Devotions By Jan


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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.


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Great Slave Lake

Scripture for Today: II Peter 2:19 “They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity – for people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”

What an odd name for a lake! This immense body of freshwater is Canada’s second largest and is located in the Northwest Territory. This lake and many other bodies of water in that region are named after the Slave Indians. I was expecting to learn of a past full of slavery. However, the Slavey Indian Tribe were never actually slaves. Their name for themselves is “Dene.” The Slave name was given them by their more aggressive neighbors, the Chee.

I have never been a slave either. At least I used to think that way, but today’s verse tells me something different. We are slaves to whatever masters us. One can think one is free when at the same time being a slave to depravity. The “lustful desires of the flesh” (verse 18) can unknowingly be our master. We are told we are slaves either to sin or to obedience and righteousness. (Rom. 6:16) We serve one or the other of these two masters!

It is disconcerting to see that there is no middle ground! But if I have to be a slave, controlled by something outside of myself, I would rather it be something good and positive! When Christ took my place by dying on the cross, He broke the power of sin to master me! Now, I am truly free to serve Him. And what a loving and gentle Master He is! His will for me is always pleasing, good and perfect. (Rom. 12:2) His burden for me is light (Matt. 11:30) and He promises that in following Him my life will be a full one! (John 10:10)

Lord, You are my Master. Help me live this truth today.


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Floundering

Scripture for Today: “II Corinthians 5:15 “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.”

This fish continued his valiant fight for life even after being pulled from the water.  I enjoy seafood so much but I hate thinking about how it got to be on my plate!  In the end, this fish flopping and floundering did him no good.  The word “floundering” was perhaps influenced in the 1590’s by the Dutch word, “flodderen” meaning to flop about.  Later this verb referred to being completely unable to decide what to do or say.

Today’s verse gives a goal and direction to life.  Rather than flounder through life following different visions and dreams, there is a sense of purpose.  This goal in life does not change with the times or fashions of the day.  It is not a goal that could disappoint but a purpose that is deep and lasting.  There is no ambiguity.  We are to live our lives for the Lord Jesus who died and was raised again for us.  Living to please ourselves leaves us empty and unfulfilled.  Solomon found that living for any desire or pleasure was meaningless and like chasing after wind. (Eccl. 2:10-11)

It breaks my heart to see family and friends floundering, living for the next relationship, the next adventure or the next big purchase.  A whole life can be spent on the dubious goal of pleasing one’s self.  But living for the Lord is always an adventure of faith!  He gives that sense of purpose to my life.  Living for His purposes gives a satisfaction and a significance like nothing else can.

Thank you Lord, that in sacrificing Your own life, You have made mine worth living!

(Look familiar?  Summer reposing while reposting!)


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Chivalry

Scripture for Today: Philippians 2:3b-4 “…in humility be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.”

Chivalry is many times thought to be an outmoded idea.  But my husband still gallantly opens doors and pulls out chairs for me.  I always appreciate it as it makes me feel special, however he does stop short of throwing down his coat over a puddle!  The word, “chivalry,” was originally used to refer to qualities expected of a knight; courage, generosity, and courtesy, especially towards women.

Today’s verse does not use the word, “chivalry,” but certainly has the idea of treating others well.  Our concern should not be only for our own interests.  A believer is to be concerned about the interests of others as well.  To treat others’ needs as more important than our own can only come from an attitude of humility.  And that humility is not something that comes naturally.  What comes naturally is to put oneself first.  The following verses point to Jesus as our example and how far He humbled Himself for us.

It is not easy to ask interested questions of another and not have them return the favor.  It is difficult to allow another to go first when pressed for time.  To be genuinely happy for another’s success takes a humility I do not always feel!  Yet, this is what Jesus asks of me.  My life is in His hands along with all my interests, goals and needs.  I can afford to be gracious and others-centered.  He has all my desires and interests at heart and I can trust Him.

Lord, help me show the kind of self-sacrificing love You showed to me!

(Look familiar? Summer reposing while reposting!)


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The Abacus

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 130:3-4 “If You, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness so that we can with reverence serve You.”

Counting on an abacus looks complicated and time consuming.  But in fact, the merchants we saw in Hong Kong and Taiwan seemed to have no trouble at all.  Their fingers would fly over the beads faster than a calculator!  The Chinese abacus dates back to the 2nd century BC.  Variations of it were used as well by the Greeks and Romans in ancient times to keep an accurate record.

Today’s verse mentions keeping an account.  If the Lord were to keep a record of our sins, the small abacus would not be able to keep up!  If He were to treat us according to our sins, we would be crushed.  We would not be able to stand or even to lift our head.  Thankfully, with His forgiveness the record is swept clean.  Because of His forgiveness, we can serve Him with reverence and a grateful heart.  He removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  Because of the loving sacrifice of Christ, He chooses not to remember our sin (Heb. 10:17).

His undeserved forgiveness is so amazing!  There is no other response I can make but to serve Him.  He does not forgive and forget my sin so that I can keep sinning.  He does it so that I can have the privilege of serving Him.  It is in this grateful service that I find purpose and significance in life.  He is worthy of all my praise, fear and obedience.  Not only does He forgive me but He allows me to stand in His incredible presence and enjoy Him forever!

Lord, where would I be without Your forgiveness?