Devotions By Jan


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Naming Cockroaches

Scripture for Today:Leviticus 19:18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

These cockroaches have a name; the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.  But for those that keep them as pets, they probably have an additional name such as Bob or Linda.  However, for just two dollars you can name a cockroach at the Hemsley Conservation Centre near London for Valentine’s Day.  No, the cockroach is not the love of your life but the EX love of your life!  The first names will appear on a roach board next to the cockroach enclosure.  Participants who exact this revenge will receive a certificate and a half-price entry!

Today’s verse can be convicting.  It is repeated throughout Scripture that we are not to take revenge (Romans 12:19).  That job is done much better by the Lord who sees hearts and is righteous.  However, holding a grudge is something that we feel entitled to do, reminding ourselves that it is not OK what was done to us.  Unfortunately, holding a grudge just keeps the memory alive and keeps the offender at arm’s length.

So often, the guilty one is unaware of that unforgiving spirit I harbor.  It certainly does nothing to him.  The pain I continue to feel becomes self-inflicted and can become more important than the original offense.  But to forgive and forget seems as if I am letting that person get away with something.  The closer the offender is to me the deeper the wound.  It is impossible to forgive and let go without the Lord.  Because He forgives me and does not hold a grudge, He empowers me to do the same.  It can only happen as I continually give it to Him.

Lord, help me to relinquish my hurt to You.

 

 

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The Accordion

Scripture for Today: Ecclesiastes 7:9 “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.” 

The music of an accordion is such a happy one, reminding me of street performers, dances, and festivals in France.  The buttonboard cannot be seen by the player so some buttons have a small depression so the player can navigate by feel.  The base-note buttons sound one or more notes in differing octaves.  The chord buttons emit a three-note chord when pressed.  This 120 button layout can seem confusing.  But the one thing each button has in common is that it needs to be pushed to be sounded.

Today’s verse is a warning about anger.  When someone “pushes our buttons,” it can have a predictable result.  We can be quickly provoked to anger with the right trigger, especially when there is a history with the one goading us.  Certain words, situations or reminders can rouse us to anger in an instant.  Unfortunately, it more often happens with those who are the closest to us.  But when we allow anger to settle down and take up residence, we risk becoming a fool.

Anger can sometimes be completely justified  But anger can also turn me into a fool if I let it linger (Eph. 4:26).  And I am to be slow to get to that point of anger if I want to be like Him (Ps. 103:8).  If I always react with anger at the mention of someone’s name, than anger is residing in my lap!  I need God’s Spirit to cultivate the same kind of love, compassion and forgiveness in my heart that the Lord has shown me.  That way, pushing my buttons will only produce something melodious!

Lord, make me slow to anger and quick to forgive.


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Blasphemy Law

Scripture for Today:  John 10:33 “‘We are not stoning You for any good work’, they replied, ‘but for blasphemy, because You, a mere man, claim to be God.'”

Ireland just voted on a referendum to change a blasphemy law in their constitution.  It had been on the books since 1937.  The idea was to avoid causing offense to any religious group by showing disrespect.  Stephen Fry in 2017 came closest to being prosecuted when on a RTE program he said, “Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world that is so full of injustice and pain?”  Police dropped the matter when they were unable to find, “a substantial number of outraged people.”

Today’s verse has an accusation of blasphemy against Jesus.  These Jewish opponents understood very clearly that Jesus was presenting Himself as God when He said, “I and the Father are one.” (verse 30)  However, it is no blasphemy to speak truth, even when it does offend!  The word, “blasphemy” in the Old Testament is used for cursing, reviling or despising God.  In the New Testament it is expanded to include insults and unjust accusations towards others.  So in fact, in these verses, the only blasphemy spoken was on the part of His Jesus’ opponents unjustly accusing Him!

Reading horrible quotes like the one above makes me indignant.  It is not easy to read or hear blasphemy spoken about the Lord.  He is so dear to me that it hurts to hear His name maligned, misrepresented, and dragged through the dirt.  But it comforts me to know there is coming a day when EVERY knee will bow at His name (Phil. 2:10)  In the meantime, I want my attitude to be as gracious and forgiving as His was on the cross.

“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

 


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Digging in the Dirt

Scripture for Today:  Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled;”

Roots are a good thing normally.  They are what support and sustain the plant.  But then there are those roots that support and sustain what is unwanted; those nasty weeds.  I can be quite proud of myself when I have cleared a large area of weeds in a short time.  But if I have not gone deeper, digging after those roots, then of course it all needs redoing very quickly.  Those roots are tenacious.  A weed can seem deceptively small but the root can go on and on.  There is a such satisfaction in getting to the hidden root and pulling it all up.

Today’s verse speaks of the damage that is done by a root of bitterness.  It can spring up out of nowhere.  It is a surprise when it surfaces as normally it is well hidden.  And of course, the longer it has been hidden below the surface, the longer and more entrenched it becomes!  The problem of an unforgiving spirit can seem like that deceptively small weed.  In pulling it out all seems resolved on the surface.  But the Holy Spirit wants to dig deeper and reveal the problem of bitterness underneath.

Digging hurts.  The conviction of the Spirit can be excruciating.  Oh, but the relief to have that long root pulled up and out!  There is freedom in having that bitterness eradicated.  Often, the offending party is not even aware.  But the whole process is heart wrenching as I give up the hurt and the any thought of revenge.  There is freedom in giving the whole mess over to the Lord.

Thank you Lord, that You can take that bitterness away.


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Tattoos

broken-heart-tattoos-ideas-470x300Scripture for Today: Psalm 13:5 “But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.”

There seems to be more and more tattoos used as a fashion statement, whether a small butterfly on a pretty ankle, or a skull and crossbones on a beefy arm.  I do not always understand what the message to be conveyed is.  But this one is clear.  In ancient times tattoos were used as amulets, status symbols, declarations of love or signs of religious belief.  They were used in ancient Egypt and have been found on female mummies dating back to 2000 BC.  The tattoo pictured I am guessing is on a female arm and it screams to the world, “I have been hurt,” or “Never again!”

Today’s verse is about trusting a love that will never fail.  The heart does not crack into pieces when held together by the Lord’s love.  His love never disappoints.  The Lord’s unfailing love is described as a breastplate, guarding our heart (I Thes. 5:8).   But like any piece of armor, we pick it up and put it on each day.  When we trust in that love, it keeps our hearts open and soft, instead of hardened and unreachable.  And if we are hurt by others, His love is there to bind up the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3).

My heart can rejoice in that love, regardless of what is happening in relationships around me.  He is constant.  His love for me is my sure foundation, making it possible for me to love again.  We love because He first loved us (I John 4:19).  Trusting in His love helps me to forgive and move on.  Trusting in His love heals the hurts and makes me whole again.

Lord, how amazing it is that You love me!  Help me believe it today.

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


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Table Runners

Scripture for Today: I Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

No one would know.  The damage to my table top and buffet is extensive as it dates back to the 1920’s.  I keep meaning to get it refinished but I know that each new move will add new nicks and scratches.  My solution is to cover over all the imperfections with table runners or table scarves.  I have quite a collection from all over the world and for every season.  The only way to see the problems would be to uncover the furniture to the light of day.

Today’s verse encourages the believer to love his brothers and sisters in Christ with a deep love.  Love covers over a multitude of sins.  And a deep love will require extending forgiveness.  This is a love that covers all wrongs suffered (Prov. 10:12).  Fostering this kind of love covers over an offense done to us, but repeating a matter can separate even close friends (Prov. 17:9).  This is no light-hearted superficial love.  For this, one has to dig down deep!  The hurt is still there and we bear the marks.  But we cover it with love and forgiveness. And in loving deeply, a relationship can be restored.

The only possible way to love in spite of hurts done to me is to look at what Christ did.  My sin hurt Him to the point of death.  He has the scars on His hands and side to prove it!  There is no deeper love than His for me.  If He could cover me with grace and forgiveness, than I need to do the same.  Surely, what has been done to me cannot compare to my sin and rebellion against Him.

Lord, help me to love others deeply and with forgiveness.

 


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Walled City

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 18:19 “A brother wronged is more unyielding than a fortified city; disputes are like the barred gates of a citadel.”

We see many of these walled villages in Alsace, France.  Pictured here is Eguisheim, one of our favorites.  Its cobblestone streets and beautiful flowers make for a pleasant walk.  The town is laid out in concentric circles, the outer most circle of homes forming a wall.  Charm oozes from these quaint 16th century homes as they not only house families but provide a line of defense from attack.  It would be difficult to scale the wall without attracting the attention of the home owners or their neighbors.

Today’s verse describes how difficult it is to win back someone who has been wronged.  He has put up an impenetrable wall around his heart.  His resolve not to be further wronged is like being barricaded behind the gates of a fortress.  Because of hurt and a deep sense of betrayal, he is as unyielding as stone and metal.  This proverb does not say it is impossible to win him back, but that getting past that natural self-protection will be very difficult.

It took nearly eighteen years to get back in the good graces of a brother who felt we had wronged him.  There have been countless attempts to scale that wall with numerous apologies and expressions of regret.  We would not have continued our efforts had we not cared for him so much.  Eventually, he felt that love and our sincerity.  Small cracks in the wall began to grow and now, our friendship is back on good footing and we are thankful!  Being forgiven was one thing.  Becoming close again was quite another and well worth the effort.

Thank you Lord, that because of You, healed relationships are possible!