Devotions By Jan


2 Comments

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.

 

 


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

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!


Leave a comment

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


2 Comments

Gift Exchange

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 that no one can boast.”

I love a Christmas party when there are gifts involved!  Whether it be an ornament exchange or even a white elephant exchange, there is the anticipation of bringing home something different or unexpected.  The only problem for me comes when I bring home something a whole lot nicer than what I brought!

Today’s verse teaches that there is nothing we can exchange with God for our salvation.  Very clearly it states that salvation does not come through our work or efforts.  We want to think that somehow, something we did contributed to being saved.  But no matter how hard one works to earn Heaven, man will always fall short of the perfect standard of God’s holiness.  Trying to exchange our righteous deeds for His free gift of salvation does not work.  Those good deeds are just “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).  Salvation is a gift from God.  There is nothing I can offer Him in exchange!  Because this is true, none of us can boast about having anything to do with it!

My gratitude towards God grows by leaps and bounds when I grasp this truth.  It is all grace and it is amazing!  There is tremendous freedom in my spirit to be assured that my salvation depends on Him and not my efforts.  Without this truth, I would always be in a state of fear and worry about my eternal destination.  Putting my faith and trust in what HE did on that cross rather than in what I can do makes my heart light!

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible gift of grace!


Leave a comment

Jerusalem Cricket

Photo by Jeff Turner

Scripture for Today: I John 3:1 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.”

Legend has it that a priest while living among the Navajo misinterpreted their name for this big-headed insect.  They called it “Skull Head” but he heard “Skull Hill.”  This put in mind the name, Golgotha, the place where Jesus was crucified.  But this cricket is also called Red Skull, Old Bald-Headed Man and Child of the Earth.

Today’s verse speaks of the Father’s great love for His own.  It is a love that He lavished on us to the extent that He even calls us, “children of God.”  No longer do we belong to the world.  Our identity has been changed forever as His children.  We call Him Father and we call other believers in this worldwide family, brothers and sisters.  The world often fails to recognize this family as they do not know the Father.  And it is only through faith in Christ, His Son that we can belong to this family (Gal. 3:26).

I am a child of God.  What an amazing humbling truth!  As His child I no longer belong to the world or conform to it (Romans 12:2).  No longer am I led by the current thinking or fad but instead I am led by His Spirit (Romans 8:14).  Because I have received Him and believed on His name, He has graciously made me His (John 1:12).  I am not always such an obedient child.  There are times each day when I let down my Father.  But unlike any human family relationship, I can always count on His love and forgiveness.

Thanks you Lord, for making me Your child.

 


4 Comments

You Are Invited!

Scripture for Today: Revelation 22:17  “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”  And let the one who hears say, “Come.”  And let the one who is thirsty come;  let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”

Everyone likes to receive invitations, to know that our presence is wanted.  The invitation pictured here (click to enlarge) is for women in Orange County, California who enjoy a fabulous Christmas Brunch and are interested in hearing me speak!

In today’s verse there is a very special invitation given in the very last chapter of God’s Word.  It is extended by two different sources: the Holy Spirit, and the Bride who is the Church.  We have the privilege of cooperating with Him in getting out this invitation.  It is given to those who recognize their thirst and the need to satisfy it with the Living Water, Jesus Christ.  Although there is no cost to us, it cost Jesus everything to extend it.

Normally, an invitation includes a date, a time and a place.  The fact that this invitation is issued at the very end of time is another example of God’s patience and desire that ALL come to repentance (II Peter 3:9)  The time?  II Corinthians 6:2 says that NOW is the time of salvation.  There is no ending time listed as eternity has no end.  The place is His presence.  It is amazing that He wants me in His presence forever.

Like all good invitations, this has an RSVP.  He awaits our response.  Some invitations say, “regrets only.”  The regret that comes from refusing to come is a regret that will be eternal.  I am so thankful to have heard Him say, “Come.”

Thank you Lord, for inviting me.  Help me be faithful in inviting others.