Devotions By Jan


Walking the Cat!

Scripture for Today: James 3:7-8 “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”

When our cat Tiger was young we were worried about him running away.  We tried putting a leash on him so he could be with us while we worked in the garden.  You can imagine how that worked out!  He was more likely to hang himself on it than be safe in the yard.  But I suppose like Pavlov’s dogs, any animal can be trained to some extent.  There are some cases where cats will consent to the leash but not ours!

Today’s verse talks about the impossibility of taming the tongue.  Unlike animals, there is no taming it.  It is wild and unpredictable.  It is full of evil and poison.  The potential it has to destroy people is sobering.  The fact that it is restless suggests to me that it is very often in motion, almost looking for trouble.  What comes out of the mouth reveals what resides in the heart (Matt. 15:18).  No man can tame the tongue because the root problem is a heart issue.

Too many times I have tried and failed to control my tongue.  Too late I see the look of hurt and disappointment on another’s face.  My regret does not call back those words.  They hang in the air and echo in my memory.  But there is hope with the Creator of that tongue.  God’s Spirit offers His control for the uncontrollable.  He changes the root problem; my heart.  And He gives me the ability to check my tongue and control that outburst!

Lord, tame my tongue today!

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

Leave a comment

Shower Heads

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 1:23 “Repent at my rebuke! Then I will pour out my thoughts to you, I will make known to you my teachings.”

Buying a shower head can be a complicated business with all the choice there is!  Not only does one choose between fixed or hand-held, but now there are a variety of special effects available, including: rain effect, massage options, waterfall effect, LED lighting or multi head showers!  Then there is the pressure and efficiency to decide.  The idea is that the shower should be a luxurious experience rather than just a tool of cleanliness!  But who doesn’t enjoy feeling pampered when using a fancy shower head?

Today’s verse refers to something being poured on us but it is not hot water.  Wisdom is being poured out and its teaching and thoughts can be pictured as cascading and drenching a person when heeded.  Wisdom in Proverbs is personified as a “she.”  We are to repent when wisdom advises and rebukes (verse 25).  She calls out to us the thing to do (verse 24) and those who disregard her risk disaster (verse 26).  But those who fear the Lord will listen to wisdom and live in safety and ease (verse 33).

All the higher education available does not guarantee that a life will be lived skillfully and with wisdom.  That is because the Source of wisdom is God Himself.  Fearing, respecting and obeying Him will avoid so much heartache and mess in my life.  So much distress and trouble is of my own making as a result of poor choices, disregarding His way for my own way.  I know myself and I know I am just one decision away from acting the fool.  I am “prone to wander.”

Lord, make me wise.  Don’t let me stray from You!

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

Leave a comment

Slowed Down

Scripture for Today: Psalm 119:31-32 ” I hold fast to your statues, Lord, do not let me be put to shame.  I run in the path of your commands for You have broadened my understanding.”

These runners chose a strange place to run.  Their path took them right through the mud.  The slipping and sliding have them covered with it.  If the goal was to get as dirty as possible then they nailed it!

It only makes sense that for the serious runner, the ground chosen would be free from mud or any other kind of obstacle that would slow progress.  That piece of lifted concrete, that hole or dip in the ground, or that unfortunate rock can trip us up and we fall flat on our face.

Today’s verse mentions running in the path of God’s commands.  This path has none of those unfortunate obstacles.  It is smooth and flat.  The path of God’s commands may be challenging, but there is nothing that God places there to trip us up or cause us to fail.  He is  interested in our success.  He wants us to reach great speeds and distances.  Maybe we can even enjoy the endorphins of the “runner’s high!”

The more we run according to His way, the more He broadens our understanding of what He wants and why it is the best course.  To be on that path with others is a tremendous encouragement but sometimes it feels as if we are running all alone.  Regardless, I do not want to follow a more popular path and be put to shame.  I want to remain resolute and determined to obey, regardless of the cost.

Lord, keep me from veering off Your path today.

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

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

Sharpened Knife

Scripture for Today: Psalm 64:3 “They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows.”

