Looking Up at the Big Blue Sky

Today’s post first ran ten years ago, on February 22, 2011. As I started to write about “Looking Up” in this New Year of 2022, the Lord reminded me I had written about this before. So today, I share an updated devotion with a surprise ending for you.  Little did I know that 9 months after writing this post, I would hold in my arms the desire of my heart — a brand new baby boy, be living in a different house, and my husband would have a new job! That little boy is now 10 years old!  Since that time we’ve had many joys and many sorrows, but through it all we continue to LOOK Up to Jesus, our Messiah.  As our world crumbles under covid, mandates, and immorality, may we all pray continuously to the Father and keep LOOKING UP to Him, our only hope!  Alleluia, Jesus is coming! His children win!

Then I turned and raised my eyes and LOOKED…  Zechariah 6:1 (NKJV)

LOOKING unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith… Hebrews 12:2 (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 for me when dear friends introduced me to Jesus Christ. Jesus took my broken soul and washed away my sins, making my sky blue again.

Now I’m blessed to live in the Big Sky State of 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 “Daniel” 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 babies, 3 cats, 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! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!. Acts 7:56 (NKJV)

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

Are you having trouble LOOKING UP?  It might be because of your sins. When this happens, we must ADMIT our 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)

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)

Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven… Genesis 15:5 (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)

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, LOOKING for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Jude 20-22 (NKJV)

…LOOKING for and hastening the coming of the day of God, 2 Peter 3:11-12 (NKJV)

…and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples… Matthew 14:19 (NKJV)

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 (NKJV)

But we SEE JESUS, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. Hebrews 2:9 (NKJV)

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)

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)

And we can petition our Father in heaven as we LOOK UP to Him!

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)

O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our EYES are upon YOU. 2 Chronicles 20:12 (NKJV)

But my EYES are upon YOU, O God the Lord;
In You I take refuge;
Do not leave my soul destitute.
Psalm 141:8 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Here’s a unique story to complete our devotion today: Will you consider that perhaps Jesus first miracle will also be His last? Read John 2:1-11, The Wedding at Cana.  In this account, the wedding party ran out of water, so Jesus performed the miracle of turning water into wine, better than any wine they had ever tasted. The master of the banquet was so amazed that the good wine came last.  Dear ones, the same is true for us today. The peace and joy and comfort we receive from the Lord now are just a foretaste of the wedding feast in heaven.  Prepare your heart! Keep LOOKING UP! The good wine is yet to come!

“…You have kept the good wine until now!”  John 2:10 (NKJV)

…all the people shall keep the WATCH of the Lord. 2 Chronicles 23:6 (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)

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you… Zechariah 9:9 (NKJV)

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

Our Thanksgiving Chain

Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the God of gods!
For His mercy endures forever.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords!
For His mercy endures forever.
Psalm 136:1-3 (NKJV)

One of my favorite Thanksgiving devotions from my new book, Mom’s TEA CUPP Prayers, is an activity I’ve shared over the years with you, a Thanksgiving chain.

The first part of the TEA CUPP is “T” is for Thanksgiving. It’s eternally important for moms to model thankfulness to our children, so here is a project to help you do just that.  This thankfulness activity will carry your family from Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas.

First, count the days from Thanksgiving to Christmas on your calendar (this year it’s only 27 days). Next, cut out that many strips of colored paper, approximately one-inch by six inches. Grab your Bible, the paper strips, some markers, and a stapler, and gather the family around your kitchen table.

Read a Psalm of Thanksgiving, such as Psalm 136.
● Talk about things for which you are thankful.
● Divide the strips of paper between all family members.
● Everyone can use markers to write blessings on their paper strips. Older family members may assist younger family members.
● When everyone is finished, mix up the paper strips. Curl one strip into a circle and staple it. Run another strip through the first circle and staple it to itself. Continue stapling strips until you have a long chain of circles.
● Hold the chain around the table and let family members read the items together as you thank Jesus.
● Hang the chain on a nail in the kitchen so you can see how many days until Christmas.
● Each morning at breakfast, let one person tear off the bottom link of the chain. Say a prayer of thanks again for whatever is listed on that slip of paper.
● Each day the chain will get shorter until it’s Christmas.

Today’s TEA CUPP: Plan to do this activity with your family at Thanksgiving. Talk with your kids about God’s blessings. Some families keep a thankful jar. Every time they find something for which they are thankful, a blessing, answered prayer, etc., they write it on a slip of paper and put it in the thankful jar. He’s blessed us so much we can’t even name them all.

Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in order;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered.
Psalm 40:5

Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20

The Lost Hymnals

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)

When I read this scripture passage from 1 Timothy, immediately my heart begins to sing and my mouth hums the great hymn by Walter Chalmers Smith (1824-1908). The old Welsch melody fills my thoughts as I sing…

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, Thy great name we praise. (Whalmers)

A wonderful way to exalt Jesus is to sing old hymns to Him each morning.  You can do this!  Ask your pastor if there is a closet full of old hymnals at your church and if you may please have one.  The answer is most likely, “Yes,” as many churches display the songs on screens now.  Take your “new” borrowed hymnal home and use it as part of your morning Bible TEA time.  Thumb through the pages until you find a familiar hymn to praise Jesus.

Some favorite old hymns for exalting Jesus include How Great Thou Art; To God be the Glory; Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty; O Worship the King, All Glorious Above; Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee; Praise to the Lord, the Almighty; and All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name and many more!

You may also find a new-to-you hymn with powerful words. Even if you don’t know the tune, you can pray it to Jesus. I found one like this in our old hymnal entitled, Teach Me to Pray, Lord by Albert Simpson Reitz.  The first stanza cries…

Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray;
This is my heart-cry day unto day;
I long to know Thy will and Thy way;
Teach me to pray, Lord, teach me to pray. (Reitz)

Today’s TEA CUPP: The old hymns praise Jesus with His Word.  Ask to borrow an old hymnal from church for your quiet time. Put it in your Jesus spot.  Hum, sing, and exalt Jesus with glorious old hymns filled with His Word! You will be so blessed!

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Acts 16:25 (NKJV)

The Lord lives!
Blessed be my Rock!
Let the God of my salvation be exalted.
Psalm 18:46 (NKJV)

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
To receive power and riches and wisdom,
And strength and honor and glory and blessing!
Revelation 5:12 (NKJV)

To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Jude 1:25 (NKJV)

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness,
The power and the glory,
The victory and the majesty;
For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours;
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord,
And You are exalted as head over all.
1 Chronicles 29:11(NKJV)

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

Stripes Across Our Nation

In honor of the National Day of Prayer, I share again this post from 2011. May all turn to Jesus in prayer and repentance for our nation.

…Men always ought to pray and not lose heart Luke 18:1 (NKJV)

The sign on our Montana highway warns,
“Road Closed:  Flooding Ahead!”
The internet news reports,
“Tragic tornadoes rip through Missouri and Oklahoma.”
Our email camping network shares sad tidings,
Wildfires sweep across Texas, claiming one Methodist camp.”

How much more disaster news will there be?

With flooding in Montana and the Midwest,
Tornadoes across the central states,
Wildfires in New Mexico and Texas,
Earthquakes on the West coast, and
Hurricanes on the East coast,

It’s like having stripes across our nation,
Not the red and white of our beloved flag,
But the painful stripes of punishment
Undeserved by slaves in times not long past.

Yet these stripes are…
Stripes for us,
Stripes for our nation,
Stripes for our sin.

Who can understand our suffering?
There is One,
The perfect One who bore the sins
Of all the world,
Jesus Christ.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:5 (NKJV)

Jesus understands our suffering.
He endured stripes He did not deserve for us,
He died on a cross at Calvary for us,
He rose again to eternal life for us.

Jesus is here to comfort and help our nation.

Living in Montana, we have experienced multiple forest fires,
And now we have flooding.
My heart goes out to all who are currently suffering.
He brought us through fire and water,
He will bring you through these trials, too.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:1-3 (NKJV)

What is God calling us to do?
He wants us to…
*Turn to Him (Acts 3:19)
*Help and pray for our neighbors (Matthew 22:39)
*Be prepared for His return (Matthew 24)

And after the wind, water, and fire
We will hear His still small, yet mighty, voice. (1 Kings 19:12)

Jesus is coming.
Are you ready?

May these painful stripes
Be a wake-up call to our nation:
*Turn to Jesus,
*Help your neighbor,
*Prepare your heart for Jesus’ return.

Oh, Jesus,
Help our country,
Forgive our sins,
Help me do my part. Amen.

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

TEA with Colossians

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:2 (NKJV)

It’s our final week with the popcorn girls!  This month we’ve been exploring  “Girls Eat Pop Corn,” a mnemonic device for the order of four short books in the New Testament.  “Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians” are our Girls Eat Pop Corn books.

