Devotions By Jan


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Walking the Cat!

Scripture 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 tongue.  God’s Spirit offers His control for the uncontrollable.  He changes the root problem; my heart.  And He gives me the ability to check my tongue and control that outburst!

Lord, tame my tongue today!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Cat Attack!

Scripture 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 may not be right.

Make my heart right today, Lord.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Grumpy Cat

Scripture for Today: Psalm 68:3 “But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.”

The viral star known as “Grumpy Cat” died this past week at age seven.  She had been quite the sensation as the subject of memes, appearing in commercials, doing sponsorships and appearances, even starring in a movie.  Her claim to fame?  Being a sour puss.  That permanent scowl earned her owners up to 100 million!  That angry and sad face was actually due to an underbite and feline dwarfism.  I am glad to know that in fact she could have  been happy.

Today’s verse talks about being glad, rejoicing, and being happy and joyful.  This enviable emotional state is a direct result of realizing what God does for us.  He blows away our enemies like smoke (vs. 1).  He is a Father to the fatherless and a defender of widows.  He even cares for the lonely, placing them in families (vs. 5-6).  He is continually showing favor to those who belong to Him.  He daily bears us up and He is our salvation (vs.19).

Perhaps the words “happy” and “glad” do not always characterize a believer.  I have my share of depression and sadness in the face of longterm difficulties.  Whether it be financial woes, health concerns, or the loss of relationship, there are plenty of reasons to have a grumpy face.  But in His presence, it can all change.  “Before God” I can be glad and rejoice at what He has done for me.  Nothing can change His love and the hope He gives.  When sadness threatens, I want to run to Him as in His presence is “fullness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).  In His presence I am reminded of all He has done for me.  He turns it around.

Thank you Lord, that You chase away my sadness.

 


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Curious Cat

Top-10-Curious-Cats-Covered-in-Packing-Peanuts-4Scripture for Today: Ephesians 5:11-12 “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.”

“Curiosity killed the cat,” although not so much in this case!  But his curiosity is obvious, as there is no hiding what the cat has been up to.  The lure of the box is a temptation too strong for most felines, our Tiger included.  Their little cat brains must curiously ask themselves what that box might hide.  Satisfying his curiosity did not work out so well.   How very undignified having all these styrofoam pellets stuck on fur!

Today’s verse is surprising.  Not only are believers to have nothing to do with evil deeds of darkness, but we are to expose them to the light of His goodness, righteousness, and truth (verse 9).  We expose them by living a contrasting life, as “children of light,” seeking to please the Lord.  What is surprising is that we are not to even mention what the wicked do in secret!  As part of holy living we are to rid ourselves of “filthy language” (Col. 3:8).

It seems extreme.  We easily talk about how wicked the wicked are!  But there is a subtle danger in speaking of what goes on in secret.  Doing so can desensitize me to the seriousness of sin.  I eventually lose any sense of shock.  I can slowly move towards acceptance of what is evil or immoral.  And discussing the details of any sin can pique my interest and stimulate curiosity.

My mouth reveals what I am thinking about.  When I am thinking about what is true, honest, just, pure and lovely, than I will not be interested in discussing the evil surrounding me (Phil. 4:8).

Lord, keep my thoughts and my mouth pure and full of light!

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Face Plant

Scripture 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.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministry.


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Bless You!

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” 

Our cat, Tiger, would sometimes have a sneezing fit and would always look very surprised when it happened.  I never felt obligated to say the words, “bless you.”  After all, I figured it was usually the cat making everyone else sneeze.  There are many ideas on the origins of blessing people after a sneeze.  Some believed the sneeze had to do with evil spirits leaving the body.  Others felt it was the soul momentarily escaping the body.  My favorite is the belief that the heart temporarily stopped during a sneeze!

Today’s verse declares that the source of every spiritual blessing is Jesus Christ.  He has blessed every believer with unmerited favor and goodness.  The blessings He gives are not tangible but spiritual.  And because that is true, these blessings are eternal.  They include His choosing us, adopting us, redeeming us and forgiving us (verses 4-7).  He has blessed us by sealing us with His Holy Spirit and has promised us an inheritance (verse 13-14).  These blessings are not seen with our physical eyes but they are more real than things that are!

I need to be reminded of His blessings, especially when I see non-believers seemingly prosper around me.  Like David, I can feel discouraged and tempted to be envious (Psalm 37:1-2).  But their success is temporary and my inheritance is eternal!  Spiritual blessings are the ones that matter.  And the blessing of being His very own outweighs anything else.  I can live this life with faith and love because they spring from the hope stored up for me in Heaven! (Col. 1:5)  How blessed I am!

Lord, open the eyes of my heart to see Your blessings today..


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Harmony

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:3  “Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of the Spirit in the binding power of peace.”

Could these two be any more different from one another?  Yet, rather than fighting like cats and dogs, they seem to have found some measure of peace.  My daughter has two dogs and a cat and the domestic scene is not always as harmonious as pictured here!  The cat often tries to eat the dogs’ food and the dogs try the same thing!  Everyone has their personal space to be respected…..or not.

Today’s verse talks about something as unnatural as cats and dogs getting along together.  Harmony.  Oneness.  Peace.  It is not in our natures to strive for this.  It is so much easier to divide into factions or to stand up for one’s rights.  We want recognition and special treatment even at the cost of unity.

Without the Lord, peace with other believers would not even be possible.  Thankfully, we have the working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  Our differences do not need to separate us.  Our differing races or languages do not have to be a barrier to harmony.  Even differing styles of worship do not have to divide us when we are walking by the Spirit.  Being “one” was the prayer of Jesus in John 17:23.  He prayed that our oneness would be a testimony to the world!

I am thankful to experience this oneness with French believers.  It is truly a work of the Spirit that unites us.  We are so different from one another.  Yet it is our common love for Jesus that binds us together.  That bond of peace is so sweet and worth all the effort to guard and keep!

Lord, keep me striving for unity and peace.