Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday or Horrible Friday?

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

If you have watched the Passion movie you may have some idea of how gruesome, bloody, painful, horrible, excruciating this day we call Good Friday was for Jesus.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Just in case you have not read the accounts of the crucifixion here are some links to those passages. 

This was a terribly long day that started with a late night praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. There is greeted by Judas with the kiss of death and betrayal which leads to his arrest by a mob with swords and clubs. He goes through Jewish trials followed by Roman trials. He is mocked, beaten, rejected, and scorned. 



He is Flogged. Flogging at the hands of the Romans was incredibly brutal. The Jewish law only allowed for 40 lashes to be given in a flogging. So Jesus was given only 39 lashes. 
The Romans had no limit before a crucifixion they were only to leave their victim able to carry their own cross. The whip they used had a number of thin leather strips that were each embedded with bone or led balls. So the whip strands had bone or metal fragments or lead balls used to beat and tear the flesh. We know that Jesus was brutally beaten and required help to carry the cross.  

He is crucified A crown of thorns is mashed onto his head, nails perce his wrists and his ancles.  It is believed in the end the cause of death on the cross was asphyxiation. The person on the cross was hanging by their arms and would try to push up on the lower nails in the feet to keep the chest muscles from cramping so they could get a breath. At some point the amount of carbon dioxide in the system would cause death. 

I don't think we can begin to conceive of the pain and agony that filled this day. Even when we have surgery it is with an anesthetic. This is a day of torturous pain and agony filled with mental, physical and spiritual anguish. 

In the garden the night before, Jesus cried out to the Father asking if there was another way. There was no other way to purge the poison of sin from the human race. Jesus goes willingly into this day. We call it good because his punishment purchases our freedom from sin and death. 

Hebrews 12: 2b ...for the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Look on him, consider him, remember him, share in his suffering. 

Romans 8:17
Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

There is no pain, agony, disappointment, sorrow, grief or dispair that we face that compares to what Jesus endured on our behalf. The suffering of Christ was more than physical or mental pain it was also spiritual pain. To know that even after all he had done, most would prefer sin and death and would not accept his complete willing sacrifice on their behalf. He forces no one to believe or follow him. The joy set before him that day that caused him to endure the cross was to see your redeemed life. He made a way for you to be in restored relationship with a holy God.


Look on Him, consider Him, remember Him, accept what He has done for you. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Proper Time.

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 NIV

I want to talk about the proper time part of this verse. I just was texting a friend who was trying to decide if it was time to be done with her job. She feels that God is calling her on to other things. 

So here is the picture I shared with her. You are driving on a long trip. You know your destination is near. You are excited to be able to get out of the car. As you near the big city of your destination there are a number of exit ramps. You could get excited and take the first one but it will not take you directly to your hotel with out having to wander around in a city that you don't know well.  If you had just followed the directions you had to get off at the third exit it would have taken you directly to your destination. 

Sometimes we hesitate and miss the exit ramp that God had for us and find ourselves circling around the entire city again. Feeling like we missed God and have stayed somewhere too long. The exit ramps will come up again be sure to heed the directions of the Lord this time. 
Sometimes the opportunities that God had for us on the last pass around the city have gone to others while who were ready and responded with obedience. It would be good to check in with the Lord to see if you still need the same exit or if the directions are a little different at this point. It is important to be led by the Holy Spirit. 

In the proper time God sent Jesus. He knew from the time that Adam and Eve sinned that he would have to send Jesus. God is much more patient than we are. We want instant quick fixes and generally we have to wait for his timing. 

Today is the Thursday of Easter week. This is the day that the last supper happens. This supper began back with Moses and the people finally being released from Egypt. They were given very specific instructions regarding this supper. They were to celebrate it in remembrance as a lasting ordinance. So Jesus and his disciples prepared to celebrate the passover meal together. 
When they got to the end of the meal. Jesus did things a little different. Luke 22 gives that account.
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Had to be a bit shocking to the people in the room who had celebrated that meal in the same way year after year their whole lives. 

After several thousand years of history God sends his Son. It is at this moment, at the proper time in His story. "For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 NIV

Going back to the story of Moses for a second. The people could have gone directly to the promised land but because of fear they rebelled. Only Joshua and Caleb, two of the men sent to spy out the land came back with a good report. They are the only two from that generation that was allowed to enter the promised land 40 years later. So as you near your exit ramp don't miss it because of doubt and fear. Even if there seem to be giants and great obstacles in this new place - you serve a big God. He is the God of the universe and those obstacles are not a problem for Him. It is important to follow his directions. You don't want to circle your destination again and again till the next opportunity to obey comes up for you. Sometimes like Israel they had to wander in the desert for 40 years and entering the promised land was given to the next generation after the previous one had all died off. 

Prayer: Lord help us to follow your leading. Help us to look to you and not miss our exit because of doubt and fear. Help us to look to you and not the giants and obstacles  Thank you for your grace when we have missed your direction and for your patiences as we try to get back on track. Help us to repent at this point and lead us to your next assignment.  Those who remain in their present assignment, I ask for your hand of favor to be upon them. I pray that they would grow in wisdom, favor and statue with the people they work with and with you, Lord. Help all of us to be very sensitive to your Holy Spirit and to be quick to obey. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Betrayal

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Psalm 62:7 NIV

I have been working on Good Fridays service pretty much non stop. All day yesterday was spent picking the video backdrop. We picked a number of reflective videos to play while people are spending time in the various stations around the room. There is an area for communion, an area with rocks that represent the burdens we carry. People will sit in that area holding those rocks until they have released those burden to the Lord and cast them into a basen of water representing the sea of his forgetfulness. There is an area where you can write the sins you are struggling to over come on a card and then nail it to the cross, there is another area where you can be anointed with oil and prayed over. People will be able to stay for as long as they like in each of the areas. The service really has no end because much like the disciples we must wait to see was he a lunatic, a lier, or was he truly the lamb of God who could take away the sins of the world. In this dark time many ran away and hid fearing his fate would befall them as well. Some waited and prayed wanting to believe but feeling the sadness, grief, and the weight of the price that has been paid.

I will probably use the verse above in the area with the rocks and the water. He is our rock of refuge and when we are baptized in Him we are somehow changed.

Today is Wednesday and I have been following along with the things that happened between the triumphal entry of Palm Sunday and His resurrection on Easter Sunday. Today Judas, one of the twelve disciples closest to Jesus, has gone to the priests.

Matthew 26:14-16
14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.

I know you may sit there incredulous, wondering how could Judas do such a thing?  He expected a king who would take back Israel from the tyranny of the Romans. Its looking less and less likely that Jesus will lead the needed a military coup and for Judas, his greed has gotten the better of him. In some convoluted way he may think that his betrayal is delivering Jesus to the people who can actually raise him to power.

He trades Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. God is not surprised by the actions of Judas they are prophesied way back in Zechariah 11:12-13 It seems that thirty pieces of silver was the price one would pay for a slave.   12 I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.

Matthew 27 Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people made their plans how to have Jesus executed. 2 So they bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate the governor. 3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

6 The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7 So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners.8 That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10 and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”

That thirty pieces of silver is used in the end to buy the potter's field. Before you get self righteous and think you would never have betrayed Jesus like Judas did. I challenge you to think of the times you have allowed the pursuit of money or greed to keep you from fully following Jesus. For some your job is first in your life. You have put it before your family and before your friends, and before your relationship with the Lord. You think if I just work a little harder I will get to the place where I  have enough and then I will follow Jesus. For some you have spent your life making a comfortable life for yourself and your family. Yet you never seem to have enough. 

Haggai 1:6
6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

You wonder why you never have enough. The answer is found a few verses later. 7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.

If you claim to follow him your priorities must be for His kingdom. 

Matthew 6:33
33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Have you been like Judas and chased after money? Have you thought to build God's kingdom the worlds way. Have you favored the wealthy and the powerful and despised and neglected the poor?Have you spent time building your own house and neglected the Lord house and his kingdom work? 

I will remind you once again of the sheep and the goats. In Matthew 25.
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Prayer: Lord we repent for the times that we have betrayed you. The times we have put other priorities before you and and the work of your kingdom. Help us Lord to repent and not be so weight down by guilt and shame that we follow Judas and take our own life. It is not to late to turn and follow you. 





Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Olivet Discourse

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

I found this really nice Easter Week Time Line that shows the many things that are documented about Jesus during that span of time. 


On Tuesday of Holy Week Jesus and the Disciples are out taking a walk and he finds a fig tree that has no fruit on it and he curses it because it was not ready for him with fruit when he passed by it. Later that day they walk back by that fig tree and it has withered. I look at that passage and I see it almost as a for shadowing. You have been planted in the good soil of the kingdom, you have been set free from the chains of sin. After Jesus has tended your life like a gardner for a period of time you should be bearing fruit. If you are not eventually you will come under has judgement. Not a popular message, it won't sell well to today's Christians who want to be pampered and entertained. I think we also have to look at in what it says to Israel. The fig tree is symbolic for Israel. Take a look at these two verses. "‘I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness, I saw your fathers as the first ripe in the fig tree in her first time" (Hosea 9:10). Jeremiah received the vision of two baskets of figs, which represented Israel: "Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah" (Jeremiah. 24:5). Jesus had been tending and working that garden for three and a half years." Israel was not ready when Jesus came to them. Even after he tends to them for three and a half years they are still not producing fruit. 

Luke 13:6-9

New International Version (NIV)
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down!Why should it use up the soil?’
“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”

I think Jesus has stopped by the garden for the last time and cut it down. It is still not producing fruit. He extends so much grace and mercy to all of us but I think there comes a point when he says "enough" this tree won't produce fruit, though given the best of care, cut it down. 

We look at that fig tree miracle and it is an odd one. It does not benefit anyone like feeding the multitudes, or healing the sick or even casting out demons. It is more of a sign for those who have ears to hear and eyes to see.

