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Mission Devotional - January 17, 2017

Opening Prayer: God unto whom all hearts are open and unto whom every will speaks, and from whom no secret thing is hidden, I pray You to cleanse the intent of my heart with the ineffable gift of Your grace, that I might perfectly love You, and worthily praise You. Amen. (The Cloud of Unknowing)

Scripture: Proverbs 4:23

Journal: What is the state of your heart these days? What is springing up from it? How do you keep your heart with all vigilance?

Reflection: It is impossible to overstate the importance of the heart in the spiritual journey. For it is from the heart that life springs forth. It is from the heart that the streams of living water flow. The heart is the place that the work of the Spirit - the work of transformation - is truly done. When our hearts are captured, then everything else follows. Thus, when our hearts are seized by the power of the Great Affection, all of our other affections will be properly ordered. But when our hearts are filled with - or captured by - things other than the God who made us for himself, everything will be in disarray.

That is why Solomon warns us, to watch over, guard, or keep (depending on your translation) our hearts with all diligence and vigilance. But what does that really look like? How do we go about doing that? Maybe by simply paying careful attention both to what we let into our hearts, as well as what we allow to go on in our hearts.

We are the gatekeepers, the guardians, the caregivers, and the stewards (by the power of the Holy Spirit) of what goes on within us. Therefore, we need to stand watch over them and not allow things to enter our hearts that will have a negative impact on them. For example, what will we allow ourselves to watch? What will we listen to? What kind of conversations will we have? We must be diligent and vigilant as we stand guard over what we will let into our hearts.

We must also be mindful and careful and diligent about what we will allow to go on in our hearts. What thoughts will we allow to roam free and unfettered? What images will we give time and space to, in order that they might grow and take root? What feelings will we allow to dominate and control us? What inner dialogues will we allow to continue on, even if they are harmful or hurtful?

"Keep vigilant watch over your heart," The Message tells us, "for that's where life starts." May we all take this exhortation to heart this day.

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Bill Harding is currently a special representative for SIM in North America. God is using Bill's gifts and rich experience in Ethiopia as a conference speaker to challenge and reaffirm the priority of world missions. Pray today for Bill, Grace and their family as they pursue their different areas of ministry.

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: Deliver us when we draw near to you, O God, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind: grant that with steadfast hearts and kindled affections, we may worship you in Spirit and in Truth. Amen. (Venite by Robert Benson)