Devotions By Jan


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Slip Cover

Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And You forgave the guilt of my sin.”

My couch was only three years old and from a reputable company.  And yet, being made of bonded leather, it slowly “unbonded” with cracking and chipping.  Being that it was structurally sound I decided to invest in a good slip cover.  The difference was immediate!  I sit on it and it does not move.  And best of all, those obvious flaws are covered and it looks brand new!

Today’s verse tells us that we can very successfully cover up our flaws.  By not acknowledging our disobedience and rebellion against the Lord, we do our best to hide our imperfections.  And it can even seem successful.  Like Adam and Eve who immediately covered themselves with fig leaves after their disobedience, we too have that have the tendency to hide the problem.  As long as we do so, forgiveness is unavailable.  The Lord waits for us to come clean with Him and admit our sin.  And when we do, He is gracious to forgive not only the sin but even the guilt it produces!

Eventually, the cover starts to slip when I try to hide my disobedience.  Sure, I can look good on the outside, but He is not fooled.  He sees all the problems underneath.  My cover up leaves me struggling with feelings of guilt and shame.  He knows and I know what I am hiding.  But with sincere confession, He forgives the sin and the guilt.  There is no longer the need for covering up as He makes me absolutely new! (II Cor. 5:17)

Thank you Lord,  that You know what is underneath and You love and forgive me anyway.

 

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Rainbow Cake

Scripture for Today: Romans 16:19 “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil.”

There is a twist in the new season of the television show, The Bachelor.  Everyone is talking about his complete inexperience.  Some think it wonderful.  Others are scratching their heads.  The young woman interviewed before meeting him had her doubts.  She felt that no one could know if a person was the right one without a trial run.  She described her life as a “rainbow cake,” having tried many colors and flavors!

Today’s verse flies in the face of that kind of thinking.  Wisdom comes from knowing and practicing what is good according to God’s standards.  Believers are to be totally innocent and even naive when it comes to evil.  Unlike Eve, we do not have to touch or eat evil to recognize it (Genesis 3).  God has made His laws clear and they are established, not to ruin our fun but to protect our vulnerable hearts and give us the best life possible.  There is even delight in the path of His commands (Ps. 119:35)

The only thing I miss out on when saying, “no,” to temptation is the heartache that can come with it.  The prevailing thought changes with the times but His standards are eternal.  What the world says is wise is absolute foolishness in God’s eyes when it deviates from His law (I Cor. 1:20)  How is it that the creature thinks he knows better than the Creator?  I do not want my life to be a rainbow cupcake.  I want it to be the pure unsullied white of His righteousness.  I want to be sweet, naive and innocent.

Thank you Lord, that Your forgiveness makes that possible!

 

 


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Adulting Classes

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 5:14 “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

Adult classes are being offered to millennials who somehow missed learning some of life’s basic skills.  Folding a fitted sheet is perhaps one of the less important ones.  At least I would like to think so as I am not so good at it!  These classes include sewing, cooking, check writing, laundry and cleaning, writing resumes, and managing relationships.  What used to be taught through high school classes or passed on by family members is now often taught through seminars and conferences.

Today’s verse tells us there are levels of spiritual maturity as well.  Those believers who have finished with “milk” and have progressed to solid food are those who are experienced and skilled in living righteously.  Those who still need milk are those believers who are “not acquainted” with righteousness (vs 13).  Spiritual maturity then has little to do with church attendance or even how many years one has been a believer.  Spiritual maturity has to do with distinguishing between good and evil.  This discernment comes through training by constant use of God’s Word.

Isn’t it clear what is good and what is evil?  Don’t I recognize the difference?  When I am relying on my own reason and logic I can be deceived.  Between changing norms and everyone doing what is right in their own eyes (Proverbs 21:2) the lines can be blurred.  Somehow, good does not seem so good or evil so very evil (Isaiah 5:20).  Satan is a master of deception and I am pretty good at rationalizing my behavior.  How thankful I am that He is holy and His standards unchanging….and that He forgives me!

Lord, grow me up today.  Help me recognize even the smallest nuance of evil.


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Dried Out Clay

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called, ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

There is not a whole lot one can do with dried out clay.  It always seems to be a problem with my grandsons.  When their clay is left out, it becomes dry and hard and pretty much useless.  Without storing it properly, the air seems to suck out all the moisture and it is no longer pliable.  Instead of being fashioned into pleasing shapes, it becomes brittle and hard.

