We Live in that Day! - Saturday, April 27, 2019

Isaiah 25:9 (NIV84)

9 In that day they will say,

“Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us.

This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”

The first Easter Sunday wasn’t the bright and sunny affair that it is today – at least, not at first.  The women walk to the tomb that Easter morning in the haze of Friday’s darkness, faced with the grim task of finishing Jesus’ burial.  The disciples are confused and afraid. Judas is dead. The attitude of the disciples on the way to Emmaus sums it up, “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” (Lk. 23:21)  Jesus had made some grand promises. He seemed to be the culmination of God’s promises to all of Israel! They were so sure that they lived in the day of which Isaiah spoke in Isaiah 25:9. But a seemingly dead Jesus only made fools of them.

However, for as gloomy as that day started it, turned out to be the day of God’s salvation.  You remember the rest of the story. The women would find an empty tomb and later a risen Jesus!  The disciples would gather in fear but find peace in a Jesus who appeared to them! The disciples on the way to Emmaus would find that the man they talked to on the road was none other than Jesus himself!  Jesus had risen just as he said, and that changed everything. As Isaiah wrote, “Surely this is our God, we trusted in him, and he saved us.” The gloom of that first Easter morning gave way to gladness as they saw that they lived in that day – the day of God’s salvation.  God had kept his promise.

We live our lives on the promises of God.  We drive to work in the security of God’s promises to send his angels to protect and to be with us Himself.  We comfort our consciences in the peace of the cross and the payment made for our sins there. We face death with the confidence that just as Jesus rose, so will we.  But our sinful nature makes cowards of us. Wherever there is a promise of God, there our sinful nature finds a way to work doubt. To work in us a fear that we’ll see the day when we regret putting our trust in him.

But in those times remember – we live in THAT day.  The day Isaiah spoke about. The day of the empty tomb and a risen Jesus.  The day marked by the fact that God does what he promises. He lived, died, and rose for us.  All to keep the promises he made. And He lives to continue to keep those promises to us for the rest of time.


PRAYER:  Risen Savior, you came in fulfillment of your promise.  You lived, died, and rose in fulfillment of your promise. And you will come again in fulfillment of your promise.  Lead us to live our lives in the shelter of your promises. Amen.

With God, We Win! - Friday, April 26, 2019

Psalm 60:12 (NIV84)

12 With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.

We cannot win this fight alone.  As David looked at the enemies that surrounded Israel, he knew that they couldn’t do it – at least not alone.  Israel’s strength had never been the sum of her armies, chariots, and commanders. It had always rested in the promises of God. There, and there alone, was their only hope of victory.  They could not win this fight alone.

Nor can we.  We may not face off against the Edomites in the Valley of Salt – as Israel is noted to have done in the introductory notes of this Psalm.  Nor do we find ourselves engaged in a struggle against Aram Nahariam and Aram Zobah – as David was. The names and places of our struggles may change, but struggles they remain as we daily face off against our own enemies.  Perhaps there is a specific situation that comes to mind – an illness, a situation at work, a fractured relationship. Perhaps it is just the daily grind of battling sin within and sin without. Perhaps it is the daily battles we fight as we face off against temptation and battle a sinful nature that is all too willing to rush into sin.  Or perhaps, it is that one great battle we all face – the battle against the death that is always pursuing us from the shadows. In any case, we cannot win this fight alone. We don’t stand a chance.