Saturday, January 13, 2018

Dine at the Lord’s Table!

In my dream I am meeting my son at a party, but I arrive late.  Some guests are already leaving and servers are cleaning up, but there are still large buffet tables laden with food. I ask my son, who is a gourmet and knowledgeable about fine dining, if there is anything that I must try because it is so good, or anything I should avoid.

“No, you may not like it all, but it’s all good,” he says.

I go to get food but there are no clean plates, only dirty ones. I ask the server who is behind the table for a clean plate and he looks at me as if I have two heads. “Plate? Why would anyone want a plate?”

Rather than just take finger foods from the buffet table, I return empty handed to where my son is sitting. There is a lovely china teapot on the table, decorated with pink roses and fragrant with floral tea within. As I lift it to pour for my son, some noisy strangers approach the table and I hope they don’t join us, as I don’t know them and am hoping to have a quiet conversation with my son. 

As they prepare to sit down in the seat I had chosen and the neighboring seats, I feel anxious and my hand shakes, causing me to spill tea, pouring it not only into the delicate porcelain cup but onto the paper plate on which it rests. To my dismay, the hot tea begins to dissolve the paper plate.

Once I am awake, I begin to contemplate the meaning of the dream and realize that the banquet, or gathering of many people for fellowship and dining, could represent our Christian life once we are saved by faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6). 

I was born again (John 3:3-8) late in life, 18 years ago when my son was 10 years old, and he was saved shortly thereafter, responding in part to my testimony and witness. So I entered Christian fellowship relatively late, while he did so relatively early in life, just as he had come early to the party in my dream while I was the latecomer.

Our spiritual nourishment determines the growth we experience in our Christian life, just as a balanced diet nurtures our physical growth. As babes in Christ we begin with the milk of His Word (1 Peter 2:2-3), but as we grow, we should begin to digest the meat, or more substantive issues that may be more difficult to understand and follow (Hebrews 5:13).

But all that God sets before us in His Word is worthwhile (2 Timothy 3:16), allowing us to taste and see that He is good! (Psalm 34:8). If we cherry pick the verses that suit the lifestyle we desire but ignore those that convict us, we do so at our own peril.

The food at the table may also represent the experiences God allows into our life once we are saved, some enjoyable and others unpleasant, yet all necessary according to God’s perfect plan for our lives. As my son, whom I respect greatly for his intelligence and wisdom, pointed out, we may not like it all, but it is all good, for God works all things together for good in the lives of His children (Romans 8:28).

God gives us what we need when we need it, just as He supplied the Israelites with daily manna that they gathered from the ground and ate immediately, before it spoiled (Exodus 16). In my dream, plates were unnecessary, for there was an ample supply of finger foods to be freely eaten at the table. We are not to worry about storing up supplies for the future, for Jesus said to store up our treasures in Heaven instead (Matthew 6:19-20).

We can rest assured that He will provide for our daily needs (Psalm 37:25), for He knows what we need before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8). Jesus told us to pray each day for our daily bread (Luke 11:3, Matthew 6:11) which He will bountifully supply (Philippians 4:19).

But in the dream I did not partake of the food offered, as I would have preferred to eat it at my own table in the company of my son. I believe God was warning me not to rely on my own preparations for the future, but to trust Him moment by moment (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Similarly, in the dream I shied away from fellowship with those I did not know, perhaps missing out on opportunities to bless and be blessed by fellow believers. Despite our differences, we are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26-28).

Once we are saved, the fragrance of Jesus Christ, the Rose of Sharon (Song of Solomon 2:1), should emanate from our lives to bless others (2 Corinthians 2:15). Thankfully, God gave me the opportunity to encourage my son to follow Him, and I pray He would use me in this way in the lives of others, despite my shyness at times.

As I filled my son’s cup to overflowing in the dream, perhaps representing God’s abundant grace available through salvation (Psalm 23:5; 1 Timothy 1:14), the plate beneath dissolved, again reminding me that we cannot store God’s blessings. But thankfully, we don’t need to, for His mercies and blessings are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24).

The dream reminded me that whatever God has in store for us, it is part of His perfect plan (Jeremiah 29:11). We don’t need to worry about tomorrow or to isolate ourselves from fellow believers who may differ from us, for God brings new experiences and people into our lives in His perfect timing. May we step out of our comfort zone, be open to these divine appointments and follow His guidance to fulfill His intended purpose in our lives and in the lives of others!

