Devotions By Jan


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Social Distancing

Scripture for Today: Psalm 26:5 “I abhor the assembly of evildoers and refuse to sit with the wicked.”

A very recognizable trait in most any cat is their aloof behavior!  The idea of “social distancing” would not pose a problem for most cats.  They love their niche on the cat tree and their space for an undisturbed cat nap.  Calling for a cat to come often produces a cold shoulder and or a blank stare.  How different from the enthusiastic response of the dog!  But that aloofness disappears when they hear that can open or smell fish or chicken cooking.

In this era of “social distancing” to avoid contagion, today’s verse speaks of a more serious contagion.  We are told to actually hate associating with a group of wicked people!  David refused to even sit with them.  The very beginning of Psalms describes the one who is happy or blessed as the one who will not walk, stand or sit with the wicked (Psalm 1:1).  A close association with those who mock God can have a negative influence on our behavior.  To be seen aligning ourselves too closely with the wicked can also ruin our reputation as one belonging to the Lord.

I need to take seriously this kind of “social distancing.”  I would like to think that my faith is too strong to be weakened by anybody.  But I know myself and so does He or He would not warn me.  It is already too easy to compromise my standards or rationalize my wrong behavior.  I do not need to go looking for a group of people doing the same thing!  Where I want to walk, stand, or sit is with other believers who also want to please God.

Lord, keep me from evil influence!

Photo by Nick Chalkiadakis on Unsplash


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Watch and Wait

Scripture for Today: Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.”

Have you ever seen a cat watch and wait for his prey?  The total concentration is surprising as they lay in wait.  Every muscle is tensed and the pupils are wide in anticipation.  The patient focus of a determined cat is amazing!  Our cat, Tiger, used to spend much of his time in the yard crouched in readiness.  And often, just before he pounced his whole back end would quiver in excitement!

Today’s verse is a statement of faith and trust of the one who cries out to the Lord for mercy.  Faith is most evident when there is waiting involved for a response.  And when we wait it is with our whole being, putting our hope in His sure and infallible Word.  We wait for the Lord to act more than the wait of the watchmen (verse 6).  They guard a sleepy city by watching and peering into the distance as they wait for the morning.  Our wait will not last forever.  As morning comes for the watchmen ending their shift, so we will eventually see His Word fulfilled!

I have been watching and waiting for a response to a particular prayer request for thirteen years!  My morning has come with His incredible answer!  I could wait with hope because of His unfailing love and His full redemption (verse 7).  But there remains more reasons to watch and wait with unfulfilled promises in my life.  I am encouraged though to persevere having seen Him respond!  One day there will be no more watching and waiting.  One day, there will be no more need to hope as every hope will be realized in His presence!

Lord, thank you that I can wait with hope.


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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.