Posted by: pmarkrobb | March 30, 2021

the Master’s class

As we walk deliberately through Jesus’ final days before dying and rising, we find ourselves, like the ancients, on this Tuesday in a MasterClass … or, more truly, in the Master’s class. Teaching is on tap for today. Teaching, teaching, and more teaching. There will be mountains moved by morning, mites magnified after midday and a meaningful mention of staying awake as no one knows whether the Master will return at midnight or morning. How does one tell of today when it would take all week to do it well?! My head is swimming a bit as I expect would have been true of an ancient who was with Jesus from waking to sleeping that Tuesday.

In passing by the wasted and withered fig tree the very next morning after it was cursed, Jesus chooses to teach. He answers Peter’s notice and amazement with a not-of-this-world truth for all that echoes to us today. Namely, how even the most trace amount of true faith in God can pick up a mountain and move it. And, oh, if there were time to unpack the deeply meaningful and yet seemingly unrelated lesson of the correlation between prayer and forgiveness in those same moments. But we need to keep moving. My own compel causes me to think of the Messiah’s that day. Wondering whether He felt the burden of being constrained by time in meeting and moving through all the purposed moments of today. My own sense of unease reminds me of a story my father has shared several times about a dear friend and a visit to Washington D.C. My father grew up just outside our nation’s capital and made several trips during my adolescence as a “tour guide” of sorts for friends who had never been. He had a deep knowledge of the city and keen sense for seeing its sites in a limited window of time. On their very first morning in the very first museum, my father’s friend walked up to the very first exhibit in the grand lobby and began reading the placard. Turning back to see his friend reading, my father casually returned to his friend’s side. Leaning in close to his friend’s ear, he encouraged his dear friend in this way. “If you only want to see this one museum during our time here, please continue reading. But if you would like to see anything else while we’re here, it is time to move on.” And so shall we.

The truth confounds and contorts those who set out to deceive. And so it was as Jesus and his disciples reached Jerusalem Tuesday morning. Jesus goes immediately to the temple and is met by a pack of elites who challenge the authority of His work and words. I’m not sure I noticed that first part before, or at least to the degree I did this year. Maybe a bit obscured by the crowd and the challenge of the religious elites was the setting where it happened. Perhaps this was another understated, intentional visit by the Son to have a look around at his Father’s house a day after making things new. Or, perhaps, He would answer me as He did his parents as a boy, “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49b (NLT). Whatever the reason for the where, Jesus ties the “Have’s” in a knot by answering their question with one of His own. He then answered their non-answer with one of His own.

He went on to tell a story to all who were gathered but was aimed squarely at those who were even then plotting. It was the story of an owner of a vineyard and evil tenant farmers. The story found its mark and sent the evil ones scurrying in fear. Over and over again on this day the religious leaders grouped and regrouped. Jesus was teaching to all those gathered, but the most intense exchanges were with those who were not there to hear. They repeatedly tried to trick Jesus with their questions on authority and taxes and brides and brothers and the greatest commandment. They were so sure they’d catch Him in a trap. They tried to catch Him with clever, but who were they kidding?! The easy answer to that is … themselves.

After repeated exchanges with the various groups of elites, we find one of the most powerful and poignant moments of the day. Jesus deliberately sits down very near the collection box in the temple and waits. I wonder (because of the way the story is told in verses 41-44 of Mark 12) if He did so alone. I can see Him in my mind’s eye sitting and observing intently as people of all walks came to give out of what they had. Scripture specifically notes the large gifts from those who had much and then … “she” arrives. When He sees her, Jesus calls for His disciples to come. I wonder if His gestures were subtle or pronounced. This was something that could not be missed today. This deserved their full attention and intention in observation (as it does ours). Amid all the temple bustle, a poor widow approaches the collection box with every last bit of what she had to live on. Two tiny copper coins which she gave to her Lord with a heart I can only expect was full and glad. As the woman who will break open the bottle tomorrow, this one also gave all — every last bit of what she had. Is there any wonder Jesus would take time out of His beyond busy day to sit and watch this lavish gift? He knew she would be there. He also knew when. And He purposed to go, and to sit, and to wait, and to watch. Watch this woman give all to Him in the form of her two mites just days before He would give His all to her (and all) in stretching out His two arms.

