Welcome to the PMF Workshop for September 2021. I’m your host, T. M. Moore. Each month we provide teaching, encouragement, activities, and resources to help you in working your Personal Mission Field, so that you can become more consistent and effective in realizing the presence, promise, and power of God’s Kingdom in your daily life.
This month’s Workshop is entitled, “Gospel Sponges.” Our text is Hebrews 4.16:
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Whose time of need?
Many have found today’s text a precious source of strength and comfort when going through difficult times. What a privilege that, when the going gets tough, we can go straight to our heavenly Father’s Presence, and roll our burdens and cares upon Him. We should make frequent use of this extraordinary privilege, soaking in the Presence of the Lord so that His peace and joy pervade every nook and cranny of our soul.
But we must not think of this privilege merely in terms of our own need. After all, the text is not specific. It does not say our time of need but merely, “time of need.” So in case you aren’t feeling any particular burden or need today, that’s no reason not to linger before the throne of grace, gazing on the glory in the face of Jesus Christ, soaking in His beauty, and basking in His radiant light (2 Cor. 4.6; Ps. 27.4).
After all, someone in your Personal Mission Field will be experiencing a time of need, and you may be the means God chooses to flow His mercy and grace to a hurting soul.
The problem is that we just don’t know who is experiencing some burden, or what the nature of that burden might be. We can be sure of this: These days many people are troubled by the uncertainties of the times. Many are perplexed, anxious, fearful, and unsure, but they’re not likely to seek you out so that you might bear their burden for them.
But we must be ready to do so nonetheless. As Paul wrote, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6.10). And again, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5.15, 16). And finally, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification” (Rom. 15.2).
Thus, we must prepare each day for whatever time of need may confront us as we are going among the people to whom God sends us in our Personal Mission Field. By soaking each day in Jesus, we’ll be ready with the mercy and grace others require to sustain them in their time of need.
You know, like a sponge
Think of this time of soaking in the Lord like a sponge, a spiritual sponge. We use sponges to bring cleansing, renewing, and beautification to rough, dirty, grimy places in our home. We fill the sponge with water and cleanser, then we apply it to the places of need, giving a little squeeze to release the power necessary for renewing whatever surface we’re trying to clean.
Soak and squeeze. That’s how sponges do their work. We should be like sponges in our Personal Mission Field. Having soaked each day in the mercy and grace of Jesus, we will be ready with words and deeds to release His renewing power for others in their time of need. In the hard places and tight squeezes of life, we can be agents of mercy and grace, smoothing the way for healing by our gracious words and selfless works.
But the key is to soak well in the Lord Jesus. A dry sponge won’t help anyone in their time of need. Indeed, try to use a dry sponge on a rough place, and you’re just as likely to tear the sponge as do any good. We need to be well-soaked in the Lord, rejoicing in His mercy and grace and ready to be squeezed into service for His glory at every opportunity.
The keys to a good soak
Three things are necessary if we’re going to soak in the Lord Jesus. First, we need to get before Him – in His Word, in prayer and meditation, waiting and listening and letting the Lord cleanse our sins and prepare us for the day ahead. It’s a sure bet that if you don’t spend time with Jesus, when a time of need arises – whether yours or someone else’s – the only resources you’ll have to offer for healing and renewal will be those of your own cleverness and strength. Dry sponges. And that’s never enough.
Second, as you are soaking in Jesus, squeeze out all the bad air of this world that may have collected in your soul. For a sponge to work, you have to squeeze it in the liquid, forcing the air out to make room for the water and cleanser. Your soul is like that. You can’t be filled with the Spirit and the mercy and grace He brings with Him as long as pockets of sin remain in your soul. Squeeze them out by confession and repentance, then seek God’s filling, giving thanks and singing His praises to welcome the Spirit’s growing Presence in your soul (Eph. 5.18-21).
Finally, set your mind on the day ahead. Whom will you see? What tasks are before you? Where will you be able to squeeze a little mercy and grace in someone’s time of need, that they might know the refreshment of the Lord from your ministry? Get a picture in your mind of what that will look like, and then commit each prospective opportunity for a mercy-and-grace-squeezing unto the Lord as a commitment in His Name.
As you are going, keep your eyes open to opportunities for showing the grace of the Lord. The more He channels His mercy and grace through you, the more your Personal Mission Field will sparkle with His Presence and the hope He brings into your life. And this will create new opportunities for you to explain that hope to the people God is daily refreshing in their time of need through you (1 Pet. 3.15).
Here are some activities you can practice so that soaking in the Lord and squeezing His mercy and grace around become more your daily experience:
- First – and we remind you of this every month – make sure you have mapped out your Personal Mission Field. One you have done that, get in the habit of praying daily for the people you expect to meet. As you are soaking in the Lord, ask Him to give you a sensitive spirit and listening ears, that you might be able to discern someone’s time of need.
- In your times of prayer each day, focus on some aspect of the vision of Jesus Christ, exalted in glory. Meditate on Revelation 1.10-20 or Psalm 110. God gave us these images of Jesus to help us in drawing near to Him and basking in His glory. Take your time. Meditate slowly, praising the Lord for every aspect and facet of His glory that comes through to you.
- Look for opportunities to squeeze a little grace into the life of someone in your Personal Mission Field. Prepare for them in prayer. Recall the commitment you made to the Lord earlier in the day. Give a greeting. Offer an affirming word. Lend a hand. Use someone’s name.
- Order a free copy of our book, The Poetry of Prayer, and let the exercises there help you learn to soak in Jesus more gloriously (click here).
- Get a prayer partner or soul friend to listen to this workshop with you. Pray for one another, then follow-up to encourage one another in becoming spiritual sponges for the Lord.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.