My Love Letter from God

“I have loved you,” says the Lord…. Malachi 1:2

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!… 1 John 3:1 (NKJV)

Dear Jenny Grace,

I love you.  You are My child, a jewel in My crown (Zephaniah 9:16). Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.  Before you were born, I sanctified you (Jeremiah 1:5).  When I look down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God (Psalm 14:2), I see you reading My Word and praying every day, and I love you.

When you were a little girl, you always looked up at the big blue sky, smiling at Me.  Even if you were inside, you would run to a window to smile up at Me in the heavens.  I had the neighbor girl tell you about Me when you were just three years old, as she helped you with your sweatshirt zipper.  I gave you a good family; when you saw your grandma kneeling by her bed praying one night, you wanted to do the same.  We had some good conversations until the cares of junior and senior high stole you away.  But I wouldn’t let anyone snatch you from My hands (John 10:28-29), because I love you.  

I let you follow your own path for a while, because I love you.  It was bumpy and you stumbled often, but I would never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).  I gave you a persevering spirit, knowing you would need it down the road.  With that perseverance, you ran thousands of miles, often smiling up at the big blue sky and Me, but sometimes forgetting Me.  When you ran at crazy times in the dark, I gave my angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways (Psalm 91:11). I let you walk-on to the Iowa State University cross country team to show you some real runners and Someone even greater, because I love you.

At ISU, you had to press on toward the goal to win the prize (Philippians 3:14), but it wasn’t the prize you thought.  It broke My heart to break your heart and the hearts of so many others your sophomore year. But I did it, because I love you.  For one moment, I looked away and let that airplane fall out of the sky, taking your beloved coaches and teammates home to be with Me.  I know it hurt you so much.  You couldn’t even run for years.  You were so mad at Me that you ran away, burying your sorrows in food and poor relationships that broke your heart even more. You really made a mess of things.  Yet, this was all part of My plan to bring you back to Me. I heard your cries and brought you out of your horrible pit (Psalm 40:2). I had some of your remaining teammates pray for you.  I had others befriend you.  And finally, I invited you to the Baptist Student Union, where You learned how much I love you. 

I taught you how I sent My only Son Jesus to die for your sins and for the sins of all the world.  You learned that by the blood Jesus shed on the cross, all your sins and sorrows and stumbling are scrubbed clean away (1 John 1:7).  I showed You how to read My Love Story in the Bible and we had dates every day as You read My Word and prayed to Me.  I, the Father Myself love you, because you have loved My Son Jesus, and have believed that He came forth from God (John 16:27).  Now you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 1:23). You are Mine, I bought you with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) because I love you.

I put dear people in your life to teach you about Me. I blessed you with a husband to share your journey on earth and then two sweet children.  I put My love in your heart for your kids so that you wanted to stay home and homeschool them, even asking Me for more children.  But I loved you so much, I wanted to teach you to pray harder, making you pray seven years for your third child.  I was smiling in heaven when I saw your joy at his birth, because I love you.

But I wasn’t done teaching you, you had so much to learn.  I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; You are Mine.
Those years in camping ministry were hard, weren’t they? But when you passed through the Iowa flood waters, I was with you; And through the rivers, they did not overflow you. When you walked through the Montana forest fires, you were not be burned, nor did the flames scorch you (Isaiah 43:1-2), because I love you.

I let you conceive three babies that I took to heaven before you could even see them.  I know that broke your heart, but aren’t you stronger now? Aren’t you more able to comfort others in their sorrow? Don’t you see how much I love you?  And then, wasn’t that an awesome thing I did when you were 45 years old, giving you your fourth living child, a son, born exactly nine months after you followed My example in baptism (And 11 ½ years after his older brother!).  I gave him to you because I love you.

I even let you fulfill your life dream you had since before the plane crash, letting you run a marathon when you were 53 years old.  You prayed to Me every mile and I carried you to the finish line. You wanted to run it in under 4 hours, but I had you complete it in exactly 4 hours and 7 minutes, just like 4:7 in the verse from 2 Timothy 4:7, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  I love how you dedicated the race to babies, raising money for a crisis pregnancy center. You love the precious innocents, like I do; your heart breaks for them as does Mine. Yes, Jenny, I love you.

