Isaiah: 35:1-4a GNB The desert will rejoice, and flowers will bloom in the wastelands. The desert will sing and shout for joy; it will be as beautiful as the Lebanon Mountains and as fertile as the fields of Carmel and Sharon.
In some parts of Africa, we can travel for miles and miles through barren, desolate land. A few tufts of dry, brown grass struggle for existence. Brittle thorn trees scattered here and there offer little shade. Then the spring rains fall. Only a few inches, but that is enough. Exotic wildflowers bring vibrancy and beauty to the desolate area. Sometimes life is like that desert, bleak and uninteresting. But God can transform it with just a few drops of love—and He can do it through me.
PRAYER: Lord, please use me today to add a special touch to someone’s life.
Hebrew 11:7 (GNB) It was faith that made Noah hear God’s warnings about things in the future that he could not see. He obeyed God and built a boat in which he and his family were saved.
Imagine telling a sheep farmer in the middle of the Karoo desert that God wanted him to build an ocean-going liner. Think of trying to persuade a labourer on the farm, whose only view of a boat was the small one hitched to the back of his boss’s car. What amazing faith Noah showed. He’d never seen the sea, and there had never been rain. Yet he agreed to build the ark for God, and trust him to help him cope with all those animals!
PRAYER: Lord, help me to listen to you and to obey, even when I don’t understand.
Acts 4:13-14 (CEV) The officials were amazed to see how brave Peter and John were, and they knew that these two apostles were only ordinary men and not well educated. The officials were certain that these men had been with Jesus. But they could not deny what had happened. The man who had been healed was standing there with the apostles.
I listened in amazement to the story of my friend’s father. Born a small white boy, he ran away from home and was brought up amongst a primitive African tribe. He learned much of their culture, but never learned to read or write. Years later, he started his own business. When he approached the bank manager for a loan, he could only sign with a cross. Yet he learned to read and write and become a highly respected business man.
PRAYER: Lord, thank you that I can become whatever you want me to be. Help me to work hard for you.
Matthew 23:3 (GNB) So you must obey and follow everything they tell you to do; do not, however, imitate their actions, because they don’t practice what they preach.
A signpost warns us of roadworks ahead. Several hundred metres further on a man waves a red flag. A few bends later, flourescent red cones stand at intervals down the centre of the road. The signs are clear. We face delays and possible detours as a result of major constructions.
We drop our speed as requested. We drive carefully, on the watch for workmen. We look out for possible obstructions on the road.
There’s only one thing missing. There are no workmen. There is no detour. We see no signs of construction along the road.
How often in life do we give mixed signals? We signal to the world that we are Christians. But when they watch us, something is missing. Our actions don’t match our words.
PRAYER: Father, help me to behave in such a way others can see I mean business when I say, “I’m a Christian.”
Philippians 4:11,12a I am not complaining about having too little. I have learned to be satisfied with whatever I have. I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions.
“It’s easy for her, living in a privileged home with plenty of space. How can I be expected to achieve anything when I live in such a tiny home and work under such cramped conditions?” I listened to the young lady making excuses for her inability to fulfil her heart’s desire to write for publication; then I thought of Paul the apostle. He wrote a good deal of the New Testament, much of it from jail. If God wants us to do something, He will provide a way to do it.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to overcome difficult circumstances.
Matthew 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Tembo was a shepherd boy living in a makeshift hut in the mountains of Lesotho. Often he watched aeroplanes streak overhead en route for distant cities. One day he cried out, “If only I could fly one of those.” Years later, a missionary met Tembo and gave him a job cleaning hangers. The years passed. One memorable day, Tembo received his pilot’s licence. God knew where that young boy was, and He had a plan for his life.
(TRUE STORY – NAME CHANGED.)
PRAYER: Lord, help me to dream big dreams and trust you with the results. Amen.
Psalm 91:15 (CEV) When you are in trouble, call out to me. I will answer and be there to protect and honor you.
“I need to speak to you about a problem. Could you come round later?” I asked a friend.
“I’ll come right now,” was her response, prepared to stop what she was going and come right away.
In the fullness of time, Jesus left Heaven and came to earth for us. He came at the right time. He came when the world needed Him. Years later, He was about an important mission. He was on his way to save a little girl’s life. Yet he was aware of the woman’s touch, her need for healing. How wonderful to have a friend like Jesus who always has time for us.
PRAYER: Thank you Lord for always being there for me. Help me to be such a friend to others. Am
Matthew 8:20 Jesus answered him, “Foxes have holes, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lie down and rest.”
When I was growing up, I often felt that other kids whose parents were better off than mine had a better chance of succeeding in life. Yet Jesus was born into a simple carpenter’s family with an animals’ feeding trough for his first bed. Why? Maybe so that He would identify with the simple folk. Had He been born in a palace the ordinary people would not have had access to Him. For His first few years He lived as a refugee in a foreign country, and as an adult He had no home of His own. Yet over 2,000 years later the impact of His life is still felt throughout the world.
PRAYER: Lord, thank You for showing me I have all the potential I need to be someone special for You.
Genesis 3:7 As soon as they had eaten it, they were given understanding and realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves. That evening they heard the LORD God walking in the garden, and they hid from him among the trees.
A slight movement caused me to screw up my eyes and study the nearby bush. After a few moments, I spotted a well-camoflagued chameleon making its hesitant way along a branch. Suddenly its coiled tongue sprang out and captured an unsuspecting fly. All the time its watchful eyes continued to examine its surroundings, each moving independently of the other. Sometimes we wonder where God is. How good it is to remember that He can always see us, even when we can’t see him. We cannot hide from God.
PRAYER: Thank you Lord that we are never out of your sight. Amen.
Deuteronomy 31:23 (CEV) The Lord told Joshua, “Be brave and strong! I will help you lead the people of Israel into the land that I have promised them.”
“How can you be afraid? Have you no faith?”
I have heard people say this. It has been said to me. Yet as I read the story of Joshua in the Old Testament I can’t help noticing how often God told Joshua not to be afraid. God didn’t scold Joshua for his fear. He simply encouraged him not to be afraid.
Fear is a normal part of life. When we face a scary diagnosis, like cancer; when a loved one dies; when our child is in danger; when several homes in our street are burgled in a row . . .
Fear is normal. But allowing fear to rule us is not.
No matter how big the object of your fear right now, it is good to remember that your God is always bigger. I wish you a happy, healthy, hope-filled new year. But even as I do this, I know the year will hold some low periods. 365 years of perfection sound wonderful, but face it–they’re not likely to happen.
As we face the unknowns of a year, let us do so with courage and faith. We may not know what the future holds, but we know the One who holds the future. And He’s way way bigger than any crisis we may face.
PRAYER: Lord, whenever I feel afraid, help me to bring the situation to you and trust you with the outcome.