Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 10, 2023

a linger just a bit longer

Monday’s sun has risen for us just as surely as the Son rose on that ancient yesterday we just celebrated. Please allow me to linger just a bit longer in the Light and with the truth of the darkness into which He rose. Surely, death and resurrection were a fitting end to Jesus’ becoming one of us. In dying on the cross and walking out of the grave, He had done what He came to do. The work of redemption was finished — or so it seemed.

There is one particular appointment in my mind’s eye today. There were many for Jesus during the forty days He remained before returning to the Father, but I am particularly struck by one in my remaining after reading of the resurrection. There was a specific darkness into which Jesus arose — the internal aftermath of the denials of beloved Peter. We are more than familiar with the story (John 21:15-17), but I wonder if we can see it anew in the context of yesterday’s suggestion. What I saw this time in the account of Jesus’ deeply intentional questions was Him having a conversation with Peter’s darkness.

Apart from Peter himself, only Jesus knew the guilt and shame in his heart. Passionately, in front of everyone, and most importantly His friend and Savior, Peter declared he would die with Jesus before he’d ever deny Him. I can feel his heart and resolve swell in that moment on the Mount (of Olives). I believe it was fiercely genuine — as my own heart swells have repeatedly been in monumental moments. Of course we will be equal to walking a mile in His shoes! Of course we will not falter or cower! That is, until we do.

But Jesus knew, and He tenderly told the truth in the moment — “You will, my beloved;” I hear Him say. “And it will be worked together for your and My good.” And then, after breakfast on that particular day after resurrection, Jesus speaks into Peter’s darkness with the same question asked intentionally three times.

It was finished on the cross and in the moment Jesus walked out of the grave. But redemption’s work had, in many ways, only just begun. I see that clearly in Jesus’ asking intentionally three times. His impassioned and embattled disciple had experienced a temporal victory of the darkness, and Jesus chose to go to him as the Light his darkness could not overcome.

It would seem a far better ending that Peter would fall to His knees or into the arms of his Savior and receive the lavishly merciful redemption and restoration in Jesus’ question. But that’s not how it happened, and there was enough mercy in the Master for that too. But can we pause in this moment and see Jesus speaking into Peter’s darkness after rising again – and know confidently that He will do the same for us today too? Amazing love, how can it be!


Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 9, 2023

while it was still dark

In the moments just before the first words of this year’s Holy Week writing began to flow, I knew today’s would be a copy and paste. Before God began forming new words in my mind, He whispered some old ones into the ears of my heart. I see now that was an intentional gift given specifically for a unique experience I’ve had in writing this year – an abiding mindfulness of those who would read and the burdens that weigh heavily on them. And so, I offer these beloved words from a past Resurrection Day writing. He is Risen, my dear brother and sister! I pray you are encouraged this morning as you read on.

At 1:11pm on April 15th, 2017 my entire mindset relative to Easter morning shifted. I had sat down to write about Resurrection Day, and I prayed. “Father, help me see Jesus more truly and completely in writing today. Please show me as I read.” I opened John’s gospel to chapter twenty and began reading his Resurrection account …

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark,
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that
the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.
John 20:1 (NLT)

I stopped dead in my tracks at the period that ends verse one. Wait … did I just read that right?! No way! While it was still dark?! Mary arrived at the tomb and found the stone had been rolled away while it was still dark?! In all the years I have been writing about Resurrection morning, the hope and promise (and resurrection itself) were all associated with the breaking of the dawn. The bright, brilliant Light bursts forth and ends the darkness! But that’s not what happened, and that’s not what happens in our own lives. In so many ways, our lives echo the truth of “while it was still dark.” At the moment of genuine belief, faith and salvation, the Light does not forever displace the darkness. There are many reading today who persist in faith yet are deeply entrenched in a season of darkness. They are waiting and praying for the bright, brilliant light to break, or perhaps they’ve experienced a temporal victory of the darkness — maybe a time(s) when their prayers for another’s healing were answered on the other side of eternity, not in the here and now. If Jesus’ resurrection waited until after sunrise; if His power over sin and death in this life were only true after dawn had broken, then what do we do when ours hasn’t? What do we do when the clouds in our season of suffering obscure the sunrise that we know has happened, but that we can’t see?

I LOVE the discovery (after so many years of reading the story) that Mary found the stone rolled away while it was still dark. I SO see Jesus walking out of the tomb into the darkness that will hold sway over this world until He visits it again. I see the intention. I hear Him having a conversation with the darkness. I hear Him having a conversation with mine.

