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My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,  like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. Isaiah 53:2

He was the shortest guy on the team. He’d played very little because his height was a distinct disadvantage trying to rebound in the land of the giants. One of his best friends was equally ‘Stature-disadvantaged’ but his quickness gave him the edge. The one thing Tom did have was an amazing outside shot. Usually he never got a chance to use it, that is, until THE GAME.

We’d fought ourselves back from a double-digit deficit. Now, with just two seconds on the clock, we were down by one. I put Tom in. I drew up the plan during our time out which would get him the ball for a last second shot to win the game. It worked flawlessly. The opposition rushed the ‘best outside shooter on the floor’ to try to keep him from getting the ball and shooting the winning shot. No one, however, paid any attention to little Tommy stationed on the other side of the floor. He caught the ball and launched a flawless shot that slid nicely through the basket for the winning shot.

Tom was an unlikely hero that day because he was overlooked by the other players. There was nothing impressive about him yet he became the most important player on the team that day for just a few minutes.

Isaiah refers to Jesus as a ‘tender green shoot’. Tender green shoots are weak and unimpressive to the naked eye yet they hold within them the promise of new life. Isaiah refers to Jesus as a ‘root in dry ground’. Roots in dry ground are repulsive to look at and hold no hope. Yet when water is put on those roots they spring to life.

Too often in our lives we feel like ‘tender green shoots’ or ‘roots in dry ground.’ We think we are of no value in the grand scheme of things. When those feelings of worthlessness overtake us, we need to remember that Jesus too was nothing to look at in the human realm. Yet, he provided for us hope and release from the things that keep us bound. People may not be impressed by your external looks but when we allow Jesus’ light to shine through us they won’t be able to deny God’s mighty work through us.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you for the example you have given us through Jesus Christ. During those times when I feel I have nothing to offer, help me remember that with you working through me I can make a difference in my world. In Jesus name, Amen.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 2 Timothy 1:6

When I was very young my grandparents took me with them on a camping trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Other than ‘camping’ at Bible Camp, this was my first camping adventure and everything was new and exciting.

Grandma and Grandpa had been camping for years and I learned much from him. When I read 2 Timothy 1:6 I was reminded of how Grandpa would light a fire every night when camped, or when we’d spend time at his lake cabin. Sometimes we’d have dry wood to burn and it would ignite easily. Other times the wood may be green or wet and would smolder or the flame would die out completely.

When the fire didn’t get started as quickly as Grandpa would have liked, he would take a piece of cardboard or something to fan the fire. Soon the smoldering heap would flare up into flames that would warm a cool night and cook our supper…and smore’s of course!

What Paul was really telling his student is this, ‘Remember the things I’ve taught you. Remember what you have learned about God, about yourself, about others. You, Timothy, are a gifted man. A man who God has placed in the right place at the right time to make a difference in his world.’

Our Father has the same message for us. Each of us has been given gifts and talents to be used of God. Sometimes the ‘wet wood’ of doubt can cause our flames to die out or smolder worthlessly. The ‘wet wood’ of our lives could be doubting that we can make a difference because of our past, or our current struggles. It could be doubting that we can make a difference because our gifts aren’t as good or important as other people’s gifts and talents. We could be bogged down by guilt and shame because we are suffering consequences of poor decisions in our past.

Just as my Grandpa fanned the flames into existence from a smoldering heap of wet wood, let God fan life into you to make a difference in your world. As a Christ-follower you have an important part to play in someone’s life. It could be a family member, a friend, a co-worker. Whoever it is needs to know they are loved by God and can be forgiven.

Sometimes Grandpa would have to fan the smoky fire several times before the flames would roar to life. Don’t expect change over night. Allow God’s Spirit to work in you to bring the fire in your life and the lives of others.  Don’t let the ‘wet wood’ of doubt keep you from warming the lives of those who need to experience first-hand, the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

PRAYER: Father God, I praise you for making me the way I am. By faith I acknowledge that I have gifts, talents and abilities that can be used by you. I confess that often times I feel like a failure for past mistakes and the consequences I’m now suffering as a result. Forgive me for doubting you. I ask that your Holy Spirit would fan the flames of life into me so that I can warm the lives of those around me. In Jesus name, Amen.

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April 2023
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