Thursday, July 12, 2018

77-3 We Are Cups

Inspired by the song "Overflow" by Tenth Avenue North from their album Followers.
Available at YouTube, iTunes & Amazon.

It's really hard to imagine how big our God is. Like impossible. He is infinitely greater, stronger, smarter and wiser than any person will ever be. More than anyone who's ever lived combined.

What's even harder to fathom is that He wants to reveal Himself to us and to live in us.

In Exodus 34, Moses asks God to show himself so that the people of Israel would know that their God was with them. God was under no obligation to heed this request, of course. Yet, as the compassionate God He is, He announced to Moses that He would in fact show Himself:

And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.” (Exodus 33:19-23)

This account helps us see how powerful God is and how fragile we are in comparison. God is so holy that even looking in His face would cause us to spontaneously die. This is what makes the concept of heaven even more amazing: because of Jesus making us holy, we will be able to see Him face to face for eternity.

Have you ever been in a corporate worship gathering, or even a personal prayer time, and been so overwhelmed by the presence of the Spirit of God that you couldn't hold it in? Usually this manifests itself as becoming emotional, crying, maybe even shivering. These experiences are different for everyone and, other than the cases of outrageous behavior not becoming of someone in the presence of God, there is nothing wrong with these feelings. They are a part of experiencing the presence of God.

I have thought long and hard about why we feel this way. In some of those moments, I have tried to bring some sort of rationale to it, and have concluded that it is something more than purely psychological. Something is happening inside our souls that goes beyond what is normal and into the realm of the supernatural.

This is my conclusion: God is great, much greater than we are. And we are finite, as we are flesh and bones and the individual spirit breathed into by the breath of God at creation. Even in our spiritual sense, we only have the capacity to hold so much.

When the Spirit of God comes, the spiritual has to manifest itself in the physical, resulting in our physical senses and emotions going into overdrive to process what we are feeling. And as God pours out so much love, grace and holiness, we find ourselves overwhelmed and overjoyed by the power of God in us. We literally overflow with His presence.

And sadly, so many people stop there. We love those mountaintop experiences, and I would argue that they are crucially important for our spiritual growth and sustenance. But what overflows is more than just what we are supposed to keep for ourselves.

Pastor Caleb Bryant always puts it this way: We are cups. We are made to be filled up so that we can be poured out. A cup exists for one purpose: to transport liquid from one place to another. If the liquid in the cup stays forever in the cup, then the cup is not serving its intended purpose. It needs to be poured out somewhere so that it can be filled up again.

What we receive from God is made to be passed along through us to someone else. Yes, God wants to provide for and bless us individually, but He always intended us to be used as conduits to show His love to others. We were made to serve, give, and spread the Gospel to everyone around us.

And it should come naturally. When we see how mighty our God is and how great is His love, we should be so excited and empowered to share His love to those around us. The great experience we have with God was never meant to be a secret.

The more we know God and spend time in His presence, the more we should resemble Jesus in everything we do. This means having a passion to reach out to the lost and to spread God's great love to everyone around us. It means loving our enemies and forgiving those who wrong us. It means standing up for injustice and respecting all of God's creation. The possibilities are endless, and they should be, as the God we serve is endless Himself.

I want to encourage you all to strive to daily fill yourself up with God's presence, and to look for opportunities to pour yourself out by showing God's love to others. You can't change the world without loving other people, and you can't have that love if you don't constantly experience it from God yourself. It starts with filling yourself with everything you need from God on a daily basis, with the intention and willingness to pass it on to those around you. Let God's Spirit transform your heart so that you are living out the purpose you were created for: to worship God and to serve others.

Lord, thank You for allowing us to experience Your great and mighty presence. Let us always seek to feel the overwhelming joy of the power of Your presence, and let us be used by You to share Your great love to others. Help us never to forget the reasons for our existence: to receive Your love and overflow.

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