Devotions By Jan


Leave a comment

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.”

IMG_1629

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)


Leave a comment

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.


1 Comment

Lap Cat

 

Scripture for Today: Philippians 4:12  “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

This is not our cat.  Tiger would never consent to sit in our laps, let alone relax and sleep there.  I tried so hard to make him a lap cat, but he would have none of it!  There is something soothing about having that little heater rest on one’s knees.  But when a cat is that relaxed and contented I feel pinned in place, not wanting to disturb him by getting out of the chair.

Today’s verse is about experiencing contentment regardless of our circumstances.  Having every need and desire fulfilled is no guarantee to having contentment.  Nor is experiencing lack a recipe for discontent.  Paul knew what he was talking about as he lived both of these scenarios.  What is encouraging is that contentment can be learned.  It is not always our first reaction but with enough practice it can be.  There is a secret to learning this contentment and that secret is found in our relationship to Christ.  He gives me the ability to find contentment in Him.

What this suggests to me is that when I am feeling disgruntled and deprived, I just need to crawl back up into His lap!  Rather than focusing on the negatives in my life, I turn to Him.  Reminding myself of who He is and all the blessings He has already given me helps me find that lap of contentment.  For me, it is really a choice as to where I am focusing my thoughts.

Lord, help me to find that elusive contentment in You.

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


Leave a comment

The Serval

Scripture for Today: Psalm 62:11-12 “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that You, O God, are strong, and that You, O Lord, are loving. Surely You will reward each person according to what he has done.”

This cat is all ears!  The serval is a wild African cat believed to be the ancient ancestor of the cheetah.  Their ears are the largest of any cat. They live in tall grass and are not as likely to see their small prey.  So their ears are huge to hear what they cannot see.  The ears of a serval are so sensitive they can recognize sounds made by animals moving in their underground tunnels!  But it was for their grace and strength that the ancient Egyptians worshiped them.

Today’s verse was written by David, a very wealthy and powerful king.  His ears were attuned to God’s Word.  Rather than trust in his own strength and riches, David acknowledges that only God has real power.  David had been listening to many things God had spoken to him personally, but these two truths kept him in an attitude of trust.  Not only does God have all the power but it is used to fight for and protect those He loves.

I need to be listening for these same truths.  Unwittingly, I put God in a box with my thinking, forgetting just how formidable He is.  I need to remember that He is all powerful and nothing escapes His perfect justice.  But how thankful I am that His power is coupled with His love!  His sacrificial love has made a way for me to escape the punishment my sins deserve.  Nothing and no one can prevail against me or separate me from this incredible love  (Romans 8:38-39).

Lord, help me hear Your reassurances of power and love today!

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


Leave a comment

Creature Comforts

Scripture for Today:  Matt. 8:20  “Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.'”

This cat is not letting a little thing like a bed, pillow or comfy blanket stop him from his nap!  He doesn’t seem to mind that the concrete is hard or that the wood chips may poke at him.  Me, on the other hand, I enjoy my creature comforts.   My poor children did not have any camping experiences until they were adults.  If I have a choice, I choose the comfortable bed and pillow.

This is why today’s verse is so shocking!  Jesus describes Himself as having no place to lay His head.  Jesus gave up the comforts of hearth and home to be on the road, sharing the good news of salvation and meeting people’s needs.  Jesus was speaking to a teacher of the law who declared he would follow Jesus anywhere.  But perhaps this teacher was being overly optimistic or unrealistic.  Jesus knew that His itinerant ministry would pose a problem for this man.

The cost of following God’s individual plan for me may mean I will have to relinquish some creature comforts.  How inconsequential they seem when compared to what He gave up for me!  Thankfully, as my Creator, He knows my limits.  He will not call me to do something that He would not empower me to do (Phil. 2:13).  But am I willing to follow Him whatever He asks me to give up?   I hope I can say, “Yes” to whatever He asks of me.  He is trustworthy.  But there is one “creature comfort” I could never do without and that is the reassuring comfort of His presence and blessing.

Lord, thank you for what You gave up for me!