Waiting and Waiting

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength… Isaiah 40:31 (NKJV)

Waiting.  Waiting. Waiting can be hard.  Families wait for Daddy (and sometimes Mommy) to come home from work.  Children wait for Christmas and Santa. Grandparents wait for grandchildren to visit. All of us wait for our prayers to be answered.  We wonder what the delay could be. Why aren’t we getting our answers right NOW?!

I remember how as a child I met my Daddy at the bus stop every afternoon.  I would trudge up Fillmore Avenue a quarter of a mile and sit myself on a big rock, watching the traffic along 24th Street.  Many cars, trucks, and buses would go by but not stop. Finally, the bus would come with my Daddy and I would hold his hand all the way home.  One day, I looked at the clock wrong and went an hour early, waiting and waiting until I tearfully trudged home alone.  When my Daddy finally arrived home, he wondered where I was that day, and I told him the sad story of my waiting. I didn’t meet him so often after that.  

I wonder, do we do the same thing with our prayers?  Are we at the bus stop expecting answers too soon? Then, when the answers don’t come in our timing, we don’t meet with Jesus so often anymore?  

In the book of Daniel, we get a glimpse into what is happening while we are waiting on God.  We might think the prayer-mail delivery service is slow this time of year, that FedEx is having a tough time keeping up with the prayer packages delivered to Heaven’s Throne room, often out late at night delivering prayers. 

But we can be assured that our prayers are not delayed! For the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26).  And God hears our every prayer (John 9:31).  So what is the delay?  In Daniel 10 we read how angels were dispatched to help Daniel the moment he started praying. But the enemy’s angels prevented help from arriving for three weeks! Up in the heavens, where we can’t even see, angels are fighting battles for us that we don’t even know, all because of our prayers (Ephesians 6:12).  

…“Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me… Daniel 10:12-13 (NKJV)

What are you waiting for today? Today, I wait for healing for my granddaughter, for healing for our nation and an end to Covid19 and cancer, for healing for church friends, for dear ones to give their hearts to Jesus,  and especially for Jesus to come again!

You know who else is waiting? God!  You remember the story of the prodigal son?  Just as the father waited expectantly for the prodigal son to return, God waits expectantly for us.  Jesus can’t come until the last person written in His Book of Life believes in Him.  Perhaps you are the one to tell that person!

Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you;
And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
Blessed are all those who wait for Him. Isaiah 30:18 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read the amazing story of Daniel’s prayers in Daniel 10.  Keep praying and waiting, my friends.  God is sending answers!  And as Christmas approaches, remember the Answer He sent to a stable in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.  

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world.  1 John 4:14 (NKJV)

And it will be said in that day:
“Behold, this is our God;
We have waited for Him, and He will save us.
This is the Lord;
We have waited for Him;
We will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”  Isaiah 25:9 (NKJV)

Therefore I will look to the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation;
My God will hear me. Micah 7:7 (NKJV)

...that there should be delay no longer… Revelation 10:6 (NKJV)

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

Jesus is Coming Soon!

…“Where is the promise of His coming? 2 Peter 3:4 (NKJV)

“Christmas is coming! Christmas is coming!”  the children cry!

“Are you ready for Christmas?” the friendly neighbors inquire.

“Only 16 more shopping days!” the store windows (and Facebook ads) proclaim.

Everywhere we see reminders that Christmas is just around the corner and we must hurry to be ready. But even more important than the arrival of Christmas is the return of this holiday’s namesake, Jesus the Christ is coming back to earth! 

For over 400 years, God’s people waited for the first arrival of their promised Savior, Jesus Christ. When He came as a baby in a manger bed, only a few special people recognized Him for who He was, after waiting so long…Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wisemen, Simeon, and Anna.  Will we recognize Jesus when He comes the second time?  

You probably know the story very well…A Baby was born that first Christmas to a virgin whose name was Mary.  He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, coming humbly, not to a palace but to a stable.  This same Baby Jesus grew up without sin, helping His earthly dad Joseph as a carpenter.  But when He turned 30, His ministry began…healing the sick, casting out demons, feeding the hungry, teaching the people about His Father, God.  Then just three years later, this same Jesus gave His life for us on the cross.  He could have called down legions of angels to rescue Him, but He did not, because He loved us and wanted to die for our sins.  Then on the third day, He arose from the grave, conquering sin and death forever for all who believe in His Name.  Forty days later He ascended to heaven where He sits at the right hand of the Father and will come again to judge the living and the dead.  When He comes the second time, it won’t be as a baby in a manger seen only by a few, it will be as a Mighty King on a white horse, coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him and every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!  (Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:31-35, Luke 2:7, Matthew 13:55, Luke 3:23, Luke 7:22-23, Matthew 26:53, John 3:16-17, Luke 24:1-7, Luke 24:50-53, Philippians 2:9-11, Revelation 19:11).  

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. Revelation 1:7 (NKJV)

So, this time of year and all year round, instead of children crying, “Christmas is coming,” we should be hearing…

“Jesus is coming!  Jesus is coming!  Hosanna!” the children cry!

“Is your heart ready for Jesus?” the caring neighbors inquire.

“We don’t know the day nor the hour, so be ready!” the church windows proclaim.

…For He is coming to judge the earth.
With righteousness He shall judge the world,
And the peoples with equity.
Psalm 98:9 (NKJV)

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:42 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Oh, precious one, beloved of God, prepare your heart for His coming, for He is coming soon.  Ask Jesus to be your Savior today. And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.  1 John 2:28 (NKJV) He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20 (NKJV)

Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.  Titus 2:13 (NKJV)

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the Lord Zechariah 2:10 (NKJV)

I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.  Daniel 7:13-14 (NKJV)

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,

One day the skies with His glory will shine;

Wonderful day, my beloved ones bringing;

Glorious Savor, this Jesus is mine!  

Living, He loved me;

Dying, He saved me;

Buried, He carried my sins far away;

Rising, He justified freely forever:

One day He’s coming — O, glorious day!

(J. Wilber Chapman, 1910). 

Glorious Day (Living He loved me) ~Casting Crowns

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!  Revelation 22:20 (NKJV)

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

 

Jesus is Coming!

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him Revelation 1:7 (NKJV)

Thanksgiving gobbled by, Black Friday stormed over, Cyber Monday flooded past, Giving Tuesday blessed all around…unless you’ve been hiding from the world, you know that Christmas looms just around the corner, it is coming whether we are ready or not.  Traditionally, for children, Christmas is always slow to arrive.  But for grown-ups, it often comes too soon. And just as Christmas finally comes to the waiting child, Jesus is coming again to the entire world.

These weeks leading up to Christmas have long been called “Advent,” a time or preparation and waiting for the celebration of our Savior’s birth.  But even more so, it’s a time of preparation and expectation of the return of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the King of kings.  The whole story is foretold in our Bibles, mostly in the book of Revelation, when Jesus will come unexpectedly like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2).

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (NKJV)

Just as Christmas will be upon us before we know it, even more certain is our Lord’s return.  He is coming with the clouds and every eye will see Him (Rev. 1:7)Every knee will bow on heaven and earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:9-10).  And when He comes with all His angels with Him, Jesus, the Great Shepherd, will separate the sheep from the goats, His sheep to everlasting life and the goats to eternity in hell (Matthew 25:32-33).  Oh, my dear friends, I want for you and your loved ones all to be among the sheep.  I plead with you to give your hearts to Jesus. 

Blow the trumpet in Zion,
And sound an alarm in My holy mountain!
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble;
For the day of the Lord is coming,
For it is at hand. Joel 2:1 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Jesus is coming again. I exhort you to give Him your life and all the desires of your heart. Don’t wait another day, He is coming soon.  Let this Christmas be the year you truly celebrate your Savior’s birth, making Him first in your heart.

to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:17

For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11 (NKJV)

That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10-:9-10 (NKJV)

In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. Titus 1:2 (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.

Looking Up at the Big Blue Sky

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will LOOK UP.
Psalm 5:3 (NKJV)

Do you LOOK UP?  When I was little, I always wanted to be near a window to catch a glimpse of the blue sky.  If I could just see the sky, I could smile up at God.  On my walks home from school I would smile at the puffy clouds and talk to God about my day.  When I was a teenager and started running, it was that blue sky that kept me going.  When my college cross country team died in a plane crash, I looked up at the dreary November atmosphere and questioned the God in charge of the universe, and decided I didn’t trust Him anymore.  After two years without God or my blue sky, the sun finally shone again for me when dear friends introduced me to Jesus Christ.

Now I’m blessed to live in the Big Sky State, Montana, where the sky really is bluer than anywhere in the world (according to friends from Rhode Island).  Even though I live in a narrow valley, I can see a big blue strip up above each day.  As I sit by my window for my morning TEA CUPP, I LOOK UP at the still dark, star-speckled sky and whisper, “Good morning, Jesus.” While I pray, the sky lightens, the day dawns, and I’m having TEA with Jesus under the big blue heavens.

You know, when we choose to LOOK UP to Jesus, no matter what our circumstances, life tends to LOOK UP after all.  In recent years we’ve lost 3 cats, 3 babies, a job, and other great sadnesses.  I could look away from God as I did as a college student, but you know what that means?  If we aren’t looking up to Jesus, where are we looking?  We are looking down to Satan, and I don’t want to look there!  So, I keep LOOKING UP…I want to encourage you to do the same through God’s Word.

In the book of Acts we read about a deacon named Stephen.  For his preaching of God’s Word, Stephen became the first martyr of the Christian faith.  Just before he was stoned to death, Stephen called to the crowd…

“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:56 (NIV)

But their hearts were too hard and their eyes closed, so they could not see Jesus.  And they killed Stephen. Jesus, help us not be like those men.  Let our hearts be softened and our eyes opened as we LOOK UP at the sky for Your coming.

Did you know Jesus CALLS us to LOOK UP?

Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, LOOK UP and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21:27-28 (NKJV)

LOOKING for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Titus 2:13-14 (NKJV)

If I can’t LOOK UP it is because of my sins, and I must ADMIT my sins to Jesus…

For innumerable evils have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to LOOK UP;
They are more than the hairs of my head;
Therefore my heart fails me.
Psalm 40:12 (NKJV)

While we are waiting for Jesus to return, He CALLS us to LOOK UP to Him as an example of how to live our lives…

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are ABOVE, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3:1-2 (NKJV)

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9  (NKJV)

…You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming 2 Peter 3:11-12 (NIV)

And He CALLS us to be ready for His return…

Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Luke 12:40 (NKJV)

Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:8 (NKJV)

For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 (NIV)

I UNDERSTAND in my story how God has helped me to LOOK UP to Him each day…

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2 (NKJV)

Unto You I lift up my eyes, O You who dwell in the heavens.
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters,
As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the LORD our God,
Until He has mercy on us.
Psalm 123:1-2

And He PROMISES that one day while we are LOOKING UP He will come again…

And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” John 1:52 (NKJV)

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11 (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. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 (NKJV)

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. Revelation 1:7 (NKJV)

Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
And look on the earth beneath.
For the heavens will vanish away like smoke,
The earth will grow old like a garment,
And those who dwell in it will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not be abolished.
Isaiah 51:6 (NKJV)

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

New International Version (NIV)Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica