Mission Devotional - September 14, 2016

Opening Prayer: Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! (Psalm 51:1-2)

Scripture: Matthew 9:9-13

Journal: Where do you find yourself in the Scriptures today? Why? Who do you most relate to? What word or image seems to speak to you for some reason or another? Why? What is God trying to say to you today?

Reflection: Jesus loves the lost; he always has and he always will. Something extraordinarily beautiful happens deep in his heart whenever he comes across a dear one that the rest of society has discounted, rejected, or given up on. His heart goes out to them. Which is, I believe, a good definition for the word mercy. And if his heart goes out to them, and his heart is in us, then our hearts should go out to them as well. But so often that is simply not the case. Why is that? Why do we find ourselves so often with the attitude of the Pharisees instead of the attitude of Jesus? Maybe it is because at some point we have lost touch with our own sense of lostness. And the minute in which we do that is the minute in which we lose the ability to have mercy on others. Lostness and mercy go hand in hand, that's what the Pharisees forgot. They were so busy proving to themselves - and to everyone around them - that they were found that they forgot the fact that, apart from God's mercy, we are all hopelessly lost. I guess not much has changed in two thousand years.

Somehow our own sense of being lost or being found has a direct connection with whether we spend our days showing mercy or offering sacrifices. How we see ourselves determines whether we realize our deep need for a Savior, or whether we just realize the deep need everyone else has for a Savior. Thus, when we see the lost or the broken, the downtrodden or the outcast, our first reaction is generally not mercy, but judgment. We want to put distance between us and them. We want to create a distinction. And we do this only because somewhere along the line we have forgotten what it is like to be lost. Or, more accurately, we have lost touch with the fact that apart from God's mercy we are all hopelessly lost, but he loves us still. That's why Jesus reminds us that his is a heart of mercy. And he desires our hearts to be the same. "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." Thus, when we see the lost and the broken and the hurting he doesn't want us to just see them, he wants us to see ourselves. For only when we recognize and acknowledge our own enormous need for mercy, will we be able to extend mercy to those who so desperately need and desire it.

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Tim and Barbie K. are currently working to translate the Bible into the "Makori" language. Their goal is to see a "Makori" church effectively using its own translation. Barbie works at a fistula center in their area. Pray today for an urgent need for a surgeon who could serve at the center when the current surgeon leaves in December.

The Thornston Educational Fund is an organization whose mission is to initiate and develop relationships with certain educational institutions that serve the needs of underprivileged individuals and families in Asia. Pray today for the organization's work and for the people that are served through it.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!