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Mission Devotional - December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve 2017

Opening Prayer: O God, help me avoid pandering to accolades and applause, and willingly disappear into you instead. (A Heart Exposed by Steven James)

Scripture: John 3:29-30

Journal: What does decreasing look like for you these days? How are you trying to increase?

Reflection: The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must increase and I must decrease. - John 3:29-30

There is just no way around it. As much as I might like to increase, life with God is about me decreasing. Just ask John the Baptist, he had it all in perspective. Although I'm sure it was hard, even for him, to keep it that way. The rule of the Kingdom is simple: I must decrease. It is not an option, it is a must. Otherwise I will just be in his way.

My desire for attention must decrease, that I might cast all the attention on him. My desire to be great must decrease, that I might make him great. My desire for affirmation and acclaim must decrease, that he might be affirmed and lifted up above all. My desire to have impact must decrease, that he might actually have eternal impact. He is the one who is essential here, not me.

You see, the bride does not belong to me (any more than she belonged to John), she belongs to Jesus. He is her groom. He is her lover. Her desire must be for Him, not for me. I am just the one waiting and watching and listening for him to come, so that I might help join their hands in an eternal embrace of love. And then I must step aside. by the power of his great affection. Thanks be to God!

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

E is part of a team that has translated the New Testament for a large South Asian language group. Beyond this goal of translating the New Testament is the larger goal of seeing the scriptures systematically read and studied by individuals and groups. Pray today for E and for discernment, strength and boldness for local brothers and sisters in both of the countries where E works who are facing a movement to stop Christian activity.

Since 1996, the Mission of Hope has ministered to the people of various counties in Kentucky and Tennessee from which 80% of the residents no longer have jobs in the coal mining industry. From their first campaign helping 150 children in 1996, they helped over 18,000 children and their families this past Christmas season with food, hygiene, new clothing and new toys. Pray today for this ministry's work during this holiday season.

Closing Prayer: Forgive me, O God, when I get this backwards. Help me to work to make you great, not myself. Teach me what it means that I must decrease, for it is so against my nature. Amen.