Saturday, December 15, 2018

My cup overflows

As I was digging through some files tonight, I found this devotional that I had written a few years ago for Karama just tucked away in google drive and thought I'd share.

My Cup Overflows
Do you have a favorite cup? A special coffee mug you use each morning? An heirloom tea cup you only use on special occasions? A souvenir cup you got at a sporting event?

Marc went to Nairobi a few years ago for a conference and bought some handmade mugs from a local Kenyan potter. They’re beautiful and unique with different colors and tones, each with a different shape and look. Though he bought four of them, both of us preferred the same one. On our selfish days, we’d try to get to it before the other could. On our not-so-selfish days, we might even make coffee for the other & deliver it in the sought-after mug. There is just something about the shape of it, the colors, the feel of it when it’s filled with hot coffee on a…well…we don’t really get ‘cold’ mornings here in Dar, but you get the idea. Even after an unfortunate mishap where the handle fell off, we still love it.

Some cups might just be a great sale find at Ikea (or side of the road from a street vendor), but others…other cups can tell stories.

Psalm 23:1-5
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2     He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3     He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
   for his name's sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
   I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
   your rod and your staff,
   they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
   in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
   my cup overflows.

While there is plenty we could reflect on in this verse, I want us to consider what we think of when we read the phrase, “my cup overflows.”

What images come to your mind?

What stories come to your mind?

What ‘cups’ come to your mind?

The first connection that came to mind for me was a visual image from our school’s primary assembly a few weeks ago. One of our chaplains talked about Acts 2:17, which reads, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” The chaplain held a cup and a pitcher full of water in front of the students, and slowly pouring the water into the cup, talked about how God is the giver of all good gifts (James 1:17), he wants to give us life abundantly (John 10:10) and He promises the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. As the water overflowed from the cup and spilled out onto the floor, the students all watched, eager and wide-eyed, gasping with surprise and delight, many even moving out of their seats to get a better view or come and touch the water that had spilled.

The second connection that came to mind is from Matthew 26, which reads, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” A few years ago, my husband preached a sermon on communion and the four cups of the passover that are remembered during a Seder meal by the Jewish people (too much to get into here, but an interesting thing to Google & read more about!). While I cannot remember all the details of the cups, I remember thinking that learning about these cups was new information - not anything I had learned about in Christian education or through the church previously. An important part of Jewish tradition and belief that I knew nothing about. What did all these cups mean? What is this cup that Jesus would prefer to pass on? Certainly it’s not the cup mentioned in Psalm 23. No, Jesus was to drink a much different cup than the one we are offered, His was a cup of wrath.

In Psalm 23, God is our Good Shepherd but also our Great Host. He has prepared a table for us, the most amazing banquet that we could ever fathom. He provides for all of our needs, not only until we are filled, but to overflowing! God not only fills our cups to overflowing, but he is the Giver of our cups, or our portions. The cup or portion that the Father gave to the son was that of suffering, all the brokenness and sins of the entire world. A cup that was meant for us. Rather than handing us that cup, however, our Good Shepherd gives us rest, he leads us, he restores us, he protects us, he comforts us and as our Great Host he prepares a feast, he anoints our heads with oil, overflows our cups, giving us more than we could ever need.The reason we have cups that are overflowing is ONLY because Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath on the cross. He was our substitute. He atoned for our sins, giving us a seat at the feast that the Father has prepared.

What a gift! What a wonder!

Doesn’t that reminder make you want to sit on the edge of your seat, with eager anticipation and eyes wide, anxious to see the overflowing that God is pouring out, just like the kids in assembly? Doesn’t it make you want to gasp with delight or get out of your seat so you can get your hands wet in the the glorious overflow of God’s goodness?

Additional Scripture if you’d like to do a word study on ‘cup’ throughout Scripture:

  • Genesis 40
  • Genesis 44
  • Psalm 16, special focus on verse 5
  • Psalm 116: special focus on verse 13
  • Jeremiah 25
  • Matthew 23: 25-26
  • Matthew 26:36-46
  • John 18:1-11
  • Luke 22:14-23
  • I Corinthians 11:17-34

Questions for reflection:
Am I in a season where my cup feels like it’s overflowing with sorrow and suffering? As his sheep, are there burdens I need to bring to the Shepherd and let him tenderly take up and care for?

Am I in a season where my cup feels like it’s overflowing with joy and God’s provision? As his guest at the banquet, are there things the Great Host is blessing me with that I haven’t yet identified and/or thanked Him for?

Are there ways I am trying to prepare my own feast, or fill my own cup rather than allowing the Great Host?

In what ways can we become more like the children in the primary assembly - eager, wide-eyed, gasping with delight, on the edge of our seat in anticipation of what God is doing? What hinders us from that child-like reaction?

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