Scripture’s account of the day concludes in some manner of how it began, with a single disciple making an observation and Jesus teaching something deeply meaningful to all of them in response. And later, as Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives and looked out over the valley to his Father’s house (Temple) on the other side, He articulated to Peter, James, John and Andrew who had come to Him privately, a picture of the birth pains that will precede His coming again. If their heads and hearts were not already full from the events and declarations of the day, I can only imagine what it was like for them to take that all in. Can you imagine what it was like to hear what following Him would personally cost them? Can you see their reactions on Friday and Saturday and early Sunday differently through this lens? The thought of paying that price with Him by their side would have been monumental enough. But imagine the weight of believing they were losing Him in seeing Him accused, condemned, brutally beaten, hanging on the Cross, breathing His last, and being taken down and away quickly to be buried before the new Shabbat “dawned.” Sometimes we can be quick to shake our heads at all the disciples missed and how they failed, but they were living the story that we already know. I, for one, cannot even imagine.

The sun would soon set on Tuesday and its teaching, and Jesus and his troop of Twelve would head back to their hospitality in Bethany. Today’s fervor will reignite tomorrow, but in a far more intimate setting and all because of the favor of one. What a treasure it is to be walking together at the Master’s pace.

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Posted by: pmarkrobb | March 29, 2021

tilled up and turned over

I wonder if Jesus politely refused breakfast this morning, already knowing about the barren fig tree and the deep truth God had purposed He share with His disciples today. God, who is outside of time, was now living within it. Did Jesus see His whole day at its beginning? Did He know the plan and purpose of daily things and conversations before He arrived at them? Or did He obey them in the moment, more as we do? I’m guessing, because He is God, the answer to all these questions is, somehow, yes.

Can we bring our hearts to the place of believing that Jesus might have already known every detail of His earthly life, and still experienced them and met moments of decision by obeying his Father’s leading in a way that is common to ours? Can you believe Jesus knew His Monday morning and about the tree, but then also that His hunger wasn’t His direct pre-purposing? And could you believe His gaze caught the tree in a way that yours might have, and in observing the tree He saw (in that specific moment) the deep truth his Father wanted Him to share? Does your understanding and experience of God fit into a box of someone’s making, or is He too big for a box?

Please forgive me and maybe … pray for me? <shrugged shoulders emoji> <smiley face emoji> I got all this from the quite pedestrian words of Mark 11:12. “The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.”

I wonder how many Christians only learn the Bible. Learn, in the sense, that they are only ever taught it and do not truly experience it. They do not bring all their senses to it — seeing, smelling, tasting, touching and hearing the words, stories, characters, and truths about God. In my own experience, I believe there’s profound loss in only learning the Bible. It’s not that you can’t, but that you lose something profoundly precious in the choice. Maybe I can say it this way … it would be like having an intermediary or translator assigned to you on your wedding day or the first day you meet a lifelong friend and you never went or were anywhere without them and without them offering their own interpretation of the setting and circumstances and feelings and implications and decisions and … well, everything. Can you begin to imagine the profound loss of intimacy and knowing and relationship in that way of being and living?

In my own life, I have experienced deep truths about God and His presence and working through times spent in His word in a variety of settings. I remember a morning sitting at the back table with my head buried in the Bible and my notebook, and a moment of looking up at the sound of some flapping wings above me and catching a glorious glance of the sun reflecting off the bottoms of a sky full of seagulls. It was stunning! Like a thousand tiny flashbulbs. In that moment I saw this otherwise bothersome bird as the masterpiece God’s Word says I am (Ephesians 2:10, specifically in the words of the New Living Translation). I further remember stepping out my side door (after some sacred time with God moments before) to the most surreal experience of seeing and feeling Winter but hearing Spring in the song of nearby birds. In that moment, I saw the beauty and power of a soul that sings in a season of suffering. Vivid experiences of God and His truth. Experiences which will stay with me for the remainder of my days and speak and sing as I experience even more of Him through His Word and those He created and purposed for my path.

