Mission Devotional - January 30, 2016

Opening Prayer: Lord God, thank you that through Jesus we are no longer slaves to sin, but can experience all of the fullness of the life and the love that you created us for. Help us to realize that true freedom exists only in you. Thank you that you offer us real life, real healing, real wholeness, and thus, real freedom, in relationship with you. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Scripture: Romans 6:15-23

Journal: What does it mean that you are no longer a slave to sin? Do you believe it? What is you experience of no longer being a slave to sin these days? Where are you experiencing victory? Where are you experiencing defeat?

Reflection: So, since we're out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we're free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it's your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you've let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you've started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom!

I'm using this freedom language because it's easy to picture. You can readily recall, can't you, how at one time the more you did just what you felt like doing - not caring about others, not caring about God - the worse your life became and the less freedom you had? And how much different is it now as you live in God's freedom, your lives healed and expansive in holiness?

As long as you did what you felt like doing, ignoring God, you didn't have to bother with right thinking or right living, or right anything for that matter. But do you call that a free life? What did you get out of it? Nothing you're proud of now. Where did it get you? A dead end.

But now that you've found you don't have to listen to sin tell you what to do, and have discovered the delight of listening to God telling you, what a surprise! A whole, healed, put-together life right now, with more and more of life on the way! Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death. But God's gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master. (Romans 6:15-23, The Message)

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Michael and Diana Johnson serve with People International. As International Director, Michael provides broad vision and leadership for the mission. Pray today for a continuing relief effort by People International to those who are seeking safety from Islamic militants in the Kurdish area of Northern Iraq.

The Garbage City Alliance is a ministry to the Garbage City in Cairo, Egypt. Rebecca Atollah, the wife of Ramez Atollah, the leader of the Bible Society of Egypt, is a key worker at the St. Simon Coptic Orthodox Church in the Mokattam garbage village. Over the last twenty-five years she has helped with church planting and providing Christian education among the lowest of the low, Egypt's untouchables. Pray today for Rebecca and her work with the Garbage City Alliance.

Closing Prayer: Gracious and loving God, you know the deep inner patterns of my life that keep me from being totally yours. You know the misformed structures of my being that hold me in bondage to something less than your high purpose for my life. You also know my reluctance to let you have your way with me in these areas. Hear the deeper cry of my heart for wholeness and by your grace enable me to open to your transforming presence in this time. Lord, have mercy. (Invitation to a Journey by Robert Mulholland Jr.)