Devotions By Jan


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“I Want to Thank Me”

Scripture for Today: Psalm 35:18 “I will give You thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise You.”

A new star has just been added to Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame.  The one being honored before the crowd made quite a statement at the end of his tribute to  friends and family.  “Last but not least, I want to thank me for believing in me.”  He then went on to describe all his hard work and sacrifice.  He ended his self-congratulations with an expletive.

Today’s verse declares David’s intent to praise and give thanks to God before the crowd.  David, as king of Israel, had many occasions to speak publicly and honor himself.  But he did not.  He did not thank himself for all his hard work and sacrifice.  David had killed a giant.  As a mighty warrior and powerful king, he had much more reason than a pop star to praise himself before the people.  But instead, he gave all thanks and praise to God.   David understood that his life was fleeting, a mere “handbreadth.”  Every life is but a breath. (Ps. 39:4-5)  David was not perfect but he understood just how big God is in comparison to any man.

How odd to hear this news story during Thanksgiving week!  We just celebrated this day by recognizing all of our blessings.  We thanked our families and our friends.  But for believers, it is most importantly a time to thank God for His love, mercy and grace.  HE deserves all my praise and thanks for everything that is good in my life.  I cannot take credit for anything.  He gives me my intellect and my talents.  He gives me my health and my wealth.  He gives me my next breath and heartbeat!

Lord, I cannot thank me.  I thank You!

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100 Years

Scripture for Today: Psalm 77:11 “I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; Surely, I will remember Your wonders of old.”

Meet Joseph Ambrose, a veteran of World War I.  At age 86 he was honored at a Veteran’s Day parade in 1982.  His old-fashioned uniform is surprising and the emotion etched on his face is touching.  He served in a war that was supposed to be the “war to end all wars.”  Sadly, that has not been the case.  Veteran’s Day this year marks the one hundred year anniversary of this war.  Memories fade as those who fought disappear with age.  But although we do not always have the details of these war stories, we can still appreciate the sacrifice their service represents.

In today’s verse Asaph declares that he will remember what the Lord has done.  And His wonders include miraculous exploits in battle!  From the drowning of Pharaoh’s army to the walls coming down at Jericho, the Lord has done battle for His own!  And He continues to do battle for us, equipping us with spiritual armor (Eph. 6:10-17) and helping us to stand firm.  He makes us more than conquerors as He is on our side (Rom. 8:31).

My life is to testify to others just how great and awesome my God is!  I am to sing His praises, give credit and glory to Him by my life and praise Him in prayer.  When I do, I myself become a “wonder and surprise” to many! (Psalm 71:7)  But so often, it is through the heat of battle that others take note.  It is through the difficulty that He shows Himself strong and powerful.  When others see me rise above a horrible situation, I gain credibility and a voice.

Lord, may my life remind others of all Your wonders and incredible deeds!


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Tremors

Scripture for Today: Psalm 16:8-9 “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.”

That shaking of the hands can be scary.  Some folks find that with age they can no longer write legibly, tie shoelaces, shave or put on make-up without shaking.  These “essential tremors” can sometimes affect the voice box or the head.  I remember my Grandmother shaking her head yes and no without it meaning anything.  Thankfully, these kinds of tremors do not signal the onset of Parkinson’s disease.  Although it is not dangerous, it must be frustrating to live with this condition.

Today’s verse talks about a faith that cannot be shaken.  David affirms that it is the Lord who gives him security (verse 5).  He acknowledges that with the Lord close at His right hand, he can rest secure.  The right side of a man is the side where God assists in battle.  He is there to do battle for us (Psalm 109:31) and to be our strength!  David’s faith cannot be shaken as long as he keeps his eyes always on the Lord.

Whether tremors are in my future or not, I know that my body will eventually weaken with age.  But physical weakness does not mean that my faith needs to follow suit!  My circumstances may be anything but stable, but I can still rest secure, knowing that He is in control and His control is always good!  My confidence In Him means I can be glad, regardless of what is rocking my world!  Because of Him I will not be shaken!

Thank you Lord, for Your constant presence at my right hand!


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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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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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A One-Hit Wonder

Scripture for Today: Job 5:9 & Job 9:10 “He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted.”

A “one-hit wonder” is something that achieves mainstream popularity and success for a very short time.  It is usually for only one piece of work, whether it be in the area of music or sports.  A good example of a one-hit wonder is the song, “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by the Baha Men back in 2000.  In fact, this song made it into the top ten list of one-hit wonders (making it even more wonderful?)

What a contrast with the wonders God performs!  Today’s verse explains how unfathomable and numerous are God’s wonders!  This verse is even repeated in the book of Job for emphasis.  His wonders are awe inspiring and remind us just how big He is and just how small we are.  David states that God’s wonders are too many to declare (Psalm 40:5).  Everything He does is a wonder of love and grace towards us.  Whether it be His incredible creation, a miraculous healing, or a changed heart, it is all “wonderful” in the true sense of the word!

I sometimes think I get used to His wonders and even take them for granted.  When that happens I lose the awe and worship that is due Him.  He deserves all the glory, credit and recognition for the sun coming up this morning.  The Lord wants me to tell the next generation of His praiseworthy deeds, His power and the wonders He has done in my life (Psalm 78:4).  But how can I proclaim aloud His praises and tell of all His wonderful deeds if I do not even recognize them?

Lord, open my eyes today to Your wonders and the wonder of who You are!

 


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Scrabble Words

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

It was all over the news!  The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary has come out with a new edition for a new generation, adding 300 words.  They have added “OK” as well as other two-letter words including “ew”.  The dictionary has about 100,000 words but for North American tournament play, a supplement is added.  This addition allows for 90,000 more words that are “not sanitized to protect children and sensitive players.”  Really, that many?

Today’s verse raises the standard for what comes out of our mouths.  If children need to be protected from what comes out of my mouth, then perhaps I need to stop and think about what I am about to say.  I may not know if someone is sensitive.  The better part of wisdom is to treat everyone as sensitive and watch my words.  The standards of Scripture are high.  If what I am saying is unwholesome and not helpful, it is better left unsaid.

I can still hear my Mother’s voice.  “If you can’t say anything nice about a person, than say nothing at all.”   The problem is that my need to say it often overrides that caution.  So much of what displease my Lord comes from my mouth, whether it be gossip, lying, arguments, criticism, swearing….the list goes on.  Like James 3:5 says, such a little  member of my body does such huge damage.  But thankfully, the Holy Spirit offers His control.  His power changes my words from unwholesome to wholesome.  His control changes my words to be helpful and a benefit.

Lord, I need Your help to control my mouth today.