Abundance Thinking

Scripture: Psalm 23:5d – My cup overflows

(with reference to John 2:1-11)

 

Title: Abundant Thinking

 

Structure:

  • Introduction
  • My cup overflows
  • Jesus’ abundant thinking
  • Conclusion

 

Introduction:

On the wall here we have a picture of a rabbit surrounded by carrots

–         What comes to mind for you here? [Wait]

 

It makes me think of abundance

 

Today we continue our series on Psalm 23 – a song attributed to King David

–         The message of Psalm 23 as a whole is: the Lord is my security.

 

So far we have covered the first four and a bit verses…

 

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures,

He leads me beside still waters

He restores my soul

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil

For you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me

 

My cup overflows:

Today we complete verse 5…

 

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

 

I’ve underlined the last part of verse 5 (…my cup overflows) because that’s what we will be focusing on today

 

What we notice is that up till the end of verse 4 the metaphor is a shepherding one – with the Lord caring for David like a shepherd caring for a sheep

–         But now (in verse 5) the metaphor changes to that of a host and his guest

–         The Lord is both a good shepherd and a generous host to David

–         And part of God’s hospitality to David includes filling his cup till it runneth over

–         The image is one of generosity and an abundance of good things

 

Rope – it can be a positive symbol or a negative symbol

–         Rope can be something which is a life line, something that saves you

–         Or it can be something that binds you or worse, hangs you

 

Water can also be thought of both positively and negatively

–         Either something which refreshes you and cleanses you

–         Or something which drowns a person

 

Likewise, fire – either warms and provides light

–         Or burns and destroys

 

In the Bible the cup is a metaphor which can swing one of two ways – either positive or negative

 

On the negative side the cup can refer to God’s wrath and the suffering associated with that. As with Jeremiah 25…

–         This is what the Lord, the God of Israel said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them.”

 

But on the positive side the cup can refer to God’s salvation and the joy associated with that. As with Psalm 116…

–         How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.

 

So there’s more than one kind of cup in the Bible

–         Sort of like the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

–         When they are in the cave deciding which cup is the holy grail

–         Some cups lead to death but only one cup leads to life

 

In the context of Psalm 23, the cup is a metaphor for good things

–         When David says, my cup overflows, he means God has blessed me with an abundance of joy and life – I have more than I need

–         I cannot contain his goodness to me – it overflows in praise

My cup overflows reflects abundance thinking on David’s part – as opposed to scarcity thinking

–         Our economy is based largely on scarcity thinking

–         The assumption that there are limited resources for which we must compete

–         Scarcity thinking leads to stinginess, hoarding, risk avoidance and suspicion

–         Abundance thinking, on the other hand, assumes there will always be enough and leads to cooperation, generosity, sharing and trust

 

They say that one of the factors driving the Auckland property market at the moment is the fear people have of missing out

–         That’s the power of scarcity – it drives people to pay more for something than it’s worth

–         If (or when) the bubble bursts the fact remains, under scarcity thinking the poor get poorer and the rich get richer

 

During the great depression of the 1930’s there was a lot of scarcity

–         People had less to spend and therefore had no choice but to cut their cloth accordingly

–         What the governments of the day realised was they needed to think abundantly and invest more

–         And so one of the things that helped NZ at that stage was the building of state houses

–         Not only did it create more homes for people to live in, it also created jobs and income which stimulated the economy

 

Now if you are on a tight budget then I’m not suggesting you throw all caution to the wind – you still need to manage your pennies

–         Abundant thinking is about thinking outside the box and making the most of what you have – not spending what you don’t have

 

In the film Captain America the soldiers are in training (going for a run) and the drill sergeant says as they run past a flag pole…

–         “Anyone who can retrieve the flag at the top of that pole can get a ride back to base”

–         So all the soldiers (except Private Rogers) clamber over each other to try and climb the pole to retrieve the flag – but none are successful

–         Then Private Rogers undoes the bolt at the base of the flag pole so that it falls down and he easily retrieves the flag, earning a free ride back to base

 

All those soldiers who scrambled over each other, competing to try and get the flag demonstrated scarcity thinking

–         While Private Rogers demonstrated abundance thinking

–         Private Rogers was in no great hurry – he didn’t worry about missing out

–         He took his time, stepped back and thought outside the box to find a better solution to the problem

 

My cup overflows reflects abundance thinking

 

Jesus’ abundance thinking:

As I keep saying throughout this series, Psalm 23 points to Jesus

–         Jesus is both the good shepherd and the generous host

 

When I reflect on David’s cup overflowing I am reminded of the time when Jesus transformed water into wine at a wedding in Cana – an example of abundant thinking. From John 2, verses 1-11 we read…

 

1On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

 4“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied, “My time has not yet come.”  5His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

7Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.  8Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, 9and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.

He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

11This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

 

May the Lord fill our cup with understanding

 

In the film Uncle Buck, John Candy makes these ginormous pancakes for the kids’ birthday

–         The pancakes were far bigger than they needed to be – but they made the kids feel special on their birthday

–         Abundant thinking you see

 

Scientists reckon our galaxy (the Milky Way) contains somewhere between 200 and 400 billion stars

  • – It is approximately 100,000 light years across and 1000 light years thick

 

So, in other words, travelling at the speed of light (which is about 300,000 km’s/second) it would take 100,000 years to cross the Milky Way

 

To help give some perspective to the vastness of our galaxy

  • – Scientists say that if the Milky Way was reduced to 130kms in diameter,
  • – Then our solar system would be a mere 2 millimeters wide

 

But wait there’s more…

  • – Apparently the Milky Way is only one of billions of galaxies in the known universe
  • – The point I’m trying to make is that the universe is vast and abundant beyond our comprehension
  • – And yet it is still smaller than God

 

The average human brain weighs about 3 pounds and is comprised of 100 billion neurons

–         Each of those neurons is served by between 10 to 50 glial cells

–         We could think of the human brain as a small galaxy, with each neuron representing a star and each glial cell a planet orbiting that star, or neuron

–         The human brain is as abundant as the milky way – hard to fathom really

–         But the same God who made the galaxy, also made the human brain

–         Abundant thinking you see

 

In our reading from John 2, Jesus is at a wedding

–         A Jewish wedding was a very special occasion

  • – Most likely the entire village and other friends and family from outside the village would have been invited and expected to attend
  • – And, as was custom, the wedding celebration would have lasted for up to a week, with the bride & groom remaining in the village the entire time

 

When I was kid growing up my parents taught me to finish everything on my plate – in Kiwi culture it’s considered rude to leave left overs

–         But in Middle Eastern culture if you finish everything then the host will think you are still hungry and keep putting more on your plate

–         In fact its considered rude if the host runs out of food or beverage

–         So you don’t want to embarrass your host by leaving an empty plate

 

We don’t know Jesus’ relationship to the bride and groom

  • – But we do know that the wine ran out and Mary turned to Jesus

 

Hospitality was a big deal in 1st Century Middle Eastern culture – far bigger than it is for us today

  • – The groom was considered the host of the wedding feast
  • – And as host he had certain obligations to his guests
  • – If he failed to meet those obligations then he would bring shame on himself and on his whole family
  • – More than this though, the guests might sue the groom for compensation due to his lack of provision for them

 

So running out of wine was not only a social disaster

  • – It also spelt financial disaster for the newly-weds, who were most likely pretty poor to start with
  • – This was a situation of scarcity

 

Verses 6-7 of John chapter 2 say that Jesus instructed the servants to fill six stone water jars (each holding from 20-30 gallons) with water

  • – And the servants did as Jesus said – filling the jars to the brim

 

Now, if we think about it, these jars were large

  • – There are about 4.5 litres to a gallon
  • – So one jar alone would hold between 90 to 136 litres
  • – Multiply that by six jars and we have somewhere between 550 and 800 litres of water transformed into wine
  • – That’s a lot of booze
  • – Why would Jesus transform that much?
  • – I mean one or two jars would have been more than enough

 

Well, its abundant thinking isn’t it

 

Not only did Jesus transform more than enough water into wine to save the groom from public disgrace and lawsuits

  • – He also did it to point to the purpose of his ministry
  • – Jesus had come to cleanse us and save us from shame

 

It is significant that the water jars were normally used by the Jews for ceremonial washing

  • – This ritual was to keep people ceremonially clean so they could continue to participate in community life and worship

 

Jesus who did not come to do away with the Jewish law, but who came to fulfil the law, does not do away with these ceremonial stone water jars

  • – Instead Jesus transforms them from objects of empty ritual
  • – To symbols of God’s abundant grace that had arrived in him

 

Sometimes we can carry out rituals or traditions that although meaningful once, over time become a chore, only carried out because of a sense of duty or habit

  • – Even our prayer lives and Bible study can become stale or empty
  • – The good news is that Jesus is in the business of refilling our empty rituals with the new wine of his abundant grace
  • – So that they become life-giving once again

 

In verse 9 John shows us that Jesus performed this miracle in an unobtrusive way – in a way that did not attract attention to himself

  • – We are not even sure if the groom knew what Jesus had done
  • – If Jesus had made a big deal over turning the water into wine then everyone would have known that the wine had run out and the newly-weds would have been embarrassed
  • – Jesus operated on the down low because he didn’t want to make himself look good at the bride & groom’s expense

 

Sometimes we may be tempted to think that God is not there for us

  • – That he doesn’t care
  • – We might read about David’s cup overflowing and think…
  • – ‘That’s all very well for David but God hasn’t done that for me’
  • – The truth is: we don’t know what we don’t know
  • – God’s abundant grace is not always obvious to us
  • – Just as it wasn’t obvious to the master of ceremonies

 

In verse 10, after tasting Jesus’ wine, the master of the banquet cracks a joke with the groom saying…

  • “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

 

Not only is the new wine of God’s grace abundant in quantity

  • – It is also better in quality
  • – The good news is that with Jesus the best is yet to come
  • – We may have to swallow unpleasant circumstances now
  • – But our present suffering is nothing when compared to the glory that is yet to be revealed

 

Conclusion:

Jesus said…

–         “I am telling you the truth: I am the gate for the sheep. All others who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever comes in by me will be saved; he will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy. I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness”

–         Jesus came to give abundant life

 

In a few minutes we will share communion together

–         Communion involves a cup – the cup of the new covenant

–         It is intended as a cup of salvation in other words

–         Our God thinks abundantly

–         He has provided more than enough grace for you

–         More than enough for everyone

 

The musicians will lead us in sung worship now as we prepare the cup of our heart to receive God’s grace…

 

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