There’s no such thing as a perpetual motion machine – something that can produce its own energy to keep it operating. Everything needs a source of energy, whether electricity, wind or solar power, diesel, or a battery charge.

The same holds true for mission work, for our WELS missionaries and administrators as well as for LWMS in its support role. In order for our organization’s members to flourish and grow, we need some sort of fuel, some spiritual energy. That’s why spiritual growth is so important in what we do. Sometimes, though, it gets pushed aside for the excitement of mission expansion, tales from far-off lands, or the novelty of meeting fellow Lutherans in strange national dress.

St. Paul provides focus in Romans 10, “How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?” That’s a familiar passage, often used for mission festivals. But have you ever taken Paul’s thoughts a step further? Have you ever asked, “who will send them?” or “why would the one sent be willing to go?”

We send them and they go because of our gratitude for what Jesus has done for us. It sounds so simple. But our faith is a living thing, requiring daily fuel to stay healthy and grow. Obviously we need to be fed and watered on Jesus the Bread of Life and the Living Water. This we do by reading, studying, and meditating on God’s Word. But where and how do you start?

A good way is to examine your heart and life in the light of God’s will for holy living. Find out what sins you persistently fall into, what temptations the devil successfully uses to entice you from keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus. Use the Ten Commandments as explained in Luther’s Small Catechism as your guide.

When you identify your “pet” sins (those sins that really don’t seem so very bad, that you sort of enjoy indulging in at the time), then repent and thank God for his merciful forgiveness in Jesus. Turn to Scripture for instruction in the right way to live. Replace gossip with constructive talk; laziness with joyful work; gluttony with moderation; the desire for more of this world’s goods with storing up spiritual treasures in heaven. Learn to say “no” to the many pleasures the world offers and, instead, dedicate more of your time, talents, and treasures to the Lord who so richly blesses you. Turn complaining about life’s troubles into trust that God’s plan for you is good.

On your own, you can’t fuel your heart – that’s the work of the Holy Spirit, which he accomplishes through Word and Sacrament. But you can “continue to work out your salvation”, as Paul writes the Philippians. You can be sure of “your work produced by faith [and] your labor prompted by love,” as he tells the Thessalonians. Then and only then will you be fueled to support the work of shining the light of the gospel into the darkest corners of the world and into the darkest hearts.

Pray the words Luke recorded for us:  “Lord, increase my faith!”