Just Do It for Jesus!

    His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”   John 2:5 (NKJV)

For many years, a famous brand of athletic gear has had the slogan, “Just Do It!” encouraging the athletes who wear their products to get out and do their sports.  Today I also want to encourage you, if God is calling you to a task, just do it for Jesus, and the Lord will be with you.  Let me tell you my story…

…Be of good courage, and do it.”  Ezra 10:4 (NKJV)

For months I’d been disturbed about the harm from the vaccine craze in our country and world.  I prayed, I wrote blog articles, I wrote to my newspaper, I emailed friends… but I couldn’t see that I was making a dent in the problem.  Then one day, the Holy Spirit put the idea in my head to visit our county health nurse and ask her to quit giving the shots.  I had to ponder this for awhile.  I shared the idea with Shannon, one of my prayer partners.  

Is God calling you to a task? Shannon said that to know if the calling is from God, there should be two or three witnesses telling me to do it (Deut. 19:15, Matt. 18:16, John 8:17-18).  If I was told in two or three ways to go see the county health nurse, it must be from the Lord. For example, the Holy Spirit tells you to do something, you read it in God’s Word, and then a friend tells you or you read it in another place in God’s Word.  Shannon also said I can ask, “Would my flesh think of doing this and want to do it?” “No!” “Is this something the enemy wants me to do?” “No!” “Would Jesus want me to do this?” “Yes!”  “Is this something that will please the Lord?” “Yes!”

So after reading several Bible verses that encouraged me, I finally set the date to go visit the nurse. The day before my mission I spent in fasting and prayer. The Lord gave me more verses to encourage me, like 2 Chronicles 18:13…As the Lord lives, whatever my God says, that I will speak. And John 6:20…But He said to them, ‘It is I, do not be afraid.’ And John 6:38…For I have come not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent me. The day arrived and it was snowing hard.  I decided to wait until afternoon, that meant fasting another half day.  Finally, I went in to her office and she was out for the day!  I came home and finally ate, knowing I would still have to go back the next day. 

Strengthened by that meal and more of God’s Word, I returned the following day. Jesus gave me more verses to sustain me: 2 Chronicles 19:9…Thus you shall act in fear of the Lord, faithfully and with a loyal heart. And 2 Chronicles 19:11… Behave courageously, and the Lord will be with the good. And 2 Chronicles 20:17…position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you…do not fear or be dismayed. And Zechariah 4:6...not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit says the Lord of hosts.  As I drove there, I prayed more Scripture, “Fear not for I am with you, be not dismayed for I am your God, I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand… May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer…” (Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 19:14). 

When I arrived, someone was in the nurse’s office receiving a shot. Another person was standing in the hallway awaiting her turn.  As I waited for an opening, I prayed.  Finally, just before three o’clock, I slipped into her office and asked if she had a minute.  She looked at her calendar and at the clock and said that was about all she had before the next patient.  So with just two minutes allowed, I jumped right into my mission.  I said, “God sent me to pray for you.”  I thanked her for all the times she helped my boys to go on mission trips by researching the necessary vaccines for those countries. I said, but I’ve heard some bad things about this current covid vaccine, and I asked her to quit giving it, especially to babies and children.  She replied that you have to check your sources and that if parents want to give it to their kids, they can do that.  Knowing that my time was almost over, I offered to pray.  I thanked Jesus for her hard work during these trying times the past two years, I asked the Holy Spirit to stir in her heart if she heard anything questionable about the vaccines, and I prayed God’s blessings upon her family.  Then it was the next person’s turn.  I drove home wondering if I had done any good, yet thankful I had been obedient to God’s calling.

The next day I went to see a friend I’d been wanting to visit for a long time. She told me she and her husband had been vaccinated. My heart broke.  The following day I had a really hard day.  Always, like Elijah after his Mt. Caramel victory, I break down at the threats of Jezebel.  My prayer friend Shannon explained to me later that when we are in battle mode, the dragon cannot get us. But after the battle, we let down our guard and the dragon hits us with his tail. That’s just how it was!  But on the evening of that hard day, only wanting to stay home, but being urged by my husband, we went out to attend a Christmas concert.  There, a neighbor came up to me and said, “I hear you’re praying for the county health nurse. That’s great! We all should be praying.”  Thank you, dearest Jesus, for confirming my call.  And now we keep praying for her and for others like her across this nation to just stop the shot.  For if they stop it, we won’t have it anymore. All glory to God!

