Devotions By Jan


Dishwasher Confusion

Scripture for Today: Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.”

I am sure I am not the only one! There have to be more out there who have mistakenly emptied the dishwasher’s contents back into the cupboards and belatedly realized they were not clean! It is my own fault because I rinse too well before loading them into the dishwasher. How frustrating and time consuming to then have to determine which items are clean and which need to be reloaded! The confusion can be avoided with a simple system of magnets on the dishwasher.

In today’s verse, Jesus is calling out the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. They were careful to follow ceremonial law without the harder work of confession and true change of heart. Their public image was more important than what what was going on privately. They could look clean on the outside by following accepted standards of religious tradition, all the while concealing the greed and self-indulgence inside. But no matter what rules we follow, it is only Christ who can make us truly clean.  

It is what comes out of me that reveals the true state of my heart (Mark 7:15). I am distracted by working hard on the outward show of religiosity but sooner or later, my words and actions reveal what is really on the inside. Despite the correct moral upbringing, environmental and financial advantages, and advances in technology, evil continues to exist in my heart. 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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Ruffled Feathers

Scripture for Today: Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways; when they carry out their wicked schemes.”

This Griffin Vulture has a mean look but even more concerning are his ruffled feathers! A bird will ruffle his feathers for a variety of reasons. It may be that he is preening himself, shaking off the dirt or feather dust. Or he may be ruffling his feathers against the cold, trying to keep warm. But at times those ruffled feathers standing upright around the neck can indicate that the bird is angry, upset and trying to relieve that tension! This bird behavior is what is referred to when we ruffle someone’s feathers, upsetting or annoying them.

Today’s verse describes someone who well could have ruffled feathers. This is the one who frets when seeing the wicked succeed in their evil schemes. Instead of feeling frustration at people who seem to get away with wrongdoing, we are to be still.  We are to wait patiently in God’s presence for Him to act. The wicked may seem to succeed in their grab for power or in their widespread lies and deception. But sooner or later there will be consequences they will have to face.

There seems to be more occasions these days to fretI But to be in that constant state of righteous indignation is emotionally exhausting! What’s more, I do not bring about God’s justice and retribution any sooner by getting worked up! My feathers can stay smooth and calm in that place of faith in God’s ultimate justice. I can live life with a light heart, laughing at the days to come (Prov. 31:25) because God laughs at the wicked (Psalm 37:13)!

Help me Lord, to refrain from fretting and to be still.

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Butterfly Bushes

Scripture for Today:  John 3:3  Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

We used to have several Butterfly Bushes (Buddléia) in our yard producing white and purple flowers. I loved watching the butterflies come and drink the nectar from its flowers in the Spring. And to think that those remarkable butterflies were once unremarkable caterpillars! Their transformation is a beautiful image of our spiritual rebirth! Every Spring is a time of renewed expectations and hope. What one thought was dead and gone suddenly shows signs of growth! Spring is especially a season of rebirth.

In today’s verse, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he will not see the Kingdom of God unless he is born again or born from above. It must have been a shock to hear. Nicodemus was a respected Pharisee and ruler. He probably thought that if anyone could enter the Kingdom, he would be a likely candidate. He did not realize that in fact, he needed “wings” and as a caterpillar, he did not have them. Being born again is a work of God’s Spirit and a complete transformation is what is needed. And this is what Jesus offers to those who come to Him in faith.

So many refuse this offer of new life. They cannot see beyond their caterpillar stage and seem content to crawl along the ground rather than fly! But every Spring I am reminded of the new life He has given me. My old life is dead and buried. I have been changed forever! I am not at all tempted to return to the form of that caterpillar. He has given me wings, color, sweet nectar and new life! And it was all accomplished by His Spirit and not at all by my own efforts.

Thank you Lord, for Spring and new life in You!

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Almond Blossoms

Scripture for Today: Jeremiah 1:11-12 “The word of the Lord came to me; ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ ‘I see the branch of an almond tree,’ I replied. The Lord said to me, ‘You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.'”

The vineyards in the Alsacian countryside of France may still lie dormant. But the almond trees are in full bloom! Their delicate pink blossoms waft to the ground with the slightest breeze, leaving a sweet smelling carpet. Those fragile blossoms are a promise of what is to come. Their appearance signals that the almond harvest will follow.

Today’s verse is part of a conversation the prophet Jeremiah had with the Lord. At first glance the thread of the conversation does not seem obvious. Although it is reassuring to know that God’s word will always be fulfilled, what does God watching have to do with the almond tree? I love how the Lord plays with language in this verse! The Hebrew for “watching” sounds like the Hebrew word for “almond tree.” The Lord is reassuring this prophet and us too that His word is faithful and true. He will fulfill every promise.

When I see justice delayed or evil men prospering, it is easy to doubt God’s word. When I see God’s promises seemingly unfulfilled, I can easily grow impatient. Although my timetable may be different, His word will be fulfilled. No matter how many promises God has made, they are YES in Christ (II Cor. 1:20). And He has promised so much that is still in the future. Thankfully while I wait, He has given me those almond blossoms to reassure me that He has not forgotten. He is watching to make sure every word of every promise is fulfilled.

Thank you Lord, that You are watching.

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Indignant Cat

Scripture for Today: John 13:10 “Jesus answered, ‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.'”

There is nothing more frustrating than trying to bathe a cat! If it is ever tried, the best way is to do it with some sort of protective gear as claws will appear! I have heard of cats that like water but it seems to be the exception. The howling and carrying on is pathetic. Normally, the cat licking himself is all that is needed, but there are those rare occasions when a bath is necessary. And afterwards, the cat will never look at its owner in quite the same way again!

Today’s verse takes place in that scene where Jesus is washing the feet of His disciples. All but one of these disciples (Judas) had already been bathed. They had each experienced the life-changing cleansing and forgiveness of the Lord. However, the day-to-day walk meant that their feet would continue to get dirty and need daily cleansing. As with our initial cleansing, this daily dirt is not something we can take care of on our own. We need His daily “spot cleaning.”

I am thankful for that initial bath of salvation. It does not need to be repeated. God’s forgiveness is complete and there is nothing to add to our salvation. “It is finished,” was declared from the cross and my salvation is secured because of His grace. Unfortunately, that does not mean that I do not continue to sin. But because I am “in Christ” (Romans 8:1) there is no longer any condemnation for my sin. Taking care of “dirty feet” everyday means that I agree with God when He points out that dirt. I need to recognize my sin and ask His help to avoid stepping in it again.

Thank you Lord, for Your daily cleansing.

(Look familiar? This post is based on another from 2015)