Jesus, Calm the Storm!

“Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” Mark 4:41 (NKJV)

 

We awoke at 11:23 p.m. to gale-force winds slamming my husband’s side of the tent, pressing tent fabric to his nose.  The bungee strings and tent pegs threatened to pull loose as we wondered if we would be blown across the field and highway.

Just two hours before the storm hit, we had said our good-nights to escape the mosquitoes and catch up on our sleep. It had been such a peaceful evening of roasting marshmallows and playing games by the campfire.  Now as the tent quaked around us, we remember those items we had left on the picnic table.  We peeked out of the tent and, sure enough, they were blowing away.  Quickly we unzipped and scrambled to collect our things, stowing them in the car.  Then back to the tent to hold it down and wait out the storm.

As I lay curled up in my sleeping bag, the wind continued to rage.  All I could pray was, “Jesus, please calm the storm. Jesus, please calm the storm. Jesus, please calm the storm.”  Over and over I reminded Him that even the wind and waves obey Him. I prayed for the group of bicyclists camping nearby, their bikes carefully covered with trash bags for the night, and their pup tents, like ours, rattling in the wind.  Then I started praying for those friends who are having storms in their lives, their health, their marriages, their children.  I kept on praying, “Jesus, please calm the storm.”

And after what seemed like hours, but was perhaps less than an hour, the wind died down and gentle rain drops pattered our tent.  I fell asleep, waking five hours later to the light of dawn and birds chirping. Only two tent poles were broken! Thank You, Jesus, for calming the storm!!!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read the story of Jesus calming the storm in Mark 4:35-41.  Ask Jesus to calm the storms in your life today. Say, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And let Jesus say to your storm, “Peace. Be still!”  Trust Jesus through every storm.

The Lord on high is mightier
Than the noise of many waters,
Than the mighty waves of the sea.
 Psalm 93:4 (NKJV)

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

Jerusalem, Jerusalem

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! Luke 13:34 (NKJV)

In Spring 2018, the world was surprised to see United States President Trump recognize Jerusalem as the true capital of Israel, moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to the original capital city.

Yet for Messianic Jews and Christians familiar with God’s Word, this came as no surprise.  For during the Old Testament reign of King David, the king took a census which God punished with a plague across the land.  The plague lasted for three days, killing 70,000  people.  But then God had mercy, commanding the angel of death to halt right at the threshing floor of Ornan (Araunah) (2 Samuel 24:14-16).  King David purchased that threshing floor and built an alter to the Lord.  And that was the exact spot, the Holy Ground, God chose for King Solomon’s temple.

Now Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 2 Chronicles 3:1 (NKJV)

Fast forward to the time of Jesus. Over and over in the book of Luke we read how Jesus was headed to Jerusalem (In fact, if you read Luke with a pen in hand, you can underline the word Jerusalem multiple times). Jesus knew he had to die there for the sins of the world.  Along the way, Jesus taught the people about His Father’s love, healed the sick, and performed mighty miracles.  But Jesus never lost sight of his goal: Jerusalem.

Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.  Luke 9:51 (NKJV)

And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Luke 13:22 (NKJV)

Jerusalem should be our goal, too.  Yet ours is a New Jerusalem, a Holy City, Zion, come down from heaven.  We long for the day when Jesus will come again to rule on earth.  Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11).  Jesus will reign forever and ever in the New Jerusalem.

But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:16 (NKJV)

Until that day comes, we must fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2), following His example with Jerusalem always as our goal. When we learn to drive, we are taught to look far down the road, not right in front of the car. By focusing on a distant point we drive straight, rather than weaving around the road.  When we follow Jesus, we also want to stay on His straight and narrow path, looking far down the road to His New Jerusalem.

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. Revelation 21:10 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  What is your Jerusalem?  Is it Jesus?  Every day, through every up and down, fix your eyes on the Lord of heaven and earth. With God’s Word in your heart and on your lips in prayer, keep marching to the goal! And while we are marching, let us pray for the current situation in Jerusalem. Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there 2 Chronicles 6:6 (NKJV)

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

How Priceless!

