Thursday, March 01, 2018


And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will. ”

And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

And when they had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate the governor.

And when they had mocked Him, they took the robe off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him away to be crucified.

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit.

When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed.

“He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them.

Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

(Matthew 26;30, 39, 57; 27:2, 31, 50, 59-60; 28:6-7, 16; Acts 1:9-11)

Jesus left the Upper Room following the institution of the Lord’s Supper—crossing the Kidron Valley and up the Mount of Olives to Gethsemane.  Knowing what He was going to face, He did not hesitate. March on Jesus!  March on!

Into the garden, He left the disciples to pray—and instead, they slept—so He prayed alone, wrestling as He would drink the cup.  Might it be avoided?  No, for this cause He came.  March on Jesus!  March on!

The violent mobbed seized Him.  Peter whipped out his sword to fight for Him, but He could have summoned the legions of heaven to rescue Him.  But, He surrendered Himself—the Holy One in the bloody hands of those brutes.  March on Jesus!  March on!

Marched to trial before the religious and government authorities—a kangaroo court—yet He did not protest, a Lamb led to the slaughter. Brutally beaten and cruelly mocked, yet He did not flee.  March on Jesus!  March on!

Shouldering the cross:

Up Calv’ry’s mountain, one dreadful morn,
Walked Christ my Savior, weary and worn;
Facing for sinners death on a cross,
That He might save them from endless loss. (Avis Christiansen)

March on Jesus!  March on!

And so He was nailed to that cross—suffering as none had ever suffered, paying the excruciating price of all sins of all men of all time, that we who received Him might be forgiven.  He went where no one else could go—marching to the gates of hell—and declaring His victory over the demonic realm.  He crushed the serpent’s head!  March on Jesus!  March on!

Out of the grave, He walked!  Conqueror over death, hell, and the grave—nail-scarred feet strode from the tomb in triumph!  No stone could seal His grave.  No guards could prevent His exit.  March on Jesus!  March on!

He walked among men, the Lord of Glory for forty more days until He met the disciples on the Mount of Olives again, where He would commission His church and depart through the clouds—and on to heaven itself.  What a reception He received as He returned from His mission now accomplished—on to the throne of His Father, and reunion!  March on Jesus!  March on!

And the promise is that the very place where His feet last touched the ground, will once more be the place where they will touch down—maybe very soon—and He will seize the scepter of universal dominion, treading all His foes beneath those blessed feet.  Lord, hasten that day!  March on Jesus!  March on!

Saturday, February 03, 2018


Read Jeremiah 17.

We have heard the instruction, “Follow your heart!” We dare not! Rather, heed the will of God found in the Word of God. The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked. Sin has been engraved on it with a diamond-tipped, iron pen, so that what we think is good is bad and that which we brand bad is good.

The people of Judah were doomed to judgment for following their hearts’ diabolical desires. They worshipped the creation rather than the Creator. They trusted in what they could see instead of the immortal, invisible God who saw them.

The beautiful, bountiful blessings of a land flowing with milk and honey would be stripped and plundered by a marauding army. It would be as though they were sitting in the gasoline of God’s wrath, and their sins were the match they would continually be striking, until one day the explosive flame of HIs fury ignited.

We can know the blessing of trusting in God or the cursing of trusting in ourselves. To look to the Lord as our hope is to find the stability of being rooted by the river of His grace, the beauty of evergreen foliage where we reflect His glory, and the productivity of fruitfulness as His Spirit works in and through us.

Jeremiah testifies to his faithfulness in a populace that had forsaken the Lord. He cries out for God to spare him even as he visits judgment on his generation. He confesses his hope in the Lord.

It is never easy to stand alone. But, really the child of God never does—the Lord is near all who trust in Him. We can speak against the evil of our day. They may not be persuaded to repent. This generation may choose to stop their ears to the truth—that is the deceitfulness of the heart. What I have control over is my own path—to choose God’s way, as I look to His wisdom and lean on His strength. In the words of the old hymn:

“Stand up, stand up for Jesus!
Stand in His strength alone,
The arm of flesh will fail you, ye dare not trust your own.”

