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Psalm 23

Empty or Overflowing?

How much we get is up to us…

Isn’t it awesome to go to a restaurant, order an iced tea, and know they’re going to refill our cup over and over, as much as we can drink? One sip or five refills plus a to-go tea—it’s up to us.

In Psalm 23:6, David says, “…my cup overflows.” Not, “my cup has a little in it.” Not, “My cup is full.” No—our cup actually overflows! Luke 6:38 also promises overflowing blessings: “…Abundant gifts will pour out upon you with such an overflowing measure that it will run over the top! Your measurement of generosity becomes the measurement of your return.” Our generosity determines our blessing. Just like iced tea in a restaurant, how much blessing we get is up to us.

The fullness of our cup isn’t limited by God’s generosity, but by our own. How much blessing do we want? How full do we want our cups to be? Here are five levels of filling. Where are we now? And where do we want to be?

  1. The Empty Cup: The Miserable Christian. We all get empty once in a while, but God never intended us to live continuously empty and miserable. A broken cup leaks. Jesus understands brokenness. He was broken so we could be made whole.
  2. The Least-Filled Cup: The Minimalist Christian. The minimalist lives from storm to storm, from struggle to struggle, constantly battling. Jesus didn’t come to give us a minimal life; he came to give us abundant life.
  3. The Half-Empty Cup: The Pessimist Christian. Even when things are going pretty well, this person dwells on the bad, focusing on the negative and ignoring the positive. Flip that attitude by focusing on the good God has done in the past and the amazing work he’s doing right now.
  4. The Full Cup: The Selfish Christian. The selfish Christian has a full cup but focuses only on their own wants and needs. Answer my prayer. Meet my needs. Bless my children. Ask this question: If God answered all my prayers, would the world change? Or would only my world change?
  5. The Overflowing Cup: The World-Changing Christian. As we continue to say “yes” to God, as we continue to be generous and obedient, he continues to pour into our lives until we overflow with his love and grace. As God’s goodness spills out of our lives, it touches those around us, changing the world one heart at a time.

When a server in a restaurant asks us if we want more iced tea, we choose to say “yes” or “no.” Our answer determines how much tea we get. We can’t blame the server for not bringing more tea if we said “no.”

In the same way, God’s great mercy, grace, and love just keep on flowing…as long as we keep on saying “yes” to his leading. Each next step, each obedient action, each act of kindness and generosity keeps our cups full and overflowing, leaving a trail of salt and light that changes the world.

Dear God, thank you for being the Good Shepherd. And thank you for offering to fill me to overflowing with your goodness. Help me be obedient to your instructions. Help me say yes to your leading. Let me be a vessel the overflows with your goodness and changes the lives of those around me. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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Potential Is a Strange Thing

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Potential is strange. We may fail to live up to our potential. We may over achieve and exceed our potential. Nobody really knows how much potential they have. The problem is that potential is difficult to evaluate and, honestly, none of us are very good at estimating potential.

Case in point: Thomas Alva Edison was one of the most innovative inventors in history. His creation of the light bulb and the telephone forever changed the way we live. His 1,094 patents remain an American record.

But people weren’t very accurate judges of Edison’s potential. One of his teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” His bosses weren’t feeling his potential either, as he was fired from his first two jobs. He tried over 1,000 times before he invented a viable light bulb.

It looked as though Edison had very little potential. But people are generally unable to correctly measure another person’s potential, and we constantly underestimate our own. Only God really knows the potential within us.

God created our potential. He’s the only one who truly knows what we are capable of becoming and doing. Without God in our lives, we are incapable of maximizing the astounding potential housed within us. But with God in our lives, it’s a whole different story. With God, nothing is impossible for us.

Potential is like a seed. A seed contains the potential for life and growth, possibly the potential for blossoms, fruit, or towering trees. Yet, seeds look unassuming and outwardly give no clue to the potential locked inside. Who would think to look at it that a small black watermelon seed could grow into a huge, juicy, pink-and-green watermelon? Potential comes from what is inside, not the outside appearance.

Just as a seed must be planted to reach its potential, we must be rooted in God to reach our potential. We must accept Jesus as our Savior, spend time in prayer, and devote ourselves to God’s word. We must be obedient to God’s direction in our lives.

Friend, you are filled with immense potential give to you by the God who created you. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” That’s a powerful statement: With the strength of Christ enabling us, there’s nothing we can’t do. Every action we take and every word we speak is filled with potential and power.

What has God called you to do? What dream has he placed deep in your heart? What have you longed to do for God, but were too afraid of failure to try? Believe in your identity in Christ. Believe in your God-given potential. In obedience and faith, take your next step.

Father God, I am grateful for the potential and purpose you placed in my life. I put my hope, trust, and faith wholeheartedly in you. When I am tempted to focus on my flaws and weaknesses, turn my eyes toward your holiness and strength. Help me believe your word when it says I can do all things through Christ. Show me my next step and give me courage to take it. In Jesus’s name, amen.

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