God's purpose for Israel was that she was to be a light to all the other nations of the world. She was to show them that the God of the universe has a better way. Israel struggled to be faithful to her God, let alone be a light that would shine brightly to the nations of the world. He sent prophets and they would stone them, and treat them poorly. Finally he sends his son and they choose to Crucify him rather than to follow him. 

Take a look at this story from Matthew 21
33 “Listen to another parable: There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. 34 When the harvest time approached, he sent his servantsto the tenants to collect his fruit.
35 “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. 36 Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. 37 Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.
38 “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ 39 So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
40 “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?”
41 “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” 


So no one wants a judgement message. We want happy Jesus loves me, He's got the whole world in his hand kind of stuff. As far as Israel is concerned I think that Jesus passed by that fig tree and withered it and it was a representation of him saying "rent the land to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” At the crucifixion the church age began and we became those responsible for showing God's light and love to the world. I am not saying that God does not love Israel and may not have future purposes for her. She was not ready and was not fulfilling His purposes for her in the earth. 

I will rest my case using this story from Luke 14

The Parable of the Great Banquet

15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ 22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ 23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Theres a lot of other stuff in the Olivet Discourse and it might be worthy your time to carefully consider some of the last lessons that Jesus taught during his earthly ministry. You find there the story of the Sheep and the Goats, The ten virgins, the bags of gold. In all three of those stories there is a line that is drawn in the sand, these were ready and these were not, these did my will and these did not. We have been saved and set free and we have been called, anointed and appointed as God's ambassadors. We have kingdom work to do. Have you buried the resources he gave you or are you using them and seeing them multiply. What are you doing for the least of these - thats what you are doing for Jesus. Do you have oil in your lamp - will you be ready? 

It is time we wake up!

Well I'm out of time for this post. There is a rich meal to be found in Matthew 24 and 25. I pray the Lord will speak to you and use this to help motivate you to get busy with his plans and purposes for your life. Your life is not your own it has been bought with a price.








Monday, March 25, 2013

A Look at Easter Week

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

This is Easter Week and I found a nice video of the events of Easter week set to music. 


I am both embedding the vidio and providing the link.http://youtu.be/3GjlSepH0nw


Yesterday we celebrated Palm Sunday and Jesus being welcomed in the manner that a king returning from a victorious battle would be welcomed home. 


From the Transformations Prayer Loft
He arrives in Jerusalem to celebrate the Pass Over Feast. The feast that remembers the Jewish people in Egypt and how they were instructed to put the blood of a lamb over their door and remain inside and eat the passover meal together. They were protected as the death angel passed over Egypt taking every first born. If you remember your Sunday School stories the is the climax of Moses going to the Pharaoh saying "Let My People Go". He refused and gets things likes plagues of nats, and frogs, water turning  to blood and finally the death of every first born. You can find the whole story in Exodus 8-12 in your Bible.   

Thursday is the Last Supper and the night that Jesus goes to the garden to pray and is betrayed by the kiss of his friend Judas. 

Friday is the crucifixion. There is an Earth Quake and the Veil of the Temple is torn in two. 

Sunday - is the resurrection when Jesus raises from the dead. 


Painting by Margot, Masks by Taylor Blake
In my church we do a Good Friday service. I am actually in charge of it this year so much of my week will be getting ready for that service. It is a somber reflective kind of service. I have to think it was a pretty traumatic week for the disciples. They go from the highs of Jesus being hailed as a king on Palm Sunday and the the crucifixion on Friday. Jesus has told them very clearly what is going to happen but I think most of it did not really register for them till afterwards. In Matthew 26 just after telling the parable of the Sheep and the Goats. Jesus says "When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”   He goes on to say later that same day  "20 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.
21 And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
Jesus shares what we call Communion "26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant,which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”


Then they head to the Garden where Jesus asks the disciples to wait and pray. He goes off to pray and returns three separate times to find them sleeping. 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
The Transformations Prayer Loft

I look at the week between Palm Sunday and Easter and to me it seems to be a week that should some how be marked by prayer. For the most part it is a regular week for my family. Work, school, other activities but in among them I will look for places to set aside to watch and pray to reflect on the things that happened during Easter week. 
I will try to wrap my mind around what it must have felt like as the disciples to see Jesus, celebrated, betrayed, imprisoned, sentenced, beaten, crucified, laid in the tomb.  
You and I know that Jesus was true to his promise to rise again but for them they had to live through the confusion, to see the one they loved suffer and die, they run and hide. Think about how dark those hours must have been. Were they remembering the things He said at that point. Are they hanging on to the miracles and by faith really looking for the resurrection?  Think of your own walk with Jesus how do you do in those times between praying about something you need and the actual answer to that prayer. Do you wait and hope and then have times of doubt and fear. I think if you are honest most of us struggle and I think the disciples must have as well.

