Mission Devotional - September 13, 2016

Opening Prayer: Jesus, help me to step inside your story today, so that you might tell me my own. Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 9:1-8

Journal: Where do you find yourself in today's Scripture? How are you like the paralytic, or the carriers, or the scoffers, or the crowd? Place yourself in the shoes of each this morning and see what Jesus has to say to you.

Reflection: Unless we make the stories of Scripture our own they do us little good. The Gospel invites each of us to step inside its pages and encounter Jesus for ourselves, face to face. That is the beauty of it. It is alive. It is engaging. It is interactive. It beckons each of us to ask the question: "Where am I in this story? And what is God trying to say to me?" It offers us numerous entry points into a deep and transforming conversation with Jesus. Particularly this story.

For example, how are you and I like the paralytic? How are we paralyzed in our lives? How have we settled for much less than the life God intended for us to live? Where do we feel stuck and powerless? Who is trying to carry us to the feet of Jesus, and where are we on that journey? What would it look like for us to "Rise, pick up our mat and go home?" What are we holding onto that must be left behind?

And how are we like the carriers? Who are we trying to carry to the feet of Jesus and how is that going? How do we feel about that at the moment? How long has the journey been so far? Are we weary and discouraged? Are we hopeful yet doubt-filled? Are we dutiful and detached? Or are we faithful and expectant? I'm sure each of the carriers was a little different, but, regardless of what was really going on within each of them, they kept going. And it was their faith that Jesus saw. How are you?

Or do we tend to fall in line with the scribes? I like to call them the scoffers. Regardless of what beautiful thing was happening right before their eyes, somehow they were able to find something to criticize and scoff at. I don't know about you, but sadly I recognize myself in them much more than I would care to admit. For some reason, be it insecurity or something else, we tend to have trouble celebrating the beauty and well-being of others. Unfortunately, we look at the world through the lenses of comparison and competition, which makes everyone around us a threat to our personal worth rather than a brother and a sister. So, in the case of the scribes, I guess the question becomes: Where is a spirit of criticism and complaint alive and active within us? And why?

Or finally, do we somehow find ourselves, at this point in our journey, in the shoes of the crowd? Are we standing amazed at what we have just witnessed right before our very eyes? Are we awestruck and dumbfounded at what we have just seen God do within us or around us? Are we overwhelmed by his power and overcome by his beauty? If not, why not?

The truth is that we are most likely all of the above at any particular moment in our lives. So our job, each day, is to pay close enough attention to God's Spirit within us that we are be able to hear and discern what each of them has to tell us. Or, more accurately, what he has to tell us through each of them. What is it for you?

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 as he begins work on the pre-defense of his thesis necessary for his doctoral work at Oxford.

At The Restoration House (TRH), they are working to help restore single mothers and their children back to God's good intent for their lives. Through transformational housing, team mentoring, and service planning, TRH is helping single mother families end cycles of poverty and distress. Pray today for all of the families that TRH is reaching.

Closing Prayer: Lord God, let your word continue to resound within me throughout this day, that I might hear what you are trying to say to me and live like you would have me to live. Amen.