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Mission Devotional - September 4, 2016

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, give us a heart of discernment this day, that we might clearly see who and what you are calling is to. And then give us the courage and the grace and the willingness to do it, whatever it may be. Amen.

Scripture: Matthew 7:6

Journal: What is God telling you through the Scriptures today? Is there any place in your life right now where it seems like you are casting your pearls to the swine? What does that mean?

Reflection: There is a thin line, it seems, between judging and discerning. Yesterday Jesus warned us of being critical and judgmental, and today he tells us not to give dogs what is holy or to throw our pearls before the pigs. It is a pretty significant contrast, highlighting the difference between judging people and discerning what the best avenues are to invest our gifts and efforts. It is a delicate balance. There seems to be both an appropriate time, as well as an appropriate target, for the expression of our own particular gifts and efforts. If we continually try to force a square peg into a round hole, we will actually, in the end, do more harm than good. Not everyone can appreciate my particular pearls. Not everyone has an ear for my unique voice; that's why there is a body. Someone else could have the right pearls for those that seem to trample mine under foot, and vice versa. Therefore, I must trust God in this process. I must be in constant communication with him, listening and paying attention and discerning his voice and his direction for my life and ministry. I must be continually dependent on him to lead me and to guide me to those that might be receptive to the pearls I have to give, who might have an ear for the voice with which I have been given to speak.

There is something very humbling and something very beautiful about this whole thing. The humbling thing is that I have to realize that I am not the answer for everyone. I want to be, but I'm just not. And it is not because my pearls aren't as good as someone else's. They are just different. That is where the beautiful thing comes in. I have been given pearls, and so have you. God has placed his beauty deep within us. As a matter of fact, he has placed his beauty within you and within me like he has placed it in no one else. Your pearls are beautiful, and so are mine. And there are people in this world who will see the beauty of those pearls - which is really the beauty of our God - like they can see it in no one else. And they will be drawn to our God as a result. We just have to discern who they are.

Prayer for the church, for others, for myself

Michael and Kim Essenburg are serving at Okinawa Christian School (OCS), a school for missionary children and children of business and professional people that is located in Okinawa, Japan. Pray today for the Essenburgs as they begin the fall semester of their second year at OCS.

Navigators Collegiate Ministry at UT Knoxville has this mission: "To advance the gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom into the nations through spiritual generations of laborers living and discipling among the lost." Pray today for the leaders of this ministry and the students as they begin this semester.

Closing Prayer: O Lord our God, thank you that you have given pearls to each of us that we may invest in your kingdom and your work this day. May we do so freely and wisely. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.