Are your knives so sharp that you can slice a ripe tomato thin enough to read through it?  If not, according to the experts your knives need sharpening!  I do not think my knives have ever been that sharp even when new!  But for the serious cook, kitchen knives should be sharpened at least twice a year and much more often if used every day.  The best method is thought to be the water stone and there is quite the procedure to follow.   This was all news to me.  I guess I am not a “serious cook.”

Today’s verse describes a different kind of sharpening; sharpening the tongue to do the most damage.  The injury the tongue can inflict is as serious as that of a sword or deadly arrow.  The wicked conspire and encourage one another in their plans to hurt and destroy.  The evildoers ask each other, “Who will see?”  The answer is that God will turn their own tongues against them (verse 8) and bring them to ruin.

God sees.  God hears.  So often, the hurt and devastation brought on by another’s words is a private manner.  It is done one-on-one with no one else around.  Perhaps it is done on the telephone and for your ears only.  The words are sharp and penetrating.  Those closest to us are often the very ones who inflict this kind of pain.  They know where I am vulnerable and where to strike.  But I do not have to respond in kind.  Yes it hurts, but I can take refuge in Him ( verse 10) and I can trust His vengeance and justice!  God promises to turn their tongues back on themselves.

Help me Lord, to trust Your justice!

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


Finders Keepers?

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.”

Would you return a lost wallet?  That was the question researchers explored in a three-year study.  They placed 17,303 wallets with varying amounts of cash in 355 cities worldwide.  Besides the cash, each wallet had only a name and an email address.  Their findings were surprising.  More people returned the wallets with larger amounts than those with the smaller amounts!  One explanation given was that it felt more like stealing with the larger amounts of cash.  The conscience was not quite as bothered keeping the smaller amounts.

Today’s verse does not differentiate between “small” sins and large.  It does not address whether one feels like a sinner or not.  Just as the image is black and white, there are moral absolutes when it comes to God’s laws.  And the bad news is that all of humanity falls short of the perfect standards of a holy God.  But the good news is that the same “all” who blow it are offered His grace.  Because of the redemption that came through Christ, we can have right standing before God.

I am included in that first “all.”  But I cannot be included in the next “all” until I confess and come clean with Him.  My pride keeps me from admitting my guilt.  I am an expert at diminishing and rationalizing my behaviors and attitudes.  It is easy to do when I compare myself with some others and come out “smelling like a rose.”  But when I compare myself to His perfection, I no longer smell so good.  He waits for me to be honest and humble with Him about my wrongdoing.

Thank you Lord, for freely forgiving me.

Leave a comment

Public Punching Bags

Scripture for Today: Ephesians 4:26 “‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”

Now the people walking the streets of Manhattan can vent their anger and stress right there on a corner.  Recently, a US Design Studio installed several public punching bags to give New Yorkers an outlet for their emotions.  These square yellow bags include a quote; “a healthy place for frustration.”  The New York Times reported what a Gallup Poll discovered last month, that Americans are the most stressed people in the world!  Anger, stress and worry are all at a ten year high.

Dealing with anger before it explodes is always a good idea!  Today’s verse recognizes an anger that is justifiably felt.  But that anger, if left to fester untreated, can easily turn into sin.  And even anger that is justified “does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20)  Eventually, unresolved anger will rear its ugly head in relationships.  When left to boil over, marriages and families, friendships and business partnerships can become broken beyond repair.  Punching a bag (or pillow) may give temporary relief, but how much better to resolve it completely.

I am unable to resolve any kind of anger on my own.  I have a terrific memory for hurts and slights.  That sound bite in my head keeps playing over and over again.  But I can release and express that anger to the Lord in prayer.  Giving it over to Him does not shock Him.  He knows exactly what I am feeling and why.  Releasing it to Him is the only completely safe place to do it.  The Lord is powerful enough to diffuse my anger and help me to leave it behind.  To replace that anger with forgiveness is a true miracle!

Lord, thank you for diffusing my anger.