Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Treasure in Jars of Clay

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

I started out today looking up passages about grace. As I found verses I pasted them to my blog post but then I got to one that caught my attention in a more profound way. Aaa Ha I've found my topic for today's post. I'd love to tell you that I have an organized plan for what I will be writing about but honestly I don't know. There are times when I feel inspired and good about myself and what God has called me to do and other days where I fight through thoughts like "who do you think you are, and what makes you think you have anything of value to say." Other days where I question my motivation for posting everyday, am I doing this because God put it on my heart to do, or do I have something to prove? Most days I approach this with a fair amount of humility and  simply trust that the Holy Spirit is going to lead me to something that will not only minister to me but speak to you. That God will give me the courage to not just pretend I have it all together but to be real just like you and honest about my stuggles.

So today I came upon the passage in 2 Corinthians 4 I've provided a link for you just in case you don't have your bible handy. Back in the day it was written clay was used for a lot of things, like bricks, pottery, sealing letters. It was a common material used for building and in every day life.
We have these treasures in jars of clay, speaking of our mortal bodies. What are the treasures of grace in the life of a believer?  Spiritual treasures come from knowing God. How do we get to know someone? We spend time with them. We ask questions, we talk, we do things together, we find common ground, we notice how we are different. We notice what the other likes, and then find our selves wanting to do things that make the other person happy. All too often that bubble of excitement pops. We are selfish creatures, we did not get our way, we get captivated by something or someone else. Things that we once thought were special and amazing become normal from normal we move to complacent and then to indifferent. Its easier most of the time to find other things and people to amuse our selves rather than to make the effort to work through differences and to bring out the best in the other person or to our selves be better people. I think our relationship with the Lord can get like that at times. We think I've heard that verse a thousand times, I know all the stories, I'm a good enough person, and we find a comfortable place to settle.

We may look to others like an upstanding citizen of the Kingdom but we've gotten stuck in a rut. It might be that God has asked us to take a step or a leap of faith and we feel too inadequate to even try. It might be that like Naaman (2 Kings 5) God has asked us to do something that seems stupid or foolish like dipping 7 times in a muddy river to get healed. It might be that we have allowed God into our heart and life and then realized that now he wants that closet full of ugly secrets and we think if we let him see those things He might change his mind about us. Yep, this ones a rotton apple - toss it in the fire. The truth is we are all rotten, we all have those closets of guilt and shame filled with things we wish we could forget, or things we don't like about ourselves. Things we think if others found out they would no longer be interested in us. We can live behind our walls of insecurity and shame a very long time.

So today I was thinking about grace. We don't deserve it, we can't be good enough to earn it. We are jars of clay, we are common and often ordinary. Sometimes we are broken but God puts his treasure in us and we are no longer ordinary we contain the grace of God.

5591 treasure

Highly valued objects or accumulated riches. Treasure has at best only short-term benefit but can bring spiritual dangers. Spiritual treasure is of eternal value and comes from knowing and serving God.

Spiritual treasure from the Dictionary of Bible Themes 

Treasure consists in knowing God and his wisdom Col 2:2-3 See also Job 28:12-19;Pr 2:4Pr 3:13-15Pr 8:10-11Pr 24:3-4Isa 33:6
God’s word is supreme treasure Job 23:12Ps 19:9-10Ps 119:72,127
The kingdom of God is supreme treasure Mt 13:44 See also Mt 13:45-46,52
Spiritual treasure is more important than material possessions Heb 11:26 See alsoJob 22:23-25Mt 13:44-46
It is of eternal value Lk 12:33 See also Mt 6:201Pe 1:4
It is gained through generosity and wisdom Mt 19:21 pp Mk 10:21 pp Lk 18:22 See also Pr 8:21Pr 15:61Ti 6:18-19
God’s people are his treasured possession Dt 7:6 See also Ex 19:5Dt 14:2Dt 26:18Ps 135:4Mal 3:17

Here are some of the grace verses that I found as I studied today.

Isaiah 26:10
Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the LORD.

Jonah 2:8
“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

John 1:14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:16
From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.

