Devotions By Jan

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Mexican Walking Fish

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 13:4-5 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

Уткина Дарья
CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What a bizarre creature! He looks to be having a bad hair day but in fact those are his feathery gills standing up! He seems to be grinning although if he knew of his endangered status, perhaps he wouldn’t be. This strange salamander has been given several names. No, he is not walking nor is he a fish. But this is the name the Mexicans have given him. His name in the Aztec language, “Axoloti” means “water dog.” He is simply an amphibian but his appearance does fire the imagination!

The description of love is very clear in today’s verse. Yet we tend to name many different emotions as “love” when they are not. It might look like love. It might feel like love, but many times it falls short of what true love is all about. Whether it is a brotherly love or romantic love, this much-misunderstood emotion is the commitment to faithfully seek the best for the other person. Whatever we name “love” is to resemble the qualities listed in I Corinthians 13, including the important quality of love never failing.

What an impossible standard this seems to me! My love for others is so tainted with self-interest! Thankfully, God gives me His Spirit without whom I could never give or experience this kind of love. I can only love because He first loved me! (I John 4:19) He is the Source. He is the example, and He gives the power to get myself out of the way and treat others as I would like to be treated.

Thank you Lord, for enabling true love.

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The Tapir

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 9:10 “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.”

Meet Baird’s Tapir, one of three kinds found in the forests of South America. These animals are related to the horse and the rhino and are recognizable by their “mini trunk.” This flexible snout is really their nose and upper lip combined. It is used to grab branches, pluck fruit and as a snorkel in water! The tapir is called, “the gardener of the forest,” as they spread seeds everywhere in their scat!

Today’s verse tells us that God is the Source of our seed as well as of our bread. We, as believers, are to sow seed that will result in a harvest of righteousness. The Source of our store of seed promises to increase it when we give to others generously. His blessing means having what is needed in order to “abound in every good work.” (verse 8) We are encouraged to sow generously so as to reap generously a harvest that is spiritual. (verse 6) God blesses with spiritual fruit those seeds of time, talent and money sown for Him!

Over the years I have seen the truth of this principle. I cannot explain God’s blessings in my life. They are totally undeserved. But whether I have a lot or a little, my focus is not to be on how much is in the storerooms but how much I am giving out. Somehow, when my attention is on His kingdom and giving to see it advanced, I see my own needs met and feel no lack. Seeing His blessing reassures me of His care and keeps me focused on HIs priorities!

Lord, make me generous and not overly concerned with the storehouse.

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Cinco de Mayo

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:31 “What, then, shall we say in response to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Being from Southern California, close to our Mexican neighbors, we enjoyed the Cinco de Mayo celebrations, every 5th of May. After moving to France we did not think to mark the day. However, one year we intentionally went to a hard-to-find Mexican restaurant, early to beat the anticipated crowd. The place was deserted and after looking up information about the celebration I understood why. This day is to celebrate the Mexican victory over the French army in 1862! What was remarkable about the Battle of Puebla were the odds. Facing a better equipped and larger army, the Mexican losses were small in comparison to the French loss of life.

The odds in today’s verse are pretty remarkable too! If God is for us there is no contest! This is our response to any charge. He has declared us righteous through Christ. Because God is for us, there is not even a hint of condemnation from any quarter (Rom. 8:1). God is for us and Christ intercedes on our behalf. Nothing and no one can separate us from His love. We are not just conquerors over the enemy but “more than conquerors.”

It is not because of numbers or size or strength but because of His love that I am more than a conqueror! (verse 37) He has already won the most important battle of them all, the battle for my soul! Celebration can start today and continue into eternity! The outcome is sure and I can live in the absolute certainty of victory. There is not a single scenario imaginable that can change this truth. Because He is for me, I win!

Thank you Lord, for already securing the victory for me.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2016)

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Hummingbird Drama

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 2:4-5 “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.”

All the windows and doors were opened and this little guy got confused. Poor little thing tried to find his way out but was totally disoriented. In his fright he repeatedly flew into the skylight, knocking himself to the floor. My husband carefully transported what looked to be a dead hummingbird to some shade in the backyard. The story ends well as the bird eventually revived and flew away!

Today’s verse tells us that we are made alive with Christ. And unlike the hummingbird, we were truly dead. Our sin kept us from having a relationship with our Creator. There was not a thing we could do to make ourselves alive. Christ, because of His incredible love and mercy, decided to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. He showed His grace by making us spiritually alive to Him. There is no true life without that spiritual awakening that He gives.

I felt so bad for the confused hummingbird going toward that skylight that could not save. In the same way, man thinks he can find some sort of light, joy, and peace within himself and apart from his Creator. Satan masquerades as an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14) and is thrilled when man misses the true Source. The Light of God’s presence will not deceive or disappoint me. He makes me alive to Himself, to love and enjoy Him. I am forever thankful that in His grace He took the initiative! Because of His great love and His rich mercy, He has made me alive!

Thank you Lord, for Your undeserved favor toward me!

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Scripture for Today: I Samuel 16:7b “…The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.”

For a fruit that is so versatile, nutritious and easy to grow in a tropical climate, the jackfruit has an off-putting appearance! The skin of what is considered to be the largest fruit in the world is thick and spiny, making it difficult to open. A ripe unopened jackfruit is brown and has a strong unpleasant odor. But the pulp of an opened jackfruit is bright yellow or orange and smells sweet! Getting past that outside is rewarded with pleasant color and taste!

Today’s verse draws a sharp contrast between what man sees and what the Lord regards as important. The Lord had commissioned Samuel to anoint the next king of Israel. First, Samuel considered each of Jesse’s sons. But their birth order, their height and their appearance were non factors. It was the youngest son that had the lowly job of tending sheep who had the heart God could use.

I tend to assign value to a person based on outward appearance. I hate it when people do so with me and yet I find I do it all the time! When all is well-groomed on the outside, I assume the inside is in order as well. But wickedness can have a very appealing veneer of respectability. The flip side is true as well and I can completely miss a beautiful friendship by an off-putting image. Christ Himself had no beauty or majesty to attract us; nothing in His appearance would cause us to desire Him (Isaiah 53:2). And yet, no one who ever walked this earth was more beautiful.

Lord, make me beautiful on the inside.