Pray for Our World – Region of Africa

As we begin to pray for our world and each country, it’s good to get an overview of our world first. The satellite view can give us a new appreciation for just how amazing and complex our world is. The major regions of the world are Africa, The Americas, Asia, Europe and Pacific. We’ll start with an overview of Africa.

The region of Africa is composed of about 20% of the world’s surface area, with 2/3 of Africa’s population living in countries south of the Sahara, and 1/3 in North Africa. There are 57 countries, 2,500 ethnic groups, and about 61% literacy. Africa has a vast wealth of natural resources, but in the 50 years since the large wave of colonial independence, it has struggled economically. It now has the largest growth rate in the world, and is about to produce their largest population of working age. They struggle with demands on the land due to the large population growth, low investments in agriculture, foreign debt, lack of infrastructure, lack of education, corruption, disease and military conflict.

Religion is very important to Africans. Religious freedom has increased but there are still some restrictions in North Africa and Muslim countries. Christianity and Islam make up 90% of the religion, just about evenly divided. But underlying both of these religions is a value system deep in old ways of ancestor worship and idolatry. In addition, 13 of the world’s 20 least-evangelized countries by percentage are in Africa.

Pray that the powers of darkness that still consume a lot of Africa will be lifted with the light and hope of Jesus Christ.

Names of Jesus – Star

Jesus describes himself as the “Bright Morning Star” when he reveals himself to John in Revelation 22:16.

I, Jesus, have sent My angel to attest these things to you for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright Morning Star.”

Jesus is not just one of many stars, but the bright morning star – the one that outshines all the others.  While Jesus is prophesied to come from the line of David, the term Star of David (or shield of David) is never mentioned in the Bible. It is a Jewish symbol with its earliest archaeological reference from the 3rd century.

In John 9:15, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.”

Even in the beginning of the Bible in Numbers 24:17, there is prophesy of a star, A star will come from Jacob, and a scepter will arise from Israel.”

Jesus is the true light of the world.  He is the pre-existent light, before all other light.

And as a morning star, he announces the beginning of each new day. He gives us newness. As the brightest star, he gives us a reference point for our lives.

Names of Jesus – The Good Shepherd

This is one of my favorite images of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. One who will take care of you. One who is good! We all need good in this world, and that is what Jesus is. I’ve never understood how the manger scene or Jesus could be offensive to anyone. I understand not everyone believes in his deity, but his image has always been one of good and compassion. It is his goodness that draws people to him.

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

Jesus gave us another example when he told the parable of the 99 sheep and 1 lost sheep in Luke 15.  Jesus came as the good shepherd to seek and find the lost.

The 23rd Psalm, the most quoted of all Psalms, also beautifully describes this good Shepherd.

The Good Shepherd – Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me

in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
as long as I live.

Names of Jesus: Lamb of God

The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming to him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” 
John 1:29

A lamb had special significance to the Jews. A lamb was sacrificed each year during Passover. God provided a lamb to Abraham for sacrifice instead of his son Isaac. But Jesus was much more. He was the perfect sacrificial lamb.

Religion had become a set of rules to follow. Jesus was not about rules, though we sometimes still like to pin rules and conditions to Jesus. Jesus was about repentance. Repentance not religion. Grace not rules. He is the perfect lamb to take away our sin, which is what we all need.

Names of Jesus: Unspeakable Gift

Paul describes Jesus as the unspeakable or indescribable gift in 2 Corinthians 9:15.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.

It is indescribable because there is no other gift as perfect or as valuable as the sacrifice of God’s perfect son for our sins.  It is a gift from God and a gift of Grace.  It is not given by law or by deeds, it is purely Divine.

The gift is available to anyone and everyone who wants it.  A gift cannot be forced on the recipient, it must be accepted.  It is given with no strings attached.  It is simply… a gift.

The tradition of giving presents at Christmas time comes from this wonderful and indescribable gift given to us.  We show Christ’s likeness the most when we are giving, out of pure joy and love.