An artist depicts many everyday things within his paintings and this page is designed for you, the viewer, to find a Scriptural truth that can be associated with these everyday things.
Look at each painting and search for what God may be trying to teach you and then afterwards read the accompanying "Artistic Reflection" to see what Biblical truths the author gleaned.
Have fun viewing ........
Artistic Reflections - "Pleasures from God"
"Then I realized that this pleasure is from the hand of God." Ecclesiastes 2:24
We all enjoy eating, especially when the meal is presented in such an elegant manner as that portrayed in the painting above. The festive occasion that prompted such a delicious feast could be one of many, but we know that the celebration is special because we don't usually eat our everyday meals in such an inviting environment.
The concept of satisfation surrounds the mood of this picture. Think about it. We haven't eaten and yet we find satisfaction in the pleasant presentation of the upcoming meal. While we are eating, we will find satisfaction in the delectable taste of the food as we can visually see that it will be delicious. And after we have eaten, we will be satisfied because our appetite has been gratified and we are content.
Or are we? Have you ever noticed how easily our human nature will breed discontent and dissatisfaction? The commercials and advertisements that we are exposed to everyday appeal to this aspect of our nature. Even if we have everything we need to be satisfied, the marketing experts find a way to portray a flaw in our satisfied state by creating a message designed to convince us that we need more.
To demonstrate how easily we are swayed to feed this desire, look at the painting again and ask yourself this one famous question used in a successful advertising campain, "Where's the beef?" Unless you are a vegetarian, this one question created a seed of dissatisfaction in the ability of the portrayed meal to satisfy. In fact, now that we think about it, why did the artist even place a knife and fork on the table without any meat to cut into?
But weren't we just satisjed a minute ago? What changed? We became discontent by focusing on what is not there and then to support our case, we even began to tear down and express sarcasm at what is there. We easily forget about God's desire for us to be content and satisfied in all aspects of our life.
God has given us life to live in a world where we are surrounded by His beautiful and wonderful blessing. And yet He allows us to decide whether or not to be satisfied. Consider Solomon's conclusion, "So I decided there is nothing better than to enjoy food and drink and to find satisfaction in work. Then I realized that this pleasure is from the hand of God."
"Be Still." Words whispered to a crying infant, words spoken to comfort a recent widow, words expressed to encourage the unemployed, words used to strengthen someone facing health concerns, words offered to anxious parents, words given to counsel a youth struggling with life decision.
"Be Still." Two simple words and yet they are words that God has used to apply to every situation that could occur in our life. The verse places the focus on God, the reason that we may be still. Reflect on the painting above. The artist has wonderfully catured a moment of peacefulness, calmness, stillness, and silence. Of course, you say, there are no people in the painting to introduce human unrest!
That is the beauty of the verse and of the painting. The focus is not to be on ourselves. Had the artist placed a person in the picture, then we would focus on him or her. But God wants our focus to be on Him. I ask you now to picture yourself and God sitting in the two garden chairs having a quiet conversation. Did you notice that your mind did not focus on the chair that you were sitting in, but rather the chair that you pictured your Lord in?
Forgetting about ourselves and focusing on God is what brings stillness and calmness in our lives. However, life is not always a calm and peaceful place to meet with God which is why the artist has appropriately included the open door to the home where the resident has most likely left his chair to meet a challenge or accomplish a chore. Once again, both chairs are empty. God is not only with us in the calmness, but He joins us in our everyday life even when it may be chaotic or lonely. It is in all circumstances that God whispers to us, "Be still, and know that I am God."
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Artistic Reflections - "Protective Shade"
"The Lord Himself watches over you!" Psalm 121:5
"Necessity is the mother of invention." Of course, we could debate whether many inventions are necessary. After all, who really needs a better mouse trap? With that being said, we really do take for granted many good inventions that serve to make our life more comfortable. Take, for instance, the table umbrella depicted in the painting above. What is its purpose and why was it invented?
The answer is simply that when we humans find something difficult to do or something that causes us discomfort, we engineer a solution that will make our job easier or make us more comfortable. In our attempt to escape from the sun's heat, we design sun glasses, hats, patio covers, tinted windows and umbrellas in an effort to shield us. But our attempts to solve the problem sometimes fail.
Look at our table companions in the painting again. Aren't some of them sitting under the umbrella and yet they are still not under its shade? Human ingenuity, however great, typically has some shortcomings. To further demonstrate this point, think about the many ways that we try to handle the heat of trials and problems in our daily lives. We creatively try to find escape through our own methods such as exercising, eating, drinking, traveling, relaxing, working, and countless other activities in an effort to take our mind off of our troubles.
