Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Show Yourself Approved

I woke up this morning and something was different. Things were quiet this morning, too quiet. Was it that the rooster had mysteriously died during the night? No, I was not that lucky. Was it that boats were not running up and down the river today because of some holiday that I did not know about? No, boats were still running but something was different, something was missing. Finally it hit me, there were no children laughing or giggling. Every morning since we had been here started with the same sounds, children playing in the river, getting their morning baths and just having the time of their lives. So why was this morning different? Where were all the kids?
Today is the first day of school! All of the children of Port Kaituma were packing up their meager school supplies and with uniform on they headed off to school. This was the first time in my life that I had ever seen a school bus boat. I guess all of the children had gotten up early to get their bath and now they were heading off for a day of learning and hanging out with friends. I don't like this! It's too quiet!
My senior year of school I took Honors English. I had never taken Honors English because reading was not my best subject and there was a summer reading list for that class. That meant homework before school even started! Who wants to do homework during summer break? That could really hinder my time doing very important things like hanging out at the pool or with friends. But somehow I was talked into taking Honors English my senior year and I was to read three books over the summer. Much to my dismay none of them had a movie out and it would take me all summer long just to read the cliff notes of these books. So I did what any self respecting and diligent student would have done. I read one of them and glanced at another and prayed over the third book. I prayed a lot because I knew that I could not even tell you the story line of these books and we were going to be tested on these books the first week of school. Needless to say I walked into my Seniors Honors English class that first day with much fear and trembling. I sat at my desk praying that we would have a freak snow storm in August or that someone would pull the fire alarm but that never happened and some of the first words out of my teachers mouth was, "Ok, who did their summer reading?" After the tests were graded, it was obvious that I had not read my books. I was ashamed, along with most of my class. Being called into an honors class is just that, an honor. My teacher knew I was capable of doing the work but at that moment I was not worthy of that honor.
Spiritually we have been called to a very similar honor. God has called us into His service and He has given us a reading list of 66 books. Lucky for us they compiled it all into one volume so it is easier to carry. We know it as the Bible. So God has called us to be His ambassadors, His representatives. This means that we are to go wherever He tells us to go, confront any obstacle that is in front of us. When someone stops us, we are to use His name as the pass. The tools of this job are found within this 66 book reading list. The question is do you know which tool to use and when to use it? God is the teacher but are we willing to learn?
Paul speaks to Timothy about this great honor, in his book II Timothy 2:15. "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth." Paul was telling Timothy that you should never stop learning the Scriptures because it is the word of truth. If we were to handle the Scriptures inaccurately then it would be the word of false not of truth. How terrible it would be to be an ambassador of God who represents Him in a wrongful manner. To then stand before God Almighty ashamed of our actions and ignorance. How humiliating it would be to have taken the honor God has bestowed on us and to hand it back to Him tattered and broken because we were lazy and selfish. God has called us for a purpose and He has been teaching and training us to do that purpose but if we have neglected to study and learn then when He calls us to act on that purpose, we stand there ashamed. No that won't do! When God calls me, I want to be ready! I want to show Him that I can accurately handle the word of truth. There is no greater honor than to understand that God wants to use me! Don't waste that honor. God has given us the answers but we must be diligent, learning to accurately handle the word of truth.

What If You Saw Jesus Smoking?

