Morning Prayer

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You. Psalm 143:8 (NKJV)

Dear Lord,

I am Your servant,

Show me where to walk,

For I have come to You in prayer,

Teach me to do Your will.

May Your gracious Spirit

Lead me forward,

I am Your servant, Lord,

In Jesus Name I pray,

Let Your will be done. Amen.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  So long ago I read Psalm 143 and then wrote this prayer for God’s direction.  You can do it, too. When you need God’s guidance for your next steps, read Psalm 143.  Then pray Psalm 143, asking God to hear your prayer, to answer you speedily, to show you the way to walk, to deliver you from the enemy, to teach you, to lead you, to revive you.  And He will answer.  The King of kings and Lord of lords, the Father or our Savior Jesus Christ, will answer you and guide you on His straight and narrow path.

Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God.
May your gracious Spirit lead me forward
    on a firm footing.  Psalm 143:10 (NLT)

Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.  Isaiah 55:6 (NKJV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

(NLT) Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation

(NKJV) Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Prayer Journal How-tos

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18 (NKJV)

Keeping a prayer journal is a great way to stay focused while you pray, to encourage you that you really did pray, and to look back to see how faithful God has been in carrying you through so many prayer requests.  Just as there are a variety of ways to pray, there are numerous ways to keep a prayer journal.  Today I’d like to show you how I do My TEA CUPP Prayers prayer journal, and soon I hope to give you one along with my book.

For now, start by finding a notebook you know you will use.  I like a spiral notebook that is about the size of my Bible.  The prayer journal and Bible fit nicely together in my book bag.  The spiral binding allows me to open it flat or flip it completely open while I am journaling.  You can find inexpensive notebooks and journals at Walmart or Target or Family Dollar, or you can find a pretty flowery one at an office or gift store.  Whatever inspires you and helps you pray is perfect!

Next, find your pens.  If your favorite color is purple, perhaps you’d like a purple pen!  I use blue Pilot G-2 pens for most of my journaling because of the smooth writing ability.  I always need two or three, because they run out right in the middle of my prayers and I don’t want to have to get up and search the house for another one.  Have extra pens right by your Bible and journal in your quiet time spot.

My quiet time begins with Jesus having the first Word as I read my Bible. I follow the one-year Bible reading plan found in the Our Daily Bread devotional.  I have also used a One Year Bible in the past, which has the Bible divided into daily readings already. I pray,

Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law.”  Psalm 119:18 (NKJV)

I soak up all He has to tell me and underline my favorite verses.  I label the verses with the letters of the TEA CUPP acronym, so I may use them in my prayer journal.  Then I open my journal and get it ready for my prayers.  I write the date, then going down the page I write T-E-A.  On the next page I write C-U-P.  And on the next page I write another P.

Some Bible reading days have so many verses that it is hard to pick which ones to use.  Other days I don’t have enough verses, so I go back and use verses I underlined  in the previous weeks.  I find a THANKSGIVING verse and write it next to the letter T to thank God for His blessings.  I find an EXALTING verse and write it next to the letter E to exalt and praise my Jesus.  I find an ADMITTING verse and write it next to the letter A to admit my sins and ask Jesus’ forgiveness.

On the second page of my journal, I find a CALLING verse for something God is calling me to do today and write that in my journal next to the letter C.  I find an UNDERSTANDING verse and write it next to the letter U as I try to understand my story a little better.  I find a beautiful PROMISE verse and claim that as I write it next to the letter P.

On the third page, I find a  PETITIONING verse to use to pour my heart out to Jesus in prayer.  I pray all the parts of My TEA CUPP, filling in the extra spaces of my journal with more prayers on each letter.  Then I fill the rest of the PETITIONING page and perhaps another page with all my prayer requests for family and friends and loved ones.

If I am traveling or just had a new baby, I sometimes do just one letter a day in my prayer journal.  But I feel most complete when I have time to do all the parts and talk to Jesus about everything that is on my heart that day.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  I hope today’s devotion helps you as you fine tune your own prayer journal and devotion times with Jesus.  If you need ideas for Bible verses I have oodles for you here.  Someday, you will look back on all these prayers and be praising Jesus for His goodness all over again!