Yet through all of our futile efforts, God continues to offer us His complete protection encompassing our entire life. And to help us remember, He uses the example of the sun and the shade in Psalm 121:5-8 to remind us that only when we put ourselves completely under His care will we find shelter. "The Lord Himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not hurt you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all evil and preserves your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever."
Isn't it frustrating when someone tells you the ending to a movie that you wanted to go see? After all, isn't the enjoyment of the movie experience to live the emotions of the characters within the storyline? Or maybe that does not bother you. You are one of those who can read the last page of the murder mystery to find out "who did it" and then go back to the first page and read the novel as if knowing the outcome did not make any difference.
No matter which "end" of the debate you are on, we can apply God's word to both scenarios. "Just as the Lord had promised" is the reassuring end and conclusion to any life situation. Knowing this ending in advance does not ruin the excitement and yet knowing this ending in advance provides the confidence of walking through the drama of life. The painting above does not seem very dramatic and yet the artist unknowlingly captured on canvas the ending of a miraculous story found in 1 Kings 17:8-16 about the widow at Zarephath.
During the height of a drought, God told His prophet Elijah to go to this city where he would find a widow who would provide food for him. Elijah obeyed and went to the city, and, sure enough, he found the widow. But just like in real life, there was a problem! She explained that she only had a handful of flour and a drop of oil left and after that was gone she and her son would die of starvation. But Elijah told her to fix him a loaf of bread anyway and, in return, God would provide her plenty of flour and oil in her containers until the time when the Lord would send rain allowing the crops to grow again.
And then the Bible records, "So she did as Elijah said, and she and Elijah and her son continued to eat from her containers of flour and jars of oil for many days." Fast forward. Look at the painting again. Do you think the drought is over? The sun is shining. There are flowers in the vase and fruit on the table. The rain has obviously come. The drought is over.
Elijah knew the end of the story at the beginning: "God will provide and do just as He promised." The widow only knew the end of the story at the end: "God provided, just as He promised." But either way, the jugs and containers around her home will always be a reminder of God's care when all seemed hopeless. What vessels of promise has God surrounded you with to remind you of His care? "For no matter how much flour and oil they use, there was always enough left in the containers, just as the Lord had promised."
"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever." Psalm 118:1
Reflect on the glass within the painting above. Is the glass half full or half empty? This is a familiar question, but for those who have faith in God, we thankfully can always answer that our glass is half full because our Lord is good and He faithfully cares for us!
But, you say, the glass is half empty and the bowls are void of food, how can anyone give thanks for that? We all are tempted to worry and question God when our hopes seem to be evaporating and our lives seem empty. But let's remember what Jesus told His listeners, "Look at the lilies of the field. If God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't He more surely care for you?"
Look at the painting again! The dinnerware is surrounded by a vase of flowers and a field of flowers. What we perceive as emptiness is surrounded by God's promise of His faithfulness and care for us. While we are focused on our needs, God is faithfully preparing His answer of goodness.
Did you notice the bowl full of grapes peeking in at the right hand side of the painting? An abundance of food that can both fill a bowl or be pressed to fill a glass. Are you struggling today? Look past the emptiness to see God's faithful promises surrounding you. Are you celebrating today? Then let's together "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever."
"God's way is perfect. All the Lord's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection." Psalm 18:30
Preparedness. What do we generally prepare for? A Wedding? A graduation? The birth of a baby? Birthday and anniversary celebrations? A long desired vacation? When asked this question, our minds naturally think of the big events in our lives because we do not typically take the time to prepare for all of the little events that come crowding in.
Jesus took the time out to prepare. The incident seems trivial. In Mark 3:9, "Jesus instructed His disciples to bring around a boat and to have it ready in case He was crowded off the beach." But if Jesus could walk on water, He most certainly could have stood on the water if He was pushed to its edge. Except then we would not have been able to learn the scriptural truth about preparing a place for God in our lives.
Our life is crowded by many "things" which can push us to the edge and possibly even drown us if we are pushed too far. So "just in case," prepare! Always be ready to call on your Lord's help no matter where you are standing in life. If the crowds of everyday concerns begin to drown you, step into the boat of His care and allow Him to shield you. Looking to God for protection will give you the perspective to face your crowd of trials and the ability to address them. Remember, "God's way is perfect. All the Lord's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection."