Devotions By Jan


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.


Don’t Wink at Me!

Scripture for Today: Psalm 35:19 “Do not let those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; do not let those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.”

I am not too sure what this owl is winking about but he looks a bit devious! When we wink it can imply conspiracy or some secret intent. Or winking can be positive when it shows sympathy or encouragement. Sometimes the wink says, “Trust me, I know what I’m doing.” But then again, winking all day could be from the grapefruit juice at breakfast that was squirted in the eye !

In today’s verse the wink is malicious. David is being slandered and falsely accused by his enemies. He cries to the Lord to come to his defense and vindicate him. David as king is a constant target for his enemies and regardless of how fair and righteous he is, those enemies will continue to accuse him without cause. He pleads with the Lord to contend for him so that in the end the Lord Himself will be exalted.

The world hated Jesus so it only follows that the world would also hate those who follow Him (John 15:18). So I should not be surprised at slander and false accusation. But even more serious are the accusations of the Enemy who lies and brings charges against God’s own. My struggle is not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:12). It is Satan who is behind the slander. He tries to destroy my testimony and my service. He will even endeavor to convince me that I am unloved and worth nothing. Well, Satan can wink all he wants but the Lord reassures me of His love and my worth!

Thank you Lord, that in You I have victory over every enemy!

(Look familiar? This is a repost from 2016)

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 55:17 “Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.”

Photo Credit: Christian Ferrer /CC BY 4.0

It was a very rough start to this cruise taken on the MV Viking Sky in March of 2019. The storm in Norway was manageable in principle. But she suffered a loss of oil pressure causing an automatic shutdown of all engines. The mayday distress signal was issued at 14:00 and was not lifted until 15:11 the next day. And in that time period, 30 helicopter trips evacuated 479 passengers. Their mayday signal, repeated three times in a row, understandably had priority over all other calls!

Today’s verse is a distress call to God repeated three times: morning, noon and night. David refers to his troubles like a tempest and storm (verse 8). He is distraught because of his enemies but he refers to just one in particular; a companion, a close friend (verse 13). The betrayal of a so-called friend is what is fueling David’s anguish. But David’s cry to God results in casting his cares on the Lord (verse 22). He ends this distress call with trust that God will take care of the wicked men in his life (verse 23).

There will always be those who oppose God and do evil. The storms in my life can sometimes be traced back to the waves and strong winds they have caused. But what causes more distress, prompting that mayday call, is the betrayal of a friend. Coming from an unexpected source makes it all the more painful. A cry for help is the best response I can make. And like David, I can end my prayer with trust. The Lord knows, He cares, He will sustain me and in His justice, He will take care of it.

Thank you Lord, for always hearing my cry.

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Penny Farthing Bicycle

Scripture for Today: II Timothy 4:5 “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”

Fjmustak, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With each pedal stroke, this gentleman can travel great distances, as much as 15 feet! That is because of the huge size of that front wheel. And even though he is rolling on cobblestone, his ride is smooth. But despite these advantages, the Penny Farthing bicycle, created in the 1870’s, is not safe. As he sits so high and nearly over the front axel, he is prone to pitching over those mustache handlebars head first and landing on his head!

Today’s verse is a charge to Timothy from his mentor, Paul. He is told to “keep his head.” The idea is to always be steady and clear headed. Despite unexpected hardship, Timothy is encouraged to stay calm, cool and steady. Timothy is warned that soon, sound doctrine and truth will no longer be welcomed. His listeners will prefer myths and what is easy to hear (verses 3-4). But he is to remain faithful to what God has called him to do, just as Paul had been.

I could lose my head in only listening to what is easy and pleasing, ignoring the doctrines and meat of God’s Word. If I were to take that easy route, I would be unprepared for any kind of hardship. Suffering, trials and difficulties are all part of my Christian walk and the best way I know to meet them head on is to know what God says. I may never understand the “why” of that unexpected hardship. But by staying in His Word, I can be assured of God’s love and faithfulness through it.

Thank you Lord, that You help me keep my head!

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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!