Devotions By Jan


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Not Fair!

Scripture for Today:  Matthew 20:15 “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous.”

Whether it is pizza, cake or pie it is important to cut those pieces evenly!  Those who get the larger pieces feel special but the one with that skinny piece may feel a bit slighted.  If my hostess is the one doing the paying, the cutting and the serving I certainly cannot say anything.  But I may fume inside with the thought, “It isn’t fair.”

Our verse for today comes from a parable Jesus told about workers who had come in early in the day.  They had made a contract with their employer to work for a certain sum of money.  Then at the very last hour of the day a second group begins work and they are paid the same amount.  Understandably, the first group was unhappy.  It is not fair.  The employer reminds these disgruntled workers it is his money and he can be generous if he chooses.

It is not uncommon to have the same thoughts about God.  It seems there are times He is generous with someone so much less deserving than ourselves.  Perhaps we have worked harder and longer and feel we should be compensated differently.  Rather than rejoice at the generous blessings given to another, we grumble that we deserve more.  It is not fair.

I am so glad God does not listen to this.  If I got what was fair I would be completely lost.  The wages of my sin is death (Romans 6:23) and I cannot say I deserve anything else.  Eternal life is not fair.

Thank you Lord, that Your grace is better than fair!

 


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Thank You Notes

1079966Scripture for Today: Revelation 5:12 “In a loud voice they were saying, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise.'”

It seems everyone enjoys receiving a thank you note.  It feels nice to be appreciated for a service rendered or a gift offered.  Of course, we tell ourselves we do not do something in order to be thanked, but it certainly does not hurt to be acknowledged.  However, sometimes a “thank you” can feel uncomfortable.  Someone who gushes or repeatedly brings up their gratitude can make us squirm.  It can feel uncomfortable or embarrassing when someone goes on and on with their thanks.  Why is that?  Probably because we know we do not deserve all that praise.

Our verse for today describes the scene in Heaven where Jesus as the Lamb of God is given all the honor, glory and praise that is His due.  There is no One who is more deserving.  The phrase, “I cannot thank you enough,” will for the first time be absolutely true!  We can never thank Him enough for our salvation and what it cost Him.  We will spend all eternity praising Him and even then, it will never be enough.

The Lord does not engage in false humility as we do saying, “Oh, don’t mention it.”  He accepts our continual praise and gratitude because He deserves it.  I can never come to the end of thanking Him because He continually gives.  I can never thank Him too much because I am so undeserving.  I do not merit any of what He so graciously gives me.

Lord, may my life be a continual thank you for all that You do for me!


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TV Remote

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

This cat does not look so happy!  If he could, he looks like he would like to point that remote control at his owner and turn him off!  There are times I am unhappy as well, usually because someone else has the remote in their possession and is controlling the television.  My tastes in programming are usually different than those of my husband, but whoever has it, has the control.

Our verse for today encourages peace.  What we do to achieve it depends not on the other person but on one’s self.  As much as we would like to control the behavior and words of others, we cannot.  We can however, control how we react when provoked.  As much as it depends on us, we are to choose the response that keeps the peace.

There is a lot that can depend on me in keeping the peace.  I am responsible for how I react.  A gentle answer can turn away wrath (Prov. 15:1).  Kindness, compassion, and forgiveness can diffuse a volatile situation and soften another’s heart. (Eph. 4:32)  No, I cannot control someone else, but with the help of God’s Spirit, I can respond in a way that makes peace possible.

This verse is so realistic when it says,”if it is possible.”  When only one of two disputing people are interested in peace, it is not likely to happen (4:32).  But having done all that depends on me, I can pray and trust God to work.  Perhaps one day there will be peace.  In an impossible situation, I have a God who does the impossible!

Thank you Lord, that Your Spirit can help me live peacefully.


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Mockingbird

Scripture for Today: Psalm 40:3 “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in Him.”

Growing up we had many mockingbirds in our suburban yard, much to the chagrin of our cat!  He would slink across the yard, hoping to avoid the swoop and attack of these territorial birds!  I always loved their singing although my parents were not too thrilled to be awakened early by their loud song.  Their mimicking of other species means that they are not too original with their own music.  In a recording of one mockingbird in Massachusetts, thirty six songs of other species were recognized!

Our verse for today describes a song that is an original.  It is a new song of praise to the Lord.  It resembles no other but is a tribute to what the Lord has done in an individual life.  There is no need to mimic other songs as personal experience makes up the lyrics.  The Lord Himself has put this song into the mouth of the psalmist.

As believers we too have a new song!  Our song stands out from the others.  It sounds different and distinctive, unlike all the other music around us.  This new song is full of praise for what God has done for us.  Each of our songs tells a story of His love and faithfulness.  Included are some of the discordant notes or minor chords that depict the hard times.  But it always ends on a high note as we look forward to an eternity with Him.  If I sing it loud enough and often enough, others hear and are challenged to trust Him!

Lord, keep me singing Your song today!


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Nit Picking

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 13:7 “It (love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

I wonder how much this poor monkey is enjoying the nit picking part of the daily grooming.  The process of having the eggs of those lice squeezed off his head cannot be all that comfortable!  The nit picking that humans do is not all that comfortable either.  We sometimes get overly concerned with details and things that do not really matter in the behavior of others.  Details that are not worth mentioning are mentioned to the detriment of a relationship.

Today’s verse is part of the famous “love chapter.”  Love is described as forbearing.  It bears the pain of unmet expectations and hurt.  It continues on even when disappointed.  This kind of love is a committed one that does not give up easily. And true love is a faithful love that believes the best about a person.

Believing the best of a person means that I will not get overly concerned about details or get critical about the small stuff.  Believing the best of a person means that I am according them respect.  When I am criticized I am not motivated to change but will instead “dig in my heels” and continue.  But when I am faced with a love that believes in me, I want to live up to that belief.

Nit picking can look very much like seeing a speck of dust in another’s eye while ignoring the log in one’s own (Matt. 7:3).  If I want to have an offense overlooked on my part, I surely need to extend that same kind of grace to others.

Lord, keep me from nit picking today.  Make me as gracious as You are!


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Duct Tape

110718gScripture for Today: Colossians 3:14 “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

Duct tape seems to be the answer for lots of different repairs, but this one may not be one of them!  I was surprised at the variety of uses including: clothing, shoes, jewelry, arts and crafts, car repairs and more!  There is this saying, “If you can’t fix it with duct tape you ain’t using enough duct tape.”  The array of colors and prints available is impressive, all for a humble roll of tape that binds things together.

Our verse for today describes love as something that binds.  It is love that binds together all the other virtues of our new nature in Christ.  The context tells us those virtues are compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness.  Each of these beautiful virtues are expressed when there is love.

Love not only manifests itself in all these virtues, but it also covers a multitude of sins (I Peter 4:8).  It excuses, it forgives, it overlooks and does not take offense.  That kind of love is slowly being produced in us as the Creator renews this “new self” into His image (verse 10).

I know I cannot produce this kind of love on my own.  My tendency is to be impatient with people and have unkind thoughts.  I find it difficult to understand their circumstances and feelings.  I am so thankful that God is not that way with me!  In His love, He continually works with me, understanding that I am weak and made of dust (Psalm 103:14).  But when I am walking with Him and filled to the brim with His Spirit, His love is there making love for others more than just a theory.

Make me loving, Lord.  Make me like You.

 


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New Shelf Paper

RR-bathroom-after-shelf-linerScripture for Today: Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

It feels so good to get those drawers and cupboards lined with new shelf paper.  It was a nasty job tearing out the old stuff. Precise measuring is not one of my strengths, but the results were well worth the effort.  What was surprising was to find pieces of older paper under what I was pulling out.  It was the original paper I had put in thirty five years ago!  Apparently, I was not so careful at that time and just papered over some sections.  Seeing that retro paper brought memories flooding back of a different time of my life.

Our verse for today is for believers who have a grievance with someone.  Sometimes we think that as Christians that should never be the case.  Rather than deal with the situation, it can seem more spiritual to just “cover it up.”  The problem with that thinking is that thirty years later the issue can resurface!

Forgiving can be so difficult.  To forgive someone for a grievance means absorbing the pain of it without retaliating or seeking any kind of vengeance.  But when we have been hurt, we often want to shame or hurt the other person in some way.  It seems an impossible standard to forgive as the Lord forgave me.  Yet, that is what He expects of us as His followers.

Forgiveness is a virtue that comes from His Spirit and not naturally from me.  Left to myself, I just keep covering it up.  How much better to truly forgive and have it settled!  No more nasty surprises later.

Thank you Lord, that You make forgiveness possible.  I cannot do it without You.