Enter the Promised Land

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.  John 14:2 (NKJV)

Growing up in Iowa, I was quite proud of the quote from the famous baseball movie Field of Dreams, “Is this heaven? No, this is Iowa.”  Now I live in Montana, which I find even more beautiful with its majestic mountains and wide open spaces.  Yet I know even this is not heaven. For in the true heaven there awaits me my Savior Jesus and a Promised Land more wonderful than I could ever imagine. It is a good land which the Lord our God is giving us (Deut. 1:25).

So many of us know the Old Testament account of Moses leading God’s people out of Egypt and parting the Red Sea. But instead of heading straight to the Promised Land, they wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years because of their disobedience and unbelief.  God’s pillar of cloud led them by day and fire led them by night until all the older generation died. 

And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:18-19 (NKJV)

So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’  Psalm 95:11

Why couldn’t the older generation enter the Promised Land?  Because they didn’t believe!  In Numbers 13 we read how Moses sent a scouting party to check out the Promised Land.  Two men, Joshua and Caleb, said it was perfect and they should go. Ten men said there were awful giants and the land could not be captured.  The Israelites believed the ten men instead of believing and trusting God.  So they couldn’t enter the Promised Land. Even Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land, because he did not hallow the Lord when he struck a rock to get water at Kadesh (Numbers 20:12, 27:12-14, Deut.1:36-38, 3:25, 4:22, 32:48-52)).  

Only Joshua and Caleb and all the younger generation were allowed to enter the Promised Land.  Joshua was the anointed leader and Caleb was given special lands.  WE must also BELIEVE to enter the Promised Land of heaven.  Don’t side with the ten men who don’t trust God. Go with Jesus and the Holy Spirit who tell us He is preparing a place for us in heaven. Be like Caleb who said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it”  (Number 14:8). Believe!

…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household. Acts 16:31 (NKJV)

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)

God’s Word is full of promises about our Promised Land. Let’s look at a few of these heavenly promises…

…an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.  1 Peter 1:4 (NKJV)

Your eyes will see the King in His beauty;
They will see the land that is very far off.  Isaiah 33:17 (NKJV)

For so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:11 (NKJV)

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.  Isaiah 11:6 (NKJV)

The streets of the city
Shall be full of boys and girls
Playing in its streets. Zechariah 8:5 (NKJV)

a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Revelation 4:2-3 (NKJV)

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4 (NKJV)

 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  Revelation 21:27 (NKJV)

Dear One, there remains a rest for the people of God, for YOU!  For as yet you have not come to the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God is giving you. How can we be certain to enter this rest in the Promised Land?  By holding fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end, by exhorting one another daily while it is called Today lest any of us be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, by holding steadfast to the end, by remembering the Sabbath Day of rest now, by being diligent to enter our rest, by hiding God’s Word in our hearts, by coming boldly to the throne of grace, that we may find mercy and grace to help in time of need. but most of all, believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.  (Deuteronomy 12:9, Hebrews 3-4, Acts 16:31). 

Three years ago my Daddy went to heaven. Three miscarried babies and two grandbabies are in heaven.  I can’t wait to see Jesus and all my loved ones and those streets of gold and no more tears or hurt or sin or sadness or pain or cancer or COVID19 or bad politics. Let us wait for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11:10) where Jesus reigns forever and ever!!!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read Numbers 13,  Hebrews 4 and Revelation 4 for a picture of the Promised Land and heaven. Dear One, I want you to be in heaven someday with Jesus and all God’s children.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ TODAY and you will be saved.  Claim all the promises of heaven, looking forward to the day when Jesus calls us home.

Thank you for stopping by My TEA CUPP Prayers.  If you enjoyed today’s devotion, you might also like to read My Dear Loved One and  Remember the Sabbath and The Only Antidote. 

I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Psalm 61:4

He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18 (NKJV)

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)

Blessed is the man You choose,
And cause to approach You,
That he may dwell in Your courts.
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
Of Your holy temple.  Psalm 65:4 (NKJV)

Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:23-26 (NKJV)

I cried out to You, O Lord:
I said, “You are my refuge,
My portion in the land of the living.” Psalm 142:5 (NKJV)

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. James 5:7-8 (NKJV)

And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
And come to Zion with singing,
With everlasting joy on their heads.
They shall obtain joy and gladness,
And sorrow and sighing shall flee away.Isaiah 35:10 (NKJV)

 

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

 

 

The Only Mark for Me

Do you have any distinguishing marks on your body?  Many people have birth marks of one sort or another.  Both my daughter and I have “stork bite” marks, red marks at the napes of our necks and hairlines, visible when we were newborns.  When we grew hair, no one could see these marks, but they are still there.  Even Jesus knows these marks are hiding under the hair He has counted.