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

A Trip to Zion

Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come out of Zion!
When the Lord brings back the captivity of His people,
Let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad. Psalm 14:7 (NKJV)

Are you looking for a fun family vacation in God’s creation where you will be reminded of God’s Word and promises?  Where there are activities for children of all ages?  Where accessibility is ensured and shuttles deliver you from April to October to your next scenic point?  I have just the place for you, and now is the time to plan your trip!

Last July our family made a trek to Zion National Park in southern Utah to rendezvous with our New Mexico cousins.  And though it was 100 degrees and the crowds were at their peak, we had a wonderful time exploring this unique National Park.

My dear sister-in-law made reservations for us in March, and the closest campsites at that time were an hour away in Cedar City at the KOA.  The hour drive wasn’t so long because of the pretty scenery and time to discuss hiking plans.  The Cedar City KOA had a central picnic area where we could join our cousins for meals, though the KOA itself was better for RVs than for tents.

But when we saw the campsites in Zion National Park, we knew that’s where we would like to stay next time.  For the Park campsites you must make reservations now, because they fill up by December.  The park campsites are convenient to the shuttles, trails, visitor centers, and ranger programs.  You can even take a shuttle back into the town of Springdale for groceries.  Nestled among the trees in their own quiet area, the campsites are the way to experience Zion.  If you still want to be in the Park, but not out in the elements, try the beautiful Zion Lodge.

So, how does Zion National Park remind us more of God’s Word than the other three National Parks in southern Utah (Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Arches National Parks), or the Grand Canyon, just two hours away in Arizona?  Though Zion Park gained its title from Mormon pioneers, a Methodist pastor, Frederick Fisher, gets the credit for many of the park’s names.  Pastor Fisher named three peaks after the Biblical Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Running through the Park is the Virgin River, named for the Virgin Mary who gave birth to our Lord Jesus. Another edifice, “The Alter of Sacrifice.” memorializes the Old Testament story of Abraham obediently offering his son Isaac, foretelling God giving His only Son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins. Rounding out the Biblical illusions are the Great White Throne, Angels’ Landing, and Watchman.

…And I will place salvation in Zion,
For Israel My glory. Isaiah 46:13 (NKJV)

Numerous activities beckon every visitor who enters Zion National Park. From early  morning ranger hikes to late evening campfire programs, to talks and hikes throughout the days.  I asked our six year old son what he liked best about Zion, and he replied, “Soaking my feet in the Virgin River after that super long hike.”  I must add to his list, earning a Junior Ranger Badge, successfully hiking to the top of Observation Point in 100 degree weather, and making it back down, even though we ran out of water! We also took the shuttle to end of the road to visit the River Walk and convinced ourselves we must hike The Narrows on our next visit (this is a hike in the river, so we have to plan our trip for non-flood season and rent special shoes, June and early July might be best).

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Take Jesus on your next vacation or camping trip.  Start your day with a family devotion and prayer, then head out early to make the most of your day with hiking and fun times with your family.  Thank Jesus for His beautiful creation and let each family member say thank you for their favorite part of the day.  Get started here…Plan your trip here!

Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion! Declare His deeds among the people.  Psalm 9:11 (NKJV)

And I have put My words in your mouth;
I have covered you with the shadow of My hand,
That I may plant the heavens,
Lay the foundations of the earth,
And say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’ ”  Isaiah 51:16 (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

Let’s Talk about Calling

 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29 (NKJV)

I remember sitting in the church sanctuary with a group of women.  We had spent the entire weekend together at a church as part of an Emmaus Retreat.  Over the course of the weekend we sang spirit-filled hymns, dug into scripture, cried over testimonies, and prayed in our family groups around the tables.  We shared meals prepared by loving church members and slept on cots in the Sunday school rooms. Now each lady was relating what the weekend had meant to her and what God was calling her to do next.

