Devotions By Jan


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Lifetime Achievement Award

Scripture for Today: Genesis 15:1 “After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision; ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.'”

George Clooney has just been announced as this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute.  He is being honored for his achievements as an actor, writer, producer and director.  He has won two Oscars as well as other honors.  And it cannot hurt that he remains so good looking, although that may not have influenced those bestowing this award!  In any case, this award represents approval from people for noteworthy achievements.

Today we bury my 95 year old Mother.  Her lifetime achievements are not so well-known or noteworthy.  But right now she is enjoying her reward.  This reward lasts for eternity and it does not depend on the approval of men..  Today’s verse explains that Abraham’s reward is God Himself.  Abraham enjoyed an intimate relationship with his Creator.  He was even called, “God’s friend.” (James 2:23).  He, like my Mother, was able to enjoy his reward while here on earth.  But to literally be in His presence is a reward that surpasses any other!

I think the world of my Mother but of course, she was not perfect.  However, I know she is enjoying her “Reward” because of God’s grace and forgiveness.  Although she spent her life following and obeying Him, she did not earn her place in His presence.  She is there because of God’s grace.  And I know, because I have accepted His grace as well, I will one day be able to hug her again.  I know she is hearing God’s approval as He says, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.”

Thank you Lord, for being our very great reward!

 

 

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Delicate Arch

Scripture for Today: Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He.”

The Delicate Arch is one of the over 2,000 found in Arches National Park in Utah.  Other notable arches have names like Landscape Arch, Double Arch and Broken Arch.  Their odd formations are the result of centuries of erosion carving layer and layer of rock away.  They look like they could last forever with their impressive height, this one standing 46 feet tall.  But in fact, each arch is fated to one day fall as did the Wall Arch in 2008.

There is another Rock that will never fall or face erosion.  Today’s verse describes our God as a Rock.  His perfection will never change.  Everything He does is perfect and just.  Most of all, this Rock is faithful and can be counted on to always and forever be there, strong and solid.  He will never do wrong as He is upright and just.  He is THE Rock and there is no one like Him (Ps. 18:31).  Because He is my rock, “I will never be shaken.” (Ps. 62:2)  “He is my rock of refuge to which I can always go.” (Ps. 71:3)  And most of all, God is the “Rock of my salvation.” (Ps. 95:1)

How reassuring to be reminded of His permanence.  Nothing will ever change Him or His promises to me.  Even when I am unfaithful, He will always remain faithful and true to Himself.  In a world where everything is in a constant state of change, He continues perfectly unchanged.  I can run to Him for everything I need.  Being a rock, He gives me the stability I need.

Thank you Lord, that I can always count on You!

 

 


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Paradise

Scripture for Today: Luke 23:42-43 “Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.'”

The word, “paradise” conjures up so many lovely mental images.  For me, paradise would be someplace quiet and calm with plenty of places to relax and enjoy sunshine and a stunning view.  Paradise would be a place where stress would not exist and troubles would float away with each receding wave.  It would not be too hot or too cold.  Sand would stay where it belonged.  Throw in a personal servant seeing to my every need and I will have arrived!

In today’s verse an entirely different place is meant by Paradise.  The thief on the cross came to believe that Jesus is God in the last moment of his life.  Jesus assures him that he will be with Him in Paradise that very day.  His sincere faith in Jesus as the Son of God was all that was needed to save his soul.  Paradise is His Kingdom and nothing can adequately describe what we will find there.  What is prepared for those who love Him is beyond what eye can see or ear hear, or even what minds can imagine (I Cor. 2:9).

My ideas of Paradise fall so short of the incredible and indescribable reality!  When I allow myself to dream of what awaits, I see my circumstances a little differently!  But Paradise would not be worth much without His presence.  Jesus promised this forgiven thief that he would be with Him.  He is LOVE and His presence will be the paradise for which every human heart has longed.

Thank you Lord, for giving me just a taste of Paradise with Your love here and now.


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Sheepish

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.


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Bow and Arrow

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

As a skinny-armed adolescent my archery experience was short lived at camp.  It just hurt my arms too much to pull back that bow.  Living in Europe so long I have had more opportunity than most to see archery competitions and shows.  These expositions seemed to always be a part of local village fairs.  And I have seen some impressive displays of strength and precision.  It is beautiful to watch, as long as the target was not something living!

Today’s verse describes missing the target of God’s glory.  This word for “sin” denotes falling short of the intended goal.  Some may get closer than others but all of us fall short of God’s absolute perfection.  We can strive an entire lifetime to live up to God’s standard, but we do not have the momentum to get there without His grace.  In the Archer’s hands we are stretched with His power and pointed in the right direction.  Believers are declared righteous because of Christ reaching that goal of perfection for us.

Although I am redeemed through Christ’s sacrifice, the Archer still pulls back on my bow.  I know that He uses my problems and difficulties to stretch me.  He uses the tension to mature me in my faith.  The goal is to make me more and more like His Son.  There is no pain that is wasted.  He uses it all for His plan and His glory.  I may not understand it all but I know I can trust His strong capable hands.  He knows what He is doing.

Thank you Lord, for slowly transforming me.


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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.


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Truth or Consequences

Scripture for Today: Romans 2:7-8 “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”

At the risk of sounding ancient, I will admit to remembering this old television show!  It originated on radio in 1940 and became popular on television in the 50’s.  It had quite a run broadcasting its last show in 1988.  The idea was to pick contestants from the audience, ask a question impossible to answer, then require a stunt to perform as the “consequence.”  But really the only consequence to not knowing the truth was looking silly.

Today’s verse describes those who have heard the truth but reject it.  They are characterized by selfish lifestyles and evil choices.  This passage describes them as having stubborn and unrepentant hearts.  That indicates that they have experienced conviction and guilt, but have chosen to ignore it.  There does not seem to be any immediate consequence to their rejection, but the context talks about storing up God’s righteous wrath and anger.  In His grace, He holds off the consequences which must surely come.  But eventually, “trouble and distress” are in store for those who continue to do evil (verse 9).

Those are pretty negative consequences.  But for the believer, glory, honor and peace are promised for those who do good! (verse 10)  Knowing and believing His absolute truth is motivating.  Being convinced of the truth of His Word motivates me to persevere, regardless of the fluctuating ideas of “truth” around me.  It is not “a truth” by which I live my life but “the truth” in the person of Jesus Christ! (John 14:6)

Thank you Lord, for the wonderful positive consequences of embracing Your truth!

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)