Friday, February 15, 2013

It's Just One Ant

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Proverbs 6:6-8
6Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
7It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
8yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.

I think we often feel powerless as if the little we could give or contribute would not really be enough to make a difference. I believe the powers of darkness work over time to keep us thinking that way. What we don't realize is that if a lot of us did just a little, big things could happen. 

Click Photo To Visit and Listen to Healing Stream Stations
I hear my friend Mark Kenny of Healing Stream Media inviting people to help with launching another station or to support the 6 that already exist. Sometimes I am able to help and other times I'm frustrated because I'm not sure how I am going to keep gas in the cars or food on the table. Sometimes I allow that feeling of powerlessness to sink in and hold me back when I should take a step of faith even if its a very little one. What if you and I decided that we wanted to stand up and resist those feelings of lack and powerlessness. What if we heard those appeals and we decided that we would do something.

There is a different radio station my church supports in Alaska that reaches out to the Soviet Union it is supported by everyone, in every Covenant Church, giving one dollar, on one Sunday of the Year. There is power that is released when we decide to push past those feelings of lack and powerlessness  to stand together in unity to do something.  

Do you remember the scene in the movie A Bugs Life. The Bad Boss grasshopper is trying to impress on his minions that if one ant stands up, others might also and before you know it there goes their way of life. Its a powerful little clip. If you are getting this in your e-mail you will have to click on the post title to get back the main site to see it, or here's the YouTube Link

I have been writing this week about God's heart towards the poor and the need for Mission Churches in America. We have churches that are thriving and others like my own that is made up of 3/4's homeless and poor people each Sunday that are not really able to support themselves. The question our staff and board wrestles with is how do you do church in America if most of your congregation lives under the bridge, or in shelters or subsidized housing? We pray and God has supplied in amazing ways to keep the doors open so we can continue to minister to our very poor neighbors.  It is however a constant struggle that we wrestle with and continually lift before the Lord. In most places it is enough to pass the plate on a Sunday. I sometimes ask God why there is such inequity with in His "Church".  Often we think we are doing great things for God by building cushy buildings for our people or erecting giant Jesus statues that eventually get struck by lightening and putting resources to building another.

Source: via Margot on Pinterest

Maybe rebuilding statues is a great testimony of faith but I have to think it is yet another thing that the languishing world around us mocks and laughs at particularly when our streets are filled with homeless people. We have a society of Christians who for the most part think their Christian duty is fulfilled simply by attending church services. So as I wrestle with the inequities, I find God saying to me "Who can I send, who will go for me." I realize that I am to be a voice for change. A voice that causes people to examine their priorities. 

I contend that if you are spending time in God's presence and enjoying amazing times of worship or in the word that you should get filled up and then go out and pour it out to those who are hungry or thirsty.  Perhaps you experienced personal healing and being set free from the things that have held you in bondage - that is great. That is certainly wonderful but you can't just stay there. You have to take that new found healing and freedom in Christ and do something with it. You have to come off the dang mountain and use what you have received to minister to a broken, lost and hurting world. Too often we are spending the anointing of God on our own pleasure and comfort. Isaiah had an incredible experience in the Lord's presence but he did not remain there. He heard God's call to "go" and he responded as should you and I.

Isaiah 6:7-9

New International Version 1984 (NIV1984)
With it he touched my mouth and said, 
“See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 
“Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
He said, “Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
    be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’    

I'm pretty sure it was a frusting call to be sent to people who would not hear, or understand. He was sent to people who had hard hearts toward God despite the fact that God had done countless miracles in their midst. Difficulty is not necessarily a sign that God is not working in something. His blessings often come in unlikely packages, that are harder than we might expect. It is because we need to learn dependance on Him.

This picture is depicting a powerful article by William Booth the founder of the Salvation Army is forever etched in my mind. Look at the people on the bridge who have been saved from the sea. They have completely forgotten the sea full of perishing people from which they came.

It's easy to think the problems in our world will be solved by someone else. That it's not our problem that people live under the bridge, or are held in bondage to poverty or addiction. That people are still in our century sold in to slavery. Sometimes our attitude is they made their bed - now they can lie in it. I'm not convinced that is the heart of God. 

Blessed is he who is poor in spirit....(Matthew 5:3)...for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Most of us are not farmers and our's is not an agricultural society, but I think we have to think how this verse fits and apply in our technological world of today.  Leviticus 23:22
“When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. Leave it for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.”

Deuteronomy 15:11
“There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need.”

Proverbs 14:31
“He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”

Proverbs 21:13
“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.”

Isaiah 58:6-7
“No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.”

I've only chose a few of the many verses one can find on this subject - and lest you think it all old testament here are more expressing the same heart of God toward the poor in the New Testament. 

Luke 3:11
“John replied, ‘If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.’”

Luke 4:18
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free.”

There are a lot of places where one can help to advance God's kingdom. My friends at the Healing Stream have 6 wonderful and very different stations that will bless and encourage you. Take a listen and then visit the donation page and help keep them on the air. Click the line of photos to get to their site they have easy secure online donation buttons all set up under the donate tab.

My own little church could use your help consider giving to a mission church that is regularly feeding and ministering to the homeless and poor. Our seats are filled with poor people and our offering plates are filled with change. I don't think its God's intention for them to stay poor and homeless but it is a considerable journey that requires a lot of love, patience support and prayer. Please pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send workers into this harvest field. I invite you to be part of what God is doing, it is a work of transformation and hope. If you can't go to such a mission field - than give.

There are two places on our web site 
where you can give an online donation. 

1. If you want to help support a church for the homeless and poor pull down the "About" tab an at the bottom you will find Tithes and Offerings and that will take you to a paypal donation page.

2. If you would like to help pay to feed the homeless a hot meal each week you would use the "Streetwise" tab and donate though paypal to Streetwise.

                                               Thanks, Margot 

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