As each dear sister stood in front of the microphone and shared, I mentally prepared what I would say (as many of us do when we really should be listening!).  Then one sweet gal approached the stage and proclaimed, “I just want to go home and be the best wife and mom I can be.”  All my prepared thoughts were washed away by her sincere calling.  “That’s the call I want!”  I cried, already being the mom of two special young kids.  “Can I please have that calling, too!”

But when my turn came to speak before the understanding faces, I had to share what I had heard Jesus tell me during the weekend.  “I hear Jesus calling me to go to seminary to learn more about Him,” I confessed. But then I went home and asked God if I could have the other mom’s calling.

You know what He showed me? He made me a wife, so I’m obviously called to be a good wife.  He made me a mom, so I’m definitely called to be a loving mom.  But He also has something else He needs me to do.  And so I found a nearby seminary that offered the first course free and took a class on church history.  I loved learning about the Wesley brothers and their mother Susanna who prayed with her apron over her head so she could have quiet time in the midst of her many children.  And as only God can plan it, He also answered my long time prayer for another child and made me a mother again while I was taking this class. He blessed us with our dear son Kevin Jon, reinforcing my calling to be a mom.

And while Kevin was still nursing, God gave me My TEA CUPP Prayers as a way to spend time with Him each morning and be a mom, too. Kevin would wake up at 5 a.m. every morning, my trusty little alarm clock.  As he nursed, I read my Bible.  Soon he was back to sleep and I would tuck him in on the sofa beside me as I wrote in my prayer journal. I continued to take seminary classes at camping conferences where my family also participated, so I didn’t have to be away from our children, eventually receiving certification in camp and retreat ministry.  But I always embraced being a wife and mom, and now I’m a grandma, too!

Romans 11:19 says, “ For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”  I can’t change what God is calling me to do.  He is calling me to invite ladies everywhere to have TEA with Jesus, the King of kings.  He has also stamped upon me “wife,” “mom,” “grandma,” “daughter,” “sister,” “aunt,” “cousin,” “friend,” “beloved.”

Every day as I read my Bible, I ask God what He is calling me to do.  Recent verses He has pointed me to include:

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24

who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NKJV)

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NKJV)

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My dear TEA friend, what is God’s calling for your life?  If you aren’t sure, perhaps ask Jesus each morning, “What will you have me do today?  He will show you bit by bit, how to be a loving wife, mom, neighbor, friend…to pray for a stranger, to bake cookies for a neighbor, to send a card to a loved one, to hug your kids, to honor your husband, to share Jesus…and before you know it, you are living out God’s calling for your life.

I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.  Psalm 40:8 (NKJV)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson

 

 

 

 

 

How Big is Your Tea Tin?

Rerunning this favorite article today in honor of the Tumblewood Tea ladies who are hosting a TEA this evening (scroll down for the cookies we are serving :-))…

That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:17-19 (NKJV)

On a sunny March morning, the wind blew me through the door of this charming tea company in Big Timber, Montana.  Smiling faces and an inviting tea showroom beckoned me inside.  My goal was to find the largest tea container for my upcoming article, but I was treated to even more.

Tumblewood Teas founder, Riza Gilpin, graciously ushered me from one tea room to the next. Huge tea bundles from around the world were carefully organized on pallets from floor to ceiling.  Separate storage rooms contained organic teas, with another room for potential allergens such as coconut and almonds.  In the backroom, individual bags of the latest blend were carefully sealed and labeled.  And a bucket of Montana honey was delivered to the back door.

My final stop on the impromptu tour was the showroom where all the latest tea blends can be purchased.  I selected four to give as hostess gifts on an Easter trip to family:  Chico Cherry, Montana Almond Joy, Petticoat Peppermint, and Custer’s Nutty Rooibos. I’m hoping my family will give me a taste, but if not, I can always stop back and see Riza and Laurie and the Tumblewood Tea gals for more.

Beside the front door as I headed out, stood a rack of tea tins from around the world.  Awesome! What a beautiful collection, fitting so well with my devotion, “How big is your tea tin?”  But none was as big as the bundles I witnessed in the storerooms that day.

