Mission Devotional - January 23, 2017

Opening Prayer: Lord God, forgive us when we take matters into our own hands and try to live our lives on our own. Anytime we do this we are destined for failure and confusion. Help us, O God, live in constant dependence on, and surrender to, you. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

Journal: How are you trying to control life these days? How are you trying to live by your own efforts? What would it mean to surrender to God, and to his will, instead?

Reflection: In our own daily lives, in our efforts to do right, what is decisive is that we accept and live by and surrender ourselves to a strength which is not our own, to the piercing white light of God's love.

When we experience this love we turn away from the notion that we initiate and God responds; that we, by our religious efforts, can set something in motion that God must obey in response. To believe that by an effort of will we can mount nearer to God or add one cubit to our stature is as unchristian as the belief that we have no task as Christians for the mundane affairs of this world. Both beliefs have the same root - the pride that seeks to climb its way to God - and produces the same kind of confusion as the ancient attempt to build the tower of Babel.

The direction to which our wills must be put is in obedience to God's will in response to the breaking in of the Spirit. Then something decisive happens for this earth. (Yielding to God by Philip Britts)

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Michael and Diana Johnson have been serving with People International. As International Director, Michael provided broad vision and leadership for the mission. As they near retirement from People International, they are beginning a new work with CSPC that will involve recruiting churches to partner with the work with refugees in Europe. Pray for Michael and Diana and this new work.

Knoxville Area Rescue Mission (KARM) provides emergency shelter and food to homeless men and women and offers recovery for those seeking a way out of drug and alcohol abuse. Pray today for KARM's work with the homeless during the cold winter months.

Closing Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, there are some lessons in this life of grace I seem to have a hard time remembering, or at least accepting. My limits and insufficiency are certainly two of them. The magnetic pull of the "cult of competency" is always lurking. Forgive me for not wanting to need the gospel, your Spirit, and community as much as you say I do.

So, Father, as this day begins, I forsake the illusion of my competency and cast myself on you, the God who raises the dead - beginning with Jesus. I'm not facing deadly perils, but I am facing people I love that I cannot fix, injustices in the world that I cannot right, old lingering wounds that I cannot heal, stubborn addicts that I cannot rescue, an aging process that I cannot reverse, cold marriages that I cannot thaw, and my own heart that I cannot change.

Grant me grace to accept my limits and faith to trust you more; and a greater willingness to let friends enter my struggles and carry my burdens. I know you to be the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort; I want to know you that way much, much more. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus' kind and grace-full name. - Scotty Smith