How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. Psalm 36:7 (NIV)

Our little kindergartner Joel is into money now.  One of his favorite games is The Allowance Game where players try to be the first person to earn $20.  Sometimes when you roll the die, you are sent to spend $2.25 on school supplies, when you’d rather wash the car to earn $1.30.  But eventually, with enough odd jobs, birthdays, and swinging past home for your $3 allowance, you can earn the $20 needed to win the game.

Joel also has his oldest brother’s savings bank.  This bank has three compartments, one for the church, one for the bank, and one for the store. We paid Joel a nickel for every nail he found in our yard after the house we rent was resided.  Joel takes great pride in dividing up his earnings and taking an offering to Sunday school each week.  Money is lots of fun.

But there are some things on which you just can’t put a price.  Number One is Jesus’ love.  Psalm 36:7 proclaims, “How priceless is Your unfailing love.”  Isn’t that so true!  God stepped out of heaven as Jesus the Son, just to live and die and live again for us.  His disciple Judas Iscariot thought he could put a price on Jesus, giving away Jesus’ location for thirty pieces of silver.  But even that was the wrong price, as Judas regretfully learned.  No price can be put on the love God has for us.  You can’t buy His love.  It’s a free gift.  He offers it to you, My TEA CUPP friend.  Hold out your heart and let God fill it with His priceless love.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).  Ephesians 2:4-5 (NKJV)

This reminds me of an old camp song we used to sing, “Lord, You are more precious than silver, Lord, You are more costly than gold, Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds, and nothing I desire compares with You!”

Today’s TEA CUPP: Today, tell Jesus how priceless He is to you…O Jesus, how priceless is Your unfailing love!  I love You, but Your love is so much greater.  You died for us.  You care about every detail of our lives.  You are preparing a place for us in heaven.  O Jesus, I love and praise You!

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:20 (NKJV)

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

(NIV) Scripture from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011

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

Thank You Psalms

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men! Psalm 107:8 (NKJV)

When spring finally comes to Montana after a very long winter, our hearts overflow in thanksgiving to Jesus. The bright blue skies promise an end to snow storms. Drifts melt into puddles, making way for green fields.  The daffodils and tulips raise colors in praise to their Creator.  And my heart sings for joy that winter is over!

This is the perfect time to read a Psalm of thanks, remembering all the blessings Jesus has sent us.  Psalms 107 or 136 are great places to begin.  I love the rhythm of these Psalms, how they repeat and we may add our own lines of thanks…

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
    For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the God of gods!
    For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!
    For His mercy endures forever:

To Him who alone does great wonders,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who by wisdom made the heavens,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who laid out the earth above the waters,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who made great lights,
    For His mercy endures forever— Psalm 136:1-7 (NKJV)

When I go running on a beautiful spring morning, my heart is bursting with thanks for the mountains, the blue skies, the green fields, the bright sunshine…I like to sing a song in my head as my feet pound out the rhythm…

Thank You, God, for this beautiful day.
Thank You, God, for this beautiful day.
Thank You, Father, for sending Your Son.
Thank You, Father, for sending Your Son.
Thank You, Jesus, for dying for us.
Thank You, Jesus, for dying for us.
Thank You, Spirit, for living in me.
Thank You, Spirit, for living in me.
Thank You, Father, for loving us so much.
Thank You, Father, for loving us so much.
Thank You, Jesus, You are my King.
Thank You, Jesus, You are my Lord.
Thank You, Spirit, for delivering our prayers.
Thank You, Spirit, for delivering our prayers.
Thank You, God, for this beautiful day.
Thank You, God, for this beautiful day.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  What song of thanksgiving has God put in your heart? Begin today by reading Psalm 107, 136 or another Psalm.  Select a favorite verse to write in your prayer journal and pray to Jesus.  Let this verse be your conversation starter as you thank the Lord for the many blessings He has given you.  Perhaps you’d like to write your own “Thank You Psalm” to God.

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

Put Your Friends on the Mat!

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7 (NKJV)

One of my favorite Bible stories to act out with preschoolers is the one in Mark 2.  In this amazing story we read how four friends put their friend on a mat and brought him to Jesus.  However, this was not a simple task! The house was so crowded they could not get inside.  Not to be turned away, the four friends carried their paralyzed friend on the mat up to the roof, dug a hole in the roof, and lowered their friend right down before Jesus! 

And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. Mark 2:4 (NKJV)

The first time we read this with our children, we acted it out with a blanket and a large rag doll.  We climbed up a slide, holding the four blanket corners, and lowered the rag doll down to “Jesus.”  Then we repeated Jesus’ words, “Your sins are forgiven.  Arise, take up your bed and walk.” What a powerful picture this leaves us as we think of bringing friends to Jesus!

And so, one day during my TEA with Jesus, I decided to use the mat to carry family and friends to Him.  I drew a mat in my prayer journal and wrote their names, some with a longer request nearby.  I “lowered them all through the roof” to Jesus

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read the healing story in Mark 2:1-12.  Draw a rectangle in your prayer journal or on a piece of paper.  Write the names of those you want to bring to Jesus today.  Sometimes you might be the one who needs to be brought to Jesus (like when you are sick or have lost a loved one). At these times, allow your friends to put you on the mat and carry you to Jesus.

Lord, I have called daily upon You;
I have stretched out my hands to You.  Psalm 88:9 (NKJV)

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

Bold Ladies

In whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him.  Ephesians 3:12 (NKJV)

They were  bold ladies.  Their names were Achsah and Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tizrah.  In a time where men led and fought and had their names recorded in God’s Word, it is a pleasant surprise for us to see women mentioned and rewarded for their efforts.  In just a few chapters of Joshua (which might lose the reader with the descriptions of property division in the Promised Land), we see ladies being bold and asking for their family property.

Give me a blessing

First, in Joshua 15:16-19, we read about Caleb’s daughter Achsah dismounting her donkey and saying to her father, “Give me a blessing,” asking for springs of water to go with her land.  And Caleb granted her request. This story is told again in Judges 1:15.  Of course, her father had just given her away in marriage as a prize for the soldier who conquered Kirjath Sepher, Caleb’s land.  Seems like his daughter had it in her favor to ask for a blessing!

Give us a possession

Then in Joshua 17:3-6, we read the story already told in Numbers 27 about the daughters of Zelophehad of the tribe of Manasseh.  Zelophehad had no sons, so his daughters felt he was still entitled to land.  The five sisters boldly came forward and asked Moses, Eleazar the Priest, and Joshua for land.  Moses took their request before the Lord, and God said, “You shall surely give them a possession of inheritance among their father’s brothers” (Numbers 27:7). These ladies received their request, all because they came forward boldly.

Why should the name of our father be removed from among his family because he had no son? Give us a possession among our father’s brothers.”  Numbers 27:4 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Is God calling you to be bold in anything?  So often I focus on verses like Philippians 4:6 to be gentle, that I forget there are other virtues to attain.  So, I go boldly to the throne of grace, asking Jesus to help me be gentle, yet bold for Him. Dear TEA CUPP friend, I encourage you to be bold for Jesus, too!

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.

Shoes of Promise

And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Ephesians 6:15 (NKJV)

Does your front entryway look like ours with a big pile of shoes?  Shoes that are coming, shoes that are going, work shoes, play boots, running shoes for the motivated, old Crocs for taking out the trash, and slippers for relaxing.  But most importantly, shoes to keep us on God’s path. How can shoes keep our feet on the straight and narrow?  The best way is to start the day reading your Bible before you even put on your shoes!

1994 was the first year I read my Bible from start to finish, from Genesis to Revelation.  I remember, because that was the year our little Jacob turned one.  And every year since then, I continued to read God’s Word, some years reading a One Year Bible, broken up into daily readings.  Other years, I’d read a regular Bible, while using a reading guide to mark off what I’d read.  It was always easy starting out, for Genesis has the exciting stories of Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the Flood, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph’s dreams.  The momentum of those stories can carry your feet through Exodus where Moses leads God’s people out of Egypt.  But when you reach Leviticus, things can slow down as you tip toe through the many laws laid out for the Israelites.  That’s why I’m delighted when I find verses in Leviticus that God uses to inspire me.  It’s a reward for the long pages of reading.

But you have to read all the way to Leviticus 26 for today’s special promises!  In My TEA CUPP Prayers (pp.98-99) I mention how God gives us calls with promises.  If we do this call, God promises this promise.  Here in Leviticus 26:3 we read a seemingly straight-forward call with amazing promises.

If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them...Leviticus 26:3 (NKJV)

God’s call is this: If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them.  That’s it.  We have to walk in His Word.  Obey His commandments.  And do what God tells us. Doesn’t sound too complicated, but as we all know, we can’t do it.  For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Even our best efforts, fall short of God’s glory.  But because we have Jesus’ forgiveness, we are made righteous and can claim the promises that follow in Leviticus 26.

These 10 promises include:

  1. Rain
  2. Produce and fruit
  3. Threshing and vintage shall last until next season
  4. Eat until you are full
  5. Dwell in safety
  6. Peace
  7. No evil beasts or swords
  8. Enemies will fall
  9. God’s favor
  10. God will dwell with us

Aren’t those promises you want to hold on to?  In the rural community where we live, such promises for rain and harvest are truly appreciated.  Even a person in the city is glad to have food to eat and to be able to dwell in safety.  And we are all thankful for God’s favor and dwelling with us. As the Psalmist said,

He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake. Psalm 23:3 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read Levitcus 26:1-13 and claim God’s wonderful promises as you have TEA with Jesus today. Then, when you put on your shoes, ask Jesus for His help in keeping on His path, and for His forgiveness when you fall short.  Pray Psalm 25:4, Show me Your ways, O LordTeach me Your paths.

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)

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

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

Say, “Amen!”

I recently had the joy of a visit from my granddaughter Kennedy, followed by a visit from our family to hers.  At meal times, Kennedy, who is just turning two, waits for everyone to sit down.  Then she smiles and calls out, “Say, Amen!”  That’s our cue to say grace together, “God is great, God is good, and we thank Him for our food, Amen!”  Kennedy loves the “Amen” part!

I had just been pondering a devotion based on Psalm 50:23 for moms, and thought Kennedy’s “amens” sure fit.  One of the simplest, yet profound, prayers we can teach our children and grandchildren is to say “thank you” to God.  This simple act of thanksgiving opens the door of conversation between child and the Heavenly Father, leading the way to knowing Jesus as Savior.

When I read Psalm 50:23, I see two things our thanks brings: 1) Honor to God, 2) Jesus will show us His salvation.  Isn’t that wonderful?  When we teach our children to say thank you to God, we are honoring Him and leading them to an eternity with Jesus.

Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor Me,
    and to the blameless I will show My salvation. Psalm 50:23 (NIV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Let’s start this very day, teaching our kids to say thank you to Jesus, and setting an example of thankfulness in all our prayers, too. One of my favorite little kid prayer books has the prayer, “Thank you for the world so sweet, thank you for the food we eat, thank you for the birds that sing, thank you, God, for everything! Amen!”

“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!” Revelation 7:12 (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011

The Highest Tree

Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV)

The tallest tree in the world is said to be Hyperion, a 379.7-foot-tall (115.7 m) redwood tree located in California, USA.  If you’d like to experience such tall trees, you might enjoy a visit to Sequoia National Park where you can see 18 of the 30 largest trees in the world. Though there are many cool facts about redwood and sequoia trees, perhaps the most intriguing is their life span.  Giant redwoods may live up to 2000 years, while giant sequoias may live up to 3000 years!  Imagine that! Some of the very trees you may visit were growing when Jesus walked on this earth!

