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Mission Devotional - October 20, 2016

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive me that my life with you is so up and down. It is so easy for circumstances, or emotions, or opinions, or agendas, to knock me off center and send me reeling into the depths of doubt, darkness, and despair. How I long for stability. How I long for consistency. How I long to have my mind set on the things of God rather than the things of man. How I long to be more like you. Help me this day to be a rock rather than a stumbling block. Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 16:13-23

Journal: Which of these two episodes in the life of Simon Peter best describes your current reality? Do you feel more like a rock or a stumbling block these days? What does it mean for you to keep in mind the things of God? How will you try to practice that?

Reflection: Isn't that just the very nature of life; one minute you are cruising along, on top of the world, and the next you are reeling and staggering, trying desperately just to hang on. One minute you are being called a rock and being praised for the wisdom and insight that has been given to you, and the next you are being called a stumbling block and being rebuked that you are not thinking about the things of God, but about the things of man. How do things change from one to the other so quickly? It's a rollercoaster ride. It's maddening. Yet, it is our reality.

Maybe the key to consistency and faithfulness in our lives with God comes from one simple practice - prayer. And not just any type of prayer, but the type of prayer that is unceasing, the type that involves keeping in mind the things of God. The type of prayer that makes us constantly aware of God's presence and attentive to his desires. Maybe when I pay regular attention to God in prayer, I will not swing quite so wildly back and forth.

As Henri Nouwen once wrote: "Moods are worth my attention. I am discovering during these first weeks in Genesee that I am subject to very different moods, often changing very quickly. Feelings of depressive fatigue, of low self-esteem, of boredom, feelings also of anger, irritation, and direct hostility, and feelings of gratitude, joy, and excitement - they can all be there, sometimes even during one day.

I have the feeling that these quickly changing moods show how attached I really am to the things given me: a friendly gesture, pleasant work, a word of praise, a good book, etc. Little things can quickly change sadness into joy, disgust into contentment, and anger into under-standing or compassion.

Somewhere during these weeks I read that sadness is the result of attachment. Detached people are not the easy victims of good or bad events in their surroundings and can experience a certain sense of equilibrium. I have the feeling that this is an important realization for me. When my manual work does not interest me, I become bored, then quickly irritated and sometimes even angry, telling myself that I am wasting my time. When I read a book that fascinates me, I become so involved that time runs fast, people seem friendly, my stay here worthwhile, and everything one big happy event.

Of course both "moods" are manifestations of false attachments and show how far I am from a healthy form of "indifference."

Thinking about all of this, I guess my main problem still is that I have not really made prayer my priority."

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Leoma Gilley served in Africa for 35 years as a Bible translator and just returned to the U.S. earlier this month to retire. Pray today for Leoma as she makes decisions about her next steps. Pray also for her replacement in Africa.

The vision of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) is to see the world impacted for Jesus Christ through the influence of athletes and coaches. Their mission is to present to athletes and coaches, and all whom they influence, the challenge and adventure of receiving Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, serving Him in their relationships and in the fellowship of the church. Pray today for all of the FCA leaders and student athletes in Knoxville during this Fall semester.

Closing Prayer: Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it. I am weak in the faith; strengthen thou me. I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent that my love may go out to my neighbor. I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust thee altogether. O Lord, help me. - Martin Luther