Journey One-a-Day Tuesday 4/23/19

A life worthy

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling… (Philippians 2:12)

The destination is assured, but you still have to take the journey.

No, Beloved, Paul isn’t saying that you have to earn your salvation. He’s spent a lot of ink teaching us that our salvation is a gift, purchased with the very life of God’s only Son, and that we only need to receive it.

But there’s a process.

There’s a road between who we are and who we’re called to be.

And it’s work, because the road is long and rough and steep.

And there’s fear, because we can’t yet see the finish line, and sometimes we wonder if we’ll ever get there.

And we tremble, because we have used up all the strength in our spiritual muscles, and they twitch with exhaustion, and the road is still before us.

There are steps God’s going to call you to take today, steps you won’t want to take because you are tired and scared and frustrated and feeling like you’re making no progress toward the goal.

Take the steps, Beloved.

They lead home.

Happy Tuesday.

And Today One-a-Day Monday 4/22/19

A life worthy

I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever  (Psalm 145:1-2).


Easter’s over.

It’s Monday.

I hope yesterday was very special for you. I hope you worshipped and prayed and rejoiced and felt especially close to Jesus as you celebrated his resurrection.

And now there’s today.



As we move into our week, as all the stuff and garbage that we put aside yesterday comes flooding back with a power that only Monday can muster, can I ask you to do something?

(And by you, I mean me, too.)

Let’s try to approach Monday with the same joy and reverence and celebration that we felt yesterday.

The tomb is still empty.

He is still risen, indeed!

The One who made you and knows you and died for you and rose for you still loves you more than you can possibly imagine.

Walk in that love today, Beloved.

Happy Monday

Risen! One-a-Day Easter Sunday 4/21/19

A life worthy

For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave (Psalm 86:13).





That’s how I imagine the disciples felt on that Sunday morning. They must have figured that, after all, Jesus had failed.

After all the hopes

after all the struggles

after all the trials

after all the miracles

after all the moments of doubt and grace and glory

Jesus had failed.

Has anyone ever been more gloriously wrong?

On Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene went with some of the other women to make sure that the body of Jesus was properly cared for. Oh, the surprise they got! The tomb was empty, the body was gone, and an angel announced, “He is not here; He has risen!”

Can you imagine?

No, seriously, can you imagine it?  Imagine going with Mary and seeing the stone rolled away, hearing the angel’s words.  Imagine being with the disciples when she brings them the news. Imagine running with Peter and John to see for yourself, and finding the tomb empty, the grave clothes neatly folded.  Imagine standing with Thomas, the doubter, as he touched the wounds on his living Lord.


His death satisfied the requirements of the old covenant—a perfect sacrifice to cover all sin always.

His resurrection broke the power of Death forever, and ushered in the New Covenant—a promise of grace and hope and peace.

His return will bring the fulfillment of history, as he gathers those who put their trust in him and takes them home forever.

He is risen, indeed!

Walk in joy today, Beloved.

Happy Easter

Alone One-a-Day Saturday 4/20/19

A life worthy

Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones (Zechariah 13:7b).

Everybody loves you when you’re winning.

What happened to the crowds?  Wasn’t it just last Sunday that the people were lining the streets, cheering for Jesus?  Now where are they?


When the soldiers came for Jesus, the disciples scattered.  John followed, but at a distance. He needed to know what was happening, but he couldn’t bring himself to intervene.

Peter, like John, followed at a distance.  He mingled with the crowd, where he could blend in and, hopefully, go unnoticed. While he was standing with a group, a servant girl recognized him. Here was Peter’s chance to stand tall for Christ.  Here was his golden opportunity to proclaim his loyalty to Jesus and stand with him—die with him, if need be. After all, that is what he had promised Jesus he would do.

What did he do?  You know what he did.  He denied his Lord. Big, strong Peter couldn’t stand up to the questions of the lowliest servant girl.

What of the rest?  All we know is that they ran for it.

Don’t be too hard on the disciples.  I’m convinced they genuinely believed that they were up to the challenge.  When Peter said he would never betray Jesus, I think he meant it down to the marrow of his bones.  He didn’t have the courage, because he was only human.

Like us.

We know that John, and Mary, and a few others came to the cross before Jesus died; Jesus even spoke to John from the cross. But in the end, Jesus had to fulfill his purpose himself.

In the end, Jesus went to the cross alone.

He went to the grave alone.

He rose from the dead alone.

Because he had to.  That was the point—if anyone else could have done it, if anyone else could have helped, we wouldn’t have needed the perfect Son of God.

Jesus stood alone so that you will never have to.

Because he loves you.

Yes, you

Walk in thankfulness today, Beloved.

Good Friday One-a-Day Friday 4/19/19

A life worthy

Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me (Psalm 41:9).


It’s a bitter, ugly word for a bitter, ugly deed.

Perhaps the worst thing about betrayal is that, by its very nature, it involves someone you trust.  In a sense, you have to give the betrayer the power to hurt you by making yourself vulnerable. Those who never make themselves vulnerable to others can never be betrayed.

But then, they can never really love, either.

The most powerful of all persons made himself vulnerable, opened himself to rejection, let himself be betrayed, to rescue his beloved.

That would be you.

Good Friday, Beloved

No Surprises One-a-Day Thursday 4/18/19

A life worthy

I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting (Isaiah 50:6).                          

He knew what was coming.  

It was no surprise.

He knew he would die to pay the price for our sins.  He also knew that more than death would be involved. There would be pain, and humiliation, and loneliness. The soldiers would slap him around. They would laugh at him. They would dress him up to look like a petty king, complete with crown of thorns. They would take his clothes. They would spit on him.

And he would take it.  

For you.  

For me.

The thing to remember today is that Jesus was not surprised by any of this. He didn’t accidentally let his guard down. He didn’t get caught up in circumstances beyond his control.

There are no circumstances beyond his control.

As he spent this day teaching in the temple, he was moving purposefully and steadily toward the pain that waited for him.   At any point along the way, Jesus could have said, “I’m done.” He chose to wait until he could say, “It is finished.”

The spiritual accomplishments of the Cross are so monumental that sometimes we forget about the physical agony Christ endured both after his arrest and on the Cross.  Remember it today, Beloved. Remember what he suffered, and why. And don’t ever, in all the days ahead, wonder if you are worthy of any good thing.

You are worthy of every good thing.

You, Beloved, are worth dying for.

Happy Thursday

New Covenant One-a-Day Wednesday 4/17/19

A life worthy

“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.  It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

Most Christian churches take communion on a regular basis.  If you have been part of a church for many years, you can probably recite Paul’s words from memory

“The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread…”

How many times have you eaten the bread…or gluten-free cracker, and sipped the wine…or juice?  What does it all mean?

The first communion took place during the Passover, a reminder of the Old Covenant.  The Passover celebrated the night that God supernaturally broke the power of the Egyptians over the Hebrews. He established a covenant with them, promising that he would be Israel’s God, and they would be his people.


For the most part, people in today’s world deal with each other through contracts.  A contract is a business relationship between partners.  Each side has obligations to and expectations of the other.  If these obligations and expectations are not met, the contract is broken, and the terms become invalid.  The people who were wronged by the violation of the contract can seek justice through an impartial third party, the court.

A covenant is more like family.  When my children were little I gave them rules to follow, but those rules were for their benefit as much as, or more than, for mine.  When they violated those rules I disciplined them, but they did not cease to be my children. My covenant with my children to love and support them as their father remained, even if, from time to time, they didn’t live up to their end of the bargain.

Which they didn’t.


Jesus brought his disciples, and all of us, a new covenant.  This covenant was not based in rules, but in relationship—in the person of Jesus himself.

Think about the relationships in your life.  Do they feel more like covenants, or contracts?  What about your relationship with God? Do you feel like you are under the grace of his covenant, or like you are bound to a contract which you cannot possibly fulfill?

You are a child of the covenant, Beloved.  He makes the promise. He paid the price. All you need do is accept the grace that he offers.

Walk in that grace today, Beloved.

Happy Wednesday

Stand One-a-Day Tuesday 4/16/19

A life worthy

…zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me (Psalm 69:9).

Jesus entered the city and went up to the temple.  It was Passover, the biggest holiday of the Jewish year, so the joint was really jumping.  Many people had come a long way to be part of the celebration. Rather than transport all the animals you would need for the various sacrifices, it was normal and acceptable to buy what you needed when you got to Jerusalem.  The customary practice was for vendors to set up shop at a convenient place near the temple.

What Jesus saw when he arrived was dramatically different. The vendors had their booths and tables set up in the temple itself. They were operating in an area called the Outer Court, the only place in the temple where non-Jews could come to worship God. There they were, selling animals and changing foreign currency into local currency, and just generally carrying on noisy business, all while people were trying to worship.

Jesus was furious.  He knocked over the tables and chased the vendors out of there.  John even says that Jesus made a whip and used it to drive the blasphemers away.  He yelled at them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a ‘den of robbers!’”

This is not the meek and mild Jesus we think of from Sunday School flannel boards.

He is not holding a lamb on his shoulders.

He does not have little kids crawling all over him.

He is not smiling.

This is the Messiah, the Lion of Judah.  This is a man of righteous integrity, protecting the purity of his father’s house.

Do the insults of those who insult God fall on you?  There are a lot of people out there who mock Jesus, and this is a prime season for doing it.  Does that bother you, Beloved? What are you doing about it? Do you stand for Christ in your daily world?  Look, I’m not calling you to grab a whip and chase the heathen out of town—

but if you do, send me pictures and I promise to post them.

There is no sitting for Christ.  You stand, or you fall.

Stand for him today, Beloved.

The Crowd One-a-Day Monday 4/15/19

Note:  Time to celebrate Holy Week.  Not that every week isn’t holy, but you know what I mean.   

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!  Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).

Jesus was arriving in Jerusalem for the Passover.  This week would be the climax of his ministry, and would represent the very reason he came to live among us.  The time had come to declare himself the Messiah. (“Messiah,” by the way, is a Hebrew word that means “anointed one,” or “chosen one.” The same word is translated “Christ” in the Greek. Just so’s you knows.)

So, Jesus did what anyone would do—he sent for a donkey.

This really does make sense.  Zechariah had prophesied that the Messiah would arrive as a king, and would come to claim his throne riding on a donkey.  By arriving in this manner, Jesus was sending an unmistakable signal to the crowds. Now I know that a donkey is not the manliest of animals…certainly not very king-like.  But to the Hebrews, the donkey was significant. A king used a stallion when he rode to war, but a donkey when he came in peace. Thus, Jesus came as the King of Peace, to make peace between man and God.

The crowds loved it.  They spread cloaks and leafy branches on the ground for Jesus to ride upon—sort of a red carpet treatment. They cried out “Hosanna!” which means, “Save us,” and, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”  They were quoting Psalm 118, essentially acknowledging Jesus as Messiah and pledging themselves to him. They treated Jesus like a rock star.

Crowds are so fickle.

As he descended the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem was spread out before him.  Jesus wept over the city, knowing that, though they praised him at that moment, they would soon turn on him.

Are we fickle, Beloved?  Do we praise him when the crowd is cheering and waving palm branches, but turn away when they scream and reach for the hammer and nails?

Serving this King is a serious business indeed.

Serve faithfully, Beloved.

Happy Monday

For His Glory One-a-Day Friday 4/12/19

A life worthy

…to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:11b)

It was all for the Father’s glory.

Exalted to the highest place…

given the name above all names…

every knee bowing…

every tongue confessing him Lord…

All of it

Looking back at these verses, it seems that Christ’s whole purpose was to obey, and by obeying glorify, the Father.  Yes, he came to die for us, but isn’t that also serving the higher purpose of glorifying God? He came, he died, he rose, to bring the Father glory.

For God so loved the world that he sent his Son…

Never has there been a life more worthy.

So, Beloved of Christ.  What within you is “to the glory of God the Father?”  What within you cries out to obey, and by obeying glorify, him?

Listen to that something.

Follow that something.

Happy Friday, Beloved