Jesus invited Thomas to touch His wounds. He concealed truths in stories for those who had ears to hear. He invited the disciples to eat and drink elements that He declared as His body and blood as the old covenant made new in Him. It is God’s desire for us to experience Him with all our senses. To “taste and see,” as the Psalmist said, that He is good (Psalm 34:8). A practical way we can do that is to bring our whole selves to the reading of His Word. To become a disciple waking on that Monday morning and later walking with Jesus and hearing Him curse the tree with no fruit and violently making a mess of the mess that had been made of His house.

Monday in the life of Jesus during this particularly sacred week before dying and rising was disruptive. A bold challenge in the form of a stern (and seemingly out of the blue) rebuke of a fig tree and a house cleaning of all house cleanings. The ground in many human hearts was tilled up and turned over on this day. Jesus was just steps into the full measure of the road that only He could travel. Tomorrow He will teach. Today He turned over. Oh, what great goodness awaits as we continue to walk together with Him.

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Posted by: pmarkrobb | March 28, 2021

deep purpose in His peruse

The time had come for redemption’s plan to be fulfilled. Every moment of Jesus’ coming and living and ministering was tilted in the direction of this watershed week. Every word and deed and detail in His life was purposed and it would be powerfully and exponentially so beginning today … parade day.

As Jesus and his disciples neared the very same place He would surrender to the Roman guards in the Garden, He paused to begin His surrender to the Father’s plan of redemption. At the Mount of Olives, Jesus gave explicit instructions to two of his disciples to go ahead and retrieve a young donkey. They found it exactly as He said and answered the questioning onlookers exactly as He had instructed. The Lord was borrowing the burro and would return it. I wonder whose job that was, to leave the city amid all the buzz and walk the donkey back from whence it came? There’s every reason to believe it was the two, and I can only imagine what they talked about along the way there and back. To some degree, they were used to things happening as the Master said and for reasons that didn’t resemble the earthly ones they were accustomed to. They had been learning to just do as the Master said and then watch.

The city of Jerusalem was bursting at the seams and bustling with the business of Passover. That “business” was in Jesus’ sights that day. He was riding into the city as its King, for sure, but not to be crowned (that would happen, but not today). There are 10x more verses written in Mark’s gospel account of about Jesus’ preparing and the parade on “Palm Sunday,” but there is one that speaks very subtly yet pointedly to a core purpose of today. Mark 11:11 (ESV) says, “And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.”

The word translated as “looked around” has a far more purposed connotation than the English translation may suggest. This was no browse through Housewares, this was an intentional and thorough observation of the current state of things in God’s house. For years I completely missed this verse — to the detriment of my understanding of the turning over the tables Jesus would do tomorrow. Absent this understanding, Jesus’ actions can be perceived to be the equivalent of a temple “tirade” or “tantrum.” With this understanding, one can see what it truly was – righteous anger and a rooting out of the cancer that was poisoning God’s house with the precision of a scalpel. Jesus’ problem was not with the pilgrims, it was with the profiteers. And He had a look around today to be certain his actions tomorrow were targeted and thorough.

The arc of my writing this week begins with an emphasis on “as it was already late,” and will land on the last day “while it was still dark.” Setting and rising sun bookends in the story of this sacred week in the life of the dying and rising Son. We should not miss the purpose in today’s parade. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a humble beast to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy of the Messiah as a King. But let us also not miss the deep purpose in His peruse. He looked around in order to root out. His house cleaning would wait a day. What a pattern for our own lives in how we respond to the things which offend and anger us. What a week that’s just begun!

Posted by: pmarkrobb | March 26, 2021

it’s an empty Cross and crypt

The season of Lent is the second most important purposed practice of my life relative to my faith. By an exponential factor, my daily time with God is first. But after that, it is my very personal and practical observance of Lent. And the pinnacle of the Lent experience for me is Holy Week. How is that possible, when nothing should be able to hold a candle to Resurrection Day? Because you cannot get to Resurrection Day without first passing through the staggering silence of Saturday and the redemptive power of Friday. Then, there’s the making new of the central elements of the central observance of the central festival on Thursday, and so on, and so on all the way through the Messiah’s riding into the city of God on the back of a small donkey on Palm Sunday. Our faith and our salvation can be all about one day, while at the very same time being about every other day in the story of God.

