On Mission in Ordinary Time
What is one part of your “ordinary” day that could become an opportunity for God to use you?
Do you consider yourself ordinary? The disciples were socially insignificant—ordinary guys who would fail and disappoint Jesus—but their role was crucial to the success of His mission. This week, read stories of God using ordinary people in extraordinary ways as a testimony of His grace and power. Be encouraged to allow this grace and power to be evident in the ordinary and mundane events of life.
About This Journey
As Christ followers, we are the hands, feet, and voice of Jesus wherever we are. “Dedicated to God’s Mission” explores what it means to be a dedicated Christ-follower on a mission for God everywhere He takes us. Jesus had urgency and purpose in what He did and where He went. Together, we travel with Him and the disciples and learn from His attitude of love and service.
This Week's Readings
The First Assignment
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”-Mark 1:14-15
I felt let down when my husband’s first military orders arrived for Ft. Benning, Georgia, otherwise known as “Ft. Beginning” because of the basic training that takes place there. I was one of those who bought into the line “join the military and see the world.” Here we were being sent to my husband’s home state of Georgia. When we arrived in Columbus it seemed so ordinary—and hot. Oh my, was Columbus, Georgia a hot and humid place to live.
The message of Mark 1:14–15 prepares the reader for what could be a thrilling event. The stage is set with a voice from heaven, a battle with Satan, and a proclamation that “the kingdom of God is at hand!” Instead of a thrilling event of pomp and pageantry following all this drama, there is a walk into the backwater region of Galilee. You would think Jesus would start his ministry in Jerusalem, the epicenter of religious activity. He eventually journeyed there, but that was not where he started his ministry. Jesus started in Galilee, a place symbolic of day-to-day life. He went to where the common people were, in what could be described as his own home state.
My fellow seekers of exotic, big, out-of-the-ordinary days, don’t miss the lesson here: God uses us in the ordinary places and in everyday life. Because of God’s presence in those days and those places, “ordinary ceases to exist.” It is easy to belittle the ordinary, but life is full of ordinary days and places. If we don’t see the possibilities, we will miss the mission.
Jesus says ordinary things like sharing food, drink, clothes, or a visit become extraordinary acts of service when done on his behalf (Matthew 25:35–36). We are invited to be God’s hands, feet, and voice in those ordinary places. It was good enough for Jesus; it is good enough for me. What about you?
How do we minimize ordinary days or places? How does underestimating the ordinary keep us from mission and service?
Lord, forgive me when I do not see the gift of an ordinary day. Help me to be your hands, feet, and voice. Amen.
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.-Mark 1:16-20
These few short verses stop me in my tracks. Think about it. Jesus came up to these fishermen, told them to leave everything to follow him—and they did. They walked away from their family and economic security. They laid everything down. They left. They followed. Even though the Gospel of John lets us know these men encountered Jesus earlier through the ministry of John the Baptist, their spontaneous, immediate, and unconditional response to Jesus’ invitation, “Follow me,” makes a powerful statement about the authority of Jesus.
Spend any time on a military installation and you will hear commands issued and followed. In the military it is the authority of rank that turns a request into a command.
The words of Jesus to Simon, Andrew, James, and John were heard much like a sharp military command. Authority is what these men heard when Christ issued a call to follow him. Somehow these fishermen received the words of Jesus with a confidence that they would be able to become what Jesus offered. That’s faith. Sisters, if Jesus calls you, he will enable you.
These socially insignificant folks would fail and disappoint him, but their role was crucial to the success of his mission. Through them, the kingdom of God was made known throughout the world. I often feel insignificant and I certainly fail and disappoint him, but my role is no less crucial to this kingdom mission. He wants to use us to make his name known. Let’s follow!
These disciples were flawed but willing followers who can show us what it looks like to be a disciple of Christ. In them, we see three fundamental elements of discipleship: (1) a relationship with Jesus; (2) active promotion of his mission; and (3) total commitment to his cause.
Where are you on this discipleship journey? Do you have a relationship with him? Are you actively promoting his mission? Are you committed totally to his cause?
Lord, help me to daily grow in my relationship with you. Show me how to promote your mission in my sphere of influence and make me totally committed to your cause to reconcile others to you.
Why I Serve
Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.-Mark 1:30-31
“I serve because I want to give back a small portion of what I have been given. I want my children to know what it means to live in the ‘land of the free’ and the ‘home of the brave.’ I want others to realize the tremendous honor they have to live in a country based on the highest ideals man has ever seen.”
With these words, Air Force officer Daniel Gernert shares the reason for his service in the military. In general, “service” is the action of helping others. It is good practice to review our motivation to serve. Whether we are serving under oath, volunteering in a group, or simply helping others, our motivation is an important factor in making our service meaningful.