The wind blew me back to my car.  While I took a sip from my well-loved Tumblewood Teas tumbler, I pondered all I had learned on my short visit.  Did you know green tea’s water should only be 175 degrees, not 212 degrees that comes out of my boiling tea kettle?  If the water is too hot, the leaves wilt, giving you a bitter flavor.

Our lives can be like that, too, bitter because we fall into hot water.  Sometimes it’s our own doing, and other times it comes from outside sources. Regardless of its origin, the bitterness is a result of our fallen world.  Ever since Eve and Adam ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, we’ve needed a Savior to make life sweet again.

I have Good News for you!  There is a God who loves you, who created you, who knows you, who sent His only Son Jesus to die for your sins.  All who believe in Him enjoy the sweet blessing of His forgiveness and comfort for life’s bitter moments.  And there is no tea tin in all the world that can contain His love for you!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My friend, I invite you today to sit down with Jesus for TEA.  Find a BIBLE and a quiet spot, sip your TEA and read God’s Word, savoring the sweetness.  Then as you pour yourself a second cup, pour out your heart to Jesus in prayer.  He will give you more than all you ask or imagine.

How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Psalm 119:103 (NKJV)

Jennifer Grace lives in Big Timber, Montana, home to the esteemed Tumblewood Teas company.  Her mission is to invite ladies to TEA with the King of kings.  Jennifer Grace’s new book, My TEA CUPP Prayers, is now available in Big Timber at Tumblewood Teas, The Fort, Touch of Sunshine Flowers, and the Coffee Stop.  It’s also available on Amazon.

And here are the Zucchini Cookies we are serving with our tea…

Ingredients:
2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup grated zucchini, it’s okay to leave on the skin
1 1/4 cups chopped walnuts
1 package Enjoy Life chocolate chips (dairy-free)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine all the dry ingredients together in one bowl:  rice flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, set aside.  In a large bowl, combine the coconut oil, brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Add the vanilla and eggs and mix well.  Stir in the grated zucchini.  Next add the dry ingredients and walnuts, mixing well.  Finally, stir in the Enjoy Life chocolate chips.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Use a small scoop to spoon the cookie batter onto the pans, 12 to a pan.  It should make four batches, or about 48 cookies.  Bake each pan for 15 minutes.  Let cool and enjoy.  48 cookies should last a long time, but somehow these always disappear in two days at my house!  Enjoy!

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

TEA with Psalm 119 (Part 2)

Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path. Psalm 119:105 (NKJV)

It’s time for more Bible verses for your TEA time with Jesus!  Last week I shared verses from the first half of Psalm 119.  Today we have verses from the second half of Psalm 119.  May God’s Word continue to bless and guide you as you pray and put your hope in Him!

T for Thanksgiving:

I rejoice at Your word
As one who finds great treasure.
Psalm 119:162 (NKJV)

E for Exalting:

Forever, O Lord,
Your word is settled in heaven.
 Psalm 119:89 (NKJV)

How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!  Psalm 119:103 (NKJV)

You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.  Psalm 119:114 (NKJV)

The entirety of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. Psalm 119:160 (NKJV)

A for Admitting:

Let my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes,
That I may not be ashamed. Psalm 119:80 (NKJV)

I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.  Psalm 119:101 (NKJV)

Direct my steps by Your word,
And let no iniquity have dominion over me. Psalm 119:133 (NKJV)

 C for Calling:

I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, to the very end. 
Psalm 119:112 (NKJV)

Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous judgments. Psalm 119:164 (NKJV)

 U is for Understanding our story:

Unless Your law had been my delight,
I would then have perished in my affliction. Psalm 119:92 (NKJV)

I am Your servant;
Give me understanding,
That I may know Your testimonies.
 Psalm 119:125 (NKJV)

Trouble and anguish have overtaken me,
Yet Your commandments are my delights.
Psalm 119:143 (NKJV)

The righteousness of Your testimonies is everlasting;
Give me understanding, and I shall live.
 Psalm 119:144 (NKJV)

Let my cry come before You, O Lord;
Give me understanding according to Your word. Psalm 119:169 (NKJV)

P is for Promises:

The entrance of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.
 
