Devotions By Jan


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Ultimate Sacrifice

Scripture for Today: Mark 12:33 “To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important that ALL burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

Today on this Memorial Day we remember the ultimate sacrifice made by so many soldiers who gave their lives for our freedoms.  If it were not for their willingness to put their lives on the line, we would not be enjoying the rights and privileges that we do.  To honor their sacrifice is only right as we are the beneficiaries of their selfless acts of bravery.

Today’s verse talks about a sacrifice that is living.  This sacrifice puts to death one’s own rights and privileges in honor of the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.  Christ died to free us from the penalty of our own sin.  And in response to His incredible sacrifice of love, we give Him all of our heart and strength.  Like David, our sacrifice to Him in return is a broken and contrite heart (Ps. 51:17).  And in loving response to His ultimate sacrifice, our bodies become a living sacrifice, living out His good, pleasing and perfect will (Rom. 12:1-2).

To live for His pleasure and to die to my own selfish desires is a constant battle.  Yet, it is what He asks of me as His child.  He is worthy of any and all sacrifice.  And when I compare my small struggles with what He went through for me, well, there is no comparison!  Because of His ultimate sacrifice of love, He has every right to demand “my soul, my life, my all.”   He has my soul.  He even has my life.  It is that “all” part that can be so difficult sometimes.

Lord, help me to surrender all!


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“Fomite”

Scripture for Today: Matthew 8:3 “Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ He said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.”

There seems to be plenty of new-to-me phrases and words during this time of pandemic.  Fomite is one.  It refers to any inanimate object that can harbor germs and spread illness.  A fomite can be anything: a toy, an electronic device, a counter, a door handle or an elevator button, to name a few.  The fomite harbors the germs for a time, transmitting disease when we touch that object.  There are many creative but impractical ways to avoid directly touching anything.  Or one could just be diligent about hand-washing.

There is touch in  today’s verse.  And although what is touched is not inanimate, it was definitely unclean.  Leprosy was thought to be highly contagious and it was required of those who suffered from it to shout out, “unclean” so others would stay away and not get infected.  This man knelt in front of Jesus and affirmed his belief that the Lord could make him clean if He were willing.  Without any thought of contagion, Jesus reaches out His hand and gives him his healing touch.

I could not live without human touch.  And I could not have any kind of spiritual life without His touch.  Thankfully, God does not wait for me to “clean up my act” before I approach Him on bended knee.  If Jesus were unwilling to touch an unclean heart with His forgiveness, I would be lost.  He is pure and holy and yet He was willing to touch this unclean sinner.  By His touch He quickened to life what was spiritually dead in me.

Lord, how grateful I am for the power of Your cleansing healing touch!

 


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The Great Cross

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 1:18  “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

The Great Cross stands proudly in St. Augustine, Florida at 208 feet high.  It is certainly tall, but is only the sixth tallest in the world (the tallest being the Holy Cross of the Valley of the Fallen in Spain).  What makes it so unusual is the fact that it is so slim.  They had to fill the bottom half with concrete to keep it from falling to hurricane force winds.  Built in 1966 it commemorates the start of Christianity in this land and the city’s founding four hundred years prior.

There is another cross whose greatness exceeds any architectural triumph.  Today on Good Friday, we celebrate a cross where death led to life everlasting.  On that cross was made the ultimate loving sacrifice of the Son of God.  Jesus took on Himself every one of our awful sins and healed those who trust Him from its terrible consequences.  The cross for some people is foolishness.  For others it signifies indignity and failure.  But for those who believe, it is the power by which we are saved.

The cross is polarizing.  There is no middle ground.  Like the two thieves crucified with Jesus, there are only two responses.  I either place my trust in Christ as my substitute, or I remain in my sin.  What power in this cross of Jesus!  His power  snatched me from darkness and placed me in His wonderful light! (I Peter 2:9)  Because of the cross I have hope.  I have life, forgiveness, and healing!  The power of the cross is that it cancels the power of my guilt and shame!

Lord, “simply to Thy cross I cling.”

 

 


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Wash Your Hands!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 26:6 “I shall wash my hands in innocence, and I will go about Your altar, O Lord.”

It is an endearing scene when a raccoon looks to be washing his hands!  Perhaps the raccoon has better hygiene than some humans!  Does he care that his hands (and food) are clean?  One would not think so when seeing him rummage through filthy garbage.  In fact, this little guy has poor eyesight and needs to wet his food in order to “see” it better.  What is so surprising is that even without water they mimic washing in the air!

