Devotions By Jan


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Christmas Preparations

Scripture for Today: Luke 2:7 “And she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”

We are in the midst of preparing for Christmas.  The tree is up, the house is decorated, and the presents are for the most part wrapped and tagged.  I enjoy making Christmas goodies for the neighbors and that remains to be done.  There are still the menus to decide on and some major cleaning projects nagging at me.  The news reported that Americans on average spend 38 hours preparing for Christmas! And I always tell myself that this year, I will simplify and take things a bit slower.

Today’s verse describes the humble scene of Christ’s birth.  Because of the ordered census, the inns were filled with travelers and there was no room available.  The King of Kings made His entrance into this world in a stable-like setting.  I sometimes wonder about that inn keeper.  Did he later realize who it was that he turned away?

Today, there continues to be no room for Jesus.  He does not force entry into one’s heart.  He knocks at the door of our lives (Rev. 3:20) and awaits our response.  His desire is to take up residence and begin a life-long close relationship.  What a missed opportunity for those who turn Him away!  But amid all the preparations for Christmas, am I making room for Jesus?  Somehow, the very reason for Christmas can be crowded out with all my distractions and frenzied activity.  I want my heart to be wide open to Him.  I want His presence to fill up every nook and cranny.

“O come to my heart, Lord Jesus.  There is room in my heart for Thee.”

 

 

 

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The Blue Devils


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

Duke is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina.  It has a long history having been founded in 1838 by Methodists and Quakers.  Their motto in English is “Knowledge and Faith.”  Their basketball team, called the Blue Devils, have an eight-episode documentary recently released.  It documents their preparation for their 2018-2019 season.  The title of this documentary is undoubtably meant to be motivational for the players, “Earn Everything.”

Today’s verse teaches an important truth that salvation is something that cannot be earned.  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.  And the problem with thinking we can earn it is never knowing if we have done enough!  Salvation is free and a gift from God.  Because this is true, none of us can boast about earning 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.  In a season of gift-giving, isn’t this the greatest gift of all!  Without this truth, I would always be in a state of fear and worry about my eternal destination.  But I do not have to worry when I place my faith and trust in what HE did on that cross!

Thank you Lord, for such an incredible, unearned gift!


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Paradise Lost

Scripture for Today: Luke 23:42-43 “….’Jesus, remember me when You come in Your Kingdom.’  And He said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.'”

I am heartbroken when seeing images of the ongoing fire in Paradise, California.  To date, 146 thousand acres are burned and the town itself devastated.  So many structures were destroyed, over 11 thousand.  But most importantly, 71 souls have been lost.  And with over 1,000 unaccounted for, that number is sure to rise.  The survivors run the spectrum of emotions, from thankful to bitter.  I cannot imagine this pain of loss but I was saddened to hear one survivor blame God and ask how He could allow a town with the name, “Paradise” to burn.

Today’s verse is a promise of Paradise for a thief.  He hung on the cross next to Jesus because he deserved to be there.  He did not deserve Paradise.  But Jesus made a way.  He offers Paradise anew as mankind has lost it.  With the sin and banishment of Adam and Eve from the garden, Paradise can no longer exist on this earth.  There will always be fire, natural disasters, evil, sickness and death.  God did not intend life to be like this.  We brought it on ourselves.  But He did give us a solution in the sacrifice of His Son.

There, in Paradise, I will live life as it was meant to be.  There will be no pain, no sin, no guilt nor ugliness.  There will be no regrets or dashed expectations!  There will only be unending joy in His presence!  It is so hard to imagine.  But one thing is sure.  It will be so much better than my imagination!

Thank you Lord, that because of You, Paradise can be found again!


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The Tarantula

Scripture for Today: I John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

My grandson loves spiders, the bigger and hairier the better!  A tarantula certainly qualifies!  Their size and appearance are frightening and I would not relish even the idea of them crawling all over me.  This off-putting creature burrows into the ground and does not bother with webs.  They will sometimes spin a trip wire at the approach of their burrows.  The venom in their bite is weaker than most typical bee stings but that does not stop them from provoking fear in most people.

Today’s verse talks about fear having no place in a perfect love.  In fact, this is a love that drives out fear.  The one who struggles with fear of punishment does not have that complete and perfect love.  Because God showed His love by sending His Son to die in our place (verse 9-10) we can know and rely on the love God has for us (verse 16).  The punishment for sin has already taken place for those who place their faith in Christ.

