Devotions By Jan

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Scripture for Today: Isaiah 53:6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”

What was that racket?  My husband was in the middle of his shower when he heard some bizarre noises!  It sounded as if someone was rearranging the furniture, but there was also loud bleating, shouting and running footsteps.  How bizarre to see this sheep in the living room knocking into things with a crazed look in his eyes!  He had run in from our rural French street into the open doors, with his handlers in hot pursuit!  It took three of them to hold him down and get him under control!

What a perfect way to illustrate the truth of today’s verse!  This sheep was not where he was supposed to be.  He had certainly gone his own way, ignoring his keepers and the other sheep.  His headlong movements could have hurt him and it took some pretty drastic measures to correct him.  I am sure he was none too happy to be bound with that rope.  And we are just like that sheep.  We turn our back on the Shepherd thinking we know better.

How loving and gracious God is to take on Himself the punishment of my silly rebellion.  Jesus paid the ultimate price of my sin, giving me peace with God (verse 5).  And as a forgiven “sheep” I have the enormous privilege of following my Shepherd.  His way is so much better than my own.  He does not lead by prodding me from behind and I don’t just see His back ahead of me.  No, He walks beside me.

Thank you Lord, for turning me back to You and Your way.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


Cherry Picking

Scripture for Today: Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely through His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Two cherry laden trees sat untouched half way through my vineyard walk.  Every day I would check on their progress.  Today the cherries were not only at their peak but some were even rotting on the branches.  It seemed the most natural thing to do to help myself to a few hand fulls.  The sweet juice dripped all over my fingers, staining them red and purple.  Although I was sure the owner would not mind, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I could be caught “red-handed” as technically I had taken something not belonging to me!

Today’s verse explains that we are all red-handed.  “Sin had left a crimson stain” on all of our hands as we are all guilty of breaking God’s perfect law.  There is no way to remove that stain on our own.  But thankfully, one pair of hands are not red but nail-scarred.  Because of His amazing grace we are justified or declared righteous through what Christ did on that cross.  He sacrificed Himself freely out of love for us and not because we deserved it.

I want clean hands and a pure heart.  It is only then that I can enjoy Him, receive blessing and vindication from Him (Ps. 24;3-5).  But there is no cleansing without the humility to admit guilt and come clean with the Lord.  Rather than hiding my hands behind my back, He invites me to discover grace and forgiveness.  He is faithful and just to always forgive and give me a clean start. (I John 1:9)

Thank you Lord, that I can always come clean with You.

(Look familiar? Summer reposing while reposting!)

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“Who You Gonna Call?”

Scripture for Today: Romans 10:12-13 “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile – the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on Him for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'”

The film, Ghostbusters, made famous the question, “Who you gonna call?”  The answer to this question is obvious if one is trying to be rid of Slimer, this ghost!  Ghostbusters are called to investigate and eliminate paranormal activity with their fancy high-tech equipment!  This 1984 comedy enjoyed so much success that it ranks within the top forty highest-grossing films of all time!

Today’s verse talks about calling on the name of the Lord.  Calling on Him for salvation is a prayer that is always heard and always answered.  When we call on Him He richly blesses us.  He loves to answer this cry of faith as He is gracious, righteous and full of compassion (Psalm 116:4-5).  Calling on His Name is an act of humility, recognizing who He is and recognizing our own unworthiness.  When we call on His name we are calling on His power to forgive and restore.  He promises to answer all, Jew and Gentile alike.

It seems too simple.  But in fact, my pride gets in the way.  Like so many, I prefer to call on the prevailing wisdom of the day to absolve me of guilt.  I prefer to call on my own manufactured pseudo-goodness.  Calling on His Name means agreeing with Him that my heart is black and He is the only One who can do anything about it.  How thankful I am that He is forgiving and good, abounding in love! (Psalm 84:5)  How blessed I am that He has answered me!

Thank you Lord, for answering with love and grace every time I call.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)



Scripture for Today: John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

They still allow toilet paper of different colors in France.  One can choose just the right shade to  coordinate with your bathroom decor!  Our white-only choices seem boring by comparison.  Recently, we in North America have gone from talking about toilet paper shortages to heated discussions regarding color.  As important as this dialogue is, there is one even more important; what color is our soul?

Today’s well-known verse declares that God loves His creation.  He loves the world and His offer of salvation is inclusive to “whoever believes.”  As divided as mankind is, the need for forgiveness through God’s Son is a need that we all share.  The value He places on each of us individually is so high that He was willing to sacrifice Jesus so we could be with Him for all eternity.  Deep down in every human is a soul that is colorless in that we have the exact same need of salvation.  The ground before the cross is level.  No one is more deserving than another despite race, economic advantage or educational background.

This is a truth that changes how I view others.  Because of God’s undeserved grace to me, I can extend this same grace to others.  There is no sin too grievous for Him to forgive.  When violating even one of God’s laws I am guilty of all (James 2:10).  This is the way we are all the same, needing His forgiveness and grace.  I do not want to focus on what separates us but rather on what unites us all in our shared need for Him!

Lord, thank you for Your all-inclusive love.

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The Dove

Scripture for Today: Numbers 6:24-26 “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.” 

This sweet girl looks to be kissing the dove in her hands.  These meek gentle birds have long been a symbol for peace over the centuries and in many different cultures.  And a dove with an olive branch in its beak especially symbolizes peace.  Noah could finally leave his ark with the dove’s return.  There was peace with God in this new beginning on earth.

Today’s verses are a priestly prayer God gave Moses to share with Aaron and his sons for the Israelites.  It is the Lord that gives blessing and protection.  It is the Lord that gives grace with His very presence, and it is only through His favor that we can experience peace.  Mankind has the best chance at establishing peace with one another when first we have made peace with our Maker.  This happens through Christ’s sacrifice, made while we were still His enemies (Rom.5:10).  Jesus made peace possible with God and it is Jesus that makes peace possible between men.

I so ardently want to see change in our world.  The injustices and the  divisions make peace seem an impossible goal.  And on our own I do not see much hope.  But with His face turned our direction, He can give peace.  This is not the same peace that the world offers, which frankly can be short-lived and imperfect (John 14:27).  His peace calms my heart and my fears.  His peace allows me to reach out to those different from myself.  “The problem is not skin, it’s sin.  The solution is not race, it’s grace.”

Thank you Lord, for being my peace-maker.