Devotions By Jan


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Speed Dating

dating600_451637660Scripture for Today: John 17:3 “Now this is eternal life; that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”

More and more of these speed dating events are taking place around the globe.  This image is taken in Dublin.  The idea is intriguing, but when I asked my husband if I could attend one for “research” he was not too enthusiastic!  The premise is that one can know quite quickly if there is any kind of spark between two people.  Most participants make their choice within the first three seconds, so that first impression is paramount.

Today’s verse is from a conversation Jesus had with His Father.  Jesus prayed that the Father would be glorified through Him.  He acknowledges that the power to give eternal life has been granted Him from God the Father.  Then comes this surprising description of what eternal life is; it is to know Him.

Knowing God intimately will be an unending endeavor.  There will be no time limit to this relationship.  And knowing God will take forever.  There is no coming to the end of Him as He is infinite!  There will always be new and exciting facets to knowing Him.  Each day there will be breathtaking discoveries about who He is!  Knowing Him more and more each day will be fascinating and thrilling.  He will never become boring or predictable.

Eternal life is not just in the future.  Eternal life begins now and just never ends.  Knowing Him begins now although my progress is continually interrupted by my limits, distractions, and my own sinful nature.  But one day I will be face to face, no longer knowing Him just in part, but wholly, just as He knows me! (I Cor. 13:12)

Lord, may I see You and know You more today than yesterday!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.

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Salmon Run

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:8-9 “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please Him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.”

It is an incredibly strong instinct that drives the salmon to swim upstream to spawn.  After a few years in the ocean, the urge to lay its eggs in the exact fresh water stream where they were born drives them to make the long and arduous journey.  The salmon are so intent on their goal, they do not even stop to eat on the way.  They are so exhausted when arriving “home” that after laying their eggs, most do not survive.

Today’s verse refers to an eternal home with the Lord.  As long as we are in these earthly bodies we are not completely “at home.”  How surprising that Paul would rather be away from his body in order to be completely at home with his Lord! He not only says this but he says it with confidence.  In these bodies we groan and are burdened.  But when we are finally home, we will be clothed with a new body.  In the meantime we swim upstream.  As believers, we swim against the current as our life’s goal is to please Him.

I am often distracted from my heart’s desire to please Him.  But if to please Him is the all-consuming goal of my life, then I can persevere when life gets difficult.  Without faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb. 11:6) but I can feel His pleasure when I turn to Him in absolute trust and confidence.  Pleasing Him gives purpose to my day, even a mundane one.

Lord, keep me focused on pleasing You today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Jacaranda Tree

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 15:52 “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable and we will be changed.”

I love this time of year when the Jacaranda tree is in bloom.  Their purple color is so vibrant it almost looks unreal, like something out of Dr. Seuss!  When several of these trees line a street, their blooms resemble a sea of lavender.  And when their blossoms drop to the ground, their beauty continues as a lilac carpet.  It seems appropriate that their flowers are in the shape of a trumpet, as they herald the coming of summer!

The trumpet in our verse today has a very special meaning.  Sounding it will signal the resurrection.  It does not say who will blow this trumpet, perhaps an angel, but it will be heard all over the world.  When it is blown, those believers who have died will receive their new incorruptible bodies.  Those believers still living at the time will also be changed.  Death will forever be swallowed up in victory! (verse 54)  What a day that will be!

One future day I will hear a trumpet sound that will announce the end of time.  Death will no longer sting and sin will be powerless.  My body will be changed to be imperishable.  Knowing this helps me to stay steadfast, immoveable and involved in what He wants me to do.  He has promised that my work for Him will never be futile or in vain (verse 58).  Thinking about what is to come keeps me motivated and encouraged!

Lord, keep me listening for that trumpet!

 

 


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“Work Sets You Free”

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 labour.

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.


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Bless You!

