China Cups

Sunday, August 24, 2014
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Listen while you read: "Give Me That Old Time Religion"1 (Lyrics)

2 Timothy 2:20-21 – But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. (NKJV)

I grew up in a home that had a china cabinet with a row of china cups behind the glass. They were brought out once a year to be dusted or washed, and maybe one other time to serve tea in.

Recently, I was talking to a friend about going to a princess tea at the church. My friend told me that when she was growing up, they also had a china cabinet and china cups in their home. One day, her sister said to their mom, "We must be very poor because none of the cups match."

Her mom explained that each tea cup had come to their house individually, and that each cup had a special meaning and a story to go with it.

As she was telling me this, I began thinking about how we are all like china cups: each one unique, each one with a story, and each one fragile. Some have chips and cracks. However, God saw value in these cups and gave His life for them. He saw value in us, as if we were without blemish.

What will happen to these cups in the years to come? Some will be given to other family members; some will get broken; and some may even be lost. They will always remain mismatched, and for the most part, hardly used.

Isaiah 64:8 – Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (NIV)

Those of us in Christ have an eternal home with God, even though we are chipped and mismatched. And in the meantime, we also have another role: to reach out to the lost, chipped, and broken ones around us. As today's verse says, if we cleanse ourselves from dishonour, we will be useful for the Master.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for Your saving grace in our lives. We do want to honour You and be useful vessels for Your service. Help us to retain the truth that we are all works of Your hands. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Julie Bowles <>
Barrie, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thank you Julie.

    Excellent. Thanks.

    Thanks for the challenge Julie.

    Lovely devotional!!

    Thank You Julie,
    Good thought. I remember the china closet. Yes we are His vessels.

    Hello Julie:
    I truly appreciate your writings in PresbyCan. This one was especially meaningful to me, as my mom had a china cabinet with many teacups and saucers on display. How boring it would have been if they all were the same. But they each had their particular design and shape and colours.
    God doesn’t want us all to be the same, as one minister said, we would be like a box of yellow pencils. God wants us to be the best “teacup” we can be, and minister in our own holy-spirit-directed way. In that way we will show off our bright and shining colours as every Christian should.

    Hello Julie
    Your devotional brought back memories of my own childhood and seeing the lovely yet mismatched cups and saucers in Mom’s hutch, and the sets in the buffet. I asked her once why she had so many beautiful cups and saucers — some similar but none the same. She said most had come to her as a gift for playing at someone’s wedding. Each was a treasure because the bride had specially chosen it as a thank you gift for the organist for her wedding.
    The mismatched cups and saucers really are just like us — similar in a way, yet different. Many may have floral designs, others geometric patterns, some over time become tea-stained, a few have chips, some have been broken or lost and only their “partner” the saucer remains….but all are unique and special to the one to whom they belong, just as we are special to our Father in Heaven.
    Do continue to write your wonderful devotions as they stir memories, remind one that God loves us, and are often thought-provoking (this one made me wonder what a princess tea is??).
    God bless!

    Julie: I liked the simile. Good comparison. I know I am chipped and a few times, within my memory, I believe I was broken. However, I guess time and effort can make an improvement if one’s faith is sincerely sustained.
    I read the Devotional every morning and it is so interesting how submitters, like you, come up with such applicable perception and comparisons to human behaviour due to lack of belief, confidence and trust. God bless you and waiting for your next offer.

    Dear Julie,
    Yes, I too, have a number of china cups and saucers, that, apart from their own mate (cup for its saucer, saucer for its cup) have no other cups and saucers of that match them. At the time when I received most of them as presents, to give a named pattern cup and saucer as a gift was to honor the receiver. Soon the custom was gone.
    Yet recently, a friend gave me a cup and saucer in the same pattern name as a cup and saucer that I already owned. (Sometimes after years, a named pattern has been changed slightly by its manufacturers in coloring, or in the style of the lettering on its bottom, or maybe slightly in size and shape.)
    The amusing thing about this cup and saucer is that it’s cup matched the saucer I previously had, and its saucer matched the cup I previously had — that is, matched in the print of its pattern name on its bottom and in a slight difference in the coloring of its pink flowers. But even these two couples were not precisely matched in color.
    It is amazing, that in the world, even the most matched human twins are not designed by God to be exactly the same. And His purposes too for each are different.
    I hope that your friend learned that the glory of each cup and saucer pair was that they did not match any other cup and saucer pair. They were unique just as any married pair of persons is unique in that no other pair is like them.

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