Mission Devotional - June 23, 2019

Sunday, June 23, 2019

"Practices"

Opening Prayer: Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1:1-6)

Scripture: Psalm 1:1-6

Journal: What dysfunctional patterns in your life stifle your movement towards God? What spiritual practices encourage and enliven it? How will you disrupt the dysfunctional "practices" and engage the enlivening ones? Where and how does meditation fit into that?

Reflection: Simply stated, there are things that we do regularly in our lives, whether we recognize them or not, that help our relationship with God, and things that hinder it. We are all a messy combination of the two - good and bad, functional and dysfunctional. There are old habits and patterns that stifle our movement towards God, and things that are intentionally done to encourage and enliven it. These things (both good and bad), because of their regularity and because of their effect upon us, are most accurately called practices. Practices are the things we do regularly that determine the quality and direction of our lives.

Psalm 1 illustrates this - and highlights it. It points out that the key to living a beautiful, vibrant, dynamic life with God, is to recognize and disrupt the dysfunctional practices, while identifying and engaging in the fruitful ones. The problem is that, since we rarely call our unhealthy patterns "practices," and thus, don't normally attempt to disrupt or destroy the negative patterns before we start engaging in the positive ones, we make little progress. The disruption of these old ways is an essential part of the process. Why else do you think the Psalm begins with what not to do, rather than what to do?

If we just try to lay a bunch of new practices over the top of the old ones, rather than trying to get rid of them completely, we will have limited success at best - and will most likely drive ourselves crazy in the process. First, we must identify and disrupt the ways in which we consistently choose to engage in practices (or behavior) that keep us from God, before we can then set new patterns and practices that actually encourage and enliven our movement towards him. Only then will we begin to experience the beauty of being like a tree, instead of being like chaff; planted by streams, rather than blown about by the wind.

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Global Partner Focus: Central America

Carlos and Sandy Rios are planting Rivers of Grace Bible Church in the San Andres area of Guadalajara, Mexico. The church is growing, and many new families are attending. Pray today for the Lord's leading to a new place to relocate the church and the timing of that fresh start. Pray also for growth and protection of Cristofer, their newest believer in Jesus.

Young Life Tennessee seeks to pursue and befriend lost or disinterested teenagers to introduce them to Jesus, share the gospel, and help them grow in their faith. Pray today for the staff and volunteers with Young Life Knoxville as they connect with students in camps this summer.

Closing Prayer: Lord God, uproot those things and those patterns within me that keep me from moving toward you and being wholly yours. And give me the grace and the strength to engage in practices and that help your life to grow bigger and bigger in and through me. Help me to meditate on you, O Lord, and on your word, and not be so consumed with myself and my stuff. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.