Did you know God marks His children? The first person He marked was a murderer!  Do you remember the story of Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve’s first two sons?  Cain and Abel both brought offerings to the Lord, but God only accepted Abel’s pure offering. Cain became jealous of Abel, killing him in the field.  The Lord sentenced Cain to be a wanderer, yet did not want anyone to kill Cain, so He put a mark on him…

And the Lord said to him, “Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him. Genesis 4:15 (NKJV)

God used marks again when the Israelites were preparing to flee Egypt. Moses and Aaron had brought the Pharaoh and Egyptians through nine plagues, the tenth was yet to come. The tenth plague would have the angel of death killing the first born of all the Egyptians. In order to protect His people, God instructed Moses to have them mark the two doorposts and lintel of their homes with the blood of a lamb. When the Lord passed through Egypt that night, the destroyer left all the houses alone with the mark of blood on the doorposts and lintels, the angel of death “passed over” these homes. It wasn’t long until the Israelites heard the wailing and grief of the Egyptians as they realized they had lost their firstborn children. The Israelites were finally able to leave Egypt after 430 years because of the mark on their door frames.

And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. Exodus 12:17 (NKJV)

For the Lord will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you. Exodus 12:23 (NKJV)

It seems that God wants to be the only One to put marks upon us. When we read the laws in Leviticus, we learn that He didn’t even want people to get tatoos. Can you imagine it, tatoo parlors in Bible times?! This might be a surprise to the many tatoo-bearing folks today…

You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:28 (NKJV)

In Ezekiel we read where marks were and will be used once again. Ezekiel’s marks indicate a remnant saved when Jerusalem was raided and people were carried off to Babylon. It also points to the end times, just before Jesus returns to reign, finally locking up Satan for 1000 years. Read the following verse to see how marks will be used again to protect God’s people, just as they did during the Exodus…

And the Lord said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.” Ezekiel 9:4 (NKJV)

But, dear ladies, there is one mark. you do NOT want to take, that is the mark of the beast. On a recent Above Rubies podcast, Nancy Campbell remembered that when she was growing up, she always heard, “Don’t take the mark of the beast!” Over and over, it was drilled into their heads from the pulpit and at home, “Don’t take the mark!” As a young girl, Nancy knew she did not want that mark, all she wanted was Jesus. Nancy wonders, why aren’t the churches preaching this today?

Most likely, the enemy got ahold of the pastors and told them not to talk about end times. If people don’t know about it, the devil will be more likely to catch them in his “mark-trap.” But he can’t fool us, we know the end of the story, it is already written for us! It’s a happy, happy ending for all believers! Read Revelation and you will see how Jesus comes to reign in victory and all His children who do not receive the mark of the beast will reign with Him. HalleluYAH! Let’s take a look into the future with the Disciple John who saw the vision he recorded in Revelation…

First, God promises to write on all Believers our new names…

I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. Revelation 3:12 (NKJV)

Then, the Lord promises to seal all His servants on our foreheads…

Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” Revelation 7:2-3 (NKJV)

When the destroyers come, they will be instructed not to harm us or any plant or animal…

They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. Revelation 9:4 (NKJV)

AND, God warns us NOT to take the mark of the beast! He explains how you won’t be able to buy or sell without this mark (doesn’t this sound a lot like what is starting to happen with vaccine passports?)…

He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Revelation 13:16-17 (NKJV)

Did you know that in Sweden they have the technology to make the mark of the beast a reality, inserting microchips into people’s hands so they can buy and sell? Pray hard for this not to come to America! Lord Jesus, give us more time to reach the lost with Your salvation before You come to take us home!

Those who take the mark of the beast will experience unspeakable torment…

Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:9-11 (NKJV)

Those of us who do not give in to the mark of the beast will have a victory party in heaven…

And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. Revelation 15:2 (NKJV)

Those still on earth who have taken the mark will receive God’s bowls of wrath…

So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. Revelation 16:2 (NKJV)

And all who did not take the mark of the beast on their foreheads or hands will reign with Christ for a thousand years…

And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Revelation 20:4 (NKJV)

Don’t take the mark of the beast, dear one! Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, be His child, accept only the mark of His Holy Spirit. Christ Jesus, Messiah Yeshua, is the only Mark for me. Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read Malachi 3:16-18 and Revelation 3:7-12 and be encouraged. Stand strong for Jesus. Keep God’s Word. Persevere through every trial. Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. And God will write on YOU His new name.

