This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
1 John 3:16 (NIV)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christine Harms has served in Haiti for the past eight years, primarily using her teaching degree to benefit Haitian nationals and missionary children. As National Empowerment Co-ordinator, Christine brings together resources and tools to help national staff to advance within their chosen roles at MAF. She is very glad to serve in a country where snakes are not prevalent!
I'd been working as the flight scheduler for MAF Haiti for almost a year when I got a frantic call: 'Do you have any flights going to Port-de-Paix today?' It was Bruce, a long-time missionary who lived there. I could hear the maxed-out engine of his motorcycle taxi in the background. I checked my watch and the gathering storm overhead before I answered him. 'The plane's supposed to be leaving in five minutes. Bruce, you probably can't.'
'I'll be there — I'm coming right now!' 'If you're not here,' I said, 'we've got to leave without you — this is our last flight today!'
'I'm coming! I'll be there,' he shouted, then hung up. More than five minutes later, he was hurrying toward the waiting plane, smiling from ear to ear. As his bags were loaded into the pod, I turned to go back inside, but Bruce stopped me. 'Oh, thank you so much for waiting. My wife had to ride out the last hurricane by herself, and I didn't want her to be alone this time.'
It was our last flight due to the approach of Hurricane Irene, scheduled to hit Port-de-Paix late that night. Unlike everyone else, Bruce wasn't hurrying out of the path of the storm, he was hurrying into it — joyfully!
Wasn't that the heart of Christ for us, His bride, when He rescued us from sin and darkness? 'I don't want her to be alone!'
I've tried and failed to set aside my will and obey God on my own; only a deep, developed love for Christ has changed me over time.
Thank God for His patience with us! He was patient with His disciple Peter as he struggled to truly lay down his life, not on his own terms through dramatic declarations, but on God’s terms, in humble service to His Church.
When we cultivate a deep, living love for God, we find that the desire to sacrifice for others comes as naturally as running into a hurricane. What else would love do?
Dear Father, thank You for standing by me through every storm with Your calming presence. Please open my eyes to see those around me who are hurting. Show me how I can come alongside them as their friend to help sustain them through hard times. Amen.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.... And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. The one who keeps God's commands lives in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us.
1 John 3:16-24 (NIV)
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.
John 15:11-14 (NIV)
- How do these words guide our knowledge of God's love?
- In what ways can we love one another as Christ loved the Church?
Father, help me to better reflect You in the way that I love. Show me in what ways I can better love others as You love me.
I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
Philippians 4:12 (NASB)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave Fyock, along with his wife Hilda, joined MAF in 1992. Originally working as a pilot and aircraft maintenance engineer, Dave now serves as CEO of MAF International, based in the UK. Dave is passionate about reaching those with the least opportunity to hear about Jesus and believes that MAF’s ministry is vital to the growth of God’s Kingdom in remote communities.
In 1992, my wife and I set off to work in the poorest country in Europe — Albania. We were filled with excitement and anticipation about what lay before us. We arrived and quickly settled into our meagre home and busied ourselves with work and building relationships.
Shortly after our arrival, winter came. We were unable to purchase heating fuel, so our home was cold. We endured frequent, lengthy power outages. We cooked on a small camping burner we had brought with us. Our daily bath was six two-cup scoops of warm water.
Yet our lives were richly blessed. We could see God at work in our host country. We enjoyed deep relationships with Albanians and expatriates, often entertaining guests by candlelight and enjoying sweet fellowship.
Through the years, I have noticed a distinct relationship between contentment and expectations. We did not expect life to be any different than we found it during those days in Albania. As a matter of fact, in many ways it was easier than we’d imagined; our expectations for material comforts were low and our contentment was high.
Life was not easy, but our circumstances didn’t dictate our level of contentment. We learned that contentment is not found in having all you want, but in wanting all you have. We also learned another truth — contentment is a by-product of a faithful relationship with Christ.
I wish I could say that I have lived the rest of my life in light of the things I learned in Albania. But I have discovered that I am not naturally content. My human nature is always striving for more!
That is why I love what Paul writes in Philippians 4 — he too had to learn to be content, no matter what his circumstances. He discovered that there was a secret to true contentment.
Contentment in our material circumstances, whether we have little or much, can only come through the strength that God provides.
Lord, I so often strive for things that, in the end, do not bring contentment. I choose to learn from You and draw on Your strength. Teach me the secret of living contentedly. Amen.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’
Hebrews 13:5 (NIV)
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
1 Timothy 6:6-7 (NIV)
- How do these words guide us towards living a life that is joyful?
- In what ways can we be truly content with all that we have?
Father, though it is easy to complain and compare myself to others, help me to take my thoughts captive and show me where I should be content and grateful.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joy Neal and her husband Pete joined Mission Aviation Fellowship in 2010 and live in Borneo, Indonesia with their son Anders. Joy, who is a freelance book editor, is seeking a publisher for her memoir about faith and marriage. A Chicago native, Joy says she doesn’t miss winter in the slightest!
A couple of weeks before my husband and I drove across the country for an interview with MAF, I found myself suddenly anxious about the idea of him flying over jungles. When the anxiety grew into a fear that I couldn’t shake, I decided to ask for prayer during a Sunday service.
In our church, ministers stand at the front after a service to pray for anyone who needs prayer. I joined the prayer line and soon saw Robin waving me over. I started to cry. Robin, a woman in her 50s, had already been widowed 3 times, and her third husband had tragically died in a private plane accident.
I’ll never forget how she took me by the shoulders and looked me straight in the eyes. ‘I cannot promise you that your husband will be safe,’ she said. ‘But I promise you that no matter what happens, God will take care of you in ways you can’t even imagine right now.’ Those words plucked me out of my anxiety about a hypothetical future and brought me back to my present assignment: packing for our road trip.
Maybe our capacity for living in the present — our ability to be attentive to the here and now — is rooted in a sense of security. When we believe that God cares about our needs, we can stop worrying about the future and enter the joys and challenges of today. Instead of worrying about whether we’ll ever have the deep friendships we long for, we can invite someone out for a coffee. Instead of fretting about our health, we can enjoy a healthy meal. Instead of stressing about whether we’ll accomplish our dreams and goals, we can focus on the creative assignment at hand.
The Message puts it like this: ‘Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes’ (Matthew 6:34).
We can’t add a single day to our lives by worrying about the future. But we can add incredible richness to our lives by giving our full attention to the moments we’re given.
Father, You are so faithful. You hear my prayers, You meet my needs, and You reassure me that You are with me. Please help me to trust You more fully so that I can immerse myself in the joys and challenges of each moment, knowing that the future is in Your hands. Amen.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? ... So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:25-33 (NIV)
Forget about what's happened; don't keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand-new. It's bursting out! Don't you see it? There it is! I'm making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands...
Isaiah 43:16-21 (MSG)
- How do these words guide our approach to the future?
- In what ways does God show his ongoing faithfulness to each one of us?
Father, help me to let go of distraction and procrastination, and show me how I can be more committed to being fully attentive in the moment.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 (NIV)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca Hopkins is an American writer, wife to an MAF floatplane pilot, and mother to three children. She lives in beautiful, friendly Indonesia, but says she is most at home in her quest to find stories of courage, hope and redemption in the world around her.
Where I live in Indonesia, massages are the answer to many things. Got a fever? Ask a relative to give you a massage in your home. A broken bone perhaps? Head to the inexpensive salon for a £2.30 massage first, then later to the doctor.
It even takes the form of currency. A friend of mine paid me back for some medical bills I'd helped pay... in massages.
I used to think that the main answer to most problems here was more and more service. Got a need knocking at your door? Give no matter what. See a problem? Make more plans, do more work, expend more effort, create more ministry.
But then burnout, trauma and the resulting fatigue hit, and I was forced to rethink my 'answers'. Finding ways to rest and recover became necessary daily items on my to-do list in the midst of other demands. Now I get a cheap massage at the neighbourhood salon every Friday, no matter what's going on.
But I don't stop there. My soul needs rest, too. Jesus invites us, 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light' (Matthew 11:28-30).
So, I start my day outside, praying, reading and listening to God while the sun rises, laying down my burdens, my answers, my efforts. And I take up His yoke — the Gospel of grace — in their place.
Got a faith problem? You can rest in knowing that God's ways are good. A broken heart? You can rest in the One who heals all wounds. A need for acceptance?
You can rest in the never-ending currency of Christ's love, which purchases your eternal identity.
God, thank You for the peace, love and rest You give us in Your unconditional daily care. Help me to remember that I serve from Your strength, grace and wisdom, and that my weakness and lack give You a chance to be seen. Let me rest in the all sufficiency of You. Amen.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, 'Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.' So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
Mark 6:31-32 (NIV)
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He refreshes my soul.
Psalm 23:1-2 (NIV)
- How do these words guide our understanding of rest?
- In what ways can we apply this teaching and find rest on a day-by-day basis?
Father, though it is so easy to be wrapped up in busyness, show me where I need to stop striving and rest in You.
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 (NIV)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Phipps works at the MAF UK office in Folkestone as Human Resources Manager and has been with MAF for 23 years. Her role includes recruiting people to serve with MAF in 27 developing countries worlwide, and supporting the 95 UK personnel serving overseas and in the UK.
‘We’re all just walking each other home.’ This jumped out at me in a recent Facebook post.
I know it could initially sound a bit twee, but it got me thinking about our Christian walk towards our heavenly home or, as we say in my family, Home with a capital ‘H’. It made me reflect on the importance of relationships and challenged me about what kind of companion I am on the journey.
When you walk places with others, you soon find out about the different roles in the group.
There are those way out front who are setting the pace, hurrying us up, shouting back directions, and telling us, ‘the view is worth it’.
There are those in the middle keeping a steady pace, enjoying the journey, not getting distracted and making the most of what they see around them.
There are those who may need a bit more leading, like a toddler with reins to help them keep balance, or those needing someone’s arm for support.
There may even be those at the back who are trying to keep up, struggling with their load, and afraid to ask for help.
We have probably played each of these roles at different times in our Christian lives, maybe some of them at the same time. I wonder where we are at currently, and I wonder where God wants us to be?
In Galatians 6:2, we are told to carry each other’s burdens. If we do find ourselves out front, are we making sure we help others; calling back with directions and leading so they can find their way? Are we keeping pace in the middle, helping others learn from where they are now and enjoying the journey with them?
Or perhaps, we’ve chosen to hang back and walk slower in order to share another’s difficult journey with them.
Maybe we’re experiencing our own struggles and need to reach out and ask for a steady arm of support. Wherever we find ourselves on our journey, we are called to encourage and to be encouraged.
1 Thessalonians 5 gives us another inspiring model of how to walk with others as God wants us to walk. It’s a privilege, it can be a burden, but we are called to it. Called to walk each other home — Home with a capital ‘H’!
Heavenly Father, thank You that You seek a relationship with us, and You place us in relationship with others. We recognise that our journey is sometimes a joy, sometimes a struggle, and we ask for Your help so that we can be the companions You want us to be. Amen.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
1 Thessalonians 5:11-14 (NIV)
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:1-2 (NIV)
- How do these words guide the way we support one another?
- In what ways might we find this particular teaching difficult to live out?
Father, show me the kind of companion You want me to be, and show me how to be better committed to both new and old relationships.
Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.
Ephesians 6:13 (NIV)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jon Cadd has been working with MAF for more than 35 years and is MAF's eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Country Director. With more than 14,000 hours of flying under his belt, Jon has flown planes in Zimbabwe, Uganda and the DRC. He is also a licensed guide in Zimbabwe and loves the African bush and wild places.
As a guide in the wild African bush, I often encountered dangerous animals more powerful than humans. Beasts with teeth, claws and horns that could easily kill the unwary or ignorant. If you run from an elephant, leopard or lion, you put yourself in serious trouble. It is always best to stand.
Sometimes it's best to stand very still, sometimes to stand up big and yell defiantly at the overpowering charging animal. It's not easy to stand in one place as our intuition tells us to run. But running almost always causes the animal to keep coming.
This principle also applies to the spiritual challenges that threaten our resolve. Running may seem like the most natural thing in the world but, if we stand firm, our faith will rise and, as faith rises, the inclination to flee becomes smaller. We often find ourselves facing situations that seem too big for us — medical issues, torn relationships and financial challenges outside our control.
But we have a choice to make — we can either take matters into our own hands, doing whatever feels most natural, or we can stand firm and see what God will do. The first option erodes our faith, the second strengthens it. As our faith is bolstered, we will begin to live with expectation, trust and, ultimately, peace.
Ephesians 6:11 instructs us to put on God's armour and stand our ground when the enemy attacks us. James 1:4 exhorts us to persevere and let faith grow when trials surround us. If you feel like running away, maybe it’s time to evaluate your trust in God.
Do you believe God can handle your situation? Perhaps it’s time to stand and let your faith grow.
Lord, I pray that all those I encounter will see Christ through my actions and words. Send someone my way who needs to experience Your touch and help me to be ready to be part of what You are doing. Amen.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
- How do these words guide our response to struggles we might face?
- In what ways does our faith grow when we come through a period of trial?
Father, show me in what ways I can better overcome the challenges of life, and commit to growing further in faith.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This devotion is brought to you by Olly Nunn. Olly has worked with MAF UK for more than ten years. He is married to Amanda, who also serves with MAF in the UK, and the two are kept busy bringing up their two sons, Thomas and James.
For as long as I can remember, I have been completely obsessed with aircraft. Growing up, I voraciously read everything aviation themed that I could get my hands on – from the adventure-filled Biggles stories, right through to the kind of technical manuals that would send any ‘normal’ person to sleep!
One book that was read and re-read countless times was an account of life on a contemporary Royal Air Force fast jet squadron. The whole thing was utterly enthralling, providing a window into a world of which I desperately wanted to be a part.
However, there was one passage that caused me to question whether I really had the kind of steely-eyed ‘right stuff’ to pursue a career with the RAF. It described the experience and challenges of operating the RAF’s Tornado aircraft completely ‘blind’ at ultra-low altitudes.
In this environment, the pilots are obliged to remove their hands and feet from the controls — completely relinquishing control — and to instead place absolute trust in the aircraft’s ‘terrain following’ autopilot equipment.
I freely admit that I have a definite tendency towards being a ‘control freak’ — so the idea of hurtling through twisting valleys at near supersonic speeds, while calmly allowing the aircraft to fly itself, sounded utterly nightmarish! As much as I wanted to, I really couldn’t see myself coping very well with this sort of demand.
I guess many of us can recognise similar fears and uncertainties when it comes to our personal walk with Jesus. At an academic level, we know that we need to rely completely on His guidance, and that He can be completely trusted to guide us safely through the ever-changing landscapes of life.
However, at the moment of actually relinquishing control, our heads can fill with doubt — with the kinds of ‘what if?’ questions that paralyse us and stop us from completely trusting God with our lives.
In an ironic twist, although putting our trust in God’s plans for our lives can often feel like the high-risk option, the total opposite is in fact true!
And, just like a Tornado pilot succumbing to his fears and disengaging the autopilot system, it’s when we try to take back control — to lean on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5) — that we become vulnerable to all manner of pitfalls and dangers.
Walking with God can sometimes be challenging – and even counter-intuitive – but His plans and promises for your life are perfect, and infinitely better than anything that the world can offer.
Put your trust in Him.
Father God, I am so grateful that You are completely and utterly trustworthy. Your faithfulness is amazing! Please forgive me for all the times when I have tried to do things my own way or have turned my back on You. Help me to put my trust in You today. Through the work of Your Holy Spirit, please give me the strength and self-control to seek Your will, and to trust in Your perfect love for me. Amen.
For the word of the LORD is right and true; He is faithful in all He does.
Psalm 33:4 (NIV)
- How do these words guide us to trust God more?
- In what ways would our lives be different if we committed every decision to God?
Father, show me the areas of my life where I need to let go of control; to stop striving and put my trust in You. Remind me Lord of Your promises.
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