Out of Prison

…he declared to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison… Acts 12:17 (NKJV)

The cell was cold.  The walls were gray. The paint was peeling. The treatment was harsh. The privacy was nonexistent.  The despair was real.  It was a prison.

How many of us find ourselves in such a place?  For some, it is a real prison from our wrong choices, for others, it is a real prison from persecution.  Yet for most of us, it is a prison with imaginary bars that trap us from the outside world, bound by fears, addictions, unforgiveness…  What is the name of your prison?

My friend, today we’re going to lead you out of that prison into the marvelous light of Jesus.  There is an amazing story in the book of Acts about Peter escaping from prison.  It is so amazing that even Peter didn’t believe it was happening to him.

Peter was one of those in a real prison because of persecution.  King Herod had just beheaded his friend James and now he was preparing to do the same for Peter.  Herod put Peter in prison with FOUR squads of soldiers (Acts 12:4).    While Peter was there the church was praying constantly (Acts 10:5).

Now here, dear sisters,  is where you must remember the power of prayer.  Those prayers of the early church were heard by God and He sent His Angel to rescue Peter!

This was no sweet angel singing anthems.  This Angel of the Lord flooded Peter’s jail cell with bright light and struck Peter on the side. Then He pulled Peter up, saying, “Arise quickly!”  And off they went, past the first and second guard posts, past the iron gates, and out into the city.  Finally, the Angel disappeared and Peter found himself at the home of his friend John Mark.

And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me Acts 12:11 (NKJV)

At John Mark’s home, the church people had been praying so hard for Peter. But when Peter showed up at the gate they didn’t believe it!  How is that for not believing God can answer our prayers.  Isn’t He amazing?  God does answer all our prayers. Jesus does rescue us from our prisons.  The Holy Spirit does carry us forth in victory.

I know, because I’ve been in various prisons over the years.  One was in college before Jesus saved me.  I was in such grief over losing my cross country team and coaches in a plane crash that I turned to food for comfort. This became an eating disorder called bulimia.  There seemed to be no cure.  One time I went to a gathering to help people with eating disorders and discovered four of my surviving teammates were also there.  We had all dealt with the tragedy the same way.  Some addictions you can choose to avoid, like smoking or drinking, but with an eating disorder, you have to keep eating.  The only One who can rescue you from this prison is Jesus Christ. And He did.  When I gave my life to Him, the eating binges disappeared and I was free!

A newer version of the hymn Amazing Grace by Chris Tomlin has the chorus, “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free…”  That’s how it is when Jesus leads us out of the prison into His marvelous light.  The enemy wants to keep us behind bars, but Jesus has the victory. Come, my friend, let the Angel of the Lord escort you out of your prison today.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My dear TEA friend, whatever you are facing today, in whatever prison you find yourself, turn to Jesus. Read the miraculous story of Peter’s prison escape in Acts 12:5-17.  Imagine the Angel of the Lord shining His bright light upon you and saying, “Arise quickly.”  And the Angel leads you out of your prison, past all the guards to the home of praying friends.  And you are free!

Bring my soul out of prison,
That I may praise Your name;
The righteous shall surround me,
For You shall deal bountifully with me.
Psalm 142:7 (NKJV)

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 (NKJV)

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4 (NKJV)

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand
. Isaiah 41:10 (NKJV)

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NKJV)

For with God nothing will be impossible. Luke 1:37 (NKJV)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” John 11:40 (NKJV)

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

We still need the Key

keyJesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6 (NKJV)

If you’re like me, you have a ring of keys…one key for the house, one for the car, one for the post office box, etc.  We make sure we have our keys wherever we go, and we get very distressed if we can’t find them!

Well, after driving a minivan with oil leaks and miles to indicate driving around the equator 10 times, our family had to look for a different vehicle.  My husband found a used minivan one state away.  So for Labor Day weekend, we packed up the camping supplies and headed that way to take a look.

The car salesman located the vehicle for us and pulled it around so we could test drive it.  The van was already running when we climbed in and buckled our seatbelts.  So weren’t we surprised when we drove down the road and noticed there was no key!  How could it run with no key?!  A funny light was also blinking on the dashboard.

When we returned to the car shop, the salesman confessed he had forgotten to take the key fob out of his pocket.  The light on the dashboard was to warn us not to drive away without the fob.  If we had turned off the car, we wouldn’t have been able to turn it on again.

This keyless entry is a concept brand new to our old vehicle minds.  There have always been keys.  It made me wonder how other events would be viewed in a keyless society.  Will people think they can get into heaven without the key?  If someone else opens heaven’s door, can we just walk in?  If our friend has the fob in his pocket, can we get in with her?

Oh, my Tea Cupp friend, I want to be sure you have the key to heaven.  Jesus is the Key.  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).  If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).  And to all who receive Jesus, to those who believe in His Name, He gives the right to become children of God (John 1:12).

Today’s TEA CUPP:  If you have the Key to heaven, share it with a friend.  If you need the Key to heaven, pray to Jesus right now.  Welcome to God’s family!

