Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Secrets of The Kingdom

Luke 8:9-10 (NIV1984)

 His disciples asked him what this parable meant.  
He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom 
of God has been given to you, 
but to others I speak in parables, so that,
   “‘though seeing, they may not see;
   though hearing, they may not understand.’

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Our topic this week is about hearing God. Jesus makes it very clear in this verse that the secrets of the kingdom of God have been given to us who believe. To others he speaks in parables. I've wondered about that - you'd think he'd use the Jesus for Dummies Guide for the folks that don't know and understand Him. You would think He would want to make things really, really clear. Yet here He says He purposely speaks in parables so that though seeing, they may not see; and though hearing, they may not understand. Are you scratching your head on this one? I know I did for a long time.

I have come to realize that until someone is ready to hear, there is not point telling them. They might really need to know but unless they can figure it out and own it for themselves there mind is going to block that information.

I am going through my life coaching certification and one of the things that my training has talked about it how your spiritual immune system kicks in and refuses to accept ideas that are foreign. In much the same way your body may reject a organ transplant even though you might really need it.
In coaching rather than give someone the answers the goal is to listen and ask questions so that they can find the answers on their own. The idea to change then comes from them and they are more likely to stick with it to accomplish what they set out to accomplish.  Jesus uses parables that way too. He does not just give out the answer but makes His listeners have to take the time to think it out on their own. When they do - they possess that knowledge in a much deeper and more lasting way. 

You have to want to hear to even begin to understand. Parables make people think and they make us choose. If you think you already know it all, you won't even bother to try and figure out what Jesus was saying and how it might apply to you. Hearing God is like that too. You have to want to hear, you have to make time to hear. You have to stop doing all the talking to hear. Sometimes we don't listen because we are afraid of the answer that we might recieve. Jesus wants to communicate with us. He wants us to get to the place of wanting to have a relationship with him. To get beyond the religious duty of prayer and rattling of un-ending lists of wants and needs. Is He just my spiritual Santa Clause or is He my friend who I love to be with.

In healty relationships one person does not monopolize the converstaion but takes time listening and sharing. I do believe that God wants to show us deep and wonderful secrets of the kingdom but I think He waits for us to seek Him out. He waits for us to dig into His word and to mull it over and to work to apply it by faith to our life.

In the song I have posted called I Love Your Grace. I like the line that says "I love the way you help me when I call".  There are lots of times when I get stuck and can't figure out the answer to some delima in my life. It is in those times that I ask God for help. When I am reading His word and I don't get it. I don't just run to my pastor or other spiritual giants in my life for the answer. They could probably tell me but I would rather search it out and dig and trust that God will give me little helps like bread crumbs to follow. I start by asking God to help me understand. Open my eyes so I can see, and my heart so I can hear and feel and my mind so I can understand.  We pray those kind of prayers and God does not just answer like a jeannie in a bottle - poof you got your wish. He works in and through our life to bring circumstances, people, dreams and in many other ways to cause us to develop in the things we have asked Him to help us with. If you want to hear him more ask Him to help you and watch as he begins to order things in your life to allow you to practice and grow more adept at hearing His voice.

Prayer:
Dear God help me to understand. Open my eyes so I can see, and my heart so I can hear and feel and my mind so I can understand. Help me to really know your voice and follow you. I know you want to have a deeper relationship with me. Help me to lay down my lists of needs and wants and just spend time getting to know you better. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Cup, The Pitcher, The Well and the Stream

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A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

John 7:38
Whoever believes in me,
as the Scripture has said,
streams of living water
will flow from within him.”


When I was a new believer I was satisfied by getting my cup filled each week at church. Soon I found that serving others was fun and I got a bigger cup and then a pitcher to serve others during the week. I found that I was spending a lot of time running back to get more water for my pitcher.  I began to wonder if it was possible to stay connected to the source of the water. I believe it is
Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Yes this is another message on abiding but it is also about hearing God. You may not feel like you are good enough or worthy enough to go directly to the thrown room of God, none of us are. Jesus has made a way for us to enter into the very thrown room of God. Our access to the thrown room is our acceptance of what Jesus has done for us on the cross. He has atoned for our sins. It is not about us being good enough it is about us accepting what He has already done on our behalf.
I think these feeling of not being good enough are often what keep us out in the desert searching for the next well of refreshing. We fill up our cup or our canteen and travel on through our week hoping we will have enough water to make it back to the well on Sunday. We may believe in Jesus and hunger and thirst for more of him but we have not figured out how to connect directly to him or how to stay connected to him. Even the woman at the well in  John 4:11 -12  says “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
Jesus did not need a cup or a pitcher to draw water from the well. He is and was the very stream that flows from the presence of God almighty.
I love the verse from Isaiah 12:3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. Do you realize that if you are saved and have accepted Jesus you can become one of the wells of salvation. It is a joy to draw water for others from that well from the places of abiding in His presence. Some times wells get filled up with dirt. They may not be dug deep enough for times of drought. My topic this week is about abiding and hearing God. You can take your cup or canteen or pitcher and go to a well. A church or to another believer who is abiding and get your cup filled by the revelations that they share as a result of their time of abiding with the Lord. We can hear God speak through others who know him.  There was a time in my Christian life when everyone I knew was running all over the place to find the next place where God was moving. They wanted to go find the places where revival was happening and soak up as much as they could at those meetings. I never wanted to chase revivals. I’m not saying that it is not wonderful when God is moving. I wanted my own deep abiding relationship, my own personal daily revival in the transforming presence of Jesus. I wanted to become a well in the desert or like be like the oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor spoken of in Isaiah 61.  In Jeremiah 17: 7-8 it says “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought it never fails to bear fruit.  I have sought out that deeper relationship with Jesus. It starts by making time to spend with him. I stopped coming with my list of prayer needs and started coming because he became my very best friend. Every deep friendship where one is known and knows that other person starts with both parties being willing to be open and honest and willing to listen. That relationship is not possible if you don’t make time to spend together.
 
Questions:
What are some ways you could find to develop your friendship with Jesus?




Monday, August 29, 2011

The Reason You Do Not Hear

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A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

John 8:47 (NIV1984)
47 He who belongs to God hears 

what God says.
The reason you do not hear is 

that you do not belong to God.”

I’ve been asked recently about hearing God. Its a topic far bigger than one post could possibly cover so I will try and break it down into little bites of truth. So lets start at the beginning and try and understand why you might not be hearing God.

If you are trying to hear God and do not belong to him - you don't hear because you don't belong to God. Its not because He is not speaking or calling unbelievers to come. You are not listening. It says in Revelation 3:20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” God is knocking and calling but it much like all the radio signals that are out in the airways, you can’t hear them unless you are tuned into the station. The acceptance of Jesus is like the radio being tuned to the station broadcasting Gods voice. He is both all loving and he is just. We have a big problem called sin. The beginning of the journey is to realize our good works, our sacrifice, or rituals are not enough to fix the problem of sin so we could  reach God.   It says in Acts 2:21 "And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” You won’t call on him or open the door to him as long as you think you have no need for what he offers. The following passage illustrates that it is not about being good enough. It is all about believing and turning to Jesus.  In Luke 23:39-43 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
That guy was a bad man deserving his sentence for the crimes he had committed. He did not do most of the stuff that we include in "getting saved". He never said a sinners prayer or walked to the alter in a church. He never got baptized or took communion.  He did not have time to learn the Bible or amend in any way the wrongs of his life. Yet Jesus said he would be with him in paradise. All he did was believe Jesus was innocent and asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

My posts are written mainly for believers, to encourage them in their walk with Jesus. So this may seem like a repeat of things you already know. If you are a believer you should be able to hear God and I will look at some possible reasons in future posts, why you might be struggling. Perhaps however, you have friends who are asking you questions about God, I hope this helps.  The starting place for hearing God is to believe, just like that thief on the cross. In John 10:25  Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” The thief on the cross did nothing more than believe.  In that moment he was “tuned” into Jesus by believing and was able to hear his voice and he followed Jesus right into paradise. He heard the knock, and he answered the door in that moment Jesus came into his life. He would come into yours too.
Prayer:
Dear Lord,
I hear you knocking and calling. Like that thief on the cross I suddenly realize that you did not deserve death on that cross. I call to you - remember me Jesus, I need you. God sent you in his love and you took the punishment to satisfy Gods justice. You took on the punishment my sins deserved. I turn to you as my God and as my saviour. Tune my heart to hear your voice that I may follow you today and every day until I follow you into paradise.











Friday, August 26, 2011

Put It Into Practice



Put It Into Practice
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Phlippians 4:9
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, 
or seen in me -put it into practice. 
And the God of peace will be with you. 

There are those who have drunk deeply from the wells of salvation, those who have become like trees planted beside living water. Some with roots that reach deep into the ground to find the hidden underground streams. Those waters are available to all of us - but all of us are not thirsty enough. We are content with getting our water from others second hand. Some are trying to quench their thirst on things that don’t satisfy. Jesus speaks to the woman he meets at the well and I believe He speaks to us in this also.  In John 4:14 it says “but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

I look at the life of Paul who is the writer of our verse in Philippians. He was not running around trying to find water at this service or another. He had tapped into the source, Jesus. He got what he had to give, directly from Jesus. He had been very zealous as a younger man to study the old testament. It was in him, he had been saturated in it. All he needed was for Jesus to come and meet him in his blindness. In Jesus it all came together and made sense. Jesus became the source of living water in his life. Paul became a vessel for us to drink from. Jesus filled him to overflowing. The truths of God flowed through his life and we are still reading and drinking from them today. We, like Paul need to be delivered of our spiritual blindness - its all just words on a page unless we tap into Jesus. If we drink directly from Him and the seed of our life is planted in Him then as we grow our roots reach deeply into the streams of His living water. We become like a tree that is continually drawing that water through its vast root system. That tree produces fruit in season, its leaves don’t wither. It become a shade and an resting place for the weary. Out of our life grows food for the hungry.  What have I learned or received or heard from Paul, what have I seen in him. I put it into practice - He knew the Word, he drank directly from Jesus. We should follow his example and pick up our fork and begin to feed on God's word.

Things to Ponder:
Am I drinking from the cups of others or am I drinking directly from Jesus?
Prayer:
Dear Lord,  I want you to be the direct source of living water, saturate my life with your presence and make me a cup from which the thirsty may come and drink. Cause me to be fruitful. Help me to put into practice the things I am learning. You are the God of my peace.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Abiding In Christ

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Abiding in Christ
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

John 15:4 (NIV1984)
Remain in me, and I will remain in you.
No branch can bear fruit by itself;
it must remain in the vine. Neither can
you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

I think this subject has become one of my life messages. I have learned this the hard way and seen many sincerely committed people burn out in serving others. The Lord wants us serving but in order to do so we have to remain in Him.
Most of us are fairly detached fro the agricultural process of planting and harvesting. We mostly get our fruit and vegetables from the grocery store. When Jesus told the story of the vine and the branches most folks ad first or second hand knowledge of planting and harvest. It was just how everyone functioned in that time. You grew your own food or you worked for people who did. I suppose today Jesus might use examples from technology. Unless you are connected to the internet with a clear connection you won’t be able to use your phone or your computer to get much done. Both the story of the vine and my example of the internet are about being connected to the source. That connection starts by establishing a relationship with Jesus. How much time you spend connected to Him in your daily life has a lot to do with how much fruit you will produce in your life. 

One of the benefits of abiding or connecting to Jesus is spiritual fruit. There were many years in my own life that I though my natural talents and abilities were enough to sustain ministry work. I’m not saying I never spent time connecting with the Lord in his Word or in prayer or quiet before him.. I did. I would mainly get filled up by this sermon or that book or that conference and I would give out what I had to give but then wonder why I was feeling burned out by the demands of ministry. I was getting my fruit from the market. I was not really connecting directly on a continuing basis with the source. I suppose that is how many Christian continue to live, they get filled up on Sunday and perhaps get enough in their basket to share with their family and close friends.  It is a good place to start but I found that I just could not keep up with the demands of others who where spiritually hungry and thirsty. I might show them where I was getting fed and hopefully they would come and get fed too.
Still I found myself often busy serving on Sunday’s and during the week and relying on others to feed me was not enough. I had to find the source and get connected directly.  I don’t come to church to get fed. I come to church to serve, to do that I have to be able to feed myself during the week. This is true of pastors and other ministry leaders. However what often happens is that the demands of ministry become so great, there is just so much to do and so much need. The time apart with the Lord little by little becomes less and less. Before you know it you are wondering why you are exhausted and burned out and being attacked by the enemy. I’ve seen a lot of good people crash and burn out before they even realized what was happening. Picking up the peaces after such crashes is pretty messy. The bigger the ministry the more people who are directly and indirectly effected. The enemy knows this and works over time to keep ministry leaders so busy serving and doing good stuff and away from spending time with the Lord. He knows it is just a matter of time till they will crash and burn.

