Monday, July 1, 2013

If My People...

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

    2 Chronicles 7:14
    if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 
A Sneak Peek at A new e-book I'm working on. 

Well I am back from my month long blogging break. I'll tell you more about it in future posts. It is the 1st of July and as we move towards America's Independence Day celebration it seemed like a fitting time to talk about prayer. 

I think sometimes we can get too caught up in some of the end times possible scenarios. Some of it makes for really suspenseful fiction books and movies, but we can get a "end is near mentality" and assume oh well the world is going to Hell and there's nothing to be done about it. 

Sometimes like Jonah, we don't really want to take the message to the un-Godly. We would rather see them judged for their evil lives. They deserve it....right. Yet God cared enough for the people of Nineveh to send Jonah with a warning. He said to Jonah,“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”  The story can be found in the book of Jonah located in the Old Testament.   Its a great story and I hope you will take the time to read it. Rather than getting into the bit about three days in the belly of the whale and Jonah's rebellion, I want to talk about our own rebellion. Who has God told you to go to? Are you still fussing about talking to your neighbor, or your co-worker. Here's who He said we are to go to...Acts 13:47
For this is what the Lord has commanded us: “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’

Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The very people we wish God would strike with lightening or have the ground open up and eat for lunch, are the very people we are called to go to. We live in a world filled with very broken, damaged and hurting people. Some have come from generations of disfunction. They don't know any better way to live. Most of them have not met very many "real" believers, the kind who will pick up their cross and follow Jesus. The kind who will follow his example and lay down their lives for the sake of others. The kind who will do more than put notch their belt because someone said another sinners prayer, and really take the time to walk with and disciple that new believer. Sure they have seen church folk, the ones who put on their Sunday best but the rest of the week live just like everyone else in our culture. Ouch - I'm probably stepping on some toes. By the way the people of Nineveh repented, check out Jonah 3:5 "The Ninevites believed God. 
A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth." 

So lets take stop and take the log out of our own self righteous eyes. 
Today's verse says...
"if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Step one: You need to be His people, called by his name. Hummm... does that apply to you and me or it that just written to ancient Israel?  Originally this verse was written to Israel, but we are called by the name of Christ. We are Christ-i-ans. So if you call yourself a Christian, this verse is for you. You have an opportunity to make a difference in your world rather than to just rant and rave about how bad things are getting. 

Step two: ...will humble themselves. God is not going to humble you. There are things that are your own responsibility. Humility considers the needs of others. It does not diminish our own worth but it chooses to treat others with dignity and respect because they too are part of God's precious creation even in their sinful broken state. It is God's heart of mercy that all would turn to Him. I'm sure you know John 3:16 but do you know verse 17? "17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
Quit praying for God to make you humble - its your job to decide to make purposeful steps to become humble.  Go be humble and pray and reach out to someone with His great love. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance. 

Step three: So what are humble believing people to do? They acknowledge their dependance on God and take time to bother to pray and seek His face. I look at our world and I have to wonder what percentage of those called by His name are actually bothering to pray about the condition of our world. I think a lot have just decided it is a lost cause and are busy running from meeting to meeting to experience God's presence and blessing while the sands in the hour glass of time slip away, while opportunities to minister to the broken and dying pass us by. We are called to go to the ends of the earth and most of us can't manage the neighbors across the street. 

Step four: Who is it that needs to turn from their wicked ways. Is it those awful, sinful, worldly people or is it God's own people? In 2 Chronicles 7:14 it is God's own people who are told to turn from their own wicked ways. Dang it, here's another case of needing to take the log out of our own eyes. What areas in your life need some shoring up? Are you living fully for God or are there places in your own life where there is compromise, where you are giving God lip service rather than really doing what the word says. Please... I'm not negating God's wonderful grace. We all fall terribly short and the blood of Jesus cover us. My point is if you are not making purposeful steps to grow up in Him, you are probably slowly slipping back to old dead ways of living and behaving. 

At Last: ...then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. It is pointless to fuss about the problems in our world if you are not willing to become the the ground where change can begin. If you see sinful attitudes and behavior out there in the big bad world. Stop and take a look in the spiritual mirror, those very sins and behaviors are probably in you too. You may have disguised them under your Sunday best, self righteous robes. If you are honest right now - you already know the very area that God's desires to transform in your own life. To change the world you need to commit to your own transformation. Its time to stop blaming those bad people and take responsibility to be an agent of positive change in your own life and in the world. 

If my people...begins with you and me. Change is hard. You don't have to do it all alone. It helps to have someone who will encourage, coach and believe that you can make those changes and figure out your own life. I am available for phone coaching and you are welcome to e-mail me at if you are interested in taking steps towards growth and positive transformation and I will send you information about my coaching service. I have weekly half hour and hour sessions available. 

Prayer: Lord we come and choose to humble ourselves before you. We choose to bother to seek you and to pray. We are making the decision to change. Help each of us see the next area you are waiting to work on in our lives. 

Journal: What action steps do you need to take in response to what you have just read in this post?      
Tip: You might want to put your first name and the change you are committing to work on in the comments so other readers can stand with you in prayer. Don't let this urge to make a change slip away - e-mail me and let me walk with you from here to there. Without a coach or an accountability partner good intentions tend to stack up and add to the growing pile guilty feelings.  

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