Monday, December 5, 2011

Get off The Bench and Into the Game

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Click to see more of my son Niah's photos
Hebrews 1:1-3
 1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

I love this quote from John Eldredge's book Beautiful Outlaw. "For the religious spirit is like the flu - it is constantly adapting to the environment. It would be hard to hold a witch trial in our day. So what might it be in our time? Last week a friend heard his pastor say 'You can't know Jesus like you know your friends. He is all together different from us.' Blasphemy. You can know Jesus just as intimately as his first disciples did. Maybe more so. Jesus came to be known, for heaven's sake, came to make God known to us:"  I will highly recommend to you the book the Beautiful Outlaw. John Eldredge has a wonderful gift as a writer and my life has been impacted by some of his other books and many of the great resources at his web site. So here's the link

It is very easy to become weighed down by religion. Jesus did not come to make you or I religious. He came to set us free from the chains of sin that so easily entangle us. He came to show us a better way, a kingdom way to live. He left and said he would send the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.
The Holy Spirit wants to not only help you know Jesus and the Father better, He wants to help you navigate through this life. He want to be a living, vital and active part of your life.  We get the mistaken idea that all Jesus wants is for us to attend a weekly church service and to try not to cuss, and drink and fornicate.  If thats how you are trying to function - you are missing the point  - Jesus wants your life every day, ever minute of every day. He wants to walk with you moment by moment. I'm not saying that you should chuck church but perhaps its time to look at it differently. 1 Peter 2:5 spells it out pretty clearly. This is from the Message. "Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you'll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God." Going to church should be a celebration of corporate worship of a group of people who's lives have been, and are being transformed, not just on Sunday but through out the whole week. People who's lives over lap through out the week. It should not be a place where we put on our best face and pretend we are good people. We should be surrounded by people who know us well, who pray fro us when we struggle, and rejoice with us when things are good, people who serve together, and play together. Who don't let us get away with our nonsense and inmaturity. We are not meant to live lives in isolation. We are to be like iron that sharpens iron. As a living stone in a spiritual house - every person has a place, we all bring our gifts and talents to the table and together we accomplish God's purposes for us as a group of people. 

Even as church's we get messed up thinking we need to be just like every other church out there. God who make the giraffe and the zebra might have room for some of his churches to express themselves a little differently from one another.  We need to begin to look at the collective bunch of folks that God has given us and start to ask the question together, "What might we as a people, do to make Jesus more accessable to the lost, broken, the hurting all around us?" How can we live together as Kingdom minded people? How can we encourage each other to live missionally?  How can we build on yesterdays verse from Hebrews 10 and move on to verse 24. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 

Quick write down 3 things you will do this week to encourage the people around you to love and good deeds. How will you recoginze and encourage the gifts of God in others this week? Quick do it now!
1. ____________________________________________________________
2. ____________________________________________________________
3. ____________________________________________________________

We are not called to go to church - we are to be the church. Your family is a tiny little church. Matthew 18:20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. How can you encourage those in your inner circle to live for Jesus. It may not be your family, maybe its a group of friends that you pray with and encourage. You may have a number of little "church" units. Church is any little or large group who gathers together in Jesus's name. In those groups He promises to be with us, even if its just two friends. We don't really need more institutions, we need more people who will become open and honest with each other. Who will come together to build one another up. Who will we encouage to be pecular people?  1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  You have to read it in the King James to get the pecular people part. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.   The point is that we are called to be different, we are called to be salt and light! (Matthew 5:13-16)  He has called us out of darkness. He called us to be present and alive in this dead world. He could have just taken us home at the point of conversion. He didn't, He left us here to shine for Him.  All around you are people who are watching to see if you are just another religious hipocrite or if you really believe and follow and live this Jesus you profess. Don't just call yourself a Christian because you attend a Church or listen to Chrisitan raidio. Call yourself a Christian because you have decided to follow Jesus and really do things His way.  If more of us did this world would be a different place. But lets not get side tracked by what others could or should be doing lets look at you. Every revival starts with one person who decides to change. Where is your life reflecting the "real" Jesus? Do you have your Father's eyes? How about his compassion? Or his kindness? Maybe you reflect some of his playfulness. He wants to take you where you are today, with all your flaws, inperfections, failures with all your tallents and abilities and everything that makes you uniquily you. He wants to know and love you, to spend time with you. Reflect to others, what He has revealed of Himself to you. Even new baby belivers can do that. Lets not just give the gosple lip service - lets live it. We are the good news  - we've got Jesus in us. I will end with Hebrews 3:12-19 (If you hear His voice through this post - respond to Him in some way.) Oh and maybe send me a note and let me know these how these devotionals are making a difference in your life. ( I could use a little  encouragement too. Maybe use the donate button - I don't get paid to do this and it does take a bit of time from other things I could do to make money. If this is making a difference for you - please pray for me and consider supporting it. Oh and tell your friends about it too. Thanks:)
 "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said:
   “Today, if you hear his voice,
   do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion.”

 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert?  And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief."

Dear Lord,
Help us to ferrit out the religious germs that have infested our lives. Help us to become Kingdom people. Jesus people. Help us to look like you, and sound like you and to become more and more like you everyday. Help us to stop playing church and to be the church. Help us to live radical lives that are salty and shine your light to a dark and dying world. It is time to get off the bench and into the game. Help us have the couarage to be fully who you have created us to be and to embrace your plans and purposes for our life.

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