Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Do You Know Your Bible

A Devotional By  Margot Cioccio

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Philippians 2:12-13 NIV84
12 Therefore, my dear friends, 
as you have always obeyed—
not only in my presence, 
but now much more in my absence—
continue to work out your salvation 
with fear and trembling, 
13 for it is God who works in you 
to will and to act according to his good purpose. 

I had an interesting day Sunday. I had fun singing old 80's folk songs with a guy who came to our feeding, who called himself Shadow. Told me his dad was Cat Stevens. Said he was never raised by Cat Stevens because he'd gone off to become a monk. He sure sang and played guitar like Cat Stevens. Vocally he had the same unique Cat Stevens sound. I don't really try to sort out the stories I hear. I generally take them at face value and leave it at that. What I can say for sure is that he was a delightful person and I had the honor of sharing a few songs. I must have prayed with 8 or more people during our service usually its one or two most weeks. I had several people ask me theology 101 questions after the service and during the feeding and I was able to answer them.

One was a guy had been asked by someone when it was that he had gotten saved. In his mind he equated that with when did God make you perfect. I got to explain that they were asking "was there a day that you decided to begin your journey of salvation with Jesus". That is the day that God begins the process not the day of perfection. He was having trouble reconciling the idea of obedience is better than sacrifice from 2nd Samuel with another in James salvation not being by works. It is not ever our good works that make us some how more or less acceptable. Certainly, the Lord has prepared good works for us to do, but those good works are not what save us. They are more a response to an inward change and out of thankfulness we find ourselves wanting to do things more like Jesus. What saves us is not our obedience or good works but Jesus who obeyed and went to the cross and became a sacrifice for our sins. Our righteousness is filthy rags - you just won't be able on your own to make yourself clean enough for a Holy God. We are to be holy like He is holy, but it is not the measure of our cleanness that somehow tips the scales. It is the decision to believe and follow Jesus. Salvation is an on going thing. We must work it out and walk it out day by day as we are lead by the Holy Spirit.  Its a process and a journey.

Taked to another guy about love and hate and realized that he was drunk and his reasoning was circular and I finally told him I agreed to disagree with him. That we were not getting anywhere with our discussion because neither was going to budge from the positions we held. He seemed to be ok with agreeing to disagree. I'll talk to him again.

I have been often asked during our feeding the question "Do you know your bible?" Generally what follows is an attempt to prove you don't with some little known Old Testament story. They are always surprised that I do know my bible and am able to talk to them about it.  The real question is are you really a believer? Or you just another person dishing out a salvation message and not knowing much beyond that message.  The folks on the street don't see that much difference between people who say they are believers and those who are not. I think also they have had to hear a salvation message to get a meal or a coat so many times that they are pretty jaded to it all. After all how many times does one need to get saved to get a coat or a pair of socks. They will tell you anything you want to hear. Most of them can quote all the verses having to do with getting saved. Which is why we find it frustrating when churches from the suburbs sweep in on high to do their yearly good deed. If you want to do something for the inner city poor and homeless, don't just come do your Lone Ranger good deed. Make the effort to work with the ministries that are already down in the inner city. We could all use some help. The majority of Lone Ranger groups never contact us they are not really down here to minister to the poor but to some how ease their own conscious and to some how get the boy scout badge in heaven for serving the poor. There was one group that came down so their folks could practice sharing the gospel. They really didn't care about the homeless it was a training experience for their congregation. Most do their good deed and go home to their cushy churches and we never see them again. Generally these folks bring a meal and some stuff to give away as bait for those who will listen to a salvation message. They make notches in their belt for all the people who got "saved" and go home patting themselves on the back for bringing people into the kingdom. Which makes our work down here that much harder. Down here you have to earn the right to be heard. It can take months of being kind getting to know some of these folks before they will open up and have a real discussion. Even then they have so much pain, brokenness that it is a long long journey to freedom. That life transformation is really helped if there are people who will commit to walk beside them and encourage them. It is most often two steps forward and one step back. They will do really great for a while and then sabotage themselves because they just don't feel they deserve a better life. This is a harvest field that is ripe but takes some real work to bring into the kingdom. I'll stop there on that subject - we need harvesters but don't come unless you can really want to come to know and love these folks because they will see right through you other wise.

All total we fed 154 people yesterday with a very small team. It is God who works in you 
to will and to act according to his good purpose. I know that God is transforming me - as I step by step, day by day work out my salvation. It is a journey of following and walking with Jesus to know Him more. We've had people ask if we've had any special training to work with the poor and homeless. The answer is no - anyone who has been a Christian for more than a year and is spending time in the Word has the training manuel - its called your Bible.
You may not be called to work with the inner city homeless and poor. We are all called to Go and make disciples but that is more than preaching a salvation message.
Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. If you have not yet read the book Radical by David Platt I would highly recommend it. Heres a brief summary of the book that I found on Amazon "What is Jesus worth to you?

It's easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily...

But who do you know who lives like that? Do you?

In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple--then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a "successful" suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus."

Dear Lord,
Help us to work out our salvation, to realize it is a process of picking up our cross daily and following you. That cross is not the cool little emblem around our necks. It is putting our flesh, our carnal nature to death every day and deciding to do things your way. Work in us to will and to act according to your good purpose. Lord thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to lead and guide us on this journey. Thank you for this day and help us be a living Bible to the people who cross our path.  

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