(This devotional was written in 2006, however its message is timeless . . . )

A few more days and 2006 will be history. Many are wondering and some are inquiring what 2007 has in store. It is at this time that many predictions are floated in the business world, politics, science and religion. This is the time that many also begin to reflect on the past year, on their achievements and failures. The media reviews the headlines that made the news in the previous year. On Friday January 20, Londoners woke up to a whale of a surprise. A seven-tonne, bottle-nosed whale swam it’s way up the Thames into central London. The event mystified hundreds of onlookers who had gathered on the banks, to witness what some called a “particularly bizarre” sight. There was news in February of the Ferry that sunk in the Red Sea claiming about a thousand lives; later a mudslide on the Island of Leyte in the Philippines that killed almost two thousand. In March, Springfield Illinois was hit with its’ biggest storm in over fifty years as dozens of tornadoes touched down in Missouri, Kansas and Illinois over a five day period. The miraculous rescue of Norman Kember, James Loney and Harmeet Singh graced the headlines on March 23.

There was the total eclipse of the Sun; drought in east Africa, Australia and Zambia, the Indonesian earthquake, tremors around the world (Zimbabwe was not spared), volcanic eruptions, debate/movie about the Da Vinci Code, June 6 superstition and the Church of Satan (international convergence of Satanists - Los Angeles), the war between Israel and Hezbollah, highest summer temperatures in a century (UK), concerns of global warming and climate change, forest fires, crime, terrorism, Iraq, Iran, North Korea goes nuclear, political upheavals, elections, Darfur - the ongoing conflict, the death of James brown (“godfather of soul music”) in the early hours of Christmas morning. Today (boxing day) Saddam Hussein’s death sentence was upheld, on the second anniversary of the worst Tsunami in modern times an earthquake hits Taiwan, and to round it off, personal and family challenges. It is not possible to cover every story that unfolded during the year, not even in a billion books - let alone a few sentences.

One of the events that stood out for me was the death of Steve Irwin. He was renowned world over as the crocodile hunter - an enigmatic conservationist who mesmerized enthusiasts both at home and abroad. I am not trying to write a eulogy but admittedly, I found Steve very entertaining. John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia, said he was “shocked and distressed at Steve Irwin’s sudden, untimely and freakish death”. He died shortly after a stingray barb pierced his chest. Experts say it is very rare for one to be killed by a stingray. Considering Steve’s up close encounters with the world’s most dangerous animals, especially crocodiles and venomous snakes his demise was really odd. Mysteries, intrigues and tales of the unexpected will continue to fascinate mankind for eternity. The movie industry seems to be feeding into this appetite by producing films that focus on the supernatural and science fiction.

History has an uncanny way of repeating itself. Some things will always be the same. Magic always has and continues to attract public curiosity, but in recent years there has been an emergence of street performances by magicians like: David Blaine, David Copperfield and Chris Angel. Their brand of magic seems to be a little more than mere sleight of hand. They conjure up illusions that defy logic and perhaps even science. Levitation (a few feet above the ground) to floating in mid air several feet above the ground; sawing themselves in half and decapitation are some of their specialities. Obviously, it cannot be real but it looks so convincing that it leaves the audience flabbergasted and awestruck. We are told in the sacred record that Pharaoh was surrounded by magicians who used dark arts to counterfeit the signs performed by Moses and Aaron. In Babylon, king Nebuchadnezzar had magicians and wise men among his counsellors. There is something else that is growing and spreading and that is, paranormal investigation. A few months ago London was dubbed one of the most haunted places on earth. One wonders what is causing all this fascination with magic, ghosts and the miraculous. Religion has not been spared either. Miracle crusades, the Hindu milk miracle, signs and wonders, the occult and new age movement are all very familiar to many. Even those who are sceptical and reserved cannot help but notice, something is going on. Surely, it cannot be a coincidence…can it?

The Bible does not suggest that interest in signs and wonders is in itself sinful, but rather the motivation for seeking them is what matters. If it were not for the star the Magi would never have made it to the baby Jesus. I submit to you that the wise men from the east were studying the prophecies about the messiah otherwise they would not have recognized the sign. “He hath said, which heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel…(Numbers 24:16,17).” In Genesis we read: “And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years (Genesis 1:14).”” However, the Holy Scriptures admonish us to guard against “lying wonders“.

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:7-12).

Finally the Lord Jesus Christ gave this counsel (in Matthew 24) to His disciples shortly before His crucifixion, speaking of things that would come to pass, in a panoramic view of the future: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.”

In Yeshua's service,

Dean Mudenda