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Free Coffee!!

Romans 5:14-19 – “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”

It is National Coffee Day! Yeah!!! 

Coffee and I have a special relationship. It’s like a warm little blanket for me early in the morning. It wakes me up and just tastes good – with cream and sugar, of course. 

But today, oh happy day, is Friday AND free coffee day at some places! Does life get any better?? You can bet I’m headed to Wawa after I drop the kids off at school for a delightful cup of joe.

When we get the opportunity for something free, we jump all over it. Buy one, get one free deals at the grocery store are hard to pass up. Free samples at stores are just icing on the cake. We love free. 

These verses have the two words that most people love to hear – “free” and “gift”. So, why is it so hard to get people to listen and consider when you talk about the two things that most everyone loves? I think it is because they have to first admit they are wrong to accept this “free gift”. In order to be saved, you first have to be lost. And to be lost, you have to come to the realization that you are a sinner. There is nothing that you can do on your own, in and of yourself, to gain salvation. The only thing you can do is admit that you are a sinner, believe that Jesus Christ is who He says He is and did what He said He did, and accept that “free gift” of salvation. Ask, Believe and Confess. ABC. 

Salvation is as easy as walking into Wawa on National Coffee Day and accepting that free cup of coffee. No strings attached. No guilt in taking it. Wawa opened it’s doors today and started making coffee, lots and lots of coffee. Jesus has opened the doors of Heaven to each and every person, offering them the opportunity to accept His free gift of salvation. 

What are you waiting for? What is keeping you from sharing that Wonderful News? I would guess that you will tell someone today that it is National Coffee Day and inform them that they need to look up a place close to them that will have free coffee. But why is that so easy to share yet sharing the Good News of Christ that will change their eternity so difficult?

Happy Friday and Happy National Coffee Day.

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Just like me…

Romans 12:3 – “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

I’ve been struggling with this concept the last couple of days – What if everyone acted just like me – in regards to family, church, work and community?

It’s what we want, isn’t it? We wish that everyone around us was as smart as we are, made similar choices that we make, and were as dedicated as we are. We see ourself without flaw, without blemish. 

But deep down, we know that’s not true. We know that deep down we get upset when someone does something different that we think that they should. We get frustrated when we have a plan and someone steps in and changes that plan all together. We want to throw a fit and yell at someone when their decision to stay out of things is not the option we would have chosen. We get all flustered when people don’t perform like we know we would in that situation. 

Pride. It’s pride that makes us feel that way. You see, whether it is at work, church or at home, the devil is doing his best to drive a wedge in our heart between us and God. If he can get us to look more at ourself and see only the worst in people and their decisions instead of seeing the beauty of variety, then he can get us to walk further and further from our Savior. 

And it’s so easy to do. It is easy to get frustrated when we don’t understand what is going on. It is easy to get mad when things don’t go the way we think they should. It is easy to want to yell at someone when their choices are wrong in our eyes. 

But here is the thing – we can’t control others; we can only control ourself. We have to trust that God has whatever thing we are dealing with under control. Staying awake all night worrying about it won’t make a difference. Getting mad and yelling at someone will not help the cause of Christ. Not doing your best as a punishment to those who are making what you see as a bad decision will get nothing accomplished. 

Jesus has given us all different gifts and talents. I’m not responsible for my husband using his gifts. That is his can of worms. I need to be focused on whether I’m using my gifts. But I can’t let my focus shift from me doing my best for His glory to me doing my best because I know I’m right. 

It’s hard, but you can’t let people have power over your decision to do things for His glory. Focusing solely upon Jesus will have far different reaches that focusing solely on you and what you do. Pride is an ugly beast that too often rears its head in my life. Pride is what makes you think your way is the best way. Pride is what makes you fail to see your flaws. Pride is what makes us want everyone to act like just like us. 

Transforming vs. Conforming

Romans 12:2- “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

I enjoy cooking. I enjoy taking parts and pieces and creating something that my family and friends can enjoy. There is a sense of satisfaction in hearing your loved ones make those yummy noises. 

I also enjoy sewing, when I get the chance. Creating something wonderful out of essentially nothing is very fulfilling. Not too long ago, I took several feet of fabric and made gigantic bean bags for the teen room at church. I love walking by the room and seeing our young people lounging in their room, just enjoying the peace.

So what does sewing and cooking have to do with Romans 12:2? When one cooks and/or sews, they are transforming something. They are taking a raw material and making it into something new and useable. Now, the alternative to cooking and sewing is going out and buying it. That’s what the rest of the world does, right? Those bean bags I made would have cost several hundreds of dollars to purchase.  I made two for approximately $200. Going out to eat is fun sometimes, but man, it is expensive for a family of four! Right now, my husband is making beef jerky. He is transforming ground beef into jerky for us all to enjoy. And trust me, it is way cheaper than the stuff you get at the store, and much better tasting too.

When you transform raw materials into something different, it takes work and effort. It takes time and dedication. Going out and buying it would be a lot easier. But you save money by doing it yourself and you get a real sense of satisfaction in a job well done.

Our spiritual life is no different. We are called to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind” on a daily basis. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes time. It takes dedication. But we don’t have to be concerned with transforming ourself. No, God is the One who does all the transforming. We just need to be willing subjects to His transformation.

The other option is conforming. Everyday there are people who wake up and live like everyone else around them – and they “went to church yesterday.” Some people are afraid of transformation. It might make them different. People might think they are weird. It is much easier to be like everyone else.

The transformed individual is unique. This person is ready and willing to make the necessary choices to follow Christ. They know the path will be a challenge. They know the way will be hard. But they know that transformation to being more and more like Christ is within His “good, and acceptable, and perfect will”.

So today, you have a choice to make – will you allow God to transform you or will you just be conformed to the world one more day? No time like the present. Make the change today.

Know-so Hope

Romans 5:1-5 – “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”

Several Sundays ago, my pastor said something about a “know-so” hope versus a “hope-so” hope. That stuck with me and I was thinking about it this morning. 

Let me give you this Webster’s 1828 definition of hope: “A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable. Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.”

Hope is something we all want and desire. It is needed, at times, to keep going. We get bogged down in problems and situations that we oftentimes forget about hope until we hit rock bottom. It takes discipline to keep hope at the forefront of our thoughts. We can’t see the forest for the trees, so to speak. 

But when my pastor mentioned this concept several weeks ago – 2 kinds of hope – I was taken aback. I had never really thought of this. It is true though. There are two kinds of hope. 

A “hope-so” hope is like a bucket with a hole it. You don’t know if you will be able to transport the water to where you want to go before the bucket empties. You are flying by the seat of your pants, no real direction and no certainty that you will get there. 

A “know-so” hope is like the hope mentioned in the verses today – hope from experience. You have been down this road, in some form or another, and you know what will happen. And even if this is a totally new situation, you still know how it will end because you have tested and tried the Leader before and He has never failed you. 

A “hope-so” hope doesn’t give God room to do His thing. A “know-so” hope opens the door wide for God to get in and lead. 

What kind of hope are you practicing today? ūüé∂”Trust and obey. For there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”ūüé∂ Even though hope is not mentioned in this song, it’s undertones are there. Hope comes from trusting and obeying Jesus.  

Walk the line

Romans 8:4-9 – “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.¬†For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.¬†For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.¬†Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.¬†So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.¬†But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

It is a tough thing to walk the line.

As followers of Christ, we are supposed to be in the world but not of the world. (2 Corinthians 10:3) ¬†How are you supposed to be in something but not act like something? It’s like being at a football game when you really care nothing about football but find yourself cheering the team on and getting upset when they get a bad call. We are supposed to have the mind of Christ. Jesus is the One we are to be focused on and living for. But are you? Am I?