My point is we all need to stay connected to Jesus. If we are not regularly abiding in Him we won’t be producing fruit. Vines that are cut off from the source quickly shrivel and die. This is not just true for ministry leaders, we should all be leaders in the making. We have all been created to produce fruit but we must stay connected to the vine to be fruitful.

Prayer
Dear Lord,
I want to be directly connected to you. I don’t just want the left overs from someone elses time spent with you. Help me to know you more so that I have left overs to share with others who are starving. Help me lead them to become directly connected and seated at your banquet table.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Blessing in Disguise

Blessings in Disguise
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Genesis 49:25-27 (NIV1984)
Because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, 
who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, 
blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb.
Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of the prince among his brothers.

Note: If you are getting this in your e-mail you will have to go to my Devotional site to see the video.

Today I am sharing a song that has touched my heart this past year. I know for the longest time, I thought of blessings as only the good things in life, my view was very shallow. It is a blessing to be given a gift, friends are a blessing, family is a blessing. Wisdom, peace, healing, and prosperity are all blessings. But what about suffering, pain and trials are they blessings? My dictionary gives bit of insight into the word blessing. It is the act or words of a person who blesses, a special favor, mercy, or benefit, a favor or gift bestowed by God.

I think sometimes blessing can come in odd packages. A friend who is difficult to deal with may be the blessing that helps work the character quality of patience into our life. Not getting what I want, when I want it may be the blessing that helps me to learn to trust God. In the bible you will find the story of Joseph. He is sold by his brothers into slavery and spends years and years in a life in circumstances that are not at all what he imagined. Those years of hardship as a slave and then a prisoner, molded and shaped him. Maybe it knocked off some of his prideful and arrogant rough edges in the process as well. In spite of his hardships, he continued to trust God and made the best of his situation.  Was that time of slavery and the years in prison blessing? Lets not answer that quite yet. 

Most of us know the end of the story. If not you can find Joseph’s story right around Genesis 37.
Keep in mind that Joseph had no gift of foresight to see how his life would turn out. He did, as a boy, have some wild dreams of his brothers and parents, bowing down to him. Sharing those dreams got him mostly trouble. I have found that when God gives me dreams or visions, they generally have a way of trying and testing my faith. There is always a span of time when nothing in my present circumstances indicates that I am anything but crazy to continue to believe what God has shown me.  I am sure it was the same for Joseph. Were those dreams a blessing during his years in prison. Did they give him a thread of hope to hang on to or did they cause him to question his sanity? There are so many questions in this story that challenge my understanding of what I call God’s blessing. Those years of hardship prepared Joseph to be the second most powerful man in all of Egypt.  People got saved from the famine because Joseph was in the wrong place at the right time.

How do we measure what is or is not a blessing in our life?  Might the difficulty you are facing be working in ways that you can’t even see? Could something like loneliness be a blessing if it draws you closer to God or causes you to begin to reach out to others. I like the lines at the end of the song Blessings by Laura Story.


“What if my greatest disappointments, or the aching of this life,
Is a revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?
What if trials of this life, the rain, the storms,
the hardest nights are your mercies in disguise?

I wonder, are the things you are facing making you more thirsty for God? I guess my challenge to you, is to look at the things you are going through from another angle. I would propose you look upon them with a thankful heart. With a heart that chooses to trust even when things don’t presently make sense. What if the hard things you are facing, are blessing in disguise?


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Out in the Meadow With God

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Out In the 
Meadow With God

Isaiah 44:3-5 (NIV1984)


 For I will pour water 
on the thirsty land,
   and streams on 
the dry ground;
I will pour out my Spirit
on your offspring,
   and my blessing on your descendants.
 They will spring up 
like grass in a meadow,
   like poplar trees by flowing streams.
5 One will say, ‘I belong to the LORD’;
   another will call himself by the name of Jacob;
still another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’
   and will take the name Israel.


While I was on vacation recently I had some very quiet days. I was staying at my sisters home in the country. She and her husband have a lovely piece of property with tall pine trees and horses and pastures. I found I enjoyed walking out into the meadow at various times with an old blanket to sit on. I would also bring my bible and my note book.  During that time I would sometimes pour my heart out before the Lord and other times I would lay on the blanket and watch the clouds move across the sky while I listened to the Lord or simply rested in his presence.


When we come to him thirsty he promises that he will pour out water, and cause streams to flow through those dry and barren places in our lives. I know I had some dusty dry places that needed some watering. Sometimes it is good to break away from normal day to day grind and take a little time to be out in the meadow with God.


The first week I was on vacation my kids were at camp - so it was really quiet during the day. I love how the verse today says "I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants." As a mom that is important to me. I want to know that the Lord is going to pour Himself into their lives as well as my own. That he is going to bless my decedents.  My kids had a great time at camp and came home tired but I can see a new stronger walk with the Lord growing up out of the seeds that were planted during camp. What a wonderful promise about our decedents. "They will spring up like grass in a meadow,  like poplar trees by flowing streams." I want my children to have deep roots of faith that will reach down to the underground streams for living water. So that even during times of spiritual drought they will be able to bring living water to those around them who are thirsty.


I guess that is my prayer for all of us. That we would take time to find those quiet times of refreshing in the Lords presence so that we are not trying to minister on empty. There are lots of great things we can try to do for God but if we are not abiding in him - we won't be producing much in the way of fruit. It is easy when we try to do ministry on our own strength to burn out.  Perhaps that is you today. I urge you to stop and find some alone time with the Lord. Allow him to re-fill you. Maybe you can't take a week of vacation but maybe you can take some mini praise vacations. A praise vacation is when I put on my head phones or lock myself in my car and listen to praise music and allow the Lord to refresh me. I remember reading about one woman who had many children who would throw her apron over her head and her children knew not to bother her because she was talking to God.

Dear Lord, 
Help us find those places of refreshing in your presense. Be an owais in the desert for us today. Lead us to streams of water and let our root reach down deep into you so that we may not dry out.

Monday, August 22, 2011

There Is A River


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There is A River
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Psalm 46:3-5 (NIRV)
  The waters of the sea may roar and foam.  The mountains may shake when the waters rise. But we will not be afraid.
     Selah

God’s blessings are like a river. 
They fill the city of God with joy. That city is the holy place where the Most High God lives.
 Because God is there, the city will not fall.
 God will help it at the beginning of the day. 


I rode my bike to the Spokane river the other day. There is a beautiful park where one can get right to the rivers edge. There are places where the river is churning and turbulent, and other places where it is calm and still. Each area has is unique charm and I love taking photos of the beauty I discover.  There are many ways to experience the river, from its bank one can feel the water splash and foam. From above on the bridges one can see how it stretches on and on with graceful turns and falls, I’ve even seen some folks wading along the banks with their dogs. The river has its charm no matter how you choose to experience it.

Today I was thinking more about the land through which the river passes. Over time that land has been changed by the river. The rivier has cut a path through rock and the land. It will flow to its destination no matter what obsicles it may encounter along its path. It will move them or go around them but it will not be stopped. The river was here long before the city rose up around it. It is because of the river that city has grown up in this area. In the pioneer days you needed a good water source for your city to survive. We need a spiritual water source in our lives as well.

Where is the holy place where the Most High God lives? Do you realize because of Jesus, The Most High God makes His home in you. His blessings flow through your life like a mighty river. He is the source of the river that flows through our lives and we have no idea where that river will go and what it will touch and change during its journey to its destination. I love the line that says “Because God is there, the city will not fail.” I don’t have to worry about where the river will flow. I don’t even need to worry about the obsticles the the river will face. I can trust that God is in the midst of my life. He knows the plan and the direction that His blessings will take and how they will flow through my life. It is a comfort to know that because God abides in the city, that the city will not fail. God will be there to help when the mountains shake and the waters rise. It is true of Him in our lives as well. We have no reason to fear. God will help at the beginning of the day. I think he will help throught out the day and the night as well. I do love to spend time with Him in the morning before my family is up and before the day gets crazy busy. I like to spend time with Him at the start of my day because it seems to help set the river of my day flowing on the right course. He is my source and I look to Him to flow through me like a river of blessing and to flow out from my life to the thirsty in a sun scorced land.
Prayer:
Dear Lord,
Help us to see you as the source of the water of life that flows from your presnece into our lives. Help us to carry that water to those who are parced and thursty. Be with us today even when the seas roar and foam and when mountain shake and waters rise. Help us to trust in you and to not be afraid.


Friday, August 19, 2011

From Here To There

The Beloved Project a mosaic by Margot
From Here To There
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Isaiah 42:16 NIV
I will lead the blind by ways 
they have not known, 
along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;
I will turn the darkness into light before them 

and make the rough places smooth.
These are the things I will do; 

I will not forsake them.


Life is an unfamiliar path, every step, every day. I am often blind to what God is doing in the trials and triumphs and the ordinariness of each day. Yet God promises to guide us. There are so many times that I have looked ahead and the way seemed dark, impossible, and far beyond my ability.  There have been things that I have wanted to do that often start with a spark of inspiration. In that instant I can see for a brief time the end of a project. I try to capture those ideas in a journal or a sketch.

How to get from here to there can seem at times like a vast canyon, far to big to walk around and to deep to walk across. How does one even begin such a journey?  I thought today I would share a bit of how I have gotten from here to there.

I trust God to order my steps. I trust that He will turn darkness into light, that He will make rough places smooth.  I don't let go of that wisp of inspiration I hold it in my heart. I do the things I need to do today. I take the steps that I can take today and I trust that as I move day by day in faith, that God is working as I believe and trust and look to him to help me figure it out. I don't just sit around moping about how it is impossible.

Beloved Sketch
Take for example the Beloved Project in the photo above. Three years ago it was a wisp of an inspiration that came to me during a church service. I don't recall if it was from something said in the message or if I was listening beyond the message to what the Spirit was saying. In that moment I sketched what I saw. I pinned to my bulletin board. About a year later I was motivated to draw it on a big board. Then we moved and lots of life happened and it sat for a long time as a board in my studio. Life was busy and I was working on lots of smaller mosaic projects. It was never forgotten, it waited for me to be ready to start to work on it. Another year passed and it began to prod at me to take the next steps of committing it to glass. It may have been something someone said to me, or things in my life helped me to better see, understand and feel the piece. I don't always know what it is that flips the switch and causes the light bulbs to turn on for me. I just know that if God has shown me something, He will help me to turn the darkness into light.  I have seen it happen over and over in my art and in my life. Suddenly what was dark becomes light, what was rough becomes smooth, and I can see the next steps to take.  I take them one after another until I find myself to have traveled from "here to there." When the way seems dark, I hold on to what I have seen and I actively watch and wait. In that time I am seeking God for wisdom and insight and inspiration. I often see things far off that I don't know how to get to. I am confident that if God has shown it to me He will also in His time show me the way.  Journeys of faith begin when you catch a glimpse of a vision and decide to take the first steps into the impossible and the unknown.

Prayer:
Dear Lord,
You know the things you have shown us and put in each heart. You love it when we trust you and take steps of faith to go from here to there. Help us take the steps that we need to take today. They may not even seem related at this point. Take my hand and lead me, I don't know the way but I know you do.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Choosing Life

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Choosing Life
A Devotional by Bess Blanco

Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV
 "This day I call heaven and earth 
as witnesses against you 
that I have set before you 
life and death, 
blessings and curses. 
Now choose life, so that you 
and your children may live."




