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Mission Devotional - November 20, 2016

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, open my ears this day to hear your voice and open my heart as well, that I may act on what you have spoken. Amen.

Scripture: Luke 8:19-21

Journal: How are your hearing and your doing these days? Which side are you erring on? How are you making space and time to listen to God's voice? What is he saying to you? And what are you doing in response to what he is saying?

Reflection: I have a friend named Kevin who works out at the gym where I used to be a member. Actually, I would have to say that Kevin is more of an acquaintance. You see, almost every time I went to the gym to work out, I ran into Kevin in the locker room. And each time we saw one another it would pretty much be the exact same conversation. He would start by asking me all about my workout, wondering what body parts I was planning on working out that day, as well as the exercises I would do to work each body part. Then he would proceed to tell me, in vivid detail, his plans for the workout ahead. But one day, several months into this familiar dialogue (which we had three to four times a week, mind you), I had a bit of an epiphany. I suddenly realized that I had never actually seen Kevin outside the locker room. He was constantly telling me all about what he was going to do, but I never actually saw him do any of it. Evidently he enjoyed talking about his plans and theorizing about his workout, but never really got around to doing any of it.

Thomas Kelly once wrote, "Practice comes first in religion, not theory or dogma." I guess Thomas Kelly had met my friend Kevin. Or, most likely, Thomas Kelly knew our propensity (every one of us) to do exactly what Kevin was doing; to talk and plan and imagine a particular state of being without ever really doing anything about it. Yet, the reality is that faith and practice are inseparable. You cannot have one without the other. We can talk a lot about prayer and silence and meditation, but, when it comes right down to it, what we actually do (practice) is much more valuable (and fruitful) than what we merely say. Jesus affirms that right here in Luke's gospel: "My mother and brother are those who hear the word and practice it." Hearing and practicing are both essential to participation in the family of God.

Talk is cheap. By itself it will get us nowhere. Therefore, let us be careful to practice what we preach. Let us make sure that life with Jesus does not just stop at talk, but actually works its way into action.

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Eric and Beth Yodis are facilitating church planting in eastern Ukraine. Eric and Beth returned to the Ukraine last year to help with church planting in Kiev. Pray today for Eric and Beth as they seek God's direction, guidance and blessing in preparing for missionary journeys and training throughout parts of western Ukraine and parts of central and eastern Ukraine.

The focus of Navigators International at UT Knoxville is the over 1,000 international students at the University of Tennessee who come from 100+ nations. Spouses and family networks back home multiply the potential for the gospel to spread. Navigator's mission is to advance the gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom to the nations through spiritual generations of laborers living and discipling among the lost. Pray today for the leaders of this ministry as they finish out the Fall semester.

Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, never let me separate my hearing from my doing. Always give me ears to hear your voice. May I do nothing apart from that which you have told me to do. And, at the same time Jesus, give me a willingness and an ability to do what you have said, for faith without works is not faith at all. The two must always go hand-in-hand. May it be so.