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.

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.

My Dear Loved One

easter_cross_light_2012_c1My Dear Loved One,

You are my Daddy, my brother, my cousin, my aunt, my niece, my landlord, my milkman, my son’s coach, my son’s college roommate, my student, my neighbor, my grocery store checker, my friend’s child, my high school chum, my employer, my friend.

You have a reservation in heaven.  I made it for you every week in my prayers. Others have been calling in reservations for you, too.  To confirm you are on the list in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27), please accept Jesus (read on).

It will be such a great time!  The streets are paved with gold in this beautiful city. There is a river flowing from the throne of God and a tree that bears a different fruit every month (Revelation 22:1-2).  And we will never have tears again, for there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). 

How did I hear about this ultimate destination?  In the best travel brochure of all, the Bible.  Jesus told me to not be troubled, to believe in Him and God. He said, “for in My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”  (John 14:1-4)

My dear loved one, I asked Jesus to prepare a place for you, too.  My prayer above all other prayers is for you to know Jesus. Why? Because I want you to be in heaven for eternity, not in hell where there really is fire (Revelation 20:15).  I want you to enjoy Jesus’ love and forgiveness on earth, and have His forever joy and peace in heaven.

I want you to know the One who delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the Land of the living (Psalm 116:8-9). So many times I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).

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)! Now my citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20).

The neat thing is when you come near to God He will come near to you (James 4:8). I want you to know that through Jesus Christ the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you (Acts 13:38).  And when you receive Him and believe in His Name, He gives you the right to be children of God (John 1:12).

God promises that whoever calls upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21).  My dear loved one, please ACCEPT JESUS and confirm your reservation today. If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).

And when that day comes when Jesus calls you home, I know you will go out with joy and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands (Isaiah 55:12). When you reach heaven, you will enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4) and I will be so thankful to God that you confirmed your reservation. I love you, my dear loved one! And Jesus loves you most of all!

Today’s Tea Cupp:  But I pray to you, Lord,
    in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
    answer me with your sure salvation (Psalm 69:13)

And since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. (Hebrews 12:28)

Scripture is taken from

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

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

 

Who Cares???

question-questions_answers_5A pastor who is often a special speaker at our church, travels with a business card that asks, “Who Cares? If you die and go to hell, who cares?”

Right on his business card he answers this tough question with 7 answers:

# 1 – God cares: 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)

# 2 – Jesus cares:  For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. Matthew 18:11 (NKJV)

# 3 – All people in heaven care: I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.  Luke 15:7 (NKJV)

# 4 – All saved people care: And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!”  Revelation 22:17 (NKJV)

# 5 – All people in hell care: That he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment. Luke 16:28 (NKJV)

# 6 – I care: 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)

# 7 – Do you care?  If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My friend, after reading the answers to #1-6, I hope you will answer a big “YES” to #7! God, Jesus, the saints, the sinners, including me, all want you to follow Jesus. Please join me in confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Dear Jesus, I believe in You!  Please be Lord of my life. I believe You died for my sins and God raised You from the dead. I ask for your forgiveness. I look forward to eternal life with You in heaven.  Please help me to live each day for You from this day forward.  Thank you, Jesus.  I love you! Amen.

A very happy and blessed Easter to you, dear friend!

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

Special thank you to Rev. Dr. Samuel G. Karunanithi from Living Word Church in Bridge City, Texas!

The Great Delete

a great deleteAt the end of August, our bank updated its website to a new server.  In the process, our business records for the year disappeared.  Yes, the bank sent letters and emails in advance to announce their new website, but we didn’t realize they were discontinuing their bookkeeping program.

Alas, eight months of business income and expense reports were washed away.  Slowly, week by week, we are recreating those records with new software, hoping we can have it completed error-free by the end of the year for tax purposes. What a lot of extra work the computer age brings us!

