Count the Stars

He counts the number of the stars;
He calls them all by name. 
Psalm 147:4 (NKJV)

Remember the story of Abraham, how God told him to count the stars?  This is one of my favorite Sunday school stories for preschoolers.  Children have no trouble believing God’s promise that Abraham will have many kids.  They love to sing, “Father Abraham, had several sons…” with arms and legs going in every direction. And there are so many fun star crafts we can make to remind us of God’s promise.  But as the years go by, I realize how much more there is to this story.  This is not just for preschoolers, this is the HISTORY of God’s people, His chosen nation, the Israelites.  We who are Christians are counted as having come from Abraham’s seed, because we have faith like Abraham. And the best news is we get to share in God’s promise to Abraham!

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 (NKJV)

We first meet Abraham (who was originally called Abrahm) in Genesis 11 with Noah’s family tree.  Abraham is listed as a descendent of Noah’s son Shem (Gen. 11:27).  In Genesis 12 we get the first glimpse of God’s promise to Abraham, when God commanded…

…”Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
 Genesis 12:1-2 (NKJV)

In Genesis 15, God gave Abraham the Promise again…

Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And He said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” Genesis 15:5 (NKJV)

We must remember that this promise came when Abraham had no children!  How could God make him have so many descendants?  Abraham didn’t question God, he only believed. And so did his wife, Sarah. For we read in Hebrews 11…

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude—innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore.  Hebrews 11:11-12 (NKJV)

Abraham couldn’t count all the stars for it would be like counting all the grains of sand on the seashore.  If we continue reading in our Bibles, we learn how Abraham and Sarah begot Isaac (one son) in their old age (Gen. 21). Isaac and Rebekah begot two sons, Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:24-33).  Jacob and his wives begot twelves sons (Gen. 35:22-26). And by the time Jacob was an old man, there were over 70 family members who went with him to Egypt (Gen. 45:27).  430 years later, the Israelites had become over 2,000,000 people.  That’s 603,500 men age 20 and older, plus their wives, children, and the Levites (Exodus 12:40, Numbers 1:46).  Just as Abraham could not imagine or count this when he had no children, neither can we count all the blessings God gives to us. 

The Lord your God has multiplied you, and here you are today, as the stars of heaven in multitude. Deuteronomy 1:10 (NKJV)

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand. Psalm 139:17-18 (NKJV)


Today’s TEA CUPP: Read about the day God promised Abraham many children in Genesis 15. If you’d like to read even more, Stephen gave a stunning recap of Abraham’s story and Israel’s history in Acts 7, and Psalm 105 is also a beautiful recount. With the promise, Abraham also received a vision of the dark days in Egypt and the rescue of God’s people.  We are part of that promise!  God has rescued us from our dark days of sin and is bringing us to the Promised Land.  Hallelujah!  Oh, dear one, our blessings, like Abraham’s, are as many as the stars!  How many can you count and thank Jesus for today?

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

Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’ Exodus 32:13 (NKJV)

You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 28:62 (NKJV)

For He remembered His holy promise,
And Abraham His servant.
He brought out His people with joy,
His chosen ones with gladness.
He gave them the lands of the Gentiles,
And they inherited the labor of the nations,
That they might observe His statutes
And keep His laws.  Praise the Lord!  Psalm 105:42-45 (NKJV)

You have dealt well with Your servant,
O Lord, according to Your word. Psalm 119:65 (NKJV)

P.S.  I didn’t plan for this devotion to run right before the 4th of July weekend, but God must have planned it!  As you see the stars in our flag, remember God’s promise to Abraham and thank Him for the blessings of living in the USA.  As you go camping, look up at the summer night sky and see if you can count the stars. Thank God for every star and blessing.

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

 

 

 

Jesus, Our Greatest Example

 …Give thanks to the Lord Almighty,
    for the Lord is good;
    His love endures forever…
Jeremiah 33:11 (NIV)

Whether you are new to prayer, or this is a regular routine for you, it is always a blessing to be reminded how our Lord Jesus prayed when He walked this earth. Jesus is our example in all things, including THANKSGIVING to the Lord. Isn’t it a wonder that our Lord gave thanks to the Father, showing us how to give thanks to the Father, when He and the Father are One?

