My Sauna Prayers

But to you who fear My name
The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
With healing in His wings…
Malachi 4:2 (NKJV)

In January I joined a gym for the first time in my life.  It was not my idea.  I don’t like exercising indoors.  I like looking up at the big blue sky and smiling at Jesus as I run.  Treadmills are not my friends.  They don’t shine on me like God does with His sunshine.  And the numbers creep forward so slowly, except when I’m doing intervals, then the walking minutes seem much faster than the running minutes! I found the elliptical machine to be more kind than the treadmill.

But I am thankful our little town has a gym, what a blessing to so many people who need to get exercise in winter and year-round for various reasons.  There is something inspiring about the gym. Seeing others energetically exercising encourages me to press on, just as when we meet with believers at church every Sunday we are encouraged to press on in our faith. At the fitness center, people are there as part of a diabetes program, walking for their health, lifting weights to ward off osteoporosis, or training for their next Ironman.  I joined the gym for the sauna.

My doctor told me in December that I would need surgery because of benign tumors.  My oldest son did some research and convinced me to give Jesus and natural remedies a try first.  I asked many counselors (Proverbs 15:22): Friends with similar ailments, a naturopathic doctor, essential oil references, and so on, and decided to do it all with much prayer! One of the treatments is to sweat out the toxins that our bodies hold onto in a sauna.

One morning while perspiring on the top bench of this wooden room, I was praying for Jesus to heal me, to sweat out the icky stuff from me, and to shrink the tumors.  I thought how much God’s Word is like a sauna.  When we climb into it and read of His holiness and our sinfulness, we sweat out our sins.  He purifies us in the crucible of His Word!

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

And so I prayed, Dear Jesus, please sweat out these toxins from my body, and heal me.  And please forgive me, too, sweat out the toxins from my heart, all my sins and pride and selfishness and wrong words and…wash me clean with Your precious blood and fill me with Your Holy Spirit.  In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
Save me, and I shall be saved,
For You are my praise.
Jeremiah 17:14 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Just as regular exercise is necessary to keep our bodies in shape, regular time in God’s Word is essential to keep our hearts pure.  Dear friend, please schedule time daily with Jesus, sharing a CUPP of TEA and reading His Word, using Bible verses to pour your heart out to Jesus in prayer.  You might have to set your alarm extra early, but even more than the gym, it is worth it!

For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
1 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV)

…To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 1:5-6 (NKJV)

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

 

Hungering for God’s Word

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 5:4 (NKJV)

Can you imagine truly hungering for God’s Word so much that you would fast (not eat) for weeks and months to get your very own Bible?  If you are like me, you have a collection of Bibles on your bookshelf from different times in your life…the one I was given in church as a third grader, the ones my children received, my first One Year Bible, and more. There they sit because we have newer study Bibles we have come to love.  So, it is hard to imagine begging God week after week to send a Bible.  But that is how the amazing story of Brother Yun begins in The Heavenly Man.

My dear Bible study leader Terry has recommended this book on several occasions, so finally I made it my goal to read it this summer.  Just a few pages into the book I’m already in awe of what God did in the life of The Heavenly Man.  Brother Yun became a Christian as a teenager when Jesus miraculously healed his dad of cancer.  This all came about while Bibles were banned in China. Christians buried their Bibles in tin cans to save them for when God’s Word would be allowed again.  Brother Yun wanted a Bible so much, he prayed and fasted for months. Finally in the wee hours before dawn, a Bible was delivered to his door, just as he had dreamed.  Brother Yun ate up the Word of God like a starving soul, memorizing entire books of the Bible.  Wow!

How many people have Bibles sitting on the shelf as we do that are never opened? Is there someone in the world that is praying right now for a Bible to be delivered?  Are we as hungry as Brother Yun for God’s Word, gobbling it up every day as our very life and nourishment?

Today’s TEA CUPP: God has given us a gift, the Bible, His Word.  Do not neglect this precious present from the Lord.  Sit down with Jesus every day for TEA and eat His Word, the bread of life.  Underline your favorite verses.  Memorize them.  Use God’s Word as conversation starters as you pour out your heart to Jesus in prayer.  Commit to reading your Bible every day. And if you are one without a Bible, please message me and I will send you one from my shelf!

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.  Matthew 5:6 (NKJV)

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 (NKJV)

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

Turn and Live

…“Therefore turn and live!”  Ezekiel 18:32 (NKJV)

One of the toughest parts of My TEA CUPP Prayers might be the letter “A” for Admitting our sins.  It can be hard to admit when we’ve done something wrong, said the wrong words, done the wrong thing, broken one of God’s commandments, and fallen short of the glory of God.  It can be especially hard to even admit we need forgiveness, but we do.  For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).  We’re all in need of the forgiveness that only Jesus can provide.

Yet there is Good News! Though admitting our sins is tough, we are cleansed, our burden is lifted, and we have joy and peace again.  Jesus bore our sins for us on the cross at Calvary so long ago.  When we believe in Him, He washes away all our sins and makes us His child.  Isn’t that Good News?!  So, today, if you’ve been skipping this part of your TEA time with Jesus, I urge you to turn and live!

Turn from your sins, admit them to Jesus, repent and live a new life, walking with Jesus. This sin stuff is not new, it’s as old as Adam and Eve and the serpent.  God’s people, the Israelites, fell into it often. God’s Old Testament prophets warned the people, as did Ezekiel:

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord God. “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!” Ezekiel 18:30-32 (NKJV)

Are you ready to turn and live?  How can you do it?  James tells us so well in his New Testament book.  James says…

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. James 4:7-10 (NKJV)

Did you hear James’ points? 1) Submit to God. 2) Resist the devil. 3) Draw near to God (having TEA with Jesus each day is a great way to do this!). 4) Cleanse and purify your heart (by admitting your sins, weeping, and asking Jesus’ forgiveness). 5) Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord.

And did you see Jame’s promises?  1) The devil will flee from you. 2) God will draw near to you. 3) And God will lift you up!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Turn and Live!  Dearest TEA CUPP Friend, whether you are a new believer, old believer, or a seeker, there is always something to admit to Jesus.  Give Jesus that last sin you’ve been hanging onto, let Him wash it away and give you a new clean heart.  Turn and Live!

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 I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”  Ezekiel 18:32 (NKJV)

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

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.

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.

The Final Whistle

soccer

In 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

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 middle 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 choose 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

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

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

 

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.

Laundry Prayers

laundryHis clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.  Mark 9:3 (NKJV)

Laundry day, a day to think about Jesus. Why not?  Often when I’m sorting the clothes, whites, darks, delicates…I recall what we were doing when we wore those outfits…  Oh, this was from our birthday outing at the zoo, thank you, Jesus, for that fun day! Or, this was from that awful day when I was so grumpy.  Jesus, please forgive me and wash away that day! 

Yet, even though I think about Jesus when doing the laundry, I never considered there being laundry way back in Bible times.  Have you?  Yes, they did have laundry!  When Jesus went up on the mountain with His disciples, Peter, James and John, His clothes became so white that no launderer on earth could make them so (Mark 9:3).  The disciples’ eyes must have been blinded by such purity!

We also can find this righteousness for ourselves at the foot of Jesus’ cross.  By the blood He shed for us, we who believe in Jesus are washed clean, forgiven for our sins. We are made white as with a launderer’s soap (Malachi 3:2).  We are a clean load of laundry, all ready for the new week.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  This week when washing your laundry, consider how Jesus is laundering you.  Thank Jesus for making you a pure vessel for serving Him.

But who can endure the day of His coming?
And who can stand when He appears?
For He is like a refiner’s fire
And like launderers’ soap. Malachi 3:2 (NKJV)

Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.  Isaiah 1:8 (NKJV)

New King James Version (NKJV)

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

“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.