Hi. This is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…Tea Anyone?

There is little doubt for those who know me that I am a confirmed coffee drinker, but occasionally I really do enjoy a good cup of hot tea. My personal favorite when I make that choice is Earl Grey with a healthy dose of sugar. When tea is what I desire, the aroma wafting from the cup as I lift it to take the first sip is almost as satisfying as the drink itself. When I want a good cup of hot tea, nothing short of that is going to satisfy.

If I were to ask my lovely wife to make me said cup of tea, I would have some expectations. My hope for a good cup would be unfulfilled if she simply poured a mug of room temperature water and put it in close proximity to a teabag and then presented me with the drink. I would likely look into the cup of clear tepid water and wonder why she had brought it to me that way. If instead, she quickly gave the teabag a single dunk into the lukewarm water and set it in front of me, it would not change the outcome…it would still not be what I desired and had asked for. However, if she were to fill the kettle, place it on the stove to boil and then let the tea steep until it released all of its delicious flavor, and finally added copious amounts of sugar…then I would be satisfied with the result. I would thank her for her efforts as I lifted the cup and smelled the sweet aroma that would soon also please my taste buds.

God has some desires for the results of our lives as well. He wants the outcome of our existence to be a sweet smelling aroma to Him. We know this because it is what Christ, the One we follow, allowed His life to be. Ephesians 5:2 in the New Living Translation says; Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. God’s desire is that our lives, like Christ’s life will be a pleasing aroma to Him.

The first step Lynn would take if I asked her to make me that cup of tea would be to put the teakettle on the stove. She knows I like my tea hot and so she would begin the process with boiling water. Romans 12:11 tells us what God’s desired temperature is for our lives as we serve Him; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. The connection may not be clear as we read the English words on the page of the New King James Version, but the original Greek word we translate to fervent in our vernacular actually means boiling hot. In fact, an accurate translation from the original text of the verse above would go something like this; Don’t take your time! Instead be in a hurry to let your spirit become boiling hot as you serve the Lord.

In my analogy if we are the cup of tea, the tea is the word of God. We can’t simply put His word in close proximity and expect it will have any effect on our lives. Just because we have a family bible in the house does not mean we have even the vaguest of idea what truths it holds. Nor can we simply give His word a quick dunk into our lives and think it is going to permeate. If our only exposure to the bible is to carry it into and out of the church sanctuary on weekends, we are foolish to think the power contained within is going to be evident in our lives. Our senior pastor spoke just this week from Mark chapter 12. There the Sadducees were trying to trap Jesus with a flawed question from the scriptures. Jesus responded, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the scriptures and you don’t know the power of God.” (Mark 12:24) If we don’t know the scriptures, if we don’t allow ourselves to be steeped in His word, we cannot have the power of God take over our lives. What is that power we need to experience to be pleasing to God and meet the expectations He has of us? The answer is found where we began today in Ephesians 5:2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ… His love flowing through us toward others is the defining proof His power has permeated our lives. As I mentioned I prefer Earl Grey tea, if that is what I want, any other kind is going to be an unacceptable counterfeit and will not fully satisfy. God wants His love flowing through us…not some cheap substitution we tried to manufacture. His love is for everyone, 1 John 4:7 says Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. In contrast, our substitute for His love will only be displayed toward select people. Jesus made this distinction during His sermon on the mount. It is recorded for us in Matthew 5:46-47 that He said, If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. If we are going to be a pleasing aroma to our God…we must allow His love to flow freely through us, giving evidence we are completely empowered by Him.

If we look back at the complete passage in Romans that told us to be boiling hot, we will see that this love that results from steeping ourselves in His word is mentioned there as well. In fact it is there that we gain a complete understanding of just how sweet God likes His tea. Romans 12:9-21 in the New Living Translation reads; Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.  When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. Instead, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.” Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.

So now, be boiling hot for the Lord. Steep yourself in His word every day so that you can know His power. Let His love flow freely through you, to everyone you come in contact with. Allow your life to be His cup of tea…and Go Be Awesome!