We find so many times in the Gospels when Jesus gave thanks…

When the 70 disciples returned from their first mission trip (Luke 10:17-24):

In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. Luke 10:21 (NKJV)

When Jesus fed the 5000 with five loaves and two fish (John 6:1-14):

And Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed them to the disciples, and the disciples to those sitting down; and likewise of the fish, as much as they wanted. John 6:11 (NKJV)

When praying to the Father to raise His friend Lazarus (John 11:1-44):

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.” John 11:41 (NKJV)

At the Last Supper with His disciples (Luke 22:7-20):

Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves.” Luke 22:17 (NKJV)

And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Luke 22:19 (NKJV)

With these true stories in mind, I follow Jesus’ example, beginning my prayers with THANKSGIVING. Whether I’m welcoming my sons home from a mission trip, feeding my family, praying for healing for loved ones, or just having TEA with Jesus, I begin with thanks. Perhaps my biggest THANKS recently was attending my granddaughter Kennedy’s preschool graduation one year after she was diagnosed with cancer. If you are a follower of my blog, you know how this Grandma’s heart was broken and cried desperate pleas to God the Father last year for healing for our granddaughter. She had no hair and couldn’t walk after the first rounds of chemo. I prayed and prayed, “Talitha, Cumi, Little One, arise,” and God raised her from her sofa bed to attend preschool and gymnastics! And Jesus let me attend her graduations while her new baby sister was being born. Oh, what double blessings all in one day! I thank you Lord Jesus, for you have heard my prayers and seen my tears and sent life to this family!

There is always something for which to be thankful, dear sisters. Even when the whole world is falling apart, we can thank Jesus that our names are written in heaven and that we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken. Hold onto these precious verses of THANKSGIVING this coming year…

Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20 (NKJV)

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. Hebrews 12:28 (NIV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Choose one of the Bible stories above to read today and see the miracles that came after Jesus gave thanks. Select one THANKSGIVING verse to write in your prayer journal, pouring out your thanks to the Lord. The Father will be so happy to hear from you!

We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
The One who is and who was and who is to come,
Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.
Revelation 11:17 (NKJV)

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7 (NKJV)

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

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

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

Where are the other Nine?

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:15-16

One of my favorite thanks devotions from my first book, My TEA CUPP Prayers, comes from the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17. The lepers were shunned members of society, ones who must have desired more than anything else to be healed and welcomed back into the community. The ten lepers had just been hollering at Jesus, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

Jesus told them to go to the priests, and as they were going they were cleansed. But only one remembered to come back and praise God and give Jesus thanks. So Jesus answered and said,

“Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” Luke 17:17

Don’t you think Jesus still asks that today? Where are the other nine? WHERE ARE THE OTHER NINE? For what have you prayed recently that God heard and answered your prayers? Was it a safe trip home? Was it a check in the mail? Was it healing for a loved one? What blessings has He sent our way before we even asked? Oh, let us run back to Him and throw ourselves at Jesus’ feet and give Him thanks!

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever. Psalm 107:1 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: Remember, the first “T” in TEA CUPP is for Thanksgiving. Read the story of the ten lepers again in Luke 17:11-19. Have you forgotten to thank Jesus for anything? Ask Jesus to open your eyes to any overlooked blessings. Tell Jesus THANK YOU today!

What are some things I’m especially thankful for this year?  Jesus, God’s Word, my family, miraculous healing, a new grandbaby on the way, strength to run a marathon, publishing my second book, Mom’s TEA CUPP Prayers, and for you, my dear TEA CUPP friend. Thank you for reading my devotions and accepting Jesus’ invitation to have TEA with Him each day.

 In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)

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

Bible Mom: If Sarah gave Thanks…

And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh, and all who hear will laugh with me.” Genesis 21:6

Sarah laughed. She didn’t cry. She didn’t say, “That’s crazy!” She didn’t immediately rejoice in thanks and praise to God. Sarah laughed.

Do you remember the story of Sarah?  We meet her early on in our Bibles, right in the book of Genesis.  Her name really began as Sarai, meaning “my princess,” and Abraham’s name was Abrahm. Sarai was a very beautiful lady, so beautiful that Abraham told kings she was his sister to protect himself.  She actually was his sister, but only a half-sister. 

Sarai had an interesting life as God called Abrahm to move.  She became accustomed to living in tents and honored Abrahm’s wishes when he requested her silence.  Sarai did have one fault: She didn’t trust God to provide her with a child, so she gave her servant Hagar to Abraham.  Hagar conceived and bore a son name Ishmael, but He wasn’t God’s chosen heir.  Sarai then abused Hagar and Ishmael because she wanted a child (Genesis 16).

Finally, God looked with favor on the elderly couple, sending an angel to announce a baby.  Abrahm was given the new name Abraham, and Sarai was given the name Sarah, meaning “princess.”  She would no longer be just Abraham’s princess, but the mother of many!  When the baby announcement came, Sarah was hiding in the tent.  Since she was 90 years old (Genesis 17:17) and thought she’d never have a baby, she laughed at the news (Genesis 18:12).  And so her baby was given the name Isaac which means laughter. 

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11 (NKJV)

Can you imagine Sarah’s THANKS to God after the birth of Isaac?  What would she say?

 THANK You, Lord, for this son you have given me in my old age. 

THANK You for hearing my prayers from so long ago. 

THANK You for forgiving me for my sin in sharing Hagar and then abusing her.

THANK You for taking away my shame and blessing me. 

THANK You for watching over us all our lives as we moved from here to there, protecting me from those kings who might have touched me. 

THANK You for being the One who formed the stars and Your promise that our children will be as many as the stars (Genesis 15:5).

THANK You again and again for this baby.

THANK You, Oh, Lord, my God. Amen.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  Read Sarah’s story in Genesis 18:1-15. Ponder what Sarah might have prayed in THANKSGIVING. What blessings do you have for which to THANK God?  This is what the first “T” of the TEA CUPP is all about, giving Him THANKS. 

This week underline THANKSGIVING verses in your BIBLE. Put a “T” next to the verses, choosing one to write in your prayer journal. Use this as a conversation starter for your THANKSGIVING prayers.  Here are some verses to get you started…

We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks!
For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near. Psalm 75:1

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
Psalm 95:2

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever. Psalm 106:1

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15

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

Thank you to Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org for the great clip art!

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

Thank You Psalms

Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men! Psalm 107:8 (NKJV)

When spring finally comes to Montana after a very long winter, our hearts overflow in thanksgiving to Jesus. The bright blue skies promise an end to snow storms. Drifts melt into puddles, making way for green fields.  The daffodils and tulips raise colors in praise to their Creator.  And my heart sings for joy that winter is over!

This is the perfect time to read a Psalm of thanks, remembering all the blessings Jesus has sent us.  Psalms 107 or 136 are great places to begin.  I love the rhythm of these Psalms, how they repeat and we may add our own lines of thanks…

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:

To Him who alone does great wonders,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who by wisdom made the heavens,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who laid out the earth above the waters,
    For His mercy endures forever;
To Him who made great lights,
    For His mercy endures forever— Psalm 136:1-7 (NKJV)

When I go running on a beautiful spring morning, my heart is bursting with thanks for the mountains, the blue skies, the green fields, the bright sunshine…I like to sing a song in my head as my feet pound out the rhythm…

Thank You, God, for this beautiful day.
Thank You, God, for this beautiful day.
Thank You, Father, for sending Your Son.
Thank You, Father, for sending Your Son.
Thank You, Jesus, for dying for us.
Thank You, Jesus, for dying for us.
Thank You, Spirit, for living in me.
Thank You, Spirit, for living in me.
Thank You, Father, for loving us so much.
Thank You, Father, for loving us so much.
Thank You, Jesus, You are my King.
Thank You, Jesus, You are my Lord.
Thank You, Spirit, for delivering our prayers.
Thank You, Spirit, for delivering our prayers.
Thank You, God, for this beautiful day.
Thank You, God, for this beautiful day.

