Devotions By Jan


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A Bad Penny

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

I am one of those rare people who still bend down to pick up a lost penny, bad or not!  The phrase, “a bad penny always turns up,” was coined in the mid eighteenth century.  Pennies used to be more valuable and because they were easily counterfeited, the “bad ones” would continually circulate, turning up in a pocket or purse.  “Turning up like a bad penny,” came to mean someone or something unwanted, turning up repeatedly and unexpectedly.

Today’s verse reassures the believer that God’s forgiveness of sin is complete.  He chooses to no longer remember our sins.  Because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice for sin, the penalty has been paid and God’s justice is satisfied.  Those sins are blotted out forever.  When He forgives, He does not bring it up again.  But like a bad penny, the thought of them (for the believer) can turn up at the most unwanted and inopportune times.  Thankfully, that is never the case for the Lord.  Of course, He is all knowing and so forgets nothing.  But the idea is that He does not call it to mind with censor and judgement.

I would love to be able to “remember my sins no longer.”  But the memories remain.  Thankfully, God’s Word is full of reassurances of unconditional love and complete pardon.  The Lord graciously softens and blurs memories of past failures.  If guilty memories occasionally do reappear, He is there to build me back up.  If nothing else, those remembrances can serve to remind me that I am not perfect, but His forgiveness is!

Thank you Lord, that Your grace chooses not to remember what is forgiven!

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

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Bald is Beautiful

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:12 “For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head and my heart fails within me.”

This man is getting his head shaved for a very special reason.  He along with 119 other Airmen went bald to support a little boy who had cancer.  As a fashion statement, not everyone can pull it off but this kind of bald is always beautiful!  For those who are battling cancer, losing one’s hair can be a terrible blow to one’s self-esteem and make their treatment that much harder.  I am glad society is more accepting of the bald look if only to make it easier for those who have no choice.

Today’s verse is a heartfelt admission of guilt.  David is feeling overwhelmed by his sin likening their number to the hairs on his head.  His sins have created immeasurable troubles for him and his heart drops at just the thought of them.  Perhaps he cannot see for the tears he sheds as he realizes his guilt.  David turns to the Lord for mercy (verse 11).

I confess that I do not often have this kind of awareness about my own sin.  I am a master at minimizing their gravity.  I am very good at rationalizing them.  My sin is never as serious as someone else’s!  But when I examine my heart in the light of God’s holiness I become just as overwhelmed.  It is when I see how black my sin is that I can appreciate His grace and forgiveness!  He is merciful to me over and over.  Whatever sadness I feel over my sin He replaces with joy and a light heart with His forgiveness!

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible mercy to me!


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Justify, the Racehorse

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 6:11 “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

The horse racing world is all abuzz with the newcomer named, Justify.  This three-year-old colt just won two of the three Triple Crown races; the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes.  He is now in a good position to win all three when he competes at the Belmont Stakes in June.  As is the custom, he has only had his name since the age of two.  Perhaps the owner feels that the $500,000 paid for this horse is completely justified!

Today’s verse tells us that we were justified, as well as washed and sanctified by the Lord.  After having been found guilty of a whole list of wrongdoing, God would have been justified to mete out immediate judgement.  Instead, He washed us clean of all the filth, set us apart for Himself, and justified us.  He sees us through the righteousness of His Son, just as if we had never sinned.  We are justified through our faith in what He did on that cross for us.

I cannot justify myself.  I have tried and it does not work.  I may be able to justify my behavior to others.  But before God who sees my heart, there is no justification for what I do.  I am without excuse before a holy and righteous Judge.  If I were to continue in my denial of guilt, there could be no forgiveness.  All He asks is that I come clean with Him.  When I do, that guilt is erased and I am justified before Him.

Thank you Lord, for doing what I could never do.


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The Gift of Life

Scripture for Today: I John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”

Donating blood is not something I enjoy doing!  That is why I am so impressed by James Harrison, an Australian man who has been donating blood every week for the last 60 years!  At 81 he has decided to stop, but not until he had saved the lives of 2.4 million babies!  No wonder he is called the “Man with the Golden Arm.”  His blood has unique disease-fighting anti-bodies that have helped pregnant women.  These were women with a condition where their blood attacked their unborn baby’s blood cells.  His blood was truly a gift of life!

Today’s verse talks about the blood freely given by Another.  This blood also saves lives and was given out of love and compassion for our condition.  The blood of Christ saves us once for all from the eternal punishment for our sin.  His blood makes it possible to walk in light rather than darkness.  His blood makes it possible to walk with others in sweet fellowship, rather than discord.  His blood cleanses and purifies us from sin and its consequences.

He shed His blood so I would not have to.  His blood saved my life.  My faith in His blood pays for all of my ugly sin (Romans 3:25).  More than just a needle in the arm, His gift of blood cost Him everything; separation from the Father, the mockery and violence of others, and His life.  How amazing and deep the love that motivated Him!  And how unworthy I am to be a recipient of such a precious life-changing gift!

Lord, how grateful I am for Your gift of life!

 


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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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Recliners

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.”

When I think of a recliner, this is the image that usually comes to my mind!  Clearly, this particular one is well past its prime!  I realize that there are sleek modern versions now.  One of the selling points is often that it doesn’t look like a recliner, as if the look is somehow less than appealing!

Today’s verses were illustrated using a recliner in one of  Billy Graham’s sermons.  He recounted the story of a Bible translator who had trouble finding an equivalent for the word, “faith” in a tribal language.  For months he struggled until he saw a tribesman relaxing in a hammock.  He asked him what he was doing and the man answered that he was reclining.  The man was resting his whole weight on the hammock, trusting that it would hold him up.  In the same way, faith means putting all your trust and confidence in something (or Someone) outside of one’s self.

There is nothing I can do to save myself.  No amount of good works can qualify me to enter Heaven.  It is only because of His free gift of grace that I am saved.  Placing my faith in Him and His grace means that I no longer feel the burden of being “good enough.”  Reclining on His grace erases doubt forever as salvation does not depend on me.  Reclining on His grace gives me the soul rest I so desperately need.  He wants me to recline or rest on His finished work on the cross.  What a gift!  What grace!

Lord, “keep me ever trusting, resting.”