Devotions By Jan


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Slip Cover

Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And You forgave the guilt of my sin.”

My couch was only three years old and from a reputable company.  And yet, being made of bonded leather, it slowly “unbonded” with cracking and chipping.  Being that it was structurally sound I decided to invest in a good slip cover.  The difference was immediate!  I sit on it and it does not move.  And best of all, those obvious flaws are covered and it looks brand new!

Today’s verse tells us that we can very successfully cover up our flaws.  By not acknowledging our disobedience and rebellion against the Lord, we do our best to hide our imperfections.  And it can even seem successful.  Like Adam and Eve who immediately covered themselves with fig leaves after their disobedience, we too have that have the tendency to hide the problem.  As long as we do so, forgiveness is unavailable.  The Lord waits for us to come clean with Him and admit our sin.  And when we do, He is gracious to forgive not only the sin but even the guilt it produces!

Eventually, the cover starts to slip when I try to hide my disobedience.  Sure, I can look good on the outside, but He is not fooled.  He sees all the problems underneath.  My cover up leaves me struggling with feelings of guilt and shame.  He knows and I know what I am hiding.  But with sincere confession, He forgives the sin and the guilt.  There is no longer the need for covering up as He makes me absolutely new! (II Cor. 5:17)

Thank you Lord,  that You know what is underneath and You love and forgive me anyway.

 

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Watering Can

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 12:3 “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Will owning this $35,000 watering can from Tiffany’s make the water somehow superior for my plants?  Perhaps at that price, watering my artificial plants will bring them to life!  This “must-have” is made of sterling silver and copper and makes a statement.  It is saying, “I have so much money I don’t know what to do with it!”  This watering can is a limited edition and is part of a line called “Everyday Object” collection.  Unfortunately, it will not be a part of my everyday!

Today’s verse is about a different kind of water drawn up from a well of salvation.  The container is not at all important but what it contains is!  What is drawn up from the well represents strength, trust and the ability to be without fear with God as our Defender (verse 2). God is our salvation as He has turned from His justifiable anger and instead comforts us when we turn to Him for forgiveness (verse 1).  When drawing from this well, we do so with joy and anticipation!

I love the illustration of water as it is essential not only to life but to eternal life!  Jesus has quenched the thirst of my soul for love, significance, and beauty.  How amazing it is that His water also allows me to move through life without fear!  As my Savior He is also my Defender (Romans 8:31).  When I feel weak, He strengthens me.  When I am feeling under attack, He defends me.  He is more than worthy of my trust.  Nothing can separate me from His love and without fear, I can face each new day with joy and anticipation.

Lord, I need to draw from Your well today.

 


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Most Sinful Cities?

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.”

Do you live in a sinful city?  A study was done recently by WalletHub ranking American cities by their level of sin.  The areas judged were Anger and Hatred, Jealousy, Excesses and Vices, Greed, Lust, Vanity and Laziness.  It was interesting to see how each of these categories led to overt crimes or social ills.  Here is their list of the top ten: (number one being most sinful) 1. Las Vegas 2. Los Angeles 3. New York 4. Houston 5. St Louis 6. Atlanta 7. Miami 8. Philadelphia 9. Chicago 10. Orlando.

Today’s verse helps to level the playing field.  All is a pretty inclusive word!  There is not a city, village or hamlet on this earth that is not affected by sin.  And the reason these cities are sinful has very little to do with what city ordinances allow or do not allow.  The reason cities are sinful is because they are full of sinful people.  The hard truth taught in Scripture is that all of mankind stands guilty of sin before the Lord.  We all fall short of the glory of His perfection.

I am so thankful that this hard truth does not stop there!  Just as all have broken God’s laws, so all have the opportunity to be freely forgiven and declared righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice!  I have been bought back from sin’s ownership because of His love and grace!  I am a sinner but I am a sinner that is saved by His grace.  I do not deserve it.  But because of His unmerited favor, I am “in Christ” (Rom. 8:1) and my sin no longer condemns me!

Thank you Lord, for forgiving me.

 


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911 Call from Space

Scripture for Today: Psalm 138:3 “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.”

It was an honest mistake.  But answering a 911 from space is maybe just a bit too much for this emergency service to handle!  Andre Kuipers, a Dutch astronaut,  admitted to this dialing mistake while on the International Space Station.  From space, a call via Houston would begin with a 9 for an outside line, then 011 for an international line.  Understandable.  But the security alert set off at the Houston Center had everyone confused!

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance of the access we have with the Creator of the universe.  Calling on Him is never a mistake.  A call is never dropped and His answers are timely.  In fact, He answers on the very day we call!  Whatever His specific answer is (yes, no or wait) He infuses the soul with His strength, just as a result of calling on Him.  And His strength gives us a boldness to live for Him, to love Him and to obey Him.