Jesus broke the power of death forever in waking and walking out of the tomb. Just as He does not manipulate our choices, He has not forever displaced the darkness with light … YET. If, this morning, you woke again to your own darkness; if, today, you do not see the sunrise that everyone around you seems to see … know this! Jesus rose again into the darkness. He has forever conquered it, but He rose again into it.

Jesus didn’t wait for dawn to break. You can trust Him when yours hasn’t broken yet either. Hold on. Take Heart. Trust. Cast your worries, burdens, failings, false hopes, resolve, promises to never do that again, and anger on Him. And in the casting, find that it is all part of the “stuff” He became and then paid for on the cross a couple of days ago. I pray you experience the bright, brilliant Light today. I pray that you feel the warmth of the Son on your face. But even if you don’t … take heart! He is Risen, and sin and death have no power over you anymore!

Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 8, 2023

four simple and settled words

It feels like there are a thousand things I could say about a day for which nothing is said in scripture. So many curiosities. So many questions. What I truly believe is the created world caught its breath on that specific Sabbath. It was a patterned day of rest, but this one’s stillness and reason were thoroughly unprecedented and deeply needed.

In previous years, I’ve taken special notice of today’s suitable silence and the purpose in the pause. My heart this year has come to rest on four simple and settled words. They’re quite familiar and embedded within the final stanza of a standout Psalm. Here’s how that Psalm starts:

God is our refuge and strength, a tested help in times of trouble.
And so we need not fear even if the world blows
up and the mountains crumble into the sea.
Let the oceans roar and foam; let the mountains tremble!
Psalm 46:1-3 (TLB)

Indeed, Friday was a time of trouble. In the hearts and minds of many of those who loved Jesus most in this life, the world had just blown up (I say many, because I’d like not to judge that the hearts and hopes of all had completely crumbled). And, for certain, the mountains trembled. Their test is also ours today. Their Saturday isn’t unlike the diagnosis that blows up our world, the offense of a beloved that knocks us to our knees, the dead silence in response to our pleading prayer for help. We wrestle with our Refuge and Strength. We question how tested He is in our own testing. We falter or fail to trust. We forget or lose faith in His promise.

The four words I heard, nestled in the middle of the final stanza of that same Psalm, is our invitation as much as it was theirs … Be still and know (v.10 – ESV).

I deliberately chose The Living Bible translation for verses one through three above because of its language for those four powerful words in verse ten:

Stand silent! Know …

It was the high call to all of creation that sacred Sabbath – the rocks and His beloved alike. Stand silent. “Trust me,” their Creator whispered. I Am about to rise again the third day, just as I said I would. I Am your redeemer. I Am your refuge and strength. I Am a tested help. Be still and know that I Am. Can you see yourself a little more clearly in that Saturday? Can you hear me (Him) writing to you specifically today? Be still and know, dear brother or sister. He was their redeemer and refuge, and He is yours.

Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 7, 2023

two trees

There were always two trees. The fruit of the first was the tempt that brought on the curse. The stain on the second was the blood that was both its cost and cure. The tap root of both trees was the lavish and limitless love of God.

At the dawn of creation, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was placed purposefully in the Garden. The first man and woman wouldn’t see it this way, but that tree was clear evidence of God’s love in creating them (and us). Perhaps you have trouble seeing it that way too. Here’s what I mean: When God created the first man and woman, He gifted them His likeness. He made them in His own image, deliberately absent one thing. They were made without strings tethered to their precious arms and legs. It was always God’s intent for them (and us) to have a choice. There was one He desperately wanted every single one of us to make, but it was always His will for the choice to be ours. He gave up everything, in a manner of speaking, to give them (us) that choice. That “everything” was the possibility that even one of His precious children would not choose Him and love Him back.

We know the story. We know their very first choice. It’s a choice we’ve repeated ourselves countless times and in countless ways. All sin is a variation of the first sin. Failing to trust and choosing other than God. This is why Jesus came. This is why there was a second tree.

The day of our dear Savior’s death is the absolute hardest of which to write. It is the day I see my self most clearly (there’s deep purpose in the space that separates “my” and “self” – do you hear it in your own heart?). It is the day on which I most step into the story. I hear my own voice in the crowd that cried “Crucify Him!” I see my own face in the faction that wielded the whip and pressed the “crown” into His brow. It was me in the masses that lined the Cross road; my sin that He took on His own body as the darkness descended and the earth convulsed. Today is personal.

Sin demanded a ransom that only One could pay. Its price was paid on a tree. Christ’s cross and coming drew a straight line back to original sin. On that line hung every sin since. Jesus took those and every other one there would ever be upon Himself and paid the price that we never could. The lavish and limitless love of God was never more clear than on the day his Son’s blood was poured out for us and stained the second tree.

Before the dawn of creation, did God hope in His heart that every single one of us would trust and choose Him and not eat of the fruit of knowing apart from Him? I am certain He did. Many have struggled with His allowing of suffering, rooted firmly in a decision He could have made to not give us a choice or to say no to creation because He saw what it would become. But can I share something very personal that I have seen in the wrestling with all of that myself? I see in that moment of decision that He saw me. He saw me and decided that I am worth all He would have to lose to gain eternity with me – even the giving of his only beloved Son. Please know there isn’t an ounce of pride in that seeing, because I confidently believe He saw you too — and said yes so that you could one day say yes to Him.

Does God really love you that much? Yes.

The two trees certainly say so.


Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 3, 2023

perhaps for our day

I have written before of the significance of Sunday’s scrutinizing in truly understanding Monday’s mayhem. Jesus’ cleansing was something wholly different than the temple tantrum or tirade one might see absent Mark 11:11. This was no knee-jerk reaction showing up unaware on Monday morning. This was a righteous and proportional response to yesterday’s close examination. I spent a good number of years as a Christian missing that crucial context. Discoveries like that are just one of the things that has made my repeated, deliberate walks through Holy Week so meaningful. Seeing things I had not noticed before, experiencing details or whole stories as though it was the very first time reading them.

I had only intended to write for Palm Sunday before turning my attention to the grand end to this week. But then I read on a few verses more and something wholly new caught my eye. There amid the telling of Christ’s cleaning of the commerce from the outer court of his Father’s house was a detail I hadn’t ever noticed. I knew of the money-changers overturned tables, the seats of the pigeon-sellers He strewn, and His proclamation about prayer that punctuated Monday’s mayhem. But wait, what does Mark write before Jesus turns to teaching?

And He would not allow anyone to
carry anything through the temple.
Mark 11:16 (ESV)

I’m sure I hadn’t recognized that before. And if I had, should I be surprised that I didn’t take notice? Does it really much matter held up against the bold action of overturning tables and scattering seats? Did Jesus shout at people as they passed? Did He knock things out of their hands? I read and re-read the verse a number of times. I sat with it silently. I came up with eleventeen different ideas as to what it might have meant. But then my heart and mind just settled on something plain.
I don’t offer this as direct interpretation, and it may not be the intended application, but it washed over me as truly as I believe He meant for me to hear it. God’s house – the one then and the ones we go to now – is not meant for people to be carrying things. It ought to be a place where we bring things but then lay them down. It seems that our hands ought to be open when we’re there; free to use in embrace, or grab hold of another’s, or to extend, lift or rest from their toiling.

God had made His purpose clear to their ancients. His house was a place for people to pray. Yet it had become a place where people were preyed upon. His Son had visited yesterday to carefully examine and came today to radically cleanse. “He’s treating the place like he owns it,” the leaders must have thought. About that, they could not have been more right. This was God’s own Son, God himself, reclaiming what was His and setting it back to its true purpose.

He didn’t allow anyone to carry anything that day. Perhaps that’s as much for our day as it was for that day.


Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 2, 2023

two intents

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Jesus had a plan. There were two things He’d accomplish by day’s end. As He and His companions drew near to Jerusalem, He chose two to go and participate in the first one – the fulfillment of an extremely specific prophecy. Jesus gave two of His disciples explicit instructions that are so familiar to us but must have been such a mystery to them. They were to retrieve a colt.

This seemingly odd ask would allow the fulfillment of a prophecy found in the writings of Zechariah (9:9). Humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey is how Jesus would enter Jerusalem at the beginning of a purposed week and walk toward His singular purpose in becoming one of us. There was another thing that was on His agenda before the sun set … He would steal away midday to observe the state of his Father’s house. At the beginning of this sacred Sunday, Jesus had clear intent.

I’ve tried to conjure the scene of that day: the throngs of people lining the entrance to the city and its inner streets; the buzz of the mass of festival pilgrims and city dwellers alike, eager for the arrival of their savior (little “s” deliberately denoted). I would suggest those gathered also had clear intent that day. They’d poured out onto the streets to laud or, perhaps, join the one they believed could and would deliver them from the brutal oppression that was breaking their backs. I am sure some were just curious or caught up in the fuss, but I expect many were primed to follow Jesus, proud and mounted on a war horse, intent to march right up to the seat of power and break the bondage of His people. But that wasn’t how He arrived, nor where He went. Their two intents were diametrically opposed, Jesus and the crowd.

He allowed the laud, but neither the groundswell nor its desire were on His agenda. While the people shouted, “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” (Mark 11:10 – ESV), their true King rode purposely toward his Father’s house. And as Jesus often stole away to pray, today He slipped away to take time to examine closely where the people did. The temple was to be that place, but there were parts that had become something altogether different. It was time for close examination. Consequence would have to wait one more sunrise.

The day was intense and marked by two disparate intents. It was an altogether different bondage that Jesus had come to break, and the means He’d use were as far apart from what was in the hearts of the people than the east is from the west. There was a remnant that had joined Him, and the invitation they received is the same one with which He beckons us today. Come. Follow. Join the redemptive work I Am doing.


Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 1, 2023

at the foothills

We’ve arrived at the foothills of Holy Week. At the next sunrise, we’ll see our Savior begin climbing toward the summit of His sole purpose in becoming one of us. Some call it Passion Week – an adjective that points to the great suffering that argues to define it. I mention that because passion (in its other meaning) is exactly the thing that’s been absent for me during this season of Lent. Over the course of several years, this has become a treasured time in my walk of faith. A time of great intention and introspection. A time where God has moved mightily in my heart and mind, where He has been so faithful in gifting words that sound so much like mine, but which have always been truly His. I was fully prepared to stay silent this year. My time has lacked intention, and I heard no prompts. That’s all me; I am confident of that. But He has intervened, and here we are again. I don’t share the last few sentences to draw attention to me. If any of this is good, it is His good. I share to provide explanation for the irregular experience in writing this particular Holy Week.

Unless He intervenes again, you’ll see a significant gap between thoughts offered tomorrow and Monday, then again next Friday, Saturday and Resurrection Day. Consider them bookends that leave space for what I pray is your own consumption of days of (very nearly) equivalent importance. It’s hard for me to confidently say the widow who gave all she had in the temple collection box and the woman at dinner who also gave all in breaking open her precious bottle to anoint Jesus are not equal to death and resurrection, but how could I not? They seem to be, in the heart and words of Jesus. At the very least, they are solely human reflections of what our fully human Savior was about to do for us.

I am thoroughly grateful for God’s grace in my life at the foothills of this Holy Week. My Redeemer has redeemed this season for me. I give all the glory to Him and wait expectantly for the words He will gift and the celebration that awaits us at the summit.


Posted by: mikenicholsblog | December 29, 2022

2023 Daily Bible Reading Plan

With 2023 upon us, many people are beginning to think about goals for the New Year. At Journey onWord we are trusting that one of your goals is to be a consistent student of God’s Word. I recently read a quote by Jim Cymbala in Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire that stated, spiritual power is always linked with communion with God. There is no question that a primary facet of communion with God comes from communion with His Word.

Our 2023 reading plan will center on the New Testament. We believe by reading one chapter a day (with reflection and catch-up days each weekend), you will have the time to read and reflect meaningfully on each chapter. It is our goal at Journey to present opportunities for people to engage Scripture, and then trust God to change lives as He chooses.

The plan we are using was originally presented in 2005, by Discipleship Journal. Their intention was to have it used and reprinted wherever possible. We have updated the plan for 2023 and trust that it will be a blessing to you. In desiring to help you study and grow, we’re also listing the following study helps:

  • Videos by Dr. Gene Getz
    (download “Life Essentials QR” from your app store and find 1500 short Bible lessons. Search directly in your app store or find links to do so at this site)
  • Dr. Constable’s Notes – Online Bible Commentary
  • – A great source for Bible questions

The 2023 reading plan is linked below and will be attached to the automatic email notice of this post. It will also be available at any time by visiting and clicking the link in the DAILY BIBLE READING section (will be posted to the site on 12/31). We pray you will consider taking a journey through Scripture with us in 2023!

Journey onWord Team
2023 Journey onWord Daily Bible Reading Plan

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!


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!


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