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Mission Devotional - July 5, 2016

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me for always trying to climb. I am always trying, it seems, to ascend in whatever way I can. Remind me that there can be no ascent without first having a descent. Give me an openness to embrace the downward journey today, in whatever way you call me to take it. For only then will I truly be able to ascend with you. Amen.

Scripture: Luke 24:50-53

Journal: What does the ascension of Jesus stir up in you today? Is there anything that disturbs you about it? How do you try to ascend on a daily basis? How is God wanting you to descend first?

Reflection: I don't know that I've ever spent much time thinking about the ascension of Jesus. I'm not sure why, but it has never occupied much time and space in my prayers or reflection. It is a beautiful scene, Jesus being taken back into the glory from which he descended in order to come to earth. It makes me wonder what he was feeling as he was carried back into heaven. It makes me try to imagine what this amazing experience was like for him. It obviously had a profound impact on the disciples. It caused them to spontaneously erupt in worship and praise, filling them with great joy. Is that because they finally understood where their beloved Jesus was going back to? Did they recognize that he was being mysteriously reunited with the divine intimacy of the Trinity? And surely part of it had to be the hope that one day they too would be carried up into heaven to be with him forever.

But I can't get too far down the road of thinking about the ascension, before I realize that it was a descent that made the whole thing possible. And that is a scarier notion altogether. In order to ascend - which we spend most of our lives trying to do in one way or another - we much first descend. That's the part I don't particularly care for. But that's the part that Jesus embraced with such grace and beauty and willingness, knowing that something good and beautiful and necessary would occur through the descent. Am I willing to do the same? Am I willing to follow his example? Will I embrace the descent this day, in whatever way he might lead me on the road downward, realizing that it is the only way to true ascent? It is certainly food for thought.

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Vitaly and Oksana Voinov live in Moscow, Russia. Vitaly is working with the Institute for Bible Translation (IBT) in Russia/CIS as IBT's director. IBT has been serving the non-Slavic peoples of the former Soviet Union for four decades by translating the Holy Scriptures - Bibles, New Testaments, individual Bible books, and illustrated Children's Bibles. Pray today for the Voinov family as they enjoy the summer months and extra time together while their children are out of school.

World Gospel Mission partners with individuals and churches worldwide to make disciples of Christ and encourage believers to become missions-active through ministries that reach the whole person - physically and spiritually - transforming communities. Pray today for all of the short and long-term missionaries deployed by this organization.

Closing Prayer: O Lord Jesus, you are the Risen One, now ascended on high to the glory that was yours before time began. You are eternal. You are uncontainable. You are incomprehensible. To you be all glory and honor and praise, forever and ever. Amen.