Devotions By Jan


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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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.

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Trivial Pursuit

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:2-3 “You know when I sit and when I rise; You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; You are familiar with all my ways.”

Trivial Pursuit is probably one of my least favorite board games.  Somehow, the questions on popular culture and general knowledge have a way of stumping me and making me look stupid!  Yet it has enjoyed much success having sold over a 100 million games in 26 languages and in 17 different languages!  I console myself with the thought that the one who wins is simply the one who knows the most trivia!

Today’s verse describes God’s intimate knowledge of us.  He knows not only our physical movements but the direction of our thoughts as well.  God is so big that the smallest most trivial detail does not get past Him!  He knows when, where and why a swallow falls to the ground and He knows just how many hairs are currently on my head.  Our powerful God is not only Lord of the universe but also cares about the puny unimportant minutia of our lives.  His omniscience is all inclusive.

I find enormous comfort and assurance to know He is intimately involved in the details of my life.  Because of His love and grace, I do not have to hide from this knowledge.  And His intimate knowledge of me means I can live without fear.  I can move confidently through my day, knowing He is there.  He knows and He cares, even when it is something so small that has me worried.  Rather than get nervous over what could happen, I can trust Him.  There is nothing too small for His notice.  There is nothing too trivial.

Thank you Lord, that I can come to You over the smallest thing.

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Eating Scraps

Scripture for Today: Psalms 145:15-16  “The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due time.  You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”

Not a single scrap of food was wasted during the second world war.  This young girl is putting scraps into the city pig bin in Surrey, England.  The image comes from the Imperial War Museum to depict life at the “Home Front.”  All those scraps were collected and treated and then fed to the pigs.  The pigs will eat just about anything.  They are not too picky and are easily satisfied, sometimes even with food that is nasty and spoiled.  But for the famished young man feeding pigs in Luke 15, even their food looked good!  The prodigal son had traded the comfort of his Father’s presence for the pleasures the world had to offer.

Today’s verse tells us where true satisfaction can be found.  What comes from His hand brings satisfaction.  The problem comes when we turn to the world for that satisfaction.  We mistakenly think that the pleasures the world offers will somehow meet our desires when nothing is further from the truth.  Like the Prodigal Son, we end up with the pigs, mindlessly eating the scraps.

So many are deluded and living contentedly with scraps in the pigsty when they could be dining at their Father’s table.  What the world offers not only fails to truly satisfy but leaves a bitter aftertaste.  My Heavenly Father gives good gifts that satisfy my deepest and sometimes unconscious desires.  His open hand is waiting to give to those who look to Him in faith.  I can say this as He has satisfied me with a love that will never fail!

Thank you Lord, that You satisfy my deepest hunger, that of my soul.

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Diamond in the Rough

Scripture for Today: Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

A diamond in the rough does not look like much.  Yet, the finished product is stunning!  A diamond is especially valuable when it is unearthed from the ground.  Those “diamonds” that are fabricated in labs or simulated are not quite as appreciated.  It is the cost, time and effort of mining that contribute to making a diamond precious.  The mined diamond may be dirty, unformed and rough around the edges.  But in the hands of a skilled cutter it is transformed into a gorgeous faceted gem.

Today’s verse describes a life-long creative process.  God is continually at work in the heart of every believer.  He has His work cut out for Him, changing us to be like His Son.  He has pledged to continue this work faithfully right up until the moment of Christ’s return.  He never quits.  He never gives up.  One day the work Jesus is doing in me will be complete.  One day I will be like Him (I John 3:2).

He asks me to cooperate with Him.  He even creates in me the desire to cooperate! (Phil. 2:13)  It is a strange working partnership where He provides the strength and the motivation.  However He is the Craftsman doing the cutting and faceting.   And some of those cuts He makes go deep.  I often do not understand what He is doing.  But He asks me to trust His love and goodness whether I understand or not. What He is creating in me is always more beautiful than anything I could achieve.  He has promised an incredible outcome.

Thank you Lord, that I can trust  Your work in me!