Devotions By Jan

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Goat Head Weed

Scripture for Today: II Corinthians 12:7 “….Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment me.”

Photo by Paul Garland at

The goat head weed produces stickers that seem innocuous being so small! But what pain it can produce! These nasty seeds are shaped like a miniature goat’s head. They are much like the sandbur but are meaner and tougher, harming people, pets and livestock. The 200 to 5,000 seeds produced each season germinate quickly and can lie dormant in the soil for many years. How amazing that something so small can puncture bicycle tires and footballs!

In today’s verse, Paul is describing a tormenting thorn. It was sent by Satan but in God’s hands it was used for a good purpose; to keep Paul from becoming conceited. Paul had received some incredible visions and revelations from the Lord. The temptation for Paul was to boast and feel spiritually strong because of them. There are lots of ideas as to what Paul’s thorn might have been. Perhaps it was a physical ailment. But thorns were used in the Old Testament to describe Israel’s enemies (Num. 33:55) and malicious neighbors! (Ex. 28:24) Paul dearly loved the Corinthians church and was having to deal with false teachers.

A relationship that has gone sour, a conflict that goes unresolved, or a family member that has no interest in reconciliation can all be like a thorn in the flesh.  And like the goat head seed, the problem can lie dormant for years before becoming visible and causing pain. The ongoing discomfort from those thorns is a constant reminder that I am weak and not strong.  But like Paul, God’s strength is available to me at the very point of my pain and weakness.

Thank you Lord, that I can experience Your strength regardless of the “thorns” in my life!

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Stunned by the Cold

Scripture for Today: Matthew 24:12-13 “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

The recent frigid temperatures in Texas have had some surprising victims! Over 5,000 sea turtles have had to be rescued off the coast. The cold has stunned the residents of Texas, causing all kinds of power outages and clean water problems. But the cold has literally stunned these turtles! The extremely low temperatures mean that these sea turtles can no longer move, eat, or keep their heads above water. They have grown too cold.

Today’s verse is part of the response Jesus gives to his disciples’ questions regarding the end times. Just as with birth pangs, there will be signs that will signal the end of the age. (verse 3) Those signs are disturbing. But perhaps the most disturbing is that love will grow cold. When there is no love there is no regard for one’s neighbor and there is no check on wickedness. But when there is love for one another, “ covers over a multitude of sins.” (I Peter 4:8) Without love, sin runs rampant.

I am so glad this hard passage ends on a positive note! Those who stand firm to the end will be saved! I will not stand firm without drawing from His strength! My knees become weak when it seems as if evil is winning. When I see God’s justice delayed and the wicked prosper, it is easy to give up. When so many around me are deceived by so-called science and humanism, I could easily throw in the towel. But the story is not over yet, and the ending will be a triumphant one when HE returns on the clouds with power and great glory! (vs 13)

Lord, keep me standing firm.


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It’s Who You Know

Scripture for Today: I Corinthians 2:1b-2 “When I came to you, I did not come with human eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

There are just a few books in this library! Established in 1800, the Library of Congress has grown from just 740 books and 3 maps to more than 167 million total items! It takes three buildings in Washington D.C. to house all its written treasures. It is understandably one of the world’s largest. There are copies housed here of every publication in the English language that is deemed significant.

Today’s verse describes how Paul proclaimed his testimony about God to the Corinthians. He did not rely on his own eloquence or on any treasure of human wisdom. Paul was determined that nothing overshadow the excellence of knowing Jesus Christ. A fancy discourse could have distracted his listeners. Citing philosophers or the newest discovery would only detract from his central message; Jesus Christ crucified for sin. As enriching as learned men may be, there is no loftier subject than Christ, the wisdom of God. (I Cor. 1:30)

There is so much to know and discover in this world. I could spend my entire life learning and never come to the end of what man has discovered. But in the end, it is not What you know but Who you know! I can make it my quest to enlighten my mind but never at the expense of “the eyes of my heart.” (Eph. 1:17) Knowing Him better through His Word is a goal that begins now and continues into eternity. Knowing about Him does not even come close to the richness that knowing Him brings!

Thank you Lord, that You invite me to know You better every day.


Goose Barnacles

Scripture for Today: Philippians 3:21 “who by the power that enables him (Jesus Christ) to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

Photo by John Turnbull

Have you ever wondered why this barnacle is named after a goose? The long black “neck” or stalk and the white triangular “head” or body of the barnacle could perhaps remind one of a goose. But for the superstitious living in thirteenth century Europe, their appearance explained the disappearance of the geese at certain times each year. Belief that barnacles transformed themselves into geese was a fanciful way to explain bird migration.

Today’s verse talks about a transformation that is real. It is the future of every believer that one day, our lowly bodies will be transformed to be like Christ’s glorious resurrected body. Christ’s power enables Him to have all the control and to accomplish this. It is because of this incredible truth that the believer can stand firm in the faith. (verse 58) The perishable will be transformed to imperishable, the dishonor transforms to glory, the weakness becomes power and the natural will be spiritual! (I Cor. 15:43-44)

That is quite a transformation! Though my deteriorating body breaks down over time, transformation is coming! Even in the face of my eventual death, I can look forward to a new resurrected body! Death will be swallowed up in victory! (verse 56) My new body will be strong, healthy, eternal and without flaws. Hard to imagine but it is what He has promised. With this new body there will be no sinful fleshly impulses to fight against. With this new body, I will not need a pocket for tissues. But most exciting, with this new body, my eyes will see God!

Thank you Lord, for the transformation You promise!

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 12:3-4 “May the Lord silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue – those who say, ‘By our tongues we will prevail, our own lips will defend us – who is lord over us?'”

Photo by Christian Ziegler at

Many species of the chameleon are known for their ability to change color and blend in with their surroundings. But just as surprising are their long tongues! Their grasping and sticky tongue can uncoil to a distance equivalent to half its body length! So not only are they camouflaged but they can grab their next snack from a distance!

Today’s verse is from a prayer of David, calling on the Lord for help. The wicked are strutting about, using their tongues to lie, to flatter, to deceive and to boast. These people are so prideful they feel they can say anything to get power, to keep power and to answer to no one. They ask, “who is our lord or master?” They fear no reckoning and no accountability. They are their own masters. However, David affirms that the Lord will keep the godly safe and protected from such people. (verse 7) And what God says is flawless. (verse 6)

Words matter. The power of life and death is in our tongues. (Prov. 18:21) I have had to forgive and forget words that have damaged my reputation. Over the years I have been intentionally maligned because of my testimony for Christ. Yet, there is safety and protection in Him. He is my refuge and although I may sometimes be bruised and dinged up by the words of others, I can remain faithful to Him. He reassures me that I am His and I am loved. His flawless words build me back up and restore me.

Lord, silence those proud tongues!