Mission Devotional - December 5, 2017

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Opening Prayer: Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: he will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret…it leads only to evil. (Psalm 37:3-8, NIV)

Scripture: Psalm 37:3-8

Journal: What are you most full of today, delight or fret? How do you delight yourself in the Lord? How do you allow yourself to be delighted in by him? How are the two related? What do you most often fret over? How can you lessen the hold fret has over your life? Have you prayed and asked God to do that?

Reflection: It is impossible to understate the importance of delight in the spiritual life. Delight is the very lifeblood of our lives with God. It is the thing that gives life and energy and vibrancy to our souls. It is the end result of the activity of God's Spirit within us. "God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit," says Paul in Romans. (Rom. 5:5) Delight is when God's Spirit so captures our hearts with his great love and affection that it changes everything about us. Thus, we come to delight in him as we recognize his deep delight in us, which fills us to overflowing so that his Divine Love spills out of us into the world around us.

The word delight ('anag) is used in a couple of different ways in the Old Testament. The literal translation is to be soft or delicate. Thus, when we delight in God, we become soft to him. We are pliable in his hands, open and vulnerable to his touch and his voice and his Spirit. The other way the word delight is used in the scriptures is to be filled with deep gladness. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, we find our deepest joy and gladness in who he is, and in his great affection for us. This, in turn, breeds so many other great things in the life of faith: trust and rest and surrender to his will and his direction. When we delight in our God, we recognize, and are convinced of, the depths of his heart for us, allowing us to truly trust in him.

In contrast (in Psalm 37), is the word fret. The word fret is used a couple of different ways in the Old Testament as well. To fret (charah) literally means to blaze up or grow hot. Under this usage of the word, when we fret we get angry with God and become hardened to him, rather than soft. The other way the word fret is used is to be filled with worry or doubt. When we fret, we become consumed. We allow worry or doubt to so fill us up that there is no room for God to do anything of value within us.

So how do we live in such a way, as to cultivate and nurture delight, while minimizing and weeding out fret? Maybe a starting point would be to begin to immerse our hearts in the words of this ancient prayer. To reflect on it and chew on it and meditate on it and pray it until it begins to take root within us. Maybe by praying these words over and over, we might actually begin to do them; or, better yet, to become them. Maybe by praying these very words we will become more convinced of his love and, thus, more able to delight in him. It seems like a good place to start anyway.

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Tim and Barbie K. are working to translate the Bible into the Makori language, currently working in Acts and Galatians. Barbie is also guest house manager and Regional Director, having responsibility for more than 20 missionaries in the area. Their main goal is to see a Makori church effectively using its own Bible translation. Pray today for Tim and Barbie who are in the U.S. on home assignment until late summer 2018. Pray for them as they seek to communicate well what God is doing.

Heart for Lebanon is a faith-based holistic ministry that uses relief in many cases, but not exclusively, as the first step in the process of transforming an individual and their community. They seek to unconditionally serve those who have been marginalized and rejected in Lebanon, including refugees from Syria. Pray today for women who struggle to survive in difficult camp conditions, most have no husband living with them (the majority are at war or have died) and desperately need care. Pray that the hope in their hearts remains open and receptive despite so much suffering.

Closing Prayer: Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart's desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don't worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper - it only leads to harm. (Psalm 37:3-8, NLT)