I love coffee. I like a bit of ice in my coffee just to keep from getting burned. I do, however, also like cold coffee. I enjoy really strong coffee, but I cannot handle having my coffee too hot! A burned tongue is an indignity that lasts for several days preventing my enjoyment of food and beverage alike. My father also likes ice in his coffee. Often, as he drops a couple of cubes in his cup he will grin and remark, “Now, your grandfather could drink hot coffee in one great gulp. I don’t know how he did it.”
You and I need God’s grace! One of the ways we encounter it daily is through seeking the Lord in prayer and Bible reading. When it comes to devotions and spiritual disciplines, I think most people prefer their devotions a few degrees cooler than they were brewed. Nearly gone is the passion for reading the Bible “straight.” Now we have helpful study guides, devotionals, and other aids to help us portion our devotional time into neat little five-to-ten-minute servings. There is nothing wrong with those aids for Bible reading, but many of us spend more time on actual coffee breaks than we do in relational communion with God in Bible study and prayer. We want our spiritual moments cooler, creamed, and sweetened. We believe that the few robust types who spend a lot of time in devotions court a risk of becoming harsh and rule-oriented. But true grace only begets grace, not harsh legalism and judgmentalism. Even so, it is as if we avoid serious prayer and Bible reading because we fear that we will get burned. That is to say, we fear that we will see ourselves too clearly and discover that the Bible reveals that we are terribly selfish, greedy, lazy, sinful, spiteful, proud and disobedient.
I drink coffee oftentimes in the morning to make me feel alert, to feel better. We all know that coffee is mostly not doing anything tremendously good for us, but for many of us, it helps us cope with mornings that seem to have arrived much too early. Perhaps the desire to feel better is why we don’t want to get serious about devotional time in Bible study and prayer. We fear that if we really seek God’s thoughts, we are not likely to feel better immediately. Often before God can help us feel better, He has to help us face our fears, rebelliousness, sinfulness, and greed. Dealing with such things does not feel good while we are addressing these issues. We want to feel better NOW, the easy way. So, we take our religion iced, watered down, creamed, and sweetened so that it conforms to our tastes instead of our conforming to God’s prescriptions that will actually make us better whether it feels like it at the time or not.
Grace is best served hot! Sometimes it may burn a bit as our sins are revealed, but the long goal of grace is always to bring us closer to God. God wants to heal us of our sins, our greed, our selfishness, our lack of trust, and many other things. I’ve often wondered where the saints and martyrs obtained their courage, and now I’m convinced that they found it by taking grace at full strength and with full heat. Pain is often part of healing and so is waiting. Remember, the cup is never greater than the pot from which it was poured, but it can be so much less depending on what we add or subtract from it. We sometimes say that we want God to fill our cup, but if He does, will we drink it exactly as He served it? Go for the gusto—gulp down the grace of God at full strength! Spend more time in prayer and Bible study, and never forget to obey what you are taught. Grace is most powerful at full strength and if we learn to take it that way, we will never again settle for less!
Grab a cup of coffee, your Bible, and some quality time with God. God will serve up the finest brew of grace every time! God bless you!
Contact Pastor Lamb at email@example.com.