Posted by: mikenicholsblog | April 1, 2020

living wisely and well

Certainly, this must be the mother of all April fool’s jokes.  Did we all just wake up to the world shut-down? Has our existence changed to the point where church is on a computer screen, fine dining comes in a paper bag, important meetings are on Zoom, exercise is on the long-forgotten treadmill, 65 is elderly and millennials are instructing parents to stop going out so much? Can’t we just wake up? Oops, this may be April 1st, but what we all woke up to this morning is anything but a joke. However, we have been given a window of 30 more days to hopefully slow the virus and re-open our country and our lives. So what should a Christ-follower do?

It is so easy to breathe the words, “What should we do?”  My thoughts for this article were focused on how to navigate the next 30 days in light of Covid-19 when a friend reminded me last night that too much focus on the problem distracts from resting in the Problem Solver.  There is no doubt that everyone’s focus right now is on Covid -19 (and I won’t ignore it) but navigating the problem ought not to distract us from a clear focus on where our help comes from.

I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!
Psalm 121:1-2

So, what should we do? Could it be that this virus is reminding us what we should do and how we should live all the time?

Most Christ followers realize that we are ambassadors of Christ and want to present the gospel message with our lives and words. However, life and our own fears often get in the way of being vocal ministers of reconciliation. We shouldn’t need a virus to be vocal about where our help comes from and how true peace is found.

Is there really any difference in taking life one moment at a time than there was a month ago? Just last week I used words that fit any battle, not just this one.  As soon as this circumstance is behind, life will throw another one. And the words of David Jeremiah in Overcomer will still be true.

“Being an Overcomer isn’t something we accomplish by our own power and wisdom. When we can’t see how our everyday decisions and actions fit into God’s cosmic plan, God essentially says to us, ‘Let Me relieve you of that worry, that fear. Just take this one little step into the light I have placed in front of you, and I will see to it that your faithful action will fit into the overarching plan and accomplish both My goals and your good.’”

In the routine of life, we talk about God’s power, strength and ever-present help. But we often get so focused on the next problem that we lose sight of His ability to move mountains, and our moods are dictated by all that surrounds us. We struggle with what John Ortberg calls a small view of God.  Should you or I have to be in a pandemic to re-focus on the size of our all- sufficient God? Again, review the earlier printed statement from Ortberg in If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat.

“I strongly believe that the way we live is a consequence of the size of our God. The problem many of us have is that our God is too small. We are not convinced that we are absolutely safe in the hands of a fully competent, all-knowing, ever-present God. When we wake up in the morning, what happens if we live with a small God? We live in a constant state of fear and anxiety because everything depends on us. Our mood will be governed by our circumstances.”

Obviously, my intent and even the re-printing of quotes is to challenge our thinking that living wisely and well (Ps-90:12) is not about a crisis, but how we should live daily, moment by moment.  The next 30 days will be a challenge, but life will not stop being difficult when the world re-opens. And if we need this crisis to remind us to be fully devoted followers of Christ, then the joke is on us!

Maybe we all need to pray:

Father, I have let the moment distract me from resting in You. But today, I claim the truth that my help is in You…maker of heaven and earth. I will choose to focus on You during the next 30 days and trust you in each moment.  Use me as the hands and feet of Jesus! Then when it is all over, I commit to still living wisely and well!

Posted by: mikenicholsblog | March 29, 2020

the next seven days

Seven days ago looked much like today.  My hope is that seven days from today will bring the sense of a world that is beginning to reopen.  Several years ago, I wrote about “the next seven days” with normal circumstances in mind (they seem trite now).  Yesterday, I reviewed the article with far more insight. Maybe those words will remind of what was normal and encourage you from Scripture while managing today’s very abnormal circumstances.

Did your life have disconcerting circumstances last week? To give an example, last week my life contained: spilled coffee (3 times), food poisoning from a restaurant, being asked to pray for a client with cancer,  waking up at 4am (wide awake) once or twice, seeing a business opportunity fall through, and praying hard for our daughter’s musical presentation! I suspect you could answer with your own circumstances from last week and I expect this week to be marked by a myriad of small to large life disruptions. There will be circumstances which make us laugh, frustrate us, cause sleeplessness and maybe even internal pain or conflict. So how will you and I approach the next seven days?

