow leads to salvation and leaves behind no regrets.  When forgiveness is full and complete, guilty feelings need not be present.  He has promised to remove our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  He remembers our sins no more (Is. 43:25).  By contrast, those who try to self-clean and bypass sincere repentance to a holy God, will daily live with guilt and regret for an unforgiven past.

I will admit to that little voice in my head that reminds and accuses.  But I know it does not come from Him!  Of course I regret my past sins, but He does not even remember them!  His love does not waver and His grace is greater than all my sins put together!  When I do struggle with thoughts of past failures I cling hard and fast to His unmerited favor!  It’s gone.  It’s done.  He took care of all of it!

Thank you Lord, for forgiveness that frees me from guilt!

 

 


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Washing Lego Pieces

Scripture for Today: II Peter 1:9 ” But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.”

Here’s an inventive use for a colander!  Washing small Lego pieces would otherwise be a chore with some invariably escaping down the garbage disposal.  But whether one uses a strainer or a colander, those holes are useful for rinsing without losing the contents down the drain.  In French there is a saying using the word, colander.  This kitchen tool is likened to our memories, which can be full of holes.  They will also call a memory lapse a “trou” or hole.

Today’s verse addresses the problem of forgetting.  When we forget that our past sins have been forgiven, we miss out on all that God has given us for life and godliness (verse 3).  He has given us goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love (verse 5-7).  These qualities, which are part of His divine nature, are to be increasingly evident in the life of a believer (verse 8) and they keep us from being ineffective and unproductive for Him.  The problem comes when we are strangled with guilt over what God has already forgiven.

I am so encouraged to see God use imperfect people.  Paul was responsible for the death of many Christians and yet, he grasped the truth of God’s forgiveness.  Peter, after his famous denials of Christ, took hold of God’s grace and went on to accomplish great things for God.  I want to remind myself daily of His full and complete cleansing.  He has removed my sin as far as the east is from the west! (Psalm 103:12).  I do not want to focus on what is no longer an issue for Him.

Thank you Lord, for Your full and complete forgiveness!

 

 


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Lifetime Achievement Award

Scripture for Today: Genesis 15:1 “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision; ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.'”

George Clooney has just been announced as this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute.  He is being honored for his achievements as an actor, writer, producer and director.  He has won two Oscars as well as other honors.  And it cannot hurt that he remains so good looking, although that may not have influenced those bestowing this award!  In any case, this award represents approval from people for noteworthy achievements.

Today we bury my 95 year old Mother.  Her lifetime achievements are not so well-known or noteworthy.  But right now she is enjoying her reward.  This reward lasts for eternity and it does not depend on the approval of men..  Today’s verse explains that Abraham’s reward is God Himself.  Abraham enjoyed an intimate relationship with his Creator.  He was even called, “God’s friend.” (James 2:23).  He, like my Mother, was able to enjoy his reward while here on earth.  But to literally be in His presence is a reward that surpasses any other!

I think the world of my Mother but of course, she was not perfect.  However, I know she is enjoying her “Reward” because of God’s grace and forgiveness.  Although she spent her life following and obeying Him, she did not earn her place in His presence.  She is there because of God’s grace.  And I know, because I have accepted His grace as well, I will one day be able to hug her again.  I know she is hearing God’s approval as He says, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

Thank you Lord, for being our very great reward!

 

 


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Counting Jelly Beans

Scripture for Today: Matthew 18: 21-22 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'”

It was pure guess work.  I tried being methodical as a prize would be awarded for this baby shower-party-game.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have bothered trying to count the jelly beans in this jar.  But in fact, my counting left something to be desired as my total was way off.  Someone else walked away with the coveted prize.  I would have been happy to walk away with the jelly beans!

Today’s verse is about something we are not to count; how many times to forgive someone.  Peter perhaps felt he was being generous to suggest forgiving seven times as the current thinking among the Pharisees was three times.  That makes Jesus’ answer all the more surprising.  The idea was not to forgive seventy-seven times or even seventy times seven.  The idea is that forgiveness is not to be counted at all.  Forgiveness is to be immeasurable.

My memory is so faulty on some subjects but somehow, the memories of when and how I have been wronged are very clear.  Forgiving someone more than once for the same offense is also too easy to remember.  I have had to say to my husband, “I am sorry, forgive me,” countless times over almost 40 years of marriage.  And I have had to forgive him too, many times without number.  It is so difficult to “forgive from the heart” (verse 35) over and over again.  And yet, I cannot think of a better way to show true love.  This is exactly what the Lord has done in forgiving me countless times.

Thank you Lord, that You do not count.