Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 17, 2022

when she heard Him call her name …

She went shopping after that Sabbath’s sun set (Mark 16:1). She’d been there for everything these past few days. Mary Magdalene is the first name mentioned among those who were there for the crucifixion, to see where Jesus was laid in a tomb, to go shopping Saturday night for the spices to anoint His body properly Sunday morning, and in going to the tomb while it was still dark. I’ve often said, and strongly believe, there is something altogether different about the faith and love of those who know most truly of what (and how much) they’ve been forgiven – the profound depth of their darkness and brutal bane of their shame. I believe this was true of Mary and the beautiful mess of the journey from who she was when God made her, to when Jesus found her, and then healed and redeemed her. I’m inclined to believe Mary knew better than most the power of Jesus in her life.

The disciple whom Jesus loved (I’ve come to smile widely and truly appreciate John describing himself that way) tells the story of Resurrection morning like this:

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
John 20:1 (ESV)

She went with a group last night to buy and prepare the spices, then came with a few others this morning to use them. One of the gospel accounts (Mark) reveals a conversation between the women as they went. “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” they wondered to each other. I also smile widely here and join those of you who can tell a story or four of your own that sounds an awful lot like that one. “Oh yeah, that gigundo stone. Hmmm, didn’t think of that!”

They arrived at the tomb and found the stone rolled away. As John tells it, Mary’s instinct was to take off running to tell Peter and “the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved” (John 20:2). They also took off running, with Mary following close behind, and arrived to discover what she said was true. The others left after a short time, but, in her unspeakable grief, Mary stayed behind. She was weeping outside the tomb but had the courage or compel to stoop down and look inside. She saw two angels. What must that have been like amid all she’d been through these past few days? How do you process seeing angels? And what does one do when the angels speak … and ask you a question? We know what Mary did. She answered them.

After telling the angels the source of her sorrow, Mary turned and saw Someone she didn’t recognize. He asked her the angel’s question again and added one of His own. Now, we all know the story and we know it was Jesus, but Mary does not. She’s been with Jesus, day after day in the most intense and average of moments for too many days to count. She’s heard Him speak at the top of His lungs to a multitude, tell stories to a few around a dinner table, and talk to her personally in calling out the seven demons who possessed her. Was it just the overload of her recent yesterdays and this morning? Could she simply not see clearly through her tears? Had the temptation toward hopelessness produced a din that drowned out the voice she knew so well? Whether it was because of her consuming sadness or (most likely, and another topic for another day) His new countenance, Mary did not recognize the One who had become her everything.

Thinking Jesus was the tomb’s gardener, she answered His question with an impassioned ask. “Sir, …  if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Now, this is the part where I am eternally grateful to be writing this to you. For, in a few seconds, I would utterly come undone if I was to read the fifth word aloud.

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
John 20:16a (ESV)

In what was undoubtedly the most rapturous moment of her life, Mary’s Everything spoke her name. And she instantly knew who He was. And she instantly knew who she was again. I am wrecked at the thought of that moment, placing myself in her place at His tomb. Her precious friend, her Lord and Savior, Jesus, is not dead! He’s alive! He’s alive! Make no mistake, forgiveness and redemption were essential and a treasure to Mary. But what happened in her heart and life when she heard Him call her name?!

All week, we have focused on Jesus. It is always right and best to do so, and that is especially true this past week and, on this day, when we celebrate His resurrection. As an audible undertone, the focus on Jesus has been centered on His humanity. Is there any more poignant and powerful experience of Jesus, and His humanity, than when He chooses for His focus to be on you (question mark excluded intentionally). As He rode into town on the first day of last week and looked into the faces of the pilgrims, He saw you. In the garden, as He prayed and sweat blood, He saw you. In becoming sin on the cross and experiencing his Father’s forsaking, He saw you. In speaking Mary’s name on Resurrection morning, He spoke yours. Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me. He is risen, my dear brother and sister!

