Devotions By Jan


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Chip on the Shoulder

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer turns away wrath.  But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

This picture made me laugh!  It is not quite what a “chip on the shoulder” refers to but certainly brought the old saying to mind.  It used to mean the practice of placing a wooden chip on the shoulder.  It was done as a provocation to fight.  The idea was to knock it off as a signal for the fight to begin.  A feeling or conviction was so deeply held that to disagree meant that one would be challenged.  Examples of this practice are seen in old British movies in the early twentieth century.

Today’s verse gives a different response to the one with a chip on his shoulder.  Anger can be diffused with a gentle answer.  To respond in any other way to an argumentative person would only serve to stoke the fire of his anger.  Challenging his logic may very well fall into the category of “harsh words.”  When emotions run high is not the time to reason with a belligerent person.  However, it is always a good idea to calm the situation with a gentle soothing word.

It has been said that, “the best way to knock off the chip on your neighbor’s shoulder is to pat him on the back.”  Soft gentle answers can help validate someone who feels they have been unfairly treated.  The problem is that I want to be seen as right.  It is my pride that makes it so difficult to respond with gentleness and not try and prove my point.  I need His Spirit to keep me calm in the face of the one so angry if there is to be any “turning away of wrath”!

Lord, make my words soft and gentle today.

 

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Iceberg

Scripture for Today:  I Timothy 1:19 “holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.”

I can understand these men getting as close as they dare to this iceberg.  It is impressive, especially with its beautiful blue tint.  However, there is more to this iceberg than meets the eye!  I would be concerned that some jagged piece of it hidden below the surface may capsize the boat!  This iceberg is termed a “bergy bit” as it is roughly the size of a house.  But, of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg as about 90% of an iceberg is found under water.

Today’s verse is Paul’s charge to young Timothy.  Although Timothy had been raised by a believing Mother and Grandmother, he is encouraged to hold on tight to the faith with a good conscience.  The possibility of “shipwrecked faith” was a danger for Timothy even though he was a leader in the church.  The believer is never exempt from the threat of wrong doctrine or the temptation to sin.  All that is needed to be vulnerable to shipwreck is to think that it could never happen!

I want to hold on tightly to my faith.  There are so many unseen and hidden dangers that can put me at risk when I become overconfident.  I want to hold on tightly when I am rocked by circumstances that make no sense and tempt me to doubt.  I need to hold on firmly to the word of life so as not to capsize (Phil. 2:16).   I do not want to be stuck on a sandbar and out of commission.  I want to finish this journey right to the end!

Lord, keep my faith strong and my conscience clear.


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Weathervane

Scripture for Today:  Psalm 103:12-13  “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those that fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

I imagine if these gentlemen continue drinking long enough, they will not care which direction they go!  This weathervane can be seen in Piddlehinton in the United Kingdom.  There are lots of different whimsical figurines that can be part of the weathervane including ships, cats, and often the rooster.  The important thing is that it sits up high, catches the wind and indicates its direction.

Today’s verse reminded me of the weathervane.  Just how far is the east from the west?  They never meet.  They cannot meet as there is no junction point.  God chose this image to teach us that He has removed our sin an infinite distance from us.  And He did that because of His love.  It cost Him His life on the cross to do that for us.  Satan can try to bring us down with memories and accusations, but it is to no avail.  Who can possibly condemn us (including ourselves) when God has chosen us and Christ intercedes for us?  No one.  (Rom. 8:33-34)

There is lots of confusion about the nature of true love.  But one measure is complete forgiveness.  God’s love for me is so great it reaches to the heavens.  His love is so pure that He never revisits what He has forgiven.  I am so thankful I can live this day and every day without the crushing weight of guilt.  There is NO condemnation because I am in Christ. (Rom. 8:1)  What more proof of His love do I need?  Isn’t this the biggest proof?

Thank you Lord, for Your amazing love and forgiveness.

 


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“Smart” Home

Scripture for Today:  Proverbs 24:3-4  “By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

I am afraid my home is not too smart according to the accepted definition.  A “smart home” is a residence that is equipped with network-connected products.  The lighting, temperature, appliances, security and entertainment can all be monitored and managed through internet connected devices.  Having a smart home may make it safer, more energy efficient or just make for a more entertaining  environment.

Today’s verse talks about a home that is not only smart but built by wisdom and established by understanding. The rooms of this home are filled with precious and pleasant riches because the residents are living according to the knowledge of who He is and how He wants us to live.  Wisdom and understanding are not found at the local Home Depot.  There is only one true source.  Psalm 111:10 says the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and those who do His commandments have understanding.  A house built on these principles is a home where peace can endure.

I do not know of a single Christian home without conflict.  Put two family members in the same room and there will be two very divergent points of view.  Keeping the peace and reacting with wisdom and understanding is an impossible challenge without the Lord’s help.  I would rather my home be a pleasant peaceful place than have the latest technology.  I want my home to be a safe place where one can express oneself without fear of rejection.  His love is unconditional and my desire is to show that same quality of love.  It is never easy, but it is wise.

Lord, may my home be built with Your wisdom and understanding.


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Forced Perspective

Scripture for Today: Colossians 3:1-2 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”

The Leaning Tower of Piza is not the only place in Europe where tourists practice their “forced perspective” photography!  This booted giant woman looks as if she is crushing the Louvre Pyramid.  This technique manipulates our human visual perception with the use of optical illusion.  The result is often surprising, making an object appear larger, smaller, closer or farther away than it really is.

Today’s verse is all about perspective.  Paul tells believers to set their minds on things above.  Our minds and our hearts are to be changed by an eternal perspective.  What we see on earth does not match up with spiritual realities.  What we see, touch and feel around us is not eternal.  These things are real but they will not last.  When we set our minds and hearts on the realities of Heaven, it changes how we view that difficulty.  It affects how we see our problems.  What can loom so large in our perspective is only “light and momentary trouble.” (II Cor. 4:17)  All the hard things in this life are, “achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

This perspective is not forced but it sure makes Heaven seem a little bit closer.  The things of this earth can seem much smaller with a heart set on what is above.  And sometimes, I need to see the hard things as smaller than they appear.  I need to change my perspective to what is eternal and lasting to see past the problems I face today.

Change my perspective, Lord.  Help me see You today instead of my problems.


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A Very Long Arm

Scripture for Today:  Jeremiah 32:17  “Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for You.”

I can only imagine how thrilling it must be for this astronaut to be held up in space by this robotic arm.  Is he looking around himself with wonder?  Or is he reminding himself of the viability of the mechanics.  I wonder if he is reassuring himself of the qualifications of his colleague at the controls!  To enjoy the ride at all, I imagine he has to trust that everything will work out just fine!

Today’s verse describes an outstretched arm.  The powerful arm of the Sovereign Lord brought about the creation of the heavens and the earth.  What is more, His arm is outstretched still!  He has demonstrated His power over and over.  Creation around me attests to that amazing power.  The night skies above overwhelm me with His majesty.  Nothing is too hard for Him.  All He needs to do is to stretch out His arm.

I forget that.  I get tunnel vision and get overwhelmed with my little world.  Yet, He is able and willing to again stretch out His arm in my life.  Ralph Carmichael in his song, “My Little World” expresses this thought.  “The uncharted craters of planets beyond, You know like the palm of Your hand.  And yet You’re concerned with my little world.  Oh, help me to understand.”  I need to be reminded of His powerful outstretched arm, holding up not only this earth, but my little world.  When all seems hopeless, how reassuring it is to know that nothing is too hard for Him!

Thank you Lord, that You stretch out Your arm for me!


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Ironing

Scripture for Today:  Lamentations 3:21-23  “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

This picture represents my feelings about ironing!  Of course, with the synthetic materials available, there is less and less of it to do.  These days, I would hesitate to buy anything made of 100% linen!  Having to go over those stubborn wrinkles again and again is not my idea of fun.  The French word for “iron” means to pass over again and again.   And that is exactly why ironing can be such a chore!

Today’s verse is about calling something to mind, much like pressing or impressing something on our minds again and again.  We are to remember His great love, His compassions and His faithfulness.  In doing so we can live with hope.  His compassions are never at en end as every morning they are new and fresh.  Both His love and His faithfulness are described as GREAT!

I do have to “call this to mind.”  When facing something really hard, it is not my first thought.  In fact, there are times when I am tempted to doubt that love and faithfulness.  And when I do doubt, hopelessness is not far behind.  But when I remember the truth of His character and promises, my hope and confidence are restored.  I not only remember who He is but I remind myself of His incredible faithfulness in the past and I am encouraged.  Over and over He has proven His love and faithfulness to me.  That impossible situation I am facing will one day prove again just how loving and faithful He is as I look back on it.

Lord, thank you for the hope you give me!