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verse 1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

No one likes their head “bitten off” by harsh words. The human response is normally to respond in kind. Today’s proverb is the advice on how to defuse that situation: a gentle word.

In football, there have always been accusations that some “referees are blind”…that they don’t know how to call a game. Yes, there are good officials and bad officials. One thing we, as high school football officials, were taught was to be honest; if you make a mistake, admit it. Many times, coaches feel like an official who blows a call just tries to lie and to cover it up.

Once, in a game, I whistled a play dead, because I thought I saw the ball-carrier dive across the middle of the line for the yardage for a first down. What I didn’t see was that the run up the middle was a beautiful fake play; the real ball-carrier was executing a sweep around the end of the line; it was this play that got the first down, and probably would’ve gotten the touchdown. Even though the home team with the ball was way ahead on the scoreboard, I had made a mistake, so I told my head official (the referee) this. He had wisely marked where the play ended. The coach came out, blowing and snorting mad, during a time-out to ask what happened. I looked him square in the eye and said, “Coach, I bought the fake. I blew the whistle. I screwed up.” His reaction was priceless; he froze in mid-expression, like something out of a cartoon. The last thing he apparently expected to hear was the truth! 🙂 He recovered, stammered a minute, and said, “well…it was a beautiful play!” To which I said, “Coach, it was a gorgeous play! But I messed up.” My referee administered the options resulting from the play; the coach chose to take the results of the play where it was blown dead, giving him a first down. The next play, the team scored a touchdown.

What could’ve been a shouting match was defused with honesty and a gentle reply. As a matter of fact, that coach and I later laughed about it during another time out.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath”.
Something to think about today.

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Isaiah 59:16-17: “And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him; And His righteousness upheld Him.
And He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing, And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.”

I enjoy seeing how God sent prophecies of the coming of Jesus Christ into our world in the Old Testament…and then seeing those prophecies fulfilled in Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Here was a foretelling of Jesus’s coming; my Bible footnote on verse 16 states that it refers to the first advent of Jesus (His coming the first time to us in human form). Verse 17 tells of Him coming the second time…as the King, the conquering King. My wife, in discussion about this devotion, reminded me about the manner and raiment in how He would come again (she is studying Revelation in her own personal study). I have read through the Bible once (and I sheepishly admit it was some time ago), but I didn’t remember this reference in Isaiah until I did the aforementioned word study.

Let me take an aside here into the world of high school football. One of the rules I had to know as an official was this: if the ball-carrier’s helmet should come off during his running of the ball (usually due to contact by the defense), the play will be whistled dead at the spot where the helmet came off…even if the ball-carrier is still running down the field. The reason, of course, is safety. Note that if any other piece of equipment flew off the ball-carrier, the play could continue, but the helmet especially was the key to the play being whistled dead and over. The ball-carrier was not allowed to go further.

Now, think about the game we call life. You’re the ball-carrier, running toward eternity. If you’re not saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and know Him as your personal Lord and Savior, you’re not wearing the helmet of salvation, so to speak. You will be stopped from going any further…in this case, into Heaven. You don’t want to be stopped short of the goal! If your salvation is in Christ, don’t worry…you won’t lose that piece of equipment, and the play won’t be whistled dead.

Have a blessed day in Him!

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