The Best Water

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

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10 (NKJV)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Well, I’m sure praying!”

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


“Well, I’m sure praying!” exclaimed Kennedy, when she learned her baby brother would be delivered by C-section.

Kennedy’s mommy had been in labor since the wee morning hours, trying to deliver her almost eleven-pound baby brother. Now it was supper time and he wasn’t coming out. The doctors decided to do a C-section to safely deliver little Robin. Kennedy, who is well-acquainted with doctor procedures from her continuing battle with cancer, wanted to know what that meant.

As simply as we could, her two grandmas explained the doctors would cut open her mommy’s tummy to get out the baby. Some children might wonder why they don’t just do that in the first place. But Kennedy’s reply was, “Well, I’m sure praying!”

Kennedy’s response sent both grandmas to tears, thinking of all the times friends and family have said the same to Kennedy over the past few months. So many people are praying for this sweet four-year-old with T-cell lymphoma, and many have told her, “Well, I’m sure praying.” We are so thankful for those prayers as Kennedy’s battle rages on.

What started as a cough in January turned out to be a tumor engulfing her entire chest cavity, pressing on her heart and lungs. January 30, 2020 was the last normal day for Kennedy as she went to preschool. When her mommy (my daughter Kallie) came to pick her up, Kennedy was just sitting at the top of the playground, not moving. Kallie made an appointment with the doctor for the next day. At the doctor office they sent Kennedy directly to the emergency room, thinking she had pneumonia. The ER doctors called Milwaukee Children’s Hospital which sent an ambulance to transport Kennedy. There, Kennedy’s cancer was diagnosed. On February 1, 2020, she began chemo and steroids to wipe out the tumor.

With great joy we celebrated the tumor was gone after the first month. But because doctors don’t know if every cancer cell is gone from her body, they must continue treatments. Past studies have shown that continuing treatments gives a 90% survival rate. So Kennedy continues high doses of chemo for six months, and then monthly chemo for two additional years.

The first month of powerful steroids and chemo left Kennedy almost life-less, with no muscles like a newborn baby. Slowly she regained the use of her neck, arms, and upper body, making playtime on the sofa a favorite activity. In recent weeks, she has learned to crawl and scoot herself backwards up the stairs. We pray that soon Kennedy will be walking and running again.

In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. Acts 3:6 (NKJV)

The chemo has also wrecked havoc on Kennedy’s tummy, making her unable to eat very much. She is so thin, please pray for her to eat and gain weight again. These first six months of the strong chemo are the worst for her. Kennedy also gets blood, platelets and fluids often, as her little body fights the chemo and disease.

Another night at dinner, Kennedy’s daddy invited her to say the prayer. My children never wanted to pray out loud when they were that young, but brave little Kennedy jumped at the opportunity and began her prayer, “Dear Lord Jesus..thank you for Joel taking care of my pet toads and thank you for my physical therapy… Once again the grandmas were in tears as a little girl called on the name of the Lord Jesus and gave Him thanks for little things.

…Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Joel 2:32, Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13 (NKJV)

And so I claim this promise for precious Kennedy. May Jesus save and heal her completely! Thank you for continuing to pray for our little granddaughter.

Today’s TEA CUPP: Who in your life needs prayers? Have you told them, “Well, I’m sure praying?” Then remember to lift them up often to the Lord Jesus. He will hear your every prayer.

Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you… 1 Samuel 12:23 (NKJV)

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)

Thank you for stopping by My TEA CUPP Prayers. If you enjoyed today’s devotion, you might also like to read When the TEA Spills, Talitha Cumi, and Are Ye Able?

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

A Robin in Spring

…Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5 (NKJV)

Robins are often the first sign of spring. On April. 7, 2020 at 7:37 p.m.,  Robin Hemingway came into the world, making us delighted grandparents once again.  Robin joins his big sister Kennedy who is just turning four-years-old and battling T-cell lymphoma cancer.  After two miscarriages and Kennedy’s cancer, winter is finally over, spring has arrived.  Joy has finally come in the morning to our daughter Kallie and her husband Reed.  Praise Jesus!

Many may not know how Robin got his name.  Last September when 3-year-old Kennedy found out she was going to be a big sister, she announced, “The baby’s name is Robin.”  They didn’t even know if this baby would be a boy or girl, but Kennedy insisted the name was Robin.  By Christmas, Kennedy’s parents knew they had a boy on the way, and decided his name would be Rory.  But Kennedy and her preschool friends were all still planning to call him Robin. When Kennedy was diagnosed with cancer on February 1, Kennedy’s Daddy decided she should have naming privileges for the new baby.  So Kennedy got her wish and the baby’s name became Robin!  

And Robin is the best name for this baby born in spring who is bringing joy to so many. Already his sweet cries are like a song bird, filling their home with music. And like Robin Hood of old, he has come to restore the joy that was stolen by the false king. Robin is hope and promise wrapped in a baby blanket.  Isn’t that how God sent the Savior to Bethlehem? As I hold this sweet bundle, I keep humming the words from the hymn, He Lives…

How sweet to hold a newborn baby
And feel the pride and joy He gives
But greater still the calm assurance
This child can face uncertain days, because He lives (Ackley, 1933)
 
 

The line “uncertain days” is so true for our world today, as many are sick or quarantined from coronavirus, without jobs, wondering when life will return to “normal.”  But just as this baby Robin, and every baby born gives us hope for all humanity, Jesus gives us hope, because He conquered sin, death, and the devil, and rose in victory on Easter.  Jesus was born out of the the grave on Easter morning, so that we also can be born again to eternal life through Him. Because of Jesus, we can face tomorrow. 

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow
Because He lives, all fear is gone
Because I know He holds the future
And life is worth the living, just because He lives (Ackley, 1933)

Easter always follows Good Friday, joy follows weeping,  dawn follows the night, and spring always follows winter, so we rejoice this day! A Robin, often the first sign of spring, has come as a promise to this precious family.  Summer is on the way.

So today I give you photos and Bible verses to bless your day!  

This is the day the Lord has made;
We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (NKJV)

Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God. Psalm 84:3 (NKJV)

There is a son born to Naomi… Ruth 4:17 (NKJV)

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13 (NJKV)

For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. 1 Samuel 1:27 (NKJV)

And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. Luke 1:14 (NKJV)

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified[ you
Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV)

And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. Luke 2:40 (NKJV)

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3 (NKJV)

Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7 (NKJV)

But You are He who took Me out of the womb;
You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.
I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother’s womb
You have been My God. Psalm 22:9-10 (NKJV)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17 (NKJV)

While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
Cold and heat,
Winter and summer,
And day and night
Shall not cease. Genesis 8:22 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Every time you see a robin this spring, remember this special baby and the gift of eternal life God has given you. Rejoice, oh friends, the long night is over!  Jesus has won the victory!

Thank you for stopping by My TEA CUPP Prayers!  I pray you are blessed by these devotions.  Thank you also for praying for our granddaughter Kennedy. She still has two years of chemo before her and needs prayers for eating more and walking again.  God’s blessings, Jennifer Grace

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

The Door of Hope

…O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles…  Judges 6:13 (NKJV)

Do you feel like you’ve been walking through the Valley of Achor, the Valley of Trouble?  With coronavirus all over the world, cancer in young children, including my granddaughter, and so many uncertainties (like can a person buy toilet paper and will there be a job tomorrow?), people everywhere have been walking through a dark valley.

Did you know there is really such a valley in our Bibles?  We read in Joshua 7 how the children of Israel were defeated in one of their early battles as they tried to claim the Promised Land.  What happened? Why wasn’t God helping them?  Well, it turned out one of the Israelites had taken some of the accursed treasures at the first battle and hidden them in his tent.  Because of his sin, God was withholding His blessings.  Joshua found out and the Israelites stoned the man.  That place was given the name, the Valley of Achor (Trouble).  

What sins are we hiding in our tents today? We need to look at our own hearts and the heart of our country and confess these sins to the Lord.  We need to run through our towns with our prayers as incense to stop the plague (Num. 17:46-50, Psalm 141:2, Rev. 5:8).  We need to turn to God in prayer, every one of us, seeking His forgiveness and blessings, and He will see us safely through even this storm and restore our nation.