Painting by Nikki Lima 
 I've included some photos of the new Transformation Prayer Loft that I have been working on. It opened yesterday and it was wonderful to see people experiencing the space, the art and the variety of hands on prayer activities. I will share other photos and more about it in other posts this week. Today I wanted for us to take a look at the week that lies before us and to challenge you to find some places to set aside during your busy week to wait and pray and to reflect upon the events of Easter Week.


Painting by Lisa Johnson

Friday, March 22, 2013

Invisible Weapons are not Imaginary

You have access to everything the Father has....
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Ephesians 6:10-11 (NIV)
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

The Reformation Study Bible commentary "The Christian duty of unity and purity is complicated by the presence of hostile spiritual powers. Christ’s cross and resurrection are the devil’s undoing (Col. 2:15 note), and at Christ’s Second Coming, Satan’s defeat will be completed (Rom. 16:20). But the peace of the Cross is experienced in the meantime in the midst of spiritual struggle. The forces of darkness are defeated, but not yet harmless.

When you decide to join the military you are issued a uniform and then you are sent to boot camp for training to learn to be a soldier and to use weapons or tools you will need to be able to do your particular duty. Then you are sent to a place where you will serve. 

It is easy in our day to want to discount anything that can not be seen and tested by scientific method as the stuff of fiction or over active imaginations. Here in this passage we are told to be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. That is the power that raised Jesus from the dead - be strong in that power. Know that you serve the God of the Universe and that He is powerful. He does not wisk us out of this world at the point of conversion. He leaves us here and while we are here we are to know we are not left alone. He has given us the Holy Spirit to comfort and to train and equip us.  In this passage of Ephesians we are warned that the devil plots and that we should be take our stand against them wearing the full armor of God. 

So you have been given robes of righteousness. Your sins have been forgiven. Like the prodigal son returning home, you may hope that the Father will allow you to be a servant in his kingdom. 
He sees you coming down the road and he leaps from his seat and runs out to meet you. You try to tell him how unworthy you are but it is eclipsed by his joy that you have come home. He calls for the servants to bring the best robes, sandals for your feet and the family ring for your finger. Then he sets in motion a hugh celebration to which you are the guest of honor. To be so fully accepted and embraced is difficult for most of us. We remember the things we've done and we think if the father or his people really knew they would not treat us this way. Out of mercy they might give us some menial tasks to do and a corner some where to lay our head at night. We think maybe over time we can earn their trust and work our way to better standing. So this reception from the father twists our brain and it can also rub some of the Father's faithful people the wrong way. Those who have stayed and been faithful never got a party and here you the unfaithful lout have returned and you get a party - really what gives here.  

We have a big church plant that has rented our building for Sunday evenings. I have to admit I feel a bit like the faithful son in this story. Here this other church shows up and put up a sign and they expect to get a building full of people to show up for their first Sunday. How is that fair when we have been on this corner faithfully ministering to the neighborhood's hurting and broken people and have yet to see a packed out crowd on a Sunday.  Here is God's message to me in regards to these seeming inequity from Luke 15. 28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Some of us forget everything the Father has is ours. We leave much of what he has for us sitting on the shelves of the Kingdom. We have armor set aside for our use and protection but because we can't see it and touch it we think it is simply imaginary.  Yes the war has been won and the devil and his gang have been defeated at the cross. There are still snipers and renegades that are still fighting and looking to do as much damage as they can before they are finally captured and sent to prison.   

You have been given invisible weapons, they are not imaginary because you can't see them. 
Here is what you have available. You need to put them on and keep them on. You still live in the war zone.

Ephesians 6:14-18

• Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist...

• The breastplate of righteousness in place....

• With your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace...

• Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

• Take the helmet of salvation.....

• The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God....

You need to put on truth, righteousness, the readiness of peace, faith, salvation, the sword of the Word. This is your armor - wear it. With it on Pray in the Spirit and be alert.

• Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests...

• Be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

You may not understand the power that was able to raise Jesus from the dead but it is this same power that gives you these invisible weapons to put on. They are powerful!

2 Corinthians 10:3 - 6
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

God has not called you to just sit around and be entertained until he returns. He has left you here to make a kingdom difference. You have been given tools to root out the enemy and to help set captives free, to pull down strongholds, cast down arguments and anything that rises up against the knowledge of God. You are to take you own thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. 

Here is a warning to all of us. Examine the life you are living and ask yourself what kind of a servant are you being?

Matthew 24: 45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Get your armor on and get into the game - stop sitting on the bench wringing your hands.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Are you like a tree or a shrub?

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio



“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, Which spreads out its roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV

Where do you turn when trouble comes, when life is difficult, when you've feel you've lost your way? Do you turn to your insurance, or the doctor, the lawyer, the financial experts. Do you seek out the wisdom of our day and exhaust every avenue and resource before you turn to seek the Lord? Sadly the Lord is often the last resort for many people. This verse reminds us that the person who trusts the Lord is blessed. The person who puts their hope in the Lord will be like a tree near a water source.

I read the whole chapter of Jeremiah 17 this morning and I found another verse that I thought was interesting and not one that you find plastered to every magnet and wall plaque. It actually precedes our verse of the day.

Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength,
Whose heart departs from the Lord.For he shall be like a shrub in the desert,
And shall not see when good comes, But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness,
In a salt land which is not inhabited.

I know that conventional wisdom tells us to turn to the experts. I have seen people who run from friend to friend and from expert to expert sharing their problems and looking for advice and the opinions of others. In the end they have so many conflicting views that they still have to make their own decision. They become like shrubs in the desert and they don't see good when it comes and stares them in the face.  

The difference between a shrub and a tree. Trees provide shade. You can lean on a tree. You can climb a tree an see for a distance and get your bearing. The tree in our verse is always yielding fruit. It provides nourishment, shelter, and shade.  Not so the shrub. Having lived in the desert for a while the shrubs really don't provide shade from the heat. Their roots don't go very deep and the wind often turns them into tumble weeds that are tossed about. Shrubs provide no stability or shelter and more often are simply in the way. 

I am not saying that it is wrong to consult experts who are knowledgeable in their particular field. I am simply saying make the Lord your first resort rather than your last. Allow him to lead you by His Holy Spirit to those who will help you determine his will. 

Proverbs 1:7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Proverbs 8:14
Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength.

Isaiah 33:6
Wisdom and knowledge will be the stability of your times, And the strength of salvation; The fear of the Lord is His treasure.
 
If you search the word "wisdom" you will find it 231 times. The Lord is the one who created you, he is the one to turn to if you are broken. He is the one to turn to if you are having problems. He is the one who set this world in motion he can help you to navigate wisely through this life. 
 
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, And whose hope is the Lord. Its hard to get much clearer than that. Lets turn it around just for fun. If you want to be blessed put your trust and hope in the Lord. We try to find the solutions to our problems and our pains in so many other things. We try to numb, deaden, burry, and hide our pain and we become addicted to things that solve nothing and generally only create more problems. Take that pain to the Lord face it head on, allow Him to deal with it. Yes it will hurt to have Him touch and examine it. Yes the healing can be slow and painful but it leads to health, it leads to a solution. 
 
Some of you have become like shrubs you have chased careers or money, success, power and fame. You are tossed about and have no stability. You have said I will become prosperous and then I will seek the Lord. You have said to the Lord let me fix myself up first and then I will turn to you. I tell you that you are chasing the wind and you will never become wealthy enough or fixed or cleaned up enough to feel like it is time to turn to the Lord. You have become a shrub to be tossed in the fire. 
 
Maybe you are tired of being tossed about, maybe you realize the error of your ways. The word says "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and then all these things will be added unto you." Matthew 6:33 It may look and feel like a crazy decision. You can continue chasing your own plans and purposes or you can stop and humble yourself before the Lord and begin to seek His. He knows why he created you, and what he desires to use you for with in his kingdom. None of us are ever good enough. Its really not about being good enough it is about being His. Turn to Him and be saved, restored and set free. Become His tree planted by His living water. Let your roots grow deep into Him.
 
My life is not my own and I choose to honor the Lord with my body and with my life. 
 
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 

Prayer: Lord we choose to humble ourselves before you. Help us to see the places where we are not seeking you first. We choose today to put our trust and our hope in you. Lead and guide us by your Holy Spirt. Plant us like a tree beside a water source, make us strong and fruitful in you. We are tired of chasing the wind, mark this day as one in which we are choosing to turn to you.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Now that you've tasted that the Lord is good.

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

1 Peter 2:2-3
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, 
so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Yesterday I was invited to speak to a group of Red Hat Ladies. It was a lot of fun. I was asked to speak about my larger mosaics but I wanted it to be more than a how to demonstration. So I talked about the power of an idea. I shared how the lovely restaurant we were sitting in someones dream. Big things like Disney Land started with a little idea that someone acted upon even thought it seemed impossible or crazy at the time they started out. Anyway it went very well... then I got home and realized my black shirt that I had under my sweater was inside out. Which would have been fine except that I got hot and took off my sweater. Hopefully they are not telling all their friends, "she speaks well but seems to have trouble dressing herself." I'm hoping no one even noticed - probably helped to keep me humble. Maybe I should wear my shirts inside out all the time for that purpose. It was a delightful group of ladies and I felt very comfortable as an inspirational speaker. Its one of those small beginnings kind of things - its really the first time other than my church, where I speak almost weekly, that I 've been invited to speak. So we will see if the Lord opens up other opportunities - I'm game. 

I made coffee this morning and noticed that we are almost out of milk again. I have two big teen age boys and we go thorough milk at a rapid rate. Our verse today is about pure spiritual milk. One of the signs that someone has really been born again is that they are hungry. They crave pure spiritual milk much like a baby. Mother's milk has in it all the nutrients that an infant needs to be able to be healthy, thrive and grow. Eventually we start to eat solid foods. Our nutrients come from a variety of sources from the vegetables, grains, meats and other dairy products that we eat. The thing is it is easy to fill up on things that have very little if any nutritional value. Our stores are full of things that fill us up and make us fat. In our society we are often far removed from the basic food building blocks. Where does milk come from - the grocery store in a big jug. How many children actually experience cows on a regular basis anymore. They might go on a field trip to a farm and learn about where milk comes from at some point but it is not a familiar thing to most children. 

I think it is interesting that when Israel was in route to the promised land they were told it would be a land flowing with milk and honey. What do those two things have in common? Why would that be a blessing in the land they were going to possess? Milk and honey are both renewable resources. You don't have to kill the cow or the goat. Bee's make honey as part of an on going life process of pollinating the local plant life. A land rich in milk and honey is a healthy land where there is healthy plant life and babies are being born and the cows and bees are making milk and honey as a bi product of a healthy environment. We should probably break in to the chorus from the Lion King about the Circle of Life right about now. A healthy land has growth and new babies. I'm convinced that healthy churches should have those things as well. Our lives if they are healthy should show signs of growth and while we may not be giving birth to physical babies we should be giving birth to creative ideas that will bless, encourage, and help others.  

Through the years I have had many people tell me they had a vision or a dream of me being pregnant and some even go on to tell me that I was giving birth in the church. For much of my adult life I had no children. I am heading swiftly towards age 52 and have only in my life given birth to two actual babies and they came along pretty late in my life. Those visions or words from people used to perplex me and I wondered what the heck was that about particularly for the 15 years of marriage where I was childless.  Its taken me a long while to figure it all out - but what I seem to do a lot of is give birth to new ideas or ministries in the church. We are called to be fruitful but that comes from abiding in the vine. You have to be plugged in to the source. That source is Jesus. If you want to be fruitful you need to be spending regular time with Him. That quiet time at his feet is where fruitfulness starts and continues. 

Healthy babies are hungry babies. They eat every couple of hours and new moms are often exhausted by hungry babies that need fed during the night. Healthy new spiritual babies should be hungry for the word and God's presences. Most of you reading are not spiritual babies and should really be eating more than milk. For some of you its time you learn to pick up the silverware and learn to feed yourself. You are waiting for your pastor or bible study leader to feed you, when you need to be spending time in the word and learning how to rightly divide it and apply its truth to your life. Some of you are filling up on junk food and getting so fat you can hardly move, you want to sit in church and be entertained by everyone else. Its time you get in the game. God does not intend for you to be a spiritual couch potato. When children do not develop normally and never learn to feed themselves we call them handicapped, dysfunctional or retarded. My friend that should not be you - if you have been a believer for more than a year you should be able to begin to feed yourself. In fact eventually you should get to a point where you are helping prepare and serve the food. Some of you are simply being lazy expecting others to feed you or are making poor choices about your spiritual diet. You would rather fill up on internet fluff about cats, and tv shows than spend time digging into the Word of God. Some of you have spent a lot of time in the word and even at the Lord's feet and it is time for you to get out there and use your gifts to make a kingdom difference of some sort. The harvest is ripe and the workers are few... how is that even possible, except that we are being lazy and selfish. Some of you need to pay attention and hear the Lord saying "who can we send, who will go for us?" You need to get off the mountain top and go find a way to help with the work of the kingdom. You should be responding "Here I am Lord, send me!" 

I think I've probably given you enough to chew on for today. There should have been a morsel for everyone who came to this table today. No matter where you are in your spiritual development, you have tasted that the Lord is good and you should hunger for more of Him. Better yet pick up a plate and help serve others. 

Prayer: Lord help us to be a land flowing with milk and honey. Make our lives healthy and fruitful. Help us to learn how to rightly divide your word and to not only be able to feed our selves but to set a table and feed other healthy meals as well. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Whats Under Your Rug?

My Patio  - I'm so ready for Spring to get here. 
A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NIV

For some reason the bible gateway verse of the day got my head to spin off towards this song called When I Think of You by Laura Story. http://youtu.be/pwNRaDI4K6A

Which got me thinking about Philippians 4:8 and some how in my mind these verses go together. 

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

"Why should we think upon things that are lovely? Because thinking determines life. It is a common habit to blame life upon the environment. Environment modifies life but does not govern life. The soul is stronger than its surroundings." William James

If you look around you everything you see has started from a thought, an idea. Someone had an idea and took steps to bring it to pass. I often see art in my head but unless I express it and turn it into a mosaic or a painting no one eles can see it. Our thoughts are powerful things. Just as we need to take steps of faith to create we also need to weed out those thoughts that are contrary to Gods will. Its not that God is all about do's and don't. He wants to help you to avoid the things that will damage you. In my mind these two verses go together. There is no law against things like love, joy and peace and the rest of the fruit of the Spirit. These are things that should be growing in our lives because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. However you need to remember that the Holy Spirit will not force any of those things upon you. The Holy Spirit waits to be invite, or allowed or given space in our life. He brings those seeds - like little thoughts but we have to choose what we water and allow to grow in the garden of our lives. All of the things in the Fruit of the Spirit list are things that are true, noble, right, lovely admirable and praiseworthy and we should think about such things according to Philippians 4:8.

So when I think... are my thoughts filled with these kinds of things or are they angry, blaming, jealous, vengeful, scornful, bitter kinds of thoughts? The later will damage you and choke the life out of you just like weeds in a garden will suck up the nutrients in the soil that the good plants need to grow and be strong and healthy. 

I have noticed for example with worry - that if I weed out those thoughts I have a whole lot of extra energy to actually take care of things in my life.  We each have choices to make regarding how we will spend our thoughts. Will we allow the weeds to take over and cause the produce from our garden to be week and sickly? 

If we don't weed out the negative stuff it spreads and grows. Think about those dandelions in your yard. If you have one you better get it pulled fast because you leave it very long and you will have a yard of dandelions. Those cute little yellow flowers turn into those little puffy seed balls and one gust of the wind spreads them everywhere. It is true of negative thoughts that become words or things we wrongly take action upon. Its like that virus it starts with one sick person and a few coughs and sneezes and before you know it everyone has been infected. 

We do get hurt and we may be angry its not that God expects us to pretend those pains do not exist. It is however important what we do with them. We need to allow him to heal us and it generally requires repentance and forgiveness. Bad things do happen but we want to put the memories of those things away clean and healed. That little insignificant scratch if left untended can become a nasty infection that can make the entire body sick. 

So my challenge to you today is don't just sweep that little stuff under the rug. Its like leaving that one insignificant dandelion in your yard. May not seem like anything right now but if you don't take care of it soon you will have a much bigger problem on your hands. 

Prayer: Lord, help us to see and recognize the thought weeds in our lives. Help us to pull them up and to get to the roots so they don't just grow back again and again. Help us to cultivate the the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Help us plant another row of love, joy, peace and patiences. We could all use more of those things. Help us to not just sweep things under the rug or to let them pile up in a junk drawer or in that closet or garage, basement or attic. Come Lord and begin spring cleaning in our thought life. 

The photo today is of my pretty patio space. We had one warm afternoon and I decided that it was time for the pato to be set up. Seems I probably jumped the gun a bit. There is still a messy garage full of things that I need to deal with on another warm day. 

 

Monday, March 18, 2013

That You May Overflow

Some of the folks adding their creativity to the prayer loft
A Devotional by Margot Ciocco 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

I like today's verse because I have a day and a couple of very full weeks ahead of me. I'm still getting over what every nasty bug walloped me last week. So in my weakness I could look at all the things that need done and feel overwhelmed. You know "Poor me how will I ever get it all done". First of all that is fear speaking, fear of failing, fear of not measuring up to the expectations of others. It is small minded thinking in which the world revolves around me and what I can accomplish. I choose to resist that junk. 

I know that the many things before me this week are things that God has called and appointed me to do.  There is no way that I can possibly manage and accomplish it all in my own strength. So I will instead look to the Holy Spirit to lead and guide me through. 

I've included some photos of some of the wonderful people who are choosing to take steps of faith to use their gifts for God's glory. I believe He calls each of us to be creative in some manner. We all have to bust through the feelings of self doubt, anxiety, fear, we all need Him to help us take off the masks we hide behind. I am really proud of each of these folks and honored to be working with them. 

May the God of hope fill you.... That speaks to me that we get empty and need to be in a position of being filled and refilled. I have said before that the creativity that flows through me is simply because I make a point to be continually filled. I have learned where the fountain is, it flows from the very presence of God Almighty King of the Universe. It is always available to each of us but many of us are like horses or mules that stubbornly refuse to heed the masters call to come. We've got a mud puddle and we've accepted it as good enough for someone like us. Quit it - he has fresh water go drink some already.

Taylor  -  Wow,  God can use these?
What does he want to fill you with? Joy and peace. Those things come however as you choose to trust him. As I choose to look to him regarding this day and the week ahead of me I will throw off the weight of worry and fear and move forward in his joy.  It is His joy that is my strength. (Nehemiah 8:10). Psalm 42:5 "Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."  We must make a conscious decision to look at things from a Godly perspective. Is there anything going on in your life that He is un aware of? Is there anything that you are facing that is too big for the Almighty God, King of the Universe to handle? 

Some of you have grown accustomed to living in the darkness of depression. You have become accustomed to anxiety and worry. You may say you want to be delivered of them but the truth of the matter is that if you did you would have to live differently. For God to take those things from you would mean that you would have to enter into new and unexplored territory. When it comes right down to it you are terrified and prefer to remain where you are because even though you are miserable there is a false sort of comfort because at least it is familiar and predictable. As a believer, Jesus has already unlocked your prison doors. He calls to you to come out but you fear that you will be a disappointment to Him and so you stay wrapped in your own self pity and misery. The Christian life is not for wimps. 
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Nikki overcoming anxiety to paint for the Lord
Not sure who I'm writing this for - but it is flowing out from me in a very powerful way. He is calling you to overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Hope is like a little seed that if you water it and give it even a little bit of sunshine it will begin to grow and push its way through the darkness and out into the light of His glory. There are dark places in each and everyone of us that we have to allow the light and the love of God to come and fill. We hide them away ashamed of their broken condition. He already knows the condition. He will not force his way into any area of your life. He waits till you decide you want to allow Him into that place. 

So here are some things that I will do as I enter into this very full week. 
• I will not neglect my quiet time with the Lord. 
• I will make my lists of things that need to be done but I will allow for them to be rearranged as needed
• I will not indulge in worry, or self pity. Rather I will decide to trust and overflow with joy and peace. 
• I will graciously include others in what I am doing, choosing to look for, acknowledge and recognize the gift of God in each person I encounter this week. 
• This is the day that the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it. 
• I will remember that people are always more important than any task or project.
• I will remember that these things the Lord gives me to do are simply tools and nets to catch fish. 

If you are looking for something to stir up your creativity this week I invite you to visit my other blog http://sparkmycreativity.blogspot.com/  The theme this week is Angels. I have some of my mosaic angels and some nice ideas I found on Pinterest. I'd love to include your creativity be it a  poem, drawing, painting, music, or even your awesome angel food cake recipe. It is a challenge to use your creative gifts, whatever they may be to encourage others to be creative and use theirs. 

Lisa moving past self doubt to create for the Lord
Prayer:
I pray that you will overflow this week with the hope, peace and joy that comes from the Lord. I pray that you will allow him into your dark places. I pray you will decide to leave behind the false comfort of worry, shame and fear and step into the new life that the Lord has for you. I pray that you will accept that you never could do it on your own and you always have needed that Holy Spirit to ever even begin to accomplish God's plans and purposes for your life. 






Friday, March 15, 2013

I Arise Today - St. Patrick's Story

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio





I, Patrick, a sinner, unlearned, resident in Ireland, declare myself to be a bishop. Most assuredly I believe that what I am I have received from God. And so I live among barbarians, a stranger and exile for the love of God. He is witness that this is so. Not that I wished my mouth to utter anything so hard and harsh; but I am forced by the zeal for God; and the truth of Christ has wrung it from me, out of love for my neighbors and sons for whom I gave up my country and parents and my life to the point of death. If I be worthy, I live for my God to teach the heathen, even though some may despise me...
"A letter to Coroticus"


St. Patrick's Day has turned into a big green beer drinking party at least in America. I have found that the man for whom the day is named to be quite a remarkable person. I read a wonderful book a few years ago called How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill.  During the Dark Ages much of the worlds writing and historical record would have been lost if not for the Irish monks who made copies of everything they could get their hands on. While Libraries and books were being destroyed all over Europe these monks were used by God to preserve and protect the written word. They can be traced back to Patrick.

So here's a summary of his story as I know it.

It is around Patrick 385 and Patrick is born in Scotland to his parents Calpurnius and Chonchessa. They were Roman citizens living in Britan. It is said that his Father was a deacon in the church but perhaps more for political reasons rather than deeply religious convictions. At about age 16 Patrick is captured by Irish raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland. Patrick had some foundations of faith that had been laid during his childhood before his families estate was attacked and he was taken away as a prisoner. He then spend the next 6 years as a slave working as a shepherd. Far away from home he turns to God as his comforter, companion and in the lonely hours of his captivity he grow closer to God. He says he would pray as much as a hundred times a day. At some point he has a vision and he is told it is time for him to leave Ireland and to make his way along to coast until he found a ship that would take him home.
He does make it home and once there has another vision about returning to Ireland. He goes on to study and train to become a priest and eventually is sent back to Ireland. Ireland at the time is a pagan place. Patrick is considered on of the first missionaries and is called the Apostle of Ireland. He is  thought to have been responsible for evangelizing Ireland.  

One of my favorite prayers that is attributed to have been written by St. Patrick is called St. Patric's The Lorica which means Breast Plate.
There are a number of nice renditions of it at Youtube but I liked this one that was sung as a prayer at a missionary conference.  http://youtu.be/57RKtUoMIDE



" I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.

I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In the obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In the predictions of prophets,
In the preaching of apostles,
In the faith of confessors,
In the innocence of holy virgins,
In the deeds of righteous men.
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.

I arise today, through
God's strength to pilot me,
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptation of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and near.

I summon today
All these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel and merciless power
that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul;
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me an abundance of reward.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation."


Patrick was a spiritual warrior and had many encounters with the Druids. He was a guy who had signs and wonders and miracles that followed his ministry. One article I read implied that it was not the literal snakes that he drove out of the land but the pagans who's symbol was the snake. Who knows for sure on a lot of these things. It is clear that he used his life for the glory of God. His faithfulness to go back to Ireland changed the whole country and according to Thomas Cahill's book, he impacted the entire world.


He used the local clover plant to share with the people about the Trinity. Which is a good reminder that we too can use things that are familiar to people to communicate the truths of God.

"Before I was humiliated I was like a stone that lies in deep mud, and he who is mighty came and in his compassion raised me up and exalted me very high and placed me on the top of the wall."
Saint Patrick