But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about itself.
Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Did you receive an itinerary for your mission trip? You probably did. Feel free to not worry too much about it. The only real constant in mission trips is their inconsistency. The people you were originally asked to serve with have moved, the roads are closed, or there is political turmoil in the country you were supposed to visit…the list could go on and on. Mission trips are notorious for changing on the proverbial turn of a dime, so be prepared for that experience now.
If you are one of those people who likes things to happen on time and have order, your mission trip may be stressful at first. Concepts of time vary around the world, and there is a very real chance you will be more at ease if you choose now to leave your watch at home. No matter how stressful and different your experience is, it is important to remember one thing – it is okay.
Do not stress and worry about how things will turn out – instead follow the advice of Matthew 6:33-34 and seek God’s kingdom first. React to schedule deviations and other variables as God would react to them – and accept now that you will not be in control of your days for the duration of your trip. In reality, you are never really in control of your days anyway.
Each day of your upcoming mission trip will present unique challenges and difficulties. Each day will be a little stressful and frustrating. Each day something will go wrong. Just remember to always seek God first and you will do more than survive – you will thrive on the mission field.
A few quiet moments during the day. Resting thoughts to focus your mind. Come face to face with the One who loves you. Be embraced. Cherished. Loved.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
How many times have you heard the last will be first and the first will be last? Probably more times than you care to count. You know mission trips are not about you, but you have probably found yourself thinking a lot about yourself as you prepare. How will you handle the climate? Where will you sleep? What will you eat? Who will you talk to? Who will miss you?
Those are all normal questions, but for every “you” question, there needs to be a “them” question. How do they handle the climate? Where will they sleep? What do they eat? Who will they talk to? Who will miss them? Those are the questions a true servant asks. A servant does not think about how circumstances affect them, but instead how circumstances affect those they go to serve. It is a simple theory and a hard practice. We want so much to serve and love the “thems” of the world, but our culture does a good job of training us to be a little selfish and worry about us first.
For the next few days, every time a “you” question pops into your head – or, for that matter, every time someone asks you a question about how you are preparing – replace the “you” with the “they” and see what kind of difference it makes in your heart as you prepare.
This trip is a chance for you to serve God to the fullest of your ability – to be His hands, His feet, His heart to people who may never have heard of Him before.
Commit yourself to being last, to thinking less of yourself, and be open to experiencing the true joy of living for “them” instead.
Monday, April 28, 2008
See, I am sending an angel ahead of you
to guard you along the way and
to bring you to the place I have prepared.
There is a lot that goes into preparing for a mission trip for the mission team. There are passports and visas to get, languages to familiarize yourself with, plane tickets to confirm and arrangements to be made while you’re gone. A mission team has to prepare for the mission by learning skills and the needs of the community in which they will serve.
But, have you ever stopped in the midst of your preparations to think about what God is preparing for you, as well? While you are hard at work getting everything in place to be gone from your home for the trip, God is hard at work preparing your destination to receive you – and the message of God’s love you will bring. The place and time of your mission has been specifically planned by God for a purpose. There is a reason your trip is happening right now – and a reason you felt called to go here instead of any other place in the world.
If we could pull back the curtain on the supernatural and see the work God puts into preparing a mission destination for His missionaries, I am convinced we would be astounded and humbled by His work. No person is left untouched and unprepared; no building is put up haphazardly, no road leads to nowhere. The fingerprint of God is everywhere, and most of the time we are completely unaware of what He does on our behalf just to get the mission destination ready.
It is never too early to start thinking about the people that God is preparing and the journey that He is establishing for you on this trip. What do you expect to happen? What do you think God is doing right now to “prepare the way?”
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the LORD your God goes with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Going on a mission trip can be a scary thing. You willingly chose to leave everything you know and are comfortable with to spend a long period of time doing something for someone else. You chose to give up your time and your resources to serve those that are underserved in our world. You chose to not know what the trip would entail for sure and go anyway. And, God will bless your choice!
The promise of Deuteronomy 31:6 is that no matter how unfamiliar you are with the language or culture, He will be there. The promise is that it might be scary and uncomfortable, but God will not leave you alone in the wilderness to fend for yourself. The promise is that your strength and courage to go on this mission trip comes not from you, but from God working through you to impact His world.
When you find yourself on the mission field in an uncomfortable situation (which will happen), remember this verse and seek God in the midst of your discomfort. Take a moment to commit Deuteronomy 31:6 to memory so when you are tempted to be afraid and feel alone, you can remember that the God that called you on this trip is right there beside you and He will never be far from you.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
All the believers were together and had everything in common.
Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.
Being a part of mission team is a unique experience. After all, people from all walks of life and corners of the globe come together to serve in the same place. There is a good chance that you do not know all, if any, of the people you will be serving with in just a few days. If you do know them, they may not be close friends or anything more than people you met at a meeting about this very trip.
Luckily, you are already bonded with your fellow teammates by virtue of wanting to be part of the same experience. No matter how different your everyday life is, you are all preparing to serve in the same part of the world for the same amount of time for the same purpose. That is not that different from the churches that grew and grew in the book of Acts. The members of these first churches did not all know each other, but they were all united by a common thread – the cross of Christ.
That same passion for the global church is probably what leads you to the mission field. Is there a part of you that longs for the community described in the book of Acts, where all the believers were as one mind and purpose? That can happen during your trip! All you have to do is put the purpose of the mission and the glorification of Christ before your own desires and needs. You have to be willing to submit to your teammates, your mission hosts, and the cultural norms of your chosen mission field.
The most successful mission trips are trips where the team is unite together under the leadership of God. For these next few days, consider how you can be a true mission-team player – what you’re willing to sacrifice and what you’re willing to do to make sure the people you are going to meet see your team as a unified group that loves them, not as a bunch of people with nothing apparent in common. Pray for team unity now and pray for team unity every day until you return from your mission experience.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves,
For tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”
Do you really understand the promise of this scripture? It says something very simple and very deep. Whatever is happening in your life today, your tomorrow is up to God. He will continue to work in your life and do amazing things among you. Your response is to consecrate yourself, which means to “dedicate to a sacred purpose.”
This mission trip is just that—you dedicating yourself to a sacred purpose for the duration of this trip. What is that purpose? Your purpose is to do exactly what God would like you to do with every minute and hour. You are to be exactly what God would like you to be for this trip, and to be ready for anything.
But what about the second part of that verse? “For tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Do you really believe that He is capable of doing something amazing in the midst of this trip? Believe it, because He has already planned it and set each person here apart for something special! You are going to be the amazing thing in someone’s life...and someone will be the amazing thing in yours.
So commit yourself to this sacred purpose and be prepared to be changed!
Thursday, April 24, 2008
He changes times and seasons;
he sets up kings and deposes them.
He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.
He reveals deep and hidden things;
he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.
The mission experience was designed by God to leave participants different. From the beginning, God has called those who love Him and believe in His promises to be set apart – to be different - and to impact the world in ways that everyone else just doesn’t understand. The mission experience is one that will leave your life changed, if you are willing to give yourself completely over to the experience.
Whether this is the first time you have stepped on the mission field or the hundredth, you have to be willing to give yourself over, even for a short time, to the experience of being away from home, away from friends, maybe even away from family. Prepare your heart now, today, to be changed. Prepare to see life differently, to see people differently, to see God differently. The God that has called you to this trip in is the same God who commands the stars to shine and the moon to rise. The God that has asked you to set apart this week for Him is the same God who breathes life into the wind and reveals Himself on mountaintops. The God of all has asked you to be His vessel this week – to go where He has been waiting and to love those He has created.
The changes will be small at first. A little more patience with others, a little more love to give strangers. And, as the week goes on, you will notice bigger changes…your heart will feel bigger, your body will continue to work long after you think you cannot swing that hammer again. If you are willing to be totally His for the next few days, He will make you a little more like Him. And, that change will last long after you pack up camp and head back to what was once your “normal” life.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD,
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.
If you think you’re going to be in control for the few days you’re on the mission field, you may want to ask God to get rid of those feelings right now. The truth is the only person in control is God and He has things planned that you haven’t even dreamed of yet. Let that sink in for a moment…
He has things planned you haven’t even dreamed of yet.
In your ‘wildest’ dreams about this trip, what do you see happening? Now take that and multiply it by about a million—that is what God sees happening. He knows that something amazing is going to happen, all you have to do is put Him first and let Him have complete control over what is going to happen.
This week, you will be asked to do more, to love more, to believe more, to trust more, to be more patient and understanding and challenge yourself more than any other time in your life. And, in return, you will be loved more, trusted more, blessed more, and changed more than you know.
There is a phrase often used when faced with challenges and opposition: Let Go and Let God. May that be the cry of your heart during this trip. Let go...of your fears, insecurities and impatience... and let God be God.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
The next several devotions are going to be based off one of my favorite poems, "Desiderata." Here it is:
If you compare yourself with others,
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
Therefore be at peace with God,
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,