Tuesday, April 27, 2010

coffee and the Morning paper-stephen #2

"Wisdom is the right of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom." - C.H. Spurgeon

As Stephen was returning home from the market one night he was approached by some Cyrenians and Alexandrians, they were uncomfortable with the teachings he was teaching and even more thrown off by the miracles that were being performed by his hand. They made accusation after accusation but for some reason could not resist the wisdom he spoke as it did not come from the mouth of man but by the spirit that led him. That afternoon he was led to the high council were he was introduced to many of men who had false testimony against him. Stephen being the polite gentleman that he is sat and listened to these accusations not only with a smile on his face but a confidence one could only get from the confident hope he had in the Lord.

After the accusations were set in place, the high priest raised from his seat as the audience was silenced. He spoke, "Are these things so?" Stephen raised himself to his feet and spoke, with respect he addressed the people, "Brethren and Fathers" and began to not defend himself as you would have thought, but began to tell them the story of Abraham, then the Patriarchs and then of Israel and Moses. Stephen then began to tie in the knowledge he had acquired in his early mornings studying Gods word, to the present time watching these pharisees take on the patterns of there fathers and resist what the Holy Spirit was trying to tell them. While speaking, the conviction came down and the Bible says it "cut to there hearts", as conviction was ignored they continued to gnash there teeth at Stephen. "Stephen being so full of the Holy Spirit gazed into heaven and the Glory of God was revealed to him." The pharisees continued to pursue the death of Stephen, but through the lying, deceit and malice he still had a heart for them and asked God to not charge them and through it all, I love this part because it doesn't end in murder, The Bible says that Stephen fell asleep.

Reading through the text, we learn that Stephen was not only a servant and a man with a ministry, he was also a man of the word. So much so that when he was approached by the lies of the world, he knew exactly what scripture applied to the lives surrounding him. I believe that one thing that Stephen knew more than most, was he was not only called to obtain knowledge of the Word, he was to obtain wisdom. But to gain wisdom you first have to gain knowledge of the Holy One. Which gave him encouragement to waking up a little extra earlier to read his Bible and stay up a little later in prayer getting to know his father.

Read through Acts 6 and 7 and you will see the life Stephen lived, although it an incredible one, it wasn't too glamorous. But one thing that Stephen always had was confidence. I know that i want confidence when it comes to whatever i am doing, and one way of doing that is not doing it on our own. Do you struggle with lies of the world? Don't try and come against them on your own, learn the Word of God, and don't only learn the word of God, apply it to your life daily. When you do this you gain wisdom that attaches itself to the Spirit of God, which shows in Acts 6:10 cant be resisted by the world.

I have met a lot of Christians who have come to find there faith stagnant, and its because of there lack of experience with God. If you find yourself in a place where you have a lack of faith you need to have an experience with God. It says in Acts 7 that Stephen "gazed into heaven and saw the Glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God", I tell you i don't know what would boost my faith more than having the heavens open up and seeing this, but this experience came through his faithfulness in reading the word and applying it to his life daily, and then sharing it with unbelievers. When you step out of your shell of being comfortable and familiarity God will give you experiences that will blow your mind, but you have to give him an opportunity to do so by actually listening to what he wants you to do by reading your bible. Then when you apply all of this with love for people, God will blow your mind with what he can do in you and through you.

It all comes down to Wisdom, "I guide you in the way of Wisdom, and lead you along the way of straight paths". Prov 4:11. I don't want to be a generation that falls short of the glory of God because of a desire of knowledge without understanding and wisdom. God will show you which path to take, you just have to ask him and pursue him. Sometimes he will guide you in a direction you don't want to go but "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom" Prov. 9:10. God will give you direction, guidance, faith, grace and so much more, all you have to do is follow him and listen, then DO what he tells you, and it will be grace that will enable you to do so.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Some more coffee?

As the two older ladies sat talking about anything and everything, a young man approached them. In his mid 20's, well kept, walking with confidence and a smile he asked them, "can i please get you some more coffee?" They nodded in approval as he filled there glasses, as he was filling there cups, conversation was stopped and there eyes were fixated on the man in front of them, "who is this man they thought"? Catching a glimpse of his name tag it read "Stephen", he finished filling there cups and moved on to the next table in the small mom and pops restaurant. There was something different about him, as his face was as bright as an angel, the sincerity in his voice and earnesty to serve them. They continued there conversation but continually kept an eye on this young man as he served the people, they couldn't figure it out, but there was something different about him.

