Devotions By Jan


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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


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Reply or Reply All

Scripture for Today: Romans 11:4 “And what was God’s answer to him? (Elijah) ‘I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.'”

In my haste, I have sometimes made the mistake of hitting that “reply all” button on a group email.  Many times it can be appropriate to reply to all.  Normally, it is not a problem but there are times when I want my response to be very personal.  One of my pet peeves is reading responses sent to the whole group when it does not involve me or concern me.

Today’s verse is a very specific answer to a discouraged cry for help.  Elijah ran for his life after death threats from Queen Jezebel.  Strengthened and encouraged with rest and food provided by an angel, he continued to put distance between himself and the threat, traveling 40 days and nights.  Elijah felt totally alone, spent and discouraged.  The Lord never reprimanded him for feeling this way.  The answer to his prayer spoke directly to his need.  Elijah was told to anoint Elisha to help and was told of seven thousand who like Elijah were faithful to God!  He was not alone.

This is no “reply all” response from God.  It was an intensely personal reply.  God’s answer to Elijah was for a certain time and place.  But I learn from it that He hears the individual prayer and provides a specific answer.  And He does the same for me.  He knows exactly what I am feeling and why.  I may not even be able to articulate my need but the Holy Spirit intercedes for me with wordless groans (Romans 8:26).  As my Creator He sees and understands my heart.  When I cry out to Him, He answers with exactly what I need.

Thank you Lord, for Your very personal replies.

 

 


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Marked with a Seal

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 1:13  “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”

The seal pictured here looks like it could be an antique and seems very elaborate.  Today, seals have  a much simpler image or maybe just initials.   They have recently seen a resurgence in popularity, but seals have been around for a very long time.  In biblical times they were common and served several purposes.  First, they kept that document rolled and closed.  They also kept a communication private.  The seal revealed the sender as it was imprinted with an identifying mark.  Of course, the importance of a seal was only as important as the sender.

Today’s verse says that believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit.  Being sealed by Him means guaranteed security and the reassurance of belonging to Him.  He is the Holy Spirit of promise whose work means the believer is “in Christ.”  Being sealed by Him means that we are His possession.  He cares enough about us to seal us to Himself.  There is a seal over the heart and on the arm between the bride and bridegroom (Song of Solomon 8:6).  It is a seal that pledges fidelity.  In the same way, the Spirit seals us with His presence as a sign of His love.

Because He loves me, He has marked me forever as His own.  The seal of His Holy Spirit is one more way that He speaks love and reassurance to my heart.  The imperfect up-and-down relationship I have with Him now is not to be compared to the closeness we will someday enjoy.  His seal has guaranteed it!

Thank you Lord, that I belong to You!


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Galette des Rois

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 103:4 “Who redeems your life from the  pit and crowns you with love and compassion.”

Just when you thought the  holidays were over….they’re not!  Today is the Epiphany, commemorating the visit of the Magi-Kings to the baby Jesus.  The date of January 6th closes the period of the twelve days since Christmas.  In France it is called Fête des Rois or Festival of the Kings.  It is celebrated by eating a special galette cake made of puff pastry, almond paste, and baked with a hidden fève or figurine inside.  Whoever has this coveted tiny figure in their slice has the right to wear the gold paper crown!

In today’s verse God’s love and compassion are depicted as a crown that gives us value and honor.  The context is forgiveness of sin and healing.  In His love He lifts us up from the pit of guilt and condemnation.  We were unable to crawl out of that pit on our own.  But He had compassion on us and redeemed us at a great price to Himself.  He wore a humiliating and painful crown of thorns in order to crown us with love and compassion!

The fact that He knows every dirty little secret and still loves me is an incredible thought!  He has lifted me up from the depths of my own sin and guilt and made me precious with this crown!  His love and compassion make me valuable.  I had no value of my own to claim in that muddy slimy pit.  He has set me apart with His crowning distinction.  I can have no other response than to praise Him with my whole life and my entire being!

Thank you Lord, for Your love and compassion crowning this undeserving head!

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Shoe Dog

Scripture for Today:  John 13:3-4a  “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so…”

The term, “shoe dog,” brings to mind what is pictured here.  There is something about that soft leather and trailing shoelace that invites dogs to be naughty and chew.  But in fact, “shoe dog,” refers to a shoe salesman.  In hearing about the history of the Nordstrom department stores, I learned that each of the three sons had to be a shoe dog as part of their training before their father allowed them to rise in the ranks.  The idea was to teach them humility and service.

In today’s verse, Jesus is preparing to get down on His knees and wash His disciples’ feet.  This was a service normally done by servants.  It was considered a demeaning task but a necessary one that was expected from the host.  Christ knew He would soon be leaving His disciples and did this out of His love for them.  This service did not threaten His identity and He was unconcerned about how it may make Him look.  He knew who He was, where He came from and where He was going.

Service is often not glamorous.  It can be dirty and stinky and even misunderstood.  But motivated by love for Him and love for others, I can disregard how it may make me look to others.  My service to others can be done without thought as to how I am viewed.  I know where I came from and where I am going as well!  And serving others is the best way I know to love Him!

Help me Lord, to get my mind off myself and serve those around me today!

 

 


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Sticker Shock

Scripture for Today:  I Corinthians 6:19-20  “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

If the idea of “sticker shock” is to be shocked at a price, then this menu item fits the bill!  What makes the $247.95 price so very shocking is that it is listed with reasonably priced offerings!  When looking closely one can see why the price is so high.  But at the risk of sounding like a food snob, I cannot imagine pairing such a high end drink with the lowly hamburger!

Today’s verse talks about a price that God paid.  The price He paid was enormously high and shocking!  On that cross He shed blood and died.  He paid the debt that we owe for our own sin.  And it cost Him everything.  The only reasonable response is to honor Him with the body He has transformed into a temple for His Spirit.  As a temple, we are to be holy and set apart for Him.

My body rightfully belongs to Him.  I am not my own.  Because of His sacrifice I am His.  So then, I am to honor Him in all I do.  I am to keep this body pure and in good shape.  But frankly, I do not always do a good job of it.  Thankfully, He does not go to “Returns” because I am defective!  He did not purchase me because I was worth it.  He purchased me to give me worth.  It is amazing that He would think I could be worth loving, worth holding.  But He does.  He created me to be His.

Thank you Lord, that I am forever Yours!


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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.