Psalm 119:130 (NKJV)

P is for Petitioning:

Revive me according to Your lovingkindness,
So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.
 
Psalm 119:88 (NKJV)

I am Yours, save me;
For I have sought Your precepts. Psalm 119:94 (NKJV)

I am afflicted very much;
Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word.  Psalm 119:107 (NKJV)

Depart from me, you evildoers,
For I will keep the commandments of my God! Psalm 119:115 (NKJV)

Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes. Psalm 119:135 (NKJV)

I cry out with my whole heart;
Hear me, O Lord! Psalm 119:145 (NKJV)

Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
O Lord, revive me according to Your justice. Psalm 119:149 (NKJV)

Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your word. Psalm 119:154 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Psalm 119:147 declares, “I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word.” What do you think, my TEA CUPP friend, can you make a date with Jesus every morning before the sun come up?  Sit down with the Lord for TEA, open your Bible, read His Word, and pour out your heart to Him in prayer.

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

TEA with Psalm 119

Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law.  Psalm 119:18

It’s time for more Bible verses for your TEA time with Jesus! If you allow your Bible to fall open to the approximate center, it is very likely that you will be on Psalm 119, the longest Psalm with 176 verses.  If you ever aren’t sure what to read or which verses to pray, turn to Psalm 119 because it is packed with great verses.  Underline your favorites and use them as conversation starters for your prayer time with Jesus.  There are so many wonderful verses that I will have another batch for you next week.  Savor your sips with the Savior!

T for Thanksgiving:

At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You,
Because of Your righteous judgments.Psalm 119:62 (NKJV)

E for Exalting:

The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of coins of gold and silver. Psalm 119:72 (NKJV)

A for Admitting:

Remove from me the way of lying,
And grant me Your law graciously.
Psalm 119:29 (NKJV)

Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things,
And revive me in Your way. Psalm 119:37 (NKJV)

 C for Calling:

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:11 (NKJV)

I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word. Psalm 119:16 (NKJV)

Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.  Psalm 119:35 (NKJV)

My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments,
Which I love,
And I will meditate on Your statutes. Psalm 119:48 (NKJV)

 U is for Understanding our story:

With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! Psalm 119:10 (NKJV)

Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word. Psalm 119:67 (NKJV)

It is good for me that I have been afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes. Psalm 119:71 (NKJV)

Your hands have made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments. Psalm 119:73 (NKJV)

P is for Promises:

Blessed are those who keep His testimonies,
Who seek Him with the whole heart!
 
Psalm 119:2 (NKJV)

I will run the course of Your commandments,
For You shall enlarge my heart. Psalm 119:32 (NKJV)

P is for Petitioning:

Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.
 
Psalm 119:17 (NKJV)

My soul clings to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word. Psalm 119:25 (NKJV)

My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word. Psalm 119:28 (NKJV)

Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall keep it to the end.  Psalm 119:33 (NKJV)

Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
For I believe Your commandments. Psalm 119:66 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Revive me, strengthen me, teach me…such powerful pleas we can bring to Jesus.  Try picking just one verse and let it be your cry to Jesus this week.  Ask the Lord to show you which verse you should pray next.

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

A Tale of Two Coats

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors. Genesis 37:3

It was the best of coats, it was the worst of brothers, it was the age of integrity, it was the age of deceit, it was the epoch of God’s will, it was the epoch of devious plans, it was the time of Light, it was the time of darkness, it was the spring of promise, it was the winter of famine, it was the Old Testament, it was the New Testament, some were going direct to Heaven, others were going direct the other way—all because of two coats (with apologies to Charles Dickens).

This summer our pastor dug into the story of Joseph found in the book of Genesis.  So much can be gained from this one story, from forgiveness to God’s call on our lives to His provision.  The dreams of Joseph, the baker, the cup-bearer and Pharaoh are quite exciting. But perhaps the most compelling element for me this year was the two coats.

Did you know Joseph had two coats that both got him into trouble? The first coat was the coat of many colors he was given by his father Jacob.  Being one of a dozen brothers, this made the others very jealous.  So, one day when Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers in the field, they took Joseph’s beautiful colored coat and sold him to Ishmaelite slave traders. The brothers dipped the coat in animal blood to make their father Jacob assume Joseph was attacked by a wild beast. The jealous brothers had their revenge on Joseph for his beautiful coat.

So they took Joseph’s tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in the blood. Genesis 37:31 (NKJV)

Down in Egypt, God blessed Joseph with another coat.  There he worked for a rich man named Potiphar.  Joseph was so good at managing, Potiphar put him in charge of his entire household. But Potiphar’s wife had a crush on Joseph, because he was so handsome. She tried to seduce Joseph, to no avail.  One day while everyone else was out, she grabbed his coat and Joseph fled.  His coat remained in her hands.  With the coat as false proof, Potiphar’s wife claimed Joseph tried to attack her.  Joseph was put in prison, all because of that second coat.

And so it was, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside… Genesis 39:13 (NKJV)

Two coats. Two troubles.  Poor Joseph must have wondered where God was in the midst of this.  But Joseph remained faithful in serving the Lord and was eventually promoted from the prison to the palace. There he had the amazing task of saving all his family from famine.  You can read the entire riveting story in Genesis 37-50!

 But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Genesis 50:20 (NKJV)

Joseph’s two coats point us to Jesus’ two coats.  Jump from the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, to the first book of the New Testament, Matthew. Here in Matthew 27 we read about the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested. The soldiers replaced Jesus’ robe with a royal robe.  A crown of thorns was put on his head. The soldiers mocked Jesus and spat on Him and said He was king  (how ashamed they must have been when they realized Jesus really is the King of kings!).

And they stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. When they had twisted a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand. And they bowed the knee before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” Matthew 27:28 (NKJV)

The soldiers then gave Jesus back his first robe until He went to the cross.  That next day, as Jesus hung on the cross, dying for your sins and my sins and the sins of all the world, the soldiers cast lots for Jesus’ coat.  So our coats could be clean, Jesus shed His blood for us.

Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet:

“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”  Matthew 27:35 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  How is your coat, is it clean?  My friend, ask Jesus to forgive you and wash you clean as only He can do.  And as summer turns to autumn and you begin to wear your coat again, remember these coats from the Bible.  Thank God for the story of faithful Joseph who persevered to save His family.  Thank our Lord Jesus for making our garments clean through His precious blood He shed on the cross. Be blessed by this beautiful hymn: Washed in the blood of the Lamb

Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

 

There is Always a Baby

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3 (NKJV)

By You I have been upheld from birth;
You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb. My praise shall be continually of You.  Psalm 71:6 (NKJV)

There is always a baby.  Have you ever noticed how many of the great Bible stories have a baby?  Adam and Eve were blessed with Seth after Cain killed Abel.  Abraham and Sarah laughed as they gladly received their promised son, Isaac, in their old age. The birth of Samson, the Israelites’ judge against the Philistines, was first announced by the Angel of the Lord to his mother, “You shall conceive and bear a son.” (Judges 13:30).  Moses, God’s leader to bring His people out of Egypt, was rescued as a baby by the Pharaoh’s own daughter. When Hannah pleaded for a son at the temple, God heard her prayers, presenting Hannah with Samuel, whom she dedicated to the Lord.  The prophet Elisha, wanting to bless the woman who had shown him such kind hospitality, proclaimed to her, “About this time next year you shall embrace a son.”  And “the woman conceived, and bore a son when the appointed time had come, of which Elisha had told her.” (2 Kings 4:16-17).

Yet, above all these babies came the BABY God sent to redeem all mankind, His very own Son Jesus.  Rather than coming as a mighty King, Jesus came as a humble baby, born to the Virgin Mary in a dirty stable, and placed in a manger, instead of a mansion.  The earthly king Herod was jealous when he heard that another King had been born, so Herod ordered all the baby boys under age two to be killed.  An Angel warned Mary’s betrothed husband Joseph to flee to Egypt and Joseph obeyed, saving Jesus so He could save all mankind.

