URC Daily Devotion Tuesday, 9 January 2024

Isaiah 43: 18 – 21

Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honour me,
    the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
  the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.


It’s part of our nature to look back.  Certain dates stick in our memory and take us back to significant events in our past.  In this vein, social media reminds me daily of what I posted on this date in the past, bringing back both good and bad memories.  Currently I am sorting the papers of a recently closed church – a great deal of looking back over the witness of a faithful group of people over almost two hundred years.

The people of Israel had been commanded to look back to the Passover – to remember how the Lord had brought them out of slavery in Egypt, and to remember what the Lord had done for them.

But in this passage, dating from the exile in Babylon, God is asking the people not to remember the old things but to look forward to something new.  To look out for the signs of God’s work – a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert – new life in places where nothing had flourished.

If we were to read on beyond this passage, we would hear how the people had ceased to truly worship the Lord – failing in the proper sacrifices, burdening God with their sins.  They had lost their enthusiasm for God – had become a wilderness instead of a fruitful vineyard.

God was promising a new thing – watering the wilderness, giving drink to the people he had created, so that they may truly praise.

It’s easy for us to get set in our ways, to go through the motions of praising God the way we’ve always done it – allowing our faith to grow stale and our praise dulled.

Let us turn to God, let us forget the former things and praise God through the new things happening now in 2024.


Creator Lord, when our enthusiasm for You wanes,
 when we find our worship dulled by stale repetition,
 and our love for You fading:
 help us to seek the signs of your presence in our surroundings,
 to find the new ways towards which you are leading us, and
 to refresh our faith and love for you and others

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