Friday, October 28, 2011

To Tell of His Kindnesses

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio


Isaiah 63:7a


I will tell 
of the kindnesses 
of the Lord,
of the deeds for which 
he is to be praised,
according to all the Lord 
has done for us - 



I am sitting her in the early morning trying to gather my thoughts and come up with what to write today. One of the things I wrestle with is what verse to use if you want to send me suggestions I would be happy to receive them. There are days that I read and flip through my bible and they are all my favorite.

Yesterday I found myself wondering how would I explain my devotional to someone who was not a believer. Dictionary.com says

de·vo·tion·al/diˈvōSHənl/

Adjective:
Of or used in religious worship.

Synonyms:
devout - pious - godly - religious - prayerful
 

In an essay from the Metropolitan Museum of Art I found the following "Every stage in the creation of a medieval book required intensive labor, sometimes involving the collaboration of entire workshops. Parchment for the pages had to be made from the dried hides of animals, cut to size and sewn into quires; inks had to be mixed, pens prepared, and the pages ruled for lettering. A scribe copied the text from an established edition, and artists might then embellish it with illustrations, decorated initials, and ornament in the margins. The most lavish medieval books were bound in covers set with enamels, jewels, and ivory carvings."

Back in the early days of the Church the practice was to gaze upon an icon - a religious painting that generally depicted the life of Christ. Later the in the monasteries great care was given to copying of the private prayer books, letters and teachings of the church. A monk would spend much of their life in solitude copying the bible or some other literary work and adding decorative embellishment to the pages. One of the most amazing of these is the Book of Kells, an Irish manuscript that contained the four gospels.  Here is a link to a nicely done mini documentary about the Book of Kells. It shows many of the pages. I got to see one of the copies of the Book of Kells when I was in California a few years ago. I am amazed by the detail and the artistry and I have a sense of wonder that God would call or put on the heart of someone or perhaps a monastic community to create such a book of devotion to God.

So what is a devotional? In my case it is a collection of inspirational writing from a Christian perspective. It is one of the ways I worship and honor God with my life.  I started to think about the word devotional and I realize it is much like the word blessing it does not mean much to anyone outside of Christian circles. Which leads me to think about who is my adudience? My target is believers, some who know me and some who don't who want to be encouraged in their walk with the Lord.

One of the things that I love about books is that they allow you to see into the mind of someone else. Books remind me that I am not alone. That there are others who have faced similar life challenges to my own. One of the things that I personally work on is to be more transparant and I have found writing to be one of the ways that I can be more open and honest about the things that I encounter on my own joureny to follow Jesus daily.

I have been encouraged by so many writers through the years. I was recently given a book writen by a missionary named Sarah Young. It is called Jesus Calling. It is written as if Jesus was speaking directly to you. I enjoy reading it along with a collection of other devotionals that I keep through out my home.
I quite often will stop during my day and read a page from one of these books that is near at hand.
It is one of the ways that I regroup and focus my thoughts on Jesus. 

The verse I selected today is about telling of the kindness of the Lord. It is a kindness of the Lord to me that He leads me to books and allows me to see Him through the eye and lives of others both living and long departed. It is a wonder to me the legacies left by believers through the centuries. It reminds me that Christianity did not begin in my generation but God has sent others before me in time and inspired them to write and inspired others to preserve those writings for future generations. I read a facinating book a while ago called how the Irish Saved Civilization that tells how it was because of the monastic communities all over Ireland that collected and copied what ever literature they could get thier hands on, that are the reason that many of the writings of the past have even survived.

So I am thankful for God's kindnesses through out history to preserve the writing of the past. That the saints that have gone before have left foot prints for others to follow.  I suppose in my own writing that I hope to somehow leave my own foot prints for others to follow. That you would know how great the Love of God is for you. That you would inspired to know the Lord more. In our walk with the Lord it is not just book knowledge. You can be a biblical scolar and miss knowing the person the Bible is about. Our God is so wonderfully creative that He wants to speak directly to us and he will use certianlly the words of the Bible but He speaks in sunsets and through the kindness of a friend, and in the quiet of our hearts if we will be still and listen.

It is a kindness of the Lord that He wakes me early while my family still sleeps. That in the quiet morning hours that He listens to the thoughts of my heart. He leads me to read and speaks peace to my soul. He brings refresing and re-fills me in His presence and I know He sends me out to greet the day and to be His kingdom ambassdor.

Dear Lord,
Remind us each of your kindnesses through out this day. Help us to not over look the gifts of grace and mercy that you leave for us. Thank you for the notes of your love found with in your Word. Thank you for the thoughts and writings that you have preserved to inspire us by the lives of others. Thank you for the quiet morning and for your Spirit to go with us through the rest of the day.

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