Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Cup Runneth Over

David's words are so filled with spiritual meaning that they seem to spill into the open mind. Yet how often do we misinterpret the meaning of those often perused words? In the 23 Psalm David reminds us of the dependency we all have on God. He says "the Lord is my shepherd. This is fitting metaphor enough but David continues to expand upon this theme stating that God leads him by quiet waters, green pastures and stays with him through the valley of the shadow of death. When we get to the words "my cup runneth over" we should be able to see the constant theme of provision that comes from the Lord. This is not a material provision.

It is true that God wants us to taste and see that he is good and enjoy the creative fruits of his labor on this earth. In this case however David is speaking to a more basic need. He is pronouncing the blessing of God's presence in our lives. Aptly he uses the metaphor of having your cup filled up beyond it's capacity to the point that it overflows. Could Jesus have been thinking of this analogy when he spoke to the woman at the well and said "But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." John 4:14

God does not want us to thirst, but He more importantly does not want us to be cut off from His presence. So the next time you read the familiar words of Psalm 23 ask yourself does your cup run over? Your material prospects and even your social prospects may be low, but if you are abiding in Christ you can confidently say that His presence and ulitimately His life is overflowing out of your heart.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Garden

In contemplating the Garden of Gethsemane I am struck by the inherent contradictions that set the setting of our savior's greatest struggle. As Jesus made his way onto the Mount of Olives he must have walked past the Olive trees that give the mountain it's name. I can only think that as Jesus walked he saw flowering plants as he made his way with heavy steps to his resting place. This solemn place was removed if only a short distance from the walls of Jerusalem with all of the man-made problems that persisted there and yet God had provided a solution to those problems in this Garden of Gethsemane.

Here nature, while marred by the decay of sin, still testified to God's creative power. There was life in that hill that night: there was possibility. But the night had enveloped more than just the countryside. Jesus' own heart was shadowed and beyond the reach of that light that had been his constant companion.

Perhaps he felt the darkness amplified his disconnection from his Father. The garden was filled God's presence, but this presence could no more be seen or felt than the sun when it has set behind a distant horizon. Jesus called out in that dark place longing for a way out. But none was provided.

Crumpled up like a trampled rose Christ offered up his sacrifice as a sweet smell before the Lord. Surrendering his heart he drank the fruit of the cup that we were to drink. But he did not just drink your cup or mine, he drank the fruit of every garden that ever grew in this sinful plot of land that we call home. He drained it to it's dregs so that when we walk in the Garden we can walk there in the light of the Son.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Transmission of Truth

Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." Jesus states "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." John 17:3 Obviously we need to know things. More importantly we need to know the Lord. However this knowledge of God is a tricky thing because it cannot be given to us in just any way. In fact without a relationship their is no transmission of truth. At the very least we need a relationship with God.

Perhaps this is why Solomon said, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."Proverbs 1:7 In relationship with God we can receive divine truths that could not be given to humans in any other way. Therefore it is wise for us to realize that not only can we not receive truth without a relationship with God we cannot impart truths to others without a relationship with God.

As we seek to give what is been given to us we need to also remember that we cannot transmit truth to others unless we and they are both in personal relationships with God. Through a relationship with God we can receive truth directly from Him. This is also true of others that continue to submit themselves to their savior. But while each person can receive truth from God through a walk with Him, in order to impart what we have learned to others, who are in a relationship with God, we must also be in relationship with that person. There is no other way around this concept.

In today's society the mental condition of autism often precludes an autistic person from learning through relationships depending upon the severity of the condition. Studies have shown that autistic people have difficulty interacting socially. As a result they have difficulty receiving information that is transmitted socially. Do we as Christians behave in a spiritually autistic manner when we approach God or others? Perhaps we simply try to take a shortcut with God and others. Whatever it is we cannot avoid the spiritual concept that truth is transmitted through relationships.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Come Now

God says quiet succinctly in His word, "Come now, let us reason together."Isaiah 1:18 These words have always appealed to me. However I am starting to believe that I misunderstood their intent. We often try to use the word of God as a tool to prove our belief system to others. In doing so we pull texts from here and there or if we have a little more academic acumen we might stay within the biblical pericope or passage to drive home our point.

While arguments should certainly be constructed to defend our beliefs: the bible say "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 1 Timothy 2:15 We need to be careful not to miss the import of these words in Isaiah to reason.

God wants us to do well with whatever we find to do with our hands and heart but we should focus the priority of our reasoning powers on understanding the truths of salvation as they work out in our own lives. God wants us to approach each situation and examine our possible course of action with reason and intelligence. The word "reason" is in all essence being contrasted with "feeling." God does not begin with our emotions because our emotions are the fruit and not the source of our decisions. Our emotions have become corrupted by our twisted patterns of thinking. God wants us to submit our will to Him and allow Him to teach us the thought processes of Christ.

Perhaps an example would be enlightening. If a particular man has just been harshly criticized by someone he may feel the need to retaliate. This is where God asks us to reason. While we may feel the need to wound the other person God asks us to consider the consequences of this action. Does a response in kind teach the other person anything more about God? If the criticism had any merit at all do we miss the opportunity for growth? There are countless ways that this issue of reason in the context of our salvation can be illustrated. The important thing to remember is that God wants us to approach Him because of a reasoned response to the demonstration of His love and logic.