Devotions By Jan


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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!

 


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A Loving Heart

Scripture 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.”

There is something very special about the bond one can have with a horse!  That touch, caress and hug can do something for one’s heart as well.  The cardiologist, Dr. Sandeep Jauhar, explained that feelings of love can affect one’s heart.  This is true whether it be a romantic love or love for children, parents, or even for pets.  Those feelings of love can relax and dilate blood vessels and can lower blood pressure.

Today’s verse teaches that for the one who has placed their faith in Jesus, God’s love has been poured into the heart by His Spirit.  Any other love on this earth comes from the outside.  But God’s love is unique as it reaches to the inside and fills our hearts.  His love actually resides on the interior.  There is nothing hidden from His love.  He knows our deepest thoughts and desires.  He understands all of our motivation and fear.  Because He lives and loves from our hearts, He knows what makes us mad or makes us cry.

There is no other love as intimate or knowledgeable.  How amazing that He could love me knowing all the junk in there!  I can be completely honest and open with Him as He knows it all anyway.  And yet, He still loves me!  He does not love me because, but in spite of myself!  As my Creator, He knows that I cannot survive without loving and being loved.  When every kind of human love fails, how wonderful to know that His love never will.

Thank you Lord, for placing Your constant love in my heart.


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Financial Infidelity

Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:14 “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; love and faithfulness go before You.”

Is financial infidelity as bad as physical infidelity?  For more than half of those surveyed, the answer was a resounding Yes!  Keeping financial secrets from one’s significant other communicates a severe lack of trust.  Money issues are the second biggest cause for divorce after infidelity.  And only 52% of those surveyed believe that their partner was totally honest with them when  it comes to money.  Deceit in this area cuts out from under one’s feet the important foundation love needs to survive; that of trust.

Today’s verse describes a love that is faithful.  God’s love for His own is right and just and would never cheat or deceive.  His love is completely trustworthy being a perfect love.  When others are not faithful with us, it is easy to believe that loyalty just cannot be found anymore (Psalm 12:1).  And the truth is, we are all weak and flawed.  Our love for one another is not a perfect faithful love.  We disappoint each other and we destroy trust.  But God’s love will never disappoint!  His faithfulness reaches to the skies and His love is always faithful and trustworthy.

A love that will last for eternity takes faithfulness to a whole new level!  God’s love is like no other.  Not only did He initiate this love, but He shows it to the very ones who put Him to death!  His love thankfully does not depend on my response.  He so loved that He gave (John 3:16).  And He has never stopped loving or giving!  That is a love I can count on.  His love holds me up when others let me down.

Thank You Lord for Your faithful love.  Help me to believe it today.