Peter’s mother-in-law could have taught a class on “Why I serve.” Her story starts with a fever. In the ancient world a fever was not considered a mild condition—as in, “Take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” In those days a fever was seen as an inner fire caused by a curse or a demon that could only be extinguished by God. Enter Jesus to the house where Peter’s mother-in-law is laid low with a fever.
From what I’ve read about Peter, even if he lived today with the ability to text ahead to his wife and give a heads-up that he was bringing someone home, I doubt he would have taken advantage of the technology. He was quite impulsive. Case in point: He just left his job to follow a wandering preacher! Imagine the miracle missed if he had been able to call ahead and warn his wife and was told, “The house is a mess and mom is sick. No how, no way, do you bring someone here!”
Thank goodness that was not the case. Jesus came, takes mom by the hand, lifts her up, and the fever leaves her. What does she do in response? “She began to serve them.” Her service is not something menial or demeaning but rather a sign of her physical and mental wholeness. The actions of this woman are proof positive that her healing was complete and her heart was open to Jesus. This is a model for any follower of Christ: when he transforms a person, the outpouring of that transformation is service.
Why do you serve others? Is it for social interaction? Is it to be recognized? Is it to do the “right” thing? If your reason for service is not founded in relationship with the Lord then you are missing an area of fulfillment that God intends for you.
Lord, I desire to serve you with faithfulness. Help me to show your love through my service to others. Amen.
Zero Dark Thirty
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.-Mark 1:35
“Some mornings I feel like if getting up early was an object, I would break it, burn it, and bury it where it could never be found again.” I read these words on a greeting card and shook my head in agreement.
Anyone associated with the military knows about getting up at zero dark thirty. A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology reported that early risers are more proactive, get better grades in school, anticipate problems and try to minimize them, have more time to exercise, eat healthier, and enjoy more time doing what they love to do. As a self-professed night owl I sarcastically say, “good for them.”
In Mark 1:35 we’re told Jesus quietly rose before anyone else. His itinerary had been intense and he knew more was to come. He went outside and found a remote spot. The point was not the hour of the day, but the act of the hour. Even though he must have been tired after a demanding day of ministry, his sense of mission compelled him to find a place free of distraction for prayer.
No distractions—are you kidding me? It sounds like a small thing, but depending on the season of life it can be impossible. I realize from this scene, however, that if Jesus needed to make time for prayer, so must I. If he prayed in order to live a life empowered by God, so must I. I don’t know about you, but I can’t do this thing called life without the help of the Lord. I get overwhelmed too easily. I get focused on me too much. I forget too often that I have a divine purpose.
There are no medals for rising early. As we establish a habit of prayer, the thing we have to remember is prayer is not about performance. It is about taking time to talk to God, and making time to listen to him. God’s schedule is not so full that he cannot communicate with you whenever you come to him. It’s not the time, place, or length, but that we do it.
The same God who gave Jesus strength, encouragement, and guidance for his earthly mission is available to us through prayer. Do you have a set time or place for being alone with God? What are some ways you incorporate prayer into your day?
Lord, help me live in your presence every moment of this day. Thank you for the privilege to communicate with you. Guide me on the journey called today.
Four Friends and a Roof
And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”-Mark 2:1-5
Military wives are the most resourceful and creative people you can find. As one put it, “We could give MacGyver a run for his money.” Read Mark 2:1–5 and you could believe a Roman soldier’s wife was outside the crowded house telling the paralytic man’s friends how to get him to Jesus. Lowering him through the roof is the kind of creative solution a military wife would use.
As a military wife, I also identify with the friendship represented in this story. Military wives make the best friends. The paralytic man’s friends were willing to go to extreme measures to get their friend to Jesus. They did not let the barrier of the crowd intimidate them. They did not let the barrier of the roof intimidate them. They dug out the mud roof, removed the wood crossbeams, and lowered their disabled friend into the presence of Jesus. What an entrance!
I cannot help but be inspired by this man’s creative friends. In Mark 2:5, notice that Jesus saw their faith. There is no mention of words of faith being spoken, but there is an action of faith demonstrated by the friends. Their action said they believed in the healing power of Jesus and they got creative in finding a way for their friend to encounter that power. The paralytic was made whole that day. Jesus healed his body, but he also forgave his sins.
Sisters, we are on a mission to point people to Christ so they can be made whole. God can use our faith to make a difference in the lives of others.
What model do the friends of the paralytic man provide? Do you have friends like that in your life? How are you a friend like that to others?
Lord, thank you for the gift of friendship. Help me to be willing to break through barriers to share you with my friends. Amen.
Resources & Info
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