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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Cinco de Mayo

Scripture for Today: Romans 8:31 “What, then, shall we say in response to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Being from Southern California, close to our Mexican neighbors, we enjoyed the Cinco de Mayo celebrations, every 5th of May. After moving to France we did not think to mark the day. However, one year we intentionally went to a hard-to-find Mexican restaurant, early to beat the anticipated crowd. The place was deserted and after looking up information about the celebration I understood why. This day is to celebrate the Mexican victory over the French army in 1862! What was remarkable about the Battle of Puebla were the odds. Facing a better equipped and larger army, the Mexican losses were small in comparison to the French loss of life.

The odds in today’s verse are pretty remarkable too! If God is for us there is no contest! This is our response to any charge. He has declared us righteous through Christ. Because God is for us, there is not even a hint of condemnation from any quarter (Rom. 8:1). God is for us and Christ intercedes on our behalf. Nothing and no one can separate us from His love. We are not just conquerors over the enemy but “more than conquerors.”

It is not because of numbers or size or strength but because of His love that I am more than a conqueror! (verse 37) He has already won the most important battle of them all, the battle for my soul! Celebration can start today and continue into eternity! The outcome is sure and I can live in the absolute certainty of victory. There is not a single scenario imaginable that can change this truth. Because He is for me, I win!

Thank you Lord, for already securing the victory for me.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2016)

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Hummingbird Drama

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.”

All the windows and doors were opened and this little guy got confused. Poor little thing tried to find his way out but was totally disoriented. In his fright he repeatedly flew into the skylight, knocking himself to the floor. My husband carefully transported what looked to be a dead hummingbird to some shade in the backyard. The story ends well as the bird eventually revived and flew away!

Today’s verse tells us that we are made alive with Christ. And unlike the hummingbird, we were truly dead. Our sin kept us from having a relationship with our Creator. There was not a thing we could do to make ourselves alive. Christ, because of His incredible love and mercy, decided to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. He showed His grace by making us spiritually alive to Him. There is no true life without that spiritual awakening that He gives.

I felt so bad for the confused hummingbird going toward that skylight that could not save. In the same way, man thinks he can find some sort of light, joy, and peace within himself and apart from his Creator. Satan masquerades as an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14) and is thrilled when man misses the true Source. The Light of God’s presence will not deceive or disappoint me. He makes me alive to Himself, to love and enjoy Him. I am forever thankful that in His grace He took the initiative! Because of His great love and His rich mercy, He has made me alive!

Thank you Lord, for Your undeserved favor toward me!

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 103:11 “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.”

Pictured here is the Perseid meteor shower over Sieversdorf, Germany. This light show takes place annually between mid July and mid August. This meteor shower is composed of fragments from the comet, Swift Tuttle. These create what is called a “Perseid cloud” as a stream of debris is formed. The unofficial name is, “the tears of Saint Lawrence” as the peak of activity coincides with the date of this saint’s martyrdom. But rather than think of a man when looking up, I cannot help but think of the amazing creativity of our God.

Today’s verse compares the height of the heavens with the size and grandeur of God’s love for us. Meteors burn up just fifty miles above our heads, but the distances when talking about the heavens are mind boggling! How amazing that the vastness of the heavens is a picture of the size of God’s love for us! It is so difficult to grasp how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is (Eph. 3:18). It goes beyond limited knowledge. It eludes finite comprehension. 

Just as distances boggle my mind when gazing at the heavens, so His love for me boggles the mind. How could He love me so much? Does He not see my failings, my weaknesses and my black heart? I am too small and insignificant to deserve this unconditional love. However, that is just the point. He does not love me because of who I am but in spite of who I am. Believing He really loves me changes everything. His love and forgiveness make me the “apple of His eye” (Psalm 17:8) and He makes my life worth living.

Thank you Lord, for Your incredible surprising love. Remind me today as I look up at the sky.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2014)

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Scripture for Today: I Peter 5:10 “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

Jello leaves me feeling ambivalent. On the one hand it is very versatile. Anything and everything can go in it and it can take on so many forms and shapes. On the other hand, it is slimy and unnaturally colored. It wobbles and slithers and is usually too sweet for me. The French as a rule do not want to even try it, so perhaps they have influenced me over the years. Too many times, I have unmolded a jello only to have it not be firm enough to hold the shape!

Today’s verse promises strength, firmness and steadfastness. It is a promise directed to those who are called by God’s grace and belong to Him. This promise is always needed but especially so when going through a time of suffering. We are not firm and steadfast in the middle of trial. We are like that jello, all wobbly and ready to slide off the plate. No one stands strong when their legs feel like jello!

The suffering I go through is usually unexplainable. The only thing I know with certainty is that it is unavoidable.  My comfort is that God uses it. The pain is never wasted. It is through suffering that I draw closer to the Lord and learn to love Him more. Sometimes my suffering is used to encourage others. But in any case, it is to be counted a privilege to suffer for Him as He suffered so much for me! And what comfort to know that He personally restores me and renews my strength! 

Thank You Lord, for personally standing me back up again.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2015)