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” 

Our cat, Tiger, would sometimes have a sneezing fit and would always look very surprised when it happened.  I never felt obligated to say the words, “bless you.”  After all, I figured it was usually the cat making everyone else sneeze.  There are many ideas on the origins of blessing people after a sneeze.  Some believed the sneeze had to do with evil spirits leaving the body.  Others felt it was the soul momentarily escaping the body.  My favorite is the belief that the heart temporarily stopped during a sneeze!

Today’s verse declares that the source of every spiritual blessing is Jesus Christ.  He has blessed every believer with unmerited favor and goodness.  The blessings He gives are not tangible but spiritual.  And because that is true, these blessings are eternal.  They include His choosing us, adopting us, redeeming us and forgiving us (verses 4-7).  He has blessed us by sealing us with His Holy Spirit and has promised us an inheritance (verse 13-14).  These blessings are not seen with our physical eyes but they are more real than things that are!

I need to be reminded of His blessings, especially when I see non-believers seemingly prosper around me.  Like David, I can feel discouraged and tempted to be envious (Psalm 37:1-2).  But their success is temporary and my inheritance is eternal!  Spiritual blessings are the ones that matter.  And the blessing of being His very own outweighs anything else.  I can live this life with faith and love because they spring from the hope stored up for me in Heaven! (Col. 1:5)  How blessed I am!

Lord, open the eyes of my heart to see Your blessings today..


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Safety Gloves

Scripture for Today: Revelation 21:27  Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

These disposable safety gloves are so important in keeping our health professionals free of contamination.  But there is another pair of gloves on display at the Ghetto Fighters’ House museum in Israel.  They are the gloves worn by an Israel Security Service Agent when grabbing Adolf Eichmann off the streets of Argentina in 1960.  This Nazi criminal was brought back to Jerusalem to stand trial for his barbaric role in the massacre of Jews and was hung for his crimes.  Although Eichmann looked so unassuming and ordinary, the agent used gloves rather than touch pure evil.

Today’s verse declares that nothing evil will ever enter Heaven.  No one who has ever done anything impure, shameful or deceitful will be able to gain access to God’s presence.  The Almighty One is so holy that His eyes are too pure to even look on evil (Hab. 1:13).  The perverse person is an abomination to the Lord, not only by his actions but also by his thoughts (Prov. 15:26).  But being that there is no one righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10) how can anyone enter?  The Lamb’s Book of Life contains the names of those who have placed their faith in Christ’s righteousness and His sacrifice for their sin.

Nothing I could ever do would qualify me to enter Heaven apart from trusting Him.  The ground in front of the cross is level and I stand just as guilty as the most deplorable Nazi.  But thankfully because of Jesus, the Lamb of God, I can boldly approach His throne and find mercy and grace (Heb. 4:16).

Thank you Lord, that Your mercy and grace made a way for me!


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Birthdays in Heaven

Scripture for Today: Luke 15:10 “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Today my Mother celebrates her birthday in Heaven for the first time.  If there are candles on her cake they would number 96!  I am not sure that she is having a party.  I imagine that if everyone there is daily celebrating birthdays, eternal life would be one big continual party!  The cake would be delicious but with no calories.  The gifts would need no exchanging.  And there would be no let-down the following day!  I cannot imagine a cake big enough to hold all the candles as each century is added!

Today’s verse describes a time of rejoicing in Heaven.  It is not for the first birthday but for the second; the spiritual one when one is born again.  There is rejoicing and somehow the angels even get into the act.  When even just one sinner repents and comes to Jesus for salvation, there is celebration and joy!  The noise of it would echo down those streets of gold.  This verse follows the parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep that were found.  Following this verse is the parable of the lost son whose return was celebrated with a party.  In each case there was enthusiastic joy and celebration!

Her joy is complete.  Mine, not so much.  She is enjoying her reward, whatever form it takes.  But I can recapture some of my joy when reminding myself of where she is and what she is experiencing today.  There are no more tears, pain or suffering and she is surrounded with incredible beauty and splendor.  She is enjoying “face-to-face” the Love of her life; her Savior.

Thank you Lord, for what You have prepared for all who love You.