Acts 20:32
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

2 Corinthians 1:12
Paul’s Change of Plans ] Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace.

2 Corinthians 4:15
All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

Dear Lord, Forgive us for taking you for granted, for having the audacity to think we know you enough to get by. Every day is full of challenges and we can choose to face them alone or to face them with you. Help us to turn to you. Help us to allow you into those secret places and help us to realize that you love us even though we are often terribly broken and wounded and feel valueless. Help us to find our value not in the clay jars that we are but in knowing you, and being filled up by you. Help us to not hord up what you have given us thinking that we will run out but to pour it out on others, knowing you will fill us again and again. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Singing in the Fire

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Jesus Icon Project
You've heard of singing in the rain or in the shower. I want to show you singing in the fire. Anyone can sing when things are going good, it takes a person who really believes and trusts the Lord to be able to sing in the middle of a trials that burn on like a never ending fire. 

I was thinking that I would look at some verses about giving thanks. So I was looking at this verse from Nehemiah and I was intrigued because it says that David prescribed kind of praise and thanksgiving where one would sing out and another would respond. Then I got off on a rabbit trail in my fascination with names and their meanings. I think sometimes there are things that God hides for us to find if we want to dig a little. Hidden messages. So follow me as I show you what I discovered. 

Nehemiah 12:24

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
24 And the leaders of the Levites were Hashabiah, Sherebiah, Jeshua son of Kadmiel, and their associates, who stood opposite them to give praise and thanksgiving, one section responding to the other, as prescribed by David the man of God.

I was looking at the meanings of the names of these guys who's job it was to praise and thank God. It says they responded to one another as prescribed by David. So one might say "He is Mighty" and another would call out "We Thank the Lord for his mighty hand to save." 

So here's what their names mean. 
Hashabiah, = [Hăsha bī'ah]—whom God regards.
Sherebiah, =[Shĕre bī'ah]—jehovah hath made to tremble or singing with the Lord, flame of the Lord. Strongs Concordance say from sharab and Yah "Yah has sent burning heat," an Isr. name I suspect that might make one tremble. This guy also is said to have 18 musical sons who returned from exile. 
Jeshua = [Jĕsh'uă, Jĕsh'u ah]—jehovah is salvation or help.

Can you imagine this worship service being led by these three guys. Whom God regards, To tremble in the heat of Gods presence, who know that He is their Salvation.

How often have you trembled in the presence of God? I think we could stand to regain some of the awesome reverence of God. We have perhaps gotten a little bit chummy with the Lord and forgotten he's like a million voltz of electricity. David and the guys got a bit sloppy and did not bother to regard how God said the arc of the covenant should be moved. It was supposed to be carried by priests on poles. They put it on a cart and the ox stumbles and one of the guys reaches out to steady the arc to keep it from falling and gets zapped and burned to a crispy crunch. I think after that incident David went back and checked a bit more carefully about how to move the ark. When I first read that story I used to think what the heck - they guy was trying to help the Lord. He was doing a good thing to not let the arc fall to the ground. You can read the story in 2 Samuel 6. I am all for a personal relationship and the whole what a friend we have in Jesus. I think however if we loose sight of how awesome and powerful our God is  we start to develop a mamby pamby milk toast kind of message about who our God really. 

My pastor shared as he was teaching from Phillipians 1 about how our love increases as our knowledge increases. The more we seek to know the Lord the more we see how amazing it is that he loves us and our love grows. I thought that was pretty cool and so these guys names got me thinking. I looked up some other verses about trembling before the Lord. 

Psalm 96:9
Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.  

Isaiah 66:2
Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the LORD. “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.

Isaiah 66:5
Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: “Your brothers who hate you, and exclude you because of my name, have said, ‘Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy!’ Yet they will be put to shame.

Jeremiah 5:22
Should you not fear me?” declares the LORD. “Should you not tremble in my presence? I made the sand a boundary for the sea, an everlasting barrier it cannot cross. The waves may roll, but they cannot prevail; they may roar, but they cannot cross it.

Joel 2:1
An Army of Locusts ] Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the landtremble, for the day of the LORD is coming. It is close at hand—

So in looking for what God might be saying to us through the particular meaning of the names of the guys who's job it was to thank and praise God. "He whom God regards, trembles at the fire of His presence in whom salvation is found."

Or perhaps He whom God regards sings when the heat is on knowing his salvation in in the Lord. These are the ones who stand giving praise and thanks to God. These are the ones God pays attention to, the ones who keep singing in the midst of the fire. 

Which reminds me of Daniel 3: 16 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.

They do get thrown in the furnace and those watching see not just the 3 men but 4 and they come back out of the fire not even smelling of smoke. Here's a bit more of the story 

25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
26 Nebuchadnezzar then approached the opening of the blazing furnace and shouted, “Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out! Come here!”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27 and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.

So I've been guilty of worrying about making ends meet lately. I took Monday and decided not to worry, to take time to rest and rejuvenate believing that God will help me with each and every bill and need as it comes up. That just because in the natural it would seem like a good time to worry with holiday work lay offs for my husband just around the corner. I realize that my worrying really won't solve anything. Then I remind myself that our budget has rarely worked out on paper but somehow always works out as we trust the Lord. 

So this hidden message that the Lord opened my eyes to see, was very much for me. The Lord regards those who sing in the midst of the fire and know that He is their salvation. You can take the verse today on a more surface level and it is still rich in that David, a man after God's heart prescribed that they worship the Lord in a responsive way. 

Heres a bit that I found in the Dictionary of Bible Themes. So you can do some more digging on your own. 

Methods of praise

In singing Eph 5:19 See also Ne 12:46Ps 149:1Isa 42:10Lk 1:46-47,68Ac 16:25Col 3:16
With musical instruments Ps 150:3-5 See also 1Ch 25:32Ch 7:6Ps 33:2Ps 92:1-3Isa 38:20
In dancing Ps 149:3 See also Ex 15:19-202Sa 6:14Ps 150:4

With thanksgiving Ps 42:4Ps 100:4 See also 2Ch 5:13

Lord I pray you would lead each one as they not only read your word but begin to dig in deeper. I pray that you would shine your light and illuminate for them the very things that they need to see. Grant wisdom and knowledge and greater insight in to knowing you more. Cause our love for you to grow and increase and as it does let it over flow to those around us. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

The good part of your story

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Heart Landscape
 Today I have enjoyed a quiet and restful day. I slept in and then read a book for a while. Puttered around the house doing some little chores, things that I was happy to do.  I have been trying to be more intentional about taking a Sabbath rest each week. Sunday is probably one of my busier days of the week and Saturday is full of family things so neither day is particularly restful. I believe that the God who created us, probably knows what he's talking about when he tells us to take a day of rest each week. I'm not legalistic about it but it is a way that I can demonstrate that I do trust the Lord. If He says a day of rest is important then I should make a day of rest important and make time for it in my week.

On my day of rest I try to do things that feed my spirit. Those things can be different from week to week. Today I have just enjoyed puttering around.  I've done little bits of this and that but all in an attitude of peace and restfulness. I grouted two projects with the help of my youngest son, Cai. One I have been working on for a friend who will be moving away soon. The other a heart landscape, I started working on about a week ago. I did not know who it might be for or if I would just list and sell it. I think that often the Holy Spirit leads me in my artistic expression. Some people can pray or prophecy on their musical instruments but I find that often I know the Holy Spirit is leading me, even praying through me as I am creating a project.

Today I understood why I was working on this particular project. I got a call today from one of my dearest friends. We've known each other since we were young girls in our early 20's. (That was about 30 years ago). Through the years we've been through a lot of stuff. We lost track of each other for quite a while and thanks to face book found each other in December of last year. Over the course of this past year we have talked on the phone and caught up on each others lives. We've prayed and encouraged each other numerous times. There are some relationships that pick right up as if no time had ever elapsed.   Today she called to tell me that she is getting married. I knew as we talked on the phone that the heart was for her. As I look at it now, I realize some of the random things that I put into it are perfect. I used torn paper from a love song I found in an old music book. She's a music teacher, singer, songwriter. I put a vintage couple from and antique card under the tree all with in a heart made of broken mosaic glass. I am always amazed how God can take terribly broken hearts and put them together in a new and wonderful way. As she has shared their stories in past phone calls I can't help but be thankful to God for his goodness.

Sometimes our lives can feel like we are living the book of Job for a very long time. The pain from the brokenness seems like it will never end. Then suddenly one day something shifts and changes and we just never know when that watershed turning point will be. We had talked not too long ago about how it was not a season to give up but to hold on to trust the Lord even though the road to healing recovery often seems very long.

I don't know where you are today but I want to remind you of the end of the book of Job. After loosing just about everything - in the end God restores and blesses Job far beyond what was lost. Don't give up before you get to the good part of your story.

