Mission Devotional - November 6, 2015
Opening Prayer: O God, who hast been the Refuge of my fathers through many generations, be my Refuge today in every time and circumstance of need. Be my Guide through all that is dark and doubtful. Be my Strength in time of testing. Gladden my heart with Thy peace, through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. (A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie)
Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11
Journal: What do the voices of doubt that rise up in you regularly say? What ways are you most vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy? How do you combat those?
Reflection: I've always had a sneaking suspicion that this particular passage in Matthew is pretty significant, especially given that it has a lot to tell us about when and where and how the enemy might choose to attack. So it is probably a good idea to pay really close attention as we read it today, listening carefully to whatever God might have to say to us through it.
For starters, I've always thought it was a bit curious that the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted. I don't even pretend to know what all God was up to during those forty days, but it does at least give me some confidence that he was definitely up to something. And oftentimes I need that confidence, especially when I am in the midst of hard or trying circumstances. Or when I am in the midst of a desert-like experience. I need to be reminded constantly that God always has intention and is always about accomplishing his purposes, both in me and through me. And it is quite possible that those purposes can be accomplished in no other way. Obviously, Jesus knew that and trusted in the Spirit's leading.
It is also worth noting that the temptation came at the end of the forty days of desert fasting; the time when Jesus (humanly speaking) was the most vulnerable, the time when he was the most needy, if that's even a word we can use of Jesus. At the very least it was the time when he was the most hungry. Thus, those are likely to be the very times when we really need to be "on our toes" because they are the times when the enemy is most likely to come whispering to us as well.
And look at the approach Satan uses: "If you really are the Son of God..." He's trying from the very outset to stir up doubt about identity and belonging, mission and calling, and the heart of a Father who would send his children to a place such as this. The enemy knows that if he can cause us to doubt the goodness of God's heart, or the goodness of our own position in the heavenly family - and if he can make us question the Father's enormous affection - then he has a foothold toward us beginning to believe his lies and his deception.
"If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread," whispers the enemy. Or, in others words, "Make something food that was never intended to be food. Take matters into your own hands. Feed yourself. Be self-sufficient. After all, you're hungry. You've got a right to care for your own needs." It is a familiar mindset in our world. One that is even applauded and held up as an inspiration and an example of character and strength.
But Jesus knew better. "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" he replied. And a beautiful reply it is. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure I fully understood the true temptation until I heard his response. "I will feed on nothing, or no one, other than God. It is on him alone that I will feed." Bull's eye! Direct hit! Right to the heart. Because I tend to feed on so many things other than Jesus. I feed on affirmation. I feed on achievement. I feed on attention. I feed on applause. I feed on reputation. The list goes on and on. God desires me to feed only on him, for then, and only then, will I be able to love those he has called me to love without feeding on them.
Therefore, when I am hungry in the depths of my soul. When I am starving to be loved, or cared for, or noticed, or affirmed, I really need to be careful because the enemy is very subtle. And before I know it, I will stop feeding on Jesus and start feeding on the very people Jesus has called me to feed. And the kicker is that I might never know the difference until it's almost too late; until my soul is near death, until I am starving for the bread I was truly created to eat (see John 6:48-51), and until those that I have been called to feed have been devoured - and have also devoured me in the process - in one gigantic dysfunctional feeding frenzy.
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
Paul and Dori Pittman currently serve as area directors for United World Mission's Latin America region. Paul is also project coordinator of UWM's Cuba Partnership Project. Pray today for God to bless their trips to Cuba as they seek to promote the partnership opportunities which are available for North American churches.
The CSPC Special Needs Ministry reaches out to families touched by a disability and offers support to those who are constant caregivers. Opportunities for respite care are given to these families by loving, trained volunteers who offer their services several times a year through a program called Buddy Blast. This involves a variety of activities such as play time in the gym, movies, crafts and games. Pray today for Knoxville families who are touched by a disability and for the volunteers at CSPC who lovingly reach out to them. If you would like to volunteer, contact Lynda Elder at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Closing Prayer: O Lord Jesus, Bread of Life, help me to feed on you and you alone. For man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Amen.