Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Troubles and The Rolly Polly Policeman

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

The Candy Pirates turn out to be good guys who sail the kids and Cinnamon Bear to the Island of Obbe. They can see the star from a distance and it is attached to the uniform of a Rolly Polly Policeman. It should be an easy task to finally get their star returned the them. Or so they think, until they get stuck on a magic wave that never rolls into the shore. There they are stuck in the middle of trouble once again. 


Sometimes it seems like our troubles never come to an end. Just when we think we have things handled something else happens. Often we make things worse by adding to today's troubles by worrying about tomorrows. Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In a sense we can get ourselves stuck on a "magic wave" we can't move forward or back and we are too overwhelmed to think of moving sideways. We can also find ourselves stuck because we have decided to throw a pity party. Our dispair brings with it a heavy fog of doubt and unbelief that is difficult even for friends bearing hope and help to get past. We can think that God is against us. That he is finally punishing us for all the times we have not measured up. If only we could be a better person, we think. We start pitching out pleas of desperation. "Lord if you get me out of this I will do go to Africa and become a missionary." Sometimes in our desperation an idea is hatched, suddenly we have a mission and a purpose. We see a reason to fight our way through the doubt and unbelief. We see a reason to overcome this present trouble. We find a reason to look again to find a solution to our problems. Then we wrongly think that God helped us because of the desperate bargin that we made. Often we draw the wrong conclusions particularly when we are still trying to be good enough to earn God's favor. 

John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus tries to give us a heads up in John 16:33. You are going to have trouble in this world. Trouble is part of life. We live in a world full of people just like us who are prone to sin. Even the best of us, on our best days still fall short of Gods holiness. Life is messy and we have trouble. We live among broken and sin prone people even if we stay huddled up in our homes or churches.

 Which brings me to a verse that made me laugh. You have to read Paul in context and keep in mind that he is a guy that has the gift of celibacy. Which is a good thing for him since he is constantly traveling and helping churches or in prison. Married life for him would have complicated his life. Also this is a time of heavy persecution for believers. 1 Corinthians 7:27-29(NIV1984)
27 Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this."

Ha! If you read Pauls story even as an un married celibate guy he had plenty of troubles. Paul is sharing some of the benefits of the celibate life, as he sees it. He's not saying that marriage is a bad thing. I like this quote from the dictionary of Bible Themes "Whilst the unmarried are freer of worldly concerns and may devote themselves more fully to God, those already married should not separate, and those without the gift of celibacy should not remain single." Matthew Henry has this to say regarding this passage. "He (Paul) advises them, by reason of the present distress, to keep themselves unmarried; hints the shortness of time, and how they should improve it, so as to grow dead and indifferent to the comforts of the world; and shows them how worldly cares hinder their devotions, and distract them in the service of God."

That line about those who marry will face many troubles in this life. Makes me laugh. Yep marriage can be at times, like refining sand paper. You commit to stick together through life while you are still in that glossy bubble of love. Then before you know it the bubble pops and you think what the heck did I get myself into. Sometimes it seems like there is a big shortage of better and way too much worse. Here's the thing thats funny to me about Paul's statement. We all will face many troubles in life irregardless of weather we are married or single.

We all need to work on things like  Philippians 2:2-4 (NIV1984)
then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
If we are living as prescribed in Philippians 2 we should also see the benefits described in Ecclesiastes 4:10 "If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" There are benefits to sharing your life with others. If you are not married you still have generally have friends, family, co-workers and people in your life that you have to work together with. I don't think that God really designed us to live lives in isolation. We are called to be living stones in a spiritual house in 1 Peter 2:5 to fit together with others requires that we make spiritual sacrifices. There is a give and take that has to happen for relationships to work. There is forgiveness and repentance that has to be shared.

I have no idea where most of my readers are in regards to marriage. You may be single, you may be married, you may be in a difficult marriage. Heres what I do know. No matter who you are you will have troubles in this life. The good news is that Jesus says to take heart. He offers you his peace. He offers to walk with you through whatever it is that you are facing. 

It is easy to get into the posture of thinking if only this thing were different in my life then I could live a life of greater devotion to God. You can live a life of greater devotion to God no matter what your life conditions may be. We all have this choice every day. Will we do life on our own or will we allow the Lord into it?

Psalm 71:20
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.

God will use every circumstance to refine and mold you into the image of Christ. His goal is not that your life is an all expense paid pleasure cruse.  Gods purpose is to conform you to His image. He is working to cause you to become all that he has designed and created you to be. We all come to him very broken. There are things that happen to us even as Christians that can break and damage us. Life is hard. Sometimes the hard things we are facing are the result of prayers we have prayed for things like wisdom and patience and to know God more. For us to have those things there is a lot of the old dead life that has to die and be removed. We pray those prayers for wisdom thinking that God is going to just down load it into our brains like they do in the Matrix. Sorry to say it does not work that way. Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Are we not often fools because we despise the very trials and difficult circumstances by which we become discipline and trained so that we end up with wisdom. 

I gotta say I prayed a lot for God to give me wisdom. Wisdom comes from God. It comes from knowing him and seeking him, and allowing him to be part of our decisions and choices. Most of the time I think it falls more in the fruit of the spirit category even though it is not on the list. I think it is something that grows in our lives or maybe it rubs off by hanging out with God regularly. All that fruit stuff grows by being attached to the source - Jesus. Even with things that are gifts - one has to learn how to use them. If you gave me a beautiful sword as a gift - I would be clueless how to use it well in a battle unless I decided to under go training to become skillful. I think we often take the beautiful gifts that God gives us and simply hang it up as a decoration. When God gives us things it is because they are to be used. We are to become skillful using them.
Romans 8:28-30(NIV1984) talks about being More Than Conquerors "28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined,  he also called; those he called, he also justified;  those he justified, he also glorified.

Well I'm out of time. I pray God will speak to you through this post and that you will find your way out of what ever wave you fell stuck in at this time. 

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