Mission Devotional - September 20, 2016

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 10:1-8

Journal: What does the kingdom of heaven mean to you? What image does it carry in your heart and mind? How might Jesus want to expand that image? What does it mean to you that the kingdom of heaven is at hand?

Reflection: "And as you go, proclaim this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" Of all the instructions that Jesus gave his disciples as he sent them out on their first missionary adventure, this was the only one about what to say. One line. That's it. All the rest was about what he wanted them to do and how he wanted them to do it. But their verbal message was to be short and sweet: "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." I wonder why? And why the kingdom of heaven? Matthew is actually the only one who uses this phrase. All of the other gospel writers use the expression the kingdom of God. I wonder if that's mostly because Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience, to those very lost sheep of Israel that Jesus was specifically sending the disciples to. And his Jewish audience would have had preconceived notions - very particular and fairly distorted ideas - about what the kingdom of heaven was supposed to look like. They were looking for a kingdom that would come by military force, to wipe out their oppressors and establish them in the places of power. But Jesus' idea of the kingdom of heaven was very different from that.

For Jesus, the kingdom of heaven was not just something that would come about way out there in the future, but something that was intended to shape our lives and our thinking in the here and now. Because when the King entered the kingdom, the kingdom had indeed arrived. When the King entered his kingdom there was visible evidence of his reign: renewal, restoration, redemption, deliverance, healing, cleansing, release, freedom. Therefore, the disciples not only had the privilege of proclaiming the reality of the kingdom among us, but also got to be active participants in bringing that kingdom to earth.

The same is true today. The kingdom of heaven is not only something we wait for and long for and hope for, but is also a current reality. The King is still in his kingdom, as he lives in each of us. His kingdom is still at hand. It is a kingdom that we have the ability to experience here and now. One that we are invited each day to taste and enjoy and participate in as we love Jesus and love and serve those in this broken and chaotic world.

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Tom & Juanita Matthews serve in Tanzania & Kenya. Tom is a translation consultant to Bible translation teams from multiple people groups. Some of the groups are minimally reached for Christ and some are dominated by Islam. Pray today for the final testing and details of the Rendille New Testament translation that is nearing completion.

World Gospel Mission partners with individuals and churches worldwide to make disciples of Christ and encourage believers to become missions-active through ministries that reach the whole person - physically and spiritually - transforming communities. Pray today for all of the short and long-term missionaries deployed by this organization.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, let us not just live for some future time and state of being, but let us live fully in the here and now, knowing that your kingdom is indeed at hand. Amen.