Devotions By Jan


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Groundbreaking!

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 3:9 “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

It is an important moment, digging up that first shovel-full of dirt.  It looks as if this groundbreaking ceremony is having some trouble getting started.  It is taking two men’s efforts to break that hard ground!  This universal and ancient custom is also called a sod-cutting or sod-turning ceremony.  It is sometimes attended by local dignitaries and the media as the new construction begins.  Often, the shovel used is saved and proudly displayed in a place of honor.  The groundbreaking ceremony symbolically consecrates that piece of land.

Todays’ verse describes believers as God’s field and God’s building.  Those who have placed their faith in Jesus are consecrated or set apart as His people.  By His Spirit the Lord has broken the hard resistant ground that was our heart.  Those that have yielded their lives to the convicting pressure of His Spirit are now “under construction!”  Our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19).  At the moment of salvation He takes up residence.  But throughout life His temple is being maintained and renovated.  We can be confident that this good work He does in us will continue until we see Christ (Phil. 1:6).

I am a little tired of the dust and mess.  I can appear so put together to others but I know the state of affairs on the interior.  I see some progress in being more others-centered but I am still so selfish.  I truly appreciate other’s gifts and at the same time find myself jealous.  I give grace to myself but can be so critical of others.  The to-do list continues.  But, He does not give up on me.

Thank you Lord, for Your patient loving work in me.

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Pinterest Fail

Scripture for Today: Psalm 51:1 “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions.”

Pinterest has raised the bar for all of us.  The creativity and seeming perfection of these projects can motivate and inspire.  But , expectations can fall far short of reality!  There are many hilarious examples of Pinterest fails in the areas of cooking, pet or baby photo shoots or crafts.  Self image can take a serious hit  when our versions cannot compare!  What starts out with hopeful anticipation can sometimes end in abject failure.

Today’s verse is a cry for mercy on the part of King David.  He feels very keenly his failure to live up to God’s standards of righteousness.  This entire psalm is a prayer of confession following his adultery with Bathsheba.  His bones feel crushed with the weight of his sin (verse 8) and his spirit is broken(verse 17).  David declares that God is right to judge him (verse 4) so he throws himself on God’s mercy and unfailing love.  And because of God’s love being constant and unfailing, He answers David’s plea with a new clean heart, restoring his joy.

He will never fail me, nor will His love.  There is nothing I can say or do that will change His love for me (Rom. 8:38).  He knows I am weak and made from the dust.  There is nothing in me that merits His love.  I know I will continually fail Him, but He will never fail me (II Timothy 2:13).  During my times of abject failure and guilt, He extends to me His mercy and His grace.  And with my confession comes His reassurance of unfailing love.  He is the God of second chances and can transform what is dirty into what is clean, white and new!

Thank you Lord, for Your unfailing love.


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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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Walk Ins Welcome

Scripture for Today: Psalm 118:19 “Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.”

This store name may give some potential clients pause!  Considering the reaction of one’s mother to a tattoo may just dissuade some customers.  But the billboard is very welcoming with the words, “Walk Ins Welcome.”  Normally this means no appointment needed.  Maybe no mental preparation either!  Those three little words appeal to impulse buying and probably account for much of their sales.  One is always welcomed to spend money!

Today’s verse is a psalm of praise for salvation.  The gates of righteousness stand wide open for those who have cried out to God for His salvation (verse 21).  Only those who have accepted Christ’s righteousness can enter these gates.  On our own merits, no one can enter.  We have no righteousness of our own (Eccl. 7:20).  But our faith in the Righteous One and His sacrifice for sin is credited as righteousness (Rom. 4:5).  We cannot just walk in.  It is because of His righteousness those gates are opened.  And for believers, a rich welcome awaits us into the eternal kingdom (II Peter 1:11).

The Lord is, “my one defense, my righteousness.”  I can stand before those imposing gates of righteousness with full assurance.  Not because of my efforts but because of His incredible grace to me!  A rich welcome must mean that no one enters quietly or unnoticed.  When I enter those gates it will be a warm home-coming marked with a rich welcome.  It is rich because I will be greeted by friends and family who will have gone before me.  But it will be especially rich when I am greeted and held in the warm embrace of the Savior!

