Passing the Baton

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!

Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.  Philippians 2:16 (NKJV)

Perhaps the most crucial point in a relay race is the passing of the baton.  Athletes practice for weeks, carefully timing the perfect hand-off.  Coaches hold their eyes on the baton, willing it to stay in the hands of the runners.  Parents watch from the bleachers, holding their collective breaths until the baton is securely in the hand of the next runner.  Then the crowd erupts in cheers for the runner until the next passing of the baton.  A relay race can be both nerve-wracking and beautiful, depending upon the success of the baton passers.

Dear running friend, you’ve been given a baton to pass, too.  You have this faith in Jesus which has been growing every day as you’ve read your Bible.  The Holy Spirit has taught you so many truths about God.  And now He is calling You to share your faith with others.  We are called to pass the baton of faith in Christ Jesus to our friends, and strangers, and the next generation.  

We will not hide them from their children,
Telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.  Psalm 78:4 (NKJV)

Just as Ananias passed the baton to Paul (Acts 9) who passed it to Timothy (1 Timothy) and all the churches of the New Testament, just as Peter passed the baton to 3000 people at Pentecost (Acts 2), just as my friends Dawn, Paulette, and others pointed me to Jesus so I could pass Him on to my children and to you…Jesus is calling you to do the same.  He says, “teach them to your children and your grandchildren,” (Deut. 4:9) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 29:19) and “you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

I imagine the angels are watching from their heavenly bleachers, cheering us on as we carry our batons.  We practice for weeks at Bible study, praying for the right words to say.  The angels keep their eyes on the baton as we pass it to our friends and family.  Sometimes we fumble it and the angels sigh. But we are given another chance and they let out a cheer when we succeed, for there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:7).  

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Ask the Lord to lay someone upon your heart, someone with whom you can share Jesus, passing your baton of faith.  Go, dear runner, you can do it!  The Lord is with you!

Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you.  2 Thessalonians 3:1 (NKJV)

Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.  Psalm 34:11 (NKJV)

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

More than a Running Buddy

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 I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. John 15:15 (NKJV)

It’s great to have a Running Buddy. As I plod along the highway at the break of dawn, one foot after another, sometimes on pavement, sometimes on the gravel or grassy shoulder, I am not alone. If you drive by me, I may smile and wave a hand if I’m paying attention, yet often I’m lost in thought, lost in prayer with my Best Friend.

We were up together long before the sunrise, as we shared a CUPP of TEA and several Bible verses together. He spoke through His Word and I tried really hard to listen. I shared what I heard back to Him and poured out my heart for loved ones. Then we both looked at the clock and realized it was time to strap on the running shoes and continue our talk outside.

My run began much like my prayer time with singing a song in my head of THANKSGIVING to my Best Friend. Then I sang another song of praising and EXALTING, because HE is such an awesome Friend. But now as my feet hit the road, I think about how wonderful my Friend is, I realize how far I fall short, how I mess up and sin. So, I sing a song for ADMITTING my sins to Him and He forgives me and washes me clean.

Continuing down the highway, I sing songs about my CALLING, and UNDERSTANDING my story, and claiming His PROMISES. Finally, I finish my PETITIONS with The Lord’s Prayer, the best prayer of all. I’m so thankful for our Lord Jesus. He is way more than a Running Buddy, He is the Savior of my soul, my Redeemer, the One who paid my debt on the cross, my Comforter, my Guide, my Life.

Long ago two camp friends went for a walk together. They told us how an onlooker saw three people walking along the road, yet it was just the two of them. They knew the third person was Jesus, because they were praying at the time. Perhaps when I am running, you will see my Running Buddy with me, but that’s okay if you don’t, for I know He is always there.

…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age… Matthew 28:20 (NKJV)

The Runner’s TEA CUPP: Won’t you bring a Friend with you on your run today? Invite Jesus to be your Running Buddy for life. Let your morning Bible time flow right into your morning exercises as you continue your prayers on the run.

Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.
Psalm 25:4-5 (NKJV)

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)

P.S. Here are some of my favorite running songs…

T: Give Thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever… (Tomlin)

E: O God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You… (Strasser)

A: Amazing Grace/My chains are gone, I’ve been set free… (Newton & Tomlin)

C: Make me a servant, humble and meek… (Willard)

U: I believe in God the Father… (Travis Ryan)

P: He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it… (Steve Green)

P: I will cast all my cares upon you… (Willard)

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

The Starting Line

Today marks the beginning of a series of running devotions for My TEA CUPP for Athletes & Runners Book & Journal. As our country continues to pull out of the coronavirus quarantines, walking and running are some of the sports we can always enjoy. I pray these will be a blessing to you and you will be encouraged to PRESS ON!

…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Where does every race begin? At the starting line! Where are you right now in your race? Are you still standing at the starting line?

Our pastor had a great sermon about this last spring. He challenged us not to just stand on the line, but to run to Jesus.

How many of us have said, “Yes” to Jesus, but then stayed on the line? We haven’t changed, we still live as the rest of the world lives. What happened? That “yes” was the starting gun! We need to run forward into Jesus’ waiting arms and follow the call He has for our lives!

Our pastor gave the example of Peter who was out sailing in his boat with the other disciples. One morning after Jesus’ death and resurrection and after fishing all night, they neared shore and saw a Man standing there. When John said “It is the Lord!” Peter immediately jumped in the sea and swam to Jesus. He did not hesitate. He did not stand on the line. Peter flew as fast as he could to Jesus (John 21).

That is what we are to do, too. And like Peter, who denied Jesus three times, we come in our guilt and shame, but that is okay. For Jesus loves us and forgives us and welcomes us with open arms.

I love the verse from John 21:4, “Jesus stood on the shore.” Jesus is standing there waiting for all of us. When we cross from this world into eternity, Jesus will be waiting on the shore to greet us. And each day until that day, Jesus is standing on the shore with open arms, ready to help us through whatever trial we are facing.

The Runner’s TEA CUPP: Read John 21 for the story of Peter today. Don’t just stand on the starting line, run to Jesus with all your might! Discipline yourself in Bible reading and prayer, the same way you discipline yourself to do your workouts each day.

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14-15 (NKJV)

Thank you to Pastor Kyle Zigweid for his inspiring sermon at Big Timber Evangelical Church on April 19, 2020.

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

On our Knees

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.  Psalm 95:6 (NKJV)

Eighteen years ago today, September 11, 2001, the lives of Americans, as well as citizens of the world, were changed forever.  For on this day terrorists chose to take innocent lives, countless courageous citizens gave of themselves, and our nation was brought to its knees for a time. 

What happened?  Why aren’t we still on our knees?  Some articles say church attendance increased for only a few weeks after 9/11, continuing a trend for decades of declining participation.  Yet other articles say at the very heart of the tragedy, Evangelical churches sprouted and have flourished.  Why aren’t we all still on our knees?

Why aren’t we still on our knees over the threat of the enemy?

Why aren’t we still on our knees over babies dying?

Why aren’t we still on our knees for unsaved family and friends?

Why aren’t we still on our knees for lost youth?

Why aren’t we still on our knees for our pastors and missionaries who give of themselves every day and need protection from the enemy?

Why aren’t we still on our knees?

I remember the first time I saw someone on their knees in prayer.  It was my Grandma Margaret Applequist.  Grandma was visiting us for a few weeks and was sleeping in the bedroom belonging to my sister and me.  We were sleeping in the basement to give Grandma some peace and privacy.  But I caught a cold, so they put me back upstairs in the extra bed in my own room.  A few hours after going to sleep I awoke.  A small crack of light coming from the hallway shone on my Grandma, kneeling by her bed in prayer.  What an impact that picture made on a sick, young girl’s heart.  I wanted to be like Grandma!