Sometimes life is like the landscape; we face “mountains” of problems and difficulties, or have to “swim an ocean” of issues. For me, this has been no more true than right now, as I walk through a “desert” of my own after a difficult move back to my beloved southwestern desert from the “oasis” I experienced for two years in South Texas. As I have settled back into the desert life, I have found myself looking around at the “death” I see everywhere – dried up trees, shrubs, and even cacti, due to the record-breaking drought in recent years.

So as I was pouting and grumbling to God this morning, on my short drive back home from the store, I heard Him speak. “The choice is before you my child; choose life or death.” Hot tears began to roll down my cheeks as I smiled reluctantly, so touched that God cared enough about me, amongst all His other precious kids, to gently discipline me.

I recalled the Scripture He was speaking about; Deuteronomy 30:19, one of my favorites through the years. I’ve used this Scripture as an encouragement to others many times, and thought I knew it well. But today, as He prodded my heart lovingly, I found a new meaning in those precious words: “I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live…” For me, today, He was saying that choosing life isn’t always a literal thing, but that it is spiritual, mental, emotional. I must choose to not only “speak life” over my circumstances, feelings, and future – as courageously as I speak it over other’s – but also to look for life! It’s always there.

So now as I walk the neighborhoods here in the southwest, and pass the sandy, dry patches of desert earth, I’ll be looking for life. In a small yellow flower, or the jackrabbit bounding away, or the morning dove that wakes me with his call, woo-hoo-hoo. I’ll look for life, and I’ll find it, because I choose life.

Prayer: 
Dear Lord, Help me notice and appreciate the wonder of your creation as I look for life today. Remind me of your love and your kindness today. I choose to speak life over over my circumstances, feelings, and future. I choose life, now help me to look and find it all around me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Healing Is In Your Hands


Healing Is In Your Hands
 A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Matthew 4:23 
Jesus went throughout Galilee, 
teaching in their synagogues, 
preaching the good news of the kingdom, 
and healing every disease 
and sickness among the people.

 

Some of you who are following this devotional blog have let me know that you enjoy my simple recordings. While I was on vacation I did a simple cover video recording of Healing is In your Hands. It is a beautiful song by Christy Nockels that has touched my heart.  I have several friends who are in need of God's healing touch. It is my hope that this song will minister to them and to others who are trusting God to heal be it through the hands of doctors or simply a healing touch directly from the Lord.  However God choses to work is fine with me. I do want to encourage you to trust and to not loose hope. I have found great strength and hope by remembering the many promises of healing found in the Word.  Please leave a comment if you are in need of healing and would like our growing devotional family of readers to stand with you in prayer.

Here are some of my favorite verses about healing:

1 Peter 2:24 
"Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, 
that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness-- 
by whose stripes you were healed."

Isaiah 40:31 
"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; 
they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary, 
and they shall walk and not faint."

Psalm 34:19 
"Many are the afflictions of the righteous, 
but the LORD delivers him out of them all."

Jeremiah 30:17 
"For I will restore health unto you, 
and I will heal you of your wounds, saith the Lord."

Psalm 103:2-3 
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: 
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who heals all thy diseases"

3 John 2 
"Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper 
and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth."

Isaiah 58:8 
"Thy light shall break forth as the morning, 
and thy health shall spring forth speedily; 
and thy righteousness shall go before thee: 
the glory of the Lord shall be thy rear guard."

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I thank you that you have already paid the price for our healing. Help us to trust in your great love as we stand on your word for our own healing or for the healing of people we know and care about. You know the hearts of each person reading today come now and meet each one at the point of thier need.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

He Is The Path

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He Is The Path
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Psalms 16:11
You have made known to me 
the path of life; you will fill me 
with joy in your presence, 
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Maybe it is just me, I know there are some people who have their lives all planned out they knew what they wanted to do back in grade school. I tend to be pretty scattered. I do have goals that I am working on. I like to have a frame work but I like those frameworks to allow for great amounts of creativity with in the predetermined boundaries. I pray and ask God to help me set the structures of my life according to His Word but I believe He allows me room to creatively express my life in Him with in those structures. My structures might look different from yours. There are things that easily trip me up and so in my structures  I may not include all the things you may include in yours. For example while alcohol is not an addictive issue for me and while my structure might allow for drinking in moderation. Yours may not. If however I am sharing the journey with others for whom alcohol is an issue for their sake I should abstain out of love. Love would not want to cause another to be tripped by the freedoms I may have been afforded.


For me that path is simple its just being led by the Holy Spirit day by day. Jesus is the path of life. As I spend time with Him I begin to see his heart and the path becomes very clear.  I seek first His kingdom day by day. He adds to my life the things I need to accomplish His purposes.  I’m not advocating that one be purposeless or vision-less but I do try to lift those ideas to the Lord. I have found it better to be in step with what he’s doing rather than assume He will bless what I’m doing, particularly if I have not kept Him in the center. It is easy to get off on my own path and loose sight of His.  Even when I try to figure or plan it out there are so many unknowns that things rarely go like I might have planned anyway.  I have been amazed at the answers to prayer that have been around the next corner. You never know who you will meet and how they will impact your life.  Or what conversation may be the key to opening a new area of possibility.  I do find joy in the Lords presence and part of that joy is knowing that He is the path. He is the way the truth the life.


Things To Ponder:
Is Jesus the center of your life?


Prayer:
Lord make yourself known to me as the path of life. Help me to follow you. Help me to spend time with you so that I want what you want. I ask for wisdom and vision but most of all I ask that you be in the center of everything I do. Be with me today.

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Strength and My Shield

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My Strength 
and My Shield
 A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Psalm 28:7
The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. 

My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to him in song. ~


What an awesome thing it is to have the Lord as our strength and shield. If you really ponder that for a moment... it does make you heart leap for joy. If I were to try to recount the many things he has done for me each and every day it would exceed a library full of books.
 
A while ago I was given the most beautiful outfits by a woman who likes to shop and when her closets get too full she passes these out fits on. I have been blessed to be on her hand me down list. I know some people are not excited by hand me downs. For me it is a huge blessing, I don’t generally enjoy shopping for clothes, I believe the Lord knows – its just part of how he wired me. More than once in my life I have been clothed like the lilies of the field. Clothes are just not something I worry about and yet the Lord makes sure I am dressed as an ambassador for His kingdom. He knew I was heading into a season of more public ministry and he provided everything I have needed to do what He had called me to do.

