Thursday, December 8, 2011

No Turning Back

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Ephesians 5:18-20
18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery.
Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another
with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make
music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks
to God the Father for everything,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am not feeling particularly great today. I caught some bug that is going around and have not felt well all week. I am thankful that I managed last Saturday to get a few posts written ahead for the week. Today I am running behind on getting this written and posted.

So heres the deal - I don't feel good. I would just assume curl up in a ball on the couch and ignore the world. Stop the world I need to get off. I could easily slide in to having my own personal pitty party. Poor me.... I feel lousy.... I have so much that needs to be done..... bla bla bla. I'm sure you have your own litany of woes.  I am choosing to resist that path and I am going to do what I can to allow the Holy Spirit into my day. The word says that when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  This verse follows Paul's pleading with the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh. Some say it was an illness of some sort, others say he had a messenger of satin the buffeted him. Perhaps they are one in the same.  What ever it was it caused him to suffer enough to plead with the Lord to take it away from him.  I like to tell you that the Lord answered him and told him "Sure Paul, your a good guy, out preaching to the gentiles, and serving me with your whole heart. Sure consider it done my friend." But..... thats not the answer God gave him. Now you may be scratching your head along with me on this one. So here is Gods answer to Paul found in 2 Corinthians 12 . "9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." So today I have an opportunity to allow the power of Christ to rest upon me to some how make me strong in spite of my weakness. I can choose to be thankful even in hardships. I can choose to stand upon his word that tells me in Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. " I have a choice even in stupid things like a head cold as to where I will put my focus. Will I focus on poor me? or will I resist that and align myself today with the word of God.
I admit I was leaning towards poor me, even about having to write this devotional. Now I'm kind of laughing because this thing keeps me on track. It makes me face head on the choice before me. It really isn't much of a choice when you think about it. I can choose to be physically and mentally miserable today or I can buck up and stand on the word, do what I can to take care of my body and put my mind on things above. I may not feel great physically but I don't have to give in to the idea that therefore I will also feel mentally miserable. 

I should have an attitude of the 3 guys in the Firey Furnace in Daniel 3:1-3 My favorite part of the story is the choice that they declare out loud to the king.  Take a look at verses 16-18. " 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”  They made up their mind before they knew how God would deliver them that no matter what even if they died in the fire that they were choosing to serve God.  Some times we need to make up our mind that we are going to choose Gods way no matter how a thing turns out.  Like Paul in our verse today God may leave you in something but supply you the grace to walk through it and to become stronger as a result.  We would like to put God in a box or make him like the geni in a bottle who gives us what we want. We serve a God who gives us what we need. He knows the desires of our heart but there is more to that verse from Psalm 37
3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
 4 Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him,  And He shall bring it to pass.
 6 He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday.
The getting the desire of your heart thing goes along with trusting the Lord, doing good, feeding on and remembering his faithfulness, commiting your way to the Lord.   .... So we don't always get the quick fix, easy answers, some stuff God walks with us through day by day, layer by layer. There are not easy answers for some of the things that we face in our life.  We live in a fallen world, and we are affected by it, our sin, others sins, generational sins, the demonic. Uggh it can seem overwhelming.
My friend is wrestling with how to respond to a daughter who has decided to choose a lesbian lifestyle. I was asking if he would be up set if she was living with a guy before marriage. Its funny the sins we are willing to tollerate and have become desensistized to. Anytime we choose life on our own terms rather than Gods way it leads eventully to brokenness and pain. As christain's we are to love the sinner and hate the sin. All sex outside of marriage is sin no matter what our culture has nummbed us into believing on the matter. Its working very hard in shows like Bones and others to get us to swallow the idea that the sleeping aroud, or the homesexual or lesbian lifestyle is just another choice. I don't mean to step on toes but Gods way is a narrow way. We have to choose on a daily basis to pick up our cross and follow Him. God designed sex to be part of a covenant relationship between one man and one woman with God at the center.  God gives us free will to choose of our own accord to do things His way. He loves us in spite of our poor choices. He understands the many of us come from broken families and are broken in many ways ourselves before we even get to relationships with others. I don't have time to stand around pointing out the sins of others. I have enough of my own that I need to crucify. While I'm at it,  I am happy to share the journey with others who are endeavering to follow Christ. We all fall terribly short of God holy standards. Thankfully he has sent Jesus to pay the price for our sins. We will never be good enough to stand before a holy God on our own. So our salvation is found in Jesus not in our good works or our good life.  He wants us to repent of the sins in our life, and to choose His way. Having walked with him for nearly 30 years at this point. He does not always work on things in the order that I think he should. I have found that after 30 year of Him dealing with varous areas of sin in my life that there is always another level of purification and deeper levels of closet cleaning that He continues to do. Life on our terms leads to distruction, pain, torment, life on Gods terms leads to freedom in Christ. It does not gauantee an easy life. Look at the disciples, shipwrecked, beaten, in prisoned, most of them martyered for their faith in Christ. It does not sound like the life they chose was a pleasure cruse. They saw first hand people getting set free, healed, learning to live in the Kingdom with Kingdom principles that are very backwards from the cultures we live in.

We all have to choose will we put Jesus on the thrown of our our heart and allow him to be the King of our life or will you continue to keep "Self" on that thrown. I am not saying that it is easy to change. The chains that have each of us bound in the old dead life are quick to entangle us. It often feels like we take 2 steps forward and 1 step back. It sometimes feels we have so many layers of muck and brokenness that we won't ever get totally free. Jesus extends his hand to you. He wants to help you.
He wants to walk with you today and everyday. Will you look to him to help you with what you are facing today or will you choose the pity party today and another bath in the mud. 

As for me.. I have decided to follow Jesus - no turning back no matter what. I am remeinded of the verses to that song. The melody comes from India, the writer of the lyrics is unknown. At the top of the post I will embed a beautiful version of this song being preformed by Third Day. If you got this in your e-mail you may have to return to the actual post to hear it. Where ever you are today and what ever you are going through.  Today is the day to return to Jesus. Decide today to follow him today. It might be just an area of your life that you have yet to yield to him, or it may be you are making that decision for the first time, or perhaps you have gotten off track and need to return to Him. Don't put it off ... He is the way.  My prayer is simple today. I pray that you will have the courage to follow Him. 

1. I have decided to follow Jesus 
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

2. Tho' none go with me, I still will follow,
Tho' none go with me I still will follow,
Tho' none go with me, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

3. My cross I'll carry, till I see Jesus;
My cross I'll carry till I see Jesus,
My cross I'll carry till I see Jesus;
No turning back, No turning back.

4. The world behind me, the cross before me,
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

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