Devotions By Jan


Leave a comment

Playing Possum

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

This dog looks a bit confused.  The opossum is “playing dead,” a common behavior when stressed by an imminent attack.  A predator will leave this bizarre-looking marsupial alone when he sees it limp, drooling, stiff and exuding a smell of decay.  The state of shock producing this comatose state can last up to four hours!  The opossum is a peaceful creature intent on avoiding confrontation.  But “playing dead” presents other risks, especially when involving an approaching car!

Today’s verse explains that before being saved from the penalty of our sin, we were dead in our transgressions or sins.  It took the love and mercy of God Himself to quicken us and make us alive.  Being dead spiritually means that there is no possibility of any self-help.  Being dead means not even being able to respond.  Being dead, we cannot save ourselves.  And dead people cannot “earn points” with God.  What the Lord did to make us alive He did out of grace or unmerited favor.

I am so thankful that my Savior took the initiative to begin this relationship we have.  We love because He first loved us (I John 4:19).  I could not love Him first as I was dead in my sin.  I could not listen, feel or respond to His love.  In His incredible mercy He took pity on me.  He removed my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).  He has awakened me to a whole other dimension to life; the spiritual dimension.  Knowing Him and loving Him makes my life always worth the living!

Thank you Lord, for true life!

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


3 Comments

Finders Keepers?

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 by Christ Jesus.”

Would you return a lost wallet?  That was the question researchers explored in a three-year study.  They placed 17,303 wallets with varying amounts of cash in 355 cities worldwide.  Besides the cash, each wallet had only a name and an email address.  Their findings were surprising.  More people returned the wallets with larger amounts than those with the smaller amounts!  One explanation given was that it felt more like stealing with the larger amounts of cash.  The conscience was not quite as bothered keeping the smaller amounts.

Today’s verse does not differentiate between “small” sins and large.  It does not address whether one feels like a sinner or not.  Just as the image is black and white, there are moral absolutes when it comes to God’s laws.  And the bad news is that all of humanity falls short of the perfect standards of a holy God.  But the good news is that the same “all” who blow it are offered His grace.  Because of the redemption that came through Christ, we can have right standing before God.

I am included in that first “all.”  But I cannot be included in the next “all” until I confess and come clean with Him.  My pride keeps me from admitting my guilt.  I am an expert at diminishing and rationalizing my behaviors and attitudes.  It is easy to do when I compare myself with some others and come out “smelling like a rose.”  But when I compare myself to His perfection, I no longer smell so good.  He waits for me to be honest and humble with Him about my wrongdoing.

Thank you Lord, for freely forgiving me.


Leave a comment

The Crucible

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so no one can boast.”

The new recruit to the Marine Corps cannot be called a “marine” until he successfully completes what is called the “Crucible.”  This is a 54 hour training event that includes 45 miles of marching, plus food and sleep deprivation.  It is a long grueling exercise that is designed to improve leadership, teamwork and communication.  As the Marine saying declares, being a marine is “Earned, Never Given.”

Today’s verse is in direct contrast to this idea.  The marine has bragging rights for his accomplishment.  The believer cannot claim to have earned passage to Heaven.  None of us can boast about having anything to do with it.  Salvation being a free gift does not come through our own work or effort.  No matter how hard one works to earn Heaven, man will always fall short of the perfect standard of God’s holiness.  It is only through His unmerited favor that we can be saved from the just punishment our sins deserve.  In every way, our salvation is Given, Not Earned!

What an amazing and freeing truth!  Were it not for this declaration of God’s grace, I would always wonder if I were good enough.  I would always be in a state of fear and worry about my eternal destination.  He wants me to put my faith and trust not on what I can do, but on what He accomplished on that cross.  The works He has created for me to do are not tied to salvation (verse 10).  Anything I do to please Him is done out of gratitude for His amazing grace!

Lord, thank you for lifting the burden of being good enough!

 


Leave a comment

Raise Your Hand!

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:21 “God made Him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God.”

While watching the NBA playoffs I was surprised to see Australian Andrew Bogut of the Warriors raise his hand.  This gesture of acknowledging a foul used to be mandatory and is still used in European play.  It helps the officiating crew in recording the number of fouls.  However, today it is something completely voluntary and rarely done.  Sometimes a player will raise his hand to take the heat off a star player, confusing the officials and taking the foul for the other player!

