Thursday, January 22, 2015

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Fill My Cup, Lord

          God is great!  “Duh, well everyone knows that,” you may say.  Or maybe you hear yourself replying, “Well of course He is; doesn’t that go without saying?”  Yet, that is just the point.  “God is so great!” is the understatement of the entire world and beyond.  It is a small statement that can have an impact upon one’s life that has no limits.  However, our minds are too finite to understand or express its infinite and eternally expanding meaning.  It is a concept that holds a gift that keeps on giving.  Just when we think we have a pretty good understanding of its meaning, He surprises us with a brand new package, a further revelation, that opens our heart and mind to a deeper insight that floods the soul with unimaginable joy, making us feel as though our heart is so full of His wonderfulness that we feel it is surely going to burst. 

          I know there are many who do not believe in the gift of tongues for today.  No, this story is not meant to tell anyone else that they must or should speak, or pray, in tongues.  The gifts of the Spirit and their manifestation in the life of the individual believer are between him, or her, and the Lord.  I don’t bring up the subject of tongues to assert that all must believe in it as a sign that one is saved.  I merely mention it in order to explain why it is a part of my personal faith in Jesus, and what it has to do with this present story.  There are times in my life when I feel like my own words are just not sufficient enough to tell God just how very much I love, admire, respect, appreciate, fear, esteem, (and on and on) Him.  Do you see what I mean?  There are just not enough words in our human vocabulary that can or could ever express my gratefulness for all that He is, or for the fullness of who He is, and all that He does.  So for me, that’s one of the times that I speak in my prayer language, to invite the Holy Spirit to help me express that which I can not express within the limitations of my own language.  It’s an outpouring of love for him that spills forth like the continuous flow of a waterfall.

          That being said, let me endeavor to go on with a personal story that I hope will stir up the spirit within you, to encourage you as you seek to grow closer to the Lord.  I reflect upon how the love between a man and woman, in a covenant marriage relationship in the Lord, may be used as a mirror to understand more fully, the relationship that is promised between Jesus and His bride – the body of believers, you and I who have been born again, being made new creations through faith in Jesus, the Son of God.  As much as my husband and I thought we loved one another when we were first married, almost fifty years ago, we are continually amazed and surprised at how God is continually growing, expanding, widening, and deepening our love for one another.  That same principle holds true as we walk with the Lord in faith.  As we choose to spend more time with Him daily, He draws nearer to us as we draw nearer to Him.  He takes us by the hand, in the power of His Holy Spirit, to lead and guide us into an ever increasingly deeper walk with Him, ever expanding our knowledge and understanding of who He is.  He doesn’t want us to be satisfied with just knowing about Him, for knowing about someone, and truly knowing someone are two entirely different things.  Knowing about someone may be a good introduction, or first step, but until we truly spend quality time together with one another, we can never experience the joy of a true relationship.  The richness of getting to know more and more about one another can never be experienced without a mutual sharing of your deepest cares, thoughts, feelings, and desires.  No matter how deeply one may love another, there is no human relationship that can satisfy that part within you and I that is meant to be occupied by the love relationship between you and God.  If that part of you is left void, something else will be placed there, consciously or unconsciously, but it will never satisfy your soul.  You will wander through life trying to fill it up with one substitute after another, only to be left with a feeling of emptiness, with a hungering and thirsting that can never be quenched.  Like a drug addict, you will always be running after that next fix, knowing all the while that it will only last for a moment and leave you desperate for more and more.  The more you get, the more you want.  Even when you get more, it’s still going to be unsatisfactory and will last for just a moment; it will never bring that true satisfaction or peace that can only come from God.  No matter what we try to use to fill that God void, whether it is sex, work, hobbies, a mate, children, success and so on, they will only be idols, fake substitutes, which can never fill the void.  All your efforts will have been in vain, and your search will be endless.

          On the other hand, if and when you choose to seek to know God with all your being, you will hear His voice asking you to respond by inviting Him to come into your heart.  Once you do, you will find that He was there all along, waiting patiently for you to open the door of your heart and invite Him to come in.  Ah, now the most wonderful adventure of your entire life can begin.  You will have received The Way, The Truth, and The Life:  the triune God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Jesus has sent His Holy Spirit to live within you.  Your search is ended, and now it’s time for you and God to walk and talk together, sharing with one another.  God has always known all about you and me, every thought, word, and deed of our past, present, and future, because He first loved us before we were ever born.  Now it is His delight to work within you to both will and to do that which is pleasing in His sight, for He alone knows what is good and best for you, if you are willing to submit your will to His. (Philp. 2:13)

          I digress back to my original concept that began my story: “God is Great!”  One of the amazing surprises that God has in store for you and me, in the process of growing up in Him, is that He actually makes His word come alive within us.  The word tells us that faith comes by hearing the word of God. (Romans 10:17)  The Bible is the written word of God, and Jesus is the word made alive in the flesh, that you and I might know God the Father, and be reconciled in a right relationship with Him.  He planted the seed, whether it was direct from our reading of the word, or through the teaching of another believer from His word.  Truthfully, the Holy Spirit is the one that is doing the teaching, no matter what vessel He uses to teach and spread His gospel to all who have ears to hear, and a heart that is ready and prepared to receive. (John 16: 13)

