Mission Devotional - November 14, 2015

Opening Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, I am still so divided. I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, popularity, pleasure, power, and influence. Help me to become deaf to those voices and more attentive to your voice, which calls me to choose the narrow road to life. I know this will be a very hard road for me. The choice for your way has to be made every moment of my life. I have to choose thoughts that are your thoughts, words that are your words, and actions that are your actions. There are no times and places without choices. And I know how deeply I resist choosing you. Please, Lord, be with me at every moment and in every place. Give me the strength and courage to live my life faithfully, so that I will be able to taste with joy the new life which you have prepared for me. Amen. (The Road to Daybreak by Henri J.M. Nouwen)

Scripture: James 2:14-26

Journal: What is the relationship between belief and behavior? What does your life say about what you believe to be true about God? How (and where) does what you say you believe need to take shape in your life these days? Where are the gaps between belief and behavior?

Reflection: Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, "Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!" and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup - where does that get you? Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, "Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I'll handle the works department."

Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.

Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That's just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?

Wasn't our ancestor Abraham "made right with God by works" when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn't it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are "works of faith"? The full meaning of "believe" in the Scripture sentence, "Abraham believed God and was set right with God," includes his action. It's that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named "God's friend." Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works? (James 2:14-24, The Message)

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Andy and Bev Warren 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. Pray today for Andy and Bev as they are looking for a new house, getting ready for their niece, Glory, to join them for a few months and planning for a gathering of MTW missionaries this month. Find out more about the Ethiopia ACT Project by going here.

FOCUS (Following Our Choices Unto Success) works in the Knox County Jail and Detention Facility, Taft Youth Center, and the four men's prisons of East Tennessee. The FOCUS work "Behind the Walls" includes evangelistic events, weekly support groups, discipleship classes, life-skills classes and one-on-one counseling. Pray for the work of FOCUS today.

Closing Prayer: Lord God, help me to truly believe in you, even with my life! Amen.