Battling the enemy with the Word of God

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)

Much fighting has been stirring our country lately, and I’m not referring to riots in the big cities.  This fighting has been taking place behind closed doors in war rooms across our nation.  Battles are being fought by prayer warriors who are taking COVID19, riots, racism, babies’ lives and the election to the foot of the cross, to Jesus.  These dedicated soldiers have put on the whole armor of God, that (they) may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11).  For they know we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12).

These prayer warriors are following the example of Jesus who often went by Himself to pray. In Matthew 4, we read how Jesus fought Satan in the desert with the Word of God.  Jesus had just fasted for 40 days and nights.  His earthly body was hungry, so the devil came to tempt Him (the enemy finds us at our weakest moments, but when we are weak, Jesus is strong! 2 Cor. 12:10).  Even the enemy knew how to use God’s Word, quoting Psalm 91:11, “He shall give His angels charge over you.”  Jesus could see the devil’s plot, so Jesus countered with Deuteronomy 6:16, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.”  And with the final temptation, Jesus declared…

“Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’   Matthew 4:10 (NKJV)

Because Jesus fought with the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, the Satan fled from Him.  The Bible promises us in James 4:7, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

When Jesus went to the cross, the devil thought he had finally won, but Jesus could have called legions of angels to rescue Him (Matt. 26:53).  Jesus went to the cross because it was God’s plan all along to rescue His children from sin.  After He died and was buried, on the third day, Jesus rose again in victory!  Jesus conquered sin, death and the devil!  

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NKJV)

My friends, when you hold your Bible, you have in your hands the most powerful weapon. 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 (Heb. 4:12).  Don’t neglect this mighty gift God has given us — use His Word to fight the enemy.

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

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Dear TEA Friends, our country needs your prayers!  Read Matthew 4:1-11 to see how Jesus fought Satan. Can you follow His example, putting on the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17)? 

Plead my cause, O Lord, with those who strive with me;
Fight against those who fight against me. Psalm 35:1 (NKJV)

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Ephesians 6:13 (NKJV)

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. 1 Timothy 1:17 (NKJV)

P.S. Please keep praying for THE GREAT REVIVAL, the last great revival before Jesus’ return, where many new hearts are brought into His Kingdom to welcome His coming.  Will you join me in fasting every Tuesday, though the USA election on November 3, 2020?  Our country needs our prayers now as much as ever. 

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

Return To Gather

I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1 (NKJV)

Oh, how glad I was when I could go back to church. My first summer in Montana, twenty years ago, was spent at a church camp that didn’t really have a Sunday service at the time.  My soul was weary and longing to attend a gathering of believers in a real church building.  Finally, towards the end of August, we had a free Sunday to make the long drive to town to attend worship. How happy I was and how this verse rang true for me that day.  “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.'”

The same thing happened last spring when our church re-opened after the COVID shut-downs.  Even though we had watched church online every Sunday, it just wasn’t the same as being there.  When you are there in person, you really sing out and praise God. You see other believers and pray for their families.  You are encouraged when you witness others serving Jesus.

…Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.  Isaiah 44:22 (NKJV)

We are still longing for everyone to return to church.  President Trump declared churches as essential so we can meet again.  But many are missing, as I’m sure is true for churches across the country.  We need everyone to RETURN TO GATHER across this land!  Return to Church, Return to Jesus, Return to God’s Word, Return to Prayer, Return to Biblical and Family Values, Return to Repentance, RETURN!

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:25 (NKJV)

If you have a health issue or have been quarantined (as recently happened to me), we understand why you can’t come in person and are thankful you can join a gathering of believers online.  But if you are healthy, come back together for fellowship with others. Do not let fear stop you from coming.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). For if you don’t return, God will use the seed and the stump who remain and grow another Church, His Bride who eagerly awaits His coming!

