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Friday, October 21, 2011

Table for Two

You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat.
(Matthew 5:6 The Message)

I once heard it said that you know that you are living the way God intends when you find that you are taking what you see and hear in the Word of God and begin to live by them.  I think it goes beyond that - to actually living UPON them - they become foundational to all you think and do.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly begins a number of statements with the words, "Blessed are you when..."  In the scripture, I found that we are blessed when we exhibit a poverty of spirit, hunger for his righteousness, experience sorrow, and in moments of persecution when we are reliant on nothing more than Jesus to pull us through.  Okay, now that is not a list of "stuff" that I would automatically add to my Christmas wishlist!

How many of us can honestly say that we have worked up a good appetite for God?  Most of us would be honest and say that, at best, it is good some days and not so good on others.  In fact, sometimes our appetite for the things of God is plainly not in control of anything we are "putting into" our lives at that moment!  We take in gossip and wonder why we feel "used up" and kind of "vacant" at the end of the day.  We ingest "empty calories" in a spiritual sense by spending hours upon hours "vegging" in front of the TV and wonder why we are "spiritually flabby".  Ummm...call me silly....but don't we have to pay attention to what we take in and how we use it to be sure it is "good for us"?

Poverty of spirit is not being empty of the spiritually good things that God has prepared for us.  In fact, it is the exact opposite.  It is the condition of being aware that we have nothing good within us that we can offer to God.  We find ourselves aware that apart from the grace of God in our lives, we having nothing good to offer him!  Christ's disciples walked with him along the seashores and through the valleys.  They climbed to mountain tops with him, and found themselves in throngs of seeking people.  Where he was, they were.  They had little, traveled light, but enjoyed much!  Why?  Because in those moments of experiencing Jesus, they were having their faith made rich!

There are a lot of things in this world begging to satisfy our hunger.  God's greatest desire for us is that we will desire to have our hunger satisfied with goodness, peace, and mercy.  He delights in hearing that we are hungry for more of him.  I remember a neighbor of ours when I was growing up.  The family was Italian and loved to make huge meals when "company" came over.  We sat at a long table, laden with all kinds of pasta, sauce, cheese, bread, and other delightful items.  The enjoyment of that meal was made the richer by the company we kept!  The enjoyment of what God provides is made richer by the company we keep with him!

Psalm 125 reminds us that God encircles his people - always has and always will.  Even in the times when all seems to be lost, God encircles his people - always has and always will.  In fact, the very next Psalm tells us that those who plant in times of drought will rejoice in times of harvest.  Those who went off with heavy hearts will return dancing and singing in their hearts.  God's rewards are much different than anything that the world offers us.  In the world, we wallow in our sorrow.  In God's presence, we learn the deep lessons of sorrow.  In the world, we see no end in the drought.  In God's presence, we see the possibilities of rain in even the wispiest cloud!

What makes you hungry today?  What has become foundational in your life?  Is the Word of God more than a thing that you believe in - has it become the very basis of all you believe and DO?  How long has it been since you have felt encircled by God's arms - welcomed to his table, enjoying his company?  Perhaps it is time for a really good meal in his presence!