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

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.

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.

Joel and Moses at 3 Months

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.   Hebrews 11:23 (NKJV)

At three months old, our baby Joel is the joy of our family.  In the evening he lies in his crib, falling asleep while gazing at his mobile.  He wakes in the night for just one snack from his mommy now.  In the morning Joel opens his eyes, smiling to greet a new day.  Joel loves his diaper change table where he lies on his back, receiving full attention from Mommy or Daddy.  He enjoys lying on his back so much, we often lay him on the kitchen table while we are eating.  Another favorite spot is his playpen; there he holds and tastes his toys and blankets.  Joel loves it when a family member peeks into his playpen to say hello.  He will smile and laugh like there is a joke. Sometimes Joel fusses when we strap him in his car seat, but he makes the best of it and takes a nap. Joel brings so much joy to our family.

At three months old baby Moses must also have brought joy to his family.  We read his story in the Bible book of Exodus.  As I read I wonder…Did Moses sleep at night?  Did he enjoy snacks from his mommy?  Did Moses have diapers to change? Did he like to be carried or lie on his back?  What kind of toys did Moses play with?  Did his older sister Miriam or older brother Aaron try to make him laugh and smile?  How did they feel when their mother put Moses in a basket in the Nile River? Miriam must have worried as she watched nearby.  Aaron was only three, so perhaps he didn’t  understand.  Jochebed, Moses’ mommy, was heartbroken to send off Moses.  But what joy was hers when Pharaoh’s daughter asked her to nurse her very own baby.  No longer did she have to hide her beautiful boy.

As I hold my own dear baby and reflect on baby Moses, I see how God’s timing is perfect.  At three months old, babies are often over their newborn colic, so Moses didn’t fuss in the basket.  They aren’t rolling over yet, so Moses wouldn’t tip his basket in the Nile River.  A three-month old baby isn’t babbling too much, so he wouldn’t attract attention, except from the person God intended to adopt him — Pharaoh’s daughter.  Three month old babies have cute round faces, big eyes, and smiles to charm the heart of Pharaoh’s daughter.  And, they aren’t eating solid food yet, so Moses’ own mother was called to nurse her baby.  God’s timing was perfect to protect His servant Moses, who would lead His people to freedom.

God’s timing is also perfect for our baby.  I wanted baby Joel to come nine years ago, six years ago, and three years ago.  But God had a different plan.  He sent him now.  God knew this is the time we needed baby Joel.  I can’t imagine what God has planned for him, just as Jochebed did not know the plans God had for Moses.   God’s timing is always right.  Such lessons the Lord teaches me through our three month old baby.  Thank you, Jesus.

Today’s TEA CUPP:   What is Jesus doing in your life at just the right time?  Reflect on this verse: You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.  Romans 5:6 (NIV)

Moses Is Born

And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank. And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him.

Then the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river. And her maidens walked along the riverside; and when she saw the ark among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it. And when she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him, and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.”

Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?”

And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the maiden went and called the child’s mother. Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10 And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. So she called his name Moses,saying, “Because I drew him out of the water.”  Exodus 2:1-10  (NKJV)

New King James Version (NKJV)Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
New International Version (NIV)Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Admit: Faltering

Today’s TEA CUPP: Praying God’s Word.

God’s Word points out our sin to us.  Here is one of those verses…

If you falter in a time of trouble,
   how small is your strength!   Proverbs 24:10 (NIV)

Let’s use this verse as a conversation starter to ADMIT our sins to Jesus today and ask for His forgiveness and strength.

New International Version (NIV)Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Admit: Who can say?

Today’s TEA CUPP: Praying God’s Word.

Here’s a verse to help us ADMIT our sins in prayer today…

Who can say, “I have made my heart clean,
      I am pure from my sin”?   Proverbs 20:9 (NKJV)

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