There are times I forget to call on Him.  It is not until I am feeling weak or in need that I remember to call.  It is easy to think that I can live life just fine in my own strength.  But the Lord knows better.  He is aware of each and every weakness.  He sees me running out of energy and resources.  The Lord is waiting for me to call.  He sees me coming and He is gracious to answer with exactly what I need.  Because of His unfailing love and faithfulness He will always answer when I call.  How good He is!

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


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A Christmas Carol

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.” 

This particular version of the classic tale by Charles Dickens was filmed in 1938 and stars Reginald Owen as the unloveable Scrooge.  It was the first major adaptation of a Dicken’s novel and it took some liberties with the story, having each Christmas spirit appear in one night rather than in three.  But the message of Christmas being a time to give liberally to others finally gets through to the stingy Scrooge.  He begins to care.  He begins to love.  And so he begins to give.

Today’s often-quoted and beloved verse explains the reason for God offering His Son.  He gives because He loves.  He loves all of mankind, regardless of race, religion or culture.  The offer of His Son was to give us a way to spend all eternity with Him.  It was His love that motivated such a sacrifice of His one and only Son.  And it is only through faith in His sacrifice for sin that eternal life can be ours.

The birth of Christ was a gift for everyone because our need for a Savior is universal.  We all need Him.  No one is exempt from their need of a Savior to forgive and give life. One day I invited Him to be mine and it was the best and most important decision I have ever made!  And because He loved me first, I can love Him in return.  One of the best ways I can love Him is by showing His love to others.  He loves so He gives.  I want my love for others to show itself in selfless giving.  Not only at Christmas but everyday!

Thank you Lord, that You gave.

 


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A Christmas Story

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 9:15 “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.”

Little Ralphie dreams of receiving his heart’s desire for Christmas; a Red Ryder Air Rifle.  This low budget comedy filmed in 1983 has become a Christmas staple.  It stood out among all the other saccharin-sweet Christmas movies as it brought in a note of realism.  What parent has not experienced the unbridled avarice of their sweet children!  Commercialism, anticipation, disappointment and hurt feelings are all part of real Christmas in real families!  And of course, the warnings about his perfect gift came close to being realized, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”

Today’s verse is about another gift that cannot ever be adequately described!  It is a gift that cannot be purchased and it will never be deserved.  It is a gift that is eternal and totally without equal.  There is no question of returning it as it goes beyond every expectation!  This gift is God’s surpassing grace in the Person of His Son, Jesus (verse 14).  His unmerited favor is a gift that continues giving throughout our earthly life and into eternity!

Words cannot adequately convey how life-changing His grace is towards me.  It is indescribable!  This grace was given to me in Jesus before the beginning of time (II Tim. 1:9) and by this grace I am saved.  His grace allows me to live beyond the limits of my weaknesses (II Cor. 12:9).  And it is by His grace that He gives me eternal encouragement and good hope (II Thes. 2:16).   There are so many layers of wrapping to this gift of grace that it takes a lifetime to experience it fully.  I am so humbled by the enormity of this gift and the cost the Lord paid to offer it to me.

Thank you Lord, for this incredible gift of Your favor to me!

 


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Miracle on 34th Street

Scripture for Today:  Mark 8:29 “‘But what about you?’ He asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah.'”

This heartwarming story, released in 1947, has become a classic.  The story is all about the true identity of Kris Kringle who becomes a substitute Santa at Macy’s.  Little Susan (Nathalie Wood) has been taught by her disillusioned Mother not to believe in Santa.  There is a psychological evaluation and a court case, all in the attempt to discount Kris and his claims.  The story ends with Susan becoming a true believer after her desire for a house seems to magically come about.

In today’s verse, Jesus challenges the thinking of the disciples.  They were walking with Jesus to the villages around Caesarea, Philippi.  Jesus had just healed a blind man and asks them the question, “Who do people say I am?”  Their response was John the Baptist, Elijah or one of the prophets (verses 27-28).  Then Jesus gets personal.  But what about you?  Peter, as a spokesman for the group responds with this true and life-changing statement; “You are the Messiah.”

Mistaken identity about any individual can have serious consequences, but to miss who Jesus is has implications not only for this life but for eternity!  Jesus continues to ask each of us, “Who do you say I am?”  My answer to that question has been life-changing.  He is my Lord and my God.  Jesus coming down to earth as a baby is the most pivotal moment in history!  He became human to share His heart with me.  He became as one of us to offer His love and salvation.  His birth was a miracle that not only changed history but continues to change hearts.

May each of my readers respond with faith when Jesus asks this same question of you.