And do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.  Matthew 3:9 (NKJV)

And if you weren’t in the habit of attending church before, now is a great time to come.  We invite you! We have a place for you!  What you will find when you come are broken people, searching our way in this world, finding hope in Jesus who gave His life for us on the cross.   

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: When  God said, “If My people…” He was not talking about all the people, He was talking about HIS PEOPLE, the ones called by His Name, the Christians, named for Jesus Christ.  It’s time for God’s people to gather together again and seek His face.  Come one and all. Come.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)

P.S. I think your pastor will be delighted to see you, too!  

But yet a tenth will be in it,
And will return and be for consuming,
As a terebinth tree or as an oak,
Whose stump remains when it is cut down.
So the holy seed shall be its stump.  Isaiah 6:13 (NKJV)

The remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob,
To the Mighty God.  Isaiah 10:21 (NKVJ)

P.P.S. Please keep praying for THE GREAT REVIVAL, the last great revival before Jesus’ return, where many new hearts are brought into His Kingdom to welcome His coming.  Will you join me in fasting every Tuesday, though the USA election on November 3, 2020?  Our country needs our prayers now as much as ever. 

Photo credit to Jolene Ewert-Hintz of Montana – Thank you!!!

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

More COVID Prayers

For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.  Romans 15:4 (NKJV)

Recently I was checking My TEA CUPP Prayers listing on Goodreads.com and discovered my daughter had left a comment! She said, “There could be another line in Ecclesiastes 3, ‘a verse for every purpose under heaven.’ Many good verses for any situation and encouragement in prayer. And my mom wrote it, so… :D”

So, of course, I had to return her compliment with Proverbs 31:29, Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.”  

Truly there is a Bible verse for every situation, even for COVID19!  I’m sure many of you have found such verses as you’ve endured this year and read your Bibles.  Here are just a few I found..

No hugging…

…A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing.  Ecclesiastes 3:5 (NKJV)

Those stuck in quarantine…

You have put away my acquaintances far from me;
You have made me an abomination to them;
I am shut up, and I cannot get out;
My eye wastes away because of affliction…Psalm 88:8-9 (NKJV)

The reason for the plague…

Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds,
And the plague broke out among them.  Psalm 106:29 (NKJV)

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!  Isaiah 5:30 (NKJV)

God promises us…

Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence. Psalm 91:3 (NKJV)

No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling. Psalm 91:10 (NKJV)

Let this be our petition and our story…

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.  Psalm 107:19 (NKJV)

He sent His word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destructions.
Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!  Psalm 107:20-21 (NKJV)

Our prayer for the USA after healing…

That they may know that this is Your hand—
That You, Lord, have done it!  Psalm 109:27 (NKJV)

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.  1 Peter 5:10 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  What other verses can you find to help you through this COVID19 election year?  Underline them in your Bible. Share them with a friend.  Share them on Facebook. Most of all, use them as conversation starters as you share a TEA CUPP with Jesus.  

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.  Isaiah 9:2 (NKJV)

Dear Jesus, We ask that you shine Your light on our nation.  We’ve been in the shadow of death this year with COVID19.  We’ve been in the dark, wandering around in our sins.  Forgive us, Jesus. Wash away our sins and hurts. Heal our land.  Shine Your light into our hearts and clean out every corner. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and help us shine for You, so others will see Your light.  Please keep healing our President and his wife and every person who needs Your healing.  Today I pray especially for________________.  In Jesus’s precious Name we pray. Amen.  

Today I pray especially for Kennedy Grace, my dear granddaughter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin who is battling T-cell lymphoma cancer.  Hold her close, dearest Jesus. Do Your miracles!

P.S. Please keep praying for THE GREAT REVIVAL, the last great revival before Jesus’ return, where many new hearts are brought into His Kingdom to welcome His coming.  Will you join me in fasting every Tuesday, though the USA election on November 3, 2020?  Our country needs our prayers now as much as ever. 

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

The Intercessor

…by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.  Romans 5:19 (NKJV)

My TEA friends, you must read this book!  My pastor mentioned Rees Howells Intercessor, The Story of a Life Lived for God by Norman Grubb in a sermon over a year ago.  I put it on my birthday list and my daughter gave it to me for my birthday last year (Thank you, Kallie!!!). Then it sat beside my bed in the stack of books I hoped to read.  Finally, this year I started reading it and couldn’t put it down for the work of God in this man’s life.  You want to read this book NOW. You want to join in this amazing work of prayer witnessed in Rees Howells’ life.  

Where many books climax in the middle and you “get the idea,” Intercessor climaxes in the final chapters as Mr. Howells and his praying colleagues intercede for battle upon battle of World War II and the downfall of Nazi Germany.  You will be on the edge of your seat as you read, or on your face in praise and tears to God, Who alone could bring about such great victories.

What makes Intercessor so relevant now is our need for prayer in this fallen world.  This year with COVID19, forest fires, hurricanes, derecho winds, and riots, God is sending us a message.  God is shouting, “Turn to Me!”  And in Intercessor, that’s what Rees Howells did time and again.  

One hundred years ago there was an outbreak much like COVID19.  Following World War I, there was a great influenza epidemic which spread over the world, causing millions of deaths. At the time, Mr. Howells and his wife were serving as missionaries in southern Africa.  The Holy Spirit had led Mr. Howells to challenge death many times before, and God called him to do it again.  After many of the natives died, the chief came to Mr. Howells and asked if any had died on the mission station.  “No. Not one will die on the mission station,” the Holy Spirit told him to reply, “The witch doctors have failed and the ancestral spirits have failed — but our God has not failed.” (Grubb, p. 212).    So the tribe members came to the mission station. Though many were sick and Mr. Howells turned the chapel into a hospital and cared for them for months, God healed them all and no one died! God had the victory!

While reading Intercessor, I’ve witnessed how the Holy Spirit is not a mailman delivering my prayers to the God.  Mr. Howells shows us it’s the other way around. The Holy Spirit says the prayers and we are the vessels to deliver them to the Father.  Knowing our prayers are God’s will, direct from the Holy Spirit, we don’t let the enemy cause us to doubt, for then we are like a wave tossed on the sea (James 1:6). The Holy Spirit tells us for whom to intercede, and in obedience we lift these prayers to the Lord until victory is won.  

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Find a copy of Rees Howells Intercessor today.  Use his model of prayer in your own life.  Let the Holy Spirit show you how to pray and win every battle on your knees.  We can do this because both the Spirit (Romans 8:26) and Jesus (Romans 8:24) are making intercession for us. Our country needs your prayers, dear friend.  Keep praying for the USA. 

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)

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. James 1:6 (NKJV)

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  Romans 8:26 (NKJV)

P.S. Please keep praying for THE GREAT REVIVAL, the last great revival before Jesus’ return, where many new hearts are brought into His Kingdom to welcome His coming.  Will you join me in fasting every Tuesday, though the USA election on November 3, 2020?  Our country needs our prayers now as much as ever. 

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

Grubb, Norman (1952). Rees Howells Intercessor, The Story of a Life Lived for God. Fort Washington, PA:  CLC Publications. 

Of Course, There’s a Plague!

We have sinned with our fathers,
We have committed iniquity,
We have done wickedly. Psalm 106:6 (NKJV)

Oh, what a year!  People will always remember 2020 as the year of COVID19, the coronavirus, quarantines, masks, closures… although we won’t want to remember it because of all the deaths, fear, loneliness, rules, and missed events.  We all wonder why this had to happen.  Yet, when we search God’s Word we find so many relevant verses. 

