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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Slip Cover

Scripture for Today: Psalm 32:5 “Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And You forgave the guilt of my sin.”

My couch was only three years old and from a reputable company.  And yet, being made of bonded leather, it slowly “unbonded” with cracking and chipping.  Being that it was structurally sound I decided to invest in a good slip cover.  The difference was immediate!  I sit on it and it does not move.  And best of all, those obvious flaws are covered and it looks brand new!

Today’s verse tells us that we can very successfully cover up our flaws.  By not acknowledging our disobedience and rebellion against the Lord, we do our best to hide our imperfections.  And it can even seem successful.  Like Adam and Eve who immediately covered themselves with fig leaves after their disobedience, we too have that have the tendency to hide the problem.  As long as we do so, forgiveness is unavailable.  The Lord waits for us to come clean with Him and admit our sin.  And when we do, He is gracious to forgive not only the sin but even the guilt it produces!

Eventually, the cover starts to slip when I try to hide my disobedience.  Sure, I can look good on the outside, but He is not fooled.  He sees all the problems underneath.  My cover up leaves me struggling with feelings of guilt and shame.  He knows and I know what I am hiding.  But with sincere confession, He forgives the sin and the guilt.  There is no longer the need for covering up as He makes me absolutely new! (II Cor. 5:17)

Thank you Lord,  that You know what is underneath and You love and forgive me anyway.

 


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Rainbow Cake

Scripture for Today: Romans 16:19 “Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil.”

There is a twist in the new season of the television show, The Bachelor.  Everyone is talking about his complete inexperience.  Some think it wonderful.  Others are scratching their heads.  The young woman interviewed before meeting him had her doubts.  She felt that no one could know if a person was the right one without a trial run.  She described her life as a “rainbow cake,” having tried many colors and flavors!

Today’s verse flies in the face of that kind of thinking.  Wisdom comes from knowing and practicing what is good according to God’s standards.  Believers are to be totally innocent and even naive when it comes to evil.  Unlike Eve, we do not have to touch or eat evil to recognize it (Genesis 3).  God has made His laws clear and they are established, not to ruin our fun but to protect our vulnerable hearts and give us the best life possible.  There is even delight in the path of His commands (Ps. 119:35)

The only thing I miss out on when saying, “no,” to temptation is the heartache that can come with it.  The prevailing thought changes with the times but His standards are eternal.  What the world says is wise is absolute foolishness in God’s eyes when it deviates from His law (I Cor. 1:20)  How is it that the creature thinks he knows better than the Creator?  I do not want my life to be a rainbow cupcake.  I want it to be the pure unsullied white of His righteousness.  I want to be sweet, naive and innocent.

Thank you Lord, that Your forgiveness makes that possible!

 

 


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Cloudy

Scripture for Today: Isaiah 44:22 “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to Me for I have redeemed you.”

Poor little guy.  It looks as if he can hardly see with those cataracts.  Certain breeds are more prone to this condition.  This cloudy vision can start very young with just a pinpoint that no one even notices.  But with age it can progress to cover the entire lens.  Disease, old age and trauma to the eye are all culprits, but the most common cause is hereditary.  For dogs as with humans, vision becomes cloudy.

The clouds in today’s verse are a picture of our offenses.  Our sins are also described as morning mist.  Both clouds and mist can cloud our spiritual vision.  The clouds for the Israelites in this text came from their worship of idols.  As a result, they lost sight of who the one true God really is.  But God promised not to forget them.  He is loving and ready to forgive those who turn to Him.  He sweeps away everything that blocks our view of Him.

My trouble is that I get used to a cloudy view!  It can happen so slowly and subtly that I am not even aware that my view of Him is fuzzy.  I think I see Him just fine.  But in fact, my view is shrouded by my own stubborn will and rebellion.  Thankfully, with humility and confession my renewed relationship with Him brings clarity!  I can, like David, gaze upon His beauty (Psalm 27:4).  And He is beautiful!  His beauty is made up of light, glory and grace.  And the more I see Him, the more I want to love Him and serve Him.

Lord, thank you for sweeping away the clouds from my eyes!


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Most Sinful Cities?

Scripture for Today: Romans 3:23-24 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

Do you live in a sinful city?  A study was done recently by WalletHub ranking American cities by their level of sin.  The areas judged were Anger and Hatred, Jealousy, Excesses and Vices, Greed, Lust, Vanity and Laziness.  It was interesting to see how each of these categories led to overt crimes or social ills.  Here is their list of the top ten: (number one being most sinful) 1. Las Vegas 2. Los Angeles 3. New York 4. Houston 5. St Louis 6. Atlanta 7. Miami 8. Philadelphia 9. Chicago 10. Orlando.

Today’s verse helps to level the playing field.  All is a pretty inclusive word!  There is not a city, village or hamlet on this earth that is not affected by sin.  And the reason these cities are sinful has very little to do with what city ordinances allow or do not allow.  The reason cities are sinful is because they are full of sinful people.  The hard truth taught in Scripture is that all of mankind stands guilty of sin before the Lord.  We all fall short of the glory of His perfection.

I am so thankful that this hard truth does not stop there!  Just as all have broken God’s laws, so all have the opportunity to be freely forgiven and declared righteous because of Christ’s sacrifice!  I have been bought back from sin’s ownership because of His love and grace!  I am a sinner but I am a sinner that is saved by His grace.  I do not deserve it.  But because of His unmerited favor, I am “in Christ” (Rom. 8:1) and my sin no longer condemns me!

Thank you Lord, for forgiving me.

 


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911 Call from Space

Scripture for Today: Psalm 138:3 “On the day I called, You answered me; You made me bold with strength in my soul.”

It was an honest mistake.  But answering a 911 from space is maybe just a bit too much for this emergency service to handle!  Andre Kuipers, a Dutch astronaut,  admitted to this dialing mistake while on the International Space Station.  From space, a call via Houston would begin with a 9 for an outside line, then 011 for an international line.  Understandable.  But the security alert set off at the Houston Center had everyone confused!

Today’s verse is a wonderful reassurance of the access we have with the Creator of the universe.  Calling on Him is never a mistake.  A call is never dropped and His answers are timely.  In fact, He answers on the very day we call!  Whatever His specific answer is (yes, no or wait) He infuses the soul with His strength, just as a result of calling on Him.  And His strength gives us a boldness to live for Him, to love Him and to obey Him.

There are times I forget to call on Him.  It is not until I am feeling weak or in need that I remember to call.  It is easy to think that I can live life just fine in my own strength.  But the Lord knows better.  He is aware of each and every weakness.  He sees me running out of energy and resources.  The Lord is waiting for me to call.  He sees me coming and He is gracious to answer with exactly what I need.  Because of His unfailing love and faithfulness He will always answer when I call.  How good He is!

Thank you Lord, for answering with love and grace every time I call.