Devotions By Jan


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Bibliophile

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Is this cat a bibliophile, appreciating and collecting books? More likely, his paw is just serving as a bookmark for his owner. Today is National Book Lover’s Day. This is a day where one is encouraged to spend the whole day reading! We observe this day by visiting the public library. Or we can explore a used book store for that overlooked gem of an out-of-print tome. Another way to mark the day is to randomly give a book to someone.

Today’s verse talks about a book that records all the days that are allotted to each one of us. He Himself has authored this book and it is timeless. It records the length of our lives before they are even begun. What an amazing verse that makes clear just how detailed and expansive His control is! As He has planned, and as He has purposed, so it will happen (Isaiah 14:24). Every entrance into the hereafter is on the very day recorded in that book.

It is a tremendous comfort to know that God never slips up. A death may still seem untimely to me, but He knows. A life may be violently cut short, but God has a plan through all of it that we do not see on this side of eternity. I cannot thwart His plan for my exit from this world. Rather than be frightened at the thought, I am reassured that He has a plan. His control is good because He is good. I do not need to know the number of my days. I just need to know that He knows.

Lord, help me to always be confident of Your control.


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Bread-Loving Cat

Proverbs 6:25-26a “Do not lust in your heart for her beauty, and do not let her captivate you with her alluring eyes.  For on account of a prostitute one is brought down to a loaf of bread…”

photo credit: Julie Corsi at https://www.flickr.com/photos/corsinet/6807535513

This is not our cat, Tiger, but it very well could be. We were always careful to close the kitchen door when any food was left out. Tiger was not very discriminating in his tastes and would try just about any “people food!” As long as it was forbidden, it was somehow worth the effort to climb up on the counters or table and brave our displeasure.  Of course our cat, being French, was spoiled with the availability of baguette!

Today’s verse uses the image of a loaf of bread to describe the impoverished state of a man who visits a prostitute.  He not only wastes his money on something that does not really satisfy, but he also cheapens what is meant to be beautiful within the commitment of marriage. In allowing himself to be captivated by lust, he impoverishes his very soul. What could be romantic, noble and satisfying is reduced to something as ordinary and common as a piece of bread.

The warning in this verse can also apply to what goes on in my heart and mind. Jesus puts the standard very high teaching that secret lust is as serious as actual sexual sin (Matt. 5:28). The standard is put so high in order to safeguard what is meant to be beautiful. Rather than think of God’s Law as restrictive, I see His way as being what is most satisfying. Sexual immorality impoverishes whereas following God’s plan enriches and deepens a relationship.

Lord, protect my heart and mind from cheapening what You mean to be rich and satisfying.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2014)


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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)


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Not So Lovable

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.”

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Tiger is looking quite lovable and innocent in this picture. But do not let him fool you! He is not so lovable when he has a struggling little bird in his mouth! He is not so lovable when terrorizing a lizard or cornering a mouse! Then there are the times he makes a mess on the carpet from his kills or from being sick. He is just being his own cat self. I show him mercy by not yelling at him or banishing him from the house. I show him grace by continuing to provide for his needs. 

Today’s verse describes God as rich in mercy. Mercy is not getting what one deserves! Because God loves us so much, He took care of what was deserved; the punishment for our sin. His love makes Him full of mercy and grace for us! Grace is being given what we do not deserve. And God did that by making us alive in Christ, so that we are no longer spiritually dead. God did all this, and not because we were lovable!

I sometimes think I am quite lovable to the Lord. After all, I can look pretty spiritual. I can have the right image, say the right words and even tithe and do good works. But in fact, it is only because of His undeserved grace that He has chosen to love me. He, more than anyone, knows just how black my heart can be. He sees the pride and the unforgiving spirit. He sees the flimsy excuses I invent to avoid complete obedience. How amazing that He should love me!

Thank you, Lord, for Your constant gracious love!

(If this seems familiar, it is a reworked blogpost from 2013)


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Finding Life

Scripture for Today: Matthew 16:25 “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.”

This is exactly the kind of behavior we would see from Tiger when thunder would clap over the house and he would run for cover! The instinct in animals for self-preservation is a strong one. And we as humans are not much different. It is normal to want to protect our lives from natural disasters, serious illness or accident. We do not look to put ourselves in harm’s way. We take the necessary precautions. We take the safest route. We live our lives so as to avoid disaster.

The truth in today’s verse seems contrary to human nature. Of course we are going to try to save our lives when we feel that they are threatened. But at what cost? Peter had just rebuked Jesus, trying to discourage Him from going to Jerusalem. Suffering and death awaited Jesus there and He knew it. Yet He turned toward what would be certain death. Unlike Peter, Jesus had in mind the concerns of God and not merely human concerns (verse 23). It was because Jesus walked in obedience to the Father that He could set aside the restraints of self-preservation.

Finding true rewarding and fulfilling life only happens when I am willing to risk my own safety and comfort. Protecting my life at any cost makes me lose it! Christ bought my life at an incredible cost to Himself, not so that I can hide under the covers and wait for danger to pass. The goal of my life is not to preserve it but to spend it in service to Him. Following Him means picking up my cross daily in obedience (verse 24) despite personal risk.

Lord, may You find me faithful.