Devotions By Jan


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Vintage Scale

Scripture for Today: I John 1:10 “If we claim we have not sinned, we make Him out to be a liar and His Word is not in us.”

This scale reminds me of the one from my youth.  One can now buy them with the label, “Vintage” or “Retro!”  Today, ours is not so ancient as it is digital.  It is probably accurate enough, but I do not like what it says!  No matter what I do with my eating habits it always says exactly the same thing.  Perhaps it is stuck.  Perhaps I am stuck.  In any case, I would rather think that it is incorrect.  Ideally, there should exist a scale that says exactly what I want it to say!

Today’s verse is about someone who is in denial about their sin.  The one who claims that there is no problem with sin is not dealing with reality.  Rather than continue to feel the discomfort of conviction, this individual would close their eyes to truth.  But in doing so, God is made out to be a liar.  His Word and truth do not reside in those who claim to be just fine.

The first step in dealing with my sin is to recognize its ugly existence.  There is no sugar-coating it.  And trying to make it small and of no consequence. just does not work.  Like the scale that tells the truth, so is God’s Word that can make me uncomfortable.  And just as I do not throw away the scale because of what it says, so I do not exchange His truth for something I like better.  He promises and is faithful to forgive and cleanse me from every sin (verse 9).  I just need to find the courage to admit to it!

Lord, help me to be honest with myself and admit when I am wrong.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Dangling Thread

Scripture for Today: Psalm 69:5 “You, God, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from You.”

My Mother tried in vain to interest me in sewing.  Somehow, it never took.  But at least I know not to pull or cut a dangling thread!  I thought about her as I carefully poked with my needle that offending loose thread through the backside of the material to hide it.  Had I cut it, a hole would have appeared spoiling the look.  And if I had pulled that dangling thread, it would have bunched up the material.  Now, no one would know about the thread, hidden out of sight.  Who looks at the back side anyway!

Today’s verse tells us who looks behind and underneath, seeing everything we are trying to hide.  Nothing is hidden from God.  He sees it all.  The mistakes, the folly and the guilt are all visible to Him.  We are quite adept at presenting a correct image to others.  No one would imagine all those loose hanging threads with being so put together.  We can recite verses.  We can speak the Christian lingo.  We can say the most beautiful prayers.  But underneath, it’s a different story.

He knows when I seethe inside from anger.  He sees when I look at others with a critical spirit.  He knows my ugly selfish thoughts.  Sometimes, I hide it all so well that I myself am not even aware.  That is why the heart is described as “deceitful” above all things (Jer. 17:9).  But what I hide from others and from myself is not hidden from Him.  In His grace and love He waits for me to come clean.  Then, with His forgiveness I truly am clean!

Thank you Lord, that You are faithful and just to forgive it all!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Doggie Discipline

Scripture for Today: Titus 2:12 “It (grace) teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,”

This dog understands the word, “No!”  I am amazed at his self-control sitting there with that piece of meat on his nose.  I wonder how long that lasted?  With smelling it, seeing it, and imagining that first bite, the dog must be trembling with the effort to refrain from gobbling it up in a moment!  I do not think the owner was too far away as the tension mounted.

Today’s verse is surprising.  The grace that normally comes to mind is the grace that offers salvation, that amazing unmerited and undeserved favor from God. (verse 11)  But this grace is a grace that teaches.  This grace allows the believer to live a godly life that pleases the Lord.  And like saving grace, it is completely unmerited.  We do not earn the ability to live a self-controlled life.  It is a gift that is part of the evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Gal. 5:23).  We cannot take credit for staying away from sin.  We cannot take credit for our obedience to God.  It is all grace.

I am so thankful for the gift of self-control without which my life would be a mess.  His Spirit enables me to say “No” to temptation.  His Spirit gives me the power to turn my back on ungodly desires and choose obedience.  And despite the occasional slip, He has changed my heart to want what is right.  My highest desire is to honor Him with my choices.  And it is with His help that I can achieve that desire even just a little.

Thank you Lord, that Your self-control is another evidence of Your grace!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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Bumper Bowling

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 2:7-8 “He holds success in store for the upright, He is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for He guards the course of the just and protects the way of His faithful ones.”

Maybe I would feel differently about bowling had I grown up using these bumpers.  Imagine no more gutter balls!  But I did not have this luxury and I was on my  own trying to get that blasted ball to reach any of those bored pins.  It was not as if my Dad did not try to teach me.  He was in a bowling league at his work and had his own ball.  He and his team won trophies, but of course no serious bowler would consent to using these bumpers.  But I love the idea of having that little edge to correct the course of my wayward ball.

Today’s verse is beautiful!  The Lord God wants us to succeed but true success is only found in a relationship that follows His course.  None of His commands are arbitrary.  They exist for our good and for our protection.  Through His Word He speaks and guides.  When we obey and follow His perfect way, we enjoy the blessing of intimacy with Him.

I look at those bumpers as His grace to forgive, correct and restore.  Even with the best of intentions I fail.  I am “prone to wander” off His path.  But because I belong to Him, He does not let this silly sheep stray too far.  Sometimes that corrective bump can be a bit of a shock and not at all comfortable.  But it is just what is needed to get me back on course.

Lord, I want to always be one of Your faithful ones.  Keep me on that path of righteousness today.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule)


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The Gavel

Scripture for Today: Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The tapping of a gavel in a courtroom can mean different things.  When tapped twice, everyone is to rise.  When it is tapped three times, all are to be seated.  There can be repeated vigorous tapping to restore order.  One tap may be used to declare a matter settled and finished.  With the tap of a gavel comes all the power of that court.  When that gavel is brought down there is a decision made.  And that symbol of authority brings with it a certain finality.

In the courts of heaven, the gavel comes down with unquestionable authority.  God has every right to proclaim someone guilty or not guilty.  He is our righteous Judge and all His judgements are true and just.  Today’s verse is a wonderful assurance for the one who has placed their faith in Jesus.  There is no fear of that gavel coming down.  The believer is justified, or declared righteous, not because of our own deeds but because of being credited with His righteousness (Romans 4:22-25).  The just punishment that we rightly deserve has been fully met by His death on the cross.  The righteousness Jesus achieved has been laid to our account!

It has been decided.  The gavel has already come down.  I do not have to live in fear and doubt.  He declared, “It is finished,” on that cross.  How amazing that I can stand before Him, declared righteous!  There is peace with God now and throughout eternity.  My heart is not troubled because of my guilt and sin.  His forgiveness and declaration has established heartfelt peace, relief, and the joy and hope of heaven!

Lord, how can I ever express my gratitude?

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Kintsugi

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 119:49-50 “Remember Your word to Your servant, for You have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”

This bowl went from broken to beautiful!  The art of golden joinery is the definition of the Japanese word, “kintsugi.”  Fragmented and broken pottery or ceramics are repaired in this process by filling the holes and cracks with a resin mixed with gold, silver or platinum.  What used to be broken pieces thought to be worthless become a thing of beauty!  The very brokenness makes the item become more precious and valuable!

Today’s verse is a comfort and reassurance when going through suffering.  There is hope.  The author of this psalm was experiencing ridicule (vs. 51).  There was intense pressure from the wicked and perhaps he felt himself cracking from it. He vows to stay faithful to the Lord through it all.  In the night he reminds himself of who God is (vs. 55) and he resolves to stay the course.  Through all the pain he remains hopeful because of God’s promises.

It is hope that brings me through the darkest times of my life.  I can feel forgotten, rotten and dead inside just like David did when he described himself as “broken pottery” (Ps. 31:12).  But then, there are the promises of God.  Whatever feels broken He can repair.  More than that, He transforms our very brokenness into something useful and a thing of beauty.  Nothing is too hard for Him or beyond the skill of His capable hands.  He works in the good where everything went bad.  That stupid decision, that utter failure or that shame at letting Him down is all part of a pattern that He redeems and makes beautiful.  This is my hope.

Thank you Lord, that Your promises give me hope.

 

 


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Death Zone

Scripture for Today: Job 33:4 “The Spirit of God has made me, the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

What an awe-inspiring scene this is on Mount Everest!  The grandeur and magnificence of these mountains have drawn many experienced climbers to its heights.  But unfortunately, ten climbers have already died this year alone.  They were found in what is called the “death zone” where oxygen is scarce.  Anywhere above 26,000 feet is part of that zone where the air is so thin that even supplemental oxygen is sometimes not enough.  The human body is just not made to function at the cruising altitude of a 747!

Today’s verse recognizes the source of life and breath.  It is the Spirit of God who created us.  It is the breath of the Almighty that gives us life.  At the very dawn of mankind, it was God who breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life (Gen. 2:7).  There is no life apart from His breath.  And just as this is true in the physical sense, so it is true spiritually  The Spirit of God breathes life to our souls.  Where before we were dead, He has made us alive (Eph. 2:5).

My relationship with Christ is as necessary to me as the air I breathe!  But frankly, I do not always feel His presence.  Perhaps there are “death zones” for me where the spiritual air is scarce.  He promises to never leave me (Heb.13:5) but I can be indifferent to Him.  I can be gasping for breath when I immerse myself in the world and its values.  But when I turn back to Him, He breathes into me renewed love and forgiveness.  “This is the air I breathe, Your holy presence living in me.”

Come Holy Spirit and breathe on me today.