21 August, 2010

Cana - More Than Just the Booze

‘On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine." "Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet." They did so, and 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 and 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." This, 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.’ ~John 2:1-11, NIV

How many times have we read this simple story of Jesus as nothing more than a statement of His first miracle on earth? More often than not, it is merely a children’s Sunday School story that is read to 8-year-olds, only to be mostly forgotten come their grown-up years. For myself, it has been used as nothing more than my reasoning why Jesus is not against Christians occasionally drinking. After all, how can Jesus renounce drinking after making wine and serving it at a party full of people who had already had a few glasses? Jesus, being God, made wine, gave out wine, and therefore is not against the consumption of wine. That has been the extent of my usage of this passage of Scripture for many years. However, I have recently learned from the Lord that there is a lot more going on here than many of us have ever seen.

Notice, when a “crisis” arises, Mary does not come groveling to Jesus’ feet. A wedding ceremony at the time was an event that could last for days. It was a large community gathering, put on by the family of the groom in front of the whole town. Running out of wine was seen as a serious socially offense. This was crisis time; and Mary knew who to talk to. However, unlike many Christians today, Mary did not approach Jesus in a panic. She simply informed Jesus of the situation that was unfolding at the feast. It appears that a growing majority of Christians approach God on the verge of an anxiety attack regarding the needs in their lives. We tend to forget that Jesus said “your Father knows that you need these things” (Luke 12:29, NASB). Why are we so quick to forget that “God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19, KJV)? After all, “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, NASB). Get the picture? Mary knew Jesus. While many will argue that “she was his mother!” I say to you: He went to the cross so that you could know Him even better than His mother! Mary informed Jesus of the situation, told the servants to follow His lead, and then left. She had complete confidence that Jesus would handle the situation better than anyone else. That needs to become our mentality.

Jesus initial response has troubled me for some time: “‘Dear woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied, “My time has not yet come?’” At a first reading, it would appear that Jesus is uninterested in what is troubling His own mother. I had to spend some time with the Lord working on this one. A mere glance at this story makes Jesus out to be a rather cold, indifferent person, Who is only interested in His own affairs. That is not so. Notice, “My time has not yet come.” Jesus was just as human as everybody else. We forget Jesus humanity far too often; or we over-analyze the daylights out of it as a means of reducing the majesty of Who He is. Keep Him in balance. Jesus experienced humanity in the same way we all do. Jesus knows your situation far better than you may give Him credit for, because He experienced it Himself. Jesus had His ministry thrust upon Him – unlooked for. Many of us claim to want more from God, but are we truly ready for a “we’re out of wine” moment. Jesus’ humanity did not see how this was the time to reveal Himself and begin the next phase of His ministry. I can see Jesus slightly rolling His eyes and grinning when Mary turns to the servants and says, “do whatever He tells you.” Jesus was ready to step into what God had planned for Him on that very occasion. Can the same be said about any of us?

Can you imagine what was going through the minds of those servants? Jesus’ first instructions to them involved filling water pots that were used for washing feet. In the face of a social calamity, Jesus is sending them on an errand that did not appear to have anything to do with the situation at hand. They had to be thinking, “What do water pots have to do with the wine shortage?” Two things we need to take from this: firstly being that we must know Jesus. When Jesus is a living reality in your life, not just an opinion or a belief-system, then His instructions will become easier to follow. Our confidence in Him will continue to grow, until we come to a place of child-like faith, which is simply trusting God. Jesus speaks, we say, “OK.” Secondly, we must be willing to obey Jesus. There will be times when He instructs us to do something that is totally contrary to our own ways of thinking. Those water pots were probably the last thing on everybody’s mind at that time. Yet, these men obeyed the voice of the Lord, and filled them all – and their obedience lead to resolution. These weren’t small pots, either. It probably took some time for them to fill them all. They had plenty of time to think otherwise, and to quit doing what Jesus instructed them to do. However, He was in charge, and so they followed. Jesus should be at a place in each of our lives where we will follow His instructions all the way through, simply because He asked us to. That is the kind of person He can really use.

When you place your circumstance in Jesus’ hands, not only will the situation be resolved, it will be improved. Jesus doesn’t just “fix it.” Jesus still has the best in mind for all of us. There is better yet to come for everyone who will trust in Him, and obey His voice. The head of the party exclaimed, "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" (John 2:10, NASB, emphasis added). Anything you leave in Jesus hands is secure. However you must, like Mary, be willing to inform Jesus of the situation, and then walk away. The text does not say anything about Mary adding her own opinion to the situation. She did not try to convince Jesus to handle the situation the way she wanted. She left. Mary informed Jesus of the situation at hand, and left. When have complete confidence in Jesus, then we will be willing to cast all your cares on Him (1Peter 5:7), and leave it to Him. That is when His glory is revealed in our lives (v. 11).

18 August, 2010


I am becoming increasing disturbed as I look at the landscape of American Christianity today. We have become too academic, too opinionated, too biased; double-minded, easily swayed, biblically illiterate, and divided. There are times when it seems almost impossible to get two Christians together who agree on a majority of basic, biblical truths. We are in constant disagreement about what the Word of God says (or that the Bible is even the “Word of God”). I notice a diseased phrase that permeates throughout Christianity: “I think.” “I think God is saying…” “I think what the Bible really means is…” “I think this is what God wants me to do…” There is a lot of thinking and feeling in the Body of Christ. Yet, I do not find a lot of knowing. Why is it that so many Christians seem to be in the dark about what God has in-store for us?

2Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (NIV). There is nothing in the Bible that God does not know about. Jesus was not lying in a hammock in Heaven the day the Bible was being compiled. The Holy Spirit was active in the compilation of the Biblical cannon, so we can be assured that God meant for every word to be there. We have two options: either believe the Bible is the living Word of God Almighty, or believe it is a religious text handed down through the centuries, full of human flaws, and therefore of very little consequence to our daily lives. If it is the former, then I ask: why do so many Christians know so little about God?

In Colossians 2:8, Paul warns the church, saying “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (KJV). The Christian church is becoming increasingly illiterate in Biblical matters. It leaves the door open for empty philosophy. That is why so many Biblical scholars believe the stories of the Old Testament never really happened, but that they are merely stories designed to teach us a concept about God. That is why so many Christians do not believe in the operation of the Holy Spirit through the use of various tongues (do you all think I made my prayer language up?). I live in the American Pacific Northwest, where we are literally too smart for our own good. Four years of “Christian” education at a “Christian” university left me very confused. We rarely opened our Bibles. Our Christianity was based in the works of “great theologians” who rarely ever quoted the Bible! It was all opinion, based on what the author thought about God. Jesus was rarely mentioned. American Christianity is fastly becoming based in opinion, rather than in the faith-producing Words of God. If you truly want to know what God’s Will for your life is, stop reading what other people’s opinions are of God, and go find out what God said!

“Lord, if it be Your Will…” That phrase makes my blood boil. If you have to use that phrase in prayer, please do me a favor: stop praying for me. Somebody, somewhere, got this notion that God is withholding information from His people. This is once again rooted in a lack of faith that the Bible is truly God’s Word to His people.  God has a specific plan for each person walking on this planet. Everybody has predestined greatness from God; not everyone chooses to walk it out. This is not predestination! God’s Will is that all will come to know Him and spend eternal life with Him through Jesus’ sacrifice (John 3:16), so don’t go there. What I am referring to is found in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God has already ordained good works for each of us. Why do people think anything otherwise? Why do we accept the mediocre? How has our view of God become so small? Through a lack of Biblical understanding. Go find God’s Will; it is in The Book. Then you may come back and pray for me.

Christians are so scared of foiling God’s plan for their lives, because they have rarely taken the time to find it. Yet, God has a specific plan for you, and He has made it easy to obtain. Read Psalm 139:13-16:

For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be (NIV, emphasis added).

God is not hiding anything from us. All the days of our lives can be found written in God’s Word. That is why Solomon wrote in Proverbs 4:21, regarding God’s Word, “Do not let them depart from your sight; Keep them in the midst of your heart” (NASB). Find a revelation in God’s Word, and hold fast to it! It will, however, require some work on your part. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13, NKJV). “’Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you’” (Matthew 7:7, NKJV). Search out the Heart of God; ask of Him. Spend time meditating on God’s Word. Let it become real, living and active. Stop saying “I think God…” and go find out!

Philosophy, vain deceit, and the traditions of man (religion), will hinder us from understanding what God has in-store for us. I am not saying stop reading Christian authors. I am saying that if your entire understanding of who God is is based in Bonheoffer, Wesley, Moltmann, Calvin, Luther, Placher, Volf… etc., then you will have a skewed concept of Who God is. Not that Christian teachers are a bad thing. God has called many men and women into ministry, to teach and to preach His Word. But do not let someone else’s revelation become your revelation. I have plenty of Christian books on my shelves as well. However, before God lets me pick-up Duplantis, Wesley, Savelle, Osteen or Copeland, I have to pick-up Jesus. I must know what God is saying to me, before He will allow me to find out what He is saying to others. He is not hiding it from me, and He is not hiding it from anybody else. God says what He means, and He means what He says.

~When you pray for somebody, know that “by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5)
~When you pray for a financial breakthrough, know that “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
~If you are concerned about your future, know that you must “Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6, Amplified).

I refuse to have “I think” conversations any longer. Go find out.