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about a man named Caleb. He was given a promise at age forty. He would inherit the land he and eleven other men had been sent to scout. If you are a student of Scripture, you’ll recall the story of the twelve men who were sent to spy the land of Canaan. Ten returned with a negative report; only Joshua and Caleb were positive about taking the land. The consequences of their disobedience in not entering the land God had promised were devastating to the nation of Israel and they wandered in the wilderness for many long years. At age eighty-five (45 years after the promise) Caleb asked for possession of his promised inheritance and received it. He was a man of faith who remembered God’s promise 45 years earlier. Caleb never stopped believing the promise would one day be his. That is trust! You and I would be wise to simply believe the promises in Scripture even for the next seven days.

Caleb received a promise but had to endure the wilderness. Can you imagine what that would have been like? It would have been easy to see the dying, murmuring, complaining and struggle of those years and lose hope in his promise. There were certainly tough days, but he persevered as a man of great faith. I am sure that most Christ-followers would just like to live the next seven days with a Caleb kind of spirit … and we can!  But will we take possession of the great truths of Scripture with the same vitality that bleeds from Caleb’s example?

Before presenting a verse to lean on for the next seven days, I would like to offer words which, to me, frame the struggle we face while trying to possess the promises of God’s Word. The words are from the book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, by John Ortberg.

“I strongly believe that the way we live is a consequence of the size of our God. The problem many of us have is that our God is too small. We are not convinced that we are absolutely safe in the hands of a fully competent, all-knowing, ever-present God. When we wake up in the morning, what happens if we live with a small God? We live in a constant state of fear and anxiety because everything depends on us. Our mood will be governed by our circumstances.”

I don’t believe Caleb lived with a small view of God.  What about our circumstances for the next seven days? Can we live viewing God as bigger than any circumstance and depend on His strength for each day? The answer for all Christ-followers is “Yes, we can!” (Even with Covid-19 dominating our thoughts).

For anyone really willing to live out the promises of Scripture in the next seven days, please let the verse below resonate in your mind and heart daily.

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Psalm 55:22

The word burden in the verse implies “one’s circumstances,” and there will be many in the next seven days. I wonder what this week will look like if we choose to cast each burden on Him and accept the promise that He will sustain us. Sure, most Christ-followers believe the promise, but for the next seven days will we possess it as our reality? Caleb lived a long time trusting the promise of God. Let’s start with the next seven days!

Our circumstances have changed, but God and His Word have not!

Posted by: mikenicholsblog | March 24, 2020

one long moment

It was last Tuesday evening (so long ago) when my wife edited the words long moment from an article I was writing. Wait … What? … But, that’s exactly what I wanted to say.

My wife is a master of grammar and punctuation. A moment is a moment, she explained. There is no “long” moment. I stood corrected and gracefully deferred to her expertise. Today, however, those edited words have greater intention and purpose, and I am choosing to coin a new phrase … one long moment. We might all agree that long and moment may not typically fit together, but don’t you agree that it seems like right now we are all stuck in one long moment? To prove my point, try to remember life before social distancing and endless time confined within the four walls of your home.

When leaders say, “We will get through this,” our first response is “When?” Intellectually, we all agree with those encouraging words of the long moment ending. However, the emotional struggle for everyone is keeping a positive attitude in this seemingly endless “moment.”  We all have ritual patterns to our days and weeks, but for the time being our new pattern is one long moment of isolation, quick grocery visits, take-out meals, church online and an unsettled spirit about when this moment will end.

So how are you doing? Covid-19 is called a global pandemic, but the reality is that we are amid a very personal pandemic. In your realm of influence there are people who may struggle with fear, worry, or family burdens. Others are struggling with the financial effects of not working or the losses they have taken in retirement assets. The personal side of this goes on and on!  So how do we match our faith in Christ and confidence in God’s sovereignty with this one long moment?  Hopefully, I can give a small amount of perspective for at least today’s long moment.