What is it that attracts us to such tall trees?  Do we always like the biggest and best, the oldest and toughest? Perhaps it is another way of Jesus calling us to Him, through His awesome creation (Romans 1:20). Perhaps it’s because these trees point us to heaven and bring us closer to God.  Or, maybe it’s that our Savior Jesus died on such a tree, the cross of Calvary.

 Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)

Why did Jesus do it? Why did He allow Himself to be beaten and bruised, then nailed to a cross between two thieves?  Why did the Son of the Living God not call a Legion of angels to rescue Him and denounce His tormentors?  Because He loves us. He was the only perfect sacrifice that could die for our sins.  And while on that tree, He still had compassion, saying, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”  (Luke 23:34)

Because of Jesus’ love and sacrifice on that tree, we have God’s forgiveness and promise of eternal life in heaven. Jesus is the only door through which we can enter heaven.  All we have to do is believe. When the sky was dark and the earth quaked and the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom, the centurion proclaimed, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39)  Let us do the same.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: As you prepare to celebrate Good Friday and Easter, why not take a walk in a nearby forest or park.  There one can look up at the trees and find the tallest one that points you to heaven, while remembering the highest tree of all, our Savior Jesus’ cross.  Thank you, Jesus, for all You have done, dying for our sins on that tall tree, and making a way for us to be with You in heaven. I believe in You, Jesus!  I love You, Jesus!

Thus says the Lord God: “I will take also one of the highest branches of the high cedar and set it out. I will crop off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and will plant it on a high and prominent mountain. On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort; in the shadow of its branches they will dwell. And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the Lord, have spoken and have done it.” Ezekiel 17:22-24 (NKJV)

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

https://www.livescience.com/29144-worlds-largest-tree.html

https://www.tripsavvy.com/redwood-forests-in-california-1478739

http://www.visitsequoia.com/redwoods-and-sequoias.aspx

The Greatest Prayer

 And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:3 (NKJV)

There are so many wonderful prayers in God’s Word, the Bible, but perhaps one of the most moving is the one by Jesus in John 17.  This prayer comes from the depths of our Savior’s heart and soul.  Jesus pours out his heart to His Father as He prepares Himself for His coming crucifixion.  John 17 has three parts: 1) Jesus prays for Himself, 2) Jesus prays for His disciples, and 3) Jesus prays for all believers (you and me!). Jesus shows His love for His Father, His disciples, and for all of us yet to come.

How can we share in Jesus’ prayer in John 17?  Start by reading the chapter and underlining verses God shows you.  Which ones speak to you the most?  Are any verses calling you to action?  Copy these verses in your prayer journal and pray over them with Jesus, asking for His direction.

As you soak up John 17, you will notice there are many elements of prayer, we should follow from Jesus:

  • First, that the Father is glorified (John 17:1,5).
  • Second, that we finish the work God has sent us to do (John 17:4).
  • Third, that we pray for our loved ones, as Jesus prayed for His (John 17:15).
  • Fourth, that believers may be one and filled with God’s love (John 17:21, 26).
  • And fifth, that we go into the world that the world may know Jesus (John 17:18, 23).

Today’s TEA CUPP: How can we accomplish all this?  How about one step at a time? In the days leading up to Palm Sunday, pray that the Father and Son are glorified.  Pray the very Words from John 17:1. Then as you go through the Holy Week between Palm Sunday and Easter, ask God what work He has for you to finish (John 17:4).  On Easter, pray for your loved ones as Jesus prayed for His (John 17:15). Continue to pray over John 17 in the weeks following Easter, lifting up your heart to Jesus. You never know where God will lead you.  My Bible study friend Carol, a regular gal whom God has uniquely prepared, is leaving Montana, USA for a Jesus Film prayer walk in East Africa. Wow!  That’s what prayer can do!

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You.” John 17:1 (NKJV)

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