The Tea Bag

1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Have you ever observed a  tea bag in hot water?  The tea bag contains the essence of the tea.  Tea leaves ground down and put into a porous  bag, when submerged into the water, slowly begins to drift into the water.  Streams of dark and light brown drift into the vessel, mixing into the water.  The water cannot resist the tea as it slowly does its job.  You do not need to stir, or shake the water for the tea to overcome the water.  The longer the teabag remains in the water, the darker it becomes, then the substance in the cup is no longer water, but tea.  Everyone who walks by and sees your cup knows you are about to enjoy a hot cup of tea.

So it is as you surrender to Christ.  The Spirit of God enters you and goes to work.  Now if you were to remove the tea bag as soon as you had placed it into the water, then you would not have tea.  Jesus warned us that we should remain in him.  “Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4 NIV).  The only way for the tea bag to turn the water into tea is for the teabag to remain in the water.

Through this constant interaction the molecules transform the water into tea. Romans 12:2 says not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  So how do we renew our minds?  What does it mean?  How are we Transformed?  How do we remain in Him?

We can remain in him through prayer, study, and fellowship.  If you look at the life of Jesus, he was in constant prayer throughout his ministry.  He made is a point to pray, it was his priority, even over sleep and eating.  Prayer is spending time with God, being in his presence.  They Lord says that if we draw near to him, he will draw near to you. (James 4:8).  Have you ever had someone that you wanted to spend time with and had made plans to do something with them?  You spent time making arrangements, reworking schedules, and anxiously waited for the time that you could see them, just spend a little time catching up and seeing how they were doing?  Then on the appointed day, they called off, or even worse, just didn’t show up… and maybe didn’t even bother to speak to you about it.  Imagine what your heavenly Father feels like, he rearranged, creation, made sacrifices, and waited for you, and you didn’t even spend time to talk to him today.

If you love someone, you want to spend time with them.  You can’t wait to hear their voice.  Talking with someone is a way to let them get to know you, and for you to get to know them.  It makes you both feel special and needed.  If I never spoke to my wife and learned what her likes and dislikes are, how long do you think I would be married?  By watching her I can learn allot about her.

God has given us all kinds of information about himself in his word.  In fact he even told us that the bible is so much him that it is synonymous with his being.  John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  In reading the scriptures we gain insight into the very character of God.  I can tell allot about a man, by the way shakes my hand, and the way he talks to his wife and children.  I can see the way he sees himself by his posture.  We can tell allot about God by the way he treats his bride.  The Apostle Paul told Timothy to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the work of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).  Not don’t get confused, Paul was not saying that the work is what saves a man.  God forbid, Salvation is through GRACE.  What Paul was saying is that we should know the scriptures, we should know our faith.  We should know who we believe in.  We should know Jesus. Being with likeminded people can help us to develop and maintain this fellowship with Jesus.

I know you have heard that “Birds of feather flock together”.  This is true.  2 Corinthians 6:14 warns us, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers, for what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Of what fellowship can light have with darkness.”  Have you not heard where it is written, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5)?

Being with fellow believers strengthens your walk.  In Alcoholics Anonymous, you meet as a group, of likeminded people, who suffer from addiction and support one another to overcome this disease.  You get a sponsor, you to meetings, you work the 12 steps, and you share your testimony.  And for those who do these things, it works.  Does this sound familiar?

If you’re a Christian, you seek out like-minded people seeking to grow closer to God.  You get a mentor, you go to church, bible study, fellowship diners, and you share your testimony.  For those who do these things, IT WORKS. If an addict falls of the wagon, then it is almost impossible for them to get clean again, and they will more than likely die from their disease.  But the signs of this progression are not hidden.  They stop going to meetings, they stop working the steps, they lose contact with their sponsor, they revisit old hangouts and hangout with old friends who still use.

