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Mission Devotional - December 30, 2016

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you who chose to step out of the throne room of heaven and come down to earth, you who laid aside your divine rights and privileges to enter into our pain and brokenness, you who - in some amazingly mysterious way - chose to empty yourself and make yourself nothing for our sakes; give us the strength and the courage, this day, to do the same. Amen.

Scripture: Philippians 2:5-11

Journal: What does it look like during this season to have the same mind in you that was in Christ Jesus?

Reflection: The nothingness from which we are created permeates human existence like rainforest mist. It is an impoverishment so profound, so persistent, that no self-improvement efforts can diminish it and every illusion of self-sufficiency will compound it. This poverty God fully assumed in the manger birth. That this choice might be visible, the One who was flesh of our flesh shared without reserve the afflictions of the poor. Like them, his wisdom was despised, he was unjustly treated, left without friends, mocked and humiliated, "crushed and abandoned." These and many other sufferings have been gathered into the very heart of God. The destitution of human life is now eternally and inseparably part of the poverty of God.

God's poverty, however, is greater than the human poverty God has willingly embraced. God is forever poor because the gates of God's heart, opened to receive the full burden of our poverty, are also opened for the outpouring of God's love in the freedom that only love creates. Who can measure the poverty of divine love as it seeks a hearing in a hostile, self-absorbed world? Love bade God take a place with the poor, who are waiting - waiting for someone to stop, acknowledge their dignity, listen to their voice. - John S. Mogabgab

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Manuel and Annabella Valverde are involved in church planting and leadership training in Guatemala. Manuel started the Francisco Lacueva Theological Seminary (STFL) in 2012 and they now have 14 students. Pray today for Manuel and Samuel, a pastor from Venezuela, who are creating training for 2 groups of pastors in Cuba who say that they are desperate for training.

Cru, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ, is a campus organization that seeks to share the gospel with students through relationships, small group studies and larger events like retreats and mission trips. John Strange leads Cru at the University of Kentucky. Pray today for the staff of Cru and the students involved in their ministry as they prepare for the next semester.

Closing Prayer: O Jesus, how far down you had to come to reach us. How small and how low. Can anyone really comprehend the magnitude of that downward journey? You, who had always enjoyed true delight, the loving intimacy of the Trinity, were willing to step out of the ecstasy of that intimacy because of your great desire to bring us into it. You, who were in very nature God, laid aside your Divine privilege and position to become a man of sorrows, despised and rejected by men. You, the Eternal One, willing to become a mere mortal. You, the Creator of all, willing to become one of the created. O the great sacrifice! O the immense love! You, O Christ, emptied yourself of more than we can ever comprehend or imagine. You, O Christ, made yourself of no reputation (Phil. 2:7 KJV). And you, O Christ, have given us an example, that we might do the same. Lord Jesus, during this season when we celebrate your stepping down out of the throne room of heaven to become one of us, show us what this emptying looks like for each of us in the days ahead. (Watch and Wait by Jim Branch)