Devotions By Jan

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Locks of Love

Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:17 “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children.”

There is something about Paris that inspires grand gestures of love.  Couples have been putting locks on the Pont de L’Archeveche to commemorate their love.  What a wonderful way to symbolize the permanence of a relationship!  However, a section of this old bridge built in 1828 has buckled and fallen under the weight of these locks.  The city has now ordered that all the locks come down for safety reasons.

Today’s verse is a promise of a love that never ends.  Unlike the best-intentioned human love, God’s love for His own does not fail or falter.  His love is everlasting because He chose us in love to be His before the creation of the world! (Eph. 1:4)  He proved His love by dying for us while we were still rebellious sinners (Rom. 5:8)  He did not wait for our response.  He loved us first and to the utmost!

The symbol of His love is more than a lock on a bridge.  The symbol of His love is that infamous cross.  It reminds me of what He went through to establish a relationship with me!  It locked up securely and forever the love we can now share!  There is no way to tear down or nullify what He has done to establish this love.  It will continue into eternity!

I feel God’s love most keenly when I am considering His power and greatness.  The fear, awe and respect that His holy character inspires makes me even more appreciative of this incredible love.  I am humbled and grateful that He, being so vast and powerful, could love someone like me!

Thank you Lord, for Your amazing love!


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Playing Checkers

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

The game of Checkers has been around a lot longer than this 1937 scene pictured here.  Checkers is thought to be the oldest game in the world dating back over 4,000 years!  According to inscriptions found in the temple of Thebes, Egyptian kings took time out from overseeing the construction of the pyramids to play checkers!  Lots of famous people have since had a fondness for the game including past presidents, noted scientists and popular sport heroes.  Whoever the player may be however, it is certain that they have a “checkered past.”

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance for all of us who regret those black squares that mark our past.   No one is immune from having that checkered past as all have sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23).  But the Lord has promised a forgiveness and pardon that is complete.  He blots out every sin and chooses to not remember them.  He no longer holds against us all of our failures and disobedience.  Jesus took on Himself the punishment for each of those sins.

I would love to be able to “remember my sins no longer.”  But the memories remain.  And Satan loves to whisper in my ears his accusations.  Thankfully, God’s Word is full of reassurances of unconditional love and complete pardon.  The Lord graciously softens and blurs memories of past failures.  If guilty memories occasionally do reappear, He is there to build me back up.  If nothing else, those memories remind me that I am not perfect, but His forgiveness is!  When I remember a checkered past I can also remember that His grace is greater than all my sin!

Thank you Lord, for wiping out and forgetting my sin forever!


Monopoly Cheaters Edition

Scripture for Today: Luke 19:8  “But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything,I will pay back four times the amount.'” 

It has just been announced that in the fall of 2018 you can purchase a cheaters edition of Monopoly!  Not only is cheating allowed but it is rewarded, that is if you get away with it!  There are 16 cards that allow you to cheat, including: skipping spaces, removing another player’s hotel, or stealing from the bank!  I guess at least with this game, cheaters really do prosper!

Today’s verse describes a cheater named Zacchaeus.  He was an important man of ill-gotten wealth, a tax collector for Rome who skimmed off the top for himself.  Despite his unpopularity, Jesus singles him out.  After this surprising declaration, Jesus announces that salvation has come to him.  This was not because he earned it with “good works”  (Eph. 2:8-9).  Salvation came because his repentance was clearly seen by a change of heart about money and his desire to make restitution.

What is it about money that so clearly reveals the state of our hearts?  Loving it is the root of all evil (I Timothy 6:10) including cheating others.  And loving money can be so subtle and difficult to discern.  But surely, if I am wiling to cheat someone else for it, I have a problem.  More important than financial security or improved social standing is that relationship that is compromised.  And the most important relationship I have suffers when I give in to this temptation, that sweet loving one with my Savior.

Lord, keep me loving You with ALL of my heart!

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Playing Solitaire

Scripture for Today:  Mark 1:35  “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”

Among the many pastimes possible when one finds oneself alone is the game, “Solitaire.”  Any tabletop game played alone qualifies.  The term can refer to games played with tiles, pegs, stones or cards.  I am most familiar with the card version.  It is a game of luck and the probability of winning is low.  The British call this game, “Patience,” for good reason!  I admit that I get impatient with the cards and to end the game will rearrange the cards to win!  My reasoning is that there are usually better things to do with my “alone time.”

