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.

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.

 

Moan Noisily

Attend to me, and hear me;
I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily
Psalm 55:2 (NKJV)

We’ve all heard the child moaning noisily, from the line at the grocery store to our own kitchen. Waaaaaaaaaah-wooooooooo-weeeeee-waaaaaah!  Kids are experts at the art of moaning, whether it is warranted or not.

Did you know it’s okay for us to moan noisily, too?  Sure thing! Doesn’t Jesus tell us to come to the Father as a child?

Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it. Luke 18:17 (NKJV)

So we come to Him as a child, crying and bawling and whining and moaning, ever so noisily.  And He doesn’t turn us away.  He opens His arms and holds us close and hears our complaint and assures us of His perfect plan.

The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms Deuteronomy 33:27 (NKJV)

Did you know Jesus Himself, when He walked this earth, moaned noisily? When His good friend Lazarus died, Jesus wept and groaned within Himself, before raising Lazarus from the dead…

Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. John 11:38 (NKJV)

Today when we don’t have the words to say, but all we can do is cry out in anguish, moaning noisily, God has sent His Holy Spirit to pray for us, with groanings that cannot be uttered.  Even the Holy Spirit groans…

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26 (NKJV)

Not only do Jesus and the Holy Spirit moan, the whole earth has been moaning! Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God and were kicked out of the garden, all creation has been crying out to be delivered from its bondage of corruption…

For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Romans 8:22 (NKJV)

If Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and all creation are groaning, we can groan, too. Yes, my friend, it is okay to moan noisily and let God hear your complaint.

Today’s TEA CUPP: Moan noisily.  I’m serious.  If you’ve been holding back at your TEA time with Jesus, just sharing small talk and not really pouring out your heart, today is the day.  Give Jesus all your hurts and sadness.  Tell Him you don’t like what’s going on in your world.  Unload your burdens on Jesus and let Him carry them today. 

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

Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22 (NKJV)

Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. Romans 8:23 (NKJV)

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. 2 Corinthians 5:1-4 (NKJV)

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

The Beginning of Prayer

prayThen men began to call on the name of the LordGenesis 4:26b (NKJV)

Every new year I begin reading my Bible all over again.  The excitement of Jesus reigning in Revelations during December is replaced with the beginning of the world in Genesis during my January readings.

I follow the history of creation and the birth of mankind.  I cringe as Adam and Eve give in to the serpent in the garden,  hiding from God in the bushes. I imagine how hard it must have been to be the first parents with boys fighting and one kills the other (Cain and Abel).  I rejoice when God gives Adam and Eve another son, Seth, to heal their hurting hearts.

And then I come across this amazing verse:  “Then men began to call on the name of the Lord.”  (Genesis 4:26b).  Adam and Eve already spoke to God when they were hiding in the garden.  Cain also talked back to God when he questioned, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  (Genesis 4:9). Yet at this point, people began lifting their pleas to Him. They were calling on the name of the Lord.

I wonder what those early prayers were like?  We’re they frantic yells, “Help me, God!”  We’re they more poetic like the Psalmists in the Old Testament, who poured out their hearts along with their cries?  Just this morning I was reading one of those Psalms, Psalm 17, and it gave me just the right words to cry out to Jesus:

Hear a just cause, O Lord,
Attend to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.  Psalm 17:1-2 (NKJV)

Another favorite cry of my heart is…

Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  Psalm 61:1-2 (NKJV)

Aren’t you glad that people began calling on the Name of the Lord so long ago, leaving us God’s Word as an example so we can call on Him, too?  We can share our hurting hearts and happy moments and anything we want with Jesus.  He is always there to listen.  Thank you, dear God, for your invention of PRAYER!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  When did prayer begin for you? Thank God for that moment when you first heard His voice and answered Him.  Give Jesus the glory for the prayers He has answered in your life.   prayer_kid

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

Tea with My Best Friend

my best friend JesusNo longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.  John 15:15 (NKJV)

My favorite time of the day is the first hour of the morning when I have TEA with my Best Friend.  We sit together on the sofa, I read His Word in the Bible, and then I use His Word for a conversation starter, as I talk with Jesus.  This is my quiet time. This is my prayer time. This is my tea time with my Best Friend. 

Jesus tells us in the book of John that we are His friends.  In John 15:15 He says, “I have called you friends.” Isn’t that great news! Doesn’t that touch your heart? The Creator of the universe and Savior of your soul is your Friend.  Jesus is always beside us, just waiting for us to chat with Him.

How might your conversation with Jesus go?  There are so many stories in the Gospels you can use, from Peter to the woman at the well.  Or, perhaps you would like this dialogue Jesus had with a blind man…

Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?”

He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”  Luke 18:39-42 (NKJV)

One morning I shared the blind man’s request with Jesus.  I said, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

And Jesus replied, “Jenny, what do you want me to do for you?”

I answered, “Lord, may I receive Your healing, and publish My Tea Cupp Prayers, and fulfill Your call.  And may all on my prayer list love You.”