And so, here at Journey OnWord, we renew a tradition (that began a good many years ago) by pausing before intentionally walking through each day of the week our Savior walked … into the city, the temple, the supper, the Cross and out of the empty tomb (He is Risen!). I invite you to shed the weight of all that burdens you and breath a deep and beautiful cleansing breath as we shine a light on the daily details of The Light of the World as He walked to and through the Cross and the grave to fulfill the Father’s plan of redemption.

For many years, my celebration of Easter was centered on things other than what should have been at the center. Repeated, intentional walks through the sacred week leading up to it has fixed my eyes rightly on the One who has rescued and redeemed me and who’s making all things new. Easter’s gift isn’t a full basket or bucket, it’s an empty Cross and crypt.

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Posted by: mikenicholsblog | March 21, 2021

a correction and our forward course

— DAILY BIBLE READING CORRECTION —

Please note the following correction to the Daily Bible Reading schedule:
Monday, March 22nd  –  I John 3:1-24
Tuesday, March 23rd  –  I John 4:1-21

We’re quickly moving toward Holy Week and wanted to give you an update on what will be happening that week, as well for the remainder of the year. We have nearly completed a 60-day journey through the Bible which we hope you have enjoyed. Beginning Palm Sunday, all journeyonword.com subscribers will receive daily articles moving us to the Cross and finishing on Resurrection Day. Holy Week articles have been a wonderful part of our ministry, and I am sure you will enjoy this year’s edition by our partner Mark Robb.

On April 5th, our Bible reading will transition its focus to the characters of Scripture. From Abraham to Jonah to Jesus and beyond, your heart will be refreshed by men and women whose lives teach us so much for our journey today. We are passionate about helping men and women encounter God through consistent study of His Word. Our plan is to introduce each character with an article to launch your study. If you need a copy of our reading plan, click here to access it.

Thank you for partnering with us in studying the Word.

Journey onWord Team

Posted by: mikenicholsblog | February 18, 2021

the rest of a story … for your story

What a season!  It has been weeks since the ground in Northeast Ohio wasn’t snow covered. Who can ever remember Texas being a frozen tundra and Nashville seemingly under siege for a year (a tornado, terrorist attack, and now a deep freeze)?!  Oh, and, by the way, it has been almost a year of wearing masks and watching nonstop political acrimony. What a season!  And then this week, I read about Job. He is certainly the poster child for ‘what a season!’

Paul Harvey brought smiles to millions with the rest of the story.  However, his humorous and profound stories are no match for the rest of the story found in Job chapter forty-two. What we see of Job’s life through the pages of Scripture causes us to “feel his pain” and genuinely hurt for him. Losing his family, being directly attacked by Satan, and the condescension of his friends all took their toll. We catch a glimpse of his pain through his emotional and passionate words. But then something happened: God spoke! And the rest of the story is a picture of grace, forgiveness, healing and restoration.

If you have read the book of Job, you know God speaks in chapters 38-41. The counsel of others brought hurt, not help, in the midst of Job’s plight. But when God spoke, Job was deeply moved. Principles from Job chapter forty-two provide a dramatic conclusion. Let the rest of his story give hope for your journey.

I know that you can do all
things; no plan of yours can be
thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who
is this that obscures my counsel
without knowledge?’ Surely I
spoke of things I did not
understand, things too wonderful
for me to know.

My ears had heard of you but
now my eyes have seen you.

Therefore I despise myself and
repent in dust and ashes.

Job 42:2-3, 5-6

For lack of a better way to say it, after God spoke Job got the message. He acknowledges God’s power and responds to God’s wisdom. And although I cannot know the depths of verse five, I believe Job was now seeing with eyes of faith and understanding that gave him the ability to accept God’s plan. Can you remember a time where your hearing became seeing, and your view of God’s plan became clear? And then when Job’s eyes were opened, repentance came. Whether at the moment of salvation, or along the spiritual journey, when our eyes are opened to our sin, repentance is needed.

As the rest of the story nears its conclusion, reconciliation between Job and his friends is in full view. God gave strong instructions to Job’s friends and Job prayed for them. It was after this prayer that God restored to Job prosperity and blessed him again with ten more children. I sensed a heart of forgiveness in Job as he prayed for those who abused him. I sensed a heart of grace from God to restore Job’s wealth and give him children. I am profoundly touched by the words of verse twelve. “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first.” (WOW!) When we face trials, do we really believe that what God has for us is better than anything we could imagine or wish for ourselves outside of that trial?

What a season! I can’t speak to global weather patterns, awful viruses and political acrimony, but I know God is in control. And God knew what He was doing with Job in his tough season. He also knows what He is doing with you and me. He knows the rest of our story.

So hold tight in your current season, and trust God with your story.

Posted by: mikenicholsblog | January 31, 2021

faith in the Faithful One

A month of reading through familiar portions of the Old Testament has taken us from a garden to a wilderness, from family struggles to a nation’s unbelief, all the while reminding us of the frailty and selfishness of mankind, the power of God, and His great patience.  We have seen faith exhibited and certainly significant examples of failure in trusting God. From Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Esau to Joseph, Moses, Gideon, Samson, Samuel and Saul, the Old Testament has reminded us that God can be trusted. No matter how men and women of all ages have battled sin, selfishness, doubt, relational struggles and trust issues, God has always been trustworthy.

February’s journey through Scripture (from David’s battle with Goliath all the way to Jesus’ profound teaching in the Sermon on the Mount), will show again God’s profound grace and trustworthiness … and man’s struggle to trust Him.  In your continuing journey with us, know that there is nothing that can encourage, strengthen and prepare us for each day’s battle like the Word of God.  Nothing!  And if your life is anything like mine, there is a deep need to receive daily insight from His Word.

As you read and seek God through His Word, I am trusting and will pray for a year of defining moments in your life. Moments of growth and deeper faith for the journey ahead!  I would like to share such a moment from the life of Hudson Taylor that I have personally just revisited. I believe Taylor loved His Lord and wanted to fulfill God’s design for his life. After all, he landed in China in 1854 and started the China Inland Mission. But, for a season, he also struggled mightily in his faith. Then, as I recall, a letter from a friend birthed a defining moment. From that point forward, he stopped striving to be faithful and would instead trust the Faithful One. In essence, he shifted the weight of his faith journey from himself to the Faithful One!  Something all of us need to do.

Think of struggling with faith issues and doubt and then, as the result of the shift …

 “I am no longer anxious about anything … for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine.  It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me, for in the easiest position He must give me His grace, and in the difficult His grace is sufficient.  It little matters to my servant whether I send him to buy a few cash worth of things or the most expensive articles. In either case he looks to me for the money and brings me his purchases.  So, if God should place me in great perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength? No fear that His resources will be unequal to the emergency!  And His resources are mine—for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me.”
Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secrets, Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor
(emphasis is mine)

You and I may never claim to be a Hudson Taylor, but we have God’s love letter to us, and in Christ, His power within us.  Could it be that as we read through His Word in 2021, we sense the grace to stop striving and begin to daily lean on the Faithful One? That will be a defining moment.

Continue the Journey in Scripture with us this month!

Posted by: mikenicholsblog | January 13, 2021

nothing-new-under-the-sun families

“I want more” were the words which came to mind as I read Scripture yesterday morning. “More of what?” you might ask. In doing a survey of the Bible in 60 days, we are brushing broad strokes across stories that I hold dear. Don’t just give me pieces and parts of Joseph’s story, “I want more.” In this discontent I must remind myself (and you) not to worry. By the time we finish ’21, Joseph and other Bible characters will give you the “more” we’re looking for! And speaking of 21, I wonder in our overview of Genesis if you’ve noticed some patterns that bring to mind 21st century living?

Cain and Abel … family issues!
Noah … family issues!
Lot … family issues!
Jacob and Esau … family issues!
Joseph and his brothers … family issues!

Woven through the fabric of Genesis is a foreshadowing of family relationships in our own time (nothing new under the sun, indeed, Solomon).  Dysfunctional! Almost everyone has looked at their family (or extended family) and wondered what in the world is happening. In our minds, things should be better. And in our weakest moments, we even feel sorry for ourselves. Jacob’s words in Genesis 42:36 ring in my ears as I think about the family dynamics of today. He seemed at his wit’s end.

Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my sons. Joseph is gone and Simeon is gone. Now you want to take Benjamin. Everything happens to me!” (HCSB)

Granted, he was at a hard place, but his words (Everything happens to me) remind me of how we all sometimes feel when our family dynamics are in upheaval.

Over the last two weeks in reading pieces and parts of Genesis, issues of selfishness, immorality, deceitfulness, bad decisions and even favoritism have been exposed. As your friend, I would venture to say that your family faces some of those very issues today. The sin and dysfunction in families centuries ago, along with the models of wrong thinking and selfish living are alive and well today. So, what should Christ-followers do amid circumstances we seemingly can’t control, fix, or avoid? Take a moment to look with me at the character from Genesis I mentioned in the opening paragraph … Joseph. In reading his story, I see a heart of unfailing forgiveness. After his brothers threw his life into a tailspin that God used for His glory, we find the words of Genesis 50:20 …

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. (NLT)

God’s grace had worked so deeply in this man that his perspective with his brothers was amazing.

The view of family life in Genesis with all its dysfunction but also pictures of faith, trust and forgiveness, is the nothing-new-under-the-sun one we have today. Two thoughts come to mind as to how we can navigate family life in 2021. First, decide to ask this question of every family situation: What is His perspective?” Consistently asking God for His perspective changes the way you look at others and how you respond to them. And believe me, God has a perspective on how to handle dysfunction. Ask the question daily! Second, frame all family relationships through the lens of Ephesians 4:29. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (NLT) If you and I consistently give words of encouragement, forgiveness and healing, our families will see a picture of what life can be. Try it!

There will always be dysfunction. But as Christ-followers, we have God’s perspective from His Word to navigate our family relationships. Your family dysfunction may not end in 2021, but your life of encouragement and forgiveness can make a difference.

Posted by: mikenicholsblog | January 6, 2021

a behind-the-scenes servant

We just jumped into 2021, and sadly it doesn’t seem much different than the year we just left behind … and never want to mention again. In reading through specific passages from Genesis, it becomes obvious the earth’s early days were also filled with unsettledness, immorality and family failure. But yesterday morning, I was reminded of hope in my Lord who answers specifically and miraculously.

Who is the most godly, wise, behind-the-scenes person you know? I am speaking of a man or woman who doesn’t live for recognition but who certainly deserves it. When you need encouragement, a kind or gentle word, prayer for a need, or a special favor, you know this behind-the-scenes friend will be there for you. Several years ago, I was given a magnificent book called Lead for God’s Sake, by Todd Gongwer.  The book exemplified the person just described in the words above. Joe was his name, and the value he added to the fictional story has never left me.  In Scripture, we tend to focus on characters who are well-known like Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham and Sarah. There are also great lessons to be learned from the not-so famous characters of Scripture. Yesterday’s reading led me to a little-known man (not named Joe) who God used in a marvelous way.

Abraham was old and very blessed.  His wife Sarah had gone to be with the Father and Isaac, their son of promise, was approximately forty years old.  Abraham determines that his chief servant should go to the land of his birth and get a wife for Isaac. So, he made a covenant with his servant to go to the land of Mesopotamia and bring back a wife.  In that day, matrimonial arrangements were made by parents, and the chosen partners were to come from one’s own tribe.  Without this context you may be wondering why Abraham was leading the charge for Isaac’s wife (at Isaac’s age). This whole scenario is rich with meaning and could fill hours of discussion, but for purposes of this article, what about the behind-the-scenes servant?

Genesis twenty-four doesn’t mention the servant’s name, but some writers feel this was none other than Eliezer, who had risen to the position of chief servant.  He is mentioned in Genesis (15:2) as the one who would have received Abraham’s estate if he had no son.  Isaac was born and obviously the inheritance became his. So, if the servant was Eliezer, he earns my admiration for being a loyal, yet displaced servant.  Even if the servant wasn’t Eliezer, his actions in this chapter are wise, godly, and an example to all Christ-followers.

Abraham’s servant headed out with ten camels and lots of gifts from his master.  His dependence on God is quite evident in his prayer after arriving at the well in the town of Nahor.  Note his prayer in Genesis 24:12-14.

