Devotions By Jan


Leave a comment

Mistletoe

Scripture for Today: Romans 16:16 “Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.”

Today is our 42nd wedding anniversary and no one needs to remind us to kiss today! But this mistletoe has long been associated with kissing. It seems strange as it is just a parasitic plant feeding off its host tree. But kissing under mistletoe has been part of Christmas tradition since the 18th century. In fact, it goes much further back having supposed magical powers to fend off evil spirits! I prefer the idea of love and romance!

Today’s verse tells us that believers are to warmly greet one another. The custom then was to greet with a chaste kiss. This custom continues today around the world. After more than three decades in France, I am accustomed to greeting others with a kiss on the cheek. It could be twice, three times or four depending on the region. But the idea is to acknowledge one another’s presence and make the other feel loved and important in whatever way is socially acceptable. In these days of hyper-sensitivity to germs, the elbow tap or fist bump has become another way to greet.

That warm greeting is so important. I love it when churches actually have folks at the entrance who officially greet you with that smile and handshake. We need to affirm one another and show genuine interest. We are all members of the same “body” of Christ and we need each other. My problem is that I am so centered on myself and my own needs. I forget that we all have the same need to be encouraged. It takes such little effort to greet as we should, but how much it can do to lift one’s spirit!

Thank you Lord, for mutual encouragement!


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.


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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!)


Leave a comment

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!)