Thursday, January 3, 2013

Life Is Messy

A Devotional By Margot Cioccio

Titus 2:11-12 (NIV1984)
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.
12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,

Maybe you noticed that God did not wisk you out of this life and into heaven the moment you finally surrendered your heart and life to Him. He left you to be in the world. I think we get the idea of being saved by grace but quickly become legalistic in how we attempt to live between here and heaven. 

Take a look even at Jesus as an example of how he lived. He was fully engaged in life in a world full of broken, dirty, smelly, sinful people. He was not huddled away with his few steller examples of humanity in some holy, monistic setting. He was not up on some hill trying to keep himself and the disciples separated from the sinful.  He was out among the people and he sent the disciples out among the people. Check out Matthew 10 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. “Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts 10 no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep.11 Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave." They were not waiting for people to come to them - the were out where the people were. 

Jesus did take time in his day to go to secluded places to pray and be alone with the Father and that tells me that if Jesus needed that alone time than we probably do as well. I guess what I am trying to point out is that your relationship with the Lord should permeate every part of your life. Being a good Christian is far more than attending a Sunday worship service. It is more just diligently reading your bible and hunkering down in some little prayer group waiting for the end of things.  We are called to be active ingredients for change in our world. We are called to be a force for compassion, mercy and justice. Faith that is not active is dead and has no value to anyone. 
James 2:14-26 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? ...

We have to begin to apply the Word of God not only to our own personal life but to social and community and world problems all around us. Its not that we need to go around trying to sell everyone on the four spiritual laws or the Roman Road. Those are great tools for sharing the plan of salvation and are handy to know when the time comes. We don't need to live puritanical prudish lives to be holy. Holiness is not about you being good or righteous enough. It is about God who is holy, accepting you because Jesus was and is and ever will be the perfect sacrifice who paid the price for each of us. Its up to us to decide if we want to believe and accept what he offers.  

Zechariah 7:9
“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.

So while you are busy trying to pull yourself up by your bootstraps to live up to your New Year's resolutions. Trying to some how become your idea of a better person. Stop and realize that you are already fully accepted. For any lasting change to occur in your life you will need the help of the Holy Spirit. It is true that the Lord does want to transform your life but he is also not looking for us to become religious fake it till you make it types of Christians. People around you can learn as much if not more about God by how you go through problems. Even when you struggle or when you fail miserably - you don't give up, you cling to the Lord. You know He is the way, the truth and the life. 

Titus 2 and the book of James are some good references for Godly living.  How do you fully become the person God created you to be? Is it by following a legalistic prescription of do's and don'ts? We look at our salvation as if we are a child who was given a bath but then sent right back out to play in the mud. Life is messy and I don't think the Lord is at all intimidated by our dirt. I think we are trying so hard to stay clean while we wait for the chariot that will take us to heaven, that we completely miss that tag football game and Jesus is the quarter back who's trying to throw us a pass. As parents we quickly realize that we have to give our children regular baths to keep them clean. We don't expect them to live in a sanitary bubble from birth till they graduate and go off to college. I think Jesus expects that we will get our righteous robes dirty in the couse of living. We are so busy trying to be clean enough that we are expending our energy on something that the Lord already has handled and missing out on the cool stuff he planned for us to be part of with Him. Here's a hint on how to regularly bath in a spiritual sense. Ephesians 5 25b- 26  "Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word

Prayer: Dear Lord, Just like you can take the landscapes all around us and cover them in a blanket of pristine white snow. Help us to realize that you also take our lives and cover us with the purity and holiness of Jesus so that when you look at us we are spotless.  Wash us with your word and help us to gain a better understanding of how to do this journey as your followers. 

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