A similar delete happened to the prophet Jeremiah, millenniums before modern technology.  In Jeremiah 36 we read how at God’s command, a scribe named Baruch recorded on a scroll all the words God had given to Jeremiah.  This included words back to when Josiah was king.  Now Josiah’s son Jehoiakim reigned.

Jeremiah and Baruch were called to the palace to read the scroll to the king.  As it was winter, a fire was burning nearby. So, the king threw every piece of the scroll into the fire as it was read.  He did not wish to heed the Word of the Lord! Jeremiah and Baruch had to write a new scroll with even more words than the first!  (Jeremiah 36)

Our bank headaches and Jeremiah’s scroll troubles remind me of the greatest delete of all.  There is a joke that says, “Why does Jesus always beat Satan at computer games?” The answer…”Jesus saves.”

That, my friend, is the truth.  The greatest delete in history happened the day Jesus died on the cross.  On that day, my sins, your sins, and the sins of all believers were washed away, never to be rewritten.  Jesus deleted our sins for all time. He saved us.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  How will you respond to such a loving gift? Will you invite Jesus to save you?  My friend, confess your sins to Jesus today, and join with those of us who rejoice over the greatest delete of all!

But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before,“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”  Hebrews 10:12-17 (NKJV)

New King James Version (NKJV)

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

 

The Final Whistle

soccerIn a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:52 (NKJV)

Tweet. Tweet. Tweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet. The referee’s whistle signals the end of the soccer game. For the losing team who was hoping to score one more goal, it is the gong of defeat. Their time is up. The game is over.  The players trudge dejectedly from the field, kicking clods of dirt from the sod.

For the winning team, the “short-short-long” blast is victory music. They jubilantly dance off the field, cheering and high-fiving as they go, making plans for celebrating with blizzards at Dairy Queen.

You can hear these whoops and hollers, over and over at today’s soccer complexes. Most have multiple playing fields with a central restroom and concession area.  Stretching my legs between my son’s games, I circumnavigated the fields. As I walked, I heard the “tweet, tweet, tweeeeeeeeeeet” repeated again and again, determining the fate of yet more soccer teams and players.

With whistles in my ears and the blue sky above, my thoughts turned to Jesus, His final trumpet call, and whose team will win. In the twinkling of an eye, Jesus is coming.  His trumpet will signal the end of this life. Those who have chosen Jesus will be the victors, those who have rejected Jesus will go down in defeat.

God’s Word tells us that we who believe in Jesus will have everlasting life, but those who don’t believe will receive God’s wrath.  This is one game where we will not get a second chance, no penalty kicks, no yellow cards, no re-matches, no Dairy Queen.  But for those who love Jesus, victory is assured. Thanks be to God!

Today’s TEA CUPP: My friend, today, at this very moment, is the time to chose Jesus.  Be on His winning team!  We want you on our side when that final whistle sounds. Please pray with me…Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner.  Even when I try to do the right thing, I mess up, and many times I just choose to do wrong. I know that You died for my sins and the sins of all the world.  I ask You to please be my Savior.  Wash away my sins.  Make me a new person.  Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and help me walk with You each day. Bring people into my life to teach me more about You.  I want to be on Your winning team.  I put my life in Your hands. Thank You, dearest Jesus. Amen.

He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36 (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. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NKJV)

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NKJV)

 

New King James Version (NKJV)Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

AA for Everyone

Halftone 3d lower-case letter aHalftone 3d lower-case letter aFor all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23  (NKJV)

AA is for everyone.  This thought occurred to me one day as I contemplated the “A” part of my TEA CUPP Prayers.

Are you familiar with AA?  It’s a great organization for recovering alcoholics, called Alcoholics Anonymous.  When we served at camp, the AA weekend was the biggest visit of the summer. They drank coffee continually and required bountiful meals, but they were also the most thankful and joyful guests. These folks were among friends who shared a colored past, yet held a bright hope for the future.  Doesn’t that describe all Christians, as well?