Most of the time I’m the one at the football game. I get caught up in the things of the world. “People are coming over. I need to get my house just so.” “I’m going to work today. I need to look nice. I don’t have time to study my Bible this morning. I’ll get to it tonight.” (And then tonight never comes because you are too busy.

We get caught up in appearances and stuff that really has no eternal value. We make a big deal out of nothing. We are being carnally minded.

So how do we combat this problem? It’s being around God’s people. It’s being in God’s word. It’s taking time to pray. I’m sure that there are a hundred other things that can be done to combat carnal mindedness, but these were just a few that popped into my head this morning.

Let me encourage you to make those choices to be closer to Him and closer to His people. The only way we are going to make a difference is by being different. And sometimes being different is difficult.

It’s the Christmas season. The holly crowd is making plans to attend church these next few weeks. This gives you (and me) a great opportunity to reach out to them for Him. We need to encourage them to get plugged in and be involved on a more regular basis. Jesus is waiting them. Jesus is waiting for us to be obedient.¬†Walk on the side of the line that is following after Christ.

Gifted and Talented

Romans 12:3-8 – “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Do you consider yourself gifted? We don’t really talk about this a lot. We don’t want to draw attention to ourself. Yesterday at church, we had a young lady bring a special. She played her guitar and sang “Amazing Grace”. It was to a different tune and it was beautiful. She did an amazing job. She is very shy though. All the attention was way out of her comfort zone. 

God has given each of us different abilities. Some have the gift of teaching – they should teach. Some have the gift of singing – they should sing. Some have the gift of encouragement – they should encourage. Some have the gift of preaching – they should preach. And then there are those jobs that we don’t often think about – decorating, organizing, serving, managing money, protecting, cleaning, childcare – all of these things are important, and this is just a short list. 

My point is this – God has blessed each and every one of us with different gifts and talents. Some are seemingly important and huge and some are seemingly meaningless and small. But they are ALL important. God does not give us something that is not important. He doesn’t give us something that He doesn’t intend to use. 

So, use whatever God has blessed you with to serve Him. It may be challenging and hard but you can do it. Sometimes using our gifts and talents puts us out of our comfort zone, but that’s okay. Just step out onto the ledge and go for it. I guarantee that the risk will be worth it. God will smile. 

One step away

Romans 2:1,2 – “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.”

Judging. It is a common practice for us today. It is easy. You look at someone or see some action and boom! Judgement is passed. 

It is hard not to judge someone. We think that we are above reproach and therefore have the right to pass judgement upon someone, especially someone “in the world”. We see their action and see their clothes and we automatically assume that we know exactly how they are. What we don’t know is that on the inside a major war is raging for their eternity. We have no clue of the internal struggles that these people may be going through. Instead of bombarding them with judgements, we should be embracing them and encouraging their desire to walk a different path. 

We also read about and hear about people who have made the choice to seek out another affects instead of their spouse. In this case, we know by their actions and their choices that they have made this decision. However, we need to be cautious of our wrath and disappointment. We need to understand this truth – we are all but one step away from the same decision. 

One step away from choosing someone else over our spouse. One step away from seeking out the temporary comfort of drugs and alcohol. One step away from maxing out our credit cards and stepping into the world of bankruptcy. One step away from losing our jobs and our homes. 

There are times that require us to make judgements in regards to someone’s choice and actions. However, when those times do present themselves, we need to do so with love and the opportunity for forgiveness and restoration. Vengeance is something that we are to reject. It is not our responsibilty to seek it out. God will take care of that. But above all, we need to be careful. 

We need to be cautious in our judgements and we need to remember that only by the grace of God do we stand where we are today. He has given us the ability to recognize problems and potential situations that may cause us harm. We need to use it. We need to listen when He is whispering to our heart that this is just not right. 

I want to encourage you today, princess, to be cautious in your judgements. Be aware and appreciative of your delicate situation. Remember, you are only one step away.