Devotions By Jan

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Just Deserts

dessertunnamedScripture for Today: Psalm 103:10 “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

I really thought I deserved this dessert.  I had ordered only fish and vegetables and so I figured I could indulge just a little.  After all, it was just dessert!  I had no idea it would be quite this big.  However, with three others helping, it was no problem!

The phrase, “getting your just desert” dates back to the 13th century, and its meaning was “a thing deserved” whether good or bad.  The original spelling used only one “s” referring to the obsolete meaning of  the word, “desert” or that which is deserved.  Today one sees this phrase with the two “s” spelling.  It makes more sense to me as I sometimes think dessert is my due!

Our verse for today is a wonderful reassurance that I do not get my just desert from the Lord.  If I were to insist on the justice I deserve, I would be in big trouble.  Certainly, God is just.  His justice was satisfied by Christ’s sacrifice for sin on the cross.  Because  Christ paid the penalty for sin, I am not repaid for my own.

I am so thankful that God does not give me what I deserve!  I am spared His wrath and punishment.  His grace is amazing!  This psalm tells me of His compassion.  He is gracious and slow to anger.  His love for me is as great as the distance to the heavens! (verse 11)  His love is so wide, so long, so high and so deep that it is immeasurable! (Eph. 3:18)  I absolutely do not deserve that kind of love!

Thank you Lord, that You do not give me my just desert.  Thank you for Your incredible mercy and love!

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Spoonful of Sugar

Scripture for Today: Luke 10:41-42a “‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed, or indeed only one….'”

I can still remember my Mother crushing up an aspirin and adding some sugar and water to it.  She would put it all on a spoon and I would dutifully swallow it when sick.  Now, there are plenty of children-friendly pain relievers that do this.  But my Mother’s method was the only way I would swallow what was good for me.  A spoonful of sugar does indeed make the medicine go down, as in the Mary Poppins movie lyric.

In our verse for today, the Lord is reprimanding Martha with gentle correction.  Martha was at her wit’s end doing all the meal preparation and serving without the help of her sister, Mary.  In an outburst of self-pity, she tries to publicly shame Mary and enlist the Lord’s help in getting Mary to help her.

I love the response Jesus gives her.  You can just hear the love in His voice when twice He speaks her name.  This is the only time He repeated a woman’s name and it was done with gentle love.  Martha, in her well-meaning service, had neglected her first priority of listening to her Savior.  It was hard to hear but the Lord was gracious in the way he addressed her.

Jesus’ gentle manner with Martha was the sweet taste in His rebuke.  Like foul-tasting medicine, we need to swallow His correction.  The Lord disciplines those who belong to Him (Heb. 12:4-7).  But the goal is always restoration and growth.  It is never done in anger or exasperation.

Do I hear Him repeating my name in love?  Lord, keep me listening to Your gentle correction.  Keep my heart close to Yours.


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Refrigerator Magnets

Clean-dirty-indicator-combinedScripture for Today: Mark 7:15 “Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”

I feel very silly sometimes to find myself unloading dirty dishes into the cupboards!  My problem is that I rinse too well before loading them into the dishwasher.  The confusion can be avoided with a simple system of magnets on the dishwasher.  These pictured were handmade using mint tins and adhesive labels.

We use labels as well when determining whether people are clean or dirty.  Imagine wearing labels like these to declare to others the state of our hearts!  In our verse for today Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees about what is clean and what is dirty.  The disciples were not following the accepted standards of religious tradition.  Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites for placing outside cleanliness over and above cleanliness on the inside.

It is what comes out of a person that reveals the true state of the heart.  We can work hard on the outward show of religiosity but sooner or later, our words and actions reveal what is on the inside.  No matter what rules we follow, it is only Christ that can truly make us clean.  Despite the correct moral upbringing, environmental and financial advantages, and advances in technology, evil continues to exist in the heart.

It is much less threatening to address social ills by fixing everything on the outside rather than the internal change that is needed.  The Lord is in the business of true and lasting change.  Cleansing me from the inside out is something only He can do.

Lord, keep me from being so distracted by the outside!  Change my heart with Your cleansing.

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“You’re So Vain!”

Scripture for Today: Romans 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”

For a good five minutes I watched this bird look at himself in the mirror.  I have never seen a bird be obsessed with his looks!  He/she did not seem to mind that I was just inches away.  Perhaps he was just attracted to the reflected light, or perhaps he was enthralled with his own reflection.  All he seemed to see was himself.

The behavior of this bird reminded me of our verse for today.  This verse is addressed to believers in the church.  Each one is given his spiritual gift by God Himself.  These gifts allow for each of us to contribute our part to the functioning of the church.  It may be a more public speaking gift or it may be a behind-the-scenes supportive gift.  Each one is important.

These spiritual gifts are just that; gifts.  We did nothing to deserve receiving them.  God distributed them according to His wisdom and plan.  That being true, we have no cause to boast.  Our purpose is to glorify Him and not ourselves.  I am not to think that I am somehow higher up in God’s favor.  My view of myself is to be sober, recognizing the role of grace in my life.

When I think of myself more highly than I ought to think, I am forfeiting the grace He promises to the humble.  I can pretty much expect to fail and fall when I get too full of myself! (Prov. 16:18)

Lord, don’t let me become so proud that I miss out on Your glory and grace!


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Waking Up

Scripture for Today: Psalm 3:5 “I lie down and sleep. I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.”

We miss our Tiger.  But one thing I do not miss is him waking us early in the morning.  The door was always closed but in our old house, he was able to push it open.  He would then jump on the bed and nudge us until we either threw him out or got up.  I can think of worse ways to wake up.  A blaring buzzer on the alarm pulls me out of sleep a little too rudely.  I can still remember my children waking me up with their first cry of the day.  Waking up is just sometimes hard to do.

Our verse for today makes me realize that it is a gift to wake up at all.  It is the Lord’s grace that allows me to lie down and sleep.  I am warm and protected with a roof over my head when so many do not have that privilege.  I awake without fear of danger or war and I awake in good health.  Waking up with joy in my heart is not my strong point.  Yet, I am convinced that it is the Lord who allows me to wake up to one more day.  He sustains my life.  Each breath and each heart beat occurs because He has allowed it.

The Lord of course, never slumbers or sleeps.  He watches me wake up and waits for me to turn my thoughts to Him.  Do I awake with thankfulness in my heart for His gift of life?  Or do my thoughts immediately turn to deadlines and pressures of the day?

If I have not said it yet today, “Good morning, Lord.  Thank you for allowing me another day.”