Today’s TEA CUPP:  What song of thanksgiving has God put in your heart? Begin today by reading Psalm 107, 136 or another Psalm.  Select a favorite verse to write in your prayer journal and pray to Jesus.  Let this verse be your conversation starter as you thank the Lord for the many blessings He has given you.  Perhaps you’d like to write your own “Thank You Psalm” to God.

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

My Thanks TEA

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18  (NKJV)

The Apostle Paul tells us to give thanks in everything.  God’s man who was ship-wrecked, beaten, stoned and imprisoned for Jesus, found ways to always be thankful. So this Thanksgiving, I’m challenged to give thanks in all parts of my TEA CUPP Prayers.  Here is a blend of Thanksgiving verses put together especially for you, my TEA CUPP friend.  May God bless your Thanksgiving prayers!

T for Thanksgiving:

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
Psalm 95:2 (NKJV)

We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks!
For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near. Psalm 75:1 (NKJV)

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

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NKJV)

E for Exalting:

Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His,
And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. Psalm 30:4 (NKJV)

I will praise the name of God with a song,
And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. Psalm 69:30 (NKJV)

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High.  Psalm 92:1 (NKJV)

Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.
Amen. Revelation 7:12 (NKJV)

We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
The One who is and who was and who is to come,
Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.  Revelation 11:17 (NKJV)

A for Admitting:

Save us, O God of our salvation;
Gather us together, and deliver us from the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise. 1 Chronicles 16:35 (NKJV)

 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. Ephesians 5:3-4 (NKJV)


Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

For His mercy endures forever. Psalm 106:1 (NKJV)

C for Calling:

Offer to God thanksgiving,
And pay your vows to the Most High. Psalm 50:14 (NKJV)

I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the Lord. Psalm 116:17 (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)

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17 (NKJV)

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

U is for Understanding our story:

To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever. Psalm 30:12 (NKJV)

So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture,
Will give You thanks forever;
We will show forth Your praise to all generations. Psalm 79:13 (NKJV)

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 2 Corinthians 2:14 (NKJV)

P is for Promises:

Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name;
The upright shall dwell in Your presence.
Psalm 140:13 (NKJV)

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57 (NKJV)

P is for Petitioning:

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

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers. 1 Thessalonians 1:2 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP: We can find so many thanksgiving verses in our Bibles.  Jesus must want to hear our thanks!  Underline these verses and other favorites God shows you.  Use these scriptures to pray and be thankful all year long.

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

Every Perfect Gift

christmaspresent1 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)

With the coming of Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping, how good it is to remember that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights!  Let us thank Him for these marvelous gifts, and put aside all else.

Today I give you “Tea Time with James” to ring in the Thanksgiving and Advent season.  James is another book with incredible verses.  You may like to read James yourself and underline more verses for your prayer time. Take some time to sip TEA with Jesus, thanking Him for His gifts, and sharing your joys, sorrows, sins, and celebrations.  Use these verses as conversation starters for your prayers. Be blessed, My TEA CUPP friend…

T is for Thanksgiving

 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights... James 1:17 (NKJV)

E is for Exalting

…the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. James 1:17 (NKJV)

A is for Admitting

For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. James 2:10 (NKJV)

C is for Call 

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

U is for Understanding

Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. James 4:14 (NKJV)

P is for Promises

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you... James 4:8 (NKJV)

P is for Petitions

The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. James 5:16 (NKJV)

Today’s TEA CUPP:  May your prayers be effective and fervent and avail much for God’s kingdom today!  Happy Thanksgiving and Advent season!

 

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