About a ten minute boat ride up the river you come upon a little place we like to call, Port Kaituma. Actually everyone calls it that because that is what it is called. Just try to imagine a town where roughly several thousand people live. It is in the middle of the Jungle but do not let that fool you, it is a happening place! It is actually where several worlds collide. You have the Canal that literally ends at the water front. (Port) The Canal leads to the sea therefore you have the fishing industry which makes it's way to PK. You also have several large sea worthy vessels that make port here with supplies for every store and home in PK. Then PK also has the only air strip around. I use the term airstrip loosely seeing as just the other day it was closed down because of cows on the pothole filled runway. This airstrip makes PK a huge link to the capital city, Georgetown. Finally you have a thriving lumber industry which also starts somewhere in the rain forest but comes to an end in good ol PK. So all of these worlds collide in the same place.
To envision this, just imagine red mud streets during the rainy season and red dust streets in the dry. Houses and stores made of anything from scrap boards to concrete. Everywhere you turn you are looking at trash which has been thrown on the ground. In the jungle there is no sanitation services so what is not burned is thrown on the ground and eventually everything makes it to the river. Then from the river it floats down to our house but that's a different devotional. As you walk down the road you see people, male and female, adults and children in various states of dressed and undressedness, going here and there about their business and listening to rather loud music. Babies are busy drinking their breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, snack, high tea, brunch, etc. The smell in the air is that of fish mixed with trash and sewage, did I say that, in the jungle there is no sanitation services. But no one really seems to mind, everyone is just doing what they do.
The other day as I was sitting at the port a man walked by who in my minds eye looked just like Jesus. His hair was shaggy and not combed but not nappy either. He was very strong looking but that could be because he was carrying a huge load of cargo from one of the ships. Like many of the other men at the port he did not have a shirt on but he was fashionably wearing this years model of rubber boots. What little I saw of him, he seemed quiet and composed which is not true for most of the men working on the ships. Plus he was always around the boats much like Jesus. But the real thing that got me was that he seemed gentle and his eyes seemed caring! Ok, maybe that is stretching it a bit but needless to say he resembled the mental image I have of what Jesus would have looked like.
From that time on, I would look forward to seeing "Jesus" when I went to PK. As always he would be running around, carrying something or just laughing with other people. Then one day it happened! There Jesus was in the front of a shop and he leaned over to someone and lit his cigarette off the end of the other mans cigarette. He then walked off smoking while my heart was broken. Jesus did not smoke cigarettes! They are gross and cause cancer and and and!!!!
This event put me in a place of heart searching. I know that man was not Jesus but at the same time he looked like Jesus and from what I had seen acted like Jesus. Up until now that is. I felt like Jesus was trying to teach me something, the real Jesus not the man in PK.
John 1:10-11 says, "He (Jesus) was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him."
When Jesus walked the earth, those who were the religious leaders, the ones who had been waiting and searching for the Messiah saw Jesus and they were the very ones who were put off by him because He did not fit their mental image. They had a preconceived notion of who and what the Son of God was going to be. They could not see past the fact that this Jesus healed on the Sabbath, He picked grain on the Sabbath, and He did not become the political ruler. There He was, the Son of the Living God! The Messiah! The Prince of Peace! Right there in front of them yet they did not know Him. How sad to be so close yet to be so far away because of their own preconceived ideas of who He was going to be. They were so sure that their mental image of the Son of God was the truth that they killed the Truth in the process. A savior so close they could have touched Him yet they did not receive Him.
This all makes me wonder. What would I do if I saw Jesus smoking? would I still worship Him or would I disown Him? Would I say that couldn't possibly be Jesus because I just know He would not smoke! Yet how often has God come to me to be His ambassador among the lost and I say, no way! God could not possibly call me to go there or to do that! That's not God, at least not the God that I serve! That couldn't possibly be Jesus, with a cigarette hanging out of His mouth! I know who Jesus is because I can envision Him in my mind and that is not Him!
"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14 They may have seen the only begotten of God but many did not recognize Him. What would you do if you saw Jesus? Fall down and worship Him? Stand and praise Him? What if He pulled out a cigarette and started smoking it?

Ants at Falls Top

Lindsey and I were taking a walk in the village of Falls Top, where we are attempting to learn the Carib language. It was a hot day and with our head full of incoherent words in a language we did not understand, we decided to walk through the jungle, down to the river to cool off. Walking in the jungle is not always the most comforting thing. When the weeds grow up to the point you cannot see your feet that is a little alarming to think what could be crawling or slithering down below.
We made it down to the banks of the river and began the process of emptying our minds. This was not a hard task seeing that this was the first day of Carib language learning therefore our mind was full of gibberish. We just let it all drain out of our mind and then stood there motionless and mentally exhausted.
Once we finally regained a functional state of mind, we began to look around at the general splendor of the jungle. The sights and sounds are quite breathtaking. Looking around our eyes came upon a perfectly single file line of ants. These ants were busy going from one side of the trail to the other in such a uniform manner that they had worn a rut in the dirt trail. No one was out of line, no one pushed or shoved, everyone just did as they were supposed to and kept on walking. As I watched the little boy in me wanted to come out and I wanted to either drop a stick or spit on the trail to see what they would do. But not wanting to upset the eco balance of the rain forest with my boyish longings I politely stepped over the ants and continued on to the banks of the river.
Sitting there with my feet in the river and little fish nibbling at my toes I noticed one single ant had gotten separated from his pack, tribe, or family and was now down at the waters edge. I was curious to see what was about to transpire. Sure as the world, this little ant walked right up to the water and began touching the water with his (or her) front legs. Just as soon as the legs touched the water the ant was swept off the bank and into the water. The ant quickly began to struggle, good for him ants float, bad for him, ants can't swim. Therefore he was above water but he was going further out into the river. I watched him with a sadistic desire to see if a fish would swim up and eat him but then the animal lover in me came out and I pulled out my bandana. I lowered the corner of it down into the water until the ant had successfully grabbed hold of it and I raised him up and placed him back on the safety of the bank. It was almost as if I could hear this little voice saying "Thank you so much you gigonormous creature!" But then before you could say "You're welcome," the ant turned around and stuck his two front feet into the water again and whoosh he was back on his whirlwind adventure to the great unknown of the river. This time I simply watched hoping a fish would eat him so I could tell people a cool story, but no such luck.
Later as I thought about my unfortunate little friend, God began to unravel a Spiritual truth for me. The Bible tells us that God has a plan for our life (Jer. 29:11) and that He even created and crafted us for that purpose. (Eph. 2:10) It is as if God told us to go from point A to point B and like those ants crossing the trail, they were doing what they were created to do. But just like the little wayward one, we all have gone astray. Isaiah 53:6 says, "All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way;..." Everyone of us has fallen short of God's plan for our lives, (Rom. 3:23) and the penalty for that waywardness and sin is death. (Rom. 6:23a) If that foolish little ant was stupid enough to leave the line of ants doing what they were supposed to do then he deserved to drown or to be eaten by a fish. No one forced that on him, he chose to walk that path and the consequences of that path is death. Just like us! We were foolish enough to walk away from the plan God had for us and the penalty of that disobedience is death! Satan did not make us do it, our DNA did not make us do it, God certainly did not make us do it, we and we alone are guilty and deserving of the punishment.
BUT! God so loved the world!!! (John 3:16) BUT the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our LORD!!! (Rom. 6:23b) BUT God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." (Rom. 5:8) God looked down on a world that was full of sin and filthiness and He felt compassion! He stretched out His hand and pulled us out of certain death and placed us on the sure foundation of eternal Life! Praise God for His love!
Sadly, how often are we like this little ant, who, just as soon as he had received a second chance at life, ran right back into our wicked life? It is as if we receive this beautiful gift of Life from God, a gift which cost Him dearly! We receive this gift and then spit right in the face of God! We continue right on with the evil and wickedness that entangled us to begin with. That is truly heart breaking!
But unlike me who watched my little friend sail off into the sunset, God lovingly reaches down again and again and pulls us out of the sin that entraps us. Not that we need to be saved again, for Jesus only needed to die one time to cover all our sins, but God pulls us out of the mess we have made and sits us on solid ground and says, go and sin no more! To those who reject His bandana of love, death is their future. How sad to know that so many will push God's hand out of the way so as to get to Hell faster! I wish they had the sense of an ant to know that salvation is extended to all people!

