Devotions By Jan


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Banana Peels

Scripture for Today: Romans 9:32 “…they pursued it (righteousness) not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone.”

It is no laughing matter to slip on a banana peel!  However, it was the stuff of comedy routines in the early 1900’s Vaudeville stage.  This form of physical humor even appeared in the early silent films.  But it used to be much more of a hazard when it was common to throw one’s garbage out a window in the mid 1800’s.  Even as late as 1880 the public was admonished in the Harper’s Weekly about this slime-covered booby trap.  Just seven years ago a woman in California sued a store after allegedly falling and injuring herself on a peel left in the aisle.

People are stumbling in our verse for today.  They are stumbling over the stumbling stone, who is Jesus Christ.  Rather than obtaining a righteousness that is to come by faith in Him, law-followers put their trust in their own efforts at righteousness.  Our right standing with God is given through faith in Jesus Christ whether Jew or Gentile (Romans 3:22).  Unfortunately, there will always be those who feel it is their own efforts and works that save.  They stumble over the Truth but keep walking, doing things their own way.

With that same attitude I am at risk to slip and fall.  I have no righteousness of my own.  I cannot earn my way to Heaven or earn His favor and blessing!  He gives freely what I can never deserve.  It is my pride talking when I entertain even a whisper of self-congratulation.  He knows my every motive and thought and I know I cannot be righteous apart from Him.  It is all grace.

Thank you Lord, for the right standing You have given me!

 

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Mudslide!

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 11:7 “By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”

The recent mudslides in California have been devastating!  The rainfall was short lived, but because of the lack of vegetation due to recent fires, whole hillsides were swept away.  At this writing, 17 are dead and 48 are missing.  The images of homes swallowed up in mud are heartbreaking.  I do wonder why some people did not heed the ample warnings and evacuate.  I am sure there were  extenuating circumstances for some.  And  I can imagine that others had difficulty grasping the seriousness of the danger they faced.

Today’s verse describes the faith Noah demonstrated when he built that ark.  Although Noah was warned, it must have been difficult for him to believe in something that had never been seen before.  Yet, in faith, he heeded the warnings and obeyed God’s instructions.  Not only was he and his family saved from those rising waters, but he was saved spiritually as his faith was counted to him as righteousness (Romans 3:22).

What a loving gracious God He is!  He warns of danger and judgement.  He is not obliged to do so, but waits and pleads, not willing to see anyone perish but to come to Him for salvation (II Peter 3:9).  He is my “Savior” because I needed saving from the just punishment for my own wrong-doing.  Not only has He saved me for all eternity, but His commandments preserve my life here as well (Psalm 119:93).  His warnings keep me from needless heartbreak.  What a wonderful expression of His love for me!

Help me Lord, to listen for Your warnings and follow You today.


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Birthdays in Heaven

Scripture for Today: Luke 15:10 “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Today my Mother celebrates her birthday in Heaven for the first time.  If there are candles on her cake they would number 96!  I am not sure that she is having a party.  I imagine that if everyone there is daily celebrating birthdays, eternal life would be one big continual party!  The cake would be delicious but with no calories.  The gifts would need no exchanging.  And there would be no let-down the following day!  I cannot imagine a cake big enough to hold all the candles as each century is added!

Today’s verse describes a time of rejoicing in Heaven.  It is not for the first birthday but for the second; the spiritual one when one is born again.  There is rejoicing and somehow the angels even get into the act.  When even just one sinner repents and comes to Jesus for salvation, there is celebration and joy!  The noise of it would echo down those streets of gold.  This verse follows the parables of the lost coin and the lost sheep that were found.  Following this verse is the parable of the lost son whose return was celebrated with a party.  In each case there was enthusiastic joy and celebration!

Her joy is complete.  Mine, not so much.  She is enjoying her reward, whatever form it takes.  But I can recapture some of my joy when reminding myself of where she is and what she is experiencing today.  There are no more tears, pain or suffering and she is surrounded with incredible beauty and splendor.  She is enjoying “face-to-face” the Love of her life; her Savior.

Thank you Lord, for what You have prepared for all who love You.


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Snowflake Babies

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:15 “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba Father.'”

I was surprised to learn the circumstances surrounding the birth of my friend’s latest grandchild.  After the death of her four year old son, her daughter’s empty arms were again filled with a sweet precious baby girl.  She had given birth to her adopted “snowflake baby!”  This amazing miracle was the result of a frozen embryo left over from the in vitro fertilization procedure of others.  This sweet little girl had been a frozen embryo for eleven years and finally was brought into a warm loving family!