p.s. I want to first say the sincerest “Thank you!” for walking alongside this week and reading what He’s shared with me. It is a great honor, privilege and responsibility to speak His name and truth to another, and I am eternally grateful to Him and you for that chance once again. I want to leave you with a song that has become my most favorite on this most sacred of days of remembering. Many may already have heard it, but I encourage you to, sometime today, listen (and watch) in worship. Is He Worthy? We sing together in one voice … He is!

yeam-2022_small

Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 16, 2022

purpose in the pause …

Would you agree that a sign could be hung over this world that says, “Waiting Room”? It certainly feels like we are most often in times that are between what was and what’s next, between what set things in motion and their coming to be, between our ask and His answer. Could that be why we crave convenience so much; why instant gratification has such a powerful pull? I believe most would say they don’t particularly like waiting. We prefer things to be in our own hands, rather than leaving them in someone (or even Someone) else’s. Today, in the life of Jesus, was one of those times of wait. It was the stunning silence between the rocks splitting (from the force of all that fell on Jesus’ final breath) and the stone being rolled away; between the deep, desperate darkness of His death and the bright, brilliant light of His rising. Was the reason for today’s pause simply the math required to fulfill the three-day prophetic promise or were there other layers (perhaps, in the lives of the ones who believed they had just lost their Everything)? God doesn’t say, so I won’t either. But there is no doubt, there was purpose.

For the whole of His life, Jesus lived the truth of purpose in the pause. He stole away routinely, waited three days before going to a dear, dying friend and spent ten times more time growing up from boy to man than He did in His ministry and mission as the Messiah. We may never know the whole why of what God authored for this day, but I cannot help but feel the great weight of the wait. Can you hear the weary exhale of a created world that was shaken to its core just the day before? And can you feel also its lungs beginning to fill with intense expectancy for the most brilliant Son-rise it has ever seen?! Perhaps this is the picture we can carry forward into our future waits … an ever-present hope in the often-unwelcome in-betweens.

p.s. A favorite artist of mine has written two of the most stirring songs I have ever heard concerning the Resurrection. I’ll be sharing one today, and the other as a final footnote tomorrow. I invite you to rise early tomorrow and begin your day with His Heart Beats by Andrew Peterson. I promise you won’t miss the lack of further introduction once you listen to the song tomorrow. He is risen, my brothers and sisters!

yeam-2022_small

Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 15, 2022

a son and the Son …

For me, one of the most confounding and fascinating facets of the humanity of Jesus is His being both a son and the Son. Perhaps it is because I am one, I have two and so much of my knowing of the Father has come through my own experience as a father. The gravity and glory of this deeply good Friday center on the Father and his Son, and nothing should distract from that. But what if there were another ancient story that didn’t distract but drew you in even deeper? It’s another father and son story. I’d like to tell it again this year just as I did last year, because I believe it amplifies today’s gravity and glory.

The price and penalty had to be paid, and there was only ever One who could and would. The miracle of Jesus’ birth was not only that God became man, but that He had done so for the purpose that laid before Him today. Repeatedly, Jesus told those closest that it was coming. He would die. There was no other way. The moment sin entered the world by our action, there was no other answer for its defeat. God could never contradict His nature, and He could never allow a single soul into His presence unless it was as perfect as He. Sin broke the perfect communion He had with us in the garden, and there would never again be a created being who would measure up. And so, God chose to do what He never could or would require of another in order to save us.

There was one ask that came perilously close, however. It was of a father who was convinced he would never be one. A man who God chose to work through in His plan to rescue the world, and whose family was at the center of that plan. There was one major problem. This promised father of many was not yet even the father of one. Through nothing short of a miracle, and despite his own tragic choices to “help” God’s promise along, God gave Abraham a son. This appeared to be God’s test of His chosen one, but Abraham would soon find out the test was yet to come. Soon God would visit Abraham with an unthinkable ask.

Take your son, your only son — yes, Isaac, whom you love so much — and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.
Genesis 22:2 (NLT)

And what do you suppose the Bible says about Abraham’s reaction to this unthinkable ask?

The next morning Abraham got up early. He saddled his donkey and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Then he chopped wood for a fire for a burnt offering and set out for the place God had told him about.
Genesis 22:3 (NLT)

Abraham got up early.

There is another startling statement in this harrowing and thrilling story that so clearly points to Jesus and His great sacrifice on this day. After Abraham put the wood on his son’s shoulders and they began walking together toward the mountain, Isaac asked his father a question. “We have the fire and wood,” Isaac asked, “but where is the sheep for the offering?”

From the place of unshakable faith and unwavering trust that got Abraham up early the day after the ask, he answered his son …

“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.
Genesis 22:8 (NLT)

There was no hesitation in the father’s response to the son. “God will,” Abraham answered. His trust in God was certain, no matter what it would require.

We know the ending to this story. As the son lay fully bound on the wood of the altar of sacrifice with Abraham’s knife raised high, God called out to Abraham from heaven and commanded him to stop. Abraham had done as God asked and withheld nothing from Him. Then God did what Abraham trusted God would … He provided a sheep in the form of a ram caught in a nearby thicket.

God provided a ram on that day and the perfect Lamb on this one. But this time He would not spare a son in order to save. This time He gave his only Son in order to save. There was no other way. In completing the plan of redemption, God placed the wood on the shoulders of his Son and did not withhold anything in order to save us. Oh, how He loves you and me.

yeam-2022_small

Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 14, 2022

He thought of everything and everyone …

He put the “meet up” in the mind and heart of the man carrying the jar of water (Mark 14:13). He was especially kind to the two He sent ahead in choosing for their rendezvous to be with a man carrying a jar of water. Likely can’t miss the one who was doing the meaningful, heavy lifting that women almost exclusively did. He put the seeds of the need in the heart of the owner of the upper room, so that, by the time all would arrive, all had been prepared. It was a meal exactly like they had all experienced for as long as they could remember. But there would never again be another like the one they shared with Him that night. Every last detail expertly cared for to honor the tradition established and instructed by the Father to remember His greatest rescue (to that point). And at the very same time, every essential element was made new in the person and coming sacrifice of the one true Passover Lamb that would invite everyone to that table of remembrance.

Jesus began the meal in the lowliest manner possible:

He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
John 13:4-5 (ESV)

This was the King who chose a stable and a small donkey in His moments of great arriving. This was a Savior who chose a cross and a basin of water in showing the full extent of His love. This was a Friend who took great care in thinking of everything and everyone at a time when He could have been consumed with Himself and the weight of what was coming. This was the One who spoke the world into existence, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.” — Philippians 2:6 (ESV)

We’re in the final hours now. Everything begins to feel heavy. Every step is one closer to the cross and empty tomb. What began with an infant in a cradle then escalated quickly as a Man in the desert and along ancient roads, will soon be brought to bear. Let us pause before we go any further and linger in the lavish love of a lowly Savior who thought of everything and everyone.

yeam-2022_small

Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 13, 2022

friend of sinners …

There’s a timely truth I’m seeing in the sacred story of another humble woman who gave her all in the last days before our sweet Savior gave His all for us. Jesus himself said this about her precious gift, “wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” (Mark 14:9 – ESV) Spurred by this declaration of my Savior, I combed my Wednesday writing since 2012 and discovered there has only been one instance where the woman and her gift weren’t center stage. With great humility, I now make that twice.

My unique seeing this year is informed by a paragraph I shared with my Wednesday morning brothers about two weeks ago. It was part of my notes on that week’s chapter in Gentle and Lowly by Dane C. Ortlund. The chapter centered on the truth of Jesus being a tender friend and made special note of Jesus’ own words in Matthew 11:19 as part of the supporting narrative. I saw something in that verse as I had never seen it before and was struck and deeply challenged in my own life of faith and following Jesus. With their permission, I share a lightly edited version of the words initially intended only for my brothers …

I was deeply and thoroughly challenged this week by the truly unexpected notice of Matthew 11:19’s phrase: a friend of tax collectors AND sinners (my emphasis). I was struck, unlike any time before, with the separate mention, as if tax collectors are not also sinners or are more than just sinners. So, why both? I suppose the explanation seems obvious, that a tax collector was a sinner+ (sinner plus) to the Jews and religious elite. They were Jews who turned on their own people to work for their oppressor and, even worse, personally profited from their despicable work. Didn’t Jesus drive profiteers from his Father’s house? Why then would He so often eat and gather with a seemingly worse version of them? These are interesting questions, yes, but they weren’t the ones that eventually captured and convicted me. Who are my friends? With whom do i most often break bread? Would either a friend or foe accuse me of being a friend of a “tax collector” or sinner? Was that only to be Jesus’ job? Maybe because He was perfect, and we couldn’t be trusted with the close association? And did Jesus ever tell His disciples to be a friend of sinners? Were we ever instructed to be in any of Paul’s writing (that spoke more directly to us Gentiles)? We’re commanded to love God and love others and consider them greater than ourselves. Jesus didn’t say love God and love other Christians, and Paul didn’t specify that we should consider other brothers and sisters greater than ourselves. I found a meaningful quote referenced in Dr. Constable’s Expository Notes on Matthew 11:19. It reads, “God’s true will, despite the ways humans have so often perverted it, involves separation from sin but association with sinners.” In practical application in my own life, I believe, yes, that iron sharpens iron. It is right and good to be a true friend amid a community of believers and earnest followers who will point me always to God and His truth. But what effect does a pinch of salt have in being added only to a saltshaker? How about a candle added to an already well-lit room? In our being salt and light, may we be so with our brothers and sisters (who are, themselves, not without sin). But may we be also with those who haven’t yet met or believed in our precious Savior … and especially with those who may curse Him.

Where was Jesus having dinner when the woman with an alabaster jar of pure nard broke it open and poured out every last drop in anointing Jesus before His death and burial? Were only the faithful and followers gathered there together that night? I do not intend for this to be a voice of conviction. I only intend to share how the Spirit washed over me the sincere heart of Jesus and broke my own with His. Jesus truly was a friend of sinners. He was a Doctor not for the well but for the sick. It will never be my job to be someone’s savior, but it will always be my opportunity to be their friend. A friend like He was.

yeam-2022_small

Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 12, 2022

He took time to take the time …

There were the same measure of hours and minutes in His Tuesday as any other day so far, but the count and telling of its moments suggests this day was a candle burned at both ends. It began with a pause just outside Bethany, where Jesus shared another profound and powerful layer of truth from Peter’s notice of the withered fig tree. The day continued as Jesus arrived in Jerusalem and began walking through the temple. Quite quickly, Jesus was confronted by a group of priests, teachers and elders who sharply challenged His authority (to do things like the house cleaning He did the day before). It is the first time He tied a challenger in knots today, but it wouldn’t be the last.

The moments in His morning and midday were many. There were stories He offered and ones that were told to answer questions (both curious and hostile). Evil farmers, Roman coins, one bride for seven brothers and the greatest of all the commandments to name just a few. You think you’re busy? That was just morning and midday.

Sandwiched between His temple teaching and the heavy, meaningful moments at the close of the day on the Mount of Olives is the singular story I routinely take the most note of when I travel through this day in His week. With no signal or great notice, Jesus steals away and takes a seat near the collection box in the temple. And with the same great intent He had in walking through his Father’s house yesterday, He observes the givers and gifts. “Many rich people put in large amounts,” writes the gospel author Mark (chapter twelve, verse forty-one, New Living Translation). And while He will watch many, He simply came to take note of just one. The lowly Savior came to see a lowly widow give every last bit of what she had.

This is a pattern with Immanuel, God with us. The Creator of the world who submitted Himself to the constraint of time, takes the time for what’s most important. The gospels mention time and time again Jesus stealing away to pray. Time with his Father was His air and food, and He always made time for it. In addition to the magnitude of His moment observing the widow, my notice this year is the pattern of Jesus to take time to take the time. I humbly suggest I don’t wrestle one bit with the instinct, but I will quickly confess the untold times I’ve allowed so many other things to crowd out my time of talking with Him.

Jesus did not exercise His divinity in extending the hours and minutes in His day. He intentionally chose moments that fit into the same twenty-four hours you and I have in order to be and do what was most important (that being, the Father’s will). There’s profound meaning in the widow giving all with her two mites, just as her Savior would do days later in stretching out His two arms. But can we also now see more clearly the example of Jesus who made a habit of taking time to take the time, and challenge ourselves to be more like Him in doing the same.

yeam-2022_small

Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 11, 2022

yeah, me too …

Ever been ashamed after getting angry? Ever resolve to never get angry again?

Yeah, me too.

And how many times have you heard someone boil down the Bible this way — “In the Old Testament, God is angry. In the New Testament, Jesus is love.”

Yeah, me too. More times than I can count, actually.

There’s too much evidence refuting that broad-brush abridge to fit in this space, but there is a timely story from “today” that shouts a big ol’ beg-to-differ with the premise. It goes like this … Jesus had a typical “Monday morning” and flew off the handle and cursed at a fig tree. It’s probably because they all had to get up so early to go back to Jerusalem and there wasn’t time for breakfast. I mean, the tree had it coming. It was in full leaf, but no fruit! How was one to handle that rationally on an empty stomach?!

Okay, we all know that wasn’t how it happened. Yes, it’s entirely possible that Jesus was hungry, but He didn’t curse at the fig tree. He cursed it. He did it to call out, and teach His friends, a meaningful truth about deception or pretending to be something (or someone) you’re not. The fig tree in full leaf absent fruit isn’t unlike one who professes Christ but does not know and follow Him in their heart. “Don’t be a believer deceiver,” I hear Jesus saying that morning. I’m guessing in the moment the scene appeared a lot more like the way I told it in the paragraph above. But after a day had passed and they noticed the same tree withered and dead on the way back to Jerusalem the next morning, I believe they knew it wasn’t Jesus being angry in a way that would require an apology.

The pattern continued when they reached the city later that morning. Jesus made a beeline for the temple and wasted no time throwing a complete temple tantrum, knocking over tables and chairs, smashing the coin boxes and busting the cages to release the doves! Yep, also not how it happened. Although, I’m sure that’s what it must have looked like to the pilgrim and profiteer alike. A careful read, however, of the very end of the triumphal entry story in Mark’s gospel (chapter eleven, verse eleven) reveals an essential detail that speaks the full truth of Jesus’ righteous response. That detail speaks to the deep goodness in the heart of Christ that was at the heart of His actions that day. The One who some mistook as a prophet was driving out the engine of profit in his Father’s house. His singular and sweeping action excised the excise and restored it to a place for prayer and worship. Reading especially carefully, you see that Jesus visited the temple at the end of the day Sunday to quietly and thoroughly observe. His anger Monday was not reactionary rage; it was a right and measured response to the cancer that had been growing for too long in God’s house. Anger may have never existed if not for the fall, but because of the fall there are right reasons to be angry. Never at someone. Rather, at something. Sin. See, the only pain Jesus inflicted that day was to the pockets of the profiteers. Some may have lost their livelihood, but not one lost their life. Jesus would be the only one on whom that fate would fall, becoming sin for us in order to pay its full price and free us from its bondage.

Let’s not resolve to never get angry again. Instead, let’s hold this story of a tree and a temple in our hearts as the way He showed us to be in our anger. With anger, there is a high bar … a divinely high bar. The apostle Paul said it this way, “In your anger, do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26a). Jesus did that. Through His power, so can we.

As He laid His head down Monday night, Jesus felt no guilt or shame. And certainly, by that point, He was not still angry. In the temple tumult, Jesus said and did what was right. His choices then are ours to make now. Our model is Him. May our desire for our anger be that it comes under the control and direction of the Spirit always, and be a “yeah, me too” when put up next to the example of Jesus.

yeam-2022_small

Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 10, 2022

He sat low …

It wasn’t what it looked like. Not to Him. He didn’t want for a “parade.” He deliberately chose the lowliest possible mount upon which to ride into the city. He didn’t assemble an entourage to walk with Him. He didn’t give a speech or stage an event near the seat of power. His deliberate preparation that day was to pause on the Mount of Olives, waiting for two disciples to return with the young donkey whose owner knew to say yes, but had no earthly idea why. No, this was not what it must have looked like to almost everyone else who was there that day.

The crowds had begun to gather. There was a buzz on the jam-packed streets. The plethora of pilgrims were there for the great Passover festival, but they were also now hurrying to find a good spot from which to see their saver (yes, I said that right). Certainly, some had already believed in the Savior, but so many more expected Him to be something that sounds so close yet means something diametrically different. Their cries that day spoke the truth of their deep-seated expectations. “Save us!” they shouted.

But the One they expected to ascend to a throne would instead sit low, continuing a pattern that began with His choice of how and where He came to be one of us in order to redeem us. Immanuel, God with us, stooping low at His birth and now riding low in the direction of His death … and resurrection. Most people were convinced this triumphal entry was Jesus being done with all the pleasantries and getting down to the business of freeing them from brutal oppression. He had preached for long enough. Now it was time to act. But this wasn’t what it looked like. Not to Him. Jesus was entering the city because it was the appointed time and place for the execution … of God’s plan of redemption. God’s people were being oppressed and Jesus had come to free them, but sin, not Rome, was in the Crosshairs. Might would not make things right. Redemption would require the willing and selfless sacrifice of God’s perfect Lamb.

We can’t possibly know the look on Jesus’ face as He rode into and through the city that day. I wonder if those whose hearts were fixed on freedom from oppression walked away curious or confused by it. I wonder if the true believer saw it in ways the others couldn’t. Jesus’ life and the story of that day suggest His countenance shown a peace that passed all understanding. Compassion for the ones He knew He would soon disappoint or enrage. Contentment with God’s plan and purpose that would demand the most brutal pain and sacrifice. Certain of the truth that very soon sin would be conquered once and for all and death would be put to death.

This sacred Sunday is the seminal sentence in the story of this week of all weeks. Fix your eyes on the Savior who sat low.

yeam-2022_small

Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 8, 2022

some words of welcome …

It has been our longstanding pattern at Journey onWord to offer some devotional thoughts each day of Holy Week, fully present in that specific day, centered on the people, places, events and truths of this greatest story ever told. God has been so good and gracious in authoring a freshness each year, even though some of the words may sound like echoes of years past. It is the experience of the earnest reader of Scripture that each new encounter with the words and stories can feel like the first time you’ve ever read them. In the epistle to the Hebrews we read,

For the word of God is alive and powerful
chapter four, verse twelve (NLT)

Yes, and more. Amen, and amen.

This year, my thoughts and emphasis are strongly influenced by a prolonged exposure to the person of Jesus in my personal study and weekly gatherings with my Wednesday morning brothers for more than a year now. Throughout this treasured season of consuming and considering, the humanity and humility of Jesus has come alive as never before. And those will be center stage as we observe together the dramatic days from triumphal entry to resurrection. He is risen!

As we stand a bit longer at the threshold of this gut-wrenching and glorious week, I would like to acknowledge the difficulty that some may feel with the focus on Christ’s humanity. It is good and right to be vigilant with the truth of God and His taking on flesh. It should never stand independent of His divinity. Yet, at the same time, neither should His divinity stand independent of His humanity. We miss something profound and essential if we do not wonder, with the help of the Spirit, about the essence and everyday of Jesus being human. I hope to scratch the surface of that truth a bit this coming week. I pray it is profitable.

In my time with the truth of Christ’s humanity, I have come to see an essential flaw that just might be near the source of any discomfort. Perhaps I can illustrate it best with an excerpt from a popular song from the 80’s band, The Human League (yes, God is the author of such things as humor and irony). The chorus of their hit song titled, Human, reads like this:

I’m only human; of flesh and blood I’m made
Human, born to make mistakes

I wonder how quickly one might nod at these lyrics; how closely it speaks the truth of what some Christians believe is the definition of humanity. And if I am even anywhere near correct in my wondering, it is no wonder why there are varying degrees of discomfort and discontent with an emphasis on the humanity of Jesus. But I don’t believe this is the full truth. And I believe those words that really do sound right are the “one degree” twist of God’s truth that His enemy so loves to do — and so effectively wields as a weapon.

Our humanity (the wholeness of it) belongs to God. It was badly corrupted by the fall, but God’s enemy never did (and never will) take possession of it. God created Adam with a human form that was always intended for us. He then took on that same form Himself and showed us how to live in it, in the person of Jesus. To say that we are born to make mistakes is to give credit to God’s enemy for possessing what he doesn’t. We are born with a sin nature, yes, but our humanity is not defined by it. And that certainly goes for the sinless One. The second Adam — who didn’t fall for the tempter’s trick.

The comprehension of Jesus being fully God and fully Man is on par with the mystery of the Trinity. And it is essential to the story of His taking on flesh and giving up His life to complete God’s plan of redemption. It will not be my aim this coming week to prove any point. Rather, with the Spirit’s help, I want only to draw you to the person of Jesus in the week, days and moments leading up to and through His dying and rising … all for us.

yeam-2022_small

Posted by: mikenicholsblog | February 10, 2022

treasures that reside on the east side

She’s doing it again this year. My wife is meticulously placing every Christmas decoration in its appropriate place to be securely stored and protected until it’s their time to shine again. That is what happens every year on the west side (my wife’s side) of our basement. Travel to the east side and it’s a different story. Material from ages past is stored and stacked quite insecurely, just waiting for an immediate season of reason. The precious words, quotes and torn out pages are of immeasurable value to me, and today I’ll be sharing again some counsel from that which resides on the east side.

One amazing treasure I found just recently was a story about the great theologian Dennis the Menace. He was having his prayer time, and his experience replicated what I sometimes feel. Picture in your mind, bedtime prayers. Dennis is kneeling. His hands are folded. He’s looking heavenward, wearing his pajamas, cowboy hat and cowboy boots. His six-shooter is strapped to his side. The caption under the cartoon reads: “I’m here to turn myself in.” O, how many times have I found myself so lacking in practicing my spiritual disciplines that I just need to “turn myself in.”

Also in my stack (of basement treasures), were some torn pages from old Turning Point (David Jeremiah) magazines. They’re about ten years old … and still very relevant. What great reminders of living in the present!

  • “Living in the present has to mean living in His presence if we are going to hear His voice and follow His lead.”
  • “Jesus lived in the present, moment by moment, so He could live in the presence of the Father and enjoy every blessing, calling and opportunity. And that’s what God wants for us. He wants us to be available to Him and to others. In order to hear His still, small voice, we’ll have to dial down the loud, large voices of the world.”

A final (for now) treasure hidden beneath the stacks of paper on my side of the basement sources from a cut-out laminated copy of a John Ortberg book (not sure which one). Pastor Ortberg gave me timeless counsel that I am re-using. Consider just a few of his words:

  • “My task is to meet God in this moment.”
  • “Coming to recognize and experience God’s presence is a learned behavior; I can cultivate it.”
  • “God is always present and active in my life, whether or not I see Him.”
  • “I am always tempted to live “outside” this moment. When I do that, I lose my sense of God’s presence.”

Could it be that you, like me, struggle to live in the present and meet God in each moment? Of course, we do. It may be good to just dust off one of the treasured quotes above and meditate on it for a few days. For me, (and us all), there is a direct correlation between living in the moment and in His presence, and how well our lives impact others. Think about it!

yeam-2022_small

Older Posts »

Categories