Devotions By Jan


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Gift Horse

Scripture for Today: Galatians 2:21 “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing.”

I know one is,”Never to look a gift horse in the mouth” but the temptation is too strong with this smile!!  This old expression was first a Latin proverb attributed to St. Jerome in the early 5th century.  It referred to the practice of looking into the horse’s mouth to determine its age.  Nothing seems so wrong about that except that to do so in front of the giver of the horse is not well viewed!  It has come to mean being suspicious or critical of something received at no cost.

In today’s verse, Paul does not set aside or diminish the importance of God’s grace.  It is by God’s unmerited favor that we are made righteous.  We cannot be justified by the works of the law but only by faith in His sacrifice for sin (verse 16).  But there is something innate in our humanness that disdains what is freely given.  We want to feel that we had a part in meriting salvation.  We feel we need to work, sacrifice, or do something.  But as Paul says. if that were so than there was no reason for Christ to sacrifice Himself.

The offer of His salvation came at no cost to me but the cost to Himself was enormous!  There is nothing left to do but respond in joyful surrender.  What heartache He must feel when I set aside His grace and start to think that I am really something and deserve anything!  But when I understand how far-reaching His grace is to have taken hold of me, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Thank you Lord, for Your sweet amazing grace.

 

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The Zebra

Scripture for Today: I Peter 2:24 “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.”

Is the zebra an animal wearing a white coat with black stripes?  Or is he an animal with a black coat striped white?  Scientists argue for the first description as the stripes end on their belly and the inside of the legs, the remainder being all white.  Regardless, all I can see are their remarkable stripes!  They are wonderful protection as it can be difficult for a predator to single out just one zebra to chase.

Today’s verse talks about stripes that offer healing.  These stripes are much more remarkable but are anything but beautiful (Isaiah 53:2).  The stripes are the wounds Jesus suffered for our sake.  Before being put on that tree or cross,  He was beaten.  Those stripes made it possible for us to die to sin and live for righteousness.  Before Jesus took our punishment, we were soul-sick from our sin and in dire need of healing.  He accomplish by His sacrifice a healing that gives us a hope and a future!

His healing of my soul means that I am no longer powerless against sin.  Not only am I spared the righteous judgement my sin deserves, but I am also released from sin’s hold on me!  Because of His healing stripes, I can live a life that is righteous and pleasing to Him.  I wish I could say that I always make the right and moral choice. But at least with His healing I have the opportunity to consistently do what is right.  Regardless of what my body may do, my soul is forever healed of sin!

Thank you Lord, for healing my soul.

 


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New Blood

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 5:17  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.”

There is a warning from the FDA about, “Young Blood Therapies.”  The erroneous thought is that injecting young blood into an older person will help with signs of aging and help with serious age-related conditions.  It is quite an expensive treatment that has no basis in fact.  This bizarre idea came from wrong conclusions about a study of mice by Stanford University in 2014 where an older mouse shared the blood of a younger one along with sharing his organs.  Would that new young blood could change the course of nature!

Today’s verse teaches that the old can be changed into the new.  Such a profound and lasting change can only happen through the blood of Christ’s sacrifice for sin.  The old way of thinking and behaving changes when one is “in Christ.”  A new desire to live for Him changes priorities and one’s direction.  In Christ there is power to change through His Spirit.  No longer is one stuck in a pattern of thinking and feeling.  Where once there was a resistant heart of stone, with forgiveness there is now a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).

I do not want a younger me as much as I want a brand new me!  And only Christ’s blood can make that change on the inside.  This is a change from spiritual death to life!  Sure I would like to minimize the effects of aging, but far more important is the constant renewing God is doing on the inside (II Cor. 4:16).  His lifelong renewal means there is always hope for change.  Those changes on the inside are eternal ones.  He is making me new!

Thank you Lord, for the change You bring.

 

 


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Super Bowl Counterfeits

Scripture for Today: I John 5:20 “We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know Him who is true. And we are in Him who is true by being in His Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”

One of these coveted super bowl tickets is not like the others.  The only one that is authentic is the one on the far right.  All the others are counterfeits and whoever buys them will be sorely disappointed when attempting to enter this much anticipated event.  I can just imagine the keen disappointment when turned away at the gate!

Today’s verse shows us where our defense against counterfeits is found.  Knowing Jesus is knowing truth.  He calls Himself truth and life (John 14:6).  What’s more, He is eternal life.  Those who understand this truth are not duped by counterfeits.  Satan tries to sell his version of true life by offering freedom from restraints.  Or he lulls people into thinking that a few good works is all that is needed to enter those gates.  Counterfeit life can feel like true life but it ends in death rather than life (Prov. 14:12).

Jesus says He is the Life.  He has come to give real and abundant life, found in relationship to Him.  Anything else is counterfeit.  When I find that intimate daily relationship with my Creator, I experience life as it is meant to be lived.  I do not want counterfeit life.  I want the real thing.  Regardless of what kind of day I am having, I want it to be genuine.  For even a day in His courts is better than a thousand outside (Psalm 84:10).  He makes my life abundant by His very presence!

Thank you, Lord, for true life!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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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.