Stephen finished his shift around 4 pm that afternoon. He left without a paycheck, he didn't go hang out with his friends, he didn't go to the local pub, he went straight home where he dropped to his knees and prayed, "Father, thank you for using me today. You see my heart and you know my motives. Let your kingdom come and your will be done in my life today, i pray you give me grace as I follow the steps your directing for me. AMEN" He got up off his knees where he walked down to the local market to prepare dinner for the evening, as he walked he saw a crippled man begging for bread, Stephen was moved with compassion as with out hesitation he told the man about what Jesus Christ had done for him, then, laying his right hand on the mans head Stephen said "be healed in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ." The man was instantly healed and believed, he had dinner with Stephen that night and was given the good news that he was yet to live in.

I see this being a normal day for the servant Stephen in Acts 6. Stephen performed miracles, he saw people healed, he preached the Gospel and he waited tables. Wait, he waited tables? Stephen was the 1st person we see in the Bible who's sole responsibility was being a servant of food. But one thing i love is that waiting tables was his job,but it did not limit him to what God wanted to do in his life and through his life. Serving tables was his Job, serving God was his life. Without even it being his "calling" Stephen was one of the greatest preachers, evangelist, and Deacons in his time.

Studying Acts ch. 6 I ran across a crazy fact, Stephen was a Deacon! We get the word Deacon from the Greek word Diakonas which actually translates into "servant of Food". Which is crazy because in the modern church we think of the Deacon as somebody directly under the pastor. That is the actually definition for it. We learn in 1 Tim. 3 the requirements for becoming a Deacon. I love how the Deacon is "serving" the people in Ministry.

What is your calling? Preacher, worship leader, manager at a retail store, server, etc. What are you doing with it? Stephens calling was a server, but he didn't limit himself to his "title". Stephen waited tables, and Stephen moved mountains! But one thing that Stephen did was serve, we are all called to serve people and serve God no matter what our "title" is. When you do these 2 things, God gives you grace. We hear of Grace for the 1st time in Acts 6 referring to Stephen. When something is mentioned for the 1st time there is great significance to it, so i am thinking Grace goes hand in hand with serving!

Do you need Grace? We all do, its how we accomplish things that seem impossible. Where ever your at in this season of your life, do 2 things, serve God and serve people. See what happens! You might be called to be a Waiter, but dont let that limit you from being one of the greatest preachers of your time. You might be called to managing a store, but dont let that limit you from having an amazing healing ministry. 1 cor. 10:31 "whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Grace under Pressure

Have you ever used a coffee press? It is by far one of my favorite ways to make coffee. I wont go into all the details, but one that i want to focus on is the pressing part. Like all coffee is made it takes water...and coffee. The coffee grounds and the water are added together, now if they were never separated i don't know how good the coffee would be, not very good at all cause i have tried. The thing is they are not separated immediately, they have to sit together before anything can come out of it-and then when the separation takes place it takes place under pressure. Then when the process is over, you have one of the most amazing things God has ever made!

I have been studying grace lately. It is crazy to me how many different thoughts there are about it and how many misconceptions about it. My theory, along with any other Bible believer is that thoughts are worthless unless they are tied to scripture and proven through Gods word in context.

Have you experienced grace? The very fact that i was born, and am still alive is a big enough sign to me i have experienced grace along with the millions of other examples i could use. So if you are reading this, i am sure u have experienced grace by some means. Hebrews 13:25 "May Gods grace be with you ALL". So we have established we ALL have grace in our lives. Now we all have gifts, and the word says they are given through grace. Romans 12:6 "In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well" . Think about this, Gods gift to the world was Jesus Christ, and it was only by grace that Jesus endured what he went through. Ephesians 1:7 "He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins." The ultimate gift was given through Jesus(salvation), but the full benefits of the gift was not established until Jesus endured the cross. So the gift was given through grace, but the gift was not fully utilized until he endured the cross.(which took grace) I know for a fact this was not easy for Jesus, the fact that he sweated blood praying prayers like Mark 14:36 "Father, please take this cup of suffering away from me. yet i want your will to be done, not mine." This shows me that it took the strength of the father given by grace.

Do you want your gifts to be fully utilized? No matter what you have them, but i am convinced they are never gonna be completely utilized until they have undergone "Grace under Pressure". Its like the coffee press, i could eat the coffee grounds and get something out of it, some energy, maybe a awkward taste and probably not much more. But when mixed with water and put under pressure, something amazing comes out of it. If God is mixing you up right now, don't expect him to pull you out right away, expect for some pressure that's gonna happen. Its in these seasons of mixing and pressure that the greatest gifts are created, world changing gifts. God is gonna give you grace to get through it, 2 Corinthians 12:9 "my grace is all you need."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rooftop Coffee

Have you ever been to a rooftop restaurant? I went to this really cool one in Hollywood one time, I ate a meal they charged way to much for, drank a cup of coffee out of a glass that looked like my sisters old tea party glasses and had some desert that still to this day have no idea what it was.(It was good though) To get to this place i had to take an average escalator, then go across a balcony and then go up this extravagant staircase. There was signs the whole way letting me know where i was going and eventually i got there. I believed in my heart there was a restaurant up there, my friend had told me about it, there was signs and i had even heard other people talk about it.

Have you read the story in Mark 2 about the 4 men with the paralyzed man on the mat? I was thinking about these guys relating it back to my adventure in rich people land. These guys walk to a house hoping to see this man healed and see a crowd of thousands...The first thing that probably filled there minds(because of human nature) was doubt, "oh well lets come back tomorrow" they thought. But they got passed it, the 1st huge step they took i'm convinced was getting above the crowd. They shimmed up a drain pipe, carefully walked across this mud roof and got to the place where they knew Jesus would be under them. There was a roof between them now, but these guys saw something the average Christian doesn't see, they saw an opportunity to Jesus and NOT an obstacle. They knew it would take work but they were determined that this was the way to Jesus. As christians we cant see obstacles, we have to see opportunitys to Jesus, that is how we are going to expand our faith.

These men finally had breakthrough, they could see Jesus clearly and now they just had to get onto his level. Which is sometimes so hard for us because we are always on our high horse and want to do things our way. What does Jesus do? He throws these guys a curveball, they came for healing but he forgives his sins instead. Jesus does things his way, before he can heal you physically he has to heal you spiritually. He is our REDEEMER(thank you Lord) Through all of the mockery of the pharisees he held fast, he waited it out with faith and found himself healed because of it. When we hope for healing in the natural and dont see it, we need to get past our flesh and go deeper than that, how is God trying to heal me spiritually and not try to picture how he is going to do it. He does things his way not ours!

There is so much more to this story, you would be reading for days so i will just end with this. These four men didnt have faith because they were on top of a roof, they had faith so they got on to the roof. It was there faith that got them above the crowd and into a spot of OPPORTUNITY. It doesnt mean that our opportunitys wont be hard, getting above the crowd might be hard, but that is when our faith is going to grow. Sometimes we will find ourselves in great spots and postitions, but our faith cant be only based on where we are, it has to be based on where we are going. Its your faith that is going to position you, if you let your position determine your faith, your faith is going to be determined by your circumstances.

Friday, February 5, 2010

"My Grace is sufficient"

So it has been awhile since i have written anything for you guys, for personal reasons i went 24 days without coffee or my computer. During this time i had some great time with God, along with some great headaches! As i laugh at myself.

A few verses that have stuck out to me through the whole month of January were 2 Corinthians 12:7-10(dust off that old bible and read it). This is the passage were Paul is given a thorn in his flesh. Not "given" by God, but "allowed" by God. Was this an actually thorn in his foot? probably not or he would have just pulled it out.(me trying to be funny) I have reason to believe it could be a number of things. 1. Sexual temptation-He talks about the "adulteress" first hand, and in Romans 7:18-19 he kinda goes off and asks to be delivered from the forbidden waters. 2. maybe opposition-others were always questioning his apostleship(2 cor. 12:12), didn't like his message of grace(Gal. 1:7) Maybe the thorn was others trying to break Paul? 3. Physical thorn-Have u seen when Paul writes ,"look what big letters i have written in"?(Gal. 6:11)Maybe Paul never fully recovered his eye sight when he was blinded on the road to Damascus. In Gal. 4:15 Paul says "you would have taken out your eyes and given them to me if possible". Paul traveled and wrote letters, think about what a thorn it would be to be partly blinded? There is still more but to save time we will just keep going.

So this last month i really wanted coffee, but i promised God and myself i was gonna restrain. So i prayed! "God, you know i want/need it". My head was hurting, i was tired and i couldnt think very well, then i decided to get out of bed for the first day:) I knew i didnt want it,I did, but i wasnt gonna cave to my fleshly desires. I got into this conversation with God. "you know my heart, you know why i am doing this, why wont you stop it?" And he brought me to 2 Cor. 12:9 "My grace is sufficient for you"! I got this revelation, he isnt gonna get rid of our fleshly desires to experience his glory. He is gonna make us "pick up our cross and die daily" to get past our flesh and rely on his grace, which is sufficient.

Paul wrote 2/3rds of the New testement, he was the ultimate apostle, but still God didnt take away his thorn. Is it because God isnt just? Absolutely not, its because God is that good of a father. He hasnt given us a handicap, he has given us grace.

