Devotions By Jan


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Holding a Grudge

Scripture for Today: Leviticus 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

They say that cats do not hold grudges.  There is supposed to be some other reasonable explanation for their behavior.  However, when returning from a trip, it would always take our Tiger a bit of time to warm back up to us.  He would hold himself aloof and look at us sideways as if to say, “Where have you been and how dare you leave me?”  After a few rebuffed overtures he would eventually be his loving self again.

Today’s verse can be convicting.  It is repeated throughout Scripture that we are not to take revenge (Romans 12:19).  That job is done much better by the Lord who sees hearts and is righteous.  However, holding a grudge is something that we feel entitled to do, reminding ourselves that it is not OK what was done to us.  Holding a grudge keeps the memory alive and keeps the offender at arm’s length.  But love is impossible without true forgiveness.

So often, the guilty one is unaware of that unforgiving spirit I harbor.  It certainly does nothing to him.  The pain I continue to feel becomes self-inflicted and can become more important than the original offense.  Still, it is hard to let it go.  To forgive and forget seems as if I am letting that person get away with something.  The closer the offender is to me the deeper the wound.  It is impossible to forgive and let go without the Lord.  Because He forgives me and does not hold a grudge, He empowers me to do the same.  It can only happen as I continually give it to Him.

Lord, help me to forgive like You do.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Good Taste

Scripture for Today: Job 34:3-4 “For the ear tests words as the tongue tests food. Let us discern for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good.”

This cat is enjoying ice cream almost as much as I do!  Our Tiger never tasted the stuff because I was always unwilling to share.  However, I have given him as taste of yogurt and he was thrilled.  I imagine many cats enjoy foods that involve milk or cream.  But I still remember the veterinarian warning us that the digestive system of an adult cat does not take too well to drinking milk.  Although the taste is delicious, it is not so good for him.

Today’s verse records the advice of one of Job’s three friends.  Elihu was eager to help Job discover the reason for his troubles.  He had a lot to say but it was off the mark.  Certainly, we are to test what we hear and listen with discernment.  Just as we taste food to see if it has a pleasing flavor, so we “taste” what we hear to decide if it rings true.  The problem is that we all have differing taste buds.  What seems right and good to one can seem wrong and sour to another.  Our subjectivity gets in the way of finding absolute truth.

Thankfully, we do not have to discern for ourselves what is right.  It is not up to us to come to some sort of consensus.  God’s Law goes beyond individual opinion or cultural norms.  God’s Law does not change with the times.  Surveys and votes do not change what God has put in place.  And not only does it taste good, but it is good for us!

Help me Lord, to discern what You call good and right.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Thin Ice

Scripture for Today: Psalm 89:2 “I will declare that Your love stands firm forever, that You have established Your faithfulness in Heaven itself.”

This kitty is trying to walk on thin ice.  I have yet to meet a cat who enjoys getting wet.  This one is walking oh so gingerly to avoid falling through the ice and getting an unintended freezing bath!  So many factors are against him.  The ice could be thinner in spots or the air temperature could change.  A sideways slip could move him off the ice and into the surrounding cold water.  How much more reassuring to walk and stand on firm ground!

Today’s verse is about standing on something that is firm forever.  There is no chance of it failing to take our weight.  It will hold us up when every other kind of love lets us down.  There are no outside factors or circumstances that will change it.  God’s love is completely dependable and faithful.  When God establishes something, nothing under Heaven can change it as His decrees are firm (Psalm 19:9).

He has not only declared that He loves me but He has proved it with the ultimate sacrifice; His death on the cross.  What other evidence do I need?  And yet, there are times when I do doubt it.  Knowing my dark heart I wonder how He could possibly love me.  It is a true miracle that He does.  Thankfully, He does not love me because I am lovable.  If that were the case, it would be thin ice indeed!  It is out of His grace that He has committed Himself to love me and not because I deserve it.

“O, the wonder of it all….just to think that God loves me!”  Help me to stand firmly in Your love today.

(Look familiar?  This is a re-post due to summer ministry schedule.)


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Back Scratcher

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:46a-47a “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others?”

This cat and cat owner have learned how to live out the saying, “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours!”  The owner scratches the cat’s back first and then the cat obligingly does the same for her!  What could be better than having your own in-house masseur?  This saying came from sailors in the 17th century.  When crew members were told to flog one another for an offense, they would sometimes do it lightly, only “scratching” the back, in hopes of being treated the same way.

Today’s verse points out that only loving those who will love you in return is not so admirable.  Greeting only those who will greet you back is no big risk.  Even those who do not follow Christ do as much.  The believer is held to a higher standard.  Jesus tells us to love our enemies (verse 44) which means loving those who will not respond in kind.  We are not to do for others in order to receive something in return.  We are to love and even pray for those who treat us poorly.

Our world does not work this way.  There are expectations and obligations that come from gifts and favors.  But as a believer I am to show love that is unconditional and not dependent on someone’s response.  It is not always easy to ignore the lack of a thank-you note or a return dinner invitation.  However, the Lord delights in rewarding and blessing my obedience.  Knowing this frees me up to give and give again without any strings attached.

Lord, make my love for others like Yours is for me!


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Walking the Cat!

cat-on-leashScripture for Today: James 3:7-8 “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

When our cat, Tiger was young we were worried about him running away.  We tried putting a leash on him so he could be with us while we worked in the garden.  You can imagine how that worked out!  He was more likely to hang himself on it than be safe in the yard.  But I suppose like Pavlov’s dogs, any animal can be trained to some extent.  There are some cases where cats will consent to the leash but not ours!

Today’s verse talks about the impossibility of taming the tongue.  Unlike animals, there is no taming it.  It is wild and unpredictable.  It is full of evil and poison.  The potential it has to destroy people is sobering.  The fact that it is restless suggests to me that it is very often in motion, almost looking for trouble.  What comes out of the mouth reveals what resides in the heart (Matt. 15:18).  No man can tame the tongue because the root problem is a heart issue.

Too many times I have tried and failed to control my tongue.  Too late I see the look of hurt and disappointment on another’s face.  My regret does not call back those words.  They hang in the air and echo in my memory.  But there is hope with the Creator of that nasty tongue.  God’s Spirit offers His control for the uncontrollable.  He changes the root problem; my heart.  And He gives me the the ability to check my tongue and control that outburst!

Lord, tame my tongue today!


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Angry Cat

angry-cat-13Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

It was always obvious when our Tiger was angry.  Like this cat, his eyes would dilate and his ears would lie flat.  That flicking tail did not mean he was any too happy.  And of course, the hissing, spitting and odd moaning sounds were a sure indication that he was ready to strike.  Sometimes his back would arch and his fur would stand on end.  At that point, I did not argue with him but just got out of there!

Today’s verse tells us just how important our feelings are.  The strong emotions we feel are the motor behind so much of what we do.  That is why it is so important to guard our hearts from emotions that fester, build, and boil over to hurt others or hurt ourselves.

Guarding our hearts is an intentional activity.  Like a soldier guarding an entrance, we can be disciplined and vigilant about what we allow ourselves to feel.  Rather than nursing a hurt, we can choose to let go and forgive.  Rather than feeling envious of others, we can choose to be thankful for what we have.  Instead of stoking the fires of our anger, we can seek reconciliation.  With the Spirit’s help, we do not have to be the victims of our emotions.  Our thoughts can turn to what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely and admirable (Phil.4:8).  Thinking on these things can guard our hearts from those negative emotions.

I do not share these warning signs with a cat.  But I have my own.  When sleep eludes me, when I cannot face that person or when my stomach is in knots, then I know my heart is not right.

Make my heart right today, Lord.


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Face Plant

stupid_cat_by_sasori_toastScripture for Today: I Kings 18:39 “When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord – He is God! The Lord – He is God.'”

I have never understood why cats do this!  Our Tiger would often bury his face into the couch, so much so I worried that he was not getting enough air.  He would face plant on the hard uncomfortable floor as well.  I guess when sleep overwhelms, any position will do.  But he sure did look silly.  However, face planting by his owners is embarrassing, unintentional and takes looking silly to a whole new level!  Who wants to look that undignified?

Today’s verse describes an intentional face plant!  There was no concern about looking undignified.  The Israelites fell prostrate, face down on the ground in response to the awesome power of God.  In answer to Elijah’s simple prayer, the only true God sent fire down from Heaven in a contest between Baal and Himself.  This fire was unique not only because it fell from Heaven, but because it burned up sacrifice, wood, stones, soil and water!  What other response is possible but to fall face down to the ground in fearful humility and worship?  The Lord, He is God.

In our French church, we stand when we take communion.  There is standing and lifting up of hands in many churches as an expression of worship as well.  Paul tells us that one day every knee will bow in humble recognition at the name of Jesus (Phil. 2:10).  But when God reveals Himself completely and I see for the first time all His magnificent power and beauty, I cannot see myself in any other position but prostrate with wonder!

Standing, kneeling or prostrate, Lord, may my heart be completely Yours today.