Devotions By Jan

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Muzzled Horse

Scripture for Today: Psalm 39:1 “I said, ‘I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.'”

I have never seen a muzzle on a horse but apparently, it is not all that uncommon. Two different muzzles are used for two very different problems. The grazing muzzle is used when there is a problem with overeating. It will restrict their grass intake while still allowing for pasture time. Then there is the cribbing muzzle to prevent the horse from biting. Their bite will not normally break the skin but those powerful jaws can leave a deep bruise!

Today’s verse talks about a voluntary muzzle needed for our mouths, especially in the presence of the wicked. David was feeling down and discouraged with what he felt was God’s rebuke and discipline (verse 11). He expressed anguish over the fact that life is short and seemingly vain (verse 6). But David did not want any of these feelings voiced in the presence of the wicked. Even when upset with God, David did not want to malign His name.

I need to muzzle my mouth as well, especially when I am questioning the Lord or discouraged in my walk. That does not mean I cannot share these feelings with a trusted believing friend. But when I am with those who do not know the Lord, I would not want my emotional outburst to keep them from faith. I would not want my words to be an obstacle to someone else. The tongue is described as a small spark that can set on fire an entire forest (James 3:6). The damage my tongue could do could have eternal consequences!

Lord, do not ever let me malign Your beautiful and holy Name.

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Asian Giant Hornet

Scripture for Today: Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

Yasunori KoideCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This is one scary insect being two inches long, having a wing span of three and a stinger one fourth inch long! He feeds on the honey bee, tearing off the head, legs and abdomen and taking the thorax back to his nest to feed the colony. On humans he can punch through clothing and sting repeatedly when threatened. Though painful, you are not in any particular danger of dying unless you are allergic. So there is no reason to call him his nickname, the “Murder Hornet.”

Today’s verse describes a particular kind of persecution that may not be fatal but certainly is painful. When people insult a Christian for believing in Christ, Jesus calls him blessed. When people attribute evil motives to the believer’s actions he is also blessed. And when there is name calling and others spread false rumors about him, he is even told to be happy about it. Why? Because there is special reward that awaits in Heaven (verse 12)

This kind of persecution can easily lead to loss of job, friends, reputation and even physical danger. When one couple turned a whole French village against my husband and me because of our faith, I had to remember this promise. It is a small thing to suffer indignities for His name when He suffered so much more for me! When I am maligned or marginalized for my faith, I can even count it a privilege! The promise of blessing and future reward far outweigh this kind of hurt!

Thank you Lord, for building me up when others are intent on tearing me down!

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Scripture for Today: Hebrews 18b-19a “…we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

capital 21 chanel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The word, “anchorman” used to mean the last man of a tug-of-war team or one who runs last in a relay race. Now, it means a host for a television program. A recent promotional for a major news program goes further by describing their anchorman as someone who calms and steadies when emotions are high, fears overwhelm and we are at a tipping point!

Today’s verse describes an anchor that does much more! This is an anchor for the soul that is firm and secure. Our anchor is our hope and it will not change or move. We as believers are encouraged when we take hold of this anchor of hope set before us. We hope in the unchanging and sure promises of the Lord and His Word. We have an anchor that calms and steadies regardless of the turbulent circumstances that engulf us! Nothing is as sure and reliable as this anchor.

It is almost comical to think of a newscaster being someone who can calm and steady us! Often when I see the news, my experience is just the opposite. But my heart is steady and calm in reminding myself of God’s precious promises and control. World events will not overwhelm. Circumstances do not shake my faith. It is not that my faith is so strong, but the One in whom it is placed is all-powerful! He has promised. With my eyes always on Him and His promises, I will not be shaken (Ps. 16:8).

Thank you Lord, that my hope in You anchors me.

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Sand Dollar Invasion!

Scripture for Today: John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”

Rachel Hathaway

If you want to get rich quick, thousands of sand dollars are right now littering the southern edges of Seaside Beach on the Oregon coast! They are washing up alive on the afternoon high tides and getting stranded. If thrown back in, the ocean just plops them back up on the sand. And the longer they are outside their intertidal zone, the more unlikely their survival. That zone is found above the water level at low tide and underwater at high tide.

Today’s verse is part of the prayer Jesus prays for His disciples and for all those who will believe their message (verse 20). He asks that they be protected from the evil one even though they are in a world where he is active (John 12:31). Believers are part of this world but not of this world (verses 14 & 16). We are part of God’s Kingdom and are no longer in a kingdom of darkness (Col. 1:13). Loving the world and adopting its values is incompatible with loving the Father (I John 2:15).

When I identify too closely with the world’s ideas of what is important, it is as if I am no longer in those intertidal waters where I can thrive. Yes, I am part of this world but I need to be nourished by the environment He has chosen to strengthen me. His Word keeps my values unworldly. Being encouraged by His people keeps me on track. I do not belong up on the sand where I dry out and shrivel. I do not want the world to pull me away from my love for Him.

Lord, keep me close to You.

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A Flintstone House

Scripture for Today: Matthew 7:26 “But everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”

This bizarre-looking structure is part of the Radwaniyah Presidential Complex in Baghdad, Iraq. For years it was shrouded in mystery behind stone walls until the US occupation of the site in 2003. It was dubbed the “Flintstone House” by the soldiers, not realizing that it was in fact a playhouse built for the children associated with Saddam Hussein. At one time, it had running water, a real kitchen and elevators. It may have been solidly built with stone, but its foundation was shifting sand and the end of the Iraqian leader is well known.

Today’s verse describes a fool as someone who builds his house on sand. Hearing God’s Word but not applying it makes the foundation of our lives as precarious as sand. Jesus assures the listeners that the crash of that house is inevitable. In contrast, those that DO put into practice God’s Word will enjoy stability as their foundation is solid Rock.

That sand can represent our own ideas of what is right and what is wrong. They are easier to follow but the result is ruin. God’s Word is true and eternal, unaffected by what is modern or popular (Ps. 119:160). Building my life on the objective truth of His Word does not happen just by knowing and quoting it. I can study those words for a lifetime but if I do not obey them as authoritative, then that next storm may just bring me down. His words are practical and speak to every area of my life. Applying them is a question of humility to do things His way and not my own.

Lord, keep me off that sand!