And Jesus answered, “Receive your good health, Your faith has made you well.”

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Have TEA with your Best Friend today!  Call to Jesus, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Hear Jesus ask you, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  And pour out your heart to Him.

But to You I have cried out, O Lord,
And in the morning my prayer comes before You. Psalm 88:13 (NKJV)

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

 

Praying for Babies Again

Kennedy new bornBefore I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you… Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV)

Here I sit at the library, working on My TEA CUPP Prayers, as I try to do every week.  My dear husband is home with our two youngest boys, working on projects in the garage.  They are refurbishing the old crib that was used by all four of our children.  As I write this, our daughter, our oldest child, is at a hospital in Wisconsin, preparing to deliver our first grandchild, a sweet little girl, named Kennedy Grace.

Oh, how we love her already, our precious grandchild! We love her before we even know her.  Isn’t that how it is with Jesus.  He loved us before we even knew Him, dying for our sins and giving us new life.  And so I pray for precious Kennedy to love and know Jesus, too.  He already knows her.  He knew her before He even formed her in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5).  And God knit her together inside our daughter, making her wonderful (Psalm 139:13).

If only all babies could be loved as much as this little girl will be! Her paternal grandparents are on a plane right now to see her. We will see her soon, too. How we long to hold her!  A charming nursery is decorated and filled with gifts from so many who love her.  What a beautiful welcome for a beautiful little girl!

This same day, friends are finally welcoming home their adopted twins from the Congo.  They prayed and waited over two years for these boys.  How happy their hearts are now!  Just yesterday, other friends welcomed their tenth child!  What a joy!  And all of these are on my Thursday prayer list for Marriage/Babies.  Yay, Jesus!  He sent so many blessings in one day!

Yet, not all babies get such a homecoming. I hurt for all the babies that won’t be born.  I cry for all the babies that come into the world unwanted.  And I wonder what God is calling me to do?  What is He calling us to do?

God is calling for us to be a voice for the babies, to cry out that abortion is wrong, that there are many families with open arms who will welcome these children.  He is asking us to be the ones with open arms. Rachel is still weeping for her children and won’t be comforted until we help these little ones (Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew 2:18).

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Will you join me in praying for babies?  Will you join me in speaking out for the little ones?  Will you join me in opening your arms to welcome them? Jesus invites you to be part of His healing.

Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God.  Matthew 10:14 (NKJV)

p.s.  We thank Jesus for precious Kennedy Grace who was born healthy and strong, at 9 lb. 20 3/4 inches!  Mommy, Daddy and baby are all well.  So blessed!

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

 

TEA CUPP Book Mark

New TEA CUPP Book Mark

Merry Christmas!

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. John 15:7 (NKJV)

Merry Christmas, dear friends! I have a gift for you!  Just message me and I will send one of My TEA CUPP Prayers book marks to you.

Would you like some help getting your new year off to a good start with an organized prayer time?  My TEA CUPP Prayers book mark has space for you to list your daily prayers, and other special prayer needs for each day of the week.  It also reminds you of the parts of prayer with the TEA CUPP acronym.

T = Thanksgiving
E = Exalting His Name
A = Admitting my sins
C = Calling for my life
U = Understanding my story
P = Promises (claiming God’s)
P = Petitions (pouring out my heart)

Keep your prayer book mark in your Bible, or by your phone or email.  Then as you learn of more prayer needs, just add them to your list.  Each morning during your TEA time with Jesus, start by reading your Bible to give Him the first Word.  Then pull out your book mark and pour out your heart to Jesus for all the dear people on your list.  I make a new book mark for myself every few months as the prayer needs change. May this be a blessing to you.

Love and prayers,

Jennifer Grace Book Mark Prayer List

New King James Version (NKJV)

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

Praying for Babies, A Divine Appointment

Natalie's nieceBehold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Psalm 127:3 (NKJV)

My phone beeped with a reply from my friend, “Yes…What a divine appointment for prayer…Adelynn Scout was born yesterday (September 9…a month earlier than expected)…5 lb. 10 oz., 18″, and mom and baby are doing well. PTL!”

The morning of September 9th, 2015 during my TEA CUPP time with Jesus, I prayed for the names on my Samaritan Ministries prayer guide.  That day the names were Nicholas and Kimberly and baby due in October. They had the same last name as our cook and friend Natalie who worked at our church camp from 2006 to 2008. It was a long shot, with us living in Montana, Natalie living in Florida, and her family living in Illinois, but I thought I would ask Natalie anyway.

“Do you happen to have a brother named Nicholas?” I typed into Facebook messenger, wondering if she would think I was crazy.  “I just prayed for him and his wife and baby this morning.”

Now, you must know a little bit more about Samaritan Ministries to appreciate this miracle.  Samaritan Ministries is a Christian health sharing ministry.  Each month we receive the name of a person to send a check to for doctor bills and to pray for that month.  In addition, we receive  a prayer guide with the names of people to pray for each day.  These guides are typed up over a month in advance.  Our guide that month contained last names that began with the letter “C,” but this month we have the letter “B.”  So, the names you get will be different each month.

September 9th, was the last day of our August prayer guide which we had received a month earlier.  On that very day people all over the country (and even world) who received the same copy of the prayer guide were praying for Nicholas and Kimberly and baby.  And on that day, God chose to have this little baby be born one month early, a sweet and healthy girl.  I can’t think of anything more miraculous than that!

Over the past few years, as people were forced to buy health insurance, I’ve noticed an increase in young families on my Samaritan prayer list.  What used to be mostly health concerns, is now more than two thirds babies!  Isn’t that a joy?!

For each couple and baby I pray….please help the man to be a godly husband and daddy, please help the lady to be a godly wife and mom, and help her have a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery.  And please help this baby to grow up loving and knowing you, Jesus. Raise up an army for you, dear Lord.  And I often pray a verse such as from Psalm 23…surely goodness and mercy shall follow this baby all the days of his/her life and he/she shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen.

I’ve had the joy of being on the receiving end of baby prayers, as well.  We joined Samaritan Ministries way back in 2001.  The group was smaller then, so baby names were listed in the monthly newsletter.  I would read over all the names, lifting them up to Jesus, noticing how many were from the Bible, picking out my favorite names for our next baby I hoped for someday.  I remember the most beautiful name one month was Gloria Jubilee.  And each month I prayed that we would have a baby in the Samaritan newsletter someday.

In 2009 we finally had the amazing news that we were expecting! God heard our years of prayers!  But God had other plans. When I had the first doctor appointment at 3 months pregnancy, there was no heart beat.  A few weeks later I went through a painful miscarriage at our mountain church camp, going down the long bumpy road in an ambulance. We named our baby Gloria Anne, praying her short life would bring God glory.  The flood of cards from Samaritan Ministry members after that was a real blessing and comfort.  We suffered two more miscarriages in the coming year, naming those babies Angelica May and Gabriella Hope.  With each loss came more loving cards from Samaritan friends.

Our long time prayers were finally answered in 2011 when I was 45 years old, God gave us a sweet baby boy named Joel Kent.  Joel came out healthy and strong, but I had some complications.  Our medical bills for his delivery and my recovery totaled $30,000.  We are so thankful that Samaritan Ministries covered almost all of it!  We thank Jesus for all the people who prayed for us along the way, too, recognizing the divine appointment for prayer that comes with each name and baby. Today our little miracle is almost 4 years old.Joel at almost 4

It was praying for babies that started me on my prayer journey over two decades ago and keeps me praying today. Will you please join me in this divine appointment?

Today’s TEA CUPP: Are there some young families in your life? Please pray for them and their babies. Pray for those yet to be born. Keep praying for miracles.

This will be written for the generation to come,
That a people yet to be created may praise the Lord.  Psalm 102:18 (NKJV)

New King James Version (NKJV)

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

 

The Empty Plate

Empty plate

“But the days will come when the Bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.” Luke 5:35 (NKJV)

An empty plate.  An empty tea cupp.  What is happening here? It must be time for fasting, giving up food and beverages while praying.

Sometimes God calls us to fast.  I’m reminded of this every year when I read the book of Esther.  In this great history, we see how God allowed Esther to become queen to save her people, the Jews, from annihilation.  When Esther realized this was her duty, she asked her maids and others to pray and fast with her (Esther 4:16). For three days and nights they had no food or water.  The end result was God saved the Jews.

One might wonder what to do during a three day fast.  Should we pour out our hearts to Jesus on day one?  What about days two and three?  While there is no right way to pray and fast, we can find a good plan in 2 Chronicles 20. In this this history, King Jehoshaphat learns of an impending battle with his enemies.  He declares a fast for all Judah.  During the fast, there are three parts to his prayers:

1) Exalt:  “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)

2) Claim God’s Promises:You will hear and save….the battle is not yours, but God’s. 2 Chronicles 20:9,15 (NKJV)

3) Petition: O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You. 2 Chronicles 20:12 (NKJV)

What if we use this formula for a three-day fast?  The first day we exalt Jesus, praising Him for being our Savior.  The second day, we claim God’s promises, underlining and repeating them from our Bibles.  And the third day, we pour out our hearts to Jesus, asking for help with whatever trouble we are facing. Even Queen Esther went to see the king on the third day of fasting.  She found favor in his sight as he asked, “What is your petition?”  (Esther 5:1-7)

On the evening of the third day, we must open our ears and listen, for God will give us our call: ... Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord 2 Chronicles 20:17 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Is God calling you to fast for a time?  Is there something big in your life that needs more than a little prayer?  I encourage you to try this three day fast and let God do His amazing miracles. Then you can go forth singing.

 So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayers. Ezra 8:23 (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.