My Fasting TEA CUPP

 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” Joel 2:12 (NKJV)

No tea, no cup, no plate, no food, no beverage, no water, nothing to nourish this earthly body, only God’s Word to feed my soul and His Living Water to quench my thirst.  This is an Esther fast, where we give up eating and drinking for a time, to pray and focus on Jesus and God’s Word.

When I first started a daily prayer time with Jesus, I didn’t know what fasting was all about.  My church didn’t talk about it, and there weren’t too many resources.  I wondered what the “rules” were.  As it turns out, there are no rules, only examples.  In our Bibles we have the example of Esther who fasted with her maidens for three days to save her people. Esther’s fast happened one time during an extreme crisis. They had no water and no food for three days and nights.  We also have the example of Daniel who gave up rich foods, eating only fruits and vegetables. Daniel’s fast was a way of life, along with praying three times a day.  And, of course, there are Moses, Elijah and Jesus who fasted for 40 days and nights during a time of great trial. If you are just getting started with fasting, I would recommend a one-day juice fast, where you only drink juice, a juice and banana fast is good for nursing moms.  You can work your way up to a full fast when the time is just right.

Some might think fasting is a thing of the past from Bible times, but it is still practiced by many Christians today as they seek God’s will in prayer.  If you are looking for a modern example of fasting, I encourage you to read The Heavenly Man.  This book gives testimony after testimony to fasting and prayer, from friends praying for the persecuted pastor to him praying and fasting himself.  I highly recommend The Heavenly Man.  Order a copy for yourself and share one with a friend. 

For today I give you My Fasting TEA CUPP, Bible verses that highlight fasting and trials. You may pray these verses while you are fasting, or any time you sit down with Jesus for prayer and TEA. Here are conversation starters for you as you pour your heart out to Jesus in prayer:

T for Thanksgiving:
(a verse of thanks as we finish our fast and have our first meal)

And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted.  John 6:11 (NKJV) 

Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV)

E for Exalting:
(our suffering during fasting is nothing to compared to the glory of Jesus!)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 (NKJV)

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.1 Peter 1:6-7 (NKJV)

(The prayer King Jehoshaphat prayed to exalt the Lord)

O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?   2 Chronicles 20:6 (NKJV)

A for Admitting:
(we repent and admit our sins as we fast)

 “Now, therefore,” says the Lord,
“Turn to Me with all your heart,
With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” Joel 2:12 (NKJV)

C for Calling:

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 1 Peter 2:21 (NKJV)

Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. John 4:34 (NKJV)

But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.  Matthew 9:15 (NKJV)

But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face.  so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.  Matthew 6:17-18 (NKJV)

But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love. 2 Corinthians 6:4-6 (NKJV)

U is for Understanding our story:
(I love it when God sends prayer answers right during our fasting!)

So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,  Acts 10:30 (NKJV)

I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.  Philippians 4:12 (NKJV)

P is for Promises:
(Promises for when we are thirsty and hungry during fasting, and He will revive us!)

Therefore with joy you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.  Isaiah 12:3 (NKJV)

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 4:4 (NKJV)

You, who have shown me great and severe troubles,
Shall revive me again,
And bring me up again from the depths of the earth.  Psalm 71:20 (NKJV)

P is for Petitioning:

So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.”  Mark 9:29 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Once you get started on fasting and prayer, you might like to plan a regular day to fast, such as the first day of each month, the first Sunday of each month, or every Wednesday. Or when there is a great trial or event in your life. Write it on your calendar and commit to this time of prayer and fasting with Jesus. Read Isaiah 58 in preparation. Another devotion you may enjoy reading is The Empty Plate.

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

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

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.

Be One of the Faithful

 Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,” says the Lord God. Ezekiel 14:14 (NKJV)

Sometimes the books of the Old Testament prophets can be long and difficult to read, with much prophecy and destruction, because God’s people kept turning away from Him.  But there are still good verses tucked in there to exhort and encourage us in our walk with God.

The verse above from Ezekiel 14:14 was one of these that caught my eye.  When we read, “Noah, Daniel and Job,”  we feel connected, since most of us have heard their stories: Noah’s Arc, Daniel and the Lions, The Patience of Job.  The following verses remind us of each one.

…Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. Genesis 6:9 (NKJV)

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days. Daniel 6:10 (NKJV)

There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. Job 1:1 (NKJV)

A just man who walked with God, a man of prayer, a blameless and upright man…These are all great Bible heroes, strong in their faith.  So, what does Ezekiel 14:14 tell us?  It says that even if those three faithful men were there, they would only save themselves and no one else from God’s impending destruction.

What does this mean for us?  John McCarthur says in his notes on Ezekiel 14:14, “one man’s righteousness is no protection for another.” (MacArthur, 1997) We can’t take comfort that we live in a country founded under God, or that our neighbor attends church, or that our grandmother prayed for us.  We must make the decision for ourselves, confess Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raise Him from the dead, and we will be saved (Romans 10:9).

Even if we hangout with our pastor’s family or Bible study leader, though these are very good things to do, we won’t be delivered.  We must “hang out” with the King of kings, the Savior of our souls, God’s only Son who gave His life for our sins on the Cross, pouring out His blood to wash us clean.  We must be friends with Jesus.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Be friends with Jesus.  Have TEA with Him each day, reading His Word, the Bible, pouring out your heart to Him in prayer.  As you begin this new year, ask God to help you walk with Him each day as did Noah, Daniel, Job, Abraham and Sarah, Moses, Ruth, and so many others Bible heroes.

And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. James 2:23-24 (NKJV)

MacArthur, J. (1997). The MacArthur Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc. (p. 1168)

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

Many thanks to my Discipleland Sunday school curriculum for the Bible hero pictures I enjoy each week in our classroom!

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®

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.