This week i want you to think about what you are struggling with. Then i want you to think about his grace. You cant do it on your own, but he has given you the strength to overcome the impossible. When your flesh starts kicking in, dont try to get rid of it, admit it, "dont claim it but name it'-Pastor Kriste Wilde. Paul states in 2 cor 12:10 "thats why i take pleasure in my weakness....For when i am weak, then i am strong". Gods strength is shown through mans admitted weakness, and his grace can only be a experienced when we are faced with the "humanly" impossible. For we know, Luke 1:37 "For nothing is impossible with God".

Saturday, November 21, 2009

This is "NOT" what i ordered

Have you seen "that guy", or "that girl"? The one who flips a wig in the coffee shop because they got there order wrong. They say something like "i ordered a non-fat iced, quad venti, 4 pump toffee nut with a twist, 6 sweet N lows, one sugar, light ice latte with whole milk foam on the side". yah that one! The poor barista has 20 different orders going on and misses the drink by 1 sweet n low packet and that person is just ruthless to them. We have all seen this played out in so many different scenarios, fast food, coffee, fine dining and more. But what happens when they get something more or better than what they ordered? usually its a different story isn't it. They walk a way with the little smirk thinking "OH YAAAAA"! There is usually not even a thank you involved cause they want to get away hoping nobody will think twice about it.
We do it with God all the time, it started in "The gardern of Eden" Gen. 2, and with Jesus in Mark 6:3 Then they scoffed,"He's just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon." and the early church did it all through out Acts and the Epistles. We are given something, but its not what we asked for, so we whine and complain to God. Our prayers are filled with complaints and suggestions on how God could do it better if he just listened to us and answered out prayers the way we want them. We get the scripture of John 14:14 totally wrong, "yes, ask me for anything in my name, and i will do it." I love that scripture, but so many of us think of it as Jesus is now my magical genie..."Poof what do you need"? We need to look at it as God knows best for us and knows exactly what we need. He wants to answer our prayers when they are lined up with his will. 1 John 5:14 "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." Wow that is so good!!! We need to quit thinking as if God got our order wrong and as if he heard, but really new that's not what we needed, and in the long run not even what we really wanted.
Then there is the side of getting more than we bargained for! I had 1.64$ in change and got a 4$ drink out of it! God says in Eph. 3:20 "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us" God so often gives us way more than we bargained for but we shrug it off as luck with out even giving thanks. Do you know why we dont? Its because we as humans are born to be selfish, its part of the sin nature we are born with, thats why GOD says PS.50:23"But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me, if you keep to my path, i will reveal to you the salvation of God". Sometimes giving thanks is a sacrifice, especially if i am giving thanks for something i really didn't ask for. But what does this scripture say? Giving thanks is the password to the revelation of God. Giving thanks is what is gonna open the door to abundance and to the revelation God has for us. What do we give thanks for? EVERYTHING!!! James 1:16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father.
Remember, everything you get comes from God. You may not want it or like it at the time but God knows the beginning from the end and he knows what you need and dont need. Garth Brooks nailed it on the head..."Sometimes i thank God, for un-answered prayers". I think we need to do the same, considering he knows way more than we do!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Great Coffee Debate

Some great thoughts from Jillian McConaughey!

The Great Coffee Debate

I am so excited to be a guest blogger on Jesus & Coffee! While I don’t have a blog of my own, Jesus & Coffee has got me thinking of my own Jesus & Coffee life-style and how it reflects the attitude of this generation. Let me elaborate…

Every day I have this choice-do I drink coffee or not? Do I indulge in a white chocolate mocha, a pumpkin spice latte, or black coffee with more sugar and cream than actual coffee, or do I refrain? I want to drink that wonderful brown liquid with lots of flavor, but is it worth it? You see, coffee usually makes my stomach hurt!! So do I indulge and suffer the consequences or do I find an alternative?

I find it interesting that we have the opportunity to indulge in things that are so good or at least feel good, but ultimately will bring about something negative? What’s more interesting is that we do indulge in these things, knowing that they are wrong or bad for us! How easily we are led by our own desires. We live in a generation that is willingly doing wrong because of its instant gratification not knowing that there is an alternative that brings a good and lasting result! Galatians 5:17 says

“The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”

Let me suggest the alternative-Jesus! He is more satisfying and fulfilling then any indulgence or fleshly desire. Everything about Him is good and is good for you! He loves you and desires the best for you! So my ultimate, lasting alternative is Jesus! Now my alternative coffee drink is a soy vanilla Chai latte (introduced to me by my BFF who is also a non-coffee drinker but totally in love with Jesus)!

Disclaimer: I am in no way suggesting that drinking coffee is a sin! Drinking coffee and reading the Bible is totally fulfilling both naturally and spiritually. And yes, I do on occasion continue to drink coffee.