September 27 Devotional
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, somewhere along the line we have lost sight of what you truly desire for us. Somewhere along the line we have come to believe that all we need to do is raise a hand, or walk an aisle, or pray a prayer and you will be pleased. But help us, Lord Jesus, to know that what you really want from us and for us is so much more than that. What you really desire is that we follow you—wherever you lead, whatever you ask, whatever the cost. Give us the courage and the strength to do that. Amen.
Scripture: Mark 8:34-38
Journal: What does it mean for you to be Jesus’ disciple? How is he asking you to follow him these days?
Reflection: We are on the verge of a time when the church is going to be able to make some decisions. For long periods in the history of the church, as in the history of Israel, there were no significant decisions that could have been made. I think we have been through a pretty tough patch with the church, and I try never to criticize the church, because I know who is in charge of it. But sometimes we need to be conscious of where we are coming from and where we are going.
We are coming into a time when many churches and Christians who are in leadership positions will be able to say it’s all about discipleship and transformation into Christlikeness. Now, if you read the New Testament or even the Old Testament, you might have come to that conclusion already. It is hard to avoid, but circumstances in history have a way of claiming us and not letting us see what’s actually happening.
We have been through a period when the dominant theology simply had nothing to do with discipleship. It had to do with proper belief, with god seeing to it that individuals didn’t go to the bad place, but to the good place. But that developed in such a way that the predominant thought is that a person can have the worst character possible and still get into the good place if he believed the right thing. This disconnection became increasingly burdensome to the church itself until we came to the point that, as is widely discussed, there is not a clear difference between Christians and those who aren’t Christians.
Now, that is due partly to the fact that Christian teaching has thoroughly penetrated ordinary society. Many people who are not part of the church and who are not followers of Christ by their own conscious intentions wind up living a kind of halfway, limp way of living out what Jesus taught and who he was. And it is a familiar fact that the world likes to beat the church with the church’s own stick and to criticize it in terms of what Jesus himself taught.
We have perhaps had enough of that, and there are indications that we are ready for a change. That change will make a startling difference in our world, because Jesus’ intention for his people from the beginning, and indeed from long before that in God’s covenant relationship with the people of Israel, was world revolution. If you read the Great Commission, you may not realize it is about world revolution. If you think it is about planting churches, as important as that may be, if you think it is about evangelization, as that is often understood—no, no, it is about a world revolution promised through Abraham, come to life in Jesus and living on in his people up to today. That is what our hearts hunger for, even when we don’t know how to approach it or how to go about it. (Living in Christ’s Presence by Dallas Willard)
Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
J & F live and work in one of the poorest and most heavily populated states in their country. They are seeking to make a difference in this state in both physical and spiritual realms. They have launched a micro-finance business that is creating self-sustaining means of support for churches and church plants as well as continuing to provide funds for the installation of hand pumps to provide clean water to needy areas of the state. Pray for continued growth in the leadership of their microfinance program and the many families being helped through loans to women. Also please pray for an English club that J leads.
PALM (Preparing Arab-World Leaders for Ministry) is Arab World Media’s discipleship and theological training ministry. It provides high quality leadership and discipleship training materials in Arabic, Kabyle and French. It is an excellent way to meet the need for training in leadership and ministry among Muslim background believers throughout North Africa, Middle East and Arabian Peninsula. Our 2015 mission conference guest Belkacem Guermouche works with PALM Algerian. Pray for him today.
Closing Prayer: May you experience grace - God acting in your life, in your thoughts, in your feelings, in your rest. May his face shine upon you. May his shining face lift up over you as you lie down, as you sleep, and give you the thoughts you need to have. The blessing of the Trinity rest upon you and everything you are and do. Let it be so. Amen. (Living in Christ’s Presence by Dallas Willard)