A Righteous Quality

Something that I have struggled with for many years is why is it that I have so much while much of the world has so little. Think about it, if I were to go into storage (that being stuff I have that did not warrant coming with me on the mission field) and look through all the boxes, I would find an assortment of nicknacks and treasures that deserve to be buried for all eternity. But one thing in particular that you would find that really blows my mind is you would find a watch. I know that is shocking that I would have a watch but this particular watch is a special watch, it does not have a band on it. So, I'm sure you are asking what the point of this watch in terms to the point of this devotional? Well this watch was a gift of sorts from the president of the United States of America! Actually how it happened was President George W. Bush did a thing where he sent out stimulus checks to various people in a hope that the economy would be jump started. He sent me one and I was obliged to spend it as my ethical, moral, and civic duty! I went to the store and bought this watch. It was much more expensive than I would have ever paid but since Uncle Sam was paying for it, I didn't mind. This watch was for hikers and would tell them the temperature, the altitude, the barometric pressure, their rate of decent, the weather, what direction they were facing, oh yeah, it told you the time also. I was pretty sure it was the coolest thing ever! Thanks President Bush! The interesting thing was even though it was of very high quality, it still ended up in my storage box with no band on it. Well, as good as the quality was, it just never worked properly. The altimeter was off, the temperature was never right, the compass only worked if you calibrated it, I don't even know what a barometer is, the clock worked as long as the battery held up, which it did not, and the band broke! Therefore this wonderful, quality watch is now lost somewhere in the recesses of our storage never to be seen again. (I hope)
All that to say, why should I have a watch that can or can't do all those things when there are people in Africa who are starving? When the people that are now my new neighbors do not get three meals a day? Just because I live in America I have been able to surround myself with nice quality things, why? Since we now live in a house that resembles a barn more than a house I find myself thinking of nice homey touches like dry wall, molding (not mold, we have that) constant electricity, lamps, rugs, etc. No one around here has any of those things, so why is it in America we have wall to wall all of those things? The answer... I don't know?!?
Yesterday as I was praying God taught me a very important lesson about all of this. The word "Quality" is never found in Scripture. The idea may be implied but I disagree even with that. What is quality? Something nice? Not so much in terms of my watch. Something that holds up? Drywall would never hold up in our barn, I mean our house. Something that cost a lot? Well now you are probably more on the right track. The word "quality" is a man made word that basically means, you pay more for it so that you have the hope of the object doing its purpose better, longer, and more efficient than its competition. It may or may not do that. Quality is just not a Biblical term.
Like I was, you may be thinking, well what about the quality of worship you bring to God? Think about it, what does that mean? Can you raise your hands better than the next person? Do you use better words in your prayers than someone else? If you pray with quality words then shouldn't they last longer? Yet that would go against Scripture when it says we are to pray without ceasing. (I Thess. 5:17) See, the problem with linking 'quality' with 'worship' is that quality represents what you bring to the table. It's saying I brought something good to God.
Allow me to introduce a different word to the conversation, "righteousness." The Bible tells us in Rom. 3:10 that no one is righteous, not even one. The Bible also says that our righteousness is like filthy rags. (####) Righteousness means, to be made RIGHT, we can not do that, my RIGHT is like filthy rags. We need a Savior to make us right, that is why God sent His Son, to do the thing we couldn't do. We are made righteous through salvation. And we are saved by grace through faith, not of works lest anyone should boast. (####) Our worship has nothing to do with what we bring to the table but what God gives us to bring and our obedience to bring it. Therefore, it does not matter where you live, what you have, what covers your walls or how much money you have, worship is something anyone can do because it is what God has given you to give. God smiles at the heartfelt prayer of a woman in a mansion and the woman who prays in her hut. God dances to the singing of worship of the man in a corvette as He does to the man who walks down the path in tattered sandals. Worship is sweet because it comes from God and goes to God!
Do not be so blind to think that the things you surround yourself with enable you to worship God better than the next guy. Sound systems and lights in a sanctuary only allow you to hear and see better but God looks at the heart and no amp or spot light will illuminate that. Worship is the work of God in us and our obedience to give our life back to God. Quality of worship? I don't see it but righteous worship, that comes from God!

Jaw Droppers

What is the point? What is the purpose? I woke up this morning just like I did yesterday and the day before. I go about my day just like I did yesterday and the day before. I will lay my head down tonight just like I did last night and the night before. This is probably the same routine I will follow until the day that I die. Is there really purpose in this life? I can tell you that life in the U.S. works the same as it does in Guyana, S. America. Sure the task are different and the culture is different but the structure of life is still the same, get up, do what you do, go to bed, next day do the same. What is the point? What make this life all worth while? If we are Christians then our eternal security is set. Why is it that God does not just take us home to Heaven now? Why must we endure this life on fallen planet Earth?
Around two-thousand years ago there sat a group of men and women in a room, massaging their jaws. They were soar from their jaws hitting the floor so much. One day their jaw drops because the Messiah they had been waiting for was finally here! Then their jaw dropped because they saw their Messiah hanging dead on a cross. Then once again their jaw dropped as they peered into His grave which was empty because He had risen from the dead. Next thing they knew, their jaws were on the ground again as the Messiah stood right in front of them, alive and well and then rising up into the sky! Needless to say, their jaws were soar! They sat around looking at each other thinking, "Wow, what a ride!" When all of a sudden, once again their jaws hit the floor as they heard this noise like tornado force winds and they saw these flaming tongues floating through the air coming toward them and finally resting on them. I'm sure they were thinking, "Now what?" They were filled with the Holy Spirit of God, the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus, that One would come after Him. Forgetting how soar their jaws were, they all began speaking at the same time yet the words that came out of their mouths were in different languages and dialects, by the power of the Holy Spirit. You can only imagine how perplexing this was to the disciples as well as all those who were listening and understanding what was being said in their own native tongue.
Peter finally got up and began explaining things to those around. He did not mix words but told them plainly, "The Messiah you have been waiting for, the One who will reign forever and will set things right, you just nailed Him to the cross but you did not win victory over Him because He now lives and reigns with God!" In his sermon Peter quoted King David by saying, "You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence." (Acts 2:28) This quote is found in Psalms 16:11, "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever."
How wonderful is that? To know the paths of life! To know what this life is really all about! David goes on to say that joy and gladness is found in the presence of God! That is what true Life is, the presence of God! Totally undeserved, totally by His grace, yet the absolute most glorious and joyous moments of our Life is simply being in the presence of God! So while yes, each day we wake up, do what we do, and go to bed, we wake up into the radiant smile of the King of Kings who has been watching over us as we slept. We do what we do through out the day, the good and the bad, in the presence of Emmanuel, God with us. And we lay our head down at night, not on our pillow but on the chest of our Heavenly Father. If we listen we can hear His breath and the beating of His heart! God does not take His children home immediately after salvation to experience eternal life because eternal Life has already started here on this Earth! John 17:3 says, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ who You have sent." Eternal Life starts today, with the knowledge of who God is and where God is. Joy can be found on the path of Life which lies in the Holy presence of God. When we come to truly understand this truth, that is when our jaw really drops! Is that the Life you live?

Color Blind

The grass always looks greener on the other side to a color blind person.

Every year in the very beginning of Spring there comes a time when over night grass seems to go from brown and dry to green and lush. I love this time of year because for so long everything appears dead and dry and colorless but then all of a sudden the grass just comes alive! I find myself riding around in my car singing "The green grass grows all around, all around. The green grass grows all around." In fact once the grass turns to green, trees are not far behind and before you know it there is a lush green hue in the air. (Of course if you suffer from pollen then this is not your favorite time of year) It is beautiful!
I could not imagine what it would be like to be color blind. There you are surrounded by new life and yet you could not see the beauty of it. It seems like there would be something missing from life if you were color blind.
I'm not sure why but I find myself always seeing the grass, greener on the other side of the fence. This is something I have noticed in my life for some time now. Even as a child I would go to a store to get a toy. Standing in the isle of the store a dilemma would arise. I would have to make a choice between two toys that I really wanted. After much deliberation I would select my toy and go home, tickled pink with the thought of the fun that was ahead of me. Five minutes after I got home and started playing with the toy, I found myself thinking of the other toy back at the store and all of the fun I could be having if I hadn't settled for this piece of junk! The grass looked greener on the other side.
Then again when I would get a new job, I would pour my heart and soul into it. Every job I ever had I found purpose in it so it was important that I did my best. Plus the pay check was alway nice to put in my pocket. But after awhile I found that the job that once was so important to mankind was not just a stress ball of pointlessness, therefore I would look at other jobs and think how much better life would be if I could work there! The grass looked greener on the other side.
Even now as I sit in Guyana, South America as a missionary. There is no greater calling but if I were to be honest, I would say that if I was working in some other ministry job I could be so much more effective. Things here are frustrating because we came to work with a tribe that has no Bible because they have no alphabet. Yet we got here to find that they have a "church," with a "pastor," who can "read," English and "translate," the Scriptures into Carib. (I put quotes on those words because the church is just a building, the pastor is untrained, he only reads a little, and who knows if his translations are correct) Once again the grass looks greener on the other side.
So what is wrong with me? Do I have some fear of commitment? Do I have some mental block that inhibits me from sticking to something to completion? Am I broken or hopeless or a bad employee? On the contrary, I am color blind! Psalms 118:24 says, "This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it." See today is a special day because today is a day that God created! We are to rejoice and be glad in it! Rejoice! Have a party! Enjoy the day! Could you imagine working at a job where the boss tells to you take the day and just enjoy it, have fun! I think that would be the best job ever. Yet that is what God has done for us. He has made everyday wonderful and beautiful! Sure circumstances will come and go that are hard, painful and life sucking but trials are meant to strengthen our faith. James 1:2-4 says that we can even count those trials as joy.
So the fact that the grass always looks greener on the other side is not that I have a commitment problem or that I am broken. It's just that I'm color blind to the green grass of Life that surrounds me right where I am. When I come to the realization that I am surrounded by Life, people who are unique created in the image of God and beautiful, places that are vibrant and in need of something God has given me, when I understand that I am here not for my own purpose but as part of that day which the LORD has made then I see Life! (John 14:6) My eyes are opened to the color of Life! True Life! Eternal Life! There is a whole world out there just waiting to be discovered and the greatest part about it is that all of it points to the glory of God Almighty! The world is our playground if we will choose to get out there and play in it, or we can miserably stand at the fence and look longingly at the seemingly green grass on the other side. The choice is yours.

God's Cup (Part 2)

While I was in Malaysia on a mission trip, I was introduced to a new love of my life! It's one of those cases where you either love it or you hate it but for me Green Tea was instant love! To be totally honest it tastes terrible. Green tea is so bitter it curls your nose hairs and dries out your tongue. If you have never had the privilege of drinking real green tea, not the Americanized version that is sold in bottles, served cold, with lemon flavoring and sugar added, but I'm talking about the real green tea. The tea that is brewed hot, from tea leaves which have been picked off the bush by some little, old oriental lady. Never having been touched my a machine but rather I guess you could say, "off the tree straight to me!" If you have never tasted this genuinely delicious green tea, then I want you to go outside and fill a cup with hot water and dirt, mix it up and take a swig, then you will have an idea of what real green tea taste like. Yum! I love it! I understand green tea is not for everyone but I'm sure we all have some drink that really trips our trigger. Maybe you are more in favor of the southern style, sweet tea that is more like syrup than a beverage. Or maybe you have a different flavor of drink that quenches your thirst but never the less there is something that pleases your palate. On the flip side of the coin, I'm sure there is a drink that just the thought gets your gag reflex in an uproar. To each their own.
When I read the Bible and it talks about the Marriage Feast of the Lamb, I begin to wonder, what will we eat and drink? I know that will probably be the last thing on my mind at the time but right now as I sit in the jungles of Guyana, having eaten Peanut Butter for 30 days straight, I begin to think of what better things are to come! I figure that in Heaven, everything will be divine, even the food and drink will be scrumptious! Who knows maybe we will be served 'real green tea!'
With this knowledge in mind, it raises a question from the book of John chapter 19. Jesus has been sentenced to death by crucifixion, He was led away to Golgotha and there nailed to a cross in the most horrific and inhumane way possible. John 19:28a says "After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scriptures..." Jesus hung on the cross and had the full knowledge that everything had been done that needed to be done. He had obeyed God exactly and totally. I can only imagine as Jesus hung on the cross He had to think, I love these people more than they can know but now I have endured beatings, wiping, mocking, insults, humiliation, sorrow beyond understanding, and even having the Father turn His back on Me, now I want to go home! But for some reason the second part of John 19:28 says, "(Jesus) said, I am thirsty." What? Why? He was done, He had completed the task, He was free to go home, stop the pain, the hurt, the humiliation but instead He asked for a drink! They raised up to Him on a sponge, some sour wine, He drank of it and then said "It is finished!" Then He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. Surely the sour wine was nothing compared to what waited for Him in Heaven. He settled for sour wine when He could have been drinking "Divine Wine!" Why?
Well the truth of the matter is, I don't know?! But what I do know is that Jesus prayed in the garden, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matt. 26:39) He had told Peter the night before, "The cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11b) So Jesus had completed His task, He had provided salvation to a lost world and He has set an example of grace and Holiness. The only thing left to do was to drink the sour cup which the Father had given to Him. Yuck! How bitter and nasty that cup must have tasted to Jesus but how sweet it will be for Him to sit at the table at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb and to look around and see you and I sitting there basking in the glow of a radiant LORD!
The cup the Father gives us may not taste so wonderful today but there is coming a day when sour wine will become "Divine Wine." We can find hope in that!

God's Cup (Part 1)

As a child, I was always ecstatic when Christmas rolled around and Mom would go to the grocery store and come home with Eggnog! It was probably the one single most indicator that Christmas was coming soon. We would open the carton and pour us a glass and then gobble it down with delight! It was wonderful! My family would all stand around with Eggnog mustaches, grinning ear to ear, because we knew, more was to come over the Christmas Season.
There were other times when I would walk into the kitchen at home where my Dad would be standing holding a plate of food, a bag of chips and the cookie jar in his hands and a large cup of milk filled to the brim would be sitting on the counter top. My Dad,with a puzzled look on his face would ask me to come and take a sip of the milk so that he could pick it up without spilling it. This was often a common occurrence in our house because the Lawson males would often try to carry everything all at once so as not to miss part of the TV show. Not being able to fulfill our obligation, we would often end up spilling our drink on the floor. So I would bend down and take a large sip of Dad's milk, so as to help him out, only to find that the large cup of white liquid was not milk at all but rather butter milk! Once again drink would get spilled on the floor because I cannot stand butter milk!
Two drinks, very similar in makeup and in appearance, yet there is zero similarities in their taste! One is wonderfully delicious and the other is so grotesque that it is only good for being thrown out. But what is the lesson that is to be learned here?
John 18 recounts the story of Jesus going to the Garden with His disciples. Judas, having already been filled with Satan, led the Roman soldiers to the same place in the garden. At this point there is an awkward moment and no one seems to know what to do. Jesus asked them who they were seeking and they said Jesus. Then Jesus told them that He was Jesus. This led to dumbfounded looks and bewildered disciples. Peter is the one who breaks the silence as he pulled his sword and cut the ear off of Malchus, the slave of the high priest. After telling Peter to put away his sword, Jesus makes a huge statement, "The cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" See Jesus knew that God had sent Him to Earth for a reason. It was as if God handed Jesus a cup and said, "Bottoms up." Jesus was saying, God gave me this cup to drink, by pulling out swords and fighting, I would be evading what God gave Me. It would be like saying, "Father God, thank You for this cup but I really don't want it." "The cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" For Jesus, drinking the cup that the Father had given Him, had nothing to do with enjoyment, or entertainment or popularity, or self-desire, but it had everything to do with the fact that the Father had given it to Him. Jesus was going to drink this cup rather it had Eggnog or Buttermilk! Why? Because God gave it to Him, and pleasing the Father was first and for most in Jesus' list of priorities.
So what about you? God has extended to us a cup of not just water but 'living water. I'm sure any of us would say I will do anything to get a cup of that living water! Yet when it comes to drinking that cup, often we would rather not. That is because God's desires is not first priority in our life, our desires are first priority in our life. Sure we boast about drinking the cup of living water when it is sweet as Eggnog and everything is going wonderful! But we gag as the thought of drinking the bitterness of the buttermilk, such as when God is calling us to get out of our comfort zone.
Life is full of choices, yet for a Christian and child of the King of Kings, there is no choice, obedience is the only way! So to that I say, bottoms up! Drink deep! and Enjoy Life!