My Kevin Story

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.  Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)

Today we celebrate the high school graduation of our third child, Kevin Jon. We thank Jesus for this son who has brought us so much joy these 18 years.  It will be very hard to not have him doing home school any more!

Often I’m reminded how I was praying for other friends to have babies so long ago and decided to add my name to the prayer list, and God heard my prayers.  Perhaps some of you haven’t heard my Kevin story…so here it is…

Kevin has a big sister Kallie and a big brother Jacob. When Kevin’s older brother Jacob was just a few hours old, I was lying in the hospital bed holding baby Jacob in my arms. Right there and then God put the desire in my heart for more children.  Little did I know this desire would become one of the hardest prayers of perseverance in my life up until then.

When Jacob was half a year old, I started reading a One Year Bible, a goal I’d had for many years which I continue today. That same year I was introduced to prayer journaling and started jotting down my prayers. One of my main prayers was for friends having babies.  At one point I decided to add my name to my baby prayer list, hoping God would bless our family again.

When Jacob was six, I was reading my One Year Bible when a verse from  2 Kings 4:16 popped out at me that I had never noticed before.  “Next year at this time you will hold in your arms a son.”  I claimed this promise and a month later we were expecting!

I cried out to God with my voice—
         To God with my voice;
         And He gave ear to me.  Psalm 77:1 (NKJV)

Nine months after I underlined that promise, Kevin Jon came into the world. I was so happy that God had filled this desire of my heart after seven long years of prayer.  I used to sing Kevin a song, “When Jacob was almost seven, Kevin came from heaven…” I never thought God would make me wait longer than seven years to answer another prayer, but that is another story!

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
      But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.   Proverbs 13:12 (NKJV)

We had prayed so much to have Kevin, I just knew from day one that I had to pray for him each day. But what do you pray for a brand new baby?  We know God has special plans for him, but what are they?  And so for many years, I laid my hand on Kevin’s head and prayed the same prayer over Kevin each night:

Dear Jesus, Thank you for Kevin. We love him so much.  Please keep him healthy and give him a good night sleep. Please guard over Kevin always with Your angels, fill him with Your Spirit, and help him always follow You.  In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

Over the years I’ve added to that prayer things that are going on his life from his orange cats, to 4H projects, to his future.  And here he is graduating!  The prayers will just keep going as I pray for him to follow the straight and narrow path God has laid out for him.

I still remember the evening when he was seven years old, Kevin tossed me a note.  I opened it to find the best message ever: “Dear Mom and Dad, I want to be a Christgun.” That evening as we tucked Kevin into bed, his Daddy and I listened as Kevin asked Jesus into his heart. Another very special day was three years later when Kevin and his brother Jacob and Daddy and I were all baptized together.

Kevin is worth every moment of prayer. He is always here to help me.  He is the most caring to his baby brother and baby niece.  He traveled to Kenya on a mission trip.  He serves his community through 4H and his church with playing piano and running the sound system. His hobbies vary incredibly from entomology to robots to magic.  Kevin is a gifted speaker and I have always wondered what God’s calling will be on his voice.

Today is the beginning of a new chapter for Kevin and I will be praying for him all the way.  Go, Kevin!  We love you!  We’re so proud of you! We thank Jesus for you! Go light up the world for Jesus!

Love, Mom

xoxoxox

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13 (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)

P.S.  Kevin was due on March 19th, 2000, his grandpa’s birthday, so we named him Kevin Jon after his Grandpa Jon.  This Father’s Day while we celebrate Kevin’s graduation, we also remember Grandpa Jon who is now in the arms of Jesus.

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

 

 

 

Word of God TEA

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. Luke 21:13 (NKJV)

Dear TEA friends,  My TEA CUPP Prayers is all about using God’s Word to start a conversation with the Lord.  One verse at a time, you can pray…one verse for giving thanks, one for exalting our great God, one for admitting our sins…and so on. Today all the verses are about God’s Word.  Use these verses this week to pour out your heart to Jesus. 

T for Thanksgiving:

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NKJV)

E for Exalting:

The words of the Lord are pure words,
Like silver tried in a furnace of earth,
Purified seven times. Psalm 12:6 (NKJV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 (NKJV)

Your word is truth. John 17:17 (NKJV)

He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. Revelation 19:13 (NKJV)

A for Admitting:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13 (NKJV)

 C for Calling:

Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:11 (NKJV)

 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28 (NKJV)

 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.  2 Timothy 3:16 (NKJV)

U is for Understanding our story:

…man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.  Deuteronomy 8:3 (NKJV)

 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 (NKJV)

…I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Hebrews 8:10 (NKJV)

P is for Promises:

The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
But the word of the Lord endures forever. 1 Peter 1:24-25 (NKJV)

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me empty,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV)

For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Matthew 5:18 (NKJV)

Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” John 8:51 (NKJV)

P is for Petitioning:

Remember the word to Your servant,
Upon which You have caused me to hope. Psalm 119:49 (NKJV)

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)

Today’s TEA CUPP: My friend, God’s Word is the Holy Bible.  You are invited to a daily TEA time with the King of kings.  Get your Bible, a pen, and your favorite beverage.  Sit down in your quiet spot, open your Bible, and invite Jesus to join you.  Read His Word, underline your favorite verses or the ones listed above.  Use these verses to help you pray to the Lord.

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

Rivers of Living Water

 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38 (NKJV)

My feet pounded the paved highway as the gentle May rain misted down upon my face.  Determined to get my run in for the day regardless of the weather, I plodded along, thankful for little traffic.  But every once in awhile a vehicle would zoom past, forcing me into the drenched tall grass at the shoulder.  Instantly my new running shoes were soaked; with each step I could feel the squeeze of extreme moisture in my socks.  My feet were overflowing with water.

This entire rainy day metaphor made me smile for I had just read John 7 where Jesus promises us that out of our hearts will flow rivers of living water if we believe in Him.  Every time I sit down to write My TEA CUPP Prayers, I pray that God’s Spirit will overflow from my pen and computer to my community and world.  And here is a promise right from Jesus that He will make it happen!  Instead of water squishing out the soles of my shoes, Living Water will be bursting forth from my soul because of God’s Holy Spirit.

Today’s TEA CUPP: This promise is for YOU, my TEA CUPP friend!  If you believe in Jesus, out of your heart will flow rivers of living water.  Wherever you go, you will spread the love of Jesus and be a blessing, on the road running, at the races, in the gym, while worshiping at church…out of your heart will flow rivers of living water!

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”  John 4:10 (NKJV)

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

How Priceless!

How priceless is Your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. Psalm 36:7 (NIV)

Our little kindergartner Joel is into money now.  One of his favorite games is The Allowance Game where players try to be the first person to earn $20.  Sometimes when you roll the die, you are sent to spend $2.25 on school supplies, when you’d rather wash the car to earn $1.30.  But eventually, with enough odd jobs, birthdays, and swinging past home for your $3 allowance, you can earn the $20 needed to win the game.

Joel also has his oldest brother’s savings bank.  This bank has three compartments, one for the church, one for the bank, and one for the store. We paid Joel a nickel for every nail he found in our yard after the house we rent was resided.  Joel takes great pride in dividing up his earnings and taking an offering to Sunday school each week.  Money is lots of fun.

But there are some things on which you just can’t put a price.  Number One is Jesus’ love.  Psalm 36:7 proclaims, “How priceless is Your unfailing love.”  Isn’t that so true!  God stepped out of heaven as Jesus the Son, just to live and die and live again for us.  His disciple Judas Iscariot thought he could put a price on Jesus, giving away Jesus’ location for thirty pieces of silver.  But even that was the wrong price, as Judas regretfully learned.  No price can be put on the love God has for us.  You can’t buy His love.  It’s a free gift.  He offers it to you, My TEA CUPP friend.  Hold out your heart and let God fill it with His priceless love.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).  Ephesians 2:4-5 (NKJV)

This reminds me of an old camp song we used to sing, “Lord, You are more precious than silver, Lord, You are more costly than gold, Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds, and nothing I desire compares with You!”

Today’s TEA CUPP: Today, tell Jesus how priceless He is to you…O Jesus, how priceless is Your unfailing love!  I love You, but Your love is so much greater.  You died for us.  You care about every detail of our lives.  You are preparing a place for us in heaven.  O Jesus, I love and praise You!

For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:20 (NKJV)

The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of coins of gold and silver. Psalm 119:72 (NKJV)

(NIV) Scripture from Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011

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

My Peter TEA

Awhile back I wrote a devotion entitled, “Jesus loves Peter, Jesus loves me.” Peter was one of Jesus’ best friends, one of His favorite disciples, and one most likely to deny Jesus three times the night Jesus was arrested.  Yet Jesus chose Peter as His Rock on whom He would build His church. Following Jesus’ resurrection, Peter was one of the most outspoken of the disciples, declaring the salvation message to over 3000 people on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).  So, with great joy we may drink TEA with Jesus, using God’s Word penned by Peter.  Today’s verses come from 1 Peter in the New Testament…

T for Thanksgiving:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3 (NKJV)

E for Exalting:

…that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:11 (NKJV)

 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:11 (NKJV)

A for Admitting:

Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV)

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 (NKJV)

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. 1 Peter 5:6 (NKJV)

 C for Calling:

But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NKJV)

 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.  1 Peter 1:22 (NKJV)

Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. 1 Peter 2:17 (NKJV)

 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)

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives. 1 Peter 3:1 (NKJV)

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. 1 Peter 3:15 (NKJV)

 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:9-10 (NKJV)

U is for Understanding our story:

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)

 Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.1 Peter 1:18-19 (NKJV)

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV)

For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:25 (NKJV)

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NKJV)

P is for Promises:

The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
But the word of the Lord endures forever. 1 Peter 1:24-25 (NKJV)

Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame. 1 Peter 2:6 (NKJV)

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their prayers… 1 Peter 3:12 (NKJV)

And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. 1 Peter 5:4 (NKJV)

P is for Petitioning:

 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 1 Peter 4:7 (NKJV)

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

Today’s TEA CUPP: 1 Peter may be a short book in the Bible, but it is sure packed full of delicious verses!  Pour your favorite 1 Peter verses in your TEA CUPP today. Write them on note cards and put them in your kitchen or on your bathroom mirror.  Savor all 1 Peter has for you, praying these verses back to Jesus.

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.

How Jesus Grieved

Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. John 16:22 (NKJV)

After my Daddy died, I wondered how to deal with my grief.  The Bible promises us in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

So, claiming this promise, I searched the Gospels to discover how Jesus handled His grief.  What He did was really quite simple, Jesus spent time with His Father in prayer and kept serving others through His ministry.  Let’s take a look.

In Matthew 14:12-13 we read how Jesus learned his cousin, John the Baptist, had been beheaded.  Jesus went to a deserted place to be by Himself and talk to God.  How did God comfort Him?  He sent 5000 people for Jesus to heal and feed!  That must have taken Jesus’ mind off His sorrows for a little bit.  And in comforting others, Jesus also was comforted.

We can also look at John 11 for the story of Jesus’ friend Lazarus.  Lazarus was the brother of Jesus’ friends Mary and Martha.  Word was sent for Jesus to hurry and come, for Lazarus was very sick. But Jesus waited and Lazarus died.  When Jesus finally arrived four days late,  both Martha and Mary said, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died!”  And what did Jesus do?  Jesus wept. Then He ministered to Mary and Martha and raised Lazarus from the grave to the glory of God the Father.

What can we learn about grieving from Jesus?

  • Cry, it’s okay.
  • Spend time with the Father in prayer.
  • Keep on serving.

Most of all, let Jesus carry you and wipe away your tears.  I know, for I’ve lost my Daddy, three unborn babies, and my college cross country team. When I see pictures of Daddy now, I think, “Daddy, you should be here.”  When the pastor spoke of Mary meeting Jesus in the garden on the first Easter morning, I wished Daddy could be at the cemetery to greet us when we visited after the service. When I see a little girl born around 2009, I think that’s how big my Gloria Anne would be. And, when I saw a space station movie which told of the Challenger explosion in 1986 (32 years ago!), tears gushed from my eyes as I recalled the time in my life when I also lost my cross country team.  Only Jesus can carry us through all this. We must hold all Jesus’ promises and remember, this earthly life is not the end…we have eternity in heaven with Jesus.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Are you grieving for a loved one?  Perhaps you know someone who is grieving who you can help.  Follow Jesus’ example: Cry, Pray, Keep serving, all the while remembering God’s promise of heaven. Let Jesus carry you.

He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces… Isaiah 25:8 (NKJV)

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

 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)

 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you. 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NKJV)

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

The Highest Tree

Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV)

The tallest tree in the world is said to be Hyperion, a 379.7-foot-tall (115.7 m) redwood tree located in California, USA.  If you’d like to experience such tall trees, you might enjoy a visit to Sequoia National Park where you can see 18 of the 30 largest trees in the world. Though there are many cool facts about redwood and sequoia trees, perhaps the most intriguing is their life span.  Giant redwoods may live up to 2000 years, while giant sequoias may live up to 3000 years!  Imagine that! Some of the very trees you may visit were growing when Jesus walked on this earth!

What is it that attracts us to such tall trees?  Do we always like the biggest and best, the oldest and toughest? Perhaps it is another way of Jesus calling us to Him, through His awesome creation (Romans 1:20). Perhaps it’s because these trees point us to heaven and bring us closer to God.  Or, maybe it’s that our Savior Jesus died on such a tree, the cross of Calvary.

 Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)

Why did Jesus do it? Why did He allow Himself to be beaten and bruised, then nailed to a cross between two thieves?  Why did the Son of the Living God not call a Legion of angels to rescue Him and denounce His tormentors?  Because He loves us. He was the only perfect sacrifice that could die for our sins.  And while on that tree, He still had compassion, saying, “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”  (Luke 23:34)

Because of Jesus’ love and sacrifice on that tree, we have God’s forgiveness and promise of eternal life in heaven. Jesus is the only door through which we can enter heaven.  All we have to do is believe. When the sky was dark and the earth quaked and the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom, the centurion proclaimed, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39)  Let us do the same.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: As you prepare to celebrate Good Friday and Easter, why not take a walk in a nearby forest or park.  There one can look up at the trees and find the tallest one that points you to heaven, while remembering the highest tree of all, our Savior Jesus’ cross.  Thank you, Jesus, for all You have done, dying for our sins on that tall tree, and making a way for us to be with You in heaven. I believe in You, Jesus!  I love You, Jesus!

Thus says the Lord God: “I will take also one of the highest branches of the high cedar and set it out. I will crop off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and will plant it on a high and prominent mountain. On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort; in the shadow of its branches they will dwell. And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the Lord, have spoken and have done it.” Ezekiel 17:22-24 (NKJV)

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

https://www.livescience.com/29144-worlds-largest-tree.html

https://www.tripsavvy.com/redwood-forests-in-california-1478739

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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.