Thank you Lord, that by Your righteousness I am welcomed!

 


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Bedazzled!

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 61:10 “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

Each year at the Oscars, the red carpet showcases women decked out in their finery and in their dazzling jewelry.  This particular necklace, worn by Nicole Kidman at the 2008 Oscars, is made up of 1,399 carats of rough diamonds!  The jewels worn this year have been valued at as much as 20 million dollars a person!  For the most part, these pieces are only borrowed luxury from their jewelers.

Today’s verse brings all kinds of images to mind.  As believers we are clothed in the Lord’s righteousness.  The material is pure dazzling white because of the forgiveness we receive by faith.  As the Church, we are the Bride of Christ.  We are purified and presented to Him without spot or wrinkle.  We are glorious, set apart in a love relationship with Him (Eph. 5:27).  As if that were not enough, it will be as if we are adorned with jewelry on that beautiful day that begins our eternity with Him!

I would love to wear dazzling show-stopping jewelry.  But the adornment I have to look forward to makes the finery on this earth look like cheap plastic imitations.  His righteousness makes me beautiful.  And the gentle and quiet spirit He makes possible is worth so much more in His sight (I Peter 3:4).  His garments of salvation are in such contrast to the “filthy rags” of my own efforts (Isaiah 64:6).  There is delight and joy at the thought of being adorned with His beauty!

Lord, may Your beauty be seen in me today!

 

 


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Roasting Coffee

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:12 “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

That small coffee bean goes through quite a long involved process before it finally makes it into my cup!  But towards the end, just before the grinding and the brewing, there is that all-important step of roasting.  The green bean is kept moving to avoid burning and turns brown at 400 degrees.  At that point a fragrant oil is released producing that wonderful aroma and flavor.

Today’s verse is an encouragement to believers who are suffering for the name of Christ.   Rather than be surprised by the intensity of the heat, we are to see it as normal.  Suffering abuse and rejection for Him makes us participants in the suffering He endured for us! (verse 13)  The Lord promises special blessing and an evidence of His presence (verse 14).  The heat of the trial tests our faith and produces in us a stronger flavor and aroma of testimony.  There is no shame in being insulted, rejected or marginalized.  Instead, there can be praise and joy at this privilege!

The hostility I encounter at the name of Jesus Christ is surprising.  The reaction seems so unwarranted and sometimes out of character from the person I thought I knew.  The name of Jesus is a polarizing one.  There may be additional difficulties in my life for proclaiming His name, but there is also additional blessing!  The heat of the testing can make my faith stronger.  Rather than discourage me, it can make firm my resolve to live for Him.  My piddly little problems of being misunderstood do not even compare to what Jesus went through for me!

Thank you Lord, that You know and You understand.


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Chinese Lantern Festival

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”

Today is the date for the Chinese Lantern Festival.  This time for food and family marks the end of the Chinese New Year and is also considered the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day.  This festival of flying paper lanterns began over 2000 years ago!  It is a time for moon gazing, lighting lanterns, riddles, dances, and eating rice balls. However, its origins were tied to the worship of the gods with the lit lantern representing a god’s seat.

Today’s verse tells us that God who created light, also made light to shine within the heart of the follower of Christ.  As we learn more and more of the glory of His face and presence, we begin to reflect some of His light.  The light within the believer causes him to shine like stars in contrast to a “warped and crooked generation.” (Phil. 2:15)  As we follow that Giver of light, His light shines in and through us.

I cannot generate any of this light on my own.  If there is any light at all coming from me it is all a reflection of Him!  It can only happen as I follow Him and stay close.  But even a small chink of light can make a world of difference in finding my way or helping others find theirs.  Knowing Him is knowing light.  And the light of the knowledge of Him keeps me warm and loved in a world that can be so cold and dark.  How reassuring it is to live in the light of His wonderful presence!

Thank you Lord, for Your life-giving light!