Devotions By Jan


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Lightening Rod

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him and by His wounds we are healed.”

What a spectacular sight when it happens!  But in fact, the Eiffel Tower  is struck by lightening about ten times a year.  It happened again just recently on May 30th at 2:00am.  Around that time, France experienced a few days with record rainfall and lots of storms throughout the country.  (We were affected being stuck 3 days, trying to fly in!) The tower has lightening rods at the top, so it attracts the lightening and protects quite a large space around it.  The Parisians are safer with that large hunk of metal absorbing the electricity.

Today’s verse reminded me of a lightening rod or conductor.  The cross absorbed all of God’s wrath against sin.  Jesus, who was sinless, took the punishment on Himself that was rightfully ours to bear.  He was pierced, crushed and wounded, all in our place.  Because of His sacrifice, He was able to absorb all of God’s righteous anger against sin.  To talk about God’s wrath is not a comfortable topic.  Yet, without realizing God’s hatred against all wrong-doing, we do not understand how deep is His grace in taking our place!

I am guilty of sometimes treating sin lightly.  I have an amazing ability to minimize its seriousness, at least when it comes to me!  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 overwhelmed.  When I realize the pain and agony He suffered, then I understand how unworthy I am to have His mercy and grace poured out on me!

I am forever grateful to You Lord, for taking my place.

 

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False Alarm!

Scripture for Today:  II Peter 3:4 “They (the scoffers) will say, ‘Where is this coming He promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.'”

The noise was deafening as I quickly sat bolt upright in bed!  The smoke alarm sounded at 3:30 am.  In principle I am glad to know it works.  However, there was no smoke and it was a false alarm.  My husband quickly unscrewed the thing and took it into the garage to try to stop it.  The neighbors were none too happy as it continued to sound.  As it lay there, finally silent (and destroyed) we learned a valuable lesson.  Never try to figure out the workings of a smoke detector in the middle of the night!

There are no false alarms with God’s warnings.  He keeps all of His promises whether they be positive or negative.  His warnings are clear in Scripture, but as today’s verse shows, there will always be those who scoff.  He gives His warnings of judgement to be heeded.  He is not willing that any should perish! (verse 9)  He waits to mete out His justice out of incredible patience.  There are no false alarms with Him, only a desire that all come to repentance while there is still time to do so.

How gracious the Lord is to give warning!  How loving He is to wait.  As there are loved ones in my family who continue to rebel, I am so so thankful that He waits.  But His Word is sure.  There is coming a day of judgement and reckoning, although it is not a popular topic.  However, because of His grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, I am grateful I do not have to fear that day.

Thank you Lord, for sounding the alarm and I pray more would heed it!

 


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Black Sheep

Scripture for Today: Matthew 18:12 “What do you think? If a man own a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?”

We enjoyed meeting our friend’s small herd of sheep in the German countryside.  I found it odd that most of them were black as normally they are more rare.  Back in the day, the black sheep was less valuable as their fleece could not be dyed.  Being the “black sheep” of the family could have been a phrase originating with this in mind, denoting a member who was worthless, or a non-conformist, wandering away from the group.

Today’s verse describes that individual sheep who unlike the rest of the herd, wanders off and goes his own way.  I love how the shepherd goes after that one who is different and does not conform to the behavior of the group.  To our Good Shepherd, each sheep is valuable and worthwhile.  The following verses describe the joy of the shepherd in finding that non-conformist sheep.  There may be disapproval and disdain from the other sheep, but to the Shepherd, there is unconditional love and acceptance!

How do I see my fleece?  Is it black or white and does it matter?  All are sheep and all have wandered off from the Shepherd (Is. 53:6).  How silly of me to think that I am any better or any worse than the other sheep around me.  I was lost and He cared enough to go after me and find me.  He has brought me into the fold as He has done with each of us who have responded to Him in faith.  We are all the same, in need of being found!

Lord, forgive my critical spirit when looking at other sheep.


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Another World

img_20161001_112154Scripture for Today: John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I wish this man would turn around so I could see the shock on his face when he realizes that not all is as it appears!  This image reminds me of the movie, “The Truman Show” with Jim Carey where he unknowingly lives in an artificial domed world.  The man in this image would never have known there was another world had he not been curious and courageous enough to lift that curtain!

Today’s verse is spoken by the Lord, our Good Shepherd.  Those who belong to Him are pictured as sheep who enter only through Jesus, the Gate.  They have freedom to go in and out and find green pasture.  But there is another group who do not belong to Him and are fooled by the “thief,” or Satan.  They are fooled into thinking that this life and what we see is the only reality, when in fact there is another whole world.

Satan does not want anyone lifting that curtain and seeing the spiritual realm.  By hiding the reality of the abundant life Jesus offers, he steals from men their capacity to enjoy their days to the fullest!  With eyes blinded we miss out on what is real and eternal, until the Lord opens our eyes (Acts 26:18).  Without realizing it, so many are content to live with the pigs and eat their scraps rather than feasting and partying at the Father’s table! (Luke 15:11-25)

I am so grateful for Jesus giving me a life that includes that other unseen world.  This world is just not enough.  But He is!

Thank you Lord, for the full abundant life You give me!

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


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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.