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Mission Devotional - December 4, 2015

Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, it is so easy in this life to become distracted and forget what is most important, in light of the things that are most urgent. Help us to give you first place in our hearts and souls and lives today. Lord Jesus, be our first and truest affection this day. Amen.

Scripture: Mark 12:28-34

Journal: What (or who) is first in your life these days? What (or who) truly has your heart? What would it look like for God to have all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength?

Reflection: In recent years I have become more and more aware of my own tendency to think that the value of my presence depends on what I say or do. And yet it is becoming clearer to me every day that this preoccupation with performing in fact prevents me from letting God speak through me in any way he wants, and so keeps me from making connections prior to any special word or deed.

In no way am I trying to minimize or even to criticize the importance of training for the ministry. Am simply suggesting that this training will bear more fruit when it occurs in the context of a spirituality, a way of life in which we are primarily concerned, not to be with people but to be with God, not to walk in the presence of anyone who asks for our attention but to walk in the presence of God - a spirituality, in short, which helps us to distinguish service from our need to be liked, praised, or respected.

Over the years we have developed the idea that being present to people in all their needs is our greatest and primary vocation. The Bible does not seem to support this. Jesus' primary concern was to be obedient to his Father, to live constantly in his presence. Only then did it become clear to him what his task was in his relationships with people. This also is the way he proposes for his apostles: "It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit and then you will be my disciples" (John 15:8). Perhaps we must continually remind ourselves that the first commandment requiring us to love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind is indeed the first. I wonder if we really believe this. It seems that in fact we live as if we should give as much of our heart, soul, and mind as possible to our fellow human beings, while trying hard not to forget God. At least we feel that our attention should be divided evenly between God and our neighbor. But Jesus' claim is much more radical. He asks for a single-minded commitment to God and God alone. God want all of our heart, all of our mind, and all of our soul. It is this unconditional and unreserved love for God that leads to the care for our neighbor, not as an activity which distracts us from God or competes with our attention to God, but as an expression of our love for God who reveals himself to us as the god of all people. It is in God that we find our neighbors and discover our responsibility to them. (The Living Reminder by Henri Nouwen)

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Bill Harding is currently a special representative for SIM in North America. God is using Bill's gifts and rich experience in Ethiopia as a conference speaker to challenge and reaffirm the priority of world missions. Pray today for Bill and Grace and their family during the Christmas season.

Cedar Springs adopted Lonsdale Elementary in 2003. Lonsdale, with more than 400 students PreK through 5th grade, only serves the Lonsdale area. Over the years, the racial make-up of the school, whose students are 100% free lunch qualified, has changed to primarily Hispanic and African-American children. Pray today for the children that attend Lonsdale Elementary that they might have a great finish to this semester and know the love of Jesus during the Christmas season.

Closing Prayer: Lord, you know me better than I know myself. Your Spirit pervades every moment of my life. Thank you for the grace and love you shower on me. Thank you for your constant, gentle invitation to let you into my life. Forgive me for the times I have refused that invitation, and closed myself off from you. Help me in the day to come, to recognize your presence in my life, to open myself to you, to let you work in me, to your greater glory. Amen. (The Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius)