Devotions By Jan


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Thick Skinned?

Scripture for Today:  Ephesians 4:32  “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

When I think of thick skinned animals I think of the pachyderms: the rhinoceros, hippopotamus and the elephant.  But the giraffe has thick skin too, up to 7 inches!  They need that thick tight skin on their lower extremities to maintain high extravascular pressure on their weight-bearing blood vessels.  The pressure of that thick skin works just like a pilot’s g suit!

Today’s verse commands us to be tender-hearted.  This seems like the exact opposite of being thick skinned! If we are tender towards others than we can be kind and we can be compassionate.  But if our hearts are tender for this purpose, than our hearts may also be vulnerable to attack.  Having a tender heart means we could be hurt, which is why the next words are about forgiveness.  But whether or not we are hurt, it is a tender heart that can offer forgiveness.

When I have a tender heart towards others than I feel their hurts.  But then I feel my own as well.  It would be so much more comfortable to be thick skinned and avoid emotional hurts.  Those insults, name calling and gossip do not feel so good.  But the wonderful part about having a tender heart is that I can realize Christ’s forgiveness for me!  Not only can my tender heart experience His complete pardon,  but I can extend that forgiveness to others.  When I close my heart against the one who hurt me, developing “thick skin,” I am less able to feel God’s unconditional love for me.  Having a tender heart has a price but not as high as the cost of thick skin!

Lord, keep me tender-hearted!

 

 


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Tasmanian Devil

Scripture for Today: Galatians 5:15 “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

Despite his name I would hate for the Tasmanian Devil to become extinct.  His only natural habitat is the Australian island-state of Tasmania.  Because of his husky snarl and bad temper, he often has what is called a “devilish expression.”  Since 2008 he has been on the endangered list.  The reason?  A cancer called, “devil facial tumor disease,”  which results in grotesque tumors around the head and mouth.  It is thought to be transmitted when they bite each other!

Today’s verse teaches that the words from our mouths can inflict pain and even destroy another.  Life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).  So much of what displeases the Lord comes from the mouth, whether it be gossiping, lying, mocking, arguing, criticizing, ….the list goes on.  And each of these has such a devastating effect on the one to whom it is directed.  What is more, the “tit for tat” reciprocity only escalates the problem until both parties are destroyed.

It is only by His Spirit that I can love and forgive the one who has inadvertently or intentionally hurt me.  My memory is long when it comes to hurtful words.  But I have definitely taken things a step further when I want to retaliate.  There might be a momentary feeling of satisfaction but the relationship remains tense and broken.  Forgiveness is so difficult but without it, the relationship is “endangered” and at risk of extinction.  Realizing God’s forgiveness for me helps me get a better perspective on the whole mess.  And His love and His power are there to make forgiveness and restoration possible.  It is just not possible on my own.

Thank you Lord, that You heal those difficult relationships.

 

 


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Baring Teeth

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 19:11 “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”

This normally sweet fluffy Pomeranian bares his teeth to warn off any advance.  Baring teeth is a clear indication that attack is imminent.  Teeth have long been a symbol of aggression.  That must be the idea behind the old expression, “fighting tooth and nail.”  In French, “to have a tooth against someone” is their way of expressing the idea of holding a grudge.

Today’s verse teaches that it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense rather than hold a grudge.  To overlook an offense takes patience and it is a sign of one’s wisdom.  But to overlook something hurtful does not mean having no memory of it.  Sometimes, the memory stays.  But rather than it being at the forefront of our minds, we let it go and show grace.  It is a gracious behavior and one that is to our glory.  Holding a grudge makes us small and petty.  There is no glory in that!

I am so grateful for the people in my life that have overlooked my offenses.  They have been many, some intentional and some not.  When I realize the grace extended to me, than I can more easily extend that same grace to others.  And the supreme model of total and complete forgiveness is the Lord who does not treat me as my sins deserve (Psalm 103:10).  I am forever grateful that Christ does not hold a grudge or where would I be?  Even so, I do have trouble letting go and it is inglorious!  I need the help of His Spirit to truly forgive from the heart.

Lord, make me wise enough to show patience and not hold grudges!

 


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Pregnant Male

Scripture for Today: Galatians 6:2  “Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

This creature is unlike any other in nature.  It is the male sea-horse who carries the eggs for the female!  The female will deposit her eggs in a special pouch he carries.  There, he fertilizes the eggs with his sperm, and carries them for two to four weeks until he gives birth.  Their babies are called “fry” and there can be as many as 1000 at a time  The female has it easy.  Her part is to swim up to the male each morning during gestation  and give him a special greeting!

Today’s verse talks about helping each other to carry our burdens.  Doing so fulfills the law of Christ which is to love one another.  These burdens are the unfortunate result of our sin (verse 1).  They are different from His  burden which is light (Matt.11:30).  Rather than look askance at the one fallen in sin thinking we would never do that, we are to do all we can to lift him up and lighten his burden.  We all carry around the memories of past failures.  Understanding how the Lord has forgiven us helps us extend that same grace.  In love, we want to help with words of encouragement and affirmation.

It costs me something to help carry the burden of another.  It means that I take time out to pray, give godly counsel and practical help.  It might mean hours on the phone.  Sin can complicate a life.  The consequences can be very burdensome with broken relationships and poor self-image.  But that burden can be lighter when I come along side.  It is one of the best ways to show love!

Lord, help me be willing to carry another’s burden.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.


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Cat Attack!

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

It was always obvious when our Tiger was angry.  Like this cat, his eyes would dilate and his ears would lie flat.  That flicking tail did not mean he was any too happy.  And of course, the hissing, spitting and odd moaning sounds were a sure indication that he was ready to strike.  Sometimes his back would arch and his fur would stand on end.  At that point, I did not argue with him but just got out of there!

Today’s verse tells us just how important our feelings are.  The strong emotions we feel are the motor behind so much of what we do.  That is why it is so important to guard our hearts from emotions that fester, build, and boil over to hurt others or hurt ourselves.

Guarding our hearts is an intentional activity.  Like a soldier guarding an entrance, we can be disciplined and vigilant about what we allow ourselves to feel.  Rather than nursing a hurt, we can choose to let go and forgive.  Rather than feeling envious of others, we can choose to be thankful for what we have.  Instead of stoking the fires of our anger, we can seek reconciliation.  With the Spirit’s help, we do not have to be the victims of our emotions.  Our thoughts can turn to what is true, honest, just, pure, lovely and admirable (Phil.4:8).  Thinking on these things can guard our hearts from those negative emotions.

I do not share these warning signs with a cat.  But I have my own.  When sleep eludes me, when I cannot face that person or when my stomach is in knots, then I know my heart may not be right.

Make my heart right today, Lord.

Look familiar?  This is a repost due to summer ministries.