Thursday, August 16, 2012

Take Words With You

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

“Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.”
 2 Corinthians 7:1 NIV1984

What promises is the first thing I want to know upon reading this verse. To find out you have to go back a chapter to 2 Corinthians 6:16-18
16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

Idols are rivals with God for his honor, and God is a jealous God, and will not give his glory to another. ~ Matthew Henery

If you have read this blog for any length of time you will know that Joseph of the Old Testament is one of my favorite characters. Most of the time the part of his story that is talked about is about all he overcomes and how he goes from favored kid in his father's household to being sold to traveling merchants and on to be a slave in Egypt. Then to prison and finally after many many years to be the right hand guy to the most powerful leader of the world at that time. 

He was not perfect he had some flaws just like you and me. The same guy who runs from the advances of the wife of his master Potiphar, marries into the high priest family of Sun worshipers. The Pharaoh in an effort to fully adopt Joseph and naturalize him as a citizen gives Joseph the woman Asenath to be his wife. She is the daughter of Potipherah who is the high priest of the Sun worshipers. How can this be God's plan for him to marry into an idolaters family?  How much influence will Joseph have over this woman? Will she become a follower of the true God? What will become of their children? Will their faith in God be strong or will it be come mixed and weakened?

The children of Joseph and Asenath are Ephraim and Manasseh. They receive the blessing of Joseph's father Jacob and become part of the 12 sons of Israel. For a time they are some of the largest tribes but as time wears on tribe of Ephraim becomes one of the ring leaders in rebelling against God by their worship of idols. See Hosea 13 that talks of God's anger against Israel.   

13 When Ephraim spoke, men trembled; he was exalted in Israel.
    But he became guilty of Baal worship and died.
Now they sin more and more; they make idols for themselves from their silver,
cleverly fashioned images, all of them the work of craftsmen.
It is said of these people, “They offer human sacrifice and kiss the calf-idols.”
Therefore they will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears,
    like chaff swirling from a threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window.
“But I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt.
You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me.
I look at the life of Joseph and during his years of hardship he relied and clung to God. In the years of ease and in the years of his power we know at least in this area that he compromised and yolked himself with un believers. I don't have time to look into what happened to Manasseh in years to come.
I do know that even if things get messed up in our lives that we serve a God who will help us if we repent and turn from our sin to do things His way. I know He is a God who will restore those who return to him from their rebellion and folly. Hosea 14 says Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God.
    Your sins have been your downfall!Take words with you and return to the Lord.
Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
Here's the good news for all of us no matter how far we may feel we have fallen short of God's plans for our lives. If we will return to him He will heal us.  A bit more from Hosea 14. There is even good news in it for Ephraim who just previously was like the dew that disappears.
“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely,
    for my anger has turned away from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; 6 his young shoots will grow.
His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
Men will dwell again in his shade. He will flourish like the grain.
He will blossom like a vine, and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon.
O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a green pine tree; your fruitfulness comes from me.”

I guess to wrap this up, the point I want to make is to be careful the choices you make in the land of ease. When you get to the place where your relationship with God is no longer one of daily survival journey as you have come out of your darkness and troubles. That in the place of safety, and health that you don't in a sense marry into or bind yourself to idols thinking they are all part of Gods abundant blessing for you. Or some how a reward or pay back for all you have suffered.

Lord, I thank you that you have taken us through difficult times and seasons. As we approach less rugged terrain that you give us wisdom to still see how much we still need you because not everything that appears to be a blessing is from you. Help us to avoid the things that will draw us or or children away from following you whole heartedly. Lord I pray that some reading today will take words and come to you and repent and set things right with you.  Lord I pray that you will purify us and cause us to be strong in you for your glory. 

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