The Last Cup of Coffee for Life

This week I got it…my last cup of coffee for life. NO, I didn’t stop drinking coffee. So let me give you some background. About 2 months ago a new convenience store opened up in my town. The store offered FREE COFFEE FOR LIFE to the first 50 customers that bought their custom designed stainless steel coffee cup. WOW. I happened to buy the last two, one for me and one for a friend who has treated me to coffee in days past. Now I was the coffee guy for the two of us. Every day I went in and got my free coffee, on Sundays and Wednesdays I also picked up one for my friend. I also bought breakfast sandwiches there. Then it happened…the store closed. No more “coffee for life”. UGH. What I thought was “forever” lasted only a couple months. Trying to break a guy’s heart? (or just his coffee habit?)

This isn’t the first time it happened to me. Some years ago I wrote a similar devotional called “$3.99 Forever” about a Chinese buffet that promised their buffet would ALWAYS be $3.99…forever. There was a sign on the door that stated such. That was until forever ended and the price went up to $4.99. The $3.99 sign came down replaced by a $4.99. What happened to the FOREVER price? Another heart break in a series of small let downs.

This past week however my heart truly broke over a different kind of loss. 

I received a package in the mail at church. It was heavy…very heavy. Opened it, pulled out the packaging and there was a handwritten letter inside. Before I looked through the box I read the letter. A friend who was with me could see I was visibly shaken, in a bit of disbelief over what I was reading. It was from a close friend of years gone by. We had served in church together, ran youth camps together, had started an e-votional ministry when few were even online. We loved the same music, attended the same Christian concerts. We studied the Bible together, we prayed together. Our families fellowshipped together. He was even critical in helping save my life and marriage during a spiritual crisis time in my life. He was there. He was always there. He was a friend, a colleague, and “Jesus” to me when few were treating me (rightly so) with any compassion. So you get the idea off this guy’s life…and then I read the letter…

He said he had packed up all his Christian music and books and was giving them to me because he knew I liked the bands and would like the books. He was getting rid of it because he didn’t want to take it to a landfill. COOL, right? I was very grateful, I still listen to CD’s, I still read “real” books. Then the other shoe dropped…

My friend proceeded to share that he has given up on Christianity, he has given up on believing in God. He has embraced a faith/belief void of Jesus, God and Christianity. I could hear the anger toward the church, anger toward Christians…and I sensed deep deep hurt that may have been mounting over years that comes across as a logical new belief system. Often, its less of a new belief system than it is a “shake your fist” at something (God) you now claim to not believe in. I’m at a loss for understanding this…I am still processing this change of his heart.

There’s a lot of questions and struggling thoughts, hurts, that have been flooding my mind this past week.I know what I believe. I am not having a crisis of faith in my own life. But I hurt for this friend.How do I respond to this guy? (This is a guy I have known for 30 years to be a man of strong fruitful faith.) How do we as Christians maintain a “forever faith”? Can we be sure that God is reliable to always be there? Will I always be there for Him? 

I want comfort, I need direction. Well, I found comfort and direction in the one place we can find comfort and direction…God’s own Word.

Hebrews 10:23-39
23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

26 Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. 27 There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. 28 For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. 30 For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The Lord will judge his own people.” 31 It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 Think back on those early days when you first learned about Christ. Remember how you remained faithful even though it meant terrible suffering. 33 Sometimes you were exposed to public ridicule and were beaten, and sometimes you helped others who were suffering the same things. 34 You suffered along with those who were thrown into jail, and when all you owned was taken from you, you accepted it with joy. You knew there were better things waiting for you that will last forever.

35 So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! 36 Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. 37 “For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. 38 And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” 39 But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

Hebrews 13:1-8, 14
1 Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters. 2 Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! 3 Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies. 4 Give honor to marriage, and remain faithful to one another in marriage. God will surely judge people who are immoral and those who commit adultery. 5 Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” 

6 So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” 7 Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. 

14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

I want my free coffee for life. I want my $3.99 Chinese buffet. However, I can do without that for eternity. But, I definitely want to see my friend in Heaven, our home yet to come. 

In closing, I want to simply repeat, from above:
Hebrews 10:23-24
23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. 24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Pastor Steve