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Mission Devotional - August 19, 2016

Opening Prayer: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. - Psalm 51:10 (NIV)

Scripture: Matthew 5:8, 27-30

Journal: What do you see when you look into your heart these days? What words best describe it? What do you allow to exist in your heart that makes it impure? How does purity of heart occur? Will you fully surrender those areas to God?

Reflection: Carl Jung once wrote: "Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes." I wonder if that's not what Jesus was getting at when he said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." The Pharisees spent far too much time concentrating on outward appearances, leading Jesus to chastise them pretty severely: "Woe to you, teacher of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish and then the outside also will be clean." (Matthew 23:25-26)

Jesus knew the truth. He knew that purity of life always comes from purity of heart. Our lives can give us clues as to what's really going on inside of us, but the real work of the Spirit has to go on deep in our hearts. Because what's in our hearts will eventually find its way into our lives. "The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make a man 'unclean.'" (Matthew 15:18-20)

Therefore, if we want pure lives, we have to start with pure hearts. Unfortunately, however, we cannot clean up our impure hearts on our own, it is the work of God. Our part is to surrender, and trust. We must open our hearts to God and beg him to do his work deep within us. We must trust him to make our hearts clean. It is a work that he deeply longs to do. His deepest desire is to make our hearts his very own.

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 Ethiopia – there is a drought that is threatening thousands with hunger. Pray also for approval from the government of their new Project Agreement.

INVEST (Immigrants Needing Vocational Education Support to Thrive) empowers immigrants to re-enter their professional field, with a restored sense of self-worth and opportunity to economically contribute to their new homeland by providing a bridge between the immigrants and employers in need of their skills. Partnering with World Relief Nashville's REACH program, the belief is that educated, skilled immigrants should not be limited to low-wage survival jobs when there is a pathway to substantiate their experience. Pray today for immigrants currently in this program.

Closing Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. - Psalm 51:10 (ESV)