Posted by: genelnicholsblog | June 28, 2021


Ruth shared a great sadness with her mother-in-law, Naomi. But more importantly, she shared a faith in the true God. Ruth was willing to leave the home she had always known to travel with Naomi to a strange land, even allowing Naomi to eventually arrange her marriage. Her faithfulness and love are true examples for us to follow.

Please click here to reference some brief biographical details on the character of Ruth.

Posted by: genelnicholsblog | June 17, 2021

Rahab and Samson

As we finish our study of Moses, who some say was the greatest prophet in the Bible, we are entering into a short study of two other imperfect and colorful characters. Rahab and Samson both had their struggles early on, but like Moses, they triumphed in the end. Here is a brief synopsis of their life that will give you some insight as you enter into the study. Enjoy and Learn!

Please click here to reference some brief biographical details on the characters of Rahab and Samson.

Posted by: genelnicholsblog | May 5, 2021


Who is Moses?  Some say he is the greatest prophet to ever live.  The Jews hold him in the highest of esteem. One thing is for certain, he was a man for his times, and his birth started a chain of events that changed the world forever.

Please click here to reference some brief biographical details on the character of Moses.

Posted by: genelnicholsblog | April 20, 2021


Today we begin our reading and considering of Joseph. His life, not just his coat, had many colors. 

Please click here to reference some brief biographical notes on Joseph.

Posted by: genelnicholsblog | April 5, 2021


Today begins our studies on many of the major characters of the Bible.

We begin with Abraham, the father of the nation of Israel. As we read about his life, we will be encouraged by his great faith, and alsoreminded that even the faithful can make poor decisions. The key verse in Abraham’s life, though, may be Genesis 15:6 …

And he believed the Lord, and He counted it to him as righteousness.

Please click here to reference some brief biographical notes on Abraham.


Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 4, 2021

all was not finished

As darkness blanketed Golgotha, the curtain in the temple tore in two, the earth violently rumbled and shook, and the last breath left the lips of our Savior, we expect it to be as He said … “It is finished.” Jesus took the incalculable weight of the sins of all, for all time, on His own body and died as their only ransom.

“It is finished.”

“It is finished.”

That is what Jesus said.

But here is what He didn’t say …

“All is finished.”

Yes, it was finished. Please don’t mistake my drawing attention as a suggestion that our Savior misspoke. In His death on the cross, Jesus once and for always paid the penalty and broke the power of sin. Since we said “Yes” to the serpent, the power of sin has been ever-present. Each new baby is born with a second nature — a compel to choose other than God. As Jesus hung on the Cross and the Father placed the full measure of every sin for all time on His shoulders, He became its ransom and broke its power in breathing His last. But becoming that sacrifice, and taking every sin to the grave, still left something undone.

The essence of God is expressed in Three. God is relationship. And so, the essential work of redemption is incomplete without relationship. God’s nature is justice, but justice is not all of His nature. And so, redemption requires a ransom, but is incomplete without a reconcile. Forgiveness-only is a flat earth fallacy. Sin’s debt had to be paid, but that was only part one of God’s plan of redemption. The second part is pursuit. And so, comes resurrection morning! The Good Shepherd’s great beginning of leaving the ninety-nine to go after the one.

And so it is that we find the precious friend and follower of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, at the tomb early on resurrection morning while it was still dark. She is stunned to find the mammoth stone that had sealed Jesus’s tomb rolled to the side. She went running to Peter and John to tell them, and they both raced to the tomb to see. Consumed with sadness, Mary returned to the tomb herself, stopping at the opening to have a look in. John’s gospel tells us that she saw two angels who asked her why she was crying. In turning away after answering, Mary turned and saw Jesus (or, at least, she saw someone). Either because her consuming sadness or His new countenance, Mary did not recognize the man who had become her everything.

He asked her why she was crying and who it was she was looking for. Thinking He 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 all this to you. For, in a few seconds, I would utterly lose it if I was to have to read these next words out loud.

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

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 was essential and a treasure to Mary. But what happened in her heart and life when she heard Him call her name?!

If the Cross meant finished, I wonder where that would have left Peter in the mornings after his rooster crowed. With Jesus’ death, Peter’s sins of betrayal were paid for, but of what consolation would that have been to him? In truth, it meant everything. But from my own experience, I suspect Peter might have said it felt like an empty everything.

Just as Jesus had said, in the pre-dawn chaos of His capture and being dragged between multiple trials, Peter denied His Savior. Peter denied, the rooster crowed, and the enemy of God began the work of locking Peter up in the prison of that single, tragic sin. Jesus’ death that same day was the insult to Peter’s injury. It was the extreme heat Satan wanted to use to set the stain in Peter’s heart and make it permanent. But that stain would not set, and very early on the third day the angels announced something deliberate that would change Peter’s story forever.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Mark 16:6-7 (NIV)

Whom should the women who had come to the tomb go and tell? “… go, tell his disciples and Peter (my emphasis added). In the immediate aftermath of Peter’s denial, God began the work of pursuing and restoring him. It was neither a random detail nor flippant mention of Peter’s name as the angels said “go, tell.” It was an intentional and purposeful step Jesus took in Peter’s direction … and He wasn’t finished yet. Jesus appears to His disciples several times between His resurrection and ascension into heaven. On one of those occasions, He specifically turned to Peter and asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter quickly answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus asked again, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter answered once again with the same words. Then Jesus asks a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” This time Peter seems a bit injured, but answers “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” (Conversation from John 21:15-17)

Was Jesus looking to make sure Peter loved Him? Were His repeated questions an attempt to make an example of Peter? I am certain Jesus did not need Peter’s assurances, and I do believe Jesus’ questions were making a statement — a profoundly intentional and meaningful statement to Peter and to us all. Jesus sees through to Peter’s heart and knows the holes which remain from the devastating denials. With the very same question asked intentionally three times, Jesus heals the holes, speaks His forgiveness, and fully restores Peter.

Please let me be clear. When I mentioned previously that God’s plan of redemption had two parts, I was not suggesting a theology. Who am I to put pen to paper and “explain” the fullness of redemption and God’s intentions for its plan? Who I am is a wretched sinner forever changed by God’s grace and Jesus’ giving of His life as the ransom for my sin. Who I am is a harlot like Mary and a betrayer like Peter who is no longer how I was before I met Jesus. He has made me new as He is making all things new. So, please do not hear teaching in my observations of the story of Jesus’ dying and rising and appearing to Mary and Peter. The unfinished nature of redemption absent relationship is not a belief to be shared as much as it is the sharing of my belief in the One who is my everything and the story of His giving everything in order to ransom and rescue me.

It has been a great privilege to walk through this set-apart week with you. Happy Resurrection Day, brothers and sisters!

He is Risen!

He is Risen, indeed!


Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 3, 2021

finished and undone

I believe it is best not to speculate about what God chose not to articulate.

That does not stop my mind from getting lost in wonder, but it does make me content to say nothing with certainty of today’s profound silence and meaning. What did the sunrise look like on the day when the Son had not yet risen? Were the sweet songs of the birds who greeted the morning on key? I cannot bring myself to the place where those who loved Jesus most, and followed Him most closely, were on this day. I cannot, because when I look backward to Saturday, I see Sunday first. What a profoundly precious gift!

And so, I will be content to see Saturday in its proper context. The day of great expectancy which was the bridge between the breaking of the powers of sin and death. It was finished, but something yet remains undone.


Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 2, 2021

He put the wood on His shoulders

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 He had done so for the purpose that laid before Him today. He sweat blood as He prayed over it last night in the Garden. He cried out as a natural response to the choice He’d already made in giving in to it fully. Repeatedly, He told those closest that this 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 would choose 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 even yet 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 the test was yet to come. God would visit Abraham soon 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 next 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)‬‬

He got up early.

There is another startling statement in this 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 certain faith and trust that got Abraham up early the day after the ask, he answers 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, after having placed the wood on his son’s shoulders. He trusted God to provide the sheep.

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 to do as God asked, God calls out to Abraham from Heaven and commands 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 wood on the shoulders of his Son and did not withhold anything from us in order to save us. Oh, how He loves you and me.

p.s.  On the subject of suffering, there is a verse that gets so often misinterpreted and misapplied. It is far too common to hear a Christian attempt to “encourage” another with words they believe to be biblical. “God will never give you more than you can handle.” Please, dear brothers and sisters, on this day that most deeply illustrates the pinnacle of suffering, can we see the whole truth of things and encourage more rightly. Let us not misquote and misapply the Word of God shared through the hand of Paul who wrote:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:13‬ ‭(ESV‬‬)

This deep and true encouragement is for temptations, not troubles. God will not allow a temptation that assures the result of sin. Every one He allows in your life comes with a way of escape of His own making and leads to Him always. An escape to a refuge in Him that allows you to endure, no matter how hard things get or for how long they persist.

And may we replace the misquote with an assurance that comes through looking at this specific day of overwhelming darkness and sacrifice that is also one of thrilling and complete victory! That God will never ask something of you that He has not first given of Himself. Emmanuel, God with us, has died and risen again and broken the power of any and every darkness for you and for me. We serve a risen Savior who’s in the world today!


Posted by: pmarkrobb | April 1, 2021

my eyes saw only

What am I that You are mindful of me?

This plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face plagiarism of the Psalmist (Psalm 8:4) is the brutally honest cry of my heart to my Lord and my Redeemer as I sit and write today. As I have walked the ancient roads in the story of redemption again this year, I have been overwhelmed by the kindness, generosity and mercy of Jesus in including me. I was one of the two sent ahead to borrow the burro. I saw the tree with no fruit the morning after. I was called near to watch the poor widow. It was my broken jar.

It was the plan in eternity past to create you and me, even with the foreknowledge of the mess we would make and what God would have to lose in order to win us back. It also remained the plan that He would choose you’s and me’s to be part of His work in the world … even, and especially, His redeeming work. We could never do the work in ourselves, but He would choose to do it in and through us. Yes, that’s the answer to that question/heart cry.

It offends my own nature to write so little about such a monumental day. In myself, I am aching to go on and on about the profound significance of the Seder Jesus shared with His disciples before sunset; the “full extent” of the love He showed to those gathered; and, oh, the richness in the Garden. But the eyes He’s given me today see only the ones Jesus sent ahead to meet the man carrying the jar of water, and the profound significance of His choosing them to be part of the greatest story ever told.

I’m certain I’m not the only one with that brutally honest heart cry. If you are me, please know the God of the Universe hears you, He sees you, He made you and He loves you. Then sings my soul.


Posted by: pmarkrobb | March 31, 2021

oil and water

At times the tangible surface of scripture upon which I gaze becomes altogether different things. Its literal substance may be paper or glass, but as I look down, what I see is almost always a window, a mirror, or a magnifying glass. When I first sat down to read scripture’s account of today in preparation for writing, it was quite clearly a window. A Dickens-like priceless pane into Simon the Leper’s home at supper time. I believe that meals were magnificent things in the earthly life of Jesus. They certainly weren’t all feasts, but I can’t imagine a single one that wasn’t meaningful in some way … and this particular one would be the rule, not the exception.

I know it is not written, but can you see with me Jesus arriving at Simon’s front door. Can you hear the voice of the Creator of the Universe who once used His words to divide light and darkness, earth and water, and form man from the dust of the ground, thank His host for opening his home to Him? I see His arms and His smile compete for which could open more widely in greeting each guest. I hear His intimate way of welcome that favored none but made each feel as though He had only come to see them. I see the smiles and gestures that are common to any occasion where friends gather to break bread together. And then, all at once, I see the woman approach the table, while Jesus is eating. A bit shocking, yes, because someone in her service role would not approach the table while people were eating. Perhaps she is bringing something to serve? No, that definitively doesn’t resemble food or drink.

In an instant the whole evening seems shattered as shards of clay fall to the floor and the essence of pure nard drips from between the fingers of one who should have remained invisible in her service, but now commanded the attention of all. Amid what must have seemed like chaos, Jesus humbly bowed His head as the woman smashed her precious jar of oil and poured it over her Lord.

Did the room fall silent as the anointing oil flowed? I’d like to believe the lavish gift commanded the moment, but the story suggests otherwise. And here is where the surface of scripture became something altogether different for me. What had once been a window, became a mirror with the sound of the seething shouts.

I think it’s safe to say we don’t like being startled. As I “advance” to greater age, I have become more and more like my grandfather who would quite literally come up out of his chair when startled. And many times, in being startled I can react harshly. Do you suppose that’s what happened here? The guests in the room being startled by an unexpected smash and just lashing out, not really for purpose, but because they were taken off guard? Quite regrettably, no. That is not at all what this was. This was a very clear problem of perspective. A failure in having eyes to see. Just as Peter took His eyes off Jesus and saw only the water, the guests took their eyes off Jesus and saw only the oil. How many times do we do the same?

Looking into this mirror of the here-sighted harsh rebukes, I heard the echo of a seemingly innocent “proverb” from my adolescence that suggested someone could be so heavenly minded to be of no earthly use. I thank the Spirit for revealing the outright lie at the heart of that innocent sounding quip. It is the high purpose of the enemy of God to divert our eyes and desires from Him. We must put on the full armor of God to fight those sometimes frontal but most times subtle attacks, to keep our eyes fixed on Him. I love what C.S. Lewis has to say in Mere Christianity:

“… a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”

“Leave her alone,” Jesus answers, before naming the invaluable thing the unnamed woman has done for Him. I guarantee that most gathered completely missed His full meaning, but He shut down their rebukes to call attention to the one who had “done what she could.” High praise from the High King of Heaven, but not meant to elevate anyone above His purpose. A window and a mirror have turned our eyes upon Jesus. May we continue to look past the oil and the water of our everyday and keep our eyes firmly fixed on Him.

For the second time in as many days, Jesus made a point to draw attention to one who gave all they had. Two days are all that’s left before He gives all He had for us. Although this is the time during this week when I most want to slow down to delay, or wish there could have been another way, we will continue walking at the Master’s pace to and through it all.


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