Devotions By Jan


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Case Closed

Scripture for Today:  Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

“Case Closed” is the English title given to this ongoing Japanese detective manga series where an amateur detective is transformed into a child and helps solve crime.  But in a larger sense the phrase, “case closed,” is said after any question, debate or mystery has been solved or answered.  It is meant to be final and not able to be amended or varied in any way.  It puts a stop to any more discussion.

Today’s verse could be viewed as a case closed.  It is a wonderful assurance for the one who has placed their faith in Jesus.  There is no fear of this case being reopened.  The believer is justified, or declared righteous, not because of his own deeds but because of being credited with Christ’s righteousness (Romans 4:22-25).  The just punishment that we deserve has been fully met by His death on the cross.  The righteousness Jesus achieved has been laid to our account!

It has been decided.  I do not have to live in fear and doubt.  He declared, “It is finished,” on that cross.  How amazing that I can stand before Him, declared righteous!  Satan tries his best to try and pry open a case that is eternally closed by making accusations.  But it is to no avail.  God’s mighty hand has closed the affair and I have peace with God, now and forever.  My heart is not troubled because of my guilt and sin.  His forgiveness and declaration has established heartfelt peace, relief, and the joy and hope of heaven!  What God has declared is a case closed and His Word is final.

Thank you Lord, for Your precious assurance!

 

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Message in a Bottle

message12.05.17-mjs_ft_message-in-a-bottle_27865657_582_388Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 31:3 “The Lord appeared to us in the past saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.'”

The idea of putting an important message in a bottle is nothing new.  There are records of it being done as far back as 310 BC!  But the story of a British WWI soldier, sending a message in 1914 was especially touching.  It did not discuss enemy movements, or a shipwreck story nor was it an experiment to test the movements of the currents.  It was a love note addressed to his wife.  This soldier died two days later and although the wife had since died by the time it was discovered in 1999, his daughter at the age of 86 was thrilled to have it!

Today’s verse describes the Lord’s love for us as everlasting.  Much more dependable than a floating bottle, He has written His message of love in the Bible that dates back centuries.  It is a timeless message of a love that is kind and unconditional.  The everlasting nature of His love draws the receptive and searching heart.  But like the passerby pictured, too many walk by that message, never stopping to investigate.  He has been faithful to communicate His love clearly, but the message is not always received.  Or the message is misheard to be, “I will love you if…”

His love for me changes how I look at myself.  I am important enough for Him to actually write down how He feels about me!  Of course my husband’s love and my family’s love is important.  But nothing is as wide, long, high or deep as His love (Eph.3:18).  It is always kind.  It will never fail.  And He loves me in spite of who I am!

Thank you Lord, for Your everlasting love!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Bent by the Wind

Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:6 “I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go about mourning all day long.”

So many of the trees at this beach on the island of Sardinia were bent over as a result of the strong winds.  It was almost impossible to walk through a grove of them and avoid running into their lowered branches.  Some of them were practically horizontal.  Only a few provided the shade we needed at the right height for our picnic.  Even so, they managed to keep growing, in spite of the buffeting from those strong gusts of wind.

Today’s verse talks about being bent over and bowed down as an image for guilt over sin.  David feels the seriousness of his failures so keenly that he mourns all throughout the day.  He describes the guilt he feels as a burden too heavy to bear (verse 4).  He feels that the guilt is even affecting his health when he says there is no soundness in his bones because of his sin (verse 3).  He calls his sin, “folly” (verse 5).

This is exactly what guilt feels like.  But this description is before David confesses (verse 18).  David ends the psalm with confidence in God’s help and forgiveness.  Those strong winds of guilt have him bowed down but he is still standing.  Perhaps David was a “man after God’s own heart” because he recognized the seriousness of his sin and was willing to completely humble himself.

I do not often have this kind of guilt.  It is not that I do not sin as much or as seriously as David.  But I think I am sometimes desensitized to it.  Or my pride just does not allow me to think that I am quite that bad, or that what I have done is so serious.

Lord, examine my heart today.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Handle with Care

dropped86542889-resized-600Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”

I have done enough moves to know that having the label, “Fragile, Handle with Care,” slapped on a box is no guarantee that nothing will break!  Sometimes that box with its fragile contents will be upside down, on the bottom of a stack of boxes, or dropped by well-meaning neighbors.  At least my boxes are taped shut as well as labelled, color-coded and numbered.  Even so, there are always a few items that don’t make the journey in one piece.

Today’s verse reassures the believer that the Lord is willing and able to handle all our cares.  He understands that we are fragile and easily broken.  Our bodies are like clay jars, susceptible to cracking in pieces for a reason; so that the power we live our lives by is seen to be from God and not ourselves (II Cor. 4:7)  There is no shame in admitting that we are fragile and in need of gentle handling.  It is in recognizing our weakness that we avail ourselves of His power (II Cor. 12:9).

It takes some humility to admit my need of His care.  I can only give Him my anxieties and experience that care if I humble myself first (I Peter 5:6-7).  The Lord wants to show favor, lift up and sustain those who turn to Him.  But He waits to be asked.  He waits to be needed.  I am too prone to thinking I am just fine and not needing His power.  My pride keeps me from admitting any weakness or need for care.  Until something breaks.  He picks up the pieces and because He cares, He makes things right.

Thank you Lord, for Your precious care.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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The Woodworking Plane

planer-usesScripture for Today: Philippians 2:13 “for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.”

Wood shop in high school was for the boys.  Perhaps it was just as well that I stayed away from those power tools and sharp instruments!  How the wood got to be so smooth, flat and level remained a mystery, only because I was too disinterested to find out.  But when my Dad took up woodworking as a hobby, he taught me to appreciate those smooth flawless surfaces and the effort it took to achieve.  The planer shaves off those high places in the wood, making the surface level.

Today’s verse reveals that God is continually working in us.  His goal is to mold our desires and actions to mirror His.  He has a purpose for this work and we can trust that it is a good purpose because He is good.  He is working to make us smooth and level by taking out the high places in us.  He is opposed to the proud (James 4:6) and will work to flatten those thoughts of superiority and self sufficiency.  The result is something beautiful that He can use!

Having my pride worked on hurts!  That blade is shaving off what does not belong.  It is humbling to be brought down to the right size.  He may use the reprimand of others.  He may use a miserable failure and allow me to fall flat on my face!  He often uses His Word to convict and point out areas that need flattening.  Whatever the case, it is not a comfortable experience.  But when it is all over, He gives favor to the one He has humbled.

Oh how I need Your favor today!  Lord, keep me smooth and humble.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Unexpected!

cigarette2Scripture for Today: Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Looking closely at this image, one sees discarded cigarettes doing something very unexpected.  They are sprouting!  Something as dirty and off-putting as litter is actually transforming itself into something positive.  These cigarettes were invented by a creative British man, tired of ugly litter.  He decided to make biodegradable filters that contain wild flower seeds and called them, “Cigg Seeds.”  What a clever idea!  Who would have thought that something thrown away and trampled on could turn into something beautiful!

Today’s often quoted verse came to mind.  I have heard it said so many times it tends to lose its impact.  But this is a beautiful truth that gives the believer hope.  We are not spared the ugliness and heartaches in life.  Despite the fact that the wicked seem to prosper (Jer. 12:1) they are not spared either as their final destiny is destruction (Ps. 73:17).  Even so, following the Lord never insures a trouble-free life. However, there is a difference.  God takes those awful negative circumstances and miraculously brings about something worthwhile.

Because of this promise, I have hope.  I may feel cast aside, dirty, and trampled on but God is not done yet.  He can and He does transform me and cause new and beautiful growth in my soul.  He is good and everything He does is right and good.  I can trust that His purpose for me is good as well, even and especially when I cannot see it.  The good He is producing is something that lasts into eternity; becoming like His Son.  There is nothing more beautiful or worthwhile.

Thank you Lord, for the unexpected ways You create the good in my life!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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The Hope Chest

chest-open_0Scripture for Today:Romans 5:5 “And hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

I never owned a hope chest, although I hoped!  It was a tradition that was already obsolete by the 1950’s.  The practice of filling a hope chest with items useful in setting up house came from Europe around the 18th century.  A young girl’s “trousseau” consisted of handmade bed linens, table linens and embroidered items.  I often wondered what happened to that hope chest and its contents when it was clear that marriage had passed one by.  Perhaps giving it away signaled the end of hope.

Today speaks of a hope that never puts us to shame.  Unlike unfulfilled hope in a human love, our hope is placed in a love that has already been poured into the heart of a believer.  The Holy Spirit is our seal of ownership, guaranteeing what is to come! (II Cor. 1:22).  Hope in this sense is a sure thing with no possibility of disappointment or shame.  This hope grows stronger and stronger as we see the Lord come through for us when experiencing suffering (verse 3).  Hope grows by persevering through that impossible situation.  Our hope is obvious to everyone through the strength of character that comes from hanging in there (verse 4).

Hope that is based on the wrong thing can be wishful thinking that makes the heart sick when unfulfilled (Prov. 13:12).  My hope is sure being based on God’s faithful promises.  My longing for love is absolutely fulfilled in my relationship with my Creator.  He never disappoints and I am never put to shame.  He always comes through and someday I will see the glory of God up close and personal!

My hope will forever be in You, Lord.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.