Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sermon Series Wrap-up: Empty Your Cup

Over the course of the month of July and part of August, Pastor Pope gave a series of sermons all connected to the theme Empty Your Cup. We as human beings and as Christians tend to pick up a lot of things, both physical and figurative, as we move through life, and we carry those things with us whether we know it or not. We may not think that such a habit affects us, but it does, often more significantly than we understand. Everybody can understand that if you are burdened by things, releasing that burden may free you from undue strain on your life. So the concept of emptying your cup or freeing yourself is something that can be universally accepted. However, as Pastor Pope pointed out, from the standpoint of a Believer, emptying your cup has a deeper meaning. It can mean throwing off your burdens, but it also requires taking things a step further. Sometimes we need to release, not only our burdens and the things we don’t like, but also the things we like and cling to so much that we put them before our pursuit of God. Philippians 3:9 says:
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.
Paul is saying that he lost everything in his pursuit of Jesus, but in that pursuit he realized that everything that he lost was like trash compared to what is gained by coming to know the Lord. So we don’t need to empty our cups solely to unburden ourselves, we must do it to make space in ourselves and our lives for Jesus and Godly things.

Most Believers probably understand the truth of this to some extent, still even Believers have difficulty letting go of the things of the world and giving in completely to Jesus. Why is that? Pastor Pope gave a few reasons. The first was pride. Pride leads to a stronger belief in ourselves than in Jesus. What reason would someone have to give up anything if they believe they have already reached perfection? Pastor Pope used the story about the praying Pharisee and tax collector (Luke 18:9-14) to highlight the point. The Pharisee believed that he was “holier than thou,” and it showed in his prayer. His pride allowed him to think that he was better than the tax collector and that he was safe from reproach, but Jesus thought something different.
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Luke 18:14
Being able to empty your cup requires humility, and that is the antithesis of pride. Another problem is that we often don’t understand the value of the gifts Jesus gives us. We cling to the other things in our life because we know what those things bring to our lives. We know the Bible says following Jesus brings us eternal life, but that can be a concept that’s hard to grasp especially when we know Believers die physical deaths every day. We also know that following Jesus doesn’t necessarily make our lives in this world simpler or easier all the time. Sometimes it may actually make things harder for us. So it’s easy to see why some rather drag along their worldly attachments rather than trading them for the things of God. However, as believers we need to be more spiritually minded. The joys of this world are fleeting. God promises more. He promises life after the physical death. He promises us a peace beyond understanding. Most importantly, he promises us a relationship with Him that opens the door to all those other gifts. As we mature spiritually, we should come to see that when we empty our cups of their worldly fillings, we aren’t losing anything. We are making a way for ourselves to be filled by everything that a relationship with God can provide. The best thing about all of this is that if we don’t understand what making that space for God can do, all we have to do is open ourselves to the possibility, and God will show us what we need to know.
Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind: if anything you think otherwise, God will reveal this even to you. – Philippians 3:15
By emptying our cups and accepting a relationship with God we can be fulfilled in a way that exceeds anything that we can find in this world. We all seek peace in this world and the next. As Pastor Pope noted, a Christian based definition of peace reads:
Peace is a tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ and therefore fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort it is.
That’s what emptying your cup can do for you. It can put you in a state where you are content and unworried no matter what your circumstances. What in this world can do that for you? Is there anything else you can carry with you that will provide for you in such a way? If not, then why wouldn’t you be willing to get rid of all the things that can’t give you such amazing peace in exchange for the one thing that can, a pure and sincere relationship with God.

Chris Lawyer
Sermons By Everett Pope
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