Devotions By Jan


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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.


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Misfits

Scripture For Today:  Hebrews 11:13b and 14 …”and they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.  People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.”

Do you remember the old song on Sesame Street that says, “One of these things is not like the other.  One of these things just doesn’t belong…”  It is obvious from this photo which of these petals does not belong.  Living as a foreigner in France meant that I often felt like a misfit.  After almost thirty years of living in France I am still dumbfounded by newly discovered differences in their thinking!

What is even more surprising to me is having this same out-of-place feeling when in the USA.  My frame of reference has changed and I have grown comfortable with what previously was strange to me.  I find it difficult to change again to the American way of thinking.  So in fact, I consider myself a misfit on both sides of the ocean.

Today’s verse is part of a chapter listing  great men and women of faith.  What is true of all of them is that they were looking for a country of their own.  They were not comfortable in their culture.  They were longing for a better country, a heavenly one (vs 16).  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.  So in one sense, we are ALL called to be misfits.  As believers, our citizenship is in heaven so we do not feel too comfortable in whatever country we live.  We are not home yet.

I love living in France and I love living in the States.  But in fact, there is a restlessness inside of me.  I want a better country.  And He is preparing it for me!

Lord, keep me looking toward that country to come!

 


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A Crown

Scripture for Today: I Thessalonians 2:19 “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?”

The Miss America contest winner gets to wear a crown encrusted with diamonds and worth $200,000.  She only wears it for television broadcasts.  It is too valuable and a security risk to be wearing it out in public.  It stays under lock and key and is heavily guarded.  What one sees in public is pretty but only a copy.

Today’s verse speaks of a crown which is in fact far more valuable than any literal diamond encrusted one.  This crown represents our eternal hope and the joy we will experience in the presence of the Lord.  But even more, the crown represents the people who have come to Christ through one’s testimony and influence.  The crown represents as well those who the believer has encouraged and helped to grow closer to Him, as Paul had for the believers in the church in Thessalonica.  If we “glory” or boast at all, it will not be in our own exploits of faith or our good works.  Our glory will be individuals.

What joy there will be to see in Heaven those for whom we have prayed so diligently!  What a thrill to see someone walk through those gates for whom we had given up hope!  That sacrificial gift made to help the Gospel spread will mean we will see believers from every tribe and nation!  Aspiring to this crown is a worthy goal!  I am my Mother’s crown as she led me to the Lord as a small child.  My crown is made up of individuals I have loved and prayed with over the years.

Lord, keep me faithful.