Devotions By Jan


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Sun Ripened Tomatoes

Scripture for Today: James 1:4 “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

There is nothing worse than biting into that beautiful red tomato and tasting nothing! A tomato picked too soon will eventually please the eye but not the taste buds. I understand why a tomato is picked too soon. When green they are hardier for transport. But picked prematurely changes their taste to be less than flavorful. A sun ripened tomato picked at just the right moment is so sweet and juicy I can understand how it is categorized as a fruit!

Today’s verse tells us what it takes to be mature in our faith. It is the tests and trials that grow our faith, producing that staying power so important to our maturity. It is often a long process that cannot be rushed. Trying to avoid trouble would only keep us green and hard longer. It is through the hard times that we learn new dependance on the Lord. It is because of responding in faith to those tests that we burst with flavor. The times of crisis work in the believer a maturity and completeness not gained any other way.

I want to be mature. I want to be complete, lacking nothing in my faith. But I sure do not like the method of getting there. Yet I know by experience that it is in the hard times, when I come to the end of my own resources and ingenuity, that I learn trust. I see God come through in the most unexpected ways and my faith is strengthened. That dependance on Him comes from staying put, connected to the vine that is Him. That finished work in me makes me “Son-ripened!

Thank you Lord, for strengthening my faith.


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Anchorman

Scripture for Today: Hebrews 18b-19a “…we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

capital 21 chanel, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The word, “anchorman” used to mean the last man of a tug-of-war team or one who runs last in a relay race. Now, it means a host for a television program. A recent promotional for a major news program goes further by describing their anchorman as someone who calms and steadies when emotions are high, fears overwhelm and we are at a tipping point!

Today’s verse describes an anchor that does much more! This is an anchor for the soul that is firm and secure. Our anchor is our hope and it will not change or move. We as believers are encouraged when we take hold of this anchor of hope set before us. We hope in the unchanging and sure promises of the Lord and His Word. We have an anchor that calms and steadies regardless of the turbulent circumstances that engulf us! Nothing is as sure and reliable as this anchor.

It is almost comical to think of a newscaster being someone who can calm and steady us! Often when I see the news, my experience is just the opposite. But my heart is steady and calm in reminding myself of God’s precious promises and control. World events will not overwhelm. Circumstances do not shake my faith. It is not that my faith is so strong, but the One in whom it is placed is all-powerful! He has promised. With my eyes always on Him and His promises, I will not be shaken (Ps. 16:8).

Thank you Lord, that my hope in You anchors me.

REMINDER: my blog posts now appear just once a week on MONDAYS! Please feel to peruse the archived blogs on the right of the screen for more.


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The Kookaburra

Scripture for Today: Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity: she can laugh at the days to come.”

I only knew about this bird from the children’s song growing up. So I was curious to see this Australian bird at the zoo. She was a lot bigger than I imagined being 18 inches long. Her beak is 4 inches long and with it she can eat chickens, ducklings and even some small snakes! She is monogamous and she defends her territory. Often, her young will remain with her to help raise the next year’s brood. But most surprising is her loud laugh!

Today’s verse describes a woman whose qualities raise what seems to be an impossible standard for others! This description of the perfect wife and mother was given by the Queen Mother to her son, King Lemuel. The passage describes a woman of “noble character” fit for royalty (verse 10). After an extensive list of characteristics the conclusion is that charm and beauty are less important than fearing the Lord (verse 30). Fearing the Lord makes it possible to “laugh at the days to come.” There is a light heart even when facing the unknown future.

Of all the qualities listed for this perfect woman, this ability to laugh at the days to come has got to be the most difficult for me. It is a litmus test of my faith in God and His plan for me. To laugh at the days to come does not mean I do not prepare for them. But it does mean that I can trust Him for the unexpected. I can trust Him for what is around that blind curve. Whatever He allows to happen, He will carry me through it. Whatever the challenge of the days to come, He is enough.

Thank you Lord, for giving me a light heart.

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2019.)


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Pageant of the Masters

Scripture for Today: Luke 8:24 “The disciples went and woke him, saying, ‘Master, Master, we’re going to drown!’ He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm.”

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pageant_of_the_Masters_chess_set.jpg

What a beautiful experience to attend the Pageant of the Masters! This ninety-minute extravaganza features what’s called, “living art.” Classical and contemporary art is reproduced on a grand scale with live people taking the place of some of the picture’s painted people. Can you tell in this image of Waterloo Chess Set, which are which? With a narrator and orchestration, it brings alive the art of the masters!

Today’s verse calls the creator of our entire world a “Master.” The disciples fear for their lives as a violent storm assaults their boat. But the Creator of that storm calmly sleeps through it. These experienced fishermen believe they will drown and wake Jesus, calling Him. “Master.” Jesus demonstrates His mastery over the wind and water by rebuking and calming that storm. Surely, He is a Master when even the winds and waves obey Him! (verse 25) After this amazing miracle, Jesus asks His disciples, “Where is your faith?”

When waters are smooth and the wind is just a gentle breeze, I start to think that I am the “master” or the “captain of my ship.” But when those inevitable storms sneak up on me, I know I do not control a thing! The Lord is the real Master. He not only holds the whole world in His hands but also my small insignificant life! When I trust Him and what He is doing, I am not afraid. Faith cannot sit in the boat when all the seats are occupied with fear.

Lord, keep my faith strong and confident in my Master.


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Bibliophile

Scripture for Today: Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

Is this cat a bibliophile, appreciating and collecting books? More likely, his paw is just serving as a bookmark for his owner. Today is National Book Lover’s Day. This is a day where one is encouraged to spend the whole day reading! We observe this day by visiting the public library. Or we can explore a used book store for that overlooked gem of an out-of-print tome. Another way to mark the day is to randomly give a book to someone.

Today’s verse talks about a book that records all the days that are allotted to each one of us. He Himself has authored this book and it is timeless. It records the length of our lives before they are even begun. What an amazing verse that makes clear just how detailed and expansive His control is! As He has planned, and as He has purposed, so it will happen (Isaiah 14:24). Every entrance into the hereafter is on the very day recorded in that book.

It is a tremendous comfort to know that God never slips up. A death may still seem untimely to me, but He knows. A life may be violently cut short, but God has a plan through all of it that we do not see on this side of eternity. I cannot thwart His plan for my exit from this world. Rather than be frightened at the thought, I am reassured that He has a plan. His control is good because He is good. I do not need to know the number of my days. I just need to know that He knows.

Lord, help me to always be confident of Your control.