Dear Lord,
You know the difficulties and struggles we often face. You know where we need to change and grow and exactly how much pressure it will take to move us from here to there. You did not just wind us up and leave us to wander till one day we would be with you in heaven. You are with us each and every step of the way. You began and continue the good work in each of us. Help us to rest in the knowledge that you are able to get us from here to there in our lives. It may look impossible from where we currently stand but none of us knows what we may find around the very next bend in the road. Thank you Lord that you weep with us when we struggle and you rejoice with us in the victories and you know all the in betweens. Thank you for helping us to rest along the way.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Mighty To Save

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Pray! The Lord is Mighty to Save
"Such fair and timely warning as this did God give to the Jews of the approaching captivity; but they hardened their neck, which made their destruction remediless." ~ Matthew Henry Commentary on Zephaniah chapter 1

Zephaniah is the great great grandson of king Hezekiah. According to Smith's Dictionary of Bible Names Zephaniah means "hidden by God". His great great grandpa Hezekiah's name meant "The might of Jehovah" I always find it interesting to look at the meaning of names. In a sense in the naming of a thing or a person perhaps gives a sense of a calling or a destiny of that person. The Hebrew people did not always name children lofty things some times like Jabez a kid gets named "pain". His cry to God is that he not bring people pain, that God would make him a blessing. There are instances where God changes someone's name, as in the case of Abram and Sara. They go from names meaning "father" to "father of a multitude" and Sara from "my princess" to "princess for the all race" show a big step up in God's destiny or plan for them. 

This was not were I was intending to go with this devotional. I believe that our words mean something or they should. God spoke "words" and created the world. He gave Adam who he created in His image, the job of naming the animals. My own name, Margot means pearl. Seems lovely enough as names go,  but pearls are made from coating layer by layer, that aggravating bit of sand or grit that gets into the oyster. God has done that with me a lot. He has helped me to take the painful and annoying things in my life and over time as I have looked to him to help me, to make them something of value and beauty. I sometimes wonder with the many trials I have been through if God did not somehow change my name to mean "maker of pearls." I believe God had a hand in my parents choosing that particular name for me. It describes me - or perhaps it has been spoken over me so much that I have become it. Names are certainly something to ponder. 

So what I had originally intended to write about from Zephaniah was some of the things that so greatly displeased the Lord in the people of Judah that Zephaniah was having to sound a warning of coming destruction. Before you start pointing out the sins of those around you take some time to examine your own heart, you might find some areas that need some attention. Ask the Lord to help you see your own blindspots in the list that follows. 

The worship of Baal, (1:4) Is there anything you are giving more importance than your relationship with the Lord? 

Priests who bow down to worship the stars, (1:5) Are you looking to the stars or horoscopes to make your decisions? Maybe using that magic 8 ball or a flip of a coin to try and determine what to do rather than go to God? Are you looking to other answers to your problems and turning to God as a last resort? 

Those who try to serve God and swear by false gods at the same time. (1:5)
Are you half heartedly following the Lord with one foot in the kingdom and one in the world. Do you put on a nice "holy" mask on Sunday and live for yourself the rest of the week?

Those who turn back from following the Lord. (1:6) Have you lost your first love, your passion for seeking the Lord. Has your Bible grown dusty and your prayer life become like stale bread? Have you gone back to old habits and behaviors that the Lord had set you free from?

Those who neither seek the Lord or inquire of Him (1:6) Do you put more trust in your insurance, your job, your connections than you do in God. Are you going through the motions in worship and your heart is not truly in it? 

The princes and kings son's and all those dressed in foreign clothes. (1:8 the clothes one needs to be wearing are the robes of righteousness.) Has your life become about collecting more and more toys and things to keep you entertained? Have you abandoned a God life for the good life? 

The superstitious (1:9) Is the only time you bless someone when they sneeze?

Those who fill God house with other gods, violence and deceit. (1:9). What is your motivation for going to church? Is it to worship God or has it become a way to connect with clients? Is it a social club or made up of living stones in a spiritual house? Are you there because you feel guilty and are trying to make sure your spiritual fire insurance is up to date? Are you there simply to be entertained? Is it simply a duty, something you've always done? Are you doing violence to others through your gossip and deceit? 

The complacent and indifferent who think God will do nothing either good or bad. (1:12) Again have you lost your first love? It is easy to become complacent in good times and in times of difficulty to think things will never change. Have you lost hope that God will act? Have you given up and allowed yourself to be lulled to sleep. Have you become a zombie, your body is present but your mind is out to lunch? 

"Such fair and timely warning as this did God give to the Jews of the approaching captivity; but they hardened their neck, which made their destruction remediless." ~ Matthew Henry Commentary on Zephaniah chapter 1

How about you? Will you allow the Lord to change you and mold you to his plans and purposes or will you stubbornly continue to go your own way? 
I do want you to see that there is hope for all of us as imperfect as we each are.

In chapter 2:3 It says "Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands, Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord's anger."

In chapter 3:9 it says "Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder."

Chapter 3:11 On that day you will not be put to shame for all the wrongs you have done to me, because I will remove from this city all who rejoice in their pride. Never again will you be haughty on my holy hill. 12 But I will leave within you the meek and humble who trust in the name of the Lord. 

Chapter 3:17 The Lord your God is with you he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

I am embedding a video by Hillsongs United of the song Mighty to Save. I urge you to take the time to examine your own heart with the help of the Lord. 

I pray you will find the courage to examine your own heart, to change, to repent and become more and more like Jesus with each passing day. Truly He is mighty to save. None of us deserves the grace and the pardon we have received. I pray you will not get stuck in complacency or indifference but you will in thankfulness make your life bring God glory. So Lord, shine your light first in each of our hearts, help us to see the things that need to change. Then Lord shine your light on our lives so others can see. Let us each become living bibles and living stones. Purify our lips, that we may call on the name of the Lord and serve you shoulder to shoulder.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Heavenly Authority

A Devotional by Mark Kenney

The word “authority” appears 91 times in the bible.  There is absolutely no question we are called again and again in scripture to submit to authority.  The question must be raised however of who or what authority looks like so we know two things clearly. The first thing we will know is who and what to submit to. The second thing we will know is who and what we are not supposed to submit to.

The biggest single mistake we make in this area is assuming that just because a person is in charge of something that they have Heaven’s authority to be doing that thing.  The bible clearly draws a line between a person’s position or title and their Heaven given authority.

In Matthew 7, Jesus has no earthly title. He is not in charge of anything or anyone. No one of earthly authority has given him any authority mantle yet the scripture says in verses 28 & 29, “And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”  Even the people of that time had trouble seeing the difference between someone who truly had Heavenly Authority and someone who simply claimed that they did.

People miss stories like when David was the King and yet Nathan being a Prophet didn’t roll over and submit to him.  In fact, Nathan came and brought a prophetic word of correction to him. Nathan was indeed a man of Heavenly Authority and while Nathan respected the office of the King, He held the honor of God’s throne above that of David’s.
In Matthew 21, the modern people in charge counted on everyone believing they were the ones put in place by God with God’s Authority.  This is one reason why they publicly challenged Jesus’ authority flat out by asking in whose authority Jesus was operating in and who gave it to Him. They didn’t truly want to know of course, they were just trying to raise doubts about the validity of Jesus authority in the minds of the crowds. Jesus knowing their hearts refused to directly answer but instead gave them a riddle of His own and basically outsmarted them and left them standing there looking like fools.  Point is that even though they were in charge, Jesus did not honor them as  leaders with Heavenly Authority because they did not have such.
In Matthew 28 Jesus declares “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth”. This is critical to see as it puts Jesus in the driver’s seat meaning that He and only He dells out the authority of Heaven to others. After all, He’s the only one that has any to give at that point and you can only give what you have.

Luke 7 is where Jesus heals the Centurion’s servant.  In it we see a couple very powerful things.  One, we see one of the only times a person makes Jesus marvel. How would you like to be a person that it can be said about that you made Jesus marvel over you?  Well, this guy did just that.  It was because the Centurion came to Jesus with a proper understanding of the Kingdom of God being the Government of God and accordingly He knew Jesus didn’t even have to be there in person, Jesus could just give the instruction and Jesus authority would empower the word and bring the healing and that is exactly what happened.

In Luke 10 authority is given to empower people to do certain things. In Luke 19 authority is given as a reward of being faithful.

