Leave No Doubt

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (NKJV)

It seems that as we get older, we attend more funerals and memorial services for loved ones, friends and acquaintances in our town, some departing too soon.  The pastors leading the services always do a beautiful job of sharing memories of the departed and comfort for those left behind. We are especially comforted if we know the person is in heaven with Jesus.

I remember when my college cross country team died in a plane crash, I knew my coach was in heaven because of his life.  Whenever we came home from meets I was always the last one to be dropped off, giving Coach plenty of time to share his faith.  Coach Ron would talk long and serious about things I did not understand, yet I knew they were important.   When he wasn’t planning our next big workout, he served at his church.  Coach Ron had a dream to start a Christian running camp in northern Wisconsin. Because of his faith and example, I know my coach is with Jesus and will be there when I get there, too.

Every once in awhile, though, there is someone who we aren’t sure where she stood in her faith journey. We wonder if he is with Jesus.  We pray she is in heaven.  We ask God to comfort us and assure us he is with Jesus. But we just aren’t sure.

So, I want to encourage you today to LEAVE NO DOUBT when it is your turn to go.  Make sure that while you are living, people know you love Jesus.  Tell them how you study your Bible and meet with Him each day for prayer. Let them see the fruit of your faith in good works. Share how you are looking forward to the day when He comes to take you home.  Then, when it is your turn to leave this world, your friends and family will have NO DOUBT that you are now in heaven having TEA with the King of kings!!!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Confirm your eternal destination today by praying with Jesus.  Invite Jesus into your heart to forgive you and guide your remaining earthly days.  Then tell a friend about this heavenly TEA party so she can join you there, too!

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6 (NKJV)

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.  Romans 8:1 (NKJV)

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NKJV)

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me! Job 19:25-27 (NKJV)

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

God is so Good!

Thank you to my friends Donna and Wendy and the Forest Service for these great photos!

He gives rain on the earth,
And sends waters on the fields. Job 5:10
(NKJV)

In Montana we had a miracle these past few weeks.  For two months we had smoke and fires.  Then God sent rain and snow to put them out!  The next week He sent more rain and snow, just to make sure there weren’t any more hot spots.  God is so good!

Usually we have the bluest sky in all the world here in Montana.  It really is the Big Sky State, with a sky that for me stretches from the Beartooth Mountains to the Absarokas to the Crazies and beyond.  But on July 17, my parents came to visit and suddenly it was hazy. I remember, because we always want it to be beautiful for our family and visitors.  But the Crazy Mountains just weren’t as clear any more.

The smoke persisted for two months as over a million acres of Montana forests and ranch lands burned.  Firefighters worked nonstop to contain the flames.  High temperatures and drought conditions kept the blazes going. It seemed that every time there were storm clouds, we would get the lightning, not the rain, as if someone was praying Psalm 144:

Bow down Your heavens, O Lord, and come down;
Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.
Flash forth lightning and scatter them… Psalm 144:5 (NKJV)

The second week of September it was 90 degrees and a new fire broke out from a lightning strike at the north end of the Crazy Mountains.  From our house we could see the plume of smoke going up to the sky.  Friends’ husbands were going out to fight the flames.  People were posting on Facebook, “Pray for snow!”

And guess what, God sent rain and snow!!!  He really does answer prayers!  When the storm lifted we had blue skies again and snow covering our long-hidden Crazy Mountains.  The doxology was my prayer as I took in this beautiful sight, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below, praise Him above the heavenly host, praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!”

Alleluia!  Jesus answers prayers!  I bet our friends in the south affected by the hurricanes have awesome stories of  God’s goodness, too!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Let’s praise Jesus for how He has provided for us, carried us through the storm, protected us and answered our prayers!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior. 
Isaiah 43:2-3 (NKJV)

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

Pebble Pocks in My Palms

When you walk, your steps will not be hindered,
And when you run, you will not stumble. Proverbs 4:12

Why was my nose in the dirt?  Lying face down on the gravel road with pebble marks in my hands and knees, I wondered, “What happened?” Just a split second before I was running and praying for my neighbors.  How had my feet slipped?  My shocked body just wanted to lie in the dust, but my brain told me to get up. So, I pulled my bruised flesh off the rocky ground and hobbled home.

Having a good cry on the sofa was a welcome idea, but then I remembered my busy schedule and this was my only chance to go running.  So, with band-aid help from my dear husband and youngest son, I was soon out the door and running again, this time on the smooth highway, managing to squeeze in five miles before breakfast.

