Devotions By Jan


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Wash Your Hands!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 26:6 “I shall wash my hands in innocence, and I will go about Your altar, O Lord.”

It is an endearing scene when a raccoon looks to be washing his hands!  Perhaps the raccoon has better hygiene than some humans!  Does he care that his hands (and food) are clean?  One would not think so when seeing him rummage through filthy garbage.  In fact, this little guy has poor eyesight and needs to wet his food in order to “see” it better.  What is so surprising is that even without water they mimic washing in the air!

Today, we are reminded constantly to do what we should have been doing all along; wash our hands.  Today’s verse also speaks of washing the hands, not in water but in innocence.  The hands washed in innocence are contrasted to the hands of the sinners (verse 10).  Their hands are full of bribes and wicked schemes.  But the hands washed in innocence belong to the one whose heart is pure (Psalm 73:13).  And these hands can be innocent because of God’s gift of grace through His Son’s sacrifice.  Once our hands were dirty, but now we are washed by Christ (I Cor. 6:11).

It is only because of His washing that I can approach God’s altar or presence.  My feeble attempts to clean myself up first have no affect.  The stain of sin is too deep and pervasive.  But because of Jesus I can be viewed in God’s eyes as innocent.  He took on Himself all the guilt of my dirty hands.  My hands can now be lifted up in praise, folded together in prayer and open to give and to serve Him.

Thank you Lord, for hands cleansed of wrong doing.

 

 


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The Abacus

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 130:3-4 “If You, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness so that we can with reverence serve You.”

Counting on an abacus looks complicated and time consuming.  But in fact, the merchants we saw in Hong Kong and Taiwan seemed to have no trouble at all.  Their fingers would fly over the beads faster than a calculator!  The Chinese abacus dates back to the 2nd century BC.  Variations of it were used as well by the Greeks and Romans in ancient times to keep an accurate record.

Today’s verse mentions keeping an account.  If the Lord were to keep a record of our sins, the small abacus would not be able to keep up!  If He were to treat us according to our sins, we would be crushed.  We would not be able to stand or even to lift our head.  Thankfully, with His forgiveness the record is swept clean.  Because of His forgiveness, we can serve Him with reverence and a grateful heart.  He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  Because of the loving sacrifice of Christ, He chooses not to remember our sin (Heb. 10:17).

His undeserved forgiveness is so amazing!  There is no other response I can make but to serve Him.  He does not forgive and forget my sin so that I can keep sinning.  He does it so that I can have the privilege of serving Him.  It is in this grateful service that I find purpose and significance in life.  He is worthy of all my praise, fear and obedience.  Not only does He forgive me but He allows me to stand in His incredible presence and enjoy Him forever!

Lord, where would I be without Your forgiveness?


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Three Cups

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 116:12-13 “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits towards me?  I shall lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.”

This ancient hostelry in Harwich, England may look unimpressive but it boasts a rich history!  Kings, queens. princes and nobility are among those who have stopped at the Three Cups since the 1500’s!  There are records of a previous building on this site with the same name as far back as the 1300’s!  The name of this establishment goes along with the old saying that to be “in one’s cups” is to be drunk!

In Scripture, the image of a cup is used with several different meanings.  In today’s verse, the cup represents salvation.  Lifting up and making known His salvation to others is the very least we can do for all that He has done for us!  He has saved us from our sin and His righteous judgement.  The second use of the cup image  represents His judgement (Psalm 75:8).  It is full of the wine of His wrath poured out on the wicked who reject Him.  But it is because of the third cup that we are spared.  The third cup represents the new covenant in Christ (I Corinthians 11:25).

Christ sacrificed Himself and took on Himself the wrath and judgement that should have fallen on me.  My cup would contain only the wine of His wrath for my sin had it not been for Christ paying my debt.  His salvation cost Him such anguish and pain as seen by His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Because of His grace I do not have to fear what is in my cup.  Do you know what your cup contains?

Thank you Lord, that my cup contains Your costly salvation.

 

photo credit to Harwich and Dovercourt at https://www.flickr.com/photos/harwichs/5820685642


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Sunlamps

Scripture for Today: Psalm 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”

People are not the only ones to appreciate a sunlamp!  This meerkat is soaking up the heat from one on a cold January day at a British zoo!  I am not so sure what it does for him, but for people there are some real physical benefits from sitting under a sunlamp.  It even improves one’s mood.  The light affects our brains by increasing the production of serotonin, a hormone connected with feelings of happiness.

Today’s verse describes the Lord as our Sun.  His sunshine is in the form of grace, favor and mercy.  There is no danger of getting too much of His light.  His love warms us and makes us grow.  And like sunshine, He improves our mood too!  His kindness and favor are the blessings He pours out on the one who trusts Him (verse 12).  In His wisdom He gives exactly what is needed and withholds what is not good for us.

I cannot say that my walk is blameless.  Who can?  But because of Christ’s sacrifice for my sin, I am righteous in His sight.  Even so, there are clouds that block His warmth and blessing when I knowingly choose my way over His.  When I am struggling to trust Him, I am not feeling the warmth of His favor.  Thankfully, His love does not change.  Coming clean with Him breaks up those clouds of rebellion and once again, the warmth of His love breaks through!

Thank you, Lord, for the warmth You bring my soul.

photo credit: Kevin Walsh https://www.flickr.com/photos/86624586@N00/10196142


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Bookworm

Scripture for Today: Revelation 20:12 “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”

An avid reader is often called a “bookworm” and the idea is sweet.  But the other meaning of this word is pretty disgusting!  The term refers to any insect that bores or tunnels through a book, leaving behind some pretty serious damage.  They can range from silverfish to termites, although most of these insects are beetles.  Oddly enough, none of the culprits are worms!  Sometimes it is not the paper that they are after but rather the leather or the glue in the binding.

It is odd to think that there will be books in heaven, but according to today’s verse there are.  One book is singled out as incredibly important; the book of life.  It will be used at the Great White Throne Judgement and will determine one’s eternity!  Being judged according to one’s deeds is the future of those who reject salvation through Jesus.  There is nothing worse.  No one will be able to stand on their own merit.  “There is none righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10)  And the deed that condemns is choosing one’s own way of “good deeds” over the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

It is because of God’s promise that my name is written in the book of life.  Praise God there is no condemnation for me because I have accepted His sacrifice! (Romans 8:1).  What amazing love!  I am so thankful that there is no fear of judgement because of His saving grace!

Lord, thank you for writing my name in Your book.

Photo credit: Dominic Mason https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bookworm_Grub_and_the_damage_done.jpg


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Galette des Rois

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 103:4 “Who redeems your life from the  pit and crowns you with love and compassion.”

Just when you thought the  holidays were over….they’re not!  Today is the Epiphany, commemorating the visit of the Magi-Kings to the baby Jesus.  The date of January 6th closes the period of the twelve days since Christmas.  In France it is called Fête des Rois or Festival of the Kings.  It is celebrated by eating a special galette cake made of puff pastry, almond paste, and baked with a hidden fève or figurine inside.  Whoever has this coveted tiny figure in their slice has the right to wear the gold paper crown!

In today’s verse God’s love and compassion are depicted as a crown that gives us value and honor.  The context is forgiveness of sin and healing.  In His love He lifts us up from the pit of guilt and condemnation.  We were unable to crawl out of that pit on our own.  But He had compassion on us and redeemed us at a great price to Himself.  He wore a humiliating and painful crown of thorns in order to crown us with love and compassion!

The fact that He knows every dirty little secret and still loves me is an incredible thought!  He has lifted me up from the depths of my own sin and guilt and made me precious with this crown!  His love and compassion make me valuable.  I had no value of my own to claim in that muddy slimy pit.  He has set me apart with His crowning distinction.  I can have no other response than to praise Him with my whole life and my entire being!

Thank you Lord, for Your love and compassion crowning this undeserving head!

.

 

 


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Gift Exchange

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.”

I love a Christmas party when there are gifts involved!  Whether it be an ornament exchange or even a white elephant exchange, there is the anticipation of bringing home something different or unexpected.  The only problem for me comes when I bring home something a whole lot nicer than what I brought!

Today’s verse teaches that there is nothing we can exchange with God for our salvation.  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.  Trying to exchange our righteous deeds for His free gift of salvation does not work.  Those good deeds are just “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).  Salvation is a gift from God.  There is nothing I can offer Him in exchange!  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 my heart light!

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible gift of grace!