During the short three years of Christ’s ministry, alone times were rare and precious.  The context of today’s verse describes a time when Jesus was surrounded by people needing healing.  In fact, the whole town gathered at the door of Peter’s home well into the evening.  The next morning, when one would think about sleeping in after such a busy day, Jesus got up early to be alone and to pray.

It is when I am alone and the house is quiet that I am most likely to hear His voice.  When there are no distractions I can open my heart to Him.  Sometimes that time of precious communion has no words but is rather a time of being still.  Other times my prayers are a torrent of worries and questions.  In any case, He meets me where I am and reassures me of His presence.  If Jesus needed alone time with the Father, how much more do I!

Help me Lord, to find that sweet solitary place with You.

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Chess Strategy

Scripture for Today:  James 4:15 “Instead you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

If nothing else, chess is a game of strategy.  My Father had a heavy chess set made of beautifully carved onyx.  My grandson at 5 years old is already playing a simple version of the game.  But as for me, long periods of silent staring at the board does not appeal!  The strategy escapes me but I do know enough to recognize that “check” is not what one wants to hear, and “checkmate” even less, signaling that the game is over.

Today’s verse talks about making plans for the future.  Of course it is important in reaching any goal to carefully plan a strategy.  A building is not begun without considering the estimated cost (Luke 14:28).  But this passage is speaking to the arrogance of making plans without thought to the plans the Lord may have.  We do not know what tomorrow will hold or whether we will have life and breath to carry out our future plans (verse 14).  The unexpected can always “check” or “checkmate” our progress.

When I make plans I need to always recognize that the Lord may have something different in mind.  Recognizing this keeps me humble and it keeps me in an attitude of submission.  Recognizing His control also keeps me asking and listening to Him.  As wonderful as I think my plan is, I do not want to miss out on something better!  He knows what tomorrow holds.  He knows what health issues I may be facing later.  Being overconfident about my plans is seen as “boasting” in the Lord’s eyes (verse 16).  I like having all my ducks lined up in a row, but that means I do not have to trust!

Lord, keep me following Your plan.

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The Sorry Game

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 7:9 “Yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended…”

I grew up with this board game and although it has gone through some revisions, it is still enjoyed today.  The idea was to get around the board first, usually by impeding the progress of others.  As the youngest in my family I often felt put upon and would relish my revenge by landing on an opponent and sending them home.  That most feared “sorry card” allowed a player to go directly to any occupied space and knock them off.  The expected “sorry”  spoken would of course sound hollow and insincere.  I was never really sorry!

Today’s verse talks about being sorry.  Sorrow for sin is something that God intended us to feel.  Sorrow is even called “godly sorrow” when it leads to repentance.  And of course, this repentance is heartfelt and not just lip service.  God sees into our hearts and responds with forgiveness and cleansing when we come clean with Him.  Trying to ignoring that sorrow and shame can be destructive as it can lingers on, even for a life time.  His forgiveness and grace allows us to lift our head again.

Being sorry is not enough if it does not lead me to fall on my knees and repent.  It is in repenting that I can turn my back on that sin.  That second step is where I find not only His forgiveness but a new start.  If I am only sorry I will probably be sorry again over the same thing.  He wants to give me victory over sin.  He lifts that burden of sorrow and makes my heart light again!

Thank you Lord, for erasing my sorrow.

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In a Pickle

Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong and steadfast.”

It is such an odd expression to speak of one’s self as “in a pickle.”  The word “pickle” came from the Dutch word “pekel” meaning something piquant.  William Shakespeare used this expression in 1610 for his play, The Tempest, when one character asked another “How camest thou in this pickle?” meaning “How did you get so drunk?”  Being in a pickle today can mean being in any sort of disagreeable situation.  That difficulty is likened to becoming a pickle by soaking in brine and vinegar.

Today’s verse goes further than just a disagreeable situation!  The early Christians faced real persecution because of their faith and many were even martyred.  Peter reminds them of God’s favor in calling them and of their future reward.  He also points out that the suffering is temporary and only for a little while.  How precious that God Himself will personally restore them and make them strong and firm after that suffering is over!

There is a closeness that seems to come uniquely through suffering.  I have heard so many share their gratitude for having cancer because of their special bond and closeness to the Savior through it!  In some mysterious way, God moves in close to those who are suffering.  His presence is felt like never before as He affirms and reassures of His love and plan.  There is something about sharing His suffering that brings a close relationship even closer.  He has been there for me at some of the lowest times of my life and I am thankful.

Lord, help me feel You there in the hard times.