My friends, we have a great hope. With every punishment, God gives us a promise.  When God kicked Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, even then He gave a promise that someday His Seed would bruise the head of Satan, a Savior would be coming. And today, even now, God promises the Valley of Achor will become a door of hope.

I will give her …the Valley of Achor as a door of hope… Hosea 2:15 (NKJV)

He will not leave us in this valley.  Even those who are on their deathbeds can receive God’s promise as did the thief on the cross…

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

What is this Door of Hope?  Who can save us from this valley?  Where can we find these promises? It is Jesus, the Son of God who died for the sins of all the world, tearing the veil in the temple, over 2000 years ago. But He didn’t stay dead, on the third day He rose again opening for all who believe the door of heaven.  And there we find eternal forgiveness, peace and joy.

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try 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 (NKJV)

God is still on the throne.  Jesus is still risen from the tomb. The Holy Spirit is still here to help and encourage us.  And, we have our Bibles – God’s Word, God’s great love story.  Open your Bible and open the Door of Hope.  

Today’s TEA CUPP:  What hope have you seen in your valley of trouble? A kindness from a friend or stranger?  Good Samaritans helping neighbors?  I pray that most of all you see Jesus! Who can you be a door of hope to today?

I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9 (NKJV)

 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20 (NKJV)

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  James 1:2-4 (NKJV)

P.S. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for our granddaughter Kennedy.  She’s turns 4 next week.  We are so thankful for a long visit with her.  Look how much better she is!  We are praying she can walk again soon.  Jesus made the lame to walk and He is our great Hope!  

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

Beach Prayer

Therefore glorify the Lord in the dawning light,
The name of the Lord God of Israel in the coastlands of the sea. Isaiah 24:15 (NKJV)

I’m hooked on beach running.  Sadly, I live in the land-locked (yet beautiful) state of Montana where the nearest ocean is a two-day drive.  If I had grown up near the beach, there might have been no moving me to higher ground. 

There is just something about the rhythmical crash of waves on the shore, the dodging of the tide as it ascends the beach, the warm sun shining down upon my face, and the joy of miles of sand upon which to run.

A few months ago, I experienced all this as we visited our son in California.  Each morning I slipped out of our tent before sunrise to have my quiet time on a bench overlooking the Pacific, praying Isaiah 24:15 (above).

Then donning my running shoes, I jogged down to the beach where I ran in the newly-washed sand on the shore, making fresh footprints with each step.  When I reached the turn-around point and came back, I witnessed a marvel,  most of my footprints had already been washed away!  This reminded me of Jesus washing away our sins.  Each footprint of doubts and worries and anger and wrong words is washed into the depths of the sea, gone forever!

…You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19 (NKJV)

And if you are concerned about those sins just floating around, waiting to be washed up onto another beach, find hope in Revelations 21:1 where we learn the entire sea disappears! First, our sins are drowned in the ocean and then the ocean is no more! That’s how complete is our forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Revelation 21:1 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  As you head into a new year, cast your sins of the old year at the feet of Jesus.  Confess your failings to Him in prayer, asking Jesus to wash you clean. Claim Jesus’ promise to throw your sins into the depths of the sea.  Ask Him to help you every step of the way this new year.

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

As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12 (NKJV)

Sing to the Lord a new song,
And His praise from the ends of the earth,
You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it,
You coastlands and you inhabitants of them! Isaiah 42:10 (NKJV)

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

 

Claiming Christmas Promises

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)

Merry Christmas, dear TEA friends!  Today I have the gift of promises from God’s Word for you.  These promises all come from the Christmas story in our Bibles.  Consider each promise a present for you to unwrap today and always. No matter what your circumstances, you can claim these as your very own…

For with God nothing will be impossible. Luke 1:37 (NKJV)

…your prayer is heard Luke 1:13 (NKJV)

He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.  Luke 1:15-16 (NKJV)

He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:17 (NKJV)

Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:30 (NKJV)

And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. Luke 1:33 (NKJV)

Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord. Luke 1:45 (NKJV)

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 (NKJV)

And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. Luke 1:14 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Pour a pot of these precious Christmas promises today.  Pick your favorite and write it in your prayer journal, on a note card on your bathroom mirror, or in a Christmas card to a friend.  Claim this promise to carry you into the new year.  Tell Jesus all about it in your quiet time with Him today. Merry Christmas, dear TEA friend!

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

Christmas Must Be Pro-Life

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 (NKJV)

If anyone doubts that life begins at conception, she must read the Christmas story. For in Luke 1, two incredible ladies learn they are miraculously pregnant. First Elizabeth in her old age conceives the baby John the Baptist.  Half a year later, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary conceives the baby Jesus, the Christ, the Savior of the world.

Soon after Mary hears of her calling, she goes with haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is already six months pregnant. As Mary enters Elizabeth’s house, the baby John inside of Elizabeth leaps for joy!  He is so excited that His Savior, the baby Jesus inside of Mary, has entered the room.  Both babies are very much alive, yet still inside their mothers, growing and waiting to be born.  Life does not begin at birth, it begins at conception when God starts knitting this precious person.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)

Even the great Bible prophets and teachers knew this.  Jeremiah from the Old Testament proclaimed…

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV)

And the Apostle Paul from the New Testament related…

But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace. Galatians 1:15 (NKJV)

So why is there all this confusion about when life begins? Because the enemy aims to confuse us and to make us doubt and even to kill.  Like the Herods of Jesus’ day, there are still Herods today who want to destroy babies while Rachel still weeps for her children (Matthew 2:16-18). But we have a Savior who makes it clear in His word.  He tells us to choose LIFE (Deut. 30:19).  And for those who have made wrong choices, and for all of us sinners, Jesus offers His forgiveness and promise of eternal life.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read the Christmas story in Matthew 1:18-2:23 and Luke 1-2.  See how God blessed the whole world through these babies.  None of us knows the amazing plans God has for our little ones.  Choose life! 

Please join me in praying for babies in America and around the world to be saved.  Also, pray for special blessings on foster parents and adoptive parents.  Do something special for one of these families this Christmas.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. Deuteronomy 30:19 (NIV)

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3 (NKJV)

 

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

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

 

 

A Christmas TEA CUPP

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

December is upon us with holiday open houses, lighted parades, Santa gift exchanges and even a few Christmas teas. But what our hearts truly long for in this often chaotic, overwhelming, lonely, expensive, yet festive time of year, is the peace and calm of a simple CUPP of TEA with the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ.

So today I give you a Christmas TEA CUPP….Bible verses from the Christmas Story in God’s Word which you can use as conversation starters as you pray to Jesus this month. 

T is for Thanksgiving

For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name. Luke 1:49 (NKJV)

E is for Exalting

And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. Luke 1:33 (NKJV)

And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord,
 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46-47 (NKJV)

Blessed is the Lord God of Israel,
For He has visited and redeemed His people,
And has raised up a horn of salvation for us
In the house of His servant David. Luke 1:68-69 (NKJV)

Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men! Luke 2:14 (NKJV)

A is for Admitting

the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. Luke 2:35 (NKJV)

And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 (NKJV)

C is for Calling

Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word….Luke 1:38 (NKJV)

To grant us that we,
Being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
Might serve Him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life. Luke 1:74-75 (NKJV)

U is for Understanding our stories

But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19 (NKJV)

For my eyes have seen Your salvation
Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel. Luke 2:30-32 (NKJV)

P is for Promises

And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. Luke 1:14 (NKJV)

For with God nothing will be impossible. Luke 1:37 (NKJV)

Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord. Luke 1:45 (NKJV)

P is for Petitions

for your prayer is heard...Luke 1:13

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Plan to spend a quiet moment with Jesus every morning, even on Christmas morning before the unwrapping of gifts.  Read the Christmas story in your Bible in Luke 1-2, underline your favorite verses. Borrow theses verses as you begin your prayers with Jesus.  Merry Christmas, dear TEA friends!

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

Jesus is Coming!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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