And yet, when I have My TEA CUPP Prayers, I sit curled on the sofa; when we pray at meals, I’m sitting at the table; when I say good-night prayers with my kids, I’m sitting on the edge of their beds, or standing by their bunks…when am I on my knees?  Though I know He hears all those prayers, God really started impressing these kneeling prayers upon my heart, so I asked Him to show me in Scripture where it says I should be on my knees, and guess what, He did!

he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God… Daniel 6:10 (NKJV)

...that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow... Philippians 2:10 (NKJV)

And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. Acts 20:36 (NKJV)

…And we knelt down on the shore and prayed.  Acts 21:5 (NKJV)

and fell down and worshiped Him. Matthew 2:11 (NKJV)

And so, now, every evening, when my husband and I say our goodnight prayers, instead of lying in bed with one of us dozing off, we are on our knees beside the bed, pouring our hearts out to the Lord.

We hear of faithful Christians like Reverend Billy Graham wearing out the toes of their shoes or the knees of their pants because they knelt so often in prayer.  My friends, we need to do the same!  Wear out your knees for your family! Wear out your toes for your neighbors. Wear out the rug next to your bed for your country.  Let’s get on our knees and pray!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  While researching this devotion I came across another great devotion you might enjoy by Dr. David Jeremiah.  And also this one about Reverend Billy Graham.  Let’s follow their godly examples. “Do it again, Lord, do it again!”

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Ephesians 3:14 (NKJV)

O the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!  Fanny Crosby, 1875

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

Witness of the Stone


But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.
Luke 24:2 (NKJV)

Easter is here in just a few days! In just a few days we proclaim, “He is risen!” (Mark 16:6) Who is risen? It’s Jesus! How do we know He is risen? Because the stone is rolled away and the tomb is empty and Jesus appeared to so many witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:6). Would you consider that perhaps the first witness to Jesus’ resurrection was the stone?

The stone that was rolled in front of the tomb (Mark 16:46).

The stone that was sealed with the Roman seal and guarded by Roman guards (Matthew 27:66).

The stone that would be too heavy for the ladies to move who came Sunday morning to anoint His body with spices (Mark 16:3).

But the stone had already been rolled away by an angel and an earthquake (Matthew 28:2)! The stone miraculously rolled away, leaving fainting guards and an empty tomb (Matthew 28:4-6)! If the stone could tell the story, what would it say?

Having stones as witnesses is not something new. Centuries before Jesus’ crucifixion when God’s people entered the Promised Land, Joshua set up stones as a witness (Joshua 4:7). Right before Joshua died, he set up another stone, declaring…

…“Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us. It shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God.” Joshua 24:27 (NKJV)

We wonder what Joshua’s stone thought when God’s people turned away from Him again and again and again? Did it witness to all the words of Moses and Joshua? Did it tell the people how far they had fallen from God? Did the stone show God how much His people needed a Savior?

And when that Savior, God’s Son Jesus, came to walk this earth, He taught the people about stones. He said He could raise up children for Abraham from the stones (Luke 3:8), that if the people didn’t praise God, the very stones would cry out to worship Him (Luke 19:40), and that the Stone the builders rejected had become the Chief Cornerstone (Psalm 118:22).

 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” Luke 19:40 (NKJV)

Yes, the stone that rolled away is a witness for us that Jesus, who died for our sins on the cross, was buried, and the third day rose to eternal life. The stone shouts, “The tomb is empty! Jesus is risen!” We must believe the stone moved and Jesus is alive, or our faith is in vain.

Today’s TEA CUPP: Listen to the witness of the stone: Jesus is risen! Read one of the Gospel accounts (perhaps Matthew 28:1-10) of this greatest story ever, the true story of our Savior Jesus rising from the grave. Believe in Jesus. Thank Him for His saving work on the cross, His forgiveness, and His promise of eternal life in heaven.

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NKJV)

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31 (NKJV)

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