Remember the tea bag.  The more you stay in the vine, the more fruit you will have.  The healthier your relationship with God will be.  The more you will know who God is.  The more you can share with others who God is.  The darker your tea will be.

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You Can’t Live in Fear

When I was young I use to read a comic book called Ghost Rider.  This was about a lost soul who could look in the eyes of an evil person and reflect all the pain and fear they had caused other people back at them and the result would drive them insane.  Now that has nothing to do with what I’m saying other than his favorite saying was, “You can’t live in fear”.  I was reminded of it when I read my verse for the day.

The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1.

When the Lord brought the Hebrews out of Egypt and to the Promised Land.  They sent out scouts to survey the land, and gain intelligence on the resources and the inhabitants.  They sent 12 scouts in all to investigate the land the Lord had promised.

When the scouts returned, ten of the scouts spread stories of how strong the current inhabitants were, stories of giants and great cities and powers. Effectively scaring the whole of the Hebrew race.  They whipped up a strong frenzy in the Hebrews who now wished they had never left Egypt or that they had died in the wilderness, rather than face the enemies below.

Two of the scouts however, brought back reports of how plenteous the land was, ripe fields ready for the harvest.  Cities that were waiting to be conquered, and militaries in ill repair that were weakened by to many years in splendor.  The two scouts were Caleb and Joshua.

Caleb and Joshua remembered what the Lord had done for the Hebrew, how he had called them out of Egypt, parted the sea and crushed the Pharaoh and his immense army of chariots.  How the Lord had always been before them.  Providing food, shelter, and water along their journey.  How the Lord had prepared their path and protected their way.

Many times we as followers look out at the world, work, and our neighborhood and all we see are the fortifications, the walls of stone that are build up.  The weapons poised for defense, and the fires burning behind iron gates.  We become fearful, and sheepish, choosing to avoid the confrontation, and keeping silent.  Not doing what the Lord has commanded us all.  Praying the Lord would send others to do what he has already sent us to do.

We forget that the Lord has delivered us from bondage and protected us from our enemies.  Forgetting that the Lord has provided us food and nourishment, shelter and a stronghold.  He has given us strength and a comforter who resides within us.  We forget to look at His provisions.  The armor he has given us, we choose not to take up the shield and the sword for fear of rejection from those who reject Him.

How sad it is, that if we, just looked with remembrance in what the Lord has done for us we could see so much more.  We would see the fields ripe for harvest, and the rust on the enemy’s weapons.  We would see the foundation of the enemy build on shifting sands and unable to withstand the pressures of their buildings.  We would see a tabernacle already prepared for the Lord to indwell.

We are all called to bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember it is written, “ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” Acts 1:8   If you have ever wondered what it is that God wants you to do…. “Here’s Your Sign!”, as Bill Engvall would say. Let us all remember that we will all be called to give a testimony for what Christ has done for us.

Matthew 6:6

“But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly”

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When I was young and in Jr. High, I use to lock myself in my bedroom closet.  The closet was big enough to put a small desk in.  So I would lock myself in and read and study my bible.  While studying I would often pray and discuss the scriptures with myself and God allowed.  While doing so I would write my studies and prayers into a journal.  I could then reflect back months later and see the things I had prayed for in secret, and see the answers to prayer and I could thank God for the things he had done or the fears he had delivered me from.  In that small little closet with a makeshift desk and the light above I often felt closer to God then in any other place.

I remember when my oldest son was a toddler and he would go into the closet and play with my shoes, because he didn’t know I was home yet, but he missed me.  I slowly enter the bedroom without making a sound, and lay on the bed and watch and listen to him.  He would pretend he was talking to me and act like he was helping me with my boots.  Then inevitably he would notice me and then his eyes would light up and he would smile the biggest smile I have ever seen while raising his hands for me to pick him up.  Out joy for one another was uncontained.

Take time to be alone with God and He will be there, just quietly listening like a father to his child.  Waiting for you to see him and he will pick you up and show you all the joy he has in being your father.