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Robbins School Foundation Raffle Group

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Jose Watson
Jose Watson

When Joy Spills over

This month while we have focused on learning how to abide in Christ it has felt like waves of grace showering over my dry spirit. There have been countless benefits to learning to be still and know God more. Unfortunately, I still struggle to witness to unbelievers.

When joy spills over

When you abide in the love of God it spills over into every area of your life. When you live in a way that hides nothing, people see when God makes changes. People see His love shine out of you and they feel safe sharing the real part of their life with you.

The problem is, my conversion isn't complete yet. Not that I have any doubts. Far from it. But the Church is less an intellectual proposition to be mastered so much as she is a poem to be read. She's less a notion in a book and more a mother for whom my love grows daily. It's so hard to explain what finally convinced me to enter the Church other than to say that the truth I found is in the eyes of my Savior when He gazes upon me, and He hasn't stopped looking at me yet.

It may seem overwhelming, to have so many questions, but that's not how I look at it. To me, it means that every day in our lives is an adventure. The happiness and joy of knowing God has no limit. It spills over into our everyday lives in surprising and strange ways, revealing that God has soaked the world with His grace. Every day, we get to uncover just a little bit more.

Two months after our move into a new house, it still feels like my to-do list never ends. I just keep adding more things to it. How can I live the abundant life Jesus talked about when I ran out of energy to tackle my list?

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Even when the bumps and hard knocks of life threaten to steal our joy, we can choose to trust that God has a perfect plan. We may not understand, but we know He uses every trial to shape us more closely to His imagine.

The rabbinical figures in the Löw and Baneth families were connected for generations, and it is reasonable that a member of the Baneth family related an explanation heard from Löw, who was still alive when Baneth was a boy, at the family seder.[32]

Baneth makes a similar connection, this time to one of the traditional explanations for why only half Hallel is recited on all but the first day of Passover (in contrast to Sukkot during which the full Hallel is recited every day):

We can say that since World War II, every American haggadah aimed at a primarily English speaking audience which offered an explanation for this custom provided the "incomplete joy" explanation, and in most cases it was the only explanation offered.[48] It is even the explanation given on the Wikipedia entry for "Passover Seder"![49]

[42] David and Tamar De Sola Pool, The Haggadah of Passover (New York: Jewish Welfare Board, 1943), 38. This haggadah contains essentially no commentary and this explanation was written as part of the instructions before reciting the ten plagues. This haggadah was republished throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

[44] Nathan Laufer, Leading the Passover Journey: The Seder's Meaning Revealed, The Haggadah's Story Retold (Woodstock, Vermont: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2005), 92. See there his critique of this entire approach to the plagues.

[45] Lawrence Hoffman and David Arnow, editors, My People's Passover Haggadah: Traditional Texts, Modern Commentaries (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2008), 1.84. In 1977, Artscroll published its first Haggadah, and this quickly became the new standard.

[49] "With the recital of the Ten Plagues, each participant removes a drop of wine from his or her cup using a fingertip. Although this night is one of salvation, Don Isaac Abravanel explains that one cannot be completely joyous when some of God's creatures had to suffer." _Seder. (Accessed April 1, 2020). The footnote references Isaac Klein, A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice (New York: The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1992), 126.

It won't be hard, then, to help people see that the good news of Christianity fits our need perfectly. Most people not only long for joy, but also for the great freedom of being so full in ourselves we can live for others. Nothing shows the fullness and freedom of the human soul more than love. Therefore, deep down people want to love. You can tell this by how many people admire Mother Teresa. Deep down we wish we were so full that our lives were a constant spring of life-giving water satisfying the needs of others. But instead we are confronted by the puny reality of our anxious, covetous hearts. Most of the time people are obstacles to our feeble pursuits of pleasure, or threats to our fragile peace of mind. Rarely do they find us so content that they can drink from the overflow of our joy.

The full assurance of hope comes from meditating on the promises of God's Word. And this does not contradict the sentence eight verses later that says that the Holy Spirit gives us hope. For we learned last week that the Holy Spirit is the divine author of Scripture. It is no contradiction that the way he fills us with hope is by filling us with his own word of promise. Hope is not some vague emotion that comes out of nowhere, like a stomachache. Hope is the confidence that the stupendous future promised to us by the Word of the Spirit is going to really come true. Therefore, the way to be filled with the Spirit is to be filled with his Word. The way to have the power of the Spirit is to believe the promises of his Word. For it is the word of promise that fills us with hope, and hope fills us with joy, and joy overflows in the power and freedom to love our neighbor. And that is the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

Second, what is the promise? The promise in verse 3 is that God will pour out his Spirit: "I will pour out my Spirit upon your descendants and my blessing on your offspring." God promised in the eighth century BC that a day was coming when he would fill his upright servants with himself. The idea of pouring is the idea of copiousness. When we say, "It's pouring outside," we mean something more than, "It's drizzling, or misting, or dripping." We mean, "If you go out, you'll get drenched." So God's pouring corresponds to our being drenched or soaked or filled. In other words, God promises a day when his people, his servants, will be drenched with the Spirit.

Our future can look bleak for two reasons: one is the prospect that misery is coming; the other is the prospect that happiness is not coming. And isn't virtually all the work of the human heart exhausted by these two things: fearing future misery and thirsting for future happiness? If so, then Isaiah's promise is just what we need: when the Spirit is poured out into our heart, fear is taken away and thirst is satisfied. Or to put it another way, if the Spirit has taken away what is fearful out of our future and put what is soul-satisfying into our future, then he has given to us the full assurance of hope. And we begin to see the ancient roots of Romans 15:13: "By the power of the Holy Spirit we abound in hope."

But what about the spillover of love? Does Isaiah promise that, too? Isaiah 58:11 shows that he does: "The Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire with good things, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters fail not." There it is. The final promise is that we will be springs, not sponges. The human heart cannot be satisfied until it becomes a spring from which others can drink. Hope we must have! Joy we must have! But the goal of our quest is reached when our joy in God spills over in love to others for the glory of God.

It's not an accident that in Psalm 1 the tree planted by streams of water that brings forth fruit for others is a picture of the person who meditates on the Word of God day and night, while the tree planted by streams of water in Isaiah 44 is a picture of the person who has experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It's not an accident because the Spirit of God does not produce hope apart from the Word of God; and the Word of God does not produce hope apart from the Spirit of God. But the Spirit through the Word, and the Word by the Spirit, takes away fear, nourishes hope, fills with joy, overflows in love, and glorifies God. That's what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Therefore the way to experience the outpouring of the Spirit is to pour the Word of the Spirit into your mind and heart every day and believe it.


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