Devotions By Jan


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Royalty!

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:17  “Now if we are God’s children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”

Meet King Henry the Third, my twenty-first Great Grandfather!  Thanks to the years of research done by my sister, we can trace our family back to the early 1200’s.  Although kindhearted, history portrays King Henry as weak and ineffectual during his reign starting in 1216.  This image is of his effigy at his tomb located in Westminster Abbey.  We are also direct descendants of the King Edwards I, II, and III.  But will this discovery garner me more respect??

Today’s verse reminds me of my identity in Christ.  I am not only a subject of the King,  I am a child of the King.   What an amazing thought!  As His child I have access to the throne room of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! (Heb.4:16)  I belong there!  Because of the grace shown by Christ’s sacrifice, God extends to me His scepter, just as King Xerxes did for Queen Esther so long ago.  His throne is called a “throne of grace” because there He dispenses His mercy and help in time of need.  Isn’t that all the time?

I am not so sure I like the part about suffering.  But in our fallen world suffering is inevitable, especially for doing the right thing.  However, I have hope and can look forward to sharing in His glory!  Would that I remember that my allegiance belongs to the King and not to the world.  He is a King full of love and grace, welcoming me to His throne room.

Lord, help me remember that I am Your child and heir.

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


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Beet Juice

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.”

I am not a fan of beets but dutifully served them to my family.  Not only did I dislike the taste but the juice from them was always staining clothes.  Their juice is used as dye on some fabrics, but there is another use; de-icing roads!  Apparently, when mixed with road salt, the beet juice melts the snow more effectively.

Today’s verse likens our influence to salt.  Once salt loses its taste it does not have much effect.  It cannot be made salty again.  It is thrown out and trampled underfoot.  But even salt in the form of rock salt can have some effect, clearing the road.  God in His grace can redeem a life of mistakes and blunders and use it!  We are forgiven through His blood and sacrifice.  And like that red beet juice, His forgiveness can make something useful out of something thrown out and trampled.

After completely blowing it, we can feel that God can never use us again.  But nothing is further from the Truth.  We are walking examples of what forgiveness and grace can do.  Saltiness is not perfection.  Being salty is having the courage to admit our imperfections and openly sharing what God’s grace and forgiveness has done for us!  I am salt and light in the world, not because I am perfect but because I am forgiven!  I am grateful God uses flawed people.  And if He uses me at all, it is in spite of myself and He gets all the glory (verse 16).

Thank you Lord, for Your precious grace and forgiveness!

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


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Playing Possum

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

This dog looks a bit confused.  The opossum is “playing dead,” a common behavior when stressed by an imminent attack.  A predator will leave this bizarre-looking marsupial alone when he sees it limp, drooling, stiff and exuding a smell of decay.  The state of shock producing this comatose state can last up to four hours!  The opossum is a peaceful creature intent on avoiding confrontation.  But “playing dead” presents other risks, especially when involving an approaching car!

Today’s verse explains that before being saved from the penalty of our sin, we were dead in our transgressions or sins.  It took the love and mercy of God Himself to quicken us and make us alive.  Being dead spiritually means that there is no possibility of any self-help.  Being dead means not even being able to respond.  Being dead, we cannot save ourselves.  And dead people cannot “earn points” with God.  What the Lord did to make us alive He did out of grace or unmerited favor.

I am so thankful that my Savior took the initiative to begin this relationship we have.  We love because He first loved us (I John 4:19).  I could not love Him first as I was dead in my sin.  I could not listen, feel or respond to His love.  In His incredible mercy He took pity on me.  He removed my heart of stone and gave me a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26).  He has awakened me to a whole other dimension to life; the spiritual dimension.  Knowing Him and loving Him makes my life always worth the living!

Thank you Lord, for true life!

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


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Finders Keepers?

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.”

Would you return a lost wallet?  That was the question researchers explored in a three-year study.  They placed 17,303 wallets with varying amounts of cash in 355 cities worldwide.  Besides the cash, each wallet had only a name and an email address.  Their findings were surprising.  More people returned the wallets with larger amounts than those with the smaller amounts!  One explanation given was that it felt more like stealing with the larger amounts of cash.  The conscience was not quite as bothered keeping the smaller amounts.

Today’s verse does not differentiate between “small” sins and large.  It does not address whether one feels like a sinner or not.  Just as the image is black and white, there are moral absolutes when it comes to God’s laws.  And the bad news is that all of humanity falls short of the perfect standards of a holy God.  But the good news is that the same “all” who blow it are offered His grace.  Because of the redemption that came through Christ, we can have right standing before God.

I am included in that first “all.”  But I cannot be included in the next “all” until I confess and come clean with Him.  My pride keeps me from admitting my guilt.  I am an expert at diminishing and rationalizing my behaviors and attitudes.  It is easy to do when I compare myself with some others and come out “smelling like a rose.”  But when I compare myself to His perfection, I no longer smell so good.  He waits for me to be honest and humble with Him about my wrongdoing.

Thank you Lord, for freely forgiving me.


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Mistaken Identity

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 44:5 “Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel.”

They took the wrong man off life support!  It happened in Chicago where a man was unrecognizable due to facial bruising and the ventilator tubing.  Rather than identify him through fingerprints, the staff used a mug shot.  The man’s sisters were called and because they had not had much contact with their brother, they took the word of the hospital staff and made the decision to remove him from life support.  Imagine the surprise of the family when later their brother just walked in the door!

There will be no such confusion for those who belong in God’s family!  Today’s verse talks about a time in Israel’s history where there was an influx of proselytes.  This verse describes the very public manner in which they made their profession of their new attachment to the one and only true God.  Some of these new converts went as far as writing on their hand, “the Lord’s.”  Just as a slave was branded with the name of his master or the soldier was marked with the name of his commander, so the new convert was identified with God and the people of God.

I am the Lord’s.  I belong to Him and have devoted my life to Him.  It seems the only logical response to His commitment to me.  He has engraved me on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16).  And on the palms of His hands are also the scars of the nails as He took my place on the cross.  What other response is there to such an unfathomable love?

Thank you Lord, that I belong to You.

 


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Father’s Day

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:15 “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

Our children never called their Dad, “Father.”  We were not quite so formal in our house.  He was always “Dad” or “Daddy.”  My husband was and is an involved father.  And I wanted to especially honor him on Father’s Day for the love, discipline, model and wonderful influence he has been with our children.  His role continues even though our children are now parents themselves.

Today’s verse teaches that the believer has been adopted into a spiritual family where we call the God of the universe our Father.  Not only do we address Him this way, but we can have such a close relationship that we can even call Him “Abba” or “Daddy.”   This is no fearful slave-master relationship.  It is not a relationship of do’s and dont’s and rules.  It is a relationship of love and service.  It is a relationship that can grow ever stronger with time and last into eternity.  Not everyone has had the privilege of a good relationship with their earthly father, but for the believer, the Heavenly Father is the perfect father we never had!

He adopted me because of His grace, not because I deserved to be chosen.  I did not deserve to be wanted as His own.  It boggles my mind to realize that I will always be His child.  And He is always approachable.  Nothing is too small for His notice.  It is an incredible thought that He waits for me to crawl up into His lap.  His desire is to love on me, to protect me and to teach me about Himself.

Thank you Lord, for being my Father.

 


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O.D.D.

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”

What changes a young person who is normally sweet and compliant into a defiant rebellious person?  The answer could be the mental disorder called, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, or ODD.  It could be difficult diagnosing this as almost any child has his moments.  But this is something more.  It is a frequent and persistent pattern of anger, irritability, arguing, defiance and even vindictiveness.  There is no clear cause but factors can include genetics or environment.  To avoid a lifetime of grief it’s best to have an accurate diagnosis and seek help from a professional.

Being easily provoked and dealing with anger issues is already a common problem for most.  Today’s verse tells us that this kind of anger is especially a problem for the fool.  A fool is described as one who does not believe in God (Psalm 53:1).  Without a relationship with our Creator we do not have the recourse of turning to Him for the self-control He gives (Gal. 5:22-23).  Belonging to the Lord does not mean we are never angry, but it does mean that we do not have to be characterized by it.  He is in the business of transforming us little by little to be like His Son (II Cor. 3:18).

My anger can be so destructive to myself and others.  Even when I feel it is justified, it does more harm than good.  I need His help to replace my anger at that slight I feel or at being overlooked or at that injustice.  I need His help to replace anger with His kindness, compassion and forgiveness.  His anger at my sin has been satisfied by Christ’s sacrifice.  If He can forgive me than I can show grace too.

Thank you Lord, that You calm my anger.