Today’s verse has Jesus Christ raising His hand for us!  He had no sin of His own.  He was completely innocent of any wrongdoing.  Yet, He took our place.  He paid the price God’s holiness exacts for sin; the price of death (Romans 6:23).  He did this so that those who raise their hand to admit their guilt could be declared righteousness and in right standing with Him.  Not only are believers declared righteous through His eyes, but we are to “die to sin and live for righteousness” (I Peter 2:24).

I am no “star player” that He should take the foul for me!  I am completely undeserving that He should take my punishment on Himself.  It is only because of His grace and love!  He loved me and sacrificed Himself for me while I was still an enemy of His! (Romans 5:10)  And His sacrifice for my sin makes it possible to share in His righteousness.  No longer will sin have the same power of death over me!  What an incredible love that He should die for me!

Lord, I am humbled and grateful that You raised Your hand for me!


Leave a comment

Day of Remembrance

Scripture for Today: I John 4:10 “This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

Memorial Day is a special day of remembrance, honoring  those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.  The soldier who lies in this grave is no exception even though his remains could not be identified.  His name is not recorded but his sacrifice is commemorated even so.  On this day we want to remember the incredible price paid by all the fallen, named or unnamed.

Today’s verse speaks of another sacrifice, one made to secure our freedom from the power and curse of sin.  He has won the battle over evil and darkness forever.  His name is known and has been for centuries.  The name of Jesus is a polarizing one that has provoked hate, division and rebellion as well as love, unity and submission.  His sacrifice to secure for us a future in Heaven was done out of love.  And His love is the supreme example of a life-changing sacrificial love.

I remember Christ’s sacrifice not only on Good Friday and when taking communion, but hopefully everyday.  I sometimes  forget though how costly His sacrifice was.  It was not only physical pain that Jesus endured but the incredible pain of separation from the Father.  It was the first time in all of eternity that God turned away from His Son.  And it was because of my sin.  Jesus suffered that separation from God so I would not have to.  His sacrifice is proof positive of His love for me!  Every time I think on it I am overwhelmed with gratitude and a desire to make His name known!

Lord, remind me of Your sacrifice every day.

 


Leave a comment

FOMO

Scripture for Today: Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven.”

Fear of missing out (or FOMO) is a phenomenon unique to our technology-filled days.  We stay connected to each other 24/7 just because we can.  But how annoying it is to have a face-to-face conversation interrupted because of FOMO.  The constant checking of social media is often motivated by not wanting to miss out on someone or something more exciting!

There is one relationship, one place and one communication that we never want to miss!  Today’s verse  warns us that this is possible when we adhere to a form of religion without a true relationship.  The people addressed in this verse did all kinds of good works for God but missed out on obeying Him.  The Lord sees the heart of the one who glibly calls Jesus “Lord” and “Master” without submissively bowing the knee.  The true test of relationship is obedience to His expressed will in the pages of His book!  The one who loves Him will obey Him. (I John 2:5)

When I truly love someone I will want to serve and please him.  To ignore what God says or what God wants is not love at all.  I do not want to miss out on the most meaningful, satisfying relationship there is!  His messages of love and forgiveness are not to be missed!  A “fear of missing out” on His blessings is a good kind of fear that causes me to examine myself to see that I belong to Him.  A life of obedience not only leads to a deep relationship but to an eternity with Him!

Lord, I want to obey You today.


Leave a comment

Bride’s Veil Waterfall

Scripture for today:  II Corinthians 3:15-16  “Yes, down to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies upon their minds and hearts.  But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is stripped off and taken away.”

It takes some effort to reach the “Velo de Novia” or Bride’s Veil at El Chiflon, Mexico.  It is the farthest of five falls but the most majestic at 120 meters high.  The best part may be the pool of blue-green water it forms at its base, perfect for swimming.  The way the water cascades down the rocks does resemble a bridal veil.  But what impresses most is the tremendous sound of the pounding water as it rushes down the steep hill.

Today’s verse talks about a veil that is quiet and discreet, so much so that it goes unnoticed.  It is a veil that blinds people spiritually.  It was there even though these people were listening to the Word of God.  The veil was keeping them from understanding.  It was obstructing their view of the Truth.  The veil remained there until they turned to the Lord in repentance.  Once that happened, the veil was no longer an issue.  It was then stripped off and taken away.

There are many times I do not understand God’s Word and those times push me to study and dig deeper.  But this is something different.  The veil that can cover a mind and heart is a veil of unbelief.  The things of the Spirit are spiritually discerned (I Cor. 2:14) and that veil can only be removed by the Lord when I turn to Him in faith.  What a wonderful moment it is when He lifts that veil and I see Him face to face, my loving Groom.

Thank you Lord, for removing the veil.