Still, a week after my running fall, I could feel the pebble pocks in my palms and see the bruises on my legs, a reminder of God picking me up. I know it could have been so much worse, as friends have been through broken arms, fingers, legs, ankles, and concussions this year.  But God let me feel it in my hands to remind me of his Son Who also has marks in His hands.  His marks proclaim how He died for the sins of all the world.

Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” John 20:27 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Jesus died for you, my friend.  He has nail holes in His hands to remind us of His sacrificial death on the cross.  All who believe in Jesus are saved and will live forever with Him in heaven.  Today, let Jesus pick you up from wherever you have fallen. Believe in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living. Psalm 116:8-9 (NKJV)

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

Wings of the Morning

If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:9-10 (NKJV)

I don’t like flying.  Perhaps it’s because I know firsthand planes don’t always make it home (please see my running story). I’m amazed how people fly every week for work and return safely.  They aren’t afraid, so I shouldn’t be either.  But still, it is a true test of my faith to get on an airplane and believe I will return.

This past weekend I was blessed to visit our sweet granddaughter and flying was the only way to make it happen. A 6 a.m. flight necessitated a 3:45 a.m. departure from our home, so I didn’t have my TEA time with Jesus until I was on board the plane.

There in my Bible reading for the day were these verses from Psalm 139:9-10, “If I take the wings of the morning…” Here I was flying into the sunrise, high above the earth. What more could this verse mean?  How did the author write such a perfect Psalm for me centuries before the invention of the airplane?  God’s Word is amazing!  And so I claimed His promise to hold me with His right hand.

Just a month ago I claimed these same verses for our oldest son flying to Europe as a missionary. Seven years ago I wrote our daughter’s name by these verses as she flew to Guam as an exchange student.  Parents everywhere, you can pray these verses for your children.  Especially pray Psalm 139:7-8 for your prodigals. God is holding them, too!

On my return flight home from our precious granddaughter, there was late afternoon turbulence.  It was all I could do to resist gripping the arm of the stranger next to me as the plane jostled and vibrated the passengers.  Instead, I gripped the armrest and prayed the verses again, “If I take the wings of the (evening)…Your right hand shall hold me!”  And He did!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My friend, Jesus is holding you.  Wherever you are, in His will, out of His will, on the land or in the air or by the sea, He is with you to lead and hold you.  Underline these verses in your Bible and take comfort in His promises today.

You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me. Psalm 139:5 (NKJV)

…Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights! Psalm 148:1 (NKJV)

And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,
And hold you in the palm of His Hand.

Hymn by Michael Joncas

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

Turn the World Upside Down

World Clip ArtThese who have turned the world upside down have come here too. Acts 17:6 (NKJV)

And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.  Acts 11:26 (NKJV)

The accusers were complaining about Paul and Silas turning the world upside down for Jesus, not realizing what a compliment that was.  It was also enemies of the King of kings who first coined the term “Christians,” meant to be a criticism upon those who followed Christ.  Yet today we proudly bear the name Christian and seek to turn the world upside down for Jesus.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.  Romans 1:16 (NKJV)

Our son Jacob leaves this week for a one-year mission to Europe with Campus Crusade for Christ.  Jacob and his team will be starting CRU fellowships at college campuses which have no Christian groups.  Imagine the miracles and impact this will have on our European brothers and sisters. Because of the generous support of friends and family and the people of Sweet Grass County, Montana, Jacob is able to embark on this mission.  Jacob and his team are turning the world upside down for Jesus.

Our son Kevin went to Kenya this summer with our church mission team. They spent a year raising money and they gave their time to serve these African neighbors.  Kevin’s team installed a water pipeline to bring clean water to a rural school. They also played games with the children and taught them about Jesus through a skit on the Good Samaritan.  Kevin and his team turned the world upside down for Jesus.

Our son Joel is about to begin homeschool kindergarten.  He knows his ABCs and numbers and several Bible stories.  Because of his brothers, he’s learning about countries in other parts of the world where there are children, too.  And someday, because of their example, Joel will go and turn the world upside down for Jesus, too.

And me, I’m the mom who sits down with Jesus each morning for TEA, praying for so many including our children.  Jacob was less than a year old when God called me to read my Bible and pray every day.  It is with tears of gratitude, a thankful heart and a trunk full of prayer journals, that I see the fruits of my labor in our children.  Even our daughter Kallie is teaching our granddaughter Kennedy, reading her Bible stories and singing Jesus Loves Me.  Together we are turning the world upside down for Jesus.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My friend, never stop praying, never give up.  Always pray and persevere.  You are turning the word upside down for Jesus with every CUPP of TEA.

