Thursday, May 10, 2012

He Has Shown You What Is Good

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Micah 6:6-8 (NIV1984)

With what shall I come before the Lord
    and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
    with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased 
with thousands of rams,
    with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has showed you, O man, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

In the old testament the people sacrificed animals to make up for the wrongs they had done. This is the system that God had instructed Moses to set in to place for the people when they came up out of slavery in Egypt.  In in the book of Micah written a long long time after Moses the question is posed. "With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? 
Even then God was more concerned with justice, mercy and humility before him.

In our day Jesus has paid the price for all of mankinds sins with his death on the cross. He took the punishment that we deserved. Some folks are still trying to pay their own way into favor with God. 
Their quest becomes that of becoming "enough" its all about measuring up to God's standards so they can feel worthy enough to approach a Holy God. The would punish themselves and live a life of self denial, cry rivers of tears. Wear guilt and shame like a raggedy old cloak and allow their sin to define them. Maybe thats you. Jesus paid for it all, and for you to continue to carry those things on your own is to stand in contempt of what he has already done for you, while thinking you can manage it on your own. Lay it down once and for all and allow the Lord to cleanse, heal and set you free.

Some feel they have done so much wrong that there is no hope for them. "Why would God bother with me" they think. "I have squandered all the good that God had for me." I meet guys in this condition every week at our feeding for the homeless and poor. They are resigned to a life of numbing their pain and simply getting through another day. All dreams and hope of restoration and a better life have long since died and they shuffle through their day from one meal to the next. 
Is there hope for people who are so far gone? Is there hope for you? 
Don't forget how the Father received the prodigal son.

Earlier in Micah 4 it says  “In that day,” declares the Lord,
“I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief.
I will make the lame a remnant, those driven away a strong nation.
The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever.

Then look at Psalm 86 - it is written for one who is devoted to God, who trust in him, yet still needs Gods mercy and help. 

Psalm 86:1-6
Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.

I think sometimes we don't bother to ask because we have resigned our self to the hopelessness of our condition. Or we think God is too busy for all the little things that make up our day.  I believe God waits for us to realize our need, he waits for us to call on him, to turn to him rather than all the remedies to our problems that our own mind can muster. He delights to walk with us in the dailyness of life, a companion and a friend who journeys with us. 

Sometimes he waits for us to be humble enough to realize we need his help.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

I can hear you saying but I've pleaded with God about this hundreds of times and still nothing changes. Perhaps you have miss understood the purpose of that thing in your life. Sometimes God allows things to remain because he intends to help us carry that burden. That burden is what keeps us dependent upon God. I'm not talking about guilt or shame those need to go, but sometimes we have consequences, or a handicap or a situation that no amount of prayer and pleading seems move God to take that thing away. It is in those kind of things that I start to wonder what if I am asking the wrong question. What if rather than asking God to take it away, if I were to ask God to help me with it and to some how use it for his glory. Maybe that very thing is intended to propel you forward into the greater purpose of God. Even Paul had a thorn in the flesh and he repeatedly asked God to take it from him. 2 Corinthians 12:7 To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  This verse stretches me a bit but I know that God knows what I need. If I stay close to him he will, prune and tend the garden of my life to allow it to produce good fruit.  Sometimes even when it is producing he must cut back some of the old growth to allow for new growth in my life. Its not that the old growth was bad but to remain fruitful he has to prune things that seem to be good. He is thinking of the over all health and growth of the life.  Sometimes his blessings come in disguise. 

Dear Lord, 
Help us to pray according to your will. You know how you have designed us, you know the things that may seem like they restrain us that in actuality are the supports that allow us to rise above and to become more fruitful. Shine your light on those places still hidden in darkness. Help us to come to a place of humility and realization that we need your help not just for the big problems but for the dailyness of everyday life. Be with us and use our lives to bring you glory.

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