Thursday, February 01, 2018


Read Jeremiah 16. 

When you wake up and your house is on fire, you don’t have time to shower and make breakfast—you run out as fast as you can.  Typical activities are set aside and we shift into crisis mode.  That is essentially what God alerts Jeremiah to in this chapter.  Jerusalem is about to be engulfed in the flames of God’s wrath.  The usual activities—good in their place—are no longer a priority.

Gruesome deaths will soon be witnessed in Jerusalem—whether by starvation, as the Babylonian army besieges the city or by sword, as the pagan power breaks through the defenses.  The carnage will be overwhelming—carcasses littering the ground—and not enough people to bury them.  The survivors will be carried into captivity, while the corpses will rot as human refuse, picked over by buzzards and beasts.  They had first forsaken God, and so God will now forsake them.

Because of this, Jeremiah is forbidden to marry, mourn, or engage in mirth.  He will have no marriage, for having a wife and seeing her suffer would only compound his sorrow exponentially.  He cannot mourn by attending a funeral.  There will be no funerals—too much death and not enough people to bury them.  There will be no mirth, as the prophet will attend no wedding celebrations. The young will die—the voices of the bridegroom and bride vanishing from the land, replaced by their dying gasps.

The spiritually senseless people question Jeremiah.  They can’t imagine God would do such a thing to them.  So, once more, the prophet reads heaven’s indictment against them.   Persistent sin that might prick the conscience at first, has a way of callusing our soul.

Three figures of God’s fury are presented.  God will cast them out as a warrior would hurl a spear.  Those who are cast out will be caught by the Babylonian invaders, like fish caught in a net.  Should some escape, the fishermen will become hunters to track them down.  There will be no place to hide, because God always sees and knows.  Ultimately, it is not the hand of the Babylonians that will seek them, but the hand of the Lord that will seize them in His sovereign decree of judgment.  It is the long arm of the law which they have violated.  Like a banker coming to collect a debt—the Lord will hold them accountable for their sin debt and charge them interest, as well.  What a painful day of reckoning!  

Jeremiah, however, knows where refuge can be found—as Luther wrote, “A mighty fortress is our God; a bulwark never failing.”  A ray of grace breaks through the storm clouds of judgment descending.  The Jews carried into captivity will someday be released to return.  As God brought their forefathers out of Egyptian slavery and into the Promised Land, so in an even greater way, He will bring the Jews out of captivity and back to Jerusalem.

An even more amazing display of grace will transpire—the very Gentiles whose paganism had been embraced by the Jews, leading to their chastisement, will be converted from idolatry through the Jews restored to the land.  Out of the remnant that returns, a Jew will arise, Christ Jesus, Savior not only of Israel, but Savior of the world!

Now, dear reader, understand the crisis we are in—the urgency of your setting aside all things for the main thing—getting your heart right with God.  It may be the world will soon go up in flames.  Will you escape?  We will either pay the price for our sins in the fires of eternity, or run to Christ as our Refuge, by faith receiving the forgiveness of our sin debt, in the price He paid on the cross.  You cannot run from Him, but you can run to Him!

Monday, January 29, 2018


Read Jeremiah 15:10-21.

Self-pity is not a particularly attractive attitude, but an understandable one, given difficult circumstances we may find ourselves in.   The prophet Jeremiah was fairly wallowing in it as we come to the fifteenth chapter of this book—and can we blame him?

All he has tried to do is to be faithful to God’s call and proclaim his message.  The result was that people despised him and fought against him on every hand.  His sermons not only failed to bring sinners to their knees, it caused them to seek the man of God’s life!  And he was fine with dying.  He wished he had never been born.  It was that bad.

You may be shocked at that.  We want to elevate Bible characters to a legendary level—making them virtual demi-gods.  Reading Scripture shows us the opposite—that they were real men and women, plagued by doubts and fears, who knew heartache and pain like all of us—and sometimes much more than any of us!