Psalm 106 is one that speaks to our current situation, summing up our nation and world’s troubles, “We have sinned…we have committed iniquity…” (Ps. 106:6). Psalm 106 goes on to list all those sins from so long ago.  Can we see all these in our country today?…

  • We did not understand God’s wonders (Ps. 106:7)
  • We did not remember the multitude of God’s mercies (Ps. 106:7)
  • We rebelled (Ps. 106:7)
  • We forgot His works (Ps. 106:13)
  • We did not wait for His counsel (Ps. 106:13)
  • We lusted (Ps. 106:14)
  • We tested God (Ps. 106:14)
  • We envied our leaders (Ps. 106:16)
  • We made idols and worshiped them (Ps. 106:19)
  • We forgot God our Savior (Ps. 106:21)
  • We despised the pleasant land (Ps. 106:24)
  • We did not believe God’s Word (Ps. 106:24)
  • We joined ourselves to the devil (Ps. 106:28)
  • We rebelled against His Spirit (Ps. 106:33)
  • We did not destroy God’s enemies (Ps. 106:34)
  • We followed the way of unbelievers (Ps. 106:35)
  • We served our idols (Ps. 106:36)
  • We sacrificed our children (Ps. 106:37)
  • We shed innocent blood (Ps. 106:38)
  • We defiled ourselves and played the harlot (Ps. 106:39)

Is it no wonder the plague broke out among us?  (Ps. 106:29). What can we do?  We can intervene like Phinehas (Ps. 106:30) and stand in the breach like Moses (Ps. 106:23) so God’s wrath is turned away.  We must pray for our country, for our neighbors, for our families. Pray for God to send a revival across this land.  

Righteousness exalts a nation,
But sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14:34 (NKJV)

There is HOPE, my dear friends.  We have the HOPE found in Jesus Christ.  Because of His saving work on the cross, all who believe in Him are rescued from this crazy world (John 3:16).  Jesus died for every sin listed above and for all the others, too.  Let’s pray for our nation to turn to Jesus! And God will hear our cries (Ps. 106:44)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read and pray Psalm 106. Repent, turn to God. Ask His forgiveness through Jesus Christ for yourself and for our country. Turn over a new leaf this fall. Let’s give everyone something NEW to remember about 2020…the year of REVIVAL! Pray for our nation daily. Forgive us, O Lord.  

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV)

May this be THE GREAT REVIVAL, the last great revival before Jesus’ return, where many new hearts are brought into His Kingdom to welcome His coming.  Will you join me in fasting for the next 7 Tuesdays, though the USA election on November 3, 2020?  Our country needs our prayers now as much as ever.  Check out this event happening in the coming days… https://thereturn.org/

Save us, O Lord our God,
And gather us from among the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel
From everlasting to everlasting!
And let all the people say, “Amen!” Psalm 106:47-48 (NKJV)

Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.  Psalm 106:1 (NKJV)

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

Walking Through the Valley

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me
. Psalm 23:4

Our pastor gave a great sermon the other Sunday.  He explained how we have to go through the valley of the shadow of death to reach pure obedience.  We have to die to disobedience, die to corrupt hearts, die to sin, die to self, die to the flesh…give it all to Jesus and be raised to new life with Him. 

What doctors are doing to our granddaughter to take away her cancer is much like this sermon. They are hitting her hard with chemo and steroids, making her weak and weary. The drugs knock her out, tearfully bringing her again through the valley of the shadow of death.  But when the treatments end and Jesus has healed her, Kennedy will be raised to new life, running and playing like other little girls again. 

And then there is our country, trying to get well from the COVID19 of 2020.  We can’t do this on our own. We need God’s help and healing and intervention.  But in order to raise our country to new life, He must first take us through the valley of the shadow of death…death of loved ones, death of our sins, death of riots, death of killing babies, death of corrupt politics, death of selfishness and every other sin that surrounds us.  

I feared that the coronavirus would disappear before there was a revival. But now it looks like it is spiking again. Friends, God is giving us another chance.  He is calling to us: Repent! Turn to Jesus! Follow the Lord!   

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Let’s all humbly examine our own hearts today.  Read God’s Word and seek His face.  Turn from every sin He shows us and pray to Jesus who gave His life for us on the cross.  Then He will hear, forgive and heal us.  Pray everyday for a revival across this land!

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)

Arise, O God, judge the earth;
For You shall inherit all nations. Psalm 82:8 (NKJV)

The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.  Jeremiah 18:7-10 (NKJV)

P.S. If you are inspired by today’s devotion, you might also enjoy reading Stripes Across our Nation.

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

Prayer Works!

I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous worksPsalm 9:1 (NKJV)

On a sunny August morning, I sat on the porch of my daughter’s home in Wisconsin, reading my Bible as cars buzzed by on her busy street.  It had already been a doozy of a day, waking at 5 a.m. to a doggie mess in the house.  After a good scrubbing all around, I finally had my tea and Bible in hand and headed out to the “quiet” of the front porch before the kids woke up.  There, with morning glory vines creeping up behind my bench and blue skies above, I was so thankful to rest in God’s Word for a time.  

This was my fourth visit to Wisconsin this year since our granddaughter Kennedy was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma cancer. During a pandemic when most people stayed home, this homebody was traveling more than ever. By God’s grace and mercy, He gave us safe passage, provision, and good health every time.  On our first visit in February, I anointed Kennedy and her home with oil and prayer.  On our second visit from March to April, I prayed for her to walk again.  At that same time all the schools and churches shut down due to the coronavirus. I wrote last spring of our visit…

My feet often took me past the old St. Mary’s Church and School.  The stately bricks told a story of generations coming to worship Jesus.  I laid my hands on the side of the church building and prayed for God to fill this church again with His people and Holy Spirit.  I prayed for God to sweep this land with a revival and healing.  I prayed for God’s people to come.

During my third visit at the end of May, that very church began meeting again! When other churches were still closed, this one was among the first to begin worship services. Praise the Lord! And shortly after my May visit, Kennedy took her first steps.  More praise to Jesus, for I had prayed months before…

“Talitha, Cumi.  Little girl, arise.  Do your miracles, Jesus!”

And then, during my August visit,  as I sat on the porch bench that day, I saw school kids going by on the sidewalk and school buses carrying more children, and I realized school was starting that very day! Neighboring districts were only having online school, but in my daughter’s town they were meeting in person. Another praise! School was beginning at St. Mary’s school where I had prayed last spring…  

Then I walked over to the school buildings and laid my hands on those bricks and prayed for the return of the children, for God’s blessing on the students and teachers and families. I prayed especially for healing for my granddaughter so she can be in the preschool next fall. I walked to the playground and prayed again for the children to return and for their safely there. 

We are still hopeful for Kennedy to return to preschool, perhaps in January 2021.  When something exciting happened during this recent visit, Kennedy exclaimed, “I’m going to tell my whole preschool class!”  She still feels a strong connection to the group of children she hasn’t seen since last winter.  One evening as I was helping her with a bath, Kennedy pointed to her chest, scarred by a chemo port and tummy pokes, and told me, “Jesus is in my heart.” Oh, this Grandma is so thankful!

And so I will keep praying, because I know God hears and answers prayers.  Prayer works!  I will keep praying for Jesus’ complete healing of Kennedy as she endures these next two months of hard chemo and steroids, and then two years of maintenance chemo.  I will keep praying for our country to repent and turn to Jesus, so He can heal our land and so that all churches and schools can meet.  I will keep praying because prayer works.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  My friend, keep praying.  I know some days can be discouraging (especially when they begin with doggie messes) and it seems like God doesn’t hear, but He really, really does.  He loves you so much that He died and rose for you. He has a wonderful plan for your life.  He wants you to talk to Him every day and He will speak to you through His Word and Holy Spirit.  Keep praying. Prayer works because Jesus never stops working.  

…He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
Psalm 121:3-4

The Lord has heard my supplication;
The Lord will receive my prayer. Psalm 6:9 (NKJV)

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14 (NKJV)

P.S. Please continue to pray for Kennedy.  We couldn’t fight this battle without all of you, dear prayer friends. Kennedy needs your prayers more than ever as she endures more really tough chemo and steroids. All glory be to Jesus for her healing!

