Devotions By Jan


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Snowflake Babies

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:15 “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba Father.'”

I was surprised to learn the circumstances surrounding the birth of my friend’s latest grandchild.  After the death of her four year old son, her daughter’s empty arms were again filled with a sweet precious baby girl.  She had given birth to her adopted “snowflake baby!”  This amazing miracle was the result of a frozen embryo left over from the in vitro fertilization procedure of others.  This sweet little girl had been a frozen embryo for eleven years and finally was brought into a warm loving family!

Today’s verse speaks of another kind of adoption.  This one comes through God’s Spirit and makes us children of God (verse 16).  Before our adoption, we might as well have been a frozen embryo as true and abundant life only happens through Him.  We were spiritually dead because of our sin, but He has made us alive! (Eph. 2:5)  This relationship is not one of fearful servanthood but of a close emotionally satisfying bond.  As His adopted kids, we call our Father, “Daddy.”

Life is a precious gift.  But how much more precious are our lives when we belong to Him!  His Spirit reassures my heart that I am chosen, planned for and loved.  Because it is a work of His powerful Spirit, I am forever in His family.  There is no fear in that perfect familial love (I John 4:18).  I will always be His and He will always be mine!  His is a love that is faithful and cannot cease.  What an amazing truth, one I can and do make an unshakeable foundation to my life!

Thank you, Daddy.

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Jackpot!

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 3:16 “Long life is in her (Wisdom’s) right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace,”

At this writing, the Mega Millions jackpot stands at 540 million dollars!  The one winning this inconceivable amount will have beat some pretty incredible odds.  The odds of winning are roughly one in 259 million!  The standard response is, “Well, someone has to win.”  Eventually, of course.  But the jackpot has climbed this high as there has not yet been a winner.  And at each drawing the number of participants increases, making the odds of winning even more difficult to beat!

Today’s verse talks about having riches and honor in one’s left hand.  The right hand holds long life.  It is not lottery winnings that fill the hands but wisdom.  The advantages that wisdom gives a life is likened to what wealth can do for a person.  But even this comparison falls short as wisdom is better than riches.  How much better to get wisdom than gold! (Prov. 16:16)  Wisdom gives us what money cannot buy; long life, honor, pleasant ways and peace.  Skillful godly living makes life absolutely rich!

It is so hard to think in this way.  With wisdom there is no instant gratification!  Wisdom does not give me any covetous looks from my neighbors.  There is no recognition or envy.  And life is not necessarily easier with wisdom.  But I tend to think all that could be the case if I were just a little richer!  However, the benefits and advantages of living wisely are not taxed, stolen, or frittered away as money can be.  My life is rich because of Him who is the Source of Wisdom.

Thank you Lord, that with Your love and salvation, I have already won!


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Candy Canes

Scripture for Today: John 10:11 “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

There are lots of legends and stories surrounding the origins of the candy cane.  One of those stories says that a choirmaster in 1670 gave sugar sticks to his young choir boys to keep them quiet during a lengthy church service.  It is said that he shaped them to resemble a staff so as to remind them of the shepherds visiting the baby Jesus.  It is more likely that candy sticks were straight at that time, but it is a nice story.

Today’s verse is a declaration of Jesus about who He is.  It seems strange that He would identify Himself so closely with shepherds as they were considered lower class citizens on the fringe of society.  Yet, “God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:11) and we are in desperate need of a Shepherd to meet all of our needs and to lead us!  Not only does this Shepherd do all of this, but He is good.  Everything He does is good whether it be keeping us from danger or correcting us with His rod and staff.  But the biggest proof of His goodness and love is the laying down of His life for us, His sheep.

How appropriate then, that the angels announced Christ’s birth to those shepherds!  They were the first to hear the news!  They were the first to bow down and worship Jesus.  And they were the first to spread that news, glorifying and praising God! (Luke 2:8-20)

And I have the same privilege!  I may not be the first but I am just as privileged to know and love that Good good Shepherd.  He has laid down HIs life for this silly sheep and I am forever grateful!

Thank you Lord, that You came for me!

 


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Ashes to Ashes?

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 61:3 “…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…”

The traditional practice of saving a loved one’s ashes in an urn is only one of many options.  I recently learned that ashes can be saved as an hourglass, a vinyl record, or a diamond ring.  The ashes can be part of a tattoo when sterilized and mixed with ink.  An artist can create a portrait mixing ashes into the paint.  Stained glass pieces can be bonded together with ashes.  Ashes can be transformed into fireworks or even shot gun shells.  But my favorite idea was storing ashes in the cute cuddly body of a teddy bear!