Today’s verse says that we can become hardened.  Our hearts have the tendency to turn away from God in rebellion and unbelief (verse 12).  It can be a slow insidious process that we do not even realize is happening.  Sin is deceitful and can pull us gradually and subtly away from the God we love.  Sin is deceitful because it can seem so good and right.  It can appear sophisticated and desirable.  We need encouragement everyday in order to resist its attraction.  By recognizing sin’s empty promises and praying for one another, we can hold on firmly to what we have in Christ (verse 14).

I would like to think that I am immune from sin’s attraction.  After all, I have known and loved the Savior for quite some time.  I understand the complications and danger sin can bring to a life.  But I am not immune.  I will always need the example and encouragement from other believers.  He is always ready to forgive, but I do not like the distance I feel from the Lord when I give in.  I know that if I flirt with sin, my heart will no longer be soft and pliable to Him.

Lord, do not let my heart become hardened.


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Misty

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 44:22 “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me for I have redeemed you.”

After living in Europe so many years, we have ridden our share of Alpine gondolas or cable cars.  It is always exciting to be suspended over deep gorges and valleys.  It is always a rush to be teetering over herds of cows with their bells around their necks.  Although the destination is usually a peak or high point on a mountain, the view going up is just as important.  It is always a letdown to have that view obscured by the mist.

Today’s verse is a call to return to the Lord.  The prophet, Isaiah, is reminding the people of how useless their false gods are.  Fabricating and worshipping a block of wood reveals to what point their “eyes are plastered over so they cannot see” or understand (Verse 18).  Their sins were like a cloud that obscured their vision.  Their rebellion created a mist that blocked their view of the True God and His love and power.  Despite their betrayal in turning away from the One True God, He is inviting them to return to Him.

I know where I am going.  My destination is already secured.  I can say that as my salvation is based on His finished work on the cross and not my own works.  But the views on my way there can be obscured by that mist of my own sin.  I miss out on those breathtaking vistas of His power, love and beauty when I turn away from Him.  Life is not quite so exciting when my view of the eternal is shrouded by my own rebellion.

Lord, thank you for sweeping away the clouds and mist and allowing me to enjoy You!


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Training Wheels

Scripture for Today: I Timothy 4:7 “Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourselves to be godly.”

If I were to ever try and maneuver a big heavy motorcycle, I would probably have to resort to what this lady is doing!  Training wheels on a motorcycle seem ridiculous but maybe it would save me a lot of scrapes and bruises!  I can still remember learning to ride a simple bike with training wheels.  The first time I tried riding without them was a wobbly milestone moment!  Mom or Dad had to be close enough to grab me in case I fell or I would not have attempted it!

Today’s verse reveals that to be godly takes training.  Paul was addressing the false Gnostic ideas that condemned marriage and certain foods.  Perhaps this group thought such heresies would give them a shortcut to godliness.  But godliness, or conduct that honors God, can only come through knowledge of the Truth (Titus 1:1)  The Lord has already provided everything needed for the believer to live a life of godliness through our knowledge of Him (II Peter 1:3).  There is no shortcut to knowing, studying, meditating and obeying the Scriptures, which give us our training in righteousness (II Tim. 3:16).

The training never stops.  I can never come to the end of knowing Him and there will always be more to learn.  But just as I can progress from spiritual milk to spiritual meat, so I can eventually let go of those training wheels and not fall over!  Rather than depending on someone else’s study, I can study on my own and hear His very personal message to me!  HIs Word shows me how beautiful He is!  And His Word shows me how to live a beautiful life that honors Him!

Help me Lord, to honor You today.

 


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“Walking the Line”

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 2:26-27 “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

It was 1956 when the famous country singer, Johnny Cash, sat backstage and wrote the song, “I Walk the Line.”  As a newlywed, he wrote it as a pledge to his wife.  The lyrics are all about personal responsibility and avoiding temptation.  I love the line, “Because you’re mine, I walk the line.”  This expression has long been used to mean behaving or abiding by moral standards.  Or in other words, walking the straight and narrow.

Today’s verse tells us to think carefully about where and how we walk through life.  We do not walk close to edge, courting disaster as the thoughtless might.  Rather than wondering just how far one can go in a particular behavior before it becomes sin, we need to walk with a healthy fear of falling.  We need to stay away from that tempting edge.  We do not turn to the left or to the right.  We stay right in the middle and away from temptation.  In other words, we walk the line.  Walking on a dangerous edge gives no room for error.  One moment of inattention or one small misstep can mean disaster.

When I am walking the line, I feel His pleasure.  Walking in obedience to His commands is how I show my love for Him (II John 1:6).  And His commands make the path smooth, straight and manageable.  It is when I veer left or right and start to compromise on His standards that life becomes more difficult.  Thankfully, He offers His forgiveness and helps me get back on track.

Lord, help me love You by walking the line today.