Today, we are reminded constantly to do what we should have been doing all along; wash our hands.  Today’s verse also speaks of washing the hands, not in water but in innocence.  The hands washed in innocence are contrasted to the hands of the sinners (verse 10).  Their hands are full of bribes and wicked schemes.  But the hands washed in innocence belong to the one whose heart is pure (Psalm 73:13).  And these hands can be innocent because of God’s gift of grace through His Son’s sacrifice.  Once our hands were dirty, but now we are washed by Christ (I Cor. 6:11).

It is only because of His washing that I can approach God’s altar or presence.  My feeble attempts to clean myself up first have no affect.  The stain of sin is too deep and pervasive.  But because of Jesus I can be viewed in God’s eyes as innocent.  He took on Himself all the guilt of my dirty hands.  My hands can now be lifted up in praise, folded together in prayer and open to give and to serve Him.

Thank you Lord, for hands cleansed of wrong doing.

 

 


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Three Cups

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 116:12-13 “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits towards me?  I shall lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.”

This ancient hostelry in Harwich, England may look unimpressive but it boasts a rich history!  Kings, queens. princes and nobility are among those who have stopped at the Three Cups since the 1500’s!  There are records of a previous building on this site with the same name as far back as the 1300’s!  The name of this establishment goes along with the old saying that to be “in one’s cups” is to be drunk!

In Scripture, the image of a cup is used with several different meanings.  In today’s verse, the cup represents salvation.  Lifting up and making known His salvation to others is the very least we can do for all that He has done for us!  He has saved us from our sin and His righteous judgement.  The second use of the cup image  represents His judgement (Psalm 75:8).  It is full of the wine of His wrath poured out on the wicked who reject Him.  But it is because of the third cup that we are spared.  The third cup represents the new covenant in Christ (I Corinthians 11:25).

Christ sacrificed Himself and took on Himself the wrath and judgement that should have fallen on me.  My cup would contain only the wine of His wrath for my sin had it not been for Christ paying my debt.  His salvation cost Him such anguish and pain as seen by His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Because of His grace I do not have to fear what is in my cup.  Do you know what your cup contains?

Thank you Lord, that my cup contains Your costly salvation.

 

photo credit to Harwich and Dovercourt at https://www.flickr.com/photos/harwichs/5820685642


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Groundhog Day

Scripture for Today:  Colossians 2:17  “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality however is found in Christ.”

As of yesterday, Groundhog day has come and gone for this year.  Every second of February, this furry little rodent becomes an “animal meteorologist.”  The Pennsylvania Dutch superstition says that when he emerges from his burrow and sees its shadow, winter will continue for six more weeks.  But spring is supposed to be early if the groundhog does not see his shadow.

The shadows spoken of in today’s verse represent all the rules and regulations that are merely human commands and teachings (verse 22).  As a shadow approaches, the reality is not far behind.  And the reality is Jesus Christ.  Rules and regulations are no shortcut to wisdom, spirituality or self restraint (verse 23).  These are found in relationship to Him.  How sad to know there are those who prefer the shadows.  Rather than recognizing the reality of salvation in Christ, some would rather live with religious regulations and traditions.  And like shadows, there is only empty coldness.  One cannot love and serve a shadow.

So many try the shadows not realizing they have missed the Essence.  This is especially true for those who have grown up in the Church and think they have tried Christianity.  The fact is that religious do’s and dont’s are not the same as a personal relationship with Christ!  One can confuse shadow with reality.

Rather than chasing after shadows, I want the reality of Christ in me.  I do not want to confuse the two.  I do not want to be content with just the customs and traditions of religion.  I want relationship.  It amazes me that Christ wants a relationship with me as well!  The shadows have had their day.

Thank you Lord, that relationship with You is the reality!


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Bookworm

Scripture for Today: Revelation 20:12 “And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.”

An avid reader is often called a “bookworm” and the idea is sweet.  But the other meaning of this word is pretty disgusting!  The term refers to any insect that bores or tunnels through a book, leaving behind some pretty serious damage.  They can range from silverfish to termites, although most of these insects are beetles.  Oddly enough, none of the culprits are worms!  Sometimes it is not the paper that they are after but rather the leather or the glue in the binding.

It is odd to think that there will be books in heaven, but according to today’s verse there are.  One book is singled out as incredibly important; the book of life.  It will be used at the Great White Throne Judgement and will determine one’s eternity!  Being judged according to one’s deeds is the future of those who reject salvation through Jesus.  There is nothing worse.  No one will be able to stand on their own merit.  “There is none righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10)  And the deed that condemns is choosing one’s own way of “good deeds” over the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

It is because of God’s promise that my name is written in the book of life.  Praise God there is no condemnation for me because I have accepted His sacrifice! (Romans 8:1).  What amazing love!  I am so thankful that there is no fear of judgement because of His saving grace!

Lord, thank you for writing my name in Your book.

Photo credit: Dominic Mason https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bookworm_Grub_and_the_damage_done.jpg