 Pray without ceasing.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NKJV)

Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.  Mark 16:15 (NKJV)

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

Seven Things Job’s Friends Did Right

Listen to this, O Job;
Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.  Job 37:14 (NKJV)

Do you know the story of Job, how he lost everything?  He lost his children, his animals and riches, and his health, all because God had a conversation with Satan.  Then some friends came to visit Job to cheer him up but failed miserably with all their talking.  We often focus on how those friends messed up, but today I want to share what they did right, a great lesson for us all.

When you begin reading the book of Job, the friends enter in the second chapter.  This first paragraph of their visit tells all the things they did right:

Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great. Job 2:11-13 (NKJV)

Did you notice the seven things Job’s friends did right?:

  1. They came.
  2. They mourned.
  3. They comforted.
  4. They wept.
  5. They tore their robes.
  6. They sat down.
  7. No one spoke for 7 days and nights.

Today’s TEA CUPP: Can we learn from this when we have friends who are grieving or hurting?  Yes, we can! Let’s start with the first thing they did and simply come. Sit down and listen to your friend, then cry together. Our friends will always remember how we were there and they will be comforted.  I know when I had my first miscarriage and lost our long-awaited baby, it was the friends who came and cried with me that comforted me the most.  Even my parents drove all the way across the country, just to sit in lawn chairs with me while I recovered.  Then when a friend of mine lost a baby, I knew what to do.  I came and cried with her.  My friend, just come.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 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 1:3-4 (NKJV)

Scripture from the New King James Version®

Jesus loves Peter, Jesus loves me

What am I thinking about as I have my TEA today?  I’m so thankful for Peter.  Peter was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples who often messed up.  Yet Jesus always loved and forgave him.  Before Jesus went to the cross, Peter declared he would never desert Him:

Peter said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.”But he spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise.  Mark 14:29-31 (NKJV)

If we continue reading Mark 14, we see how Peter denied Jesus three times before the crucifixion.  How many times have I told Jesus I would shine for Him, yet then been too shy to be His witness?

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”  Mark 16:6-7 (NKJV)

After Jesus rose from the dead, He specifically said to tell Peter to meet Him in Galilee.  Jesus keeps calling me each day, even though I mess up, too.  He gives me second and third and hundredth chances to show I love Him.

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”  John 21:17 (NKJV)

When Peter saw Jesus on the shore after His resurrection he dove into the water and swam to Him.  Jesus told Peter three times, feed my lambs, saying “I forgive you” for the three times Peter denied Him. Jesus says “I forgive you” each day to me, too.

Today’s TEA CUPP: Dear Jesus, thank you for Peter!  Because of Peter, I know you love me, even when I mess up.  Even when I lose faith and start to sink as Peter did. You love me. Help me always remember. Thank you, my Jesus.

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

One Story, Two Calls

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.” Acts 9:15 (NKJV)

With the “C” part of My TEA CUPP Prayers being about God’s CALL, I’m always on the look-out for examples of God calling people. From Moses being called by God at the burning bush to Mary being called by God’s angel as the Mother of Jesus, there are many stories of God’s callings.

Today we read a Bible story with TWO callings. If one of the people hadn’t obeyed, the other wouldn’t have fulfilled his call either.  In Acts 9:1-19 is the famous story of Saul’s call on the Road to Damascus. Saul was a persecutor of the early Christians.  He was headed to Damascus to arrest more Christians.  But on the way, a bright light came from heaven. Saul was blinded and fell to the ground as he heard Jesus say, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’

Jesus told Saul to go into town and wait at a certain house.  Saul’s friends led their blind companion into Damascus.  At the same time, God told a man named Ananias to go to Saul.  Ananias didn’t want to go because Saul might hurt him, but God assured Ananias of His call with the words, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine.”  So Ananias followed God’s call and went to see Saul. There Ananias healed Saul’s eyes and told him the Good News of Jesus. Saul was baptized and became Paul.  From there Paul went on to share Jesus with uncountable others, writing much of the New Testament of our Bible.

What if Ananias hadn’t listened to God’s call?  Paul would not have heard the Good News!  What if Saul hadn’t obeyed and gone into town?  He’d still be blind on the road and many of us would never hear about Jesus!  One story, two calls.  It is so important that we listen and obey when God calls us.  What is God calling you to do today?

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read this amazing story in Acts 9:1-19.  Ask as Paul did, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”  Say as Ananias did, “Here I am, Lord.” You are God’s chosen vessel.  Pray for the courage and strength and resources to carry out God’s call. Then GO!

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

The Impossible Call

WebTherefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Mathew 5:48 (NKJV)

There it is in my Bible, God’s Word, the book of Matthew, the fifth chapter, the 48th verse… Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.  I underlined it.  I wrote the letter “C” for Call next to it.  I prayed about it.  And then I asked God, “How?!”

From writing to cleaning to even fixing my hair, I just can’t ever be perfect.  When the first copies of my book, My TEA CUPP Prayers, were released, I was dismayed to find typos, including a missing word on the very first page!  This was after several rounds of corrections before printing.  Truly just wanting to cry at falling short, I realized God was keeping me humble with my imperfect book.

Another day I was cleaning a Montana guest cabin for guests soon to arrive.  There wasn’t much time between groups, so I had to hurry to clean the guest house.  I noticed there were crumbs under the sofa cushions, so I propped them up as a reminder to myself to vacuum there.  Before I had put the finishing touches on the kitchen, the new people arrived with groceries to unpack to the fridge.  I hurried to get out of their way, laying out dish towels just so and loading my rag bag to go home.  As I drove away, suddenly the picture of those sofa cushions with exposed crumbs came to my mind.  Argh!  Once again, I wasn’t perfect.

And then there is the matter of my hair.  No amount of combing, fixing, or pulling back with clips can keep my auburn tresses in place in the blustery Montana winds.  I have a feeling that my hair won’t stay in place in any state, but I like blaming it on our mountainous gales. Whatever the cause, it is true, I’m not perfect.

If you could take a look under those messy red locks at the person inside,  you would find yet more imperfection.  As I struggle to obey all God’s commands:

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. Colossians 3:12-14 (NKJV)

So daily, I come before Jesus for TEA and prayer, asking His forgiveness and help with His call.  And I know that one day I will finally fulfill His call to be perfect. That is the day He calls me home.

Today’s TEA CUPP: Dear Jesus, I’m having trouble with Your call to be perfect. Every day I fall short in one way or another.  Please forgive me and wash me clean and fill me with Your Holy Spirit and help me to be like You.  Thank you, Jesus.  I claim your promise to make me new.  Amen.

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (NKJV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:16  (NKJV)

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

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

 

Overturning Tables

jesus-overturn-tablesSo they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold doves. Mark 11:15 (NKJV)

Our Pastor was focusing on Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Easter. The lesson came from Mark 11.   In this passage, Jesus was just welcomed into Jerusalem by cheering crowds crying out, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Jesus then went to the temple and, for the first time, appeared angry. Since we know Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God who never sinned, His anger surprises us.  Why was He angry? Because people have turned His Father’s House from a house of prayer into a den of thieves!  Instead of people coming with humble hearts to pray, money-changers were getting rich, selling offerings to the people.

And so Jesus turned over their tables! Can you imagine the chaos?  Doves, coins, and random trinkets crashing to the floor, wings flapping and birds escaping into the sky.  Venders hollering, “Hey, Man, what are you doing?!”  Jesus boldly cleared them from the temple, proclaiming, “My house shall be a house of prayer for all the nations.”

Then our pastor asked the key question that would apply this to our own lives, “What tables in your life do you need Jesus to overturn?” Oh, no, this story was getting personal.  It was much easier when we pointed fingers at the money-changers.  Our smug looks are turned to sorrow like children whose siblings have just gotten into trouble, and now we realize it’s our turn.

We all have tables in our lives where we put idols of pride, jealousy, grumbling, gossiping, greed, anger…and the list goes on.  Our pastor was asking us to turn these over to Jesus.  Let Him cleanse the temple of our souls, so His Holy Spirit can live inside of us.  And His house will be a house of prayer once again.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  What tables in your life do you need Jesus to overturn?  Give them to Jesus.  Ask Him to forgive you and help you make a new start. Claim His promise of salvation today.

 Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Luke 7:48 (NKJV)

 For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13 (NKJV)

…My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations…  Mark 11:17 (NKJV)

Thank you to ChristArt.com for the beautiful clip art!

Thank you to Pastor Michael Stambaugh for his awesome sermon on February 14, 2016!

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