Devotions By Jan


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Mexican Walking Fish

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 13:4-5 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”


Уткина Дарья
CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

What a bizarre creature! He looks to be having a bad hair day but in fact those are his feathery gills standing up! He seems to be grinning although if he knew of his endangered status, perhaps he wouldn’t be. This strange salamander has been given several names. No, he is not walking nor is he a fish. But this is the name the Mexicans have given him. His name in the Aztec language, “Axoloti” means “water dog.” He is simply an amphibian but his appearance does fire the imagination!

The description of love is very clear in today’s verse. Yet we tend to name many different emotions as “love” when they are not. It might look like love. It might feel like love, but many times it falls short of what true love is all about. Whether it is a brotherly love or romantic love, this much-misunderstood emotion is the commitment to faithfully seek the best for the other person. Whatever we name “love” is to resemble the qualities listed in I Corinthians 13, including the important quality of love never failing.

What an impossible standard this seems to me! My love for others is so tainted with self-interest! Thankfully, God gives me His Spirit without whom I could never give or experience this kind of love. I can only love because He first loved me! (I John 4:19) He is the Source. He is the example, and He gives the power to get myself out of the way and treat others as I would like to be treated.

Thank you Lord, for enabling true love.


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The Tapir

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 9:10 “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.”

https://www.flickr.com/photos/briangratwicke/2639595421

Meet Baird’s Tapir, one of three kinds found in the forests of South America. These animals are related to the horse and the rhino and are recognizable by their “mini trunk.” This flexible snout is really their nose and upper lip combined. It is used to grab branches, pluck fruit and as a snorkel in water! The tapir is called, “the gardener of the forest,” as they spread seeds everywhere in their scat!

Today’s verse tells us that God is the Source of our seed as well as of our bread. We, as believers, are to sow seed that will result in a harvest of righteousness. The Source of our store of seed promises to increase it when we give to others generously. His blessing means having what is needed in order to “abound in every good work.” (verse 8) We are encouraged to sow generously so as to reap generously a harvest that is spiritual. (verse 6) God blesses with spiritual fruit those seeds of time, talent and money sown for Him!

Over the years I have seen the truth of this principle. I cannot explain God’s blessings in my life. They are totally undeserved. But whether I have a lot or a little, my focus is not to be on how much is in the storerooms but how much I am giving out. Somehow, when my attention is on His kingdom and giving to see it advanced, I see my own needs met and feel no lack. Seeing His blessing reassures me of His care and keeps me focused on HIs priorities!

Lord, make me generous and not overly concerned with the storehouse.


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Snow Monkey

Scripture for Today: Revelation 3:15 “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other.”

This Japanese macaque or snow monkey looks almost asleep as she enjoys the warmth of the hot springs. These volcanic pools or “onsens” can reach 100 degrees fahrenheit at Hell’s Valley or Honshu, Japan. This boiling water bubbles up from frozen snow-covered ground due to volcanic activity underneath. What a contrast with the bitter cold of this alpine environment! No other primate is more northern living nor lives in a colder climate!

Believers were neither hot nor cold in today’s verse. The Lord is rebuking the church of Laodicea out of love. (verse 19) These believers were doing good deeds. But something was wrong. They were not done with any kind of passion. Perhaps they were showing kindness and giving to others out of habit or a sense of obligation. However, the Lord sees the heart and the motivation. And like the good works that prove to be wood, hay and straw rather than gold, silver and costly stones, there is a marked difference (I Cor. 3:12-13) The Lord asks them to repent and be earnest.

The difficult question I ask myself is whether I am being earnest. No one else can know the answer as it is a matter of the heart. Frankly, the good I may do for someone else may be tainted with thoughts of self aggrandizement or reciprocal expectations. When my thoughts of “I should help” outweigh my thoughts of “I want to help” than perhaps I am being lukewarm. The only way I know to be passionate in serving Him is to continually connect to the Vine and have that fruit naturally flow from my relationship with Him!

Lord, keep me earnest today.


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National No Housework Day

Psalm 51:2-3 “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”

Did you know this is National No Housework Day? Apparently the cat on the chair does and perhaps the other cat on the table does too! They are totally unconcerned about the clutter! This certainly seems like a busy household with shoes scattered, clothes hanging out, and laundry to be put away. What is puzzling is that water can under the table. I am sure anyone dropping in at my house would find something puzzling as well! But on this day of no housework, washing and cleaning take a back seat!

Today’s verse is all about a washing and cleansing that really has no day off! This verse is a prayer of David’s after his sin with Bathsheba. He asks God for mercy and compassion to blot out what he had done (vs 1). David does not minimize his sin. Because of his feelings of guilt, his sin is always before him (vs 3). Yet he understands that God’s cleansing can make his heart whiter than snow (vs 7) and that God’s washing will give him a pure heart!

What a patient and forgiving God I have! Because of Christ and His sacrifice for my sin, I can humbly come to Him for His cleansing and know that He will not send me away. There is no limit to His forgiveness. He is faithful and just to forgive my sin (I John 1:9) and that faithfulness He shows me reaches to the skies! (Ps. 36:5) With His promise of complete forgiveness, I can start over again and again with a light pure heart!

Thank you Lord, that You are faithful to forgive me.

Photo Cedit Leonora Enking at https://www.flickr.com/photos/33037982@N04/


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Maundy Thursday

Scripture for Today: John 13:34 “A new commandment I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

This beautiful carving of the Last Supper can be seen at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany. This impressive Gothic-style cathedral is a commanding presence on the Rhine River and can boast being the tallest twin-spired church in the world! This carving is part of an arch depicting many biblical scenes. Today is Maundy Thursday which commemorates Christ’s final Passover and Last Supper before Easter. Maundy is from the Latin, “madatum,” meaning command.

Today’s verse is a new commandment Christ gave us on this very day. It was a busy one as this was also the day when Jesus showed His love for His disciples by washing their feet (John 13: 1-17). He loved them to the very end (verse 1). As Jesus shared His last meal with them, He established the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper or communion as a visual reminder of the sacrifice He was about to make. His love was a sacrificial one and He commands that His followers have that same kind of love for each other.

There are many churches that mark this day with observances that mirror Christ’s own; washing feet and taking the Lord’s Supper. It is a solemn moment as I approach that fateful and pivotal day of crucifixion. It helps me to ready my heart for Good Friday. But perhaps an even more meaningful way to mark this day is for me to obey this command of love. Not only today but everyday, He wants me to show the world that I am His disciple through the way I love (verse 35). With my selfish heart, I find it one of the harder commands to follow.

Lord, I need Your help to love like You do!