We all share a past…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  When we ADMIT our sins and ASK God’s forgiveness, we share in the inheritance of eternal life with Him.  That’s why AA is for everyone. We all must ADMIT our sins and ASK forgiveness through Jesus Christ to enter the Kingdom of God.

Some of my favorite confession verses come from the Psalms where David pours out his heart to the Lord. David was God’s chosen king, a man after God’s own heart, yet he still messed up. In Psalm 51 is his heart-felt plea, following his shameful affair and murder.   David cried out, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. …Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:1,10).  God forgave David, and He will forgive us, too.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  ADMIT-ASK: Sit down with Jesus today, ADMIT your sins and ASK for His forgiveness. Also ask God’s help to stay on the right path.  With Jesus, we can move forward!

That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9 (NKJV)

 New King James Version (NKJV)

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

“I’m Clean!”

img_0265…Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow…  Isaiah 1:18 (NKJV)

“I’m clean!”  Joel calls to me as he comes from the bedroom.  Daddy just helped him put on jammies after his evening bath.  I’ve washed the dinner dishes and now it’s time for stories.  Joel wants to let me know he is ready, so he repeats, “I’m clean!”

Joel’s call every evening reminds me of what we as forgiven sinners can proclaim daily, “I’m clean!”  No matter what our past, when we ask Jesus to forgive our sins, He washes them all away.  Though our sins were like scarlet, now we are white as snow.  We are clean, ready to serve Him here on earth, and ready to meet our Father in heaven.

Can you imagine the sensation we would make if we walked into church each Sunday and proclaimed, “I’m clean!”  Or, how about in the grocery store, the bank, the gas station, or anywhere else we visit during the week?  Your friend asks, “Hi, how are you?”  Instead of replying with the usual, “Fine,” you exclaim, “I’m clean!”  What a conversation starter that would be!

How can we be sure we are clean?  God’s Word the Bible is the place to start.

His Word shows us where we are dirty:

 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 (NKJV)

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  James 1:21 (NKJV)

He provides verses for cleansing.

‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ Luke 18:13 (NKJV) 

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 (NKJV)

And Jesus gives us the assurance that we are forgiven and made new.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (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)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Instead of just drinking TEA with Jesus today, why not take a bath in His Word! Immerse yourself in verses like Psalm 51, confess your sins to the Lord, letting Him make you new.  Then proclaim to a friend, “I’m clean!”

“Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”  Matthew 8:2 (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)

New King James Version (NKJV)

The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

The Terrible Day

cryingWhy are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God.  Psalm 42:11 (NKJV)

Oh, the terrible day, when the toddler is fussy and so is his mama, and no one in the house is happy.  Everyone tip toes around, not wanting to make mama any grumpier.  And mama feels just awful because she loves her toddler and family so much; she wants to be a good mama, she feels like a failure.  Oh, the terrible day.

How can this mama be a godly Christian wife and mom?  How can this mama encourage other mamas by writing TEA CUPP devotions?  How can she carry on?  The enemy tells her she cannot.  He tells her she is a disappointment to God.  He tells her to give it up.  And she almost does.

But then her husband says, “Go to the library and work on your book.”  The baby takes a nap. The teenager agrees to babysit.  And mama tries to carry out God’s call.  She asks for forgiveness for the terrible morning.  She recalls all the temptations Satan sets up each week during writing time… beautiful weather that makes her want to go on a walk, snowy weather that makes her want to stay home by the fire, interesting programs at church, a dead car battery, and so on.   And each time Jesus has the victory, helping her write a little bit more.

Dear Jesus, please give me the victory every week!  I give you this terrible day and all the others.  Hold me close and help me do your will. Amen

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My friend, have you had a terrible day? I know just how you feel. Please let Jesus pick up the pieces for you and hold you close.  Immerse yourself in His Word, letting Him speak quiet verses of hope and forgiveness to your soul.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. 
Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV)

O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.

New King James Version (NKJV)The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.