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Is God calling you to a task?  Has He told you in two or three ways? (Yes!) Does this calling line up with Scripture? (Yes!) Would my flesh think of doing this and want to do it? (No!) Is this something the enemy would want me to do? (No!) Would Jesus want me to do this? (Yes!)  Is this something that will please the Lord? (Yes!) Pray hard, ask others to pray, and then, just do it for Jesus! And may the Lord be with you this new year, dear sister!

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  James 1:22 (NKJV)

Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it2 Chronicles 19:7 (NKJV)

…and see that you do it quickly. 2 Chronicles 24:5 (NKJV)

If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. John 13:17 (NKJV)

do it according to the will of your God. Ezra 7:18 (NKJV)

 It is also written in your law that the testimony of two men is true. I am One who bears witness of Myself, and the Father who sent Me bears witness of Me.”  John 8:17-18 (NKJV)

…by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established. Deuteronomy 19:15 (NKJV)

Thank you for stopping by My TEA CUPP Prayers, if you are motivated by today’s devotion, you might also like to read: Esther’s Great Calling and  Steadfast and Stout-hearted.

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

Wrestling with Abba Father

And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Galatians 4:6 (NKJV)

It was the match of all time.  In one corner was Jacob, the supplanter, the deceiver, the polygamist.  In the other corner was the Angel of God, the pre-incarnate Son Himself, the Mighty, all-powerful One, Creator and King of the Universe.  They met on the open plain.  Jacob had sent his wives and children ahead.  He was alone, much the same as his first journey when he saw the ladder going up to heaven (Genesis 18:10-22). Yet this time, he had to wrestle for a blessing.  The odds were stacked against him.  The angels placed their bets on God the Father, and in the end, guess who won? (Genesis 32:22-32).  

Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. 

God: “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”

Jacob: “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”

God: “What is your name?”

Jacob: “Jacob.”

God:Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”  Genesis 32:24-28 (NKJV)

If ever there was a time in history where we need to wrestle with God and prevail, ’tis now. If ever there was a time for people to cry out, “Abba, Father!” ’tis now! With every page of the newspaper, with every change of the channel or website, with every inspection of our cell phones, we come across bad news… heart-breaking stories, immorality, deaths, mandates, lies, deception, tyranny… It is often so much, we don’t even want to look at it! But God the Father already knows all about it and He is waiting for us to call Him. So, let’s not keep Him waiting any longer, let’s call on the Lord today!

Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 61:1-2 (NKJV)

What should we pray for, and what should we cry about? God says we can ask anything in His Name, and He will do it (John 14:14). Dear One, you may cry out to God with whatever He puts upon your heart, whatever the Holy Spirit leads you to pray. When King Hezekiah received bad news in 2 Kings 19, he took it to the temple and spread it before the Lord. We can do that, too, spread your newspaper or cell phone before the Lord and pray King Hezekiah’s prayer in 2 Kings 19:16,19:

“Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God…  O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.” 2 Kings 19:16, 19 (NKJV)

What am I wrestle for right now? Our children and grandchildren, our country, healing for loved ones, salvation for so many, for My TEA CUPP mission, for the USA, for Israel, for healing for the nations… If you need ideas for your wrestling prayers, Scripture tells us many things about which we can pray,,,

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— Ephesians 6:18 (NKJV)

And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath.  Matthew 24:20 (NKJV)

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
May they prosper who love you.  Psalm 122:6 (NKJV)

…Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left. 2 Kings 19:4, Isaiah 37:4 (NKJV)

Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved. Romans 10:1(NKJV)

…pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Matthew 5:44 (NKJV)

…pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Matthew 9:38 (NKJV)

Ask the Lord for rain in the time of the latter rain. The Lord will make lashing clouds… Zechariah 10:1 (NKJV)

I was asked recently if my prayers bring me peace and I had to stop and think for a minute.  I come to Him everyday with a heart heavy-laden with the concerns of this world, and He promises He will give me rest and carry my burden for me (Matthew 11:28-30).  When I’ve prayed every prayer and unloaded my concerns, I should walk away with the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). 

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV)

Why don’t we always feel that peace?  Perhaps it’s because we’ve been wrestling in prayer. Perhaps we are taking all the cares of the world upon ourselves.  Our prayers are more like those of Jesus before He went to the Cross. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He was praying so hard, His sweat was like drops of blood (Luke 22:44).  Or perhaps, for all our wrestling, we are hurt like Jacob, who wrestled the Angel, receiving a life-long injury, yet at the same time, he was given the blessing of the Father for all eternity. Why does prayer often hurt so much?  Because we are not wrestling with our brother or sister or neighbor or even the government, our battle is against principalities (Ephesians 6:12), powers, rulers of the darkness, and spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavens whom we can’t even see, but God sees and knows all about them. 

When we wrestle for the Lord here on earth, we are joining in the battles already in progress up above.  Do you remember when Daniel started praying for his people in Daniel 9 and 10?  It took almost three weeks for an answer to come. When the angel Gabriel arrived, he declared that he had left the moment Daniel had started praying three weeks before, but had been detained by evil angels and the angel Michael had to assist him (Daniel 10: 12-14).  It seems those evil angels have been busy detaining the answers to our prayers, and so we must keep praying, just as Daniel did, and hold onto to God until He gives us a blessing, just as Jacob did, and keep sweating those drops of blood in prayer, just as our dear Savior Jesus did before He went to the Cross on our behalf, trusting that peace and rest is coming on the other side.

Then he said to me, “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.  Daniel 12:10 (NKJV) 

And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.  Luke 22:44 (NKJV)

For 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.  Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Oswald Chambers said, “Prayer is not preparation for the battle, prayer is the battle.” Dear Ladies, thank you for joining Jesus on the battlefield every morning in prayer for your loved ones, our nation, and our world. Keep your armor on! Keep wrestling!  Always looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13). Jesus is coming soon (Joel 2:1)! God bless you always!  

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ1 Corinthians 15:57 (NKJV)

He took his brother by the heel in the womb,
And in his strength he struggled with God.
Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed;
He wept, and sought favor from Him… Hosea 12:3-4 (NKJV)

And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.” Mark 14:36 (NKJV)

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”  Romans 8:15 (NKJV)

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
You who lead Joseph like a flock;
You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth!  Psalm 80:1 (NKJV)

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.  1 Peter 4:7 (NKJV)

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982
 
To my faithful readers: I’m so sorry to keep you waiting on this devotion, I’ve been busy wrestling with God :-).  

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.

 

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.

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. 

Side-lined

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!

You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? Galatians 5:7 (NKJV)

It happens to every athlete at one time or another, an injury side-lines us. But at the time, it seems like it will last forever.

I remember my first major injury was spring of my senior year of high school. I had developed a stress fracture in my shin from running indoor track and could not compete for the outdoor season. Instead of working out with my teammates every afternoon, I was in the swimming pool “running” in the deep end. I thought it was the end of the world, thinking it was my last season, not knowing I would compete in college. But God healed me and allowed me to walk on as a college cross country runner, and there I met Jesus.

Over the years there have many other times of being side-lined, from mononucleosis, to miscarriages, to gallbladder surgery…and currently back and leg pain. But Jesus carries us through it all. And as Job said so aptly to his wife, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10) Shall we not accept the victory of completing a marathon, as well as the injuries?

What can we do during this time of injury? Pray! Rest! Seek the Lord! Heal! Trust in Him! Encourage others! Look upward to Jesus and outward to others, rather than inward to our own troubles.

And what about our spiritual lives? Do we ever get side-lined in our faith? Satan the side-liner is always trying to discourage us and get us to take our eyes off Jesus. The enemy tells us we’re no good. The enemy tells us to give up. The enemy tells us he has something better. But he doesn’t. God has made us good and loves us (John 16:27, Romans 8:1). God calls us to run with perseverance (Hebrews 12:1-2). God has the very best, a mansion for us in heaven (John 14). Oh friend, keep trusting Jesus, keep pressing on, keep holding all God’s promises.

In life we may become side-lined temporarily, as God rebukes and chastens us for falling short of His glory.  But He only does this because He loves us and wants to help us be more like Him and better able to serve Him.

As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Revelation 3:19 (NKJV)

So dear friends, do not be discouraged if you are side-lined.  We serve a merciful God.  Allow Jesus to use this time to bring you closer to Him and His throne of grace.  I wrote a verse based on Romans 8:37-39 for you..

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither losing nor winning, nor shinsplints nor stress fractures nor pulled hamstrings, nor false starts nor dropped batons, nor sickness nor health, nor fans nor foes, nor 100m nor 10K, nor high jump bar nor long jump pit, nor any other athletic event or distress, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

The Runner’s TEA CUPP: Have you been side-lined, either in your running or in your Christian walk? Dear friend, don’t be discouraged. Get your rest, do your physical therapy, pray, repent, seek the Lord and He will get you back on track!

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
Save me, and I shall be saved,
For You are my praise.
Jeremiah 17:14 (NKJV)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (NKJV)

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39 (NKJV)

Let not the foot of pride come against me,
And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.
Psalm 36:11

He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man.
The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him,
In those who hope in His mercy. Psalm 147:10-11 (NKJV)

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

Training for the Competition

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!

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV)

Training. Strict Training. Those are tough words. Tough athletes know what this means: Getting up early each morning to do a workout, even before the sun comes up. Eating healthy meals and avoiding sweets. Skipping late night events so we have a good night’s sleep and are ready to do it all again the next day. Over and over again. Persevering. Never giving up. It’s not the race that’s the hard part, it’s the training.

That’s how an athlete trains, but what about a Christian? How do we train to be Christians? The verse above from 1 Corinthians 9:25 tells us we do the same thing. We go into strict training to receive a crown that will last forever in heaven.

What does this Christian training look like? Much the same as an athlete…Strict training.

Getting up early each morning to seek the Lord, spending time in God’s Word, reading our Bibles and praying even before the sun comes up. Then when it’s light we can go out to exercise.

I rise before the dawning of the morning,
And cry for help;
I hope in Your word.
Psalm 119:47 (NKJV)

Living a healthy lifestyle, giving thanks to God for the food He provides.

be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience. Titus 2:2 (NKJV)

Skipping activities that don’t glorify the Lord in favor of ones that do…time with family, worshiping our Lord, serving others.

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. Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

Getting a good night’s sleep so we can do it all again the next day…

I will both lie down in peace, and sleep;
For You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8 (NKJV)

And asking others to pray for us...

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)

The Runner’s TEA CUPP: How are you doing in your athletic training? How are you doing in your Christian training? Pick one area to work on this week and keep pressing on each day to glorify Jesus, the Son of God. You can do it, dear friend! He is helping you!

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

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 9:25 (NKJV)

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run to it and are safe.
Proverbs 18:10 (NKJV)

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

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

Two Runners United

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV)

This week I pause from my summer running devotions to celebrate two athletes being united in Holy Matrimony.  Our oldest son, Jacob, – runner, soccer player, snowboarder – is marrying his beautiful bride, Kelly, – runner, soccer player, swimmer. These two are both hard-workers, goal-setters, and champions of perseverance. But most of all, they share hearts for the Lord.  

Their love for Jesus is what makes Jacob and Kelly a great team. Already in their engagement they’ve prayerfully given all their plans to the Lord as COVID-19 shut down our nation. They consulted God’s play-book, the Bible, and set aside their plans for His plans (Proverbs 16:9).   Their dream of a wedding of 200 by the beach in June became a July party of 25 in the churchyard.  Yet as God pared down Gideon’s army to do His miracles (Judges 7), He has orchestrated this union to be the humble wedding of a former CRU missionary and his lovely lady.  And Jesus will be there just as He was for the wedding in Cana so long ago (John 2). 

Thank you for joining us in prayer for dear Jacob and Kelly, their wedding on July 11, 2020, and their lifetime together serving Jesus wherever He calls and leads them.  

We love you, Jacob and Kelly!!!! Jesus loves you!!!! God bless and keep you always!!!

Love, Mom.  x0x0x0x

Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him… “May God Almighty bless you, And make you fruitful and multiply you, That you may be an assembly of peoples.”  Genesis 28:1-3 (NKJV)

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 (NKJV)

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

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