My heart trusts in him and I am helped. I don’t think trust just happens - it develops and grows with each act of kindness and mercy from the hands of the Lord. Its sometimes so easy to be focused on our problems and struggles that we miss seeing the places that God has been our strength and shield.  Trust  comes from following God and knowing learning that God is good, that God cares, that God provides, that God will work in and through our present circumstances. Sometime He will help us to make needed changes and sometime He will help us change to grow.

Things to Ponder:
Do you really trust God to hear your prayer and to answer?

Prayer:
Dear Lord,
Thank you for being my strength and my shield. I trust you with my life. When I think of you I want my heart to leap for joy. Help me remember to make up songs of thanks today.

Friday, August 12, 2011

God Repeats Himself


 God Repeats Himself
A Devotional and Original Song by Margot Cioccio


Deuteronomy 31:8
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

I always wonder why God felt he had to repeat this message to Joshua. He becomes a great leader and must have at times been afraid and overwhelmed by the responsibility that he inherits from Moses. Lets face it those would be some big sandals for anyone to fill.
It seems by my count that the Lord tell him this at least three times. I personally find this very comforting. If God would patiently repeat himself three times for someone like Joshua he will repeat the things I need to hear too.  God is going to make sure I hear Him when he calls me or speaks to me. Joshua is said to have wholeheartedly followed the Lord. Come to think of it God repeated himself three times to another guy named Samuel who at the time was a young inexperienced boy.
We are not always the quickest to catch on to what God is saying and doing fortunately God speaks again and again in various ways until he get his message through to us. I can rest assured that He is able to make sure I do finally catch on even if it means He must repeat himself.

I have found that sometimes God will bring the same message from unrelated sources.  I was reading a fiction King Arthur book and in the book was mentioned  a woman named Julian of Norwich,  an ancoress.  I had never in my many years as a Christian heard of such a thing. That same week I was reading a book about the love of God and prayer and this same woman is mentioned in that book. At this point I am beginning to catch on that the Lord is trying to get my attention. So I did a little research on the web. Sure enough there was a fair amount of information about her life. She lived in a time where women were not allowed to express themselves in writing. Yet she had such an incredible near death mystic experience where she had amazing visions of the passion of Christ.  During her life she wrote profoundly about this experience. I am always amazed that there are some people who’s lives continue to touch lives after they have depart this life. They have the ability to touch not only their own generation but many that follow. He will never leave or forsake you  and he will get your attention when he needs to. I have included the original song I wrote as a result of being inspired by the life and writings of Julian of Norwich.

Things to Ponder:
Has God told you something more than one time in more than one way?

Prayer:
Dear Lord,  I want my life to count for something not only now but to some how touch others long after I have gone home to be with my Savior. Help me to be so full of your love that I leave a legacy that continues to lead people to you.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Battle Is The Lords

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The Battle Is The Lords
 A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

2 Chronicles 20:17
You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’



Part of our job as a believers is to show up. To take our position by faith, to stand firm.
It is a awesome thing to see God’s deliverance in peoples lives. Often times we do have to face our fears and look them in the eyes and know that the Lord will be with us.
He does not hide us away from our enemies He sets a table for us in plain site. The enemy gets to watch the Lord lavish His blessings upon His people. 

Discouragement keeps us from showing up and from facing our fears. When we just sink back in our couch and send out invitations to our personal pity party - it is then we are loosing the battle. God may have been ready to act but we have tied his hands with our unbelief and doubt. Yep things look bad, they may look impossible, they may seem hopeless. Sure we must face our fears but we must look beyond them to the one who loves us and promises us that He will be with us. In 2 Chronicles 20:17 the people did not even have to fight. God did the fighting for them. God confounds the enemies and they fight and annihilate each other. God’s people got to watch and then clean up the spoils on the battlefield.

We too need to watch and be amazed what he does for people who will believe and trust him.
Our biggest part in the project is to allow him to do the work. To be open, honest and vulnerable before Him. I have found most everything boils down to two necessary responses from us.
The first is to repent - to take responsibility for the wrong we have done.
The second is to forgive - others and yourself as well for the wrongs done.

Things to Ponder:
Are there areas in your life where doubt and unbelief are clouding your view of God?

Is God bringing to your mind things you need to repent of or things you need to forgive?

Prayer:
Dear Lord,
Thank you for fighting my battles. I want to do my part. I have forgiven and repented of the things you have brought to mind today. I will forgive myself and stop beating myself up and allow you to heal me. Help me not to be afraid or discouraged but to trust you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Keep Hope Alive

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Keep Hope Alive
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Isaiah 40:31
But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; 

they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Ok this one is from the refrigerator verse collection – here is one we all know and love.
Hope in the LORD renews strength. We can soar and run and walk on the strength that comes from hope. Hope is choosing to believe the impossible is possible. Hope delayed will arrive any time now. Hope gives us something to look forward to. Hope gives us a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I always love the part in the JR Tolkien stories where Frodo and Sam have gotten rid of the ring. There they sit on a lava flow and they know there is no rescue possible. They have accepted that the job is costing them their lives. Yet they talk about the Shire and they keep the hope of home alive.  The eagles come and swoop down and grab them in their mighty talons and carry them to safety.
This verse comes to mind when I see that part of the movie. Oh for friends like Sam who will sticks by you to the end. Friends who will recount the good, remember the noble cause. It is in those moments of faith in the face of the impossible, that God is blessed by our hope in Him.   In that moment where we are at the end of our endurance and we can bear no more - He swoops in on wings like eagles.

Who are the people who inspire hope in your life. Keep those folks near but better yet let us each endeavor to be the people who keep hope alive. Can we stir those around us to hope and belief?
I may not know how God will deliver me but I know my situation has not caught him by surprise. I must be one who keeps hope alive even when others around me can see nothing but the dark reality of the here and now. I want to see with eyes of hope and faith.


Things to Ponder:
Think of times where God has come though in the past - remembering helps us to hope in him now.

Are there areas where you feel weak and run down? Check those areas to see if you have lost hope.

Think of five people in your life that help keep hope alive - spend more time with them.

Prayer:
Dear Lord,
Help me as I put my hope in you to find renewed strength. Help me to soar on the winds of your mercy and love. Help me run and not grow weary, help me walk and not faint. Cause me to grow in hope and to inspire hope in others around me. Let me soar and run and walk in you today.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

He Preserves The Faithful

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He Preserves 
The Faithful
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio




Psalm 31:23-24 (NIV1984)
 Love the LORD, all his saints! 

The LORD preserves the faithful,
   but the proud he pays back in full.
24 Be strong and take heart, 

all you who hope in the LORD.

We moved to Spokane for a better job with the company my husband had been working for and two months later they closed their doors. We had committed to renting a big 5 bedroom home and signed a 2 year lease. He looked for jobs for 2 years while also going to school to get his associates degree. During that time we did have unemployment money but the budget never worked out on paper.
Over and over again God supplied our need most often at the last moment. He preserves the faithful!

Un-employment ended and my husband still had not found a job and so we decided to move out of the big house. It was a horrible hard move. We had to get rid of about half of our stuff in garage sales because we knew we had to move to a smaller home. Then we did not find another place in time and had to move to storage and went to stay with my mom. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD

While we were there my mom fell and the place she hit her arm became infected with a type of MERSA. She was in the hospital and they tried and tried to treat it with various medications. Soon as the medicine course would end it would flair up again. They finally after more than a month, had to do an operation to remove the tissue in that area. During that same time my aunt that lives above my mother also had to have surgery.  So it was clear that God had us there on purpose. They could not have managed with out our help. It was a 45 minutes drive from her house into Spokane.  With lessons and activities we are involved in we made that drive several times a week. We did finally find a small home to move into a year ago in July. It was more than I had hoped to have to pay but it over looks a beautiful wetland area. My husband did get a part time job working nights doing store resets - He has to travel to stores around the region. He is still doing that job a year later. 

I’d like to say I have easy answers for why some periods of our life are so difficult. I know that God has used it to cause me to press into Him.  I have seen God to be faithful and I have learned to need less. Gods goal is to shape us and mold us to fulfill his plans and purposes. To do that he often uses trials, hardship and pain - they are in hind site often blessings in disguise that prepare us for future things. Joseph spent 22 years as a slave and in prison.  Would God put someone through pain, disappointment, hardship to prepare them to later save a nation. We read those stories and we know the ending but during those years Joseph did not know how it would turn out.  If I have learned anything it is to trust God even when I don’t understand. Some things will only become clear in the light of future. One never knows when we will turn the corner and that future someday will be staring us in the face providing the answer to what we do not yet understand.  We can't however just stand around scratching our heads. We need to be taking the little steps of faith that present themselves day by day.  He makes the vision and the way more clear as we take each progressive step of faith.
Prayer:
Dear Lord, Thank you for your promise to preserve the faithful. Help me be strong and take heart. My hope is in you Lord. Right now I don’t understand all the whys. I pray you use this time in my life to mold and shape me to fulfill your purposes.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Name of The LORD

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The Name of The LORD
1 Samuel 17:45 (NIV1984) 
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin,
but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, 
the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 

 I too often forget that there is a spiritual war going on - forgetting does not make it go away. It just leaves me and people I care about open to attack from the enemy.   Usually when I think of spiritual weapons I think of the ones listed in Ephesian 6. You know the helmet of salvation, the breast plate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the belt of truth, the gospel peace shoe and the sword of the Spirit. 
So, ok, I put those things on by faith but I'm not sure we really get it. This is not just some little prayer ritual ditty that we confess over ourselves. If I put on the helmet of salvation it speaks more to having comprehended that I was once hopelessly lost in sin, with no way on my own to get to God. There is nothing I can do to deserve the magnificent pardon that I have received through Jesus and his death and resurrection.  That helmet becomes securely on my head when I stop trying by my own efforts to sanctify or clean myself up. When I finally accept what Jesus has done on my behalf, I turn the corner into a life of gratitude.  The breast plate guards my heart not by my righteousness but by His. Coming to terms with this moves me to accept the condition of my heart and to allow the Lord into those hidden and secret places, to share it with Jesus honestly and openly. Its not like I can really hide any of it from Him any more than Adam and Eve could hide their nakedness with a fig leaf.

In our verse today however the weapon that David wields is The Name of the LORD. So did He stand there shouting Jehovah Jireh My Provider His Grace Is Sufficient, or was it I AM has it out for you Giant. I don't think that is what happened that day. It was in that moment that David declared to the giant and the listening armies "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty."  It is not the rocks or the sling in his hand or by speaking the right words.  It is the confidence in knowing the LORD Almighty.

David had spent years as a shepherd alone with the sheep. Alone with the Lord, singing songs, talking out loud to the LORD, calling on the Lord to help him when the lions or bears made of with one of the flock. He had a deep and abiding relationship with the Lord that had come from having spent time with the Lord on a daily basis. Too often people come to their moment of crisis and begin sending up Hail Mary prayers for Gods deliverance. God is looking for us to walk with Him daily, to be learning the sound of His voice. To make time to come away and fellowship with Him amidst the never ending duties of daily life. Is He my priority, is He first in my heart?  It never hurts to go through your Bible and discover all the names by which the LORD is called there are deep riches to be found. It is not so much knowing the names He is called but knowing Him intimately and deeply. Those names are merely a point of introduction to that part of who He is.
When I have seen him deliver me in a financial pinch I know Him as my provider. When I have been consumed with guilt and shame I have come to know Him as the Lord who sanctifies and forgives. When I am confused and I look to Him I begin to know Him as my peace. In whatever we are facing there is a comfort in knowing that He is more than enough.  

You may be facing some trial today. The Lord wants to help you - He waits for you to get to the end of your self sufficiency and realize your need for Him. Not just in this moment of crisis but in every step of the journey forward. He waits to share the journey with you. 

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I want to know you more. Help me to make time to spend with you. Help me to not put on your armor with some whimsical ritual of a prayer. Help me instead to think deeply on the purpose and the provision of those pieces of armor. That they would so become a part of me as you fill me with understanding and insight into what you have done, and who you are. Help me to not only know your name but know you.

Friday, August 5, 2011

William Booth - Who Cares?

William Booth in about 1862
William Booth - Who Cares?
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio
 

“While women weep, as they do now, I'll fight;
while children go hungry, as they do now I'll fight; 
while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, 
I'll fight; 
while there is a drunkard left, 
while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, 
while there remains one dark soul without the light of God, 
I'll fight, 
I'll fight to the very end!”
~William Booth 


I try to remember that Christianity did not begin with my generation. There have been many who have gone before and left footsteps for me and others to follow. Their journeys of faith and the legacies they have left have been a great inspiration to me at various times in my life. One of these who I would share with you today, is William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army.

He starts his life out in a fairly well of family in England but due to some poor financial decisions the family ends up bankrupt. His father has to take William out of school at age 13 because they can no longer afford the tuition. He is apprenticed to a pawnbroker and his father's alcoholism soon leads to his untimely demise. Six years later his apprenticeship ends, during which he has studied and read and trained himself to be a lay preacher.  He goes on to find that he is much more passionate about street ministry and preaching than the asignments given through the Methodist Reformed Church. Probably as a result of his own first hand experience with poverty he has a deep heart for the poor and the destitute.

One article that he wrote profoundly impacted my life back in my early 20's and stays with me even to this day. It is an article called Who Cares? (Here's the link). It is a vision that he had one day while traveling and was pondering the condition of the people he saw.  I have never been able to shake the images created by that article. It is part of what moves me to reach out to the basket cases of the world. Even yesterday a friend, I know only from writing back and forth for a year commented. "YOU HAVE BEEN SO SUPPORTIVE...HOW DO YOU PUT UP WITH ME I AM SUCH A BASKET CASE!" I replied "I seem to specialize in basket cases. It seems to be part of how God wired me. I make sense to basket cases or maybe its just that I see people with eyes of faith and hope, most people only see the surface mess." I think it is partly how God has wired me but it is also images from Who Cares? by Willaim Booth have always stuck in my head. I remember that Jesus rescued me. He has picked me up when I have fallen, he has restored my heart and life time and time again. I want to be doing what He is doing. In the following quote from the article Who Cares? I captured His heart at an early age and I hope as you read this devotional and that article that your heart will also be moved to hear His call.
"And then I saw something more wonderful still. The miseries and agonies, and perils and
blasphemies, of these poor struggling people in this dark sea moved the pity of the great God in Heaven; moved it so much that He sent a Great Being to deliver them. And I thought that this Great Being whom Jehovah sent came straight from His palace, right through the black clouds, and leaped right into the raging sea among the drowning, sinking people; and there I saw Him toiling to rescue them, with tears and cries, until the sweat of His great anguish ran down in blood. And as He toiled and embraced the poor wretches, and tried to lift them on to the rock, He was continually crying to those already rescued - to those whom He had helped up with His own bleeding hands - to come and help Him in the painful and laborious task of saving their fellows."

I know with the work with the homeless and poor that I am involved in through my inner city church that it is hard to find help. We cry out for laborers from our fellow suburb churches to come and lend a hand. The response is very small for the most part. We get a big influx of help around Thanksgiving but the homeless and poor are here struggling all year long. Its as if people do their good dead for the year by giving a few old coats or a turkey and check their concern for others off their to do list for the year. I know we all have our own things that we feel called to give our time and energy to- but as I read my Bible and look to see what Jesus was doing - he was not cloistered away in the Temple. He was out on the streets meeting the needs of the sick, the demon possessed, the poor and the broken. I guess I am challenging you to look beyond your own circumstances - you will always find others who's situation is far worse than your own.

I will end with Psalm 41:1 Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. Your own situation may be a mess today but there is something wonderful that happens when we lay down our own concerns and leave them in the hands of Jesus and go about his Kingdom work reaching out to others who are struggling. These words of William Booth's compel me to put aside my own concerns and make myself available to the Lord and His work.
He was continually crying to those already rescued - to those whom He had helped up with His own bleeding hands - to come and help Him

Prayer:
Dear Lord, 
Help me as I spend time with you to catch your vision and your heart. That when I hear you call I will be quick to respond - Lord send me!. You know my own concerns and struggles and I want to intrust them to your care and change my focus from myself to your Kingdom and the needs of others.
Lead me by your Holy Spirit, I make myself available to you.
 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Blind Man

I am thrilled that my friend Mark Kenney has sent us another excellent post. I know that some of you reading this are struggling with health issues and are in need of other miracles. You are welcome to comment so our growing family of readers can join you in praying for your need.
~ Margot

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The Blind Man
A Devotional by Mark Kenney







 John 9 5-7
  While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
 After saying this, he spit on the ground, 
made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.  
“Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” 
(this word means “Sent”). 
So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.



The blind man in scripture undoubtedly cried out to God for his sight several times in his life. When a strange man he had heard fables about came up and rubbed spit laced mud on his face I'm reasonably confident he wasn't thinking God had answered his prayer for healing in that moment.
How sad for him if he stayed critical and just wiped the mud off right there.

He had to get to the pool!

On the way to the pool, everyone he knew and many he didn't know all saw him with mud on his face and all saw that he was blind. They all saw he was helpless to even get to the pool on his own and needed others to assist him. His decision to obey was really a decision to get absolutely and completely out of any and everything comfortable or familiar and do a task that was very emotionally challenging to himself.

Some people reading this have been all caught up in the fact that they have mud on their face. They are caught up in the fact that God's most recent instruction will most likely embarrass them to others. The Lord would say to you... stop focusing on the mud and get to the pool!
The only thing the devil can do to keep you blind is to keep you focused on the mud. If instead you will ignore the mud and get to the pool, there you can wash the mud off and reveal your awaiting miracle!

Dear Lord, 
Help me get my focus right. Remind me of any instructions you have given me that I brushed aside because they seemed too embarrassing.  Help me be obedient to do the things you are calling me to do. Help me to not worry about the mud and help me get to the pool where your miracle answers are waiting for me.