The prophet spoke the truth—hard medicine to swallow—and yet the bitter pill of the call to repentance was an act of great compassion.  It was the only hope for the Jews—and they rejected it.  What would remain would be God’s fire and fury.

Back to the scorned preacher—he was not that way!  God knew his heart.  He didn’t loathe the Word of God; he loved it—voraciously devouring its message—and responding joyfully to those wonderful words of life!  He was not ashamed to identify himself with the name of the LORD.  He refused to sit in the seat of the scornful.  The result was that he was alone, broken-hearted—and becoming bitter.

It was then that he approached a line, none ought to cross.  He accuses God of wrong—that the Lord had been unfaithful to him. Like the promise of water in the desert, he came to God and said, “It is only a mirage.”

God answers his man—and calls him to repentance.  Jeremiah is headed down a path where he will join his countrymen in judgment, if he doesn’t turn around.  He thinks he has reached the end of his rope and God informs him that His power is available when Jeremiah’s resources fail.  He will not change his circumstances, but He will enable him to stand in the storm.  God won’t take away the enemy, but He will give the victory.

May God fortify our feeble faith.  The enemy is real.  The pain is not imaginary.  The test is severe—but our God is greater!


You may recall Tina Turner’s pop music hit from years ago that posed this question.  As we approach Valentine’s Day—a time designated to celebrate love—it is an uncomfortable conversation we need to have.  Turner’s song was very cynical—conveying that the relationship of man and women is merely physical in nature and love is just a romantic ideal— an antiquated notion.  Many people look at marriage and love that way—even among those who claim Christianity as their faith.

The numbers are staggering.  The shocking statistics from the Federal Government Centers for Disease Control finds 60% of women and 67% of men believe, “Living together before marriage may help prevent divorce.”  The numbers of women and men who agreed, “A young couple should not live together unless they are married has been decreasing from 34.7% in 2002 to 30.8% in 2006-2010, down to 28% in 2013.  I would like to think the attitudes among those in Bible-believing churches would be the reverse of this, but from what I hear and see, those convictions may be eroding.  With each passing year, the culture more than the Scripture seems to direct our morals.

Times have changed—but, God has not.  His standards have not.

Sex isn’t dirty.  It is a precious gift of God who made us sexual beings and designed it for procreation—and also pleasure—within the bounds of holy matrimony. God wasn’t trying to rob us of fun, but rather His commands are for our benefit so that we may experience ultimate joy.  The fact is “trying it out” by cohabitation does not help prevent divorce, but studies show that the guilt and shame—the self-centered baggage—carried into marriage increases the odds the marriage will fail.  A fire in the fireplace can heat your home on a cold winter’s night.  Let that fire escape its barrier and it will burn the house down!

What’s love got to do with it?  Everything—true love, God’s way.  Much of what is described as love today is lust.

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4 NKJV)  A sobering truth, isn’t it?  Because I love you, I must warn you.

Thankfully, there is grace and mercy available from the Lord.  We can turn from our sin and seek Him.  His way is always best.  May God use His Word to shape us and His Spirit to convict us in this area. I can go astray in this sexually explicit society.  If I don’t stay close to God and close to my spouse, Satan can find an easy target.  If David, a man after God’s own heart, could yield to temptation, any of us can.  Pray for one another.  Pray for marriages.  Pray for purity.  As we come to Valentine’s Day, may we celebrate true love!

Sunday, January 14, 2018


Read Psalm 5.

There are some appointments we should keep today.  David met with God first thing in the morning as he prayed.  Will you?  He came before his King in surrender.  He cried out to his God in supplication.  Before he looked into the face of men, he looked up to the face of his Master.  Can you think of anyone more important to see today?  

He is a holy God.  David felt the gravity of this appointment.  Let us come before Him in repentance.  It is an awesome thing to be in His presence.  We do not come causally or carelessly, and yet we are invited through grace to come.  God is waiting for you.  Will you keep that appointment?

The second appointment we should keep today is to gather at the house of God for worship.  There is an appointed hour and place to meet with God’s people to celebrate His goodness together.  

David speaks of coming into God’s house “in the multitude of Your mercy.”  By rights we should all be in hell today, but God has shown mercy in that we are alive.  Having sought His salvation, we can now sing and shout for joy in that God has shown us mercy on top of mercy.  

The world is a hostile place.  David had many enemies. Yet, the house of God was a sanctuary—a place of refuge for his soul.  I need that.  You need that.  Will you keep that appointment?

What will be your attitude and activity today as you come before the Lord and meet with His people?  Will an overflowing heart of love and joy be exuberantly expressed?  God deserves our praise.  He has taken us through another week, and so we are privileged to thank Him for what He has done, as we anticipate more blessing to come in the week ahead.  With favor He surrounds us as a shield. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Read Psalm 4.

There should be earnestness in our praying—not going through the motions, mouthing a few pious phrases, checking it off our “to do list” and then moving on.  Such praying is wasted breath.  It rises no higher than the ceiling.  It is like those who draw near to God with their lips, while their heart is far from Him.

David’s plea was urgent and passionate.  He needs an answer from God.  There is confidence God will hear because God has relieved him from distress before.  There is confidence, yet not the arrogance of a petulant, demanding child.  He begs for mercy.  Yet, there is boldness to come to the throne of grace.   He needs deliverance from his foes, and their diabolical schemes.

David was a man after God’s own heart.  That did not make him immune from the attacks of others.  In fact, it guarantees it.  If you please God, you will displease a lot of people.  Yet, David realizes that he is in God’s hands.

How do you feel when people lie about you?  It angered David—and that is an emotional response, altogether proper.  But, he speaks within his heart a warning not to allow that anger to be sinfully expressed.  He will not take matters into his own hands, but trust in a sovereign God to whom vengeance properly belongs.  He calms his soul by meditating on the Lord while he lies in bed.

David directed his heart from looking around him at his enemies, to looking above him at his God.  He worships.  He trusts.  Having been attacked, he puts it in the hands of the Lord.  The anger then dissipates.  The potential fear dissolves.  Instead, David expresses joy and experiences peace.  Despite his circumstances, and the threats of men, he reposes in the arms of God.  Can you find a safer place?

Tuesday, January 09, 2018


Read Jeremiah 13:18-27

If we do not humble ourselves, then God will humble us.  We can bow our knee to God willingly or God can bring us to our knees forcibly.  We can be broken before God in contrition or be broken by God in correction.  This is the warning God gave to Judah through Jeremiah.

He began with a message to the leaders of Jerusalem—the king and queen mother—for they had failed to shepherd the people spiritually and the result is they would see the people suffer physically.  As a woman conceiving, carrying, and birthing a baby, they would see the process James describes, “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (1:15).  

The people of Jerusalem had committed spiritual adultery against the Lord as unfaithful idolaters.  Their morally lewd practices and shameful acts arose from the worship of promiscuous, pagan deities whose temples essentially housed an orgy. Since they wanted such nakedness, God would pull their skirts over their heads, exposing them to the Babylonian conquerors who would strip them bare and shackle them in bondage.  Away to Babylon they would be taken, to a place flooded with idols, since that was the kind of worship they set their hearts on.  God would gorge them with it, until they could bear no more.

The reality is they could not cleanse themselves.  Lest we sit in self-righteous judgment on those Jews, we had best look in the mirror of God’s holy law and understand our hearts are likewise depraved.  As an Ethiopian cannot change the color of his skin and a leopard cannot exchange his spots for the stripes of a tiger, we cannot change our sinful nature.  It is who we are.  

That’s why Jesus told Nicodemus—an extremely committed religionist—that he had to be born again—to gain a new nature (see John 3).  Christ said that none get to heaven otherwise.  It is not reformation of our old nature, but regeneration bringing a new nature that saves us and fits us for heaven.  Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from sin.  God must make us clean.  Apart from that He will say, “Woe to you....  Will you still not be MADE clean?” (Emphasis added)