Mission Devotional - September 6, 2016

Opening Prayer: Jesus, help us not to avoid the hard way, but help us to have the faith and the courage to follow you in it. Whatever that may mean. Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 7:13-14

Journal: What does the easy way and the hard way look like for you right now? Where are you tempted to avoid the hard? Where are you allowing yourself to walk on the easy?

Reflection: We tend to avoid "hard" at all costs. I mean, given the choice between easy and hard, who wouldn't choose easy, right? That is unless you know for a fact that the hard way is the best way. That is unless someone you know, love, and trust tells you that the result of traveling the hard way is life and the result of traveling the easy way is destruction. That would get your attention, right? Well, that's exactly what Jesus is telling us here. And he is speaking not only about heaven and hell, but also about the entire nature of the spiritual journey. A necessary part of the road that leads to life is that it goes through the narrow gate and leads along the hard way. The hard way accomplishes something in us that the easy way cannot. Death always brings about new life. The cross is always followed by resurrection. Easter Sunday always comes after Good Friday. Part of what Jesus is doing here is that he's trying to open our eyes to the nature of the spiritual journey, so that when the hard rears its ugly head we will not be surprised or devastated, but will be strong and courageous, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that the hard way always leads to life. Thus, pain and suffering is not something to be avoided at all cost, but entered into and journeyed through. The hard way is always the seedbed for new life.

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Bill Harding is currently a special representative for SIM in North America. God is using Bill's gifts and rich experience in Ethiopia as a conference speaker to challenge and reaffirm the priority of world missions. Pray today for the pilot program of a joint partnership to put into the hands of 70 Ethiopian Doctor of Ministry students the "Parchment" (a digital tablet loaded with biblical resources) and the "Firefly" (portable solar panels equipped with six LED lights that can charge the tablet or cell phone off grid).

PALM (Preparing Arab-World Leaders for Ministry) is Arab World Media's discipleship and theological training ministry. It provides high quality leadership and discipleship training materials in Arabic, Kabyle and French. It is an excellent way to meet the need for training in leadership and ministry among Muslim background believers throughout North Africa, Middle East and Arabian Peninsula. Pray today for former CSPC global mission conference guest Belkacem Guermouche as he works with this ministry.

Closing Prayer: Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)