Mission Devotional - July 30, 2016

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to receive you, and your kingdom, like a little child today. Give me the openness and the expectancy and the trust to empty my hands - and my soul - of whatever I am full of, in order to make room for you in my life. Thank you that you desire to give me the gift of yourself today, whatever that may look like. Help me to be willing and open to receive it. Amen.

Scripture: Mark 10:13-31

Journal: What does it look like for you to receive the kingdom of God as a little child? What keeps you from being able to do that? What kept the Rich Young Ruler from being able to do that? Which one are you more like these days? How and why?

Reflection: Receiving is such a key part of the spiritual journey. And, unfortunately, it is something that we are typically not very good at. We are too used to earning to ever be able to receive. Receiving puts us in a vulnerable, dependent position, and we don't like that.

And, to make matters worse, Jesus tells us not only to receive, but to receive as a little child, which is such a contrast to our normal mode of operation. We like to be in control. We like to be the ones dictating how and when things will happen. But, when it comes to receiving, all we can really do is open our hands and wait.

But there is a step that comes before the opening of our hands, and I think that's what Jesus is really getting at here, especially given the contrast between a little child and the rich young man. One of the things that is particular to the way in which a little child receives is their willingness to drop everything else once a gift is offered to them. If you hold out a gift to a little child, everything else becomes secondary. They will empty their hands of whatever they are carrying in order to take hold of the gift that is being offered, which is exactly what the rich young man is unwilling to do.

You see, in order to receive anything, an emptying must take place first. You can't receive a gift if you already have full hands. Thus, a refusal to let go, in order to receive, will stop the whole process in its tracks. We cannot receive anything when our hands - and our souls - are full. We must make room within us to receive whatever it is that God desires to give. Little children know this all too well. I wonder why we "grown" adults often forget.

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Mike and Stephanie are working with a project called LEARN (Leadership Education and Resource Network) based in Beirut, Lebanon. The project's aim is to provide high quality, interactive Biblical training via Internet to Arabic-speakers wherever they are found. Pray today for Mike and Stephanie for their times of mentoring and praying and counseling with students. Many times these moments come unexpectedly. They want to be ready to go with students into the presence of God for healing, for truth, for transformation.

Core Leadership is a ministry of spiritual formation and leadership development. Its mission is to help strengthen and encourage the life of leaders, in the Knoxville area and beyond, by the means of spiritual nurture and leadership development. Jim Branch is the director of Core Leadership and is actively involved in the lives of people all over the city of Knoxville and beyond, as well as being active in the Powell community, where he lives. Pray for Jim today and all of those that he will connect with through his ministry this month.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, what do you want me to give me today? And what do I need to let go of in order to receive that gift like a little child? Give me the grace and the courage and the strength and the willingness to do so, whatever it may be. Amen.