But, I’m not finished teaching you.  Even as you dedicate your life to Me.  Oh no, I will not let you go soft.  I’m making sure you lean into Me and are ready for the battle (even though the battle is Mine). As I did for Job, I allowed more heart break, your granddaughter’s cancer, your chronic pains and even this time of waiting, because I love you.  Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is trying you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy (1 Peter 4:12-13). I even put you in a pain group so you could share your journey together, because I love you.

I see you rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer for your nation and world.(Romans 12:12). I see you obediently following My commandments, even on My Sabbath Day you are resting with the angels.  I see you trusting in Me for complete healing; I am Yehovah Rapha, Your healing God.  Even when the pains are so bad and you have a grumpy evening, you get up the next morning, ready to try again. I declare that by My Son Jesus’ stripes you will be healed (Isaiah 53:5).  And I, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, will perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you (1 Peter 5:10). I promise you this as I see you praying, fasting, persevering through it all, and I love you.

I love you so much that I’m preparing a place for you in heaven, a mansion for you and your loved ones and for all who believe I am the way, the truth, and the life (John 14). I will wipe every tear from your eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4).  Oh, Jenny, I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). And you will be with Me always, because I love you. 

And now dear one, I want you to take this love I’ve poured out on you to ladies everywhere. You have an anointing from the Holy One (1 John 2:20).  I want you to share your story, open my Word to them, and tell them about My Son Jesus, Your Savior. You must teach them to observe all things that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:20). Invite ladies to TEA with Me, the King of kings, bringing more ladies into My kingdom, and they will bring their husbands and children.  Together, we will change this world, one TEA CUPP at a time. 

Go forth, O daughter of Zion, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, pressing toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Song of Solomon 3:11, Philippians 3:13-14). And lo, I AM with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

My eternal love always,

Your Heavenly Father

I AM the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior
(Isaiah 43:3)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Dear one, YOU are dear to God’s heart, too. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). You have a love story, too. How about writing your own Love Letter from God in your prayer journal today? Add your favorite Bible verses and share it with others. And will you also please pray for me, for Jesus to open doors for me to take My TEA CUPP Prayers to ladies everywhere? Invite me to speak at your ladies’ group or next retreat. Thank you, dear daughter of the King. God loves you!

…I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved… Daniel 9:23 (NKJV)

We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19 (NKJV)

…God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:8-10 (NKJV)

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. Colossians 4:2-4 (NKJV)

Let them shout for joy and be glad,
Who favor my righteous cause;
And let them say continually,
“Let the Lord be magnified,
Who has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant.”
Psalm 35:27 (NKJV)

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

Bearing Burdens

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

I am not able to bear all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me. Numbers 11:14 (NKJV)

Do you have the weight of the world on your shoulders today?  The war in Ukraine and Russia is upon the hearts of many.  Coming food shortages are also a concern.  And there are the deaths of loved ones due to vaccines and other ailments.  It really is too much to carry, isn’t it? My friend, today let us lighten your load.  

 How can I alone bear your problems and your burdens and your complaints?  Deuteronomy 1:12 (NKJV)

Let’s begin by looking in Exodus 28 for help. I know that may seem a funny place to begin. Sometimes the Old Testament books bog us down with genealogies and rules, and we aren’t sure what’s in it for us. But with every year of reading my Bible, God shows me more neat things in the Old Testament and I love it as much as the New Testament. 

And you shall put the two stones on the shoulders of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. So Aaron shall bear their names before the Lord on his two shoulders as a memorial. Exodus 28:12 (NKJV)

In this second book of the Bible, Moses shares the plans God showed him on the mountain for the children of Israel.  Exodus 28 contains the guidelines for outfitting the priests.  Moses’ brother Aaron and Aaron’s sons were to be the priests.   Their garments were to be holy for glory and for beauty, made by gifted artisans.  Surely today we have never seen such craftsmanship of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread.  On Aaron’s shoulders he was to wear two stones set in gold, each with the names of six of the tribes of Israel, listed in order of birth.  On Aaron’s breastplate he wore an even more beautiful arrangement of twelve precious jewels, one for each of the tribes of Israel.  Aaron wore this over his heart, bearing the judgment of the children of Israel.  

