I love coffee. I love the smell of freshly ground coffee. I love the feel of a nice hot cup of coffee going down my throat.
Have you ever sat down to drink a nice hot cup of coffee, and then discovered grounds in the coffee? That is one of the fastest ways to ruin a rally good cup of coffee – by not filtering it well!
And so it is with God’s Word. If we do not filter out our own desires, our own preferences, and our own woundedness, it is like drinking a cup of coffee with the coffee grounds still in it. Too often we read into God’s Word what we want to find and what we expect to find. This is not a new problem. You can see the disciples having the same problem in their conversations with Jesus.
In Matthew 16 Jesus warns his disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees. The disciples are confused, and decide that since Jesus just finished feeding over five thousand people, he must be talking about bread. Only after Jesus corrects them do they realize Jesus is teaching them a spiritual truth. Jesus is warning them to be careful about what the recognized spiritual leaders of the time were teaching them.
And so it is with us. We need to approach God’s Word expectantly anticipating that God is going to reveal something new to us. It is not a new truth. It is something that is new to us. Either a truth we have not previously recognized, or a deeper level or reminder of a truth we have already accepted.
Coffee Filter photo by Elke Wetzig (Elya), cropped
Being suddenly surrounded by young women who are preparing to have their first child, I suddenly realized that this too, is a picture of God and creation. When He started the process of creation, He already knew and had His end goal in mind. He knew He was creating a world for His children to grow up in. It was a world where He had planned out everything to support and encourage them to grow up. It was “perfect.”
There were trees and plants that produced food. There was water and cycles of day and night. God even made animals that would amuse them and teach them how to take care of others. But, even this was not enough. God planted a garden.
Just like new soon-to-be parents, God created a perfect nursery for His children before He created His children and breathed life into them. I can almost see Him, carefully choosing where to plant each tree and bush and flower. Arranging everything to be beautiful as well as functional. He may have even designed a large meadow with a stream and wildflowers interspersed through the grass so that they would have a place to run and play with each other and the animals.
Only when He had everything in place did God create Adam and Eve. And, before God created Eve, He made sure that Adam knew the difference between humans and animals, and Adam’s need for human companionship.
What loving care God took in His creation to make sure we have everything we need. So why do we think that such a loving father as this would not continue to make sure that we, His children have everything we need to grow and mature? And yet, too often, like two-year-olds, we whine and complain at God when things don’t go our way, when we do not get what we wanted when we wanted it.
This is not an easy habit to change. But, now, when I catch myself complaining to God, or asking Him “why” over and over, I start to picture God as the good and loving parent, who does not always explain things to His children, but always, always, always is working for the best for them. When I can begin to see God this way, my whining and complaining become thanks and hugs and cuddles and “I love you”.
Nursery Image from HomeSpace
Do you ever hear people talking about God testing them, but something just doesn’t sound right? Way too often, we are not careful with our language. Testing and tempting are two very different things. Tempting is what Satan does. Testing is what God does. They each have very different purposes.
Satan is trying to get us to sin. He does this by appealing to our old sin nature, that part of us that has not yet been fully transformed by the renewing of our minds. He does this in a variety of ways. He attacks when we are hungry, thirsty or tired. He first attacks our identity as a child of God, frequently by accusing us of sin. He attacks our natural and normal desires. Whatever the specifics of how he tempts us, he is always trying to drive a wedge between us and God. He is trying to get us to rely on ourselves and our own judgment instead of believing God, The Creator. He is a liar and a thief. He comes to kill, steal and destroy. He does not have our best interests in mind. Rather, he wants to destroy us. But, in order to destroy our lives, leaving them in a tatter or ruins, he needs to first separate us from God. So, next time you are feeling a pull in any particular direction, ask yourself if this is bringing you closer to, or further away from God?
God, however, does not tempt us. He is not trying to drive us away from Him and His protection and care. Rather, God is wooing us to Him each and every day. Sometimes, however, He does put us to the test. This test is never for Him to find out what is in our heart. After all, He already knows. Rather, the tests are to either affirm us in how far we have come, strengthening and encouraging our progress, or, they may be to allow some hidden sin in our heart to come to the surface. God doesn’t do this to torture or punish us, but to help us to see our need so we will draw closer to Him and to see our areas of sin so that we can confess them and seek His guidance to overcome, becoming free from the chains of sin.