Today’s verse is a declaration of what God would do for the Israelites through His prophet, Isaiah.  He was to replace the ashes on their heads with a crown of beauty.  Those ashes were a sign of sorrow and repentance for sin, along with the sackcloth worn.  That itchy rough garment of despair over sin would be replaced with a garment of praise.  Joy would replace mourning.  God’s forgiveness changes everything!

I do not always feel much sorrow over my own sin.  But when I do, it can feel like a crushing weight.  Thankfully, He promises to be near the one who is brokenhearted over sin (Psalm 34:18).  His forgiveness turns my ashes into a crown of beauty!  When I humble myself and go to Him in confession, the ugliness of sin disappears.  Despair over my past mistakes and failures is transformed into praise for the new start He gives me!  He is faithful and just to forgive every single time!

Thank you Lord, for exchanging ashes for beauty!


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My Fingerprint

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 14: 10 “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.”

I am amazed at all the  new technology using the human fingerprint for identification!  It only makes sense as each fingerprint is unique.  However, I had some trouble with my new cell phone the other day.  My hands had been in water doing the dishes.  The skin on my index finger was only slightly “pruned” from the water.  But it was enough to confuse the system.  I was “not recognized.”  It occurred to me that with the Lord, this would never happen!  Although there are billions of people in the world, He knows my name.  As my Creator He has made me unique.

Today’s verse hints at our uniqueness.  No other person can quite relate to what we feel.  Our bitterness is unknowable to others.  Our joy is tailor made and cannot be fully appreciated by anyone else.  I often feel how my emotions distance me from others.  That is why God deals with me individually.  He speaks to each heart with full understanding.  The truth I need to hear from Him is the truth He communicates.  My relationship with Him will always be unique to me.  He is that loving and personal!

How wonderful that I am special and unique in His eyes!  His relationship to me is an individual one, tailored to fit my needs and struggles, my background and personality.  When I open His Word, He speaks to the very situation I am living.  He knows my thoughts and emotions better than I do.  No one else can really understand my heart but what a comfort to know that He does!

Thank you Lord, for understanding me like no one else, and still loving me!


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Streaked Windows

Scripture for Today:  II Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow bring death.”

They say it “never rains in California.”  However, I can be sure it will if I have just cleaned my windows!  Serves me right for believing the weather report.  Cleaning windows is not my favorite activity, especially since I cannot seem to avoid the streaks.  I have special products that say right on the label that streaks will not be a problem.  I have all the special equipment and recommended technique at my fingertips.  And although the windows are clean, those streaks seem unavoidable and I try hard not to see them.

Today’s verse contrasts a worldly sorrow for sin and a godly sorrow  The worldly sorrow not only brings death but leaves behind streaks of regret.  The godly sorrow leads to salvation and leaves behind no regrets.  When forgiveness is full and complete, guilty feelings need not be present.  He has promised to remove our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  He remembers our sins no more (Is. 43:25).  By contrast, those who try to self-clean and bypass sincere repentance to a holy God, will daily live with guilt and regret for an unforgiven past.

I will admit to that little voice in my head that reminds and accuses.  But I know it does not come from Him!  Of course I regret my past sins, but He does not even remember them!  His love does not waver and His grace is greater than all my sins put together!  When I do struggle with thoughts of past failures I cling hard and fast to His unmerited favor!  It’s gone.  It’s done.  He took care of all of it!

Thank you Lord, for forgiveness that frees me from guilt!

 

 


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Bones

Scripture for Today: Ezekiel 37:5 “This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.”

This must be what happens when Halloween meets Valentine’s Day!  I just had a bone scan done for the first time but I am fairly sure I did not look like either one of these skeletons.  I have osteoporosis in my family and need to be concerned about good bone health.  There are lots of preventative measures to take.  Weight-bearing exercise is recommended as well as a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.  I am thrilled to see ice cream and frozen yogurt on the high-in-calcium list!  Although vitamin D is important, I would prefer getting it from the sun rather than a pill.  The next time I enjoy ice cream in the sunshine, I can do it without a shred of guilt!

Today’s verse comes from a vision the Lord gave His prophet, Ezekiel.  The bones represent the nation of Israel.  Their bones were dried up as their hope was gone and they were cut off.  God promised to put flesh on those bones and give life through His Spirit.  It was an image of what He would do for them, bringing them back to their land.

There is no life without His Spirit.  We are all dead in our sins without His life-giving Spirit.  Those who reject Jesus Christ are like dried up bones, without hope and cut off from a vital relationship with their Maker.  But with His breath comes true life.  In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).  The breath of His Spirit moves me to a living loving relationship with Him.

Thank you Lord, for breathing true life into me!