          I have often heard the question, “How can those who have never been told about Jesus, or had an opportunity to read or hear His word receive salvation?  The Bible tells us that man has no excuse for not knowing God, for His handy work is there in all of creation, for all to observe and see. (Romans 18: 21)  But God is not limited to only that which is perceived through our senses. Remember, He has created all things, both seen and unseen.  The power of the Word of God is ready and able to change anyone and anything, if we are willing to accept His truth, not wavering in doubt and unbelief. (James 1: 6-8)

          The power of the Holy Spirit is all too often misunderstood and even neglected.  There are powerful stories of God revealing Himself to those in the middle of a jungle or in the midst of a country, where the Bible and the preaching of His word is not allowed.  Many are coming to Jesus through dreams and visions from God, making Him so real that they are willing to profess their faith even when they know that it will surely cost them their lives.  As you read the Bible, you will learn of how the prophets were used to tell the people, “Thus saith the Lord,” as the Holy Spirit came upon them.  Look at how God spoke to Moses from the midst of the burning bush.  As the Holy Spirit spoke to men of old, so He continues to do so today.  He will never say anything differently than that which is in the word, and what He says will always be confirmed by the witness of the word.  Read about the miraculous conversion of Paul, who had persecuted Christians by the hundreds, and yet the Lord revealed Himself to Paul. (Acts 9: 1-19)  If anyone tries to tell you that God has a ‘new’ testimony that is not confirmed by the true gospel of Jesus Christ, turn from them and run, not walk, and have nothing to do with them. (Acts 17: 11)  God and His word do not change, and that is why His truth is dependable, an everlasting truth from one generation to the next. (Psalm 100: 5)  That’s why we can always trust God, for He is not always changing as mankind does.

          May I share a recent understanding that God made more real as He turned the light on in my own heart, that I might see more fully His handiwork in my own life?  It’s neat how God will cause a mental video of a past moment to replay in my mind, providing a light to shine, and bring into focus a deeper understanding of its impact upon the development of my whole future life.  I first began reflecting upon the story of Jesus and the Samaritan women at the well.  The words He spoke to her suddenly loomed forth in my mind with a greater clarity than they had before, enriching my understanding, and exposing the reality even more of the life changing effect of His Word through the power of the Holy Spirit.  “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.” …”Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria, for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans?  Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.  The woman saith, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?”... “Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water [meaning the physical well in their presence] shall thirst again:  But whosoever drinketh of this water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”   (John 4: 7, 9 – 11, 13, 14)  Jesus continued: “Ye worship ye know not what: we [the Jews] know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.  God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.  The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.  Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. (emphasis mine) (John 4: 22 – 26)  Jesus told her not only who He was, but also who she was, a woman who had five husbands, and that the man she presently lived with was not her husband.  She in turn recognized who He was in part, for she knew that all He had told her was truth.  Hearing the truth, did not condemn her, but liberated her from the chains of the sins of her past, bringing peace and satisfaction.  She didn’t need another drink of water, or a drink from another source to find the truth, for this truth was complete in and from Him, and needed no editions or deletions.  Jesus is the fountain [spiritual water] of life that satisfies the thirsting of the soul.  He is the Bread of Heaven [spiritual food] that satisfies the soul.  “And Jesus said unto them, ‘I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.’” (John 6: 35)   

          How were these words and the full impact of the significance of the meaning and truth of these words to the Samaritan woman used to open the eyes of my own understanding more completely today?  I could probably retell many incidences over the span of my lifetime, but for the sake of brevity, I will share but one.  I believed in Jesus since I was a small child, but I did not always worship and know Him as my personal Lord and Savior.  When I was in college, I could not say that I actively sought to walk a life in faith and obedience to Him.  Yet, the reality of whom He was, and that He was with me was still very real.  I did not doubt or question that; I did question to better understand Him, His word, and how to walk with Him in faith.  He more or less was someone that I went to every now and then, but otherwise my life was lived as if He was just an acquaintance, rather than my Lord, Savior, dearest Friend, and All in All.  Still, He was there working in me, calling out to my heart, beckoning to me to come seek His presence, to spend time with Him again as I did in faith as a little child.  Little did I know how He was still at work to save me from the very present dangers of the enemy, Satan, and his deceiving lies.  Satan doesn’t care if you believe in some god; he just wants to rob you of any chance of knowing Jesus, the only one who can provide forgiveness, salvation, and the gift of eternal life.

          During this period of my life, my college years, I seldom went to church.  Neither was I always careful about the company I kept.  Instead, though I thought that perhaps I could help ‘save’ someone from wicked ways, more often than not, I was being pulled down to their ways instead of rising more to God and His ways.  However, God had provided special guardians for me all along, as He does for everyone.  He is full of mercy, grace, and love everlasting.  Sometimes our ears are not acutely in tune to the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit, so He uses other vessels to reach out and encourage us to turn our hearts back to Him.  Some of these special vessels were my very own brother and sisters who were older and further along in the process of being changed more into the image of Christ.

          Here is my verbal attempt to replay that video clip that has often been set on rewind to reveal God’s hand upon my life, then and now.  I had been dating a young man at college who was not seeking God. (No, this is not the man I married, Thank the Lord!)  I can see us as we were walking and talking together one day.  He was overly impressed with material possessions, and with making an impression upon others.  In fact, he expressed his major goal in life in this manner: “One day, I want to make so much money that I will never have to kiss anyone’s a--.”  I remember questioning him as to whether he believed in God, and what did he believe about Jesus?  Did he believe that Jesus was the Son of God?  He replied basically that he thought Jesus was probably a very good man.  I remember marveling in disbelief that he doubted God, and really had no idea who Jesus was.  Still, in my own heart, I viewed him as if somehow I could change his heart and mind.  I was some how going to ‘fix things.’  At any rate, this negative relationship was used by God to turn my heart back to Him.  “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” (Genesis 50: 20) 

          I don’t remember anything further about the conversation, except that it stirred up within me, not doubt, but a desire and need to know more about God’s truth.  Where did I turn to for such wisdom and understanding?  Thank God, my older brother and his wife lived within a couple of hours drive from my campus.  I was on a mission to find truth, and I knew that they could be trusted as a source for God’s truth.  That very weekend I hopped in my car and headed for a visit with them.  I wish I could say that I remember my questions and their answers, but that is not replayed in the mental video of my head.  But this is what I do remember: like the woman at the well, after receiving truth, not of man’s opinion, but spoon fed from the word of God, on a level that my thirsting, but immature spirit could understand, I remember feeling as though I had not dined on speculation, but upon the word.  I remember heading back to school with a sense of true satisfaction and peace within. I didn’t put my feelings into words at the time, but that same sense of satisfaction has still remained as a memory in my head and in my heart.  You see that is the core of the reality that God’s word is the only truth that can fill that God void with spiritual food, the Bread of Heaven, which is for all generations, the food that satisfies the soul, the only food that is trustworthy for ever and a day.  At the time, I thought I was getting an answer that was true and satisfying for that moment in time.  Yet, here I am, more than fifty years later, and my spirit is still being nourished by the power of the truth that I received back then. That moment in time is still being used to confirm and clarify, then and now, that the word of God is powerful and life changing. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, it is written on the tablets of our hearts, satisfying the hungering and thirsting of our soul and spirit.  When we have His truth, we need not go searching elsewhere to find an answer, or a different truth, when we have already been given the answer, the everlasting truth.  The Holy Spirit makes that truth to come alive, entwining His truth into the marrow of our bones, incorporating it so deeply that it becomes a living part of our DNA, melting and molding us more and more into His image.  Our old nature becomes less and less, and sometimes, without our even being totally aware of it, He has made His ways become ‘normal’ to us, and our old ways are becoming more and more foreign and alien to us.  Praise God, He accepts us as we are, but He never leaves us as we are!  Let us choose to ever drink from the well that satisfies and quenches the thirsting of our soul.  “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life, he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6: 35) Jesus is the Bread of Heaven that satisfies the soul.          

          Below, I have copied the words of a hymn which help to capture the essence of what it means to “thirst no more.”  As we grow in the Lord, may we never stop drawing from the well of living waters!  Jesus is the fountain of life.  Let us pray to be filled daily with His Holy Spirit that we might “have the mind of Christ.”  Fill my cup Lord, fill it up and make me whole!


Fill My Cup, Lord

By Richard E. Blanchard

Like the woman at the well, I was seeking for things that could not satisfy. And then I heard my Savior speaking – “Draw from My well that never shall run dry,”

Fill my cup, Lord; I lift it up Lord; Come and quench the thirsting of my soul.  Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.  Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.

There are millions in this world who are seeking for pleasures earthly goods afford.

But none can match the wondrous treasure that I find in Jesus Christ my Lord.

So my brother if the things that this world gives you leave hungers that won’t pass away, My blessed Lord will come and save you if you kneel to Him and humbly pra–  

Fill my cup, Lord; I lift it up Lord; Come and quench the thirsting of my soul.  Bread of Heaven, feed me till I want no more.  Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.

          Jesus made it clear that we must not only be concerned about the benefits of water and food that provide temporal benefits, but we should, more importantly, feed upon that which will provide eternal benefits for the soul. 

          “Jesus answered them and said, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because you saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.  Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.’ ”

          “Then said they unto him, What shall we do that we may work the works of God?”

          “Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe on Him (Jesus) whom He (God the Father) hath sent.’ ”

(John 6: 29)


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