Today’s verse speaks of another kind of adoption.  This one comes through God’s Spirit and makes us children of God (verse 16).  Before our adoption, we might as well have been a frozen embryo as true and abundant life only happens through Him.  We were spiritually dead because of our sin, but He has made us alive! (Eph. 2:5)  This relationship is not one of fearful servanthood but of a close emotionally satisfying bond.  As His adopted kids, we call our Father, “Daddy.”

Life is a precious gift.  But how much more precious are our lives when we belong to Him!  His Spirit reassures my heart that I am chosen, planned for and loved.  Because it is a work of His powerful Spirit, I am forever in His family.  There is no fear in that perfect familial love (I John 4:18).  I will always be His and He will always be mine!  His is a love that is faithful and cannot cease.  What an amazing truth, one I can and do make an unshakeable foundation to my life!

Thank you, Daddy.


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Candy Canes

Scripture for Today: John 10:11 “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

There are lots of legends and stories surrounding the origins of the candy cane.  One of those stories says that a choirmaster in 1670 gave sugar sticks to his young choir boys to keep them quiet during a lengthy church service.  It is said that he shaped them to resemble a staff so as to remind them of the shepherds visiting the baby Jesus.  It is more likely that candy sticks were straight at that time, but it is a nice story.

Today’s verse is a declaration of Jesus about who He is.  It seems strange that He would identify Himself so closely with shepherds as they were considered lower class citizens on the fringe of society.  Yet, “God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:11) and we are in desperate need of a Shepherd to meet all of our needs and to lead us!  Not only does this Shepherd do all of this, but He is good.  Everything He does is good whether it be keeping us from danger or correcting us with His rod and staff.  But the biggest proof of His goodness and love is the laying down of His life for us, His sheep.

How appropriate then, that the angels announced Christ’s birth to those shepherds!  They were the first to hear the news!  They were the first to bow down and worship Jesus.  And they were the first to spread that news, glorifying and praising God! (Luke 2:8-20)

And I have the same privilege!  I may not be the first but I am just as privileged to know and love that Good good Shepherd.  He has laid down HIs life for this silly sheep and I am forever grateful!

Thank you Lord, that You came for me!

 


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Streaked Windows

Scripture for Today:  II Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow bring death.”

They say it “never rains in California.”  However, I can be sure it will if I have just cleaned my windows!  Serves me right for believing the weather report.  Cleaning windows is not my favorite activity, especially since I cannot seem to avoid the streaks.  I have special products that say right on the label that streaks will not be a problem.  I have all the special equipment and recommended technique at my fingertips.  And although the windows are clean, those streaks seem unavoidable and I try hard not to see them.

Today’s verse contrasts a worldly sorrow for sin and a godly sorrow  The worldly sorrow not only brings death but leaves behind streaks of regret.  The godly sorrow leads to salvation and leaves behind no regrets.  When forgiveness is full and complete, guilty feelings need not be present.  He has promised to remove our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  He remembers our sins no more (Is. 43:25).  By contrast, those who try to self-clean and bypass sincere repentance to a holy God, will daily live with guilt and regret for an unforgiven past.

I will admit to that little voice in my head that reminds and accuses.  But I know it does not come from Him!  Of course I regret my past sins, but He does not even remember them!  His love does not waver and His grace is greater than all my sins put together!  When I do struggle with thoughts of past failures I cling hard and fast to His unmerited favor!  It’s gone.  It’s done.  He took care of all of it!

Thank you Lord, for forgiveness that frees me from guilt!

 

 


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Bones

Scripture for Today: Ezekiel 37:5 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.”

This must be what happens when Halloween meets Valentine’s Day!  I just had a bone scan done for the first time but I am fairly sure I did not look like either one of these skeletons.  I have osteoporosis in my family and need to be concerned about good bone health.  There are lots of preventative measures to take.  Weight-bearing exercise is recommended as well as a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.  I am thrilled to see ice cream and frozen yogurt on the high-in-calcium list!  Although vitamin D is important, I would prefer getting it from the sun rather than a pill.  The next time I enjoy ice cream in the sunshine, I can do it without a shred of guilt!

Today’s verse comes from a vision the Lord gave His prophet, Ezekiel.  The bones represent the nation of Israel.  Their bones were dried up as their hope was gone and they were cut off.  God promised to put flesh on those bones and give life through His Spirit.  It was an image of what He would do for them, bringing them back to their land.

There is no life without His Spirit.  We are all dead in our sins without His life-giving Spirit.  Those who reject Jesus Christ are like dried up bones, without hope and cut off from a vital relationship with their Maker.  But with His breath comes true life.  In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).  The breath of His Spirit moves me to a living loving relationship with Him.

Thank you Lord, for breathing true life into me!