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Mission Devotional - August 21, 2016

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Amen.

Scripture: Luke 7:36-50

Journal: How are you like the Pharisee? Where do judgment and criticism live in your heart? What do you learn from the sinful woman today? How will you be more like her?

Reflection: I've always prided myself in not being a "rules" guy, ready to strike a blow against legalism whenever it rears its ugly head. But lately I've come to the realization that I've got a lot more Pharisee in me than I care to admit. It most often shows itself in the form of judgment and criticism. Oh, it doesn't always end up coming out of my mouth (although it comes out a lot more often than I wish it did), but it is always a regular part of my inner dialogue.

It seems that I have an enormous need to be right. And if you, like me, have an ever-increasing need to be right, then you also need someone to be wrong. That's where the judgment and criticism comes in. You are always making a case for yourself, always comparing yourself. Which also means you are also making a case against those on the opposing side of the fence, or, strangely enough, even against those on your side of the fence at times. You are always picking out the flaws in others to make yourself feel better about your own. And if you are totally honest, this whole ugly process comes from one horrible source - insecurity. The Pharisees must've been the most insecure group of people on the entire planet. And I ought to know, because, in spite of my best wishes not to be, I am, it seems, a card-carrying member. My constant inner dialogue proves it.

The answer, it would seem, to this dilemma is transformation. I need to have the way I see things completely transformed. I need to begin to see myself and my world - and even my God-through the eyes of the sinful woman rather than the eyes of the Pharisee. I need to know the depths of my own sinfulness, as well as the unfailing nature of His love. I need to find my security, not in my own efforts, but in His great affection. Then, and only then, can I choose security over insecurity, love over judgment, humility over criticism, compassion over competition, and community over comparison. Then I will begin to see all things through the lenses of his grace and mercy, which will produce a deep gratitude in me. Then I will be able to love much, because I will finally realize that I have been forgiven much.

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Eric and Beth Yodis are facilitating church planting in eastern Ukraine. Eric and Beth returned to the Ukraine last year to help with church planting in Kiev. Pray today for a new church planting training program that has begun in a suburb of Kyiv and for good health and safety for Eric and Beth.

KEDC or Kasr El Dobara Church is the largest evangelical church in the middle east. Started in 1948, it has grown to a membership of 8,000 members. Pray today for the ministry leaders of this church.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see through the eyes of love rather than judgment, the eyes of humility rather than criticism, the eyes of compassion rather than competition, and the eyes of community rather than comparison. In other words, help me to see more like you. Amen.