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  Philippians 3:20 (NKJV)

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

My Dear Loved One

easter_cross_light_2012_c1My Dear Loved One,

You are my Daddy, my brother, my cousin, my aunt, my niece, my landlord, my milkman, my son’s coach, my son’s college roommate, my student, my neighbor, my grocery store checker, my friend’s child, my high school chum, my employer, my friend.

You have a reservation in heaven.  I made it for you every week in my prayers. Others have been calling in reservations for you, too.  To confirm you are on the list in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 21:27), please accept Jesus (read on).

It will be such a great time!  The streets are paved with gold in this beautiful city. There is a river flowing from the throne of God and a tree that bears a different fruit every month (Revelation 22:1-2).  And we will never have tears again, for there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4). 

How did I hear about this ultimate destination?  In the best travel brochure of all, the Bible.  Jesus told me to not be troubled, to believe in Him and God. He said, “for in My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”  (John 14:1-4)

My dear loved one, I asked Jesus to prepare a place for you, too.  My prayer above all other prayers is for you to know Jesus. Why? Because I want you to be in heaven for eternity, not in hell where there really is fire (Revelation 20:15).  I want you to enjoy Jesus’ love and forgiveness on earth, and have His forever joy and peace in heaven.

I want you to know the One who delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the Lord in the Land of the living (Psalm 116:8-9). So many times I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27:13).

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth; and after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me (Job 19:25-27)! Now my citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20).

The neat thing is when you come near to God He will come near to you (James 4:8). I want you to know that through Jesus Christ the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you (Acts 13:38).  And when you receive Him and believe in His Name, He gives you the right to be children of God (John 1:12).

God promises that whoever calls upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21).  My dear loved one, please ACCEPT JESUS and confirm your reservation today. 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).

And when that day comes when Jesus calls you home, I know you will go out with joy and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands (Isaiah 55:12). When you reach heaven, you will enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise (Psalm 100:4) and I will be so thankful to God that you confirmed your reservation. I love you, my dear loved one! And Jesus loves you most of all!

Today’s Tea Cupp:  But I pray to you, Lord,
    in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God,
    answer me with your sure salvation (Psalm 69:13)

And since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. (Hebrews 12:28)

Scripture is taken from

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011

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

 

Who Cares???

question-questions_answers_5A pastor who is often a special speaker at our church, travels with a business card that asks, “Who Cares? If you die and go to hell, who cares?”

Right on his business card he answers this tough question with 7 answers:

# 1 – God cares: 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)

# 2 – Jesus cares:  For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. Matthew 18:11 (NKJV)

# 3 – All people in heaven care: I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.  Luke 15:7 (NKJV)

# 4 – All saved people care: And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!”  Revelation 22:17 (NKJV)

# 5 – All people in hell care: That he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment. Luke 16:28 (NKJV)

# 6 – I care: For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. Romans 1:16 (NKJV)

# 7 – Do you care?  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)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My friend, after reading the answers to #1-6, I hope you will answer a big “YES” to #7! God, Jesus, the saints, the sinners, including me, all want you to follow Jesus. Please join me in confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Dear Jesus, I believe in You!  Please be Lord of my life. I believe You died for my sins and God raised You from the dead. I ask for your forgiveness. I look forward to eternal life with You in heaven.  Please help me to live each day for You from this day forward.  Thank you, Jesus.  I love you! Amen.

A very happy and blessed Easter to you, dear friend!

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

Special thank you to Rev. Dr. Samuel G. Karunanithi from Living Word Church in Bridge City, Texas!

Decide!

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the LORD
is near in the valley of decision. Joel 3:14 (NKJV)

A devotion that influenced me the most in my early years of prayer, came from Our Daily Bread about a little girl with a terminal illness.  A friend suggested she use her remaining time to pray for those who didn’t know Jesus.  She kept a list under her pillow and prayed every day.  As she heard about one of them accepting Jesus as Savior, she marked them on her list.  The day she died, the last person on her list came to know Jesus.  Isn’t that a beautiful story?  It tells me never to give up on praying, and as long as I’m still here on earth, Jesus wants me to pray for the lost.  For there are still multitudes in the valley of decision.

How do I remember to pray?  I keep a list on a book mark in my prayer journal.   I list all those who I want to know  Jesus.  I call it my salvation prayer list.  It includes relatives, friends, friends’ relatives, acquaintances, neighbors, high school friends, people in our community, government leaders, etc.  It’s a big list.  Perhaps some of them already know Jesus, but they haven’t told me, so I keep praying for them.  I pray for God to open their hearts and fill them with His Holy Spirit.  I want them to be in heaven with Jesus and me some day.  A few of my favorite verses to pray for their salvation include…

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. John 14:6 (NIV)

And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved. Acts 2:21 (NIV)

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (NIV)

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9 (NIV)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NIV)

I pray for all on my salvation list to believe in Jesus and accept God’s free gift of eternal life.  While others are still trying to decide about Jesus, we should decide to pray!

Today’s TEA CUPP :  Make your own salvation prayer list today.  List here all the folks you want to know Jesus.  Pray for God to soften their hearts and give you opportunities to be a witness for Christ.

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