Mission Devotional - November 18, 2016
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, let me hear your word this day, let me hold it fast, and let me wait patiently for it to grow into all that you dreamt for it to be. Amen.
Journal: What are the characteristics of the good soil that make it yield fruit? How can you weave these things into your daily practice?
Reflection: I don't know about you, but when it comes to this parable I tend to spend a lot of time and energy reflecting on the bad soils, and allowing my heart and mind to be consumed with them, when it would probably be to my benefit to focus instead on the good soil and consider the process by which the good soil yields its fruit.
Jesus is pretty clear that it all starts with hearing. The first step is to listen. He who has ears, let him hear. We must quiet our hearts and pay careful attention to God and to his word. For if we do not hear what he is trying to say to us, there is a good likelihood that the seed of the word will never be planted within us to begin with.
Once we have heard, the next step is to hold fast. We must take hold of God's word and allow it the space and the time to germinate within us. We must hold on to it and not let go. This can be a really long process; most good things take time. This holding fast gives the seed of the word time to let it do what it was designed to do - grow.
And not only must we hold fast, but we must hold fast with honest and good hearts. In other words, our hearts need to be open and receptive to whatever it is that God wants to grow in us. Our hearts cannot be hard, or closed, or preoccupied, or resistant. They must be rich and fertile soil in which the seed can come to life.
And lastly, this whole process takes a lot of patience. A seed grows at its own pace, in its own time. It cannot be rushed or hurried. It cannot be forced or manipulated. It must be free to yield its fruit in the proper season. Therefore we must learn to wait. We must surrender our agenda and our need to control the process and allow the seed to grow and develop as it wishes. It will become. It will bear fruit, even when we cannot yet see it ourselves.
Prayer for the church, for others, for myself
Andy and Bev serve with an MTW team that is involved in HIV/AIDS work and church planting through the Ethiopia Aids Care and Treatment (ACT) Project. The project targets slum communities in Addis Ababa which contain the neediest people in the community - large percentages of women with small children. In recent years the project has served more than 500 AIDS-affected families, reaching more than 1,200 people. In the last few months, the government of Ethiopia has declared a state of emergency because of increasing protests. Andy and Bev are in the U.S. on a previously scheduled trip, but they ask that you pray for their church in the Suki community that it would be a place of light and hope in frightening times.
The New Anglican Missionary Society or NAMS Network is a global and dispersed community of men and women who have come together to do an apostolic work under an apostolic rule. As missionary servants of the gospel, they carry in their hearts the desire to see the gospel of Jesus Christ reach to the ends of the earth, giving everyone the opportunity to respond to the love of God in Christ Jesus. Pray today for their work in Southeast Asia.
Closing Prayer: Thank you, Lord Jesus, that the process of growth is not a complicated one; I make the space and you provide the growth. Help me to make space and time for your word to have its desired effect in the soil of my heart and soul this day. Amen.