Thursday, May 23, 2013

Psalm 119: 121-128 Here I am, Send me!

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3plwmslmuYI&feature=share&list=PLAE37DF69613BB3F3


ע Ayin


121-1



 I stood up for justice and the right;

    don’t leave me to the mercy of my oppressors.
Take the side of your servant, good God;
    don’t let the godless take advantage of me.
I can’t keep my eyes open any longer, waiting for you
    to keep your promise to set everything right.
Let your love dictate how you deal with me;
    teach me from your textbook on life.
I’m your servant—help me understand what that means,
    the inner meaning of your instructions.
It’s time to act, God;
    they’ve made a shambles of your revelation!
Yea-Saying God, I love what you command,
    I love it better than gold and gemstones;
Yea-Saying God, I honor everything you tell me,
    I despise every deceitful detour.

I just finished watching Braveheart about William Wallace who fought for a free Scotland. 

"This is the truth I tell you:of all things freedom’s most fine.
Never submit to live, my son,
in the bonds of slavery entwined."
William Wallace - His Uncle’s proverb,
from Bower’s Scotichronicon c.1440’s

The Nobles of the land were willing to compromise and sell out to the English king for land and favors. Wallace stood for freedom and could not be bought by those in power.




 I stood up for justice and the right;

    don’t leave me to the mercy of my oppressors

It seems a fitting story for our verse today. He stood for justice and the right. In the end he did not receive mercy from his oppressors. He was drawn and quartered. His head placed on London bridge and the quarters of his body sent to the four corners of the kingdom. There are those who pay a great price that others may one day obtain freedom. Its hard to sort out what is legend and what is truth in this story. 

Take the side of your servant, good God;
    don’t let the godless take advantage of me.
I can’t keep my eyes open any longer, waiting for you
    to keep your promise to set everything right.

It would seem that God did indeed set things to right in the story of Scottish independence and freedom. Perhaps you are standing up for compassion, mercy and justice. Wallace chose to live to compromise would have been to live as a dead man. Perhaps you are living in compromise and it is time to stand up for what is right. There are even in our day many who live in horrible oppression and in justice. We too often stick our heads in the sand and go about our lives. There is too much and we are only one person. What can we do to turn the tide of oppression an injustice? I agree with mother Teresa "Small things done with great love can change the world."  I saw another movie recently about a little boy who decided to walk 200 miles to help homeless children. Zach Bonner walked hundreds miles to raise awareness for homeless children. The following year he walked from Florida to Washington DC. The next year he walked across the entire United States. This is a little 12 year old boy, he decided to do something. Here's a link to the USA today story. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-05-17-wagon-boy_N.htm?csp=usat.me

Let your love dictate how you deal with me; teach me from your textbook on life. I’m your servant—help me understand what that means,the inner meaning of your instructions.
Is changing the world only for a special few? Might we all in someway do our part. There is another story about another young boy who for a class project started the Pay it Forward movement. He found people and did something to help them that they could not do for themselves. All he asked was that they pay it forward to three others. Its amazing how little things can spread. I'm not sure if it was based on a true story but it was certainly an inspiring movie. 
God does not always send us to do things that will bring fame and glory. Sometimes he sends us to touch one life at a time. Who's life might you touch today. Is there some kindness you can share with someone who is hurting?

  

It’s time to act, God;
    they’ve made a shambles of your revelation!
Yea-Saying God, I love what you command,
    I love it better than gold and gemstones;
Yea-Saying God, I honor everything you tell me,
    I despise every deceitful detour.


It's time to act - but perhaps it is not God who needs to act - but His people who need to rise up and make a difference. Do you think someone else will feed the poor, comfort the lonely, care for the fatherless? We have agencies for those things. We give our money to the United Way. We've done our part... 
I always go back to the sheep and the goats. What ever you have done for the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me. I am less convinced that loving and worshiping God is about singing songs and feeling warm and fuzy. I am more and more convinced that true worship is to lift the bonds of oppression and to stand for justice and mercy. Love is not a feeling it is a commitment to the betterment of others. It requires one to stretch and to work and to move forward with courage. God so love the world that He sent his only begotten son... Jesus laid down His life in love for you and I that we might be returned to a right relationship with a Holy God. Love is not for sissies nor is following Christ. We are each called to pick up our cross and to follow Him. He calls us to make disciples not just notches on our belt for so many supposedly converted.    

We say we love His command and His word. That means we should be obeying it, doing it, living up to its truth and standards. Granted none of us is perfect - I am ever thankful for His grace. There are 176 verses that talk about the poor and how we are to treat them.  

Leviticus 23:22
“‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.’”

Leviticus 25:35
“‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you, help them as you would a foreigner and stranger, so they can continue to live among you.

We live in a day when families are living in hotels or in their cars. There has never been so many children living in poverty in America since the great depression. You may be hearing that the economy is improving but I can tell you things have not changed much for the street people that see each week. 
Many would love to work. They don't have an address to put on the application, or a phone for the perspective employer to call them back. Some are mentally ill and get lost in the system. Just prescribe them more medications but little is done to find a true solution. We serve a meal once a week for 150 - 200 homeless and poor people. Is it enough? There is so much more we could do but there are not many who will come to work. Some will come and prepare food and ladle it out to people on the other side of the counter and we are truly appreciate that help. There are very few who will sit down and talk at tables or walk around the room greeting those people. We have people who want to come but they want special training. We had not training beyond love your neighbor as yourself. We should not need advanced training to love and care for others. We need to stop being selfish, and self absorbed and get out and be the hands and feet of Jesus. Look at the excess in your life - could you do with less so that others could have something? 

Well I will get back off my soap box - but I hope you have been somehow stirred. You have in you gifts and talents that could make a difference. It is hard at first to reach out to people who seem different than us. I have found the differences quickly fade when you realize that every person has a story. 
We all have pains and disappointments. We all need encouragement and a helping hand from time to time. "There but for the grace of God go I". Some of you living pay check to pay check are not all that far from the streets. One big illness, the loss of a job, the lack of supportive family, the loss of a loved one, a mental illness and your world could spin out of control. The streets are not filled with drunks and bums like you might think. They are filled with people who came up though the foster care system, veterans, women, children, lots of the elderly. They are filled with people who lost a job, got sick, had domestic issue that resulted in being abandoned or needing to get out to get away from abuse. Some have been here so long that they have turned to drugs, alcohol or prostitution - you do what you have to, to survice and to numb the pain. No mother ever imagined that her sweet infant would grow up to be a homeless man wandering the streets, pan handling for pocket change and sleeping under the bridge. 

This is just America, our poor are rich compared to other places in the world. Thankfully there are at least in Spokane quite a few places that serve meals, and there are shelters, and there a collations and organizations working to make a difference. It all helps but there is so much that could be done and perhaps if you found yourself at the feet of Jesus you might hear him saying "Who can I send, who will go for us?" and you might respond "send me".  

Don't just close this and walk away shaking your head. Stop and pray and ask the Lord to show you something you can do today to make a difference. Then go do it. Our God is infinitely creative and if you will ask I believe He will show you something you can do. It might take courage, it might take work, it might feel bigger than you think you can manage. Take a step of faith and decide to live and be alive and not just live vicariously through the sitcoms or reality shows on your tv. 

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