So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  Romans 8:8 (NKJV)

They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. Revelation 22:4 (NKJV)

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Matthew 16:25-27 (NKJV)

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:17 (NKJV)

I’ve Got My Passport

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

I’ve got my passport, how about you? I remember when I got my first passport. I was so excited because my high school German class was taking a trip to Germany. When we traveled there in June of 1984, the Cold War was still going strong, the Berlin Wall standing sentinel between East and West. One day our tour group had the opportunity to travel into East Berlin for a few hours. We all nervously waited as we went through Check-point Charlie and exchanged money to purchase lunch. The contrast between the free West and Communist East Berlin were so extreme. The West was full of lights and music and life and people in the streets, the East was very somber and stony and empty. After a lunch (which I did not enjoy) in the basement of one of the stony buildings, we were all thankful to head back to West Berlin. I wonder if the eyes of the East Germans (whose flinty faces matched the buildings) would have lit up to head out with us through Check-point Charlie?

Another somber stop on our Germany tour was Dachau Concentration Camp near Munich, Germany. This was the the first of the many horrific camps where Jews and political dissenters were tragically killed by Nazis before and during WW II. Outside the camp was a sign that has stuck with me forever, “Never Again” it proclaimed. Never Again would people be put in camps and given medical injections against their will. Never Again would a government be allowed to exterminate groups of people they didn’t like. Never Again would others stand by and do nothing as euthanasia was carried out in their backyards. Never Again.

These three things…passports, communism, and Never Again… have been swirling through my thoughts of late. There is much talk of requiring a vaccine passport, a document that would allow you to travel and make purchases if you have received the experimental injection. Unlike my first passport to travel to another country, I won’t welcome this one. The more governments push such mandates, the more we are like communist nations, no longer living happy free lives, but living somber stony lives under tyrants. And now there is talk of having “camps” where people will be relocated if they do not comply with the mandates. This time, instead of trying to exterminate God’s chosen nation of Israel, the target will be His Bride, the Church. Camps much like Dachau in Germany, are already being constructed in Australia and even in Washington State, USA. Have people forgotten: Never Again?

Well, I have not forgotten. I remember trembling as I read that sign, “NIE WIEDER,” as a teenager. I remember the horror of seeing the photos and learning what really went on in those rooms full of ovens. I remember being there with my best friend from grade school who had even invited me to her Bat Mitzvah. I remember reading Diary of Anne Frank and Corrie Ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. I have not forgotten, and I pray that I can be brave like Anne Frank and Corrie Ten Boom.  In my heart of hearts, I cry out to the Lord, “Never Again.”  

I already have my passport to the place where I am going. I have no need of a vaccine passport because my citizenship is in heaven.  The only passport I want or need is salvation in Jesus Christ. The only mark I want or need is the seal of His Holy Spirit. Where I am going will be more beautiful than the castles we visited on the happier days of our German tour.  My Savior is preparing a mansion for me in heaven.  That is my true home and the home of all who call on the name of the Lord Jesus. We are strangers and aliens on earth, for ever since God told Abram to get out of his country (Genesis 12:1), we, His children, have been anticipating the Promised Land. We belong in heaven, that glorious place where we will pass through “Check-point Peter” to see Jesus face to face, bowing before His throne, casting crowns at His feet, and worshipping the Father and the Son in all majesty. Our passports are ready and our trip to our beautiful forever is soon.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. Hebrews 12:28 (NKJV)

 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.  Philippians 1:21 (NKJV)

…rejoice because your names are written in heaven.  Luke 10:20 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Prepare your passport, dear ladies… your passport to heaven. How do you get it ready? By making your heart right with Jesus, confessing your sins, repenting, and seeking Him with all your heart. You can even share a cup of tea with Him each day as you read His Word and pour your heart out to Him in prayer. Read Revelation 4 for a beautiful picture of heaven. Then you will be ready for that great “Hallelujah Day” when He calls His children home. Your passport will be signed, sealed and delivered by the blood of the Lamb.

And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.
Acts 2:21 (NKJV)

For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come. Hebrews 13:14 (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.  1 Peter 1:3 (NKJV)

Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Matthew 13:43 (NKJV)

Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Luke 12:32 (NKJV)

…We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.  Acts 14:22 (NKJV)

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 (NKJV)

…Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25 (NKJV)

Thank you for stopping by My TEA CUPP Prayers. If you enjoyed today’s devotion, you may also like to read Come to the Wedding and Steadfast and Stouthearted and Get on the Ark and Fear Not, Dear One.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. Hebrews 11:13-16 (NKJV) 

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 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 (NKJV)

Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. Revelation 3:10-12 (NKJV)

Thank you to Trip Advisor for the Never Again photo.

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

He Comes with Presents!

 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!  2 Corinthians 9:15 (NKJV)

For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Matthew 16:27 (NKJV)

What is the same about Christmas and when Jesus takes us home?  They both involve presents!  Every year, people around the world celebrate Christ’s birth by giving each other gifts.  When Jesus was born, wise men came from the East bearing gold, frankincense and mrryh (Matthew 2:11).  And did you know, that when Jesus comes for us, He will also have presents?

Last summer I was writing a running series but stopped just short of the best part of the race…when we finish!  Some day we will all cross that finish line, whether runners, walkers, or coach potatoes!  And when we who believe in Jesus cross that line, Jesus will have gifts for us!

I love the races where everyone gets a prize.  I first saw this when helping with Special Olympics.  Every runner was given a hug and a medal when he or she crossed the finish line.  Then a local fun run, the Cowpoke Stampede, awarded us all with cow ear tags!  And when I finished my first and only marathon last year, I was delighted to have the volunteers place a “finisher” medal around my neck before I collapsed into the arms of my family.

Immensely far better than those earthly rewards will be the presents Jesus brings when He comes for us, whether now or at His second return.  What kind of gifts will He give us? Some I found in God’s Word include… crowns, a new body with a white robe, white stones with our names, hidden manna, an inheritance, a mansion,  and eternal life!  Wow!  All this in addition to the forgiveness, salvation (saving us from our sins), redemption (dying in our place on the cross), grace, mercy, peace, joy and hope He already has showered upon us here. No gift on earth, no tinsel, no lights can ever compare with what God has prepared for those who love Him!

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.  1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV)

Just like every finisher at the marathon gets a medal, all believers get a crown.  And what will we do with our crowns? Cast them at the feet of Jesus in praise and glory to Him, our Savior and King! We will kneel before Him, just like the wise men did beside His little bed so long ago, and present our gifts which He provides for us, for we owe Him our eternal thanks and praise.  Wow!

The twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne… Revelation 4:10 (NKJV)

Let’s look at those seven gifts again:

  1. Crowns: Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV)
  2. A new body with a white robe: For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  2 Corinthians 5:1 (NKJV) Then a white robe was given to each of them… Revelation 6:11 (NKJV)
  3. A white stone with your name:And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it. Revelation 2:17 (NKJV)
  4. Hidden manna: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat…Revelation 2:17 (NKJV)
  5. An inheritance: To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you.1 Peter 1:4 (NKJV)
  6. A mansion: 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. John 14:2 (NKJV)
  7. Eternal life: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NKJV)

Some dear church friends have recently gone to heaven to receive these final rewards.  I see Randy, Orlando, Gale, Wally, Chuck, Kari, Don and others, wearing their white robes, and laying their crowns at the feet of Jesus.  They are sitting around the fellowship halls in their mansions, with white name stones to mark their places, enjoying the hidden manna and chatting like old friends do, waiting for the rest of us to show up. 

And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work. Revelation 22:12 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Dear friend, I want YOU at that fellowship time in heaven.  Please ask Jesus into your heart today and welcome all the gifts He has for you!  Two weeks ago, I wrote that Jesus is coming soon.  One week ago, I shared about waiting and waiting.  In just a few days we will celebrate Christmas, and for many children the waiting will be over.  But for those of us who are longing for Jesus’ second return, we may still be waiting awhile longer. So be faithful, my friend. Jesus is coming with presents!

Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10 (NKJV)

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (NKJV)

…I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.  Genesis 15:1 (NKJV)

…each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 1 Corinthians 3:8 (NKJV)

We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
The One who is and who was and who is to come,
Because You have taken Your great power and reigned…
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear Your name, small and great…
Revelation 11:17-18 (NKJV)

P.S. Thank you for stopping by My TEA CUPP Prayers.  If you enjoyed today’s devotion, you might also like to check out my other Christmas devotions and my most favorite one, My Heart Inn.