© 2017 Laurie Collett

Saturday, January 6, 2018

New Beginnings: Triplets of Rebirth

Blank Document: Create. A thrill of anticipation flutters in my heart when I hit those buttons on Word, knowing that God can fill that clean slate with the words He chooses as I yield to His Holy Spirit. I’m often surprised and delighted by the thoughts and word pictures He creates when I don’t clutter the page with my own preconceived notions.

This time of year has more than its share of new beginnings. In many parts of the world, freshly fallen snow creates a pristine landscape, cleansed of yesterday’s grime and soot, coating tree branches with feathery plumes and sparkling crystal, and blanketing downy fields that invite fresh footprints.

Those who celebrate Christmas with gift giving are enjoying their new presents – perhaps the novel experience of an exotic fragrance, the taste and texture of undiscovered gourmet treats, the exciting look of the latest fashion accessory, or even the crisp, cool feel of new sheets. All across the globe people are viewing the first page of their new calendar or journal, and many of us who read devotionals are marveling that once again it is January of a new year. 

Our pastor likes to say that the New Year, as well as the start of each month and even the dawning of each new day, is like an automatic reset button. Praise God that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23), and that no matter what mistakes we have made and what sins we have committed, He is quick to forgive us and to cleanse us from our sins if we confess them and repent (I John 1:9)

In our daily Bible reading, we are back to Genesis, contemplating the Creator of all, the self-existent One Who simply was “in the beginning.” (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1). Without Him was nothing made that is made (John 1:3). As we have seen in our study of triplets in Scripture, the attributes of God, the Names of Jesus, types of worship, and works of His creation can be described in groups of three. This pattern continues as we look at new beginnings of the earth and of human life. 

The Bible describes three new beginnings for the earth and all it contains, even though the earth will in one form or another continue eternally (Psalm 78:69; Ecclesiastes 1:4). First, God created the heavens and earth, as well as light, celestial bodies, water, plants, animals, and man (Genesis 1). But once Adam and Eve disobeyed God, sin and death entered their world, and even the earth was cursed and fell into corruption (Genesis 3:17-19; Hebrews 1:11-12; Romans 8:22). 

The second beginning for the earth was the flood, in which God caused cataclysmic changes on the earth and its oceans and destroyed most of the earth’s inhabitants because of man’s wickedness (Genesis 7). 

The third beginning for the earth will be renovation by fire, occurring after Christ’s return and His reign in the Millennial Kingdom. Even the very elements of the earth will then burn with an intense heat (2 Peter 3:10) in preparation for the new heavens and new earth (2 Peter 3:13). Christ will make all things new (Revelation 21:5), purging the earth from the corruption of the curse, sin and death. 

For God’s children, human life also has three beginnings: conception, birth, and being born again. For every human being, life begins at the moment of conception, at that defining moment when the union of sperm and egg result in a reassortment of genetic material from both the father and mother, containing all the instructions needed to ensure development of a unique person with specific physical and emotional traits.

Everyone on earth was born on a specific year, date and time, with our birthday marking our beginning in this world, that moment when we first cried out to announce our presence. Pediatricians note the newborn’s weight, length, and head circumference and track these three measurements throughout early development. But we were born “few of days and full of trouble,” (Job 14:1) with only a very brief, limited time (James 4:14) to overcome and subdue our sin nature and to honor God with our life.

This can happen only if we have a new spiritual beginning – that moment in time when we are born again (John 3:3-8). That rebirth requires that we come to the end of our natural self and die to our sin nature (1 Corinthians 15:31), realizing that we are sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23-28), and that without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5)
Only when we place our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 3-4) as the only way to Heaven (John 14:6) can we be reborn as a new creation in Him (Hebrews 12:24; Galatians 6:15; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

God has created each born-again believer with the potential to use our own peculiar characteristics to glorify Him, no matter how the world perceives us (Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13). What others might see as a defect is like clay in God’s hands to be fashioned into a special vessel consecrated to His purpose (Isaiah 29:16; 64:8; Romans 9:21). At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells us and equips us with at least one spiritual gift to be used to encourage fellow believers (1 Corinthians 12).

A new beginning awaiting all believers is the Rapture, when we will have new bodies, a new address, and a new name (Revelation 2:17). Our bodies will be like that of the resurrected Christ (Philippians 3:21), and we will never die, age, or become ill. Instead of pain, sorrow, and tears, we will experience vitality, joy, and a new song. (Isaiah 35:10; Revelation 5:9; 21:4). Our new home will be in our own mansion, (John 14:2) in Heaven, in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2)

As the New Year begins, I’m eagerly anticipating what God has in store for this year, and even more eagerly awaiting the new beginning of the Rapture! It could be this year or even this very day – may we be ready by knowing and serving Him! 

© 2013 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives