HOW ABOUT A CUP?

My morning routine begins with a cup of coffee, Bible study and prayer for family, friends, the church, KAIROS and the many folks coping with COVID, cancer and the complications of American life. I enjoy coffee but I am mostly a “de-caf” dude because of acid reflux. I rarely have more than 2 cups a day. What I miss more, is coffee and fellowship. My favorite coffee is with my brothers in the KAIROS prison ministry inside the walls at Centinela State Prison. The COSTCO muffins are good too! The coffee is definitely caffeinated inside with KAIROS, and the fellowship is even more stimulated by the Holy Spirit!!! I also like the coffee and doughnuts at my Sunday school where we “used to” talk and chew on God’s word as we drink our coffee. The zoom Sunday school is definitely decaffeinated…no coffee, snacks and too little fun banter with my church family.

In an early morning Bible study, in Matthew 26:11 in the Garden of Gethsemane, it writes where Jesus said “My father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” In this study, and many of your will agree, the cup symbolizes suffering. Who wants to be beaten and nailed to a cross?” Most of us would pass on a cup full to the brim with suffering. No one wants this COVID mess. No one, except the Lamb of God, wants the cup. Jesus did it as a sacrifice for the sins of the world, so we could be free, and have a relationship with our Savior. He did it for amazing love for the billions who don’t and never deserved it.

Many do take the cup though! I was watching some fiction on TV and a woman was going to give birth and we all have seen the scene of suffering the hours/minutes before that bundle of joy comes into the world and just blesses our socks off! Mothers at the time, don’t like the cup, but know that the pain is extreme, but worthwhile. People working the front lines of COVID could easily quit their jobs, but the suffering is worth the ones they save. Healthcare is different today. With more losses and work hours, more pain for caregivers. 

Suffering is a dirty job but someone has to do it. We can say the same for law enforcement, military and firefighters. Going to college is different, but you deny the self for 4+ years in the hopes of a good job or the opportunity to work in chosen area. “If you like your job, you will never have to work a day in your life!” First comes the suffering and then comes the blessing. I am glad Jesus chose the cross. He paid my price to prevent my eternal suffering. 

My difficulties, so far, have been relatively less than others. My COVID positive friends and family members have or are recovering. My financial situation is stable. I don’t have a business struggling and my work losses less. For those going through COVID trials and tribulations, keep the faith. If you are having difficulty with the cup you have been given, spend some time in Psalms for comfort, and Hebrews to help you become a member of the Hall of Faith. It is beyond my pay grade to say that COVID was sent by God to punish us. People can make that case. I prefer to believe that COVID is just more prophecy by Jesus (Matthew 24:6-7) where we are experiencing more birth pains before the return of Jesus J

So what are you to do as the cup comes your way? In the words of Bill Belicheck, loved or hated Hall of Fame coach of the Patriots: “DO YOUR JOB!!” We are to do what He has always asked us to do: Love your neighbor, pray, keep the faith, study the word, be obedient, serve others and in all these ways we will be loving God. He took the cup because He loves us. Come on team. As we take the cup, do what you can so that your cup overflows with love. After this cup passes, hopefully in 2020, let’s sit down and have a cup of coffee and discuss how glorious and amazing is our God!Type your paragraph here.

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                                                                                                        COVID 19-LIFE IN THE FAST LANE!

 

How quickly things have changed! In early March, things were somewhat normal and it is now July and for most of us things have turned upside down very quickly because of the COVID crisis. How fast my lifestyle has changed is something I have never experienced in my lifetime of 67 years. Things in life can change fast with an injury, illness, love lost, death or unemployment. When we hear the “fast lane” we will often think of things with speed, quickness or excitement. A person can go quickly from initial onset of COVID symptoms to ending up on a ventilator. This can happen in 2-3 weeks from the  first signs or symptoms. If a person has common symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, body aches they, gastro problems, they should contact their doctor fast! Early intervention is the fastest way to recovery, for any health problem, but more importantly for COVID, to quarantine and prevent is spread.

Now most of you readers were thinking speed when I used the fast word. Well, that’s not what God put in my heart that led to this essay. I was thinking of the Biblical “fast” which is defined as abstaining from food, but it can also be abstaining from other things too. When we abstain from things that make us feel good, then it gives us the opportunity for a closer relationship with God. Jesus fasted for 40 days, and He abstained from social contact, as well as food. In the Book of Ester, the Jews were called to fast when they faced the risk of genocide. In youth groups, kids are encouraged to abstain from worldly music. I remember as a church youth director, for several months, I abstained from “R” rated movies.

We as a society, we are being forced to fast, by COVID circumstances. I have been going through a sport’s fast for several months. I used to have a daily dose of ESPN (a sports news program on several times a day) and now I rarely watch it. The lack of college and professional basketball is hard, but not as difficult as I would have thought. If you put your mind on things above, things of the world lose their hold on you.  I have peace as we pass through the NFL preseason stuff. I can’t go to my fitness club to shoot hoops where they have a great indoor court! I am adapting to a few of my fasts.

We are also being deprived of going out eat, going to church, birthday parties and sadly to say funerals. If you take the recommendations of safety seriously, you are abstaining from a variety of recreation and social activities. Now my students in prison are used to deprivation, but that is part of the punishment process. Recently, education and other programs have been taken away from them. We are all being forced to fast. Now fasting is usually a personal, voluntary activity to give up something for God, and to focus more on Him in the time of deficit. Sometimes fast is forced upon us.

When you are on your deathbed, your career, size of your house, 401K, education or personal achievements (NBA ring!),  are not important. Survival, salvation and family become the focus of our thoughts and prayers. This brings me to the last fast lane. When I was looking up “fast” in the Bible, it is first referenced in The Book of Deuteronomy, and it is not about feeding your face. It talks in several separate verses about holding “fast” to God. Don’t let go folks! If you are on deck on a boat, and there is a big storm, what do you do? You hold on to a rope, mast, post or anything you can get your hands on, to keep from going overboard. In this serious COVID storm, grab onto God, hold on to the Lord’s lanyard and call out to Jesus! Things can change quite fast. If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, you are already wearing a life preserver, so no matter what the storm, or how fast the current, He will keep you safe until the waters slow and settle. And in the current situation, we really don’t know how fast the calm will come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9:15am    Bible Study for all ages         
10:15am  Sunday Morning Worship Service     
701 B Street * P.O. Box 334 * Brawley, CA  92227  (760) 344-3831   

DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT ACCEPTING CHRIST AS YOUR SAVIOR?  

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Due to COVID-19, Valley Baptist Church is currently closed for a typical Sunday morning worship service,

but as our normal custom, we live stream through our Facebook page every Sunday morning at 10:30am. 

Pastor John Mark Sharpe's message may be found on Facebook: 

Valley Baptist Church--Brawley, CA . 

The video below is our most current message.  See below article written by Jimbo Shinn!


Valley Baptist Church * 701 B Street * P.O. Box 134 * Brawley, CA  92227 * 760-344-3831 * Facebook:  Valley Baptist Church  Brawley, CA