“O Lord, God of my master, Abraham,” he prayed. “Please give me success today, and show unfailing love to my master, Abraham. See, I am standing here beside this spring, and the young women of the town are coming out to draw water. This is my request. I will ask one of them, ‘Please give me a drink from your jug.’ If she says, ‘Yes, have a drink, and I will water your camels, too!’—let her be the one you have selected as Isaac’s wife. This is how I will know that you have shown unfailing love to my master.”

Rebekah appears on the scene, and the servant asks for a little water from her jar.  Verse nineteen states, When she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels, too, until they have had enough to drink.”  What an answer to prayer!  By the way, a single camel could hold up to twenty-five gallons of water … but she watered all the camels.

So, what’s the big deal?  God chose to use a behind-the-scenes “Joe” to seek out the wife of Isaac and mother of Jacob and Esau. We don’t know much about him, but his legacy for me will always be that he prayed specifically, and God answered miraculously.  Most of us will never be in the limelight or have an easily recognizable name; we are literally behind-the-scenes in the master plan of God. But if our legacy is that we prayed specifically, and God answered miraculously … wow!

The God who answered then, still answers in 2021.  Are you praying specifically … Joe?!

Posted by: pmarkrobb | January 2, 2021

humble ourselves and pray

A few days ago, I was in a deeply meaningful early morning coffee conversation with my Mom when my Dad slipped into the room and joined us. He seemed quite content to listen as we talked. We certainly weren’t solving any world-sized problems, but there was good and godly wisdom being shared on the subject of the big “C” Church’s response to the current state of things in our fractured land. At some point, Dad very quietly stood and walked over to the bookshelf in the corner of the living room. My focus didn’t follow him, but he seemed to linger for only a short time then returned to the couch empty-handed. “What were you looking at?” my Mom asked very soon after Dad sat back down. I don’t recall his exact response, but he spoke little more than the words of the chapter and verse he had gone to the bookshelf to confirm.

“There’s just a couple of things that would make all the difference. II Chronicles 7:14. If my people who are called by my name would humble themselves and pray.”

In an instant, all else seemed like just talk. It seemed so in God’s glorious and gracious way that didn’t take from the good and godly that had already been shared, but spoke all its truth strongly, succinctly, simply and solely in His words. Can you imagine the outcome of a great humbling and praying in our country, of all God’s people choosing the way of forgiveness and mercy? The whole of verse fourteen speaks perfectly to the healing that is so desperately needed in our land and turns our human instincts upside down in the way the Beatitudes did … and do. Maybe you question the application of that truth to where we find ourselves today, but I would suggest that it speaks into it quite wholly. I believe it would be right to judge us as too proud if we do not see first our own need to humble ourselves, pray, and seek His face.     

I am choosing to take two things from that sacred morning conversation with my Mom and Dad. The first is the reminder that my (our) posture in regard to all things should be humility. It was the way of our Savior in all things, and it should also be ours. And in that spirit (maybe better capitalized), it should also be our first instinct to fall, not fight. We should be falling into the arms of the Father in trust, and to our knees to seek His will, way and wisdom for all things. There are wrongs we should stand opposed to and forces to be resisted, but who is doing the fighting?

My second takeaway was the great goodness and imperative of being in God’s Word daily. The whole of the early morning with Mom and Dad reminded me just how important it is to hide God’s Word in my heart (Psalm 119:11) and respond with IT, rather than with words and wisdom that can so easily become my own. I love being involved with Journey onWord, whose singular purpose is to provide opportunity and encouragement to read the Bible daily.  

In these first few days of a new year, it feels for many like things are beginning again. The turn of a page on a calendar or the sunrise at the beginning of a new day are intensely welcome to the one whose heart is bending in the direction of newness and hope. But I am also keenly aware that this is not so for some. Dawn broke on 2021, and its morning and evening were not a new beginning for them… and the forecast isn’t suggesting much different for the next today (or the next one after that one). For a reason only God knows, I cannot shake a compel to offer a link to a post written this past Resurrection Day. It speaks a truth into the darkness that some are still experiencing at the second dawn or noonday of the new year. If you are the nameless one who God has so strongly on my heart right now, I invite you to click here to read about a powerful and not oft mentioned detail of Resurrection morning. In reading, I pray you are reminded that God sees you, is for you, and loves you without condition or ceasing.

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