‘New Shoots’

‘There is hope for a tree: if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.’ Job 14:7 NIV

Ever felt like life has cut you down? That things were going well, but then something unexpected happened, or someone hurt you, or you made a mistake that seemed to destroy everything? When a tree is cut down, it can grow again. Job says, ‘There is hope for a tree: if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail.’

And it’s the same for us. When life has cut us down, it’s not the end. With God, new life can begin to grow again. He’s the God of second chances and new beginnings. There’s no mistake, hurt or situation that’s too big for Him to redeem. It might take a long time for a new shoot to appear, but it will come. We can have hope that God’s working, even when it doesn’t feel like it. But for a tree to be able to flourish, it has to be planted in the right place. A stump that’s in a dry and dark place is unlikely to grow again.

If we want new life to emerge from our ruins, we need to make sure we’re surrounding ourselves with the right people, feeding our minds with God’s Word, and spending time with Him, our Light. Jeremiah 17:7–8 NIV says: ‘Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord… They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought.’ When we’re trusting and hoping in God, we’ll be in the best place to produce a new shoot.

SoulFood: Job 38–39, Matt 26:36–46, Ps 31, Pro 8:34–36

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2020

Today’s Readings

Job 38–39 ()

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38:1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

  “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
  Dress for action like a man;
    I will question you, and you make it known to me.
  “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.
  Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
    Or who stretched the line upon it?
  On what were its bases sunk,
    or who laid its cornerstone,
  when the morning stars sang together
    and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
  “Or who shut in the sea with doors
    when it burst out from the womb,
  when I made clouds its garment
    and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10   and prescribed limits for it
    and set bars and doors,
11   and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
    and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?
12   “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
    and caused the dawn to know its place,
13   that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
    and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14   It is changed like clay under the seal,
    and its features stand out like a garment.
15   From the wicked their light is withheld,
    and their uplifted arm is broken.
16   “Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
    or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17   Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
    or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
18   Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
    Declare, if you know all this.
19   “Where is the way to the dwelling of light,
    and where is the place of darkness,
20   that you may take it to its territory
    and that you may discern the paths to its home?
21   You know, for you were born then,
    and the number of your days is great!
22   “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
    or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
23   which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
    for the day of battle and war?
24   What is the way to the place where the light is distributed,
    or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth?
25   “Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
    and a way for the thunderbolt,
26   to bring rain on a land where no man is,
    on the desert in which there is no man,
27   to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
    and to make the ground sprout with grass?
28   “Has the rain a father,
    or who has begotten the drops of dew?
29   From whose womb did the ice come forth,
    and who has given birth to the frost of heaven?
30   The waters become hard like stone,
    and the face of the deep is frozen.
31   “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades
    or loose the cords of Orion?
32   Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season,
    or can you guide the Bear with its children?
33   Do you know the ordinances of the heavens?
    Can you establish their rule on the earth?
34   “Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
    that a flood of waters may cover you?
35   Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go
    and say to you, ‘Here we are’?
36   Who has put wisdom in the inward parts
    or given understanding to the mind?
37   Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
    Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
38   when the dust runs into a mass
    and the clods stick fast together?
39   “Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
    or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
40   when they crouch in their dens
    or lie in wait in their thicket?
41   Who provides for the raven its prey,
    when its young ones cry to God for help,
    and wander about for lack of food?
39:1   “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
    Do you observe the calving of the does?
  Can you number the months that they fulfill,
    and do you know the time when they give birth,
  when they crouch, bring forth their offspring,
    and are delivered of their young?
  Their young ones become strong; they grow up in the open;
    they go out and do not return to them.
  “Who has let the wild donkey go free?
    Who has loosed the bonds of the swift donkey,
  to whom I have given the arid plain for his home
    and the salt land for his dwelling place?
  He scorns the tumult of the city;
    he hears not the shouts of the driver.
  He ranges the mountains as his pasture,
    and he searches after every green thing.
  “Is the wild ox willing to serve you?
    Will he spend the night at your manger?
10   Can you bind him in the furrow with ropes,
    or will he harrow the valleys after you?
11   Will you depend on him because his strength is great,
    and will you leave to him your labor?
12   Do you have faith in him that he will return your grain
    and gather it to your threshing floor?
13   “The wings of the ostrich wave proudly,
    but are they the pinions and plumage of love?
14   For she leaves her eggs to the earth
    and lets them be warmed on the ground,
15   forgetting that a foot may crush them
    and that the wild beast may trample them.
16   She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers;
    though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear,
17   because God has made her forget wisdom
    and given her no share in understanding.
18   When she rouses herself to flee,
    she laughs at the horse and his rider.
19   “Do you give the horse his might?
    Do you clothe his neck with a mane?
20   Do you make him leap like the locust?
    His majestic snorting is terrifying.
21   He paws in the valley and exults in his strength;
    he goes out to meet the weapons.
22   He laughs at fear and is not dismayed;
    he does not turn back from the sword.
23   Upon him rattle the quiver,
    the flashing spear, and the javelin.
24   With fierceness and rage he swallows the ground;
    he cannot stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
25   When the trumpet sounds, he says ‘Aha!’
    He smells the battle from afar,
    the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
26   “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars
    and spreads his wings toward the south?
27   Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up
    and makes his nest on high?
28   On the rock he dwells and makes his home,
    on the rocky crag and stronghold.
29   From there he spies out the prey;
    his eyes behold it from far away.
30   His young ones suck up blood,
    and where the slain are, there is he.”

Matthew 26:36–46 ()

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36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

Psalm 31 ()

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To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

31:1   In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame;
    in your righteousness deliver me!
  Incline your ear to me;
    rescue me speedily!
  Be a rock of refuge for me,
    a strong fortress to save me!
  For you are my rock and my fortress;
    and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me;
  you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
    for you are my refuge.
  Into your hand I commit my spirit;
    you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
  I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
    but I trust in the LORD.
  I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
    because you have seen my affliction;
    you have known the distress of my soul,
  and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
    you have set my feet in a broad place.
  Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
    my eye is wasted from grief;
    my soul and my body also.
10   For my life is spent with sorrow,
    and my years with sighing;
  my strength fails because of my iniquity,
    and my bones waste away.
11   Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
    especially to my neighbors,
  and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
    those who see me in the street flee from me.
12   I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
    I have become like a broken vessel.
13   For I hear the whispering of many—
    terror on every side!—
  as they scheme together against me,
    as they plot to take my life.
14   But I trust in you, O LORD;
    I say, “You are my God.”
15   My times are in your hand;
    rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16   Make your face shine on your servant;
    save me in your steadfast love!
17   O LORD, let me not be put to shame,
    for I call upon you;
  let the wicked be put to shame;
    let them go silently to Sheol.
18   Let the lying lips be mute,
    which speak insolently against the righteous
    in pride and contempt.
19   Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
    which you have stored up for those who fear you
  and worked for those who take refuge in you,
    in the sight of the children of mankind!
20   In the cover of your presence you hide them
    from the plots of men;
  you store them in your shelter
    from the strife of tongues.
21   Blessed be the LORD,
    for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
    when I was in a besieged city.
22   I had said in my alarm,
    “I am cut off from your sight.”
  But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
    when I cried to you for help.
23   Love the LORD, all you his saints!
    The LORD preserves the faithful
    but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
24   Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
    all you who wait for the LORD!

Proverbs 8:34–36 ()

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34   Blessed is the one who listens to me,
    watching daily at my gates,
    waiting beside my doors.
35   For whoever finds me finds life
    and obtains favor from the LORD,
36   but he who fails to find me injures himself;
    all who hate me love death.”

Tue 31 March, 2020


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