So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before the Lord continually.  Exodus 28:29 (NKJV)

Aaron was to wear this continually, bearing up the tribes of Israel to the Lord always.   In the same way, we are called to pray without ceasing, continually bearing up family, friends, loved ones, enemies, the sick, the hurting, leaders and nations… carrying them to Jesus without rest.  No wonder you feel like you have the world is on your shoulders!  But here’s the good news: You don’t have to carry it alone!  

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NKJV)

As Christians we are all called to carry one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).  If your load is too heavy, how about getting together with some praying friends for an hour or two of prayer each week.  You can pray for your families and the country and everything else on your hearts.  Suddenly your load has become much lighter!

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

Jesus also helps us carry the heavy load.  As we bring our prayers to the Father, He lifts them from us and gives us His light load instead.  Instead of sleepless nights, He gives us rest. Instead of anxiety, He gives us peace.  Instead of regrets, He gives us forgiveness. Instead of thirst, He gives us His Living Water.  Instead of hunger, He gives us Bread from heaven. Instead of pain, He gives us healing. Instead of tears, He gives us comfort. Instead of sorrow, He gives us joy. Instead of the heavy load, we carry only what He allows. He promises us this in His Word…

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 11:28-20 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read about Aaron’s garments in Exodus 28 today.  Draw a breastplate in your prayer journal with spaces for 12 “jewels.”  Write the names of 12 family members or friends or concerns that you want to bear up to the Lord Jesus.  How about calling a few friends to pray with you each week, too. Help each other carry your crosses daily.  Keep holding on, Jesus is coming soon!  

I removed his shoulder from the burden;
His hands were freed from the baskets.  Psalm 81:6 (NKJV)

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Luke 14:27 (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)

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness. Psalm 30:11 (NKJV)

Cast your burden on the Lord,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the righteous to be [moved.  Psalm 55:22 (NKJV)

Here are three lovely versions of Kelly Willard’s 1978 hymn, “I Will Cast All My Cares Upon You.”



It shall come to pass in that day
That his burden will be taken away from your shoulder,
And his yoke from your neck,
And the yoke will be destroyed because of the anointing oil. Isaiah 10:27

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

Open Our Eyes, Lord

They said to Him, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”  Matthew 20:33 (NKJV)

“Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” the blind men cried outside the gates of Jericho.  Jesus had just ended a long day of teaching and healing in the city.  Now as he left with His disciples, two more people wanted the Lord’s attention. “Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!” they cried out again.  Jesus turned, asking, “What do you want me to do for you?”  The men replied, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.” So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him (Matthew 20:29-34).

I’m always so amazed when I read the Gospels. Countless times Jesus heals people, especially their eyes.  Such a spiritual significance is apparent with healing the eyes — the dear person can see, yet also a veil has been torn away from their eyes, and they really can SEE and UNDERSTAND.  Doesn’t that sound like something many in this world need today?  Let this be our battle cry today, “Lord, that our eyes may be opened.”  Pray for this kind of eye-opening revival to sweep America and Israel and the world! We can use more eye-opening Bible stories to help us pray…

Do you remember when Sarah sent Hagar away with her son Ishmael the second time? Last week we talked about the first time Hagar left and she met the Lord, naming Him The-God-Who-Sees-Me.  More than a decade later, after the birth of the promised son Isaac to Sarah and Abraham, Sarah sent her maid Hagar away forever.  While in the wilderness, Hagar cried out in thirst and despair.  Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water that had been there all along (Genesis 21:14-21).  We can pray, open the eyes of the USA and Israel and the world to Your Living Water, O Lord!  

Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water… Genesis 21:19 (NKJV)

Remember the story of Moses and the burning bush?  Moses was tending his flock in Midian, near Mt. Horeb, when suddenly he came upon a bush that was on fire but did not burn up. Just think what would have happened if Moses hadn’t turned to look at the burning bush!  What if he had just passed by and didn’t even notice? What if Moses had gotten a glimpse of the burning bush, but did not pay attention? What if Moses hauled earthen jugs of water to put out the burning bush so he wouldn’t have to look at it?  Thankfully, Moses DID turn aside and looked and the Lord spoke to him out of that burning bush, calling Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  May we be like Moses, with eyes wide open, keeping our eyes fixed on the Lord, ready always to respond to His call.

So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”  Exodus 3:4 (NKJV)

Mark tells the story of a man being healed from blindness near Bethsaida.  Jesus spat on the man’s eyes and put His hands on him. At first the man exclaimed that he could see people who looked like trees, so Jesus put His hands on the man again.  The second time, the man’s eyes were completely healed, he could clearly see the people! O Jesus, heal America, too!  Open our eyes, not just a little, but all the way, so we can see clearly!

And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” Mark 8:24 (NKJV)

Do you remember the Mount of Transfiguration?  Jesus took his three closest friends, Peter, James and John, up a mountain. While they were up there, Jesus was transfigured into glowing white, the glorious Son of God He truly is.  And Moses and Elijah appeared next to Jesus.  The disciples were so weary, they were half asleep (think: no tea or coffee), but finally they were stirred and fully awake. Their eyes were opened and they saw the glory of the Lord!  May our eyes be open to all the miracles the Lord is doing in our world and may we glorify His Name!

But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him.  Luke 9:32 (NKJV)

We decree this for the USA!  Lord Jesus, open the eyes of America that people may see the Truth and come to You in repentance and faith.  Pour out Your Holy Spirit on this land, and may revival spread like wildfire around the world, saving souls for Your kingdom! Amen! 

Today’s TEA CUPP:  One thing I like to do is sing an old hymn “Open my eyes that I may see” before I read my Bible each morning.  I ask the Lord to open my eyes that I might see wondrous things in His Word and Law (Psalm 119:18). We want to keep our eyes open to the truth always.  If we keep praying for God to open eyes across our nation, we will be able to sing as our forefathers did, “My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…”

Open my eyes, that I may see
Wondrous things from Your law.  Psalm 119:18 (NKJV)

 The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light.  Luke 11:34 (NKJV)

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  John 8:32 (NKJV)

…Your word is truth. John 17:17 (NKJV)

Then He turned to His disciples and said privately, “Blessed are the eyes which see the things you see; for I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see what you see, and have not seen it, and to hear what you hear, and have not heard it.”  Luke 10:23-24 (NKJV)

…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)

Thank you for stopping by My TEA CUPP Prayers. If you were blessed by today’s devotion, you may also enjoy reading Looking Up at the Big Blue Sky.

Open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus (Robert Cull, 1976)

The Battle Hymn of the Republic (Julie Ward Howe, 1862)

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

 

Every Knee Shall Bow

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)

One of my favorite Bible stories is Joseph and his brothers found in Genesis 37-50. Many of you know this story by heart… how Joseph was the 11th and beloved son of his father Jacob, so Jacob gave Joseph a fancy-colored robe to show his favoritism. Joseph had two dreams, one had eleven sheaves of wheat bowing down to his sheaf. The second dream showed the sun, moon, and stars bowing down to Joseph. His brothers scoffed at his dreams and his father rebuked him. Yet one day, after his brothers had sold him into slavery in Egypt, God used even more dreams to bring Joseph to be the second ruler in Egypt, with only Pharaoh above him. Pharaoh commanded everyone to bow the knee when Joseph rode by on his chariot, collecting grain during the years of plenty. When the famine arrived, people came from all over the region to buy grain in Egypt. Even Joseph’s brothers came from the land of Canaan to bow down before this great ruler who would sell them food. And when they bowed down, they fulfilled the prophesy in Joseph’s dreams.

And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, “Bow the knee!” So he set him over all the land of Egypt. Genesis 41:43 (NKJV)

Someday soon, Jesus, the Son of God, will be returning, fulfilling all prophesy, as the second highest ruler in the land with only God the Father above Him. Those who love Him will immediately bow in worship and praise and adoration. Yet those who would mock and disdain Him, will also be forced to bow and acknowledge Jesus as Lord of heaven and earth. For God’s Word says EVERY KNEE shall 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. Amen! (Philippians 2:9-11).

We can find wise ones in the scriptures who knew when and to whom to bow. The pagan captain knew to fall on his knees before Elijah and pleaded for his life (2 Kings 1:13). Mordecai knew not to bow the knee to the evil Haman (Esther 3:2). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego knew not to bow down to the golden idol King Nebuchadnezzar had set up (Daniel 3:16-18). And seven thousand in Israel were reserved by God who knees had not bowed to baal (1 Kings 19:18). We must be discerning in knowing when and to whom to bow. We must fall on our knees in worship ONLY to the ONE True God, His Son Jesus Christ.

When Jesus comes again, there won’t be any of the mocking that occurred on His way to the cross, where they struck Him and spat on Him and pretended to bow in worship (Mark 15:19). No! Those who would mock Jesus will be thrown to the ground at His Word, just as the soldiers who came to arrest Jesus fell to the ground at His breath (John 18:6). Jesus will not be coming lowly riding on a donkey this time. He will come in great glory on the clouds of heaven!

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)

…For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels… Matthew 16:27 (NKJV)

The scriptures caution us in the last days not to be deceived. Don’t go here or there if someone says, “Look, here’s the Christ.” or “Look, there’s the Christ,” (Mark 13:21). Don’t even click the link on your phone or computer to see the latest sightings of Jesus. When He comes in glory, we will know it, just like we see the lightning when it fills the sky. And when that Day comes, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. HalleluYAH!

I have sworn by Myself;
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath.
Isaiah 45:23 (NKJV)

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. Ephesians 3:14-15 (NKJV)

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.
Psalm 95:6-7 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Read the story of Joseph again in Genesis 37-50. Exalt our Lord TODAY as Lord of heaven and earth. When Jesus returns, which He most certainly will do soon, you will be prepared to fall on your knees and He will claim you as His own. Jesus will forgive you, as Joseph forgave his brothers, Jesus will prepare a place for you, as Joseph prepared the land of Goshen for his family. And Jesus, Yeshua Messiah, shall reign forever and ever!

Oh, Jesus, I love and praise You!  I look forward to the day when every knee will bow in heaven and earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that You are Lord, to the glory of God the Father! O Jesus, find us faithful when You come! I love You because You created us, You came to this earth to save and teach us, conquering sin and death and the devil forever, and You live so we can live and have eternal life with You!  O Jesus, O Father, be glorified today and always!  

Those who dwell in the wilderness will bow before Him,
And His enemies will lick the dust.
The kings of Tarshish and of the isles
Will bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba
Will offer gifts.
Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him;
All nations shall serve Him.
Psalm 72:9-11 (NKJV)

All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O Lord,
When they hear the words of Your mouth.
Psalm 138:4 (NKJV)

Judah, you are he whom your brothers shall praise;
Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
Your father’s children shall bow down before you.
Genesis 49:8 (NKJV)

At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,
every tongue confess him King of glory now;
’tis the Father’s pleasure we should call him Lord,
who from the beginning was the mighty Word.
(Caroline M. Noel, 1870)

Crown him with many crowns,
the Lamb upon his throne.
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing
of him who died for thee,
and hail him as thy matchless king
through all eternity.
(Matthew Bridges, 1851)

For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.”  Romans 14:11 (NKJV)

Thank you for stopping by My Tea Cupp Prayers! If you enjoyed today’s devotion, you might also like to read On Our Knees.

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

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)

Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching… Luke 12:37 (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)

Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked… Genesis 22:13 (NKJV)

And Isaac… lifted his eyes and looked… Genesis 24:63 (NKJV)

…when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand… Joshua 5:13 (NKJV)

For then you will have your delight in the Almighty,
And lift up your face to God. Job 22:26 (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)

My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
For He shall pluck my feet out of the net. Psalm 25:25 (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.