Monday, October 28, 2013


Isaiah 51:9  Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old...

     Recently it was International Coffee Day.  I think that in my home, every day is International Coffee Day.  In the mornings when I get up I immediately start making coffee.  You see I am not really a breakfast person but I love a cup of coffee in the morning.  We always buy the coffee bean and grind the coffee fresh each day.  The smell goes throughout the room - and immediately my senses begin to wake. 
     A daughter once complained to her father about how hard things were for her. "As soon as I solve one problem," she said, "another one comes up. I'm tired of struggling."  Her father, a chef, took her to the kitchen where he filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire.  Soon the pots came to a boil. In one he placed carrots, in the second, eggs, and in the last, ground coffee beans. He let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
     The daughter impatiently waited, wondering what he was doing. After a while, he went over and turned off the burners. He fished out the carrots and placed them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them a bowl. He poured the coffee into a bowl. Turning to her he asked, "Darling, what do you see?"
    "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.  He brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft.  He then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.  Finally, he asked her to sip the coffee. She smiled, as she tasted its rich flavor.
  She asked, "What does it mean, Father?" He explained that each of them had faced the same adversity — boiling water — but each reacted differently.
Þ The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting, but after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
Þ The egg was fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
Þ  The ground coffee beans were unique, however. By being in the boiling water, they changed the water.
     The father asked his daughter, "When adversity knocks on your door, which are you?"
      When we first came to Simferopol, coffee shops were hard to find.  Now as you walk through the city, coffee truck lined the streets everywhere.  Even in front of ZAGS there were two coffee trucks parked - offering coffees of every kind - - lattes, mochas, frappes, cappuccinos, regular coffee (hot or cold).  It was funny watching brides in their white dresses sipping the hot coffee - waiting for their turn in line.
     I think everyone has different ideas of what makes a good cup of coffee. With today's hot coffee trend, we try all kinds of flavorings and different ways of experiencing coffee. It used to be basically served black or with cream and sugar. There wasn't much variety.  I remember my grandfather percolating coffee in an old coffee pot and drinking it BLACK!  He asked me to taste it and I about died! It was terrible.   
       Today people like coffee served and brewed a lot of different ways.  We all seem to have our own preferences on what constitutes a good cup of coffee.  And we can usually agree on what makes a bad cup of coffee.  It can be weak, bitter, stale, cold, or soured by something we put in it and we'd probably all agree that it tastes bad.  Face it. No one likes to drink a bad cup of coffee.
I don't suppose people like those bad tasting Christians they come across either. I wonder what type of coffee we'd be.

1.  A Weak Cup of COFFEE.   The other day it was still a little dark when I got up to made coffee.  I know the drill so I just made coffee out of habit ....  But when I tasted it -- it was like hot water with cream and sugar.  I turned on the light in the kitchen and realized the coffee filter was not sitting properly in the pot and the coffee grounds were still dry.  YUCK.... I had to start all over again.   I need a cup of strong coffee in the morning to get me going.  We as Christians need to be strong in the Lord!
A. We are to be STRONG in His Power - (Ephesians 6:10)  Our Christians life is a battlefield.  Immediately upon receiving Christ as your Savior, we find ourselves in a constant struggle.  We are engaged in an unceasing fight - an unending war.  We must diligently heed what this verse says.  There is no other way to conquer the enemies who stand so opposed to Christian believers.  Unless we heed this charge or message of this passage, we will cave into temptation and sin and end up walking through life just as most do.  Our strength comes from the Lord.
B. We are to be STRONG in Grace - (2 Timothy 2:1).  This is the underserved blessing and love of God.  We do not deserve his blessing but God loves you.  Therefore, He provided a way through His Son.  We must be like Paul told Timothy - Be strong - not in our own strength - but strong in the grace of Christ.  We must look to Him during our problems not to other people.  You see - it is His Grace that is sufficient (2 Cor. 12:9)
C. We are to be STRONG in Faith - (Romans 4:20)  When we are weak Christians, we don't have much faith.  Sometimes when we are weak we don't know God's Word enough to know what we stand for. The way to remedy our weakness is to become more grounded in the Word of God, claim His promises and obey His commands (I John 3:4; Job 14:21).  Enrich yourself with a vibrant prayer life and rely on God's strength and not your own.
D. We are to be Strong in Courage - (Joshua 1:9)  Moses has died and now the Lord has appeared to Joshua to give him instruction and encouragement.  Courage was very crucial for Joshua who had a great task set before him, and courage is also crucial for us.   God promised Joshua that He would go where so ever he went and the truth is the same for us.  God wants us to be strong in Him because He is with us.

