Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Take root downward, and bear fruit upward.”
“Lord, make me strong! Let my soul rooted be
afar from vales of rest,
Flung close to heaven upon a great Rock’s breast,
Unsheltered and alone, but strong in Thee,
What though the lashing tempests leave their scars?
Has not the Rock been bruised?
Mine, with the strength of ages deep infused,
To face the storms, and triumph with the stars!
Lord, plant my spirit high upon the crest of Thine
Then, though life’s breaking struggles come at length,
Their storms shall only bend me to Thy breast.”
Dorothy Clark Wilson
Today’s Study Text:
“Thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over.”
Psalm 23:5 K.J.V.
Psalm 23 Part 22B
“Up to The Brim”
“Practice giving more than you get.”
How have I seen the blessings in my life poured out and running over?
“The act of giving is a vivid reminder that it’s all about God, not about us. It’s saying I am not the point. He is the point. He does not exist for me. I exist for Him.”
Randy Alcorn (2002)
“His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever He tells you.’ Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water,’ so they filled them to the brim” (John 2:5-7, N.I.V.).
If there’s any time or place where you want to make certain you have enough food to eat and enough to quench the thirst of your guests, it is at a wedding. And this is exactly where we find Jesus at the beginning of His ministry on this earth – at a wedding. Who knows why Jesus’ mother, Mary, was so involved in the details of this festive occasion, but we find she was. And when the “drink ran dry,” so to speak, she came to her son, asking him to assist her in solving what was a critical problem.
Interestingly, Mary’s words to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you to do,” gives us a glimpse, not only into Mary’s belief in “Who” her son was, but also in His ability to more than accomplish whatever was needed.
Indeed, we find that after seeing six empty pots, Jesus instructed the helpers to “fill them.” According to Jesus’ direction, the pots were filled to the brim. In other words, there was not room for any more liquid to be put into the pots. As I read this passage, it got me to thinking about other times in Jesus’ ministry when people needed something to drink because they were thirsty or they needed food because they were hungry and in every case, when Jesus finished providing for the hungry and thirsty, there was food left over or the thirst of the needy one was relieved in such a way that they were promised they would never “thirst” again.
It is this picture of abundance which David speaks about in Psalm 23:5, “My cup runneth over.” As Mary Shields helps us understand more clearly, “the picture of care and abundance continues in the final sentence of Psalm 23:5…the word usually translated, ‘overflows’ actually means ‘saturated.’ The verbal form means to water a garden or to drink one’s fill. Thus it really means something like ‘my cup is well filled.’ Once again, these are not just pictures of adequate food and shelter but portrayals of abundant provisioning.”
It is from this place of abundance that we are called to “give as it has been given unto you.” As noted Biblical scholar C.S. Lewis observes, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare.”
As we consider our Shepherd’s giving until we are saturated to overflowing, I want to highlight two ways that God blesses us.
First, we find that David reveals a satisfaction that comes from having our spiritual needs met! “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness.” But then the psalmist continues by exclaiming that a direct consequence of having a spiritual abundance in our life causes us to “praise Thee (God) with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:5, K.J.V.).
Second, our Shepherd causes us to overflow with the material necessities. Now I want to add, this does not mean that I will always get all my wants met. Instead, God has promised that I will have all I need. In one of my favorite passages in the Bible, spoken by Jesus, Himself, these words stand as a daily encouragement to each of us, no matter what we happen to be facing: “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him” (Matthew 6:8, K.J.V.). As Frank Gabelein reminds us, “There is comfort in the fact that God can never be taken by surprise.” He knows your needs and mine, even before we recognize what it is that we feel we lack. He’s already on high alert, putting into action a perfect plan to meet the critical challenge which caught you completely by surprise. And from His abundant storehouse, count on the blessings to start pouring down – even in the midst of affliction and doubt. God’s hand still leads and guides.
But there’s one more thing we can gain from the abundance, which permeates our lives, and it is this: From the outpouring I receive, I am asked to give.
And I’d like to offer this perspective. This doesn’t mean just sharing in a monetary manner. It also means joining together with those around me, with my time and prayers to lift up others who I may comfort with the heavenly comfort that soothes my broken heart.
It took our severe car accident for me to even begin to understand how an overflowing cup can be used to bless the lives of others with the abundance which had been poured into our own lives. One particular day when I was downtown with my mother, a dear lady walked up to my wheelchair. It was obvious that with a splinted leg and fully casted left arm and a head that was half-shaved of all my hair that something out of the ordinary has occurred in my life. Quietly this lady leaned down to me and said, “Can I ask you what happened?”
As I explained to her what my husband and I had been through, tears began to roll down her face and she told me that just a few months earlier, her daughter had been killed by a drunk driver. And then she made this statement, “I don’t know why, but something inside me let me know you would understand.”
It is the gift of overflowing blessings which have gotten us through the tough times of life that are to be used to bless others. In the words of Miriam Therese Winter:
“May the blessing of God,
Fountain of living water,
Flow within us as a river of life.
May we drink deep…
May we never thirst again.
May we go through life refreshing many,
As a sign of healing for all;
Through the One who is life eternal.”
“Into my heart, empty and waiting,
Over my soul, needy and still,
Through my whole being, consuming and purging,
Sweep Thou, until –
Thou shalt see through my eyes,
Think through my brain,
Love through my heart,
And speak through my lips,
All of my being merging in Thine,
Holy Spirit divine.
Now, filled with the source of all beauty and power
Renewed life is mine
Flowing within me each day and
From the Divine.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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