This week we visit Colossians. Pop a batch of popcorn as you study these verses this week…

T for Thanksgiving:

We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you…
Colossians 1:3 (NKJV)

Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Colossians 1:12 (NKJV)

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
Colossians 3:15 (NKJV)

E for Exalting:

For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.
Colossians 1:16-17 (NKJV)

A for Admitting:

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)

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:5 (NKJV)

 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.
Colossians 3:9-10 (NKJV)

 C for Calling:

That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Colossians 1:10 (NKJV)

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
Colossians 3:12-13 (NKJV)

Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.
Colossians 4:5 (NKJV)

U is for Understanding our story:

He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.
Colossians 1:13 (NKJV)

For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Colossians 3:3-4 (NKJV)

P is for Promises:

And you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.
Colossians 2:10 (NKJV)

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.
Colossians 3:23-24 (NKJV)

P is for Petitioning:

…always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Colossians 4:12 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read the book of Colossians in your Bible this week.  Underline your favorite verses or the ones listed above.  Use these verses as conversation starters as you pour your heart out to Jesus in prayer for THANKSGIVING, EXALTING, ADMITTING, talking to God about your CALLING, UNDERSTANDING your story, claiming God’s PROMISES, and PETITIONING.  May you always remember these four books when you see girls eating pop corn!

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.
Colossians 2:6 (NKJV)

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

TEA with Philippians

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13 (NKJV)

For our third week of “Girls Eat Pop Corn,” we are having TEA with Philippians.  If you missed the last two weeks, we had TEA with Galatians and TEA with Ephesians.  We are exploring the four books of the New Testament that come right after First and Second Corinthians.  These four short letters, Paul wrote to his dear friends and new believers.  To help us remember what order they come in our Bibles, we can say “Girls Eat Pop Corn” for “Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians.”  Another trick is to say, “General Electric Power Company.” Use these verses as conversation starters in your prayers this week…

T for Thanksgiving:

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.
Philippians 1:3 (NKJV)

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Philippians 4:6 (NKJV)

E for Exalting:

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11 (NKJV)

Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Philippians 4:20 (NKJV)

A for Admitting:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
Philippians 2:12 (NKJV)

Do all things without complaining and disputing,that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.
Philippians 2:14-15 (NKJV)

C for Calling:

Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which https://www.ncmh.info/ativan-lorazepam/ Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.
Philippians 3:12 (NKJV)

forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14 (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.
Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)

U is for Understanding our story:

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

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

P is for Promises:

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)

P is for Petitioning:

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:9-11 (NKJV)

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Philippians 4:23 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read the book of Philippians in your Bible this week.  Underline your favorite verses or the ones listed above. You will find many more than these! Each day of the week, pour your heart out to Jesus in prayer for THANKSGIVING, EXALTING, ADMITTING, talking to God about your CALLING, UNDERSTANDING your story, claiming God’s PROMISES, and PETITIONING.

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

TEA with Ephesians

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 2:13 (NKJV)

For our second week of “Girls Eat Pop Corn,” we are having TEA with Ephesians.  If you missed last week, we had TEA with Galatians.  We are exploring the four books of the New Testament that come right after First and Second Corinthians.  These four short letters, Paul wrote to his dear friends and new believers.  To help us remember what order they come in our Bibles, we can say “Girls Eat Pop Corn” for “Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians.”  Another trick is to say, “General Electric Power Company.”

I love the verse above from Ephesians 2:13, how we are brought near by the blood of Christ.  It’s because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross for our sins that we are brought near to God when we believe in Him.  I pray that all these verses from Ephesians bring you near to Him today!

T for Thanksgiving:

Do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.
Ephesians 1:16 (NKJV)

Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV)

E for Exalting:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
Ephesians 1:3 (NKJV)

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)

A for Admitting:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
Ephesians 1:7 (NKJV)

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
Ephesians 4:31 (NKJV)

C for Calling:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
Ephesians 5:2 (NKJV)

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Ephesians 6:10-11 (NKJV)

U is for Understanding our story:

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
Ephesians 1:4-6 (NKJV)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)

P is for Promises:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Ephesians 2:13 (NKJV)

“Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”
Ephesians 6:2-3 (NKJV)

P is for Petitioning:

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NKJV)

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)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read the book of Ephesians in your Bible this week.  Underline your favorite verses or the ones listed above.  Use these verses as conversation starters as you pour your heart out to Jesus in prayer for THANKSGIVING, EXALTING, ADMITTING, talking to God about your CALLING, UNDERSTANDING your story, claiming God’s PROMISES, and PETITIONING. My prayer for all you dear ladies and God’s prayer for us comes from Ephesians 1:17-19…

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.
Ephesians 1:17-19 (NKJV)

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

TEA with Galatians

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Galatians 5:25 (NKJV)

I love these popcorn girls!  They point us to the saying,  “Girls Eat Pop Corn,” a mnemonic device for the order of four short books in the New Testament.  Coming right after First and Second Corinthians, these four letters Paul wrote to his dear friends and new believers.  To help us remember their sequence, we can say “Girls Eat Pop Corn” for “Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians.”  Another trick is to say, “General Electric Power Company.”

This week we explore Galatians. May you remember these verses every time you pop a batch of popcorn!

T for Thanksgiving:

What then was the blessing you enjoyed?
Galatians 4:15 (NKJV)

E for Exalting:

Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Galatians 2:4-5 (NKJV)

A for Admitting:

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

 C for Calling:

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Galatians 6:10 (NKJV)

U is for Understanding our story:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)

P is for Promises:

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.
Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

P is for Petitioning:

Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:3 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read the book of Galatians in your Bible this week.  Underline your favorite verses or the ones listed above.  Today’s devotion lists only one verse per category, but I’m sure you will find others. Use these verses as conversation starters as you pour your heart out to Jesus in prayer for THANKSGIVING, EXALTING, ADMITTING, talking to God about your CALLING, UNDERSTANDING your story, claiming God’s PROMISES, and PETITIONING.  

(Ladies), the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Galatians 6:18 (NKJV)

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

More than Resolutions

 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Acts 9:6 (NKJV)

In perhaps the greatest calling and transformation recorded in the New Testament, we read the story of the horrific torturer of Christians, Saul of Tarsus, being blinded and called by God on the road to Damascus.  Saul turned his life around in an instant, going from persecutor of God’s people to preacher of the Gospel, regaining his sight and changing his name to Paul. The very question Saul asked God, is the one we should all ask ourselves everyday, especially as we embark on a new year.

“Lord, what do you want me to do?”  Let’s all pray this during our TEA time with Jesus today. Rather than making resolutions that don’t last, let’s ask the Lord for His plan and stick to it with His strength (Philippians 4:13). Instead of setting our own goals, let’s ask Jesus what He wants us to do with our new year.   We can ask…

  • Lord, what do you want me to do for my health?
  • Lord, what do you want me to do for my children?
  • Lord, what do you want me to do for my husband?
  • Lord, what do you want me to do for my calling?
  • Lord, what do you want me to do for my neighbors?
  • Lord, what do you want me to do for my church?
  • Lord, what do you want me to do for YOU?

Interestingly, Jesus asks the same question of another blind man in Luke 18:41.  The man was waiting by the side of a road for Jesus to come by.  When Jesus finally walked by, the blind man cried out, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Jesus, though He knew exactly what the blind man wanted and needed, asked the fellow, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  The man replied, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Jesus replied, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 18:39-42)

Oh, Jesus, open my eyes to see exactly what you want me to do this new year!

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read the story of Saul/Paul’s calling in Acts 9.  Then ask Jesus, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”  With the Christmas story fresh in our minds, let’s say as Mary did, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to Your Word.” (Luke 1:38)

…Let us continue to go and pray before the Lord…
Zechariah 8:21 (NKJV)

…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NKJV)

A man’s heart plans his way,
But the Lord directs his steps.
Proverbs 6:9 (NKJV)

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)

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

Casting All Your Burdens

Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7 (NKJV)

The week after Thanksgiving I was suddenly overwhelmed with prayer needs.  Dear friends and acquaintances were all going through trials at the same time.  First, a young mom’s baby was born with her intestines outside her stomach; mamma and baby were both life-flighted to a hospital far away. Then the husband of one of my best friends was diagnosed with leukemia, then our local pastor had emergency gallbladder surgery, then a dear church friend had a hysterectomy, then another church member had a heart attack, then a 7.2 earthquake hit Alaska where my college roommate lives, then a community member loved by all was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer…the prayer needs were daunting for me, combined with all my usual prayers. I found myself fretting throughout the morning, worrying about each person and praying for them over and over again. In my unfruitful way, I was trying to carry out Galatians 6:2.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

But then I realized I should bear those burdens to the Lord, carrying them from my friends to Jesus.  Once I gave it to Jesus, I was supposed to let go, not take it back. I was carrying burdens I did not need to carry.  I got out my prayer journal and wrote 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”  And I wrote all the people for whom I’d been worrying.  I prayed for each one and gave them to Jesus.  I said, “Jesus, please carry these for me, it’s too much for me and You know just what to do.”  And Jesus took my load. He gave me His peace that He would take care of everyone. I still lift these dear ones up to Jesus each day, but I’m not fretting now.  Jesus has them covered.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Write 1 Peter 5:7 in your prayer journal today.  Below the verse list people you’ve been worrying about, one name per line. Then go back and write a short prayer for each one by their names.  Thank Jesus for carrying these dear ones for you!

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)

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)

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