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

 

 

 

 

Disqualified!

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 discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27 (NKJV)


I remember the day like it was yesterday. It was my first big indoor track meet of my junior year of high school.  It was the first time I had qualified to run the Drake Indoor meet in Des Moines, Iowa.  I was so excited to run the race, though running distance runs on an indoor track can be tedious as you go around and around multiple times.  

It must have been a two mile race, because that was the longest distance for girls at the time.  The track was half the size of the outdoor track, making it 220 yards, or 200 meters.  Instead or running 8 times around the outdoor track, we would be running 16 times around the indoor track to make two miles (doesn’t sound so far if you’ve run the 5K or 10K on a track!).  

To make things easier on the judges, the race officials decided that if anyone was lapped, they would be knocked out of the race, otherwise they wouldn’t be able to monitor how many laps people had left to go.  With only a 200 meter track, that meant many girls could be lapped before the winner finished her two miles.  

The lead runner was so fast, it didn’t take her long to be 200 meters ahead of the pack. I was one of those girls who was lapped and disqualified from the race.  In tears I left the track, so sad to be out of the race I truly wanted to finish.  I was heartbroken, watching the other girls finish the race. The girl who lapped me was a star senior runner from Cedar Falls, Iowa, who only a few years later would become my friend and college teammate, pointing me to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Besides being lapped, there are many other ways an athlete may become disqualified… too many false starts, taking drugs, yelling at the line judges, etc.  But while in athletics we can try again the next year to follow all the rules of competition, in our spiritual lives we never want to be disqualified.  

If I say, “My foot slips,”
Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. Psalm 94:18 (NKVJ)

What could disqualify us from receiving our crowns in heaven?  Not believing in Jesus (John 3:18).  Not allowing the Holy Spirit to do its perfect work in us (Mark 3:9, Luke 12:10).  Falling into temptation and lust and pride without repenting, when God has called us to serve Him (1 Peter 1:16).  Oh dear athlete, let us live our Christian lives even more carefully than we do as runners, that we may never be disqualified.

And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. Romans 8:10 (NKJV)

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. 2 Corinthians 13:5-6 (NKJV)

The Runner’s TEA CUPP: Have you been knocked out of the race?  Dear athlete, let Jesus pick you up!  He is coming again to judge the living and the dead (Acts 10:42) Turn to Him for help while there is still time.  Confess your sins, let Him wash you clean and put you back on your feet.  Memorize 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. Start running for Him again.

 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. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (NKJV)

Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects;
Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.  Job 5:17 (NKJV)

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:11-12 (NKJV)

Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified. 2 Corinthians 13:7 (NKJV)

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

The Best Water

Today I continue my series of running devotions for My TEA CUPP for Athletes & Runners Book & Journal. This devotion is one I ran five years ago. Water fits so well with the training we talked about last week. I pray these writings will be a blessing to you and you will be encouraged to PRESS ON in whatever God calls you to do!

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)

I still remember the watering trough in our high school football practice field.  Our cross country team ran practices around the field in the blazing sun and gladly stopped for breaks at the water fountain.  It was a metal trough about 3 feet long, standing on posts about waist-high.  Several spigots squirted water out for multiple athletes to be refreshed.  The water, though I’m not certain of its origin, tasted like the coldest, freshest well water on earth.  Perhaps it was those half-mile repeats on a sultry August afternoon that made the water especially quenching.  We would gulp and guzzle the icy liquid, putting our heads under the stream, wishing we could just climb into the trough.

I was reminded of this water when praying and fasting an Esther fast (Esther 4:16).  Though during many fasts I drink water, an Esther fast is no food or water for three days.  Men can do a Paul fast, who also had no food or water when God called him on the way to Damascus (Acts 9:9).  My fast came at the hottest part of summer, the kind of days where you would like to just sit in the shade and sip lemonade.  Though a cool drink was what my body craved, I was determined to honor God by fulfilling my fast.  As my thirst grew, my thoughts flew back over 30 years to that high school watering trough.  It was the most refreshing place I could imagine.

And so I prayed to Jesus, the Living Water, to be that water for me, to quench my thirsty body and soul.  And He did, and He continues each day.

For with You is the fountain of life… Psalm 36:9

The Runner’s TEA CUPP:  My friend, our souls all thirst for something that only Jesus can quench.  Let Jesus fill that thirst within you! Drink up His Word each day. John 4 is a great place to begin.  The Bible satisfies our every need as we learn about God’s mercy and love for us. Be sure to drink both from His Word and a big water bottle when you go to exercise.

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God…
Psalm 42:1-2 (NKJV)

O God, You are my God;
Early will I seek You;
My soul thirsts for You;
My flesh longs for You
In a dry and thirsty land
Where there is no water. Psalm 63:1 (NKJV)

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”  John 4:13-14 (NKJV)

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

4:7 AGAIN

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 (NKJV)

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!

Has God put a dream and passion in your heart? Is there something you really feel called to do or achieve that can bring Him glory? I had a dream like that. When I was 18, God gave me the dream to run a marathon, but then life happened and I forgot that dream for a time. But God didn’t forget, He let me live out the dream over 34 years later!

I ran my first marathon with God’s help in Bozeman, Montana last fall. My goal was to run it in 4 hours.  After 8 miles my legs were hurting, at 18 miles I was ready to stop, but I pressed on. At 22 miles some fellow hollered that I could break 4 hours if I kept going, so I kept going, but crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 7 minutes. 

I was so thankful to Jesus to be done, thankful to be close to 4 hours, yet a bit disappointed to not have made my goal.  But later, when sharing a meal with my family, I asked my college son Kevin to look up the reference for “I fought the good fight, I finished the race, I kept the faith.”  He found it in his smartphone BIBLE.  The verse comes from 2 Timothy 4:7, 4:7 just like my time, 4 hours and 7 minutes. It was then I knew that God had His hand in the entire race, I was in His will.  

My times are in Your hand… Psalm 31:15 (NKJV)

A week after my marathon, I visited my daughter in Wisconsin and heard the joyful news that she was expecting again. After two miscarriages, this was a miracle from God. We prayed for my daughter and her baby all winter and made plans to visit as her due date of March 31st approached. We arrived on March 22, ready to help in any way we could. March 31 came and went with no baby. A week later, we were still waiting for Baby Robin to arrive.

In the wee hours of April 7th, my daughter went into labor. Around breakfast time, she and her husband headed to the hospital. I thought this baby would surely be here by lunchtime. With big sister Kennedy off to her appointment with her Nana, I headed out for a run. As I was running, this verse from Second Timothy came into my head. I realized that the date was April 7, 4/7. I also realized what the verse said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” And as I was running I screamed out to God, “No! My daughter’s race is not over! Help her deliver this baby! Bring them both home healthy and strong!”

Dinnertime arrived and there was still no baby. Baby Robin was just too big at 10 pounds, 15 ounces. The doctors decided to do a C-section and finally Baby Robin was born. My daughter finished the race of delivering her baby. Praise God!

I’ve often thought that running is much easier than delivering a baby. If I wanted to, I could stop running at any time (though I rarely do that, but it’s nice to know I have that option). But when you go into labor to deliver a baby, there is no stopping or turning back. This baby is on the way!

Today’s TEA CUPP: Praise Jesus for babies! Praise Jesus for being our strength for running races and delivering babies! Praise Jesus for His Word, as in 2 Timothy 4:7, that encourages us to finish the race, keeping our faith in Him. Keep fighting the good fight, dear runners. Read your Bible, say your prayers, and run your workouts. Keep the faith!

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
Psalm 139:13-14 (NKJV)

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)

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