Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Reconciliation

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Romans 5:1-5

1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 
2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  
4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. 

While I was considering what "R" word to use - passed a page in the back of my bible that said The Eight Jewels in the Ring of Reconciliation. On the page there is a drawing of what looks like a mothers ring with multiple birth stones.  It gives the passage Romas 5:1-5. Next to each stone in the ring are the verse and the name of the jewel. It gives one other verse Luke 15:20-22. I don't know if this is something like the Romans Road that everyone sort of knows but I have seen it there and wondered why it was in the back of my bible. So anyway I thought we might try to find out together. 


Peace: The first stone from verse 1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  That one makes sense to me. As long as you are trying to justify and atone for your own sins you have no peace. What you have is guilt, shame and a constant feeling that you are just never going to measure up. That is not a pleasant way to live. Sadly many people think that they need to get their act together before coming to God. Some even after turning to Jesus still feel like they have to perform to please him. If they just pray enough, read the word enough, do enough good things. Even though they are believers they are are constantly waiting for the next shoe to drop or for God to get fed up with them and their constant failure. 
Justice must be satisfied. Wrong has been done and someone must pay the penalty. The good news it that while God must be just he is also love and because of that love he has sent Jesus. You are that slave trapped in the bondage of the old life of sin and he comes and redeems you.  Its nothing that you deserve, or have any merit that makes you worthy of redemption. It is not that your are special. His call goes out to everyone ..."turn to me and be saved"  Isaiah 45:22
Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.

Access: The second stone from verse 2 reminds me that we were once separated from God.
Even the best and the brightest of us fall horribly short of Gods intentions and will for our lives.
We have gained access by faith into the grace in which we now stand. I have faith that the sun will rise and that if I sit on a chair it is going to support me. The question is do you really believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, that no one get to the father except through him. (John 14:6)
It is faith that that opens the door way to the grace or undeserved favor of God.

Hope in Joy: The third stone. I liked the commentary from the Reformation Study Bible. "New Testament hope is the assurance of something not yet fully experienced, and quite different from uncertain, wishful thinking. That this hope will not be frustrated is guaranteed here and now by the love of God that the Holy Spirit pours into believers’ hearts" We have joy in knowing that our sins are forgiven. That God chooses to remember them no more.

Joy in Suffering: The forth stone. Too many of us signed up for the "God loves everyone or the bless me Jesus club" at the first difficulty we are ready to bail or blame God. I had to get a grip on this concept about a year ago. I was reading about mother Teresa. I just could not understand how she could suffer and deny herself of so much for the sake of Christ. I thought well maybe its just a Catholic thing that I don't understand. I talked with my pastor and he said "Margot you need develop a theology of suffering" I've come to realize I don't have to go looking for suffering - life is full of it. The question is how will I respond to it in the lives of the broken. What will my attitude be when its me that is suffering? Our view of suffering is often not getting that close parking spot that we had prayed for.
Romans 8:17 "Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." The Jesus I follow was willing to lay down to leave the comfort and glory of heaven and lay down his life for me. If I am his follower perhaps I should follow his example and lay down my life for others.

Perseverance: The fifth stone.  I think I will let the word speak for it self here.
Hebrews 12:1  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

James 1:3 -4 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 5:11 As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Character: The sixth stone. I'd like to tell you the journey to character is an easy one.
I like this definition given by Wikipedia "Moral character or character is an evaluation of a particular individual's durable moral qualities. The concept of character can imply a variety of attributes including the existence or lack of virtues such as integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty, or of good behaviors or habits. Moral character primarily refers to the assemblage of qualities that distinguish one individual from another"  What are your durable, unshakable moral qualities. The things that you will stand for what is right and true in the face of ridicule, hardship, persecution. Its not the stuff like telling the truth only when its convenient but consistently telling the truth even if it costs you personally.

Hope and Love: The last two stones. I'm sure any of these stones could be expounded upon. There is much more that could be said and I am merely scratching the surface. Perhaps you will dig into your bible and mine some of these jewels for yourself.

Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. God put in us through the Holy Spirit because of his love the ability to hope.  Faith holds on believing God is able, Love lets go and trusts leaving it in the hands of God,  Hope stands between and holds them both together in light of Gods will and greater purposes. 

Lets take a look at what that one last verse is. 

Luke 15:20-22 Its the Prodigal Son. 
Luke 15:20-22(NIV1984) 20 So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was 
filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms 
around him and kissed him.
21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven 
and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
   22 “But the father said to his servants, 
‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. 
Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

If you have squandered your inheritance and have been living in the pig pens of this life. The Father will not chase you but he waits, he longs for you to come home. Dear one - do you hear him calling you. While you were still a long way off - the father sees you coming. He is filled with compassion. He runs to you and throws his arms around you and kisses you. 
All you can think of is how dirty, and broken, what a sinful wretch you are. Know that the Lord loves you in that moment and he does not say to the returning son go hose yourself off - geesh you stink. 
No he tells his servants to bring the best robe and put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 

Let me take a little turn for those who are already with the father.  We his servants are to help that son into his robes. None of us should forget where we have come from on our own journeys. We were once that returning son. 

Hmmm did you notice that the father gave the son a ring of reconciliation. Eureka - I get it  - it was a treasure that I had to dig for but I'm glad I took the time to finally see what that box in the back of my bible was all about. That would be a cool ring to wear - When someone would comment on it you could say... Let me tell you about it.  What a beautiful tool to help tell the story of reconciliation.

Prayer: Dear Lord, Thank you for your reconciliation. I pray that the things I have written will strike a chord in folks and that they will dig in to know you more.  I pray that those who are still a far way off would not be hidden from you. That you would welcome them with arms of love. That we your people would follow your example and help pick up each other when we let you and each other down. Help us walk in the power of your grace. 

3 comments:

  1. I have never heard that mnemonic. Nice devotional.I'm trying to visit all the A-Z Challenge Blogs this month. My alphabet is at myqualityday.blogspot.com

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  2. this is a lovely post. I will be back to read more!

    best,
    MOV
    ps-- love your mosaics!

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  3. Thanks for leaving a comment at my blog. I've been visiting all the A to Z participants, but I hadn't gotten to your blog yet. I'm glad you pointed it out to me. I enjoyed this devotional; I'm always looking for writing that helps draw me closer to God. I'm following your blog and will be back to read more.

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