When we look back at these Bible stories we might be amazed how babies were killed unmercifully even in Bible times.  We might think this is just a current problem with society, but abortion and infanticide have been breaking God’s heart for centuries.  For the prophet Jeremiah proclaimed…

Thus says the Lord: “A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.”  Jeremiah 31:15 (NKJV)

Each baby and child is a precious gift from the Lord.  We don’t know the plans God has written for each one. But God has already written their stories before they are even born! We can’t snuff out this life before it comes to be because of pain or poverty or preferences, because God has a plan for every human life. That plan might include saving a nation or bringing joy to a barren family.

My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them. Psalm 139:15-16 (NKJV)

Some of you may be burdened with the guilt of giving into society’s leading, snuffing out the life of one of these precious babies.  I want you to know, you are loved! Jesus died for your sins, as He died for all our sins.  Believe in the name of Jesus and be free from this burden. Ask Jesus to forgive you. God loves you so much! He and your baby are waiting for you in heaven.  The ironic thing is, to be saved, Jesus tells us to come to Him as a child and be born again, just like a baby!

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  John 3:3 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: My TEA CUPP friends, I exhort you to put the lives of babies at the top of your list of things God is calling you do.  Pray for babies, volunteer at a Christian women’s center, donate to your local right-to-life organization.  Ask God where He wants you to help.  Most of all, choose life for your own babies. 

As for me, I keep praying for babies and writing for babies, and also I’m running a half marathon this fall for babies. Each mile will be for a women’s ministry center that helps mothers and babies with the love of Jesus.  I’d love to see this center spread to cities in every state.  If you’d like to support babies and sponsor me by the mile (i.e. $1/mile would be $13, $2/mile would be $26, $4/mile would be $52, etc.), please check out this link: Helping Babies and Moms with Jesus’ love

Thank you, dear friends!

 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live. Deuteronomy 30:29 (NKJV)

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.  Psalm 139:13-14 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson

Hungering for God’s Word

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ Matthew 5:4 (NKJV)

Can you imagine truly hungering for God’s Word so much that you would fast (not eat) for weeks and months to get your very own Bible?  If you are like me, you have a collection of Bibles on your bookshelf from different times in your life…the one I was given in church as a third grader, the ones my children received, my first One Year Bible, and more. There they sit because we have newer study Bibles we have come to love.  So, it is hard to imagine begging God week after week to send a Bible.  But that is how the amazing story of Brother Yun begins in The Heavenly Man.

My dear Bible study leader Terry has recommended this book on several occasions, so finally I made it my goal to read it this summer.  Just a few pages into the book I’m already in awe of what God did in the life of The Heavenly Man.  Brother Yun became a Christian as a teenager when Jesus miraculously healed his dad of cancer.  This all came about while Bibles were banned in China. Christians buried their Bibles in tin cans to save them for when God’s Word would be allowed again.  Brother Yun wanted a Bible so much, he prayed and fasted for months. Finally in the wee hours before dawn, a Bible was delivered to his door, just as he had dreamed.  Brother Yun ate up the Word of God like a starving soul, memorizing entire books of the Bible.  Wow!

How many people have Bibles sitting on the shelf as we do that are never opened? Is there someone in the world that is praying right now for a Bible to be delivered?  Are we as hungry as Brother Yun for God’s Word, gobbling it up every day as our very life and nourishment?

Today’s TEA CUPP: God has given us a gift, the Bible, His Word.  Do not neglect this precious present from the Lord.  Sit down with Jesus every day for TEA and eat His Word, the bread of life.  Underline your favorite verses.  Memorize them.  Use God’s Word as conversation starters as you pour out your heart to Jesus in prayer.  Commit to reading your Bible every day. And if you are one without a Bible, please message me and I will send you one from my shelf!

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.  Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson