Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Digging Deeper

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

This is an idea for a mosaic called Angel of Mercy
Habakkuk 3:2
2 LORD, I have heard of your fame;
   I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD.
Renew them in our day,
   in our time make them known;
   in wrath remember mercy.


I am this morning reading in the book of Habakkuk. It is in the Old Testament and is found among the minor prophets. I am reminded of 2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 

You may not have ventured into the minor prophets or even spend much time in the Old Testament. For me many of my favorite stories and verses are hidden within the pages of the Old Testament. Today I happened to open my Bible to the book of Micah and I had on those open pages underlined five passages that at one time or another spoke to me and still speak to me. I often underline and write notes in the margins of my Bible. Some of the verses that I found underlined were Micah 6:8 He has showed you, Oh man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  I don't have to work too hard to understand that one. Even Jesus talks about mercy in the Beatitudes. Matthew 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, they will be sown mercy. I might need to study to unlock the depths of what mercy is and why its something that Jesus says we are blessed or happy when we practice.  


 I stayed up a too late and I am a bit tired and it is nice to be able to open up my Bible and be reminded of things that have ministered to me in the past. So I flipped on into Habakkuk and came to chapter 2 and found the passage that spoke to me in a deep way today. It reads, I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.  2 Then the Lord replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald my run with it. 3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it spakes of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. 

There is comfort for me in knowing there are those who have gone before me who have also been shown things by the Lord. They had to exercise faith in their time as I must in mine.  When the Lord shows me things, mental pictures in my head, visions, or dreams. I usually write them down. I don't always understand them. They are often like bread crumbs along a trail for me to find and follow as I learn to walk with the Lord and to trust Him. The things he shows me, I don't generally talk about much - most of the time because it is more like a clue that was meant for me to follow. Other times the Lord may show something to me for another person. I recently had three dreams about a young woman in our congregation. In all three dreams she was in a large stadium like crowd. A light from above shone on her alone in the crowd. In the first two dreams I merely observed in the third I heard a voice say look and the name of the person. I can speculate on what it might mean. In my experience dreams that come in threes usually mean that they will happen soon. I suspect it means that she will stand out among the crowd and be selected for something the Lord has appointed for her to do and be. In her case I felt led to share just what I saw in the dreams. Perhaps it will encourage her to not give up on the dream the Lord has planted in her heart. Because the Lord showed it to me tells me to make her a focus of my prayers.

Sometimes the things I see are there for me when I need to encourage myself. When I am unsure of the next steps. I go back to the things that I know and I search those things again to see if I missed something. Perhaps the Lord will shine a little more light on the path. I am reminded of Jeremiah 6:16 This is what the LORD says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, 'We will not walk in it.'


Today, I move ahead and find Habakkuk's prayer Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known: in wrath remember mercy. I'm back again to "Mercy" it seems to be running through many of the verses I am reading today. There must be something in it that the Lord wants me to see. So I press in to discover what He has for me today. 

Its probably a good idea to stop and ask the Lord to lead me by His Holy Spirit into the truth in His word that He wants me to discover. I know it is a prayer He will answer because I know I am praying something that is agreement with His word. He says if I ask for wisdom that He will give it and not hold back.

What exactly is mercy? I run across it all the time as I am reading. On a whim I search "How many times is mercy found in the Bible. According to wiki.answers The KJV uses it 262 times and the NIV 124 times. That seems like a lot to me and so I will dig in deeper to try to discover what it means. 

How will I do that you may ask. I will try find what that particular word meant in Greek and Hebrew because a lot of words are bigger and more of a concepts then what our English translation may be able to communicate. I will take a peek at the commentaries written by others. I will begin to read through some of the 124 verses i my NIV Bible using my concordance. In the end I will own the understanding in a deeper way.  All this does take time and I probably will not discover all the riches to be found in one day. You may not be prepared to dig deeper at this point. I don't know if you've ever tried to did a hole with a teaspoon. While teaspoons are good for measuring out sugar into your coffee they are not the most effective tool for digging. Here are some things I use to did a little deeper that you may want to add to your Bible study tools collection. 

I use more on line tools then I used to in the past. I've talked before about Bible Gateway I have that in my book mark tabs and probably use it every day.  I use it to search for the verses that float to the surface of my memory. I can usually find them by searching key words. I also use it to look at how various Bible translations interpret a passage. 

I've recently discovered  http://www.biblestudytools.com in looking up the word mercy there I find the following: Several Hebrew and Greek terms lie behind the English term "mercy." The chief Hebrew term is hesed [d,s,j], God's covenant "lovingkindness." In both the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the LXX) and the New Testament, the term behind "mercy" is most often eleos [e[leo"] in one form or another, but oiktirmos/oiktiro [oijktirmov"/oijkteivrw] (compassion, pity, to show mercy) and splanchna/splagchnizomai [splagcNIVzomai] (to show mercy, to feel sympathy for) also play roles.

God in his mercy sends His son Jesus, to live among us to feel all the kinds of things we feel as humans.  Today I am tired. I can know that Jesus understands. When he was tired I see him going to a secluded place to pray and be with the Father.  So I am endeavoring to find a quiet corner to write, and think, knowing the Lord understands. I love it that he leads me to verses to help me remember his Love. I love reading the word because it helps me to know better the God of those words. My goal in reading the Bible is not just a religious discipline or exercise but more of a relationship with the one who breathed those words in to the hearts of the men who wrote them down.    

Today I don't intend to really write on the topic of mercy as much as to encourage you in your own journey to dig a little deeper. There is always more of God to discover and to know. I wanted to share with you a little of my quiet communion with the Lord this morning. You may also be tired and weary today - rest in the knowledge that He does understand and he does want to meet you and hold you in His arms of Love. 

Prayer:                                                                                                                                                 Dear Lord, Help us to go a bit deeper in your Word to know you more and to try to really seek to find the things you have hidden there just for us. Help me get a better handle on your mercy and what it means to me personally and how you want me to express that truth to others through words and actions. Lord help us to draw near you when we feel tired and in need of refreshing. You are the source of living water flow through me now.




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