The Mission of God

Readings for this week May 16 – 20
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Day 1 – Light to the Nations

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Isaiah 60:1-3
There is nothing accidental about the mission of God. There is nothing coincidental about the mission of God’s people. It is not an add-on, or a happily occurring by-product of our call to relationship with God. God’s reclamation of his rebellious creation, and his people’s role in the story of that reclamation, is central to what it means for God to love his creation, and for what it means for his people to follow his call.

This theme of God’s people being called for the sake of others is woven through the Old Testament, as seen in this passage that talks of Israel as a light attracting the nations. The other nations of the world are described as being attracted to Zion, to God’s holy mountain, by the brightness of the light shining from God’s people. Israel was never called just for her own sake. The call was always made with the world – the nations – in mind.

This idea of a shining light is echoed in Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, when he says to his hearers that they are the light of the world, and that no one ‘hides their light under a bowl.’ The light is meant to be seen, it shines as a beacon, a welcoming light for others, for those wandering lost and alone in the darkness. We are this light shining for others, a light shining deliberately and with purpose, reflecting God’s glory to his creation as a sign of life and hope and rescue for God’s hurting world. We do so with active intent, at God’s command, as an integral part of his redemptive plan for the world.

Questions to Consider
How are you a light for others? What are the ways in which your light shines as a beacon for others?

Prayer
Lord God, make my life a beacon to others. May your love and grace and compassion shine through all I do so that those who don’t yet know you may come seeking you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – The Call for Justice

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Micah 6:8-15
Have you ever wondered whether God really knows or cares about all the bad stuff that goes on in this world? Justice is part of who God is. His heart is for the poor and oppressed, not because he is biased, but because the world is biased against them. God promises that his judgment will fall upon social evils, on the people and the structures that hurt and oppress others. God wants an end to the dishonesty, greed and selfishness that cause suffering and poverty. He wants a fairer society in their place, a society where everyone is able to live without the fear of death through a lack of food and shelter.

So do we sit back and wait for God to do this? Not at all. We belong to this world and God calls us to ‘act justly and to love mercy’. Part of being a responsible steward is to bring oppressive and unjust situations to an end. We need to be ready to stand with those in need and be God’s voice for justice and restoration.

But we also need to ‘walk humbly with God’ in all this. We need to recognise that we are not strong in ourselves and we are part of the problem. We are simply a people chosen by a loving and forgiving Father. The journey of justice is about following him ‘sheepishly’ with a firm, unshakeable belief in justice for all people.

Questions to Consider
What injustices are you becoming aware of in the world around you? What can you do to learn more about this?

Prayer
God of love and justice, may I never turn my eyes from the suffering and injustice in the world, from the poor and afflicted, no matter where they are, whether near or far away. Your power and love can make the difference in everyone’s lives; I can be an instrument of this power and love into the lives of others, if I will let you work through me. May you work through me. Nothing is too great for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – Let It Grow…

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Jeremiah 20:7-9
If we are honest, there are times when engaging in the mission of God is, for all sorts of reasons, the last thing we want to do. And it’s not just us either. Some of the giant figures of the Bible felt the same way. As we read in today’s passage, Jeremiah was quite reluctant when God first called him.

When God called Jeremiah, Jeremiah was afraid, uncertain and reluctant to follow God. He wasn’t sure of God and he wasn’t sure of himself. But, thankfully for Israel and us, that wasn’t the end of the story. Jeremiah heard the call, he responded, and then the passion for what God wanted him to do began to grow in him. Jeremiah’s uncertainty gave way to a burning passion that he couldn’t contain.

Jeremiah couldn’t help himself, he just had to speak the words God had placed in him. When he shut his mouth and tried not to speak for a while it ‘became fire in his bones’ – it built up inside him until he could no longer hold it in and it burst out. It just needed time to grow; the call of God just needed time to develop in Jeremiah. Desire and passion don’t necessarily turn up all at once, fully formed at the beginning.

He knew that what God was calling him to was tough – and maybe dangerous too – but the passion that grew in him would not allow him to dodge his responsibility to God. Jeremiah just had to keep walking with God – and he found that as he did so, his passion grew.

Question to Consider
Can you think of something about God’s kingdom that stirs you up?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, please fan the flames of your passion for the world within me, especially in the times in those times when enthusiasm is hard to find. Keep me walking with you in all things, at all times. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – The True Fast Has Teeth

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Isaiah 58:1-12
Working to bring about God’s kingdom will be hard, but God has promised that our work will not be in vain. Isaiah is passionately angry about how religious practices can sometimes blind us to the kind of transformation God wants. Fasting can be spiritually and physically beneficial, but God wants our service to him to go beyond our own personal growth. A true fast has teeth: it takes God’s word to the world around us, it feeds the hungry, it shelters the homeless, it sets slaves free from oppression.

This is a tough call. Doing this sort of thing is hard stuff, and isn’t necessarily what we may feel like doing. It may feel like it is too big for us to do, and that we can’t possibly make that much difference in people’s lives. Well, yes, it will be tough. But there is also a promise contained in these verses: God states that as we remain faithful in these things he will guide us, strengthen us and always be with us in the work that we are doing for him.

The work God is doing isn’t something that He has only just started. We don’t have to start everything from scratch. He has been working at this for years, centuries, millennia. What we need to do is hold on to the promise he has given us, however difficult things may seem. The world can be transformed, darkness can become light, springs can flow in the desert, and people’s lives can be renewed.

Questions to Consider
Have you ever fasted? Why or why not? Think about what possibilities are in front of you to give up something for the sake of others.

Prayer
Almighty God, help me be faithful to your call upon my life, my whole life. May everything about who I am and what I do be continually offered up to you for the work of your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – “Here I Am Lord”

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Samuel 3:1-10
Samuel was a great man of God. Prophet, statesman, anointer of kings, he was God’s main man in Israel particularly in the time leading up to the establishment of the monarchy. But he wasn’t always so. In fact, as today’s passage records, there was a time early on in his youth when he didn’t even know God.

But that was no impediment to God, or Samuel. He responded immediately. No questions asked. Not “What do you want?” or “What is it that you want me to do?” – as if his acceptance was dependant on what the task may have been. Samuel was ready and willing to answer God’s call, whatever that call was – and for Samuel, that call was to be a momentous, nation-changing call. When God called, he was ready, responding immediately to God’s voice, even though he didn’t know the voice at first.

With how much more readiness should we who already know his voice respond to his call? And with just as much willingness as Samuel showed? He didn’t ask a multitude of questions (at least not straight away! – plenty of time for that once the call has been answered). He simply answered and obeyed. We are called – all of us – to follow God, to bend towards his voice, in order that he may bend our hearts towards his. To be ready for his call – his call to carry on, or to something new, or something next, or somewhere or someone else – and to answer with Samuel-like trust and speed.

Questions to Consider
Why do we fail to heed the call? What holds us back? What if Samuel had held himself back? What happens if we hold back?

Prayer
Loving Father, may I always answer your call like Samuel did, with a child-like faith and obedience, and deep trust in you. May I always be ready and willing, always prepared to hear you calling me. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)