Romans 13 is where many get messed up. Here are verses 1, 2, and 3.
1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
Notice that it does NOT say there is no one in charge that is not put there by God. It says there is no AUTHORITY except from God. Big difference.  Hitler ruled Nazi Germany and slaughtered countless millions but he certainly did not have the authority of God, even though he was clearly in charge.  Jim Jones, David Koresh and many like them have been in charge of their given organizations, but they had no true Heavenly Authority. If a person rents a police uniform for a costume party, they may look just like a police officer in every way, but in reality they have no real authority.  At the same time, if a leader in the church has the title of Pastor or Elder or whatever, that in no way automatically gives them Heaven’s authority. It just gives them influence in the natural and nothing more. In fact, in the later chapters of Revelation, we see that the dragon gives out earthy “authority” (or the ability to b ein charge of things) to the beast. This is not Heavenly Authority from God spoken of in Romans 13.  The authority of Heaven is handed out by Jesus Himself since He is the one who has it all in the first place.
When a person has authority, they have the right to represent and act on behalf of.  For married couples, Paul uses authority as an example in 1st Corinthians. “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does“ Its important to see too that authority will one day be done away with. Heaven is not ran by authority as God is God and doesn’t need us to represent Him in Heaven as He is there in the fullness of His Glory all the time. It is only within the sin stained walls of earth that we are in need of Heaven’s authority.  (1st Corinthians 15)

In Summery, it becomes very important to see the difference between someone simply being in charge of something and being anointed with Authority from Heaven. You are only called by God to submit to those who do not violate clear scripture, not just anyone who happens to be in charge.  If Jesus does not return until after the great tribulation, we as believers will be forced to chose between death and the mark of the beast. This will be enforced by people in charge, but with no heavenly authority. I could keep giving many other examples, but the point is, a leader is not a leader just because they call themselves one. GOD has to call them one before they have true Heaven given authority.

All the best,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Unsaturated Space

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 
The possibilities of a fresh blank canvas!

My friend Karen is moving from Arizona to Spokane this summer. They found and bought a beautiful house and are now in the process of turning it into their new home. So they have been thinking about what furniture and things they will want to move and what colors for the walls and drapes. Lots of exciting decisions to be make. This move is happening in stages with each visit. The next visit in November will be with the first truck load of things they will bring with them. I can't tell you how delighted that we will be living in the same city again. The following is a quote Karen sent along with a note today detailing the progress being made on the new house. It made me think about my own clutter not only in my home but in my heart. 

Karen writes "Found a neat paragraph in a book I'm reading called "Shelter for the Spirit" by Victoria Moran.  She's talking about clearing out of our homes all the clutter that doesn't serve a purpose, or doesn't make us happy.  She says, "When you exercise discernment about everything, accepted or purchased, that stays in your house, you will find yourself in the presence of something rare and wonderful: unsaturated space.  This emptiness opens the door to those things that will enrich your life in new ways.  What you want and need now is far more likely to make its way to you when you make a place for it.  By eliminating the unnecessary, you create the void.  Nature does her best to fill it.  You decide with what and how much."

Karen goes on to say "There is a verse from the Psalms that I've always loved. 

It's Psalm 101:2-3:  "I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is base." That's my guiding principle for this new house!  It's making it much easier to decide what to pack to take and what to donate, sell, or throw away!"

I have been working in my own small home to eliminate things we no longer need. I did get rid of quite a lot of stuff at the end of the summer. I'm sure I could still find more things that don't serve a purpose or make me happy. Are there any things that might be considered base? Take a look at Psalm 101 in the Message and see if it helps you determine if there are base things that you are setting before your eyes. I am pointing no fingers and I am not condemning anyone else in this. This is one of those examine your own heart and see if there are things that have an un Godly hold on you that perhaps you need to get rid of. 

A David Psalm

101 1-8 My theme song is God’s love and justice,
    and I’m singing it right to you, God.
I’m finding my way down the road of right living,
    but how long before you show up?
I’m doing the very best I can,
    and I’m doing it at home, where it counts.
I refuse to take a second look
    at corrupting people and degrading things.
I reject made-in-Canaan gods,
    stay clear of contamination.
The crooked in heart keep their distance;
    I refuse to shake hands with those who plan evil.
I put a gag on the gossip
    who bad-mouths his neighbor;
I can’t stand
But I have my eye on salt-of-the-earth people—
    they’re the ones I want working with me;
Men and women on the straight and narrow—
    these are the ones I want at my side.
But no one who traffics in lies
    gets a job with me; I have no patience with liars.
I’ve rounded up all the wicked like cattle
    and herded them right out of the country.
I purged God’s city
    of all who make a business of evil.

Matthew Henry Commentary says this of David " A good purpose concerning his conversation—concerning his conversation in general (how he would behave himself in every thing; he would live by rule, and not at large, not walk at all adventures; he would, though a king, by a solemn covenant bind himself to his good behavior), and concerning his conversation in his family particularly, not only how he would walk when he appeared in public, when he sat in the throne, but how he would walk within his house, where he was more out of the eye of the world, but where he still saw himself under the eye of God. It is not enough to put on our religion when we go abroad and appear before men; but we must govern ourselves by it in our families. 