How awful it would be to try to love and serve the Lord out of fear of pain and punishment!  That is not love at all but obligation and coercion.  But because He took the initiative and paid for my sin, I can enjoy a complete, undivided and sincere love for Him.  I am not weighed down with guilt and shame.  There is no doubt that He loves me.  He has paid the price for my sin and guilt forever!  I am free to love Him completely and enjoy His love without fear.

Thank you Lord, for Your perfect love without fear.

 

 

 

 

 


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Weathervane

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 103:12-13  “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those that fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

I imagine if these gentlemen continue drinking long enough, they will not care which direction they go!  This weathervane can be seen in Piddlehinton in the United Kingdom.  There are lots of different whimsical figurines that can be part of the weathervane including ships, cats, and often the rooster.  The important thing is that it sits up high, catches the wind and indicates its direction.

Today’s verse reminded me of the weathervane.  Just how far is the east from the west?  They never meet.  They cannot meet as there is no junction point.  God chose this image to teach us that He has removed our sin an infinite distance from us.  And He did that because of His love.  It cost Him His life on the cross to do that for us.  Satan can try to bring us down with memories and accusations, but it is to no avail.  Who can possibly condemn us (including ourselves) when God has chosen us and Christ intercedes for us?  No one.  (Rom. 8:33-34)

There is lots of confusion about the nature of true love.  But one measure is complete forgiveness.  God’s love for me is so great it reaches to the heavens.  His love is so pure that He never revisits what He has forgiven.  I am so thankful I can live this day and every day without the crushing weight of guilt.  There is NO condemnation because I am in Christ. (Rom. 8:1)  What more proof of His love do I need?  Isn’t this the biggest proof?

Thank you Lord, for Your amazing love and forgiveness.

 


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Lightening Rod

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 53:5 “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him and by His wounds we are healed.”

What a spectacular sight when it happens!  But in fact, the Eiffel Tower  is struck by lightening about ten times a year.  It happened again just recently on May 30th at 2:00am.  Around that time, France experienced a few days with record rainfall and lots of storms throughout the country.  (We were affected being stuck 3 days, trying to fly in!) The tower has lightening rods at the top, so it attracts the lightening and protects quite a large space around it.  The Parisians are safer with that large hunk of metal absorbing the electricity.

Today’s verse reminded me of a lightening rod or conductor.  The cross absorbed all of God’s wrath against sin.  Jesus, who was sinless, took the punishment on Himself that was rightfully ours to bear.  He was pierced, crushed and wounded, all in our place.  Because of His sacrifice, He was able to absorb all of God’s righteous anger against sin.  To talk about God’s wrath is not a comfortable topic.  Yet, without realizing God’s hatred against all wrong-doing, we do not understand how deep is His grace in taking our place!

I am guilty of sometimes treating sin lightly.  I have an amazing ability to minimize its seriousness, at least when it comes to me!  My sin is never as serious as someone else’s!  But when I examine my heart in the light of God’s holiness I become overwhelmed.  When I realize the pain and agony He suffered, then I understand how unworthy I am to have His mercy and grace poured out on me!

I am forever grateful to You Lord, for taking my place.

 


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False Alarm!

Scripture for Today:  II Peter 3:4 “They (the scoffers) will say, ‘Where is this coming He promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.'”

The noise was deafening as I quickly sat bolt upright in bed!  The smoke alarm sounded at 3:30 am.  In principle I am glad to know it works.  However, there was no smoke and it was a false alarm.  My husband quickly unscrewed the thing and took it into the garage to try to stop it.  The neighbors were none too happy as it continued to sound.  As it lay there, finally silent (and destroyed) we learned a valuable lesson.  Never try to figure out the workings of a smoke detector in the middle of the night!

There are no false alarms with God’s warnings.  He keeps all of His promises whether they be positive or negative.  His warnings are clear in Scripture, but as today’s verse shows, there will always be those who scoff.  He gives His warnings of judgement to be heeded.  He is not willing that any should perish! (verse 9)  He waits to mete out His justice out of incredible patience.  There are no false alarms with Him, only a desire that all come to repentance while there is still time to do so.

How gracious the Lord is to give warning!  How loving He is to wait.  As there are loved ones in my family who continue to rebel, I am so so thankful that He waits.  But His Word is sure.  There is coming a day of judgement and reckoning, although it is not a popular topic.  However, because of His grace and forgiveness through Jesus Christ, I am grateful I do not have to fear that day.

Thank you Lord, for sounding the alarm and I pray more would heed it!