“You can’t see the whole path ahead, but there is usually enough light to take the next step and then to trust God’s guidance in the moment.”
— Henri Nouwen

I heard this quote last Sunday and it resonated. Will Covid-19 end today, tomorrow, or May 1st? No one knows. For Christ-followers, that is not the point. God is in charge of our days, and a focus on simply looking and listening for His guidance in taking the next step is essential.  For me, it can be a battle. I focus on His Word and start well and then those Pandemic updates come, and I have to refocus. But in this one long moment, I can live well … living moment by moment.  A favorite verse of mine helps.

The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?
Proverbs 20:24 (NLT)

In our personal pandemic adventure, we can rest in the fact that He has ordained each day for us.

As I think of this season, my mind wondered back to some of my heroes. Abraham and Sarah had a long moment waiting for a child. Joseph had an extended time in prison before God raised him to great authority.  Moses lived a long moment on the backside of the desert and then another hard season in the wilderness. I can’t even fathom the moments that Job walked through on his journey. David’s difficult long moment running from Saul had to be tough. What about that 40-day wilderness experience of our Savior doing battle with the devil?

Do you think that Abraham and Sarah and Joseph and David and Moses and Job and Jesus got weary in their long moment?  God was sovereign over those moments, and our lives have been deeply impacted by the faith of these ordinary people who were part of the extraordinary story God recorded in his Word.

Allow me to close with something I read in David Jeremiah’s book, Overcomer. I believe it speaks to this time of personal pandemic.

“Being an Overcomer isn’t something we accomplish by our own power and wisdom. When we can’t see how our everyday decisions and actions fit into God’s cosmic plan, God essentially says to us, ‘Let Me relieve you of that worry, that fear. Just take this one little step into the light I have placed in front of you, and I will see to it that your faithful action will fit into the overarching plan and accomplish both My goals and your good.’”

God has some goals and purposes for you and me in this long moment.  We can live each day just taking the next step into the light He places before us and we will get through this … well!

Signed, A fellow struggler.

 

Posted by: mikenicholsblog | March 22, 2020

praise perspective

This morning before praying, I reviewed verses in Psalm 145 on praise. We have all been so deep in the weeds of Covid-19, that giving praise may have drifted away from front and center as we call out to God on this virus. Well, David reminded me that it shouldn’t.

I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever. I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever. Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!  No one can measure his greatness. Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power. I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor and your wonderful miracles.
Psalm 145:1-5 (NLT)

We all need perspective … praise perspective!  As Christ-followers, we understand that God knows everything about Covid-19, cares for us personally, and will guide us day by day. So, for encouragement today, I have copied a true story about another tough time. Just like then, God does miracles today!  And even before we see miracles, we can praise.

During Desert Storm the United States Marine Corps was ordered to push up the Saudi Arabian coast through the minefields in southern Kuwait and capture Kuwait City. To move 80,000 marines up that coast, we had to build a logistics support base. We built that base at Kabrit, 30 kilometers south of Kuwait and 30 kilometers in from the Persian Gulf. We picked Kabrit because it was an old airfield that had water wells that provided 100,000 gallons of water a day. The Marines needed that much water daily to carry troops into Kuwait.

Fourteen days before the war began, General Norman Schwarzkopf, commander in chief of the central command, made a daring move called the “great left hook.” This sweep of forces flanked the Iraqi army. It was a great move, but it forced the Marine Corps to move 140 kilometers to the northwest and locate a new logistic space at the Gravel Plains.

There was no water. For fourteen days we had engineers digging desperately to find water. We went to the Saudi government and asked if they knew of any water in this area, and their answer was no. We brought the exiled Kuwaiti government down to our command post and asked, “Do you know if there’s any water in this area?” They said no. We went to the Bedouin tribes and the nomads, the people who lived in that area, and said, “Do you know where there’s water on the Gravel Plain?”

They said, “There’s no water there.” We kept digging wells hundreds of feet deep — to no avail.

Every morning at 7:15 a.m., during my devotional time, I asked the Lord to help us find water. On the Sunday before we were to enter Kuwait, I was in a chapel Service, where we were praying for water, when a colonel came to the tent and said, “General, I need to show you something.”

We drove down a road we had built through the desert from the Gravel Plains to the border of Kuwait. About a mile down that road, the officer said, “Look over there.” About twenty yards off the road was a tower that reached fifteen feet into the air. It was a white tower, and at the top of the tower was a cross. Off the ends of the cross were canvas sleeves used in old train stations to put water into train engines. At the base of that cross was an eight-foot-high pump, newly painted red. Beside that pump was a diesel engine, and beside that, four batteries still in their plastic. On the engine were an On button and an Off button.

I pushed the On button, and the engine kicked over immediately. I called one of my engineers and asked him to test the flow coming out of the pipes. An hour later he said, “Sir, it is putting out 100,000 gallons a day.”

General Charles Krulak, in a message given at the Leadership Prayer Breakfast, Wheaton, Illinois, October 2000

In a search for this story you would find that it was called the “The Miracle Well” by the London Times. I was challenged by the verses this morning to think of praise and miracles. We all know believers should praise, and that our Father still does miracles

My challenge for you today is to start every morning praising … every morning. And don’t discount our Father’s ability to intervene with miracle-working power. Do you still believe in miracles? He still does them!

Posted by: pmarkrobb | March 19, 2020

sing as a bird in winter

I stepped out the side door Tuesday morning and was met by a chorus of what sounded like hundreds of birds. In these last few days of the winter season, and in the first days of altogether different season that certainly feels as cold and harsh as winter can be, it was a shock to my senses. It was a deep inhale of the fresh and pure air of hope, and it almost immediately made me think of a post I wrote back in February of Two-Thousand Sixteen. The daily reading it sourced from seems so appropriate for where we find ourselves today, and its concluding truth rings (or should I say, sings) just as loud and true as it did then. For such a time as this, I would like to revisit that post as an encouragement to your heart today.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
James 3:13-15 (ESV)

Not long after the sun dawned on Monday, the day took on a very solemn tone.  After greeting me with a good morning kiss, my wife shared some tragic news she received via text shortly after 1:00am.  A young couple were out celebrating Valentine’s Day and were hit head-on by another car.  The husband died instantly, and the wife was in critical condition.  The young man was the best friend of someone very near and dear to us.  He was to be his best man.

My heart sank, and silent prayers were offered.  Then quickly came, the news that the wife had, herself, just fallen into the arms of Jesus.  This world’s great loss was heaven’s great gain.  I navigated the remainder of that day with an intensely heavy heart.  This was “wrong” on so many levels.  This was not how things were supposed to be.  Yet, the Bible says this is exactly what we should expect.  Our world is not how God created or intended it to be.  Original sin carried a curse, and death in this life is assured (unless Christ comes back first).  It should war against our souls.  It should always seem so desperately wrong to the true follower of Jesus.  It grieves God, and God’s Spirit within us echoes that grief.

I stepped out the side door of my house a little before 8:00am the next morning.  It took only a few steps to be overwhelmed with profoundly contrasting sensory experiences.  As my eyes measured my steps, I could clearly see snow on the ground.  Yet as my cheeks hit the temperate air, something seemed amiss.  As I took a deep breath through my nose, my senses were at full-on war.  I typically pause in such moments.  They are the kind where your eyes announce sour, but your palate experiences sweet — or when you expect a bite to be sweet and are shocked by savory.  Something doesn’t compute … and it definitely didn’t that morning.  Every bit of my visual cues and calendar knowledge declared winter, but the cool-ish air and distinct scent shouted spring.  O how I love moments when two polar opposites or multiple warring senses create an unavoidable and uncomfortable tension.

And then I heard the birds.

I stood beside my car for a minute to watch, breathe and listen.  The sweet sound of the birds seemed to elevate above my other senses. I found myself lost in their song.  As I buckled in and started off, I began connecting the experience back to the heaviness of my yesterday.  Although it was not of the same intensity or consequence, there was also something “wrong” on Tuesday morning — birds were singing and there was snow on the ground.  How is it that there were birds singing?!

In what seemed like an instant, I associated their song with the bewildering beauty of gratitude in the midst of suffering. The conditions were harsh, yet they went on singing.  It was the natural world declaring the absolute truths of “give thanks in all circumstances” (I Thess. 5:18) and “count it all joy” (James 1:2).  Thanks in the circumstances and joy in the trials of various kinds … not because of them.

I suppose I am more often a support for the bird who attempts to sing in the midst of their circumstances and trials.  I have not experienced deep loss as often as have others in my life.  It is desperately hard but infinitely easier to be the bird’s friend, than to be the bird.  Father, continue to make me worthy of that sacred opportunity and make me able to sing when circumstances and trials of various kinds befall my life.  I pray this for those whose lives have been turned upside down by the tragedy of this young couple’s death.  And I also pray that we don’t miss this:

The singing makes people stop (as I did Tuesday morning) and listen.  The song is a powerful testimony of God’s strength and love in carrying us through the circumstances and trials that bring us to our knees.

Dear brother and sister, sing as a bird in winter.  Sing to the Creator, the Great Healer.

Posted by: mikenicholsblog | March 17, 2020

We need to land squarely

Consider the world of seven days ago. There was a virus, and we were all a bit concerned. Then that concern went into overdrive.  Today, Covid-19 dominates almost every discussion, and social distancing is now a popular phrase. The world of seven days ago is a distant memory. Normal activities for this week include: working from home; driving through for a take-out meal; determining just the right time to visit the grocery store; understanding what children need and elder isolation. And all this while living six feet apart … or did someone say three?! What a difference a week makes!! As Christ-followers, how should we view and respond to something that is so unnerving, far-reaching, and with seemingly no quick resolution?

Years ago, I was challenged with what to do in situations I could not control, fix or avoid. Covid-19 certainly tempts each one of us in the direction of a place that seems a bit uncontrollable, with no real capacity to fix or avoid. So what do Christ-followers do?

We need to land squarely on our faith and trust in our unfailing and unchanging God. It is hard to imagine, but we all experienced similar but different emotions on 9/11 with terrorism, and then again in 2008 when the financial world collapsed. Three eruptions in twenty years, but God still holds it all and He knows right where each of us is and what we need. There is no hopelessness when our eyes are fixed on our Father. Words came from a friend yesterday that were penned by Martin Luther concerning the Black Death. His perspective from another time was timeless.

“I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me, and I have done what He has expected of me, and so I am not responsible for either my death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however, I shall not avoid place or person. I shall go freely as stated above. See this is such God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God.” (Luther’s Works; Vol 43, pg. 132).

Well said from a long-ago generation! When I started this article, faith over fear was on my mind. But in Christ, we already know that. So, I (and we) have a challenge. Christ-followers around the world are praying, trusting (while battling fearful emotions), and wanting to help. Look at Romans 12:9-13 with me, and then accept the opportunity to minister.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. (NLT)

With Covid-19 interrupting our world, will you choose with me to be the hands and feet of Jesus to just one or two people a day? It could be a phone call to encourage or pray with someone, helping with groceries, or maybe sending a gift card. Be who you are in Christ to others, and genuinely touch lives in the next seven days. Narrow spiritual and relational distance while respecting the social kind. There may never be a better moment to show His love! Don’t expect others to do what you can do, and let your faith comfort the fears of others.

IMPORTANT NOTE: We believe God may be inviting us back into a moment in time or season of life relative to Journey OnWord. He has stirred our collective hearts to offer some encouragement once again, rooted in biblical truth, for a time such as this. We don’t know the answers to the questions of “How often will you post?” or “Does this mean Journey is back?” For now, we listen for God’s prompt and joy in the opportunity to share with you again.

Posted by: mikenicholsblog | December 31, 2019

Start 2020 in the right way!

 

There is no better way to seek clearer vision in 2020 than to seek His perspective!

There is no better way to get His perspective than by reading His Word.

If you do not already have a structured daily Bible reading plan, we would like to strongly encourage you to consider this one. It is a read through the New Testament in a year plan offered by the Navigators. They call it a 5x5x5 plan — 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week, 5 ways to dig deeper. Will you consider investing this small amount of time to deepen your daily walk with Jesus? The decision is yours today in order to begin tomorrow.

A PDF of the plan is linked here, and is also available on the side menu of the Journey OnWord site.

Blessings,
Mike and Genel Nichols

Posted by: mikenicholsblog | December 30, 2017

an eight year Journey

It has been an interesting and deeply meaningful eight year journey. What had been just a thought for my wife and I became a reality after a brief airport meeting in July 2009. Note the words of our team member Mark in describing the unplanned meeting … “And then ‘randomly’ my uncle and I ran into a friend of his in the Akron-Canton Airport. My uncle was used of God that day as He planted the seeds of what would eventually grow into an eight year Journey with Him and all of you.” After our quick and absolutely not random meeting, Mark and his uncle (Tom) went home and created a website that was to become known as Journey OnWord.

From the very first conversation, God’s fingerprints were unmistakable. From that very first day there has been unwavering solidarity in Journey’s mission … to support and encourage others to be in God’s Word daily. In the very first paragraph of our first article we stated that mission … “To know God through the pages of His Word!” With that, we did a trust-fall into the arms and purposes of our Father; writing with no audience and no great expectation of where God would take our words. He answered quickly as churches and individuals began to follow and subscribe. They used the daily reading plans and read our articles. Through the power of the internet, we have periodically noticed people who followed or read from all over the world. For that, we are profoundly humbled and grateful.

Our ministry has been the work of four people with unique skills, writing styles and journeys in life. It may interest you to know that as Mark, Genel, Tom and I have authored, proofed and posted over 900 articles, all while never being together in one place.  Mark and I have seen each other face-to-face less than ten times over our eight year Journey. Tom (Mark’s uncle), who put all of us together, has chosen to work behind the scenes and has been very active in making sure the Word was presented every week. Genel has written many articles and gracefully endured the role of proofing and making sure my words made sense for the past eight years. It is also interesting and amazing that in our behind the scenes ministry, Mark and Genel have never met face-to-face. Yet in God’s design and timing, all four of us have worked seamlessly together, and by His grace have seen evidence that this ministry has been used for His glory. I would also be remiss in not mentioning Mark’s wife Kristyn, whom neither I or Genel have ever met in person. You won’t find Kristyn’s name anywhere on our site, but she has faithfully served as Mark’s editor for the full duration of our shared Journey.

We could write pages about our experiences with Journey onWord, but let it be perfectly clear that this Journey has never been about us. Early on, we chose not to strive to build a ministry, but rather to only be obedient to the Father’s leading. It is so comforting to know that we are all united in knowing it is time to refresh and move forward.  We all feel that “catching our breath” and insisting that we are growing in our own relationships with Jesus is the direction of our team for 2018. If you choose to remain subscribed, you may “hear from us” in the form of periodic articles (after all, writing is in our DNA). But we’ll leave that up to our Father’s will and choosing. And remember, you can still go the website (http://journeyonWord.com) and access any article we have written by using the blog archive section.

We are on the doorstep of 2018, and each of us at Journey OnWord are eternally grateful to have been given the great privilege of coming alongside you for whatever portion of the past eight years that you have followed or subscribed.  We are excited and expectant for His work in us in the New Year, and are confident in His care and working in your life as well. We have always ended our articles with the words “Yesterday ended at Midnight,” and now we say it with confidence one more time. May you look forward in the direction of God’s design for you in 2018, as you leave 2017 behind.

With love and grace … Mike, Genel, Mark and Tom

Posted by: pmarkrobb | December 23, 2017

What gift will you be giving God this Christmas?

December 6, 1941
April 18, 1775
September 10, 2001

What do all these dates have in common with today?

They are all Eves of days that changed the course of history. On December 6th, 1941, the United States was just keenly aware of the terrible fighting going on “over there.” On April 18th, 1775 “the shot heard ‘round the world” was not in anyone’s vernacular. And on 9/10/01, terrorism was something that happened somewhere else. On those particular eves we had little, if any, clue how the next day would change the world forever.

As Christ-followers, we are in the final hours of a sacred waiting. We wait to celebrate. The ancients waited for a coming King, a Deliverer, a Redeemer, the most dramatic of all their dramatic rescues. As night fell on that particular Eve, the sky lit up with a chorus of angels and a star the likes of which had never been seen before or since. For the great majority of my life, I approached Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with a blindness similar to that of the ancients. I wholly misunderstood Advent, and I certainly didn’t practice it. I shopped and wrapped, made Christmas ornaments for the kids, made a tradition out of driving around to look at Christmas lights, and tuned my radio to 24-hour Christmas music. I was trapped in the trappings completely devoid of the intense expectancy that should define the season of Preparing Him Room … but all that is different now.

In so many ways, I feel like I’ve been awakened from a clueless and comfortable hibernation. I knew the Nativity. I’ve heard it preached and taught hundreds of times. I had become so “familiar” with the story of the birth of Jesus that when I read it (and that wasn’t nearly as often as I might have argued I did), it was as if I was reading disclaimer language or the legalese leading up to the signature line of a consent document. I knew what it said, when, in fact, I really didn’t.

At Journey, our sole (and soul) focus has been to support and encourage people to be in God’s Word daily. The Bible is a bottomless well of truth and application. You can read the same book, chapter or verse once, twice, three times and genuinely believe it’s like you’re reading it for the very first time. That has certainly been my experience with the truly limited narrative on the Nativity.  I have had the great honor and privilege of sharing what the Spirit was showing me each Advent season. This is our fifth one, and none have been “repeats” relative to content, thought or focus. God has been so good and gracious to bend my eye, heart and mind in a particular direction. Without any conscious effort on my part, thoughts and words flow and find a singular, kindred thread.

I pray this awakening for you, in a way that is unique to your walk and relationship with God. I pray that if my own voice is silent next Advent season, yours will not be as you walk through it together with Him.

I will ask you one last time in this present season of Advent to consider something with me. More than anything else, this one question has most often been on my mind, heart and lips …

“What gift will you be giving God this Christmas?”

I wonder if the Maker of heaven and earth has ever been a name on the list of people to whom you plan to give a gift at Christmas. I confess that until this year, He has never been on mine. It sounds more than odd when I say it out loud, but in a very personal and powerful way the Spirit has walked with me through a season of prompting relative to that question.

Is there a good gift God has given you that you have either consciously or unconsciously taken possession of? Is there something that has become an idol or that you’ve been deliberately withholding from Him? Is there something that has broken to pieces the time that used to be just you and Him? I have asked and answered those questions (and others that birthed from them) of and for myself. I wonder if you would entertain them yourself?

The time to celebrate Jesus’ first coming is but a breath away. There are few things more precious than the expectancy of Christmas morning in the heart and life of a child. Both in the moments just before, and then when it finally explodes like the biggest joy bomb ever!

Jesus gathered and challenged his disciples one day. To His hand-picked, closest followers he said…

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:3 (NIV)

Hear that today. Let your joy explode today like that of a little child on Christmas morning!

Merry Christmas, my brother and sister in Jesus!  He has come, and He is coming again!! Glory to God in the highest!

Posted by: thomasjrobb | December 23, 2017

Daily Reading Schedule – remainder of 2017

We are in the final hours of waiting.  Waiting to celebrate the first coming of our Savior and King.  Immanuel, God with us.

Oh, come let us adore Him and prepare Him room.

Please note the following daily Bible readings for the remainder of 2017

Sun ​….​​ Luke 1
​Mon …​. Luke 2
​Tue ​.​.​.. Mark 1
​Wed ..​. John 4:1-42
​Thu ….​ ​ Matthew 5
​Fri ……. Matthew 6
​Sat ..​… ​Matthew 7
​Sun …. ​Reflection & Prayer


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