So there may be some clutter in your home but if you take an honest look you may find some clean up needs to be done in your heart. Are you the same person at the job as you are at church? Are you the same person at church as you are at home? Is your life sincere or are you wearing masks and pretending to be something you are not or worse not being all that you are called to be for Gods glory. 

If I apply that same clutter busting principle to my life as well as to my house are there relationships that drag you down rather than encourage you? Are there behaviors such as fear and doubt that are keeping you from doing things you would really like to do. Are you busy pointing out the flaws and failures of everyone around you when you need to pull a log out of your own eye first. 

Perhaps you will make the following passage from Psalm 139:23 your prayer today. 
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

Help us to create unsaturated space in our homes and in our hearts that you will fill for your purposes and glory. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

From Nobodies to Somebodies

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio
A project I'm working on
Romans 9: 20-33 Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn’t talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, “Why did you shape me like this?” Isn’t it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn’t that all right? Either or both happens to Jews, but it also happens to the other people. Hosea put it well:
I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies;
    I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.
In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!”
    they’re calling you “God’s living children.”
Isaiah maintained this same emphasis:
If each grain of sand on the seashore were numbered
    and the sum labeled “chosen of God,”
They’d be numbers still, not names;
    salvation comes by personal selection.
God doesn’t count us; he calls us by name.
    Arithmetic is not his focus.

I seem to be stuck still, on what I should be when I grow up. I'm not sure why it seems to be a big deal to me at this point. I talk to my husband and he seems to think I'm already being what I need to be a wife and a mother. Part of me seems to always question if that is enough. Perhaps that is performance orientation kicking in or a feeling that my worth is some how tied to what I do. I'm sure I'm not alone in these feelings. 
I suspect that my husband is closer to the Lords perspective than I want to give him credit for. Arithmetic, productivity or dollars in the bank is not his focus. His love for me is not based on what I do or even what I might become it is because I am his. Not sure why that is so hard for me to wrap my head around. 

Before I was saved and gave my life to the Lord, I struggled to wrap my mind around the idea that one could be saved by grace. It was not something that we could earn it simply needed to be accepted. It was just too easy. No hoops to jump through. For God to love us un conditionally not based upon our performance is often hard for me to swallow. That God does not love me any less on mornings that I feel like I am slogging my way through quick sand than he does when I wake up with a song in my heart and springs in my feet.  This morning has been more of the former. I think because it is cold I did not get up when I first wolk up but laid there and lulled myself back to sleep only to later wake up groggy and hardly able to function. 

Does God love me less when I don't spring out of bed to spend time with him. I know he loves it when I do and it certainly helps my day to go better because I've set my mind on him rather than all the cares of this world. I believe he understands that we've entered into a new season both on the yearly calendar and in my spiritual walk. It will take me a little bit to get used to the changes and to make adjustments to make things work better. It seems to be often easer to extend grace and patience to everyone else than it is for me to extend that same grace to myself. 

I love this part of the verse "I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved.
In the place where they yelled out, “You’re nobody!”
    they’re calling you “God’s living children.”

There is a part of me that wants to be special, which is funny in a way because I already am special in the Lords eyes. So I think we must constantly fight the voices in our heads that say we are ordinary, sometimes it is the voices of people that we care about and want to impress or please. Sometimes it is simply our own self loathing that looks in the mirror and say all manner of demeaning things. Sometimes it is the oppression of the enemy. I have to decide what voice to believe - will I believe those voices that call me nobody! or will I believe the voice of the one who created me and knows me intimately who calls me somebody, and a child of the living God.

Most of the time things are much easier than I want to make them. I guess I just need to get to the place of accepting that God is ok with the things that I am at this point in my life. I am a mom, I am a wife, I write this blog, I paint, I make mosaics, I work at the church, I care about people. I make mistakes and fall short but most of all I am His and that alone is more than enough. 

Lord help each of us to over come our feelings of inadequacy. Help us to silences the voices that belittle and demean us. Help us to look in that mirror and boldly say "I am His" and to let that be enough to silence the negativity. 

God's Original and Final Intent part 5

This is my final paper for The International Healing Rooms School of Transformation in Spokane Washington. Its is very long paper so I ...