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

A Dead Heat

 

Today I continue my series of running devotions for My TEA CUPP for Athletes & Runners Book & Journal. I pray these will be a blessing to you and you will be encouraged to PRESS ON! Hope you are inspired as you exercise your faith!

But many who are first will be last, and the last first. Matthew 19:30 (NKJV)

Have you heard of a dead heat?  In the sports world, it’s when two or more athletes cross the finish line at exactly the same time, making determining the winner a challenging task. 

There have been many famous dead heats over the years, from high school sports to the Olympics Games.  Just Google “Dead Heat finishes in track and field”  and you will find a proliferation of examples.   One cool finish I found was of the 100 m final race at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia.  If you’d like to watch it, check this out…A Dead Heat.

But why do I bring this up today?  Because recently I was reading Jesus’ Parable of the Laborers in Matthew 20. Jesus told the story of a landowner who goes out early one morning to hire workers for his field.  They agree on a wage for the day and get to work.  At 9 a.m. the landowner goes out to hire more workers for the day for the same wages.  At noon and 3 p.m. he again hires workers for the same wages.  And at 5 p.m. he hires the last group.  When evening comes, all the workers come for their pay and receive exactly the same wage, one denarius. 

Of course, the workers who began early in the day grumble about this. Author John MacArthur in his study Bible explains this amazing story, how the landowner choose to be generous, just as God is compassionate and merciful on His people.  In response to verse 20:16 “So the last will be first, and the first last…” MacArthur explains, “In other words, everyone finishes in a dead heat.”  As Christians, we will all finish in a dead heat when we get to heaven, the thief on the cross, Rev. Billy Graham, the baby born yesterday and you! 

The crowds (angels) in the stadium will cheer and glorify God as crowns are awarded to every finisher.  And if it’s anything like the one time I ran a marathon, we will collapse into the arms of Jesus in thanksgiving. 

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

The Runner’s TEA CUPP:  Read the Parable of the Laborers in Matthew 20:1-16.  Celebrate that we will all cross the finish line together in a dead heat.  Who can you tell about Jesus today, so they can join you in crossing the finish line?

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. 2 Timothy 4:8 (NKJV)

Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.  Revelation 3:11 (NKJV)

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 (NKJV)

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

 

No Shadows in Heaven

And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life.
1 John 2:25 (NKJV)

I often think about heaven, don’t you?  I think of all the people waiting there for me.  At the top of my list are God and Jesus, of course! There is my Daddy, who passed into the arms of Jesus exactly one year ago, and the countless relatives who went before him. Then there are my college cross country coaches and teammates who died in a plane crash. There are our three miscarried babies, Gloria Anne, Angelica May, and Gabriella Hope and our dear grandchild.  There are all the Bible heroes like Abraham and Sarah, Joseph, David, Esther, Ruth, Daniel, all the Marys and Martha, Peter, John, Paul…And there are a number of people Facebook still tells me are having birthdays, but they are now with Jesus.  It’s comforting to think about all those dear people waiting for me in heaven.

The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.
Revelation 21:23 (NKJV)

One day while reading my Bible and contemplating heaven, I realized there won’t be any shadows in heaven.  Isn’t that interesting?!  Think about it…we have shadows on earth because a light or the sun shines on one side casting a shadow to the other side.  But in heaven, Jesus is the light and He is everywhere!  With light coming from all directions, you can’t have shadows!

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5 (NKJV)

I imagine my Daddy, who studied light as a professor, asking Jesus, “Wow!  How do you do that?”  God drives out the darkness and there is only light!  Isn’t that a comforting thought? …no shadows, no darkness, no sighing, no tears, no death, no sickness, no pain, no evil…only the light of our precious Savior Jesus.  Wow!

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
Revelation 21:14 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Turn on your light and turn your thoughts heavenward today.  Look up the Bible verses in this devotion and underline your favorite verses.  Write them in your prayer journal. Thank Jesus for His promise of heaven and imagine what it will be like. Keep shining for Jesus!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
James 1:17 (NKJV)

If you enjoyed today’s devotion, you might also like to read My Two Daddies in Heaven, and Leave No Doubt, and Glimpses of Heaven with My TEA CUPP Prayers.  Thank you for stopping by My TEA CUPP Prayers!  Jesus loves you!

For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.
Psalm 36:9  (NKJV)

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 84:11 (NKJV)

There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.
Revelation 22:5 (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.

Leave No Doubt

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (NKJV)

It seems that as we get older, we attend more funerals and memorial services for loved ones, friends and acquaintances in our town, some departing too soon.  The pastors leading the services always do a beautiful job of sharing memories of the departed and comfort for those left behind. We are especially comforted if we know the person is in heaven with Jesus.

I remember when my college cross country team died in a plane crash, I knew my coach was in heaven because of his life.  Whenever we came home from meets I was always the last one to be dropped off, giving Coach plenty of time to share his faith.  Coach Ron would talk long and serious about things I did not understand, yet I knew they were important.   When he wasn’t planning our next big workout, he served at his church.  Coach Ron had a dream to start a Christian running camp in northern Wisconsin. Because of his faith and example, I know my coach is with Jesus and will be there when I get there, too.

Every once in awhile, though, there is someone who we aren’t sure where she stood in her faith journey. We wonder if he is with Jesus.  We pray she is in heaven.  We ask God to comfort us and assure us he is with Jesus. But we just aren’t sure.

So, I want to encourage you today to LEAVE NO DOUBT when it is your turn to go.  Make sure that while you are living, people know you love Jesus.  Tell them how you study your Bible and meet with Him each day for prayer. Let them see the fruit of your faith in good works. Share how you are looking forward to the day when He comes to take you home.  Then, when it is your turn to leave this world, your friends and family will have NO DOUBT that you are now in heaven having TEA with the King of kings!!!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Confirm your eternal destination today by praying with Jesus.  Invite Jesus into your heart to forgive you and guide your remaining earthly days.  Then tell a friend about this heavenly TEA party so she can join you there, too!

Jesus 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)

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 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. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (NKJV)

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 (NKJV)

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

Blessed Easter!

Good FridayBlessed 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)

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

Snowball Truths

snow1Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.  Mark 13:31

Two truth snowballs hit me one day.  I was planted on the sofa by the window where I always sit for my TEA time with Jesus.  That day’s Bible reading took me to Mark 13.

Jesus was talking about the trials of the end times.  He told His followers:

 And pray that your flight may not be in winter. Mark 13:18 (NKJV)

As I read this, I glanced out the window at two feet of new March snow.  Oh, I was so tired of winter! We had such a hard season already, and now we had more snow.  To imagine fleeing tribulation in winter would be awful.  Yet persecuted Christians in other countries already endure such tragedy.

Jesus doesn’t often tell us specifically what we ought to pray except here, “Pray that Your flight won’t be in winter.” And so, since Jesus told me to, I prayed that I would not be fleeing in winter.  I prayed my loved ones and I would all be with Him before any tribulation comes. And Jesus promised me in Revelation 3:20 that He will keep me from that hour of trial. This promise is also for you!

Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 3:10 (NKJV)

A few hours later, I was at church for our Sunday service.  One of the songs was Amazing Grace with the verse:

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God, Who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.snow2

That afternoon, since the sun was shining and the temperature had risen, I went for a walk along the cleared highway, noticing the snow was already being eaten by the Chinook winds blowing from the mountains.  The song from church popped into my head, “The earth shall soon dissolve like snow…”

If you haven’t seen a Chinook wind’s work, please see the photos in this devotion.  The first is on a Thursday when we received almost two feet of snow. The second is three days later on Sunday when I noticed the Chinook winds starting to eat the snow.  The last is on Wednesday just six days after the two feet of snow hit us, not a speck to be seen!

The snow dissolved in a matter of hours and days!  That is what will happen to the earth in the last days, according to Scripture…

snow3But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.  2 Peter 3:10 (NKJV)

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Revelation 21:1 (NKJV)

Can you imagine that?  All of a sudden, Jesus will come like a thief in the night.  The heavens and earth will be burned up with a loud noise, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth. It could happen quicker than our snow melted!

Today’s TEA CUPP: I encourage you to read Mark 13 and Revelations over the next few days to get a bigger picture of the end times.  The battles and judgments are not something we want to endure.  Let’s look with joy and hope to Jesus’ promise of taking us to heaven first.

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)

Ten and nine, eight and seven,
Six and five and four,
Call upon the Savior while you may;
Three and two, coming through the clouds in bright array,
The countdown’s getting lower every day.
(a favorite Awana song)

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