August 2017 Devotionals

August 28, 2017


My Report Card and Daddy's Unreasonable Expectations
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford


A friend whose job was in middle-management said to me, "No matter how hard I try to please my boss, he always finds something to complain about." But further conversation revealed he was resisting an innovation his boss made.


A woman unhappy in her marriage said, "When my husband walks in the door at night, he looks around until he finds something I didn't get done that day. Why can't he just be happy with what I did get done?" It turned out that the one thing her husband was really unhappy about was simply the way the kids scattered their toys all over the house and yard.

People under authority often think people in authority are too hard to please. Children sometimes think parents are unreasonable. Married people often think the expectations of their spouses are too high. Employees feel pressured by bosses. How should they respond?


A report card of mine from my high school days surfaced recently from papers my dear mother had saved. It was my junior year in high school. I had signed up for an extra heavy academic load, including chemistry and Latin. I was in the school choir and orchestra, and taking piano and violin lessons. I worked ten hours a week in my father's publishing business. I won a role in the junior class play (not too demanding, since my character was poisoned by Nazi agents in the very first scene!) I was a cheerleader. (One memorable cheer: "Boom! Get a cat trap bigger than a rat trap; boom, get another one bigger than the other one! Ziss boom bah! Wheaton, Wheaton, rah, rah, rah!")


Then came report card day. I brought it to my father to sign. I had all A's and B's, except for a tiny C+ that lurked in a chemistry 6-week test, but the final grade was a B. Pretty good, considering, don't you think?


But my father's finger went straight to that C+. He said to me, a little sadly, "Libby, you can do better than that."


I answered, "Yes, sir."

But I wished he'd noticed the good grades rather than that miserable, unimportant C+.


Looking at that report card now, I see that much of the pressure I felt was not caused by Daddy's expectations. I was the one who'd joined the choir and orchestra, who chose the school play, the cheer leading. I chose the extra heavy academic load. Daddy knew that I was capable of making good grades, that I'd need them to get into college. He was trying to prepare me for a lifetime of serving God. That was his noble goal, and I should have embraced with all my heart.


But it may be that the authority over you really is unreasonable in his/her expectations. They sometimes are. King Solomon has some advice for you, in Ecclesiastes 8:4-6 (nlt):

The king's command is backed by great power. No one can resist or question it.
Those who obey him will not be punished.
Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right.
Yes, there is a time and a way for everything,
even as people's troubles lie heavily upon them.


You can find a way to please the person who has authority over you. How do I know? Because
your situation matters to God, and He will help you. Here's what He promises in Romans 14:4:

"Who are you to judge another's servant? To his own master he stands or falls.
Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand."

August 14, 2017


So That's Why I Could Never Hit a Baseball!
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford


Honestly, I never understood why I was so lousy at baseball. I was certainly sincere. I stepped up to the plate, held my bat right (with the trademark up, I think it was), gritted my teeth and took a mighty swing. But I never connected with the ball, and I never understood why . . .
. . . until the other day when a friend-I thought she was my friend!-posted on Facebook this picture of me from sometime in the late '60's at a Sunday School picnic. 

 Yep, that's me, in my bobby sox, with my bat skew and my eyes squeezed tightly shut.


I remember walking into a photo shop one day to pick up the 35 


mm slides I intended to use that week at a seminar where I was
speaking. The young man began to stutter before I'd even given him
my name. The roll of film he'd processed had jumped out of the
sprockets on the machine, and the sprockets had chewed neat holes
right through the middle of every frame. I started out to tell him how
great my loss was, how important those slides were. Then the Lord
opened my eyes, and I saw the sadness and fear in his eyes. Then I could honestly say, "It will be all right. I'll find another way to handle this."


I remember once thinking my little girl was deliberately disobeying me about a matter. I thought she was determined to be rebellious. And then God helped me to look into her eyes, and see her despair about being able to do what I was demanding. She was not rebellious; she felt helpless to do what I wanted.

A tall, bent man walked past our house on Augusta Road every day. Some days he'd be dressed in jeans. Other days he'd have on a dress, wearing a blond wig and high heels and lipstick. As he passed day after day I felt a strong sense of distaste. But one day I met him on the sidewalk. My eyes were opened, and I saw his ravaged, broken face. I saw a human being, created in the image of God Himself, needing my encouragement, not my censure.


You can't hit a baseball if you shut your eyes and take a mad swing. And you certainly can't live life well if you don't look at people squarely in the face and look for some way to understand them, see their hearts, and encourage them.



In John 4:35,36. Jesus said, "Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, ‘Lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!' And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together."

Jesus wasn't talking about a wheat harvest. He was talking about people who need His love, His grace. He wants us to open our eyes, and look for ways to help them. He wants us to look into their hearts and see the human beings inside.

Looking at that picture of me trying to hit a ball with my eyes closed, I learned something really important. Oh, not about baseball. My baseball-playing days are over. When I see people, do I see them as robots, there for my convenience, to help me accomplish what I want? Or do I see them as individuals, people with needs and fears and frustrations, who need a word from God through me?

August 7, 2017


A Woman Asks, "Why Doesn't God Like Me?"
A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford


"It's very obvious," said Ginny with a sob, "that Jesus didn't like women. He hung around with guys all the time." Her voice trailed away, and then she burst out, "And you've got to admit that the whole Bible is written to men, not women, just like women weren't important. Makes you wonder why God even bothered to create women!"


There's a simple answer to that, of course. When Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of the world, He died for every human being ever born. That incredible sacrifice proved, beyond any quibbling, how much God loves little girls and women, grandmothers and babies. The Gospel of John 3:16, which is so familiar to you, says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."


But Ginny is an intellectual. She wants an answer to Scriptures which seem to be addressed only to men, like Psalm 1:1: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly." Why wouldn't God bless a woman who didn't take counsel from the ungodly as well?
The answer? He does!


A hundred years ago Ginny would have understood that Scripture more easily, because back then the word man was understood to mean human being, not male. The American Heritage Dictionary says, "The use of ‘man' to mean ‘a human being, regardless of sex' has a long history, but is now much less generally accepted." The valid push for equality of women in government and the workplace probably caused that change in our vocabulary.

But the account of God's creation in Genesis makes it perfectly clear that God used the word man to mean human beings, not males.


Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. . . .

So God created man in His own image;
In the image of God He created him;
Male and female He created them.
Genesis 1:26.27


In fact, all through the Bible are scattered the remarkable, heroic things women did under the authority of God Himself. King Josiah sent to Huldah, the prophetess, to save his country from God's judgment (2 Kings 20). Deborah, a prophetess, led the Israelites to victory in a huge battle against Sisera, and another woman, Jael, bravely killed the man (Judges 4 & 5). A woman saved the whole town of Abel from destruction by her wise advice (2 Samuel 20). Many women traveled with Jesus to take care of His needs (Matthew 27:55). The very first person Jesus came to after His resurrection was a woman (Mark 16:9). There are dozens of other such incidents in the Bible. They don't sound like God disregards women, do they?

Ginny, a woman, was created in the very image of God Himself. How could that be demeaning? Jesus died for Ginny's sin, just so she could enjoy Heaven with Him for all eternity. How could that belittle her?

One more Scripture, and perhaps that will convince Ginny, and you! Galatians 3:28,29 says,


There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female.
For you are all Christians--you are one in Christ Jesus.
And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham.
You are his heirs, and now all the promises God gave to him belong to you.


And if you are a man, reading this, see from this Scripture that you are just as loved and valued by God as any other person on earth!