Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.”
Isaiah 32: 18
“A little place of mystic grace,
Of self and sin swept bare,
Where I may look upon Thy face,
And talk with Thee in prayer.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And the word of the Lord came to him (Elijah); ‘Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there.”
1 Kings 17: 8-9
“Life In Zarephath – Part 2
Resting On Our Lees”
“The gain isn’t counted to the inactive that having nothing to measure themselves by and never being tested by failure, they simmer and soak perpetually in conscious complacency.”
Definition of “Lees”: Latin meaning -- sediment settling during fermentation, especially in wine.
Definition of “Dregs”: The sediment of a liquid, the least desirable part.
Definition of “Complacency”: Smug self-satisfaction.
Has there ever been a time when I felt I had “settled on my lees”?
How do I feel when God asks me not to get complacent and instead calls me to change?
“No, one couldn’t make a revolution, one couldn’t even start a riot, with sheep that asked only for better browsing.”
“Moab has been at ease from his youth, and he has settled on his lees (like wine) and has not been drawn off from one vessel to another, neither has he gone into exile. Therefore his taste remains in him, and his scent has not changed.”
Jeremiah 48: 11
In the book of Jeremiah, the Bible tells us, “the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet” (Jeremiah 47: 1, Amplified Bible). I found this passage of note because it mirrors what happened in the life of Elijah. God’s Word came to him, repeatedly. The same could be said for Jeremiah, as God gave him repeated messages, not only about His chosen people, Israel, but also about the foreign nations who inhabited Canaan.
One of the nations that received a message from God, was the country of Moab. As the text above describes, this nation had, “rested on their lees.” To be quite honest, I’d never heard this phrase before so I did a little research. These words specifically come from making wine. Something I’ve learned about living in a geographic region, which over the past ten years has an expanding wine producing industry. Fifteen years ago, when Jim and I moved to Red Rock Country, talk of vineyards and wineries was just that -- nothing but talk.
Years later, with a new vineyard going in on any open land that once fed cattle, it seems that at least once a month there’s another winery announcing their grand opening.
Now, I don’t happen to drink -- at all. But with the prominence of this industry so nearby, I have learned a little about the lengthy process which produces what vintner’s hope will be fine, world-class wine. One of the most time consuming elements in the production process, especially in the past, was the repeated pouring of grape juice from one container to another, with the intent to let the juice separate from the heavier sediment called “lees.” This process happens only when the juice has been given enough time, in a specific container, to let the “lees” settle to the bottom.
Interestingly, the great Bible student F. B. Meyer opened my eyes to the similarity between wine making and God’s transplantation process in His children’s lives. I found the concept he shared so instructive and it has helped me in my own life. So I thought I would pass it on to you for it may be that right now, you are feeling uprooted, poured from container to container, wondering what in the world God’s doing in your life.
F. B. Meyer begins his explanation by telling a story about a friend of his who spent time in the English lakes area. It was on the trip when this gentleman came upon the “most beautiful shrubs he had ever seen.” As the story continues, Meyer states that his friend was “arrested by their (the shrubs) extraordinary luxuriance.” So he asked the cause and it was because of a “judicious system of transplanting, constantly pursued.” New life in a new place produced new growth! Sounds like a heavenly technique God used in Elijah’s life.
But F. B. Meyer takes this lesson even further when he examines the words of our text above, written by the prophet Jeremiah. It seems the people of Moab had lived a life of ease -- ever since their youth. No war. No trouble. A prosperous life on easy street. The Bible states that, “therefore his taste remained in him and his scent is not changed” (Jeremiah 48: 11).
Comparing this to the cultivation of grapes, Meyers explains, “grape juice, when first expressed from its ruddy chalice, is impure and thick; it is left in vessels for a time until fermentation has done its work, and a thick sediment, called lees, has been precipitated to the bottom. When this is done, the liquid is carefully drawn off into another vessel, so that all the sediment is left behind. This emptying process is repeated again and again, till the offensive odor that came from the ‘must’ has passed away, and the liquid has become clear and beautiful.” Then Meyer offers this insight: “The quiet life is by no means the greatest life. Some characteristics can only reach the highest standard of spirituality by the disturbings or displacings in the order of God’s providence.”
In the life of Elijah, God started a distinctive work when this self-sufficient child of the wilderness, learned to live off the rugged mountain terrain in Gilead. And then, Elijah was poured into the container of Jezreel -- to the king’s palace, no less. But God was by no means finished with Elijah. The next container that held Elijah was the canyon shelter where a seasonal brook and unclean birds of prey, ravens, provided water and food during the learning process where a self-sufficient man became totally dependent on his heavenly Father’s care. But God had more purification in store for Elijah. And so He came to His faithful servant and instructed him to arise and make his way, on an over 100 mile trek, to the city of Zarephath in Sidon, the land ruled by Queen Jezebel’s father. Talk about being poured from vessel to vessel. Just when Elijah may have gotten that, “I can breathe easy for awhile” feeling, he was poured out again. And just to be clear, while Elijah’s cleansing process was a move from one place to another, God’s plan in your life and mine, His means of clearing out the sediment, the lees in our lives, may be completely different than the method He used with Elijah. What’s more, the sediment that needs to be removed in my life may be different than in yours. God may take away that “stuff” that I hold onto so tightly, knowing that when I am “resting on my lees” I get too complacent, too smug and self-satisfied to depend on Him. So He graciously confronts my self-sufficiency and teaches me that only when I totally trust in Him, can He use me, how and where He wants.
If you feel that in your world, as you know it, you’ve become comfortable and it’s being turned upside down, then perhaps these words from William Petersen will bring encouragement to your heart today: “You should be thankful when the Lord empties you from vessel to vessel, changes your circumstances, upsets your comfort. God is making you into a better vintage wine.” And it is God’s heavenly “vintage,” where service and obedience to our Father is our only goal and desire.
“How dangerous it is for our salvation, how unworthy of God and of ourselves, how pernicious even for the peace of our hearts, to want always to stay where we are! Our whole life was only given us to advance us by great strides toward our heavenly country.”
Laughing, We Endure
“We live for a time secure,
beloved and loving
sure it cannot last for long
and when the goodbyes come
again and again,
each like a little death,
the closing of a door,
laughing we endure.
One learns to live with pain,
One looks ahead not back,
only before, and believes
that joy will come again,
Warm and secure.
If only for the now,
laughing we endure.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.