2.   A Bitter Cup of COFFEE.   You can't do much with a bitter cup of coffee. No matter how much cream or sugar, or even how much whip cream you want to plop on top, the bitter taste is still there.  You have to dump it out and refill the cup with a new fresh brewed pot of coffee.
     I have known my share of bitter Christians through the years and to be honest, there have been few points in my own life that I have had to deal with it myself.  However, if bitterness isn't dealt with, it starts growing and eating up your life.  Bitterness doesn't leave a pleasant aroma - nor after-taste.
    Isn't that just so like in the Christian life?  No matter how much we add to our Christian lives, no matter how many good deeds we do, how many church programs we become involved with, if our bitterness is still there, we are still bitter and it hinders us in our Christian walk.  What we need to do is empty all our bitterness and ourselves of self and then allow the filling of the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives.
     Hebrews 12:15 What does this verse says bitterness will do?   God warns us that there is danger in the root of bitterness.  It is spiritual poison and a means by which many are corrupted.  Paul is speaking about ANY root, any cause that might stir a person to become bitter (disappointment, neglect, accidents, disease, mistreatment, loss, family).  Bitterness can be caused by any thing or any person who has failed us or brought disappointment and trouble to us in some way.  The person who is bitter is sharp, resentful, cold, stressed, cynical and difficult to be around.  AND any expression of these is sin to God.  God desires people to live in love, joy, peace and holiness - not in bitterness.  Therefore we (as Christians) must look diligently -- we must guard ourselves against the great danger of bitterness. 
      Three steps to freedom from bitterness:
1)  Go to God and ask Him to be in charge of your justice.  You've been hurt and you want justice, but that's not your job - it’s HIS.  He is the One who can makes things right. When you give it over to him -- you will feel a heavy load come off your back. (Matt. 6:12; 14,15; Hebrews 10:30)
2)  Thank God for all the good things you have. By concentrating on the positive instead of the negative, you'll gradually find joy returning to your life. When you understand that bitterness is a choice, you'll learn to reject it and choose peace and contentment instead. (Phil. 4:8)
3)  Enjoy and love other people again. There's nothing more attractive than a joy-filled, loving person. When you make that the emphasis of your life, who knows what good things might happen?

3.  A Stale Cup of COFFEE.   Whether you call your coffee, java, mud, Juan Valdez -- the one thing you never want to call your coffee is stale!  The dictionary describes, stale as "tasteless or unpalatable from age".  Staleness happens when coffee has been exposed to oxygen too long (either the beans were ground weeks and weeks before or the coffee has been sitting in the kitchen for a long period of time).  Other factors such as heat and lack of moisture can cause this process to develop quickly.
     This can happen in Christians lives -- they have been exposed to the world (oxygen) for a long period of time.  They have been under pressure from peers and family (heat). And their lack of time with the Word of God (moisture) makes their Christian life becomes stale.  Do you ever get complacent about your Christianity?  Just have lost that first love?   It's easy to do, especially for those of us who've known the Lord for a long time. We kind of get weary in well doing. I know we don't want to just sit as Christians and not do anything but we do. "Unpalatable" doesn't go far enough to describe us sometimes.  
      We are to be fresh - not stale.  In Matthew 5:13, Jesus said that we are the salt of the earth.   Salt is the one thing that gives taste to whatever it touches. Christ told His disciples and to us as well, that we should be like salt - As someone has put it: “A salty Christian makes others thirsty for Jesus, the Water of life.”  Salt adds flavor - It influences the taste of things.  It takes something bland and makes it enjoyable. (Gal. 5:22-23)   No only does salt add flavor but it has other very important qualities as well:
à Salt is distinctive - It is totally different from the food or object upon which it is put.  The power of salt lies in the difference.  We are to be different from the world (Romans 12:2)
à Salt preserves - It keeps things from going bad and decaying.  It cleanses.   We, just like salt, are to cleanse and preserve the world. (1 Peter 1:22-25)
à Salt penetrates - It inserts a new quality, substance and life.  It changes that upon which it is put.  We are to penetrate the world and insert new life into it. (2 Cor. 5:17)
à Salt is quiet - It is visible but it works silently - making no noise whatsoever during the process.  We are to work quietly and discreetly (1 Peter 3:4)
à Salt spreads -  It’s flavor spreads all about.  A sprinkle of salt has a widespread effect.  A believer’s salt is to spread far and wide (Acts 4:20)

4.  A Sour Cup of COFFEE.  Have you ever tried something new in your coffee? With all those new flavorings and things out there, I'm sure you have.  Ever tried something in your coffee that just left a sour taste in your mouth?  It just didn't agree with you?  Or maybe you've put some cream that had gone bad into your coffee.  That's a sure fire way to ruin a perfectly good cup of coffee. 
      John 17:14 tells us that we are not of this world.  I John 2:15 tells us what happens when we love the world, what is it? The love of the Father is not in him.  The scripture is very clear - and forceful.  This does not mean that we are not appreciate the beauty, splendor and resources of the earth.  It means we are not to be so tied up in what the world has to offer us with all of its possessions and pleasures that we become discontented and want more and more. 
      When we allow worldly and ungodly things into our lives as Christians, it puts a sour taste in our minds and heart.  It doesn't agree with us because we are in the world but not of it.  As Christians, those things sour us and basically make us rotten. We become ineffective in our Christian lives when we allow the things of the world to come spilling in. 
       1 Timothy 6:6 has some very important words for us. But godliness with contentment is great gain.  How do we keep from becoming stale?  We need to keep our eyes and heart focused on what is important.... Less of the world and more of Christ. 

5.  A Lukewarm Cup of COFFEE.  Have you ever brought a cup of coffee to your lips and realized it was no longer hot -- it was just room temperature.  You think it's going to be hot and warm and --- and it’s not.   In the winter, I put it in back in the microwave to warm it up.  In the summer, I place ice in it.  Technically, I just don’t like it lukewarm.
      Awhile ago, we studied the churches in Revelations 2 & 3.  Which church best describes this type coffee?  Laodiceans (Rev. 3:16).   Do you think these people were saved? (Matthew 7:20-23)  Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. There are many people in church who don’t know Jesus, who have neither repented nor put their trust in Him.  Our bodies vomit up things that are foreign and make us sick.  We don’t vomit up body parts. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus refer to Christians as “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”  Yet these are the terms used in many places to describe sinners in general and religious sinners in particular. 
      We are told in scripture to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith.  (2 Cor. 13:5).  Do that today.  Tomorrow may be too late.

6.  A Good Cup of Coffee.   It smells good!  It looks good!  It taste good!  It builds anticipation.  It wakes you up (Isaiah 51:9).   In the morning you get a good, hot steamy cup of coffee with just the right amount of sugar and cream and enjoy!  It was exactly what you were hoping for. 
     We are to be that type of Christian.  I think there are many things that make a good Christian.  And most people would add different traits to the list but basically - according to the Word of God we are to:
· Follow Christ - John 13:15   What does this involve?  Loving God (1 John 4:19), Hating Sin (Romans 12:9), Living by faith (2 Cor. 5:7), Going to a Lost World (Mark 16:15)
· Obey Christ - James 1:22  We must obey the Word of God.  It is not enough to hear and know the Word of God, we  must live it throughout our lives in our daily walk with Him.
·  Be holy (1 Peter 1:15)  How do you think we can be holy? _________________

Here in Ukraine they sell fake coffee -- it really doesn’t have any coffee in it.  It looks like coffee, smells like it, it even taste a little like coffee BUT it isn’t real.  Spending time with the Lord through prayer and Bible study is what's going to make us into those strong cups of coffee.  We need to allow the Holy Spirit to stir us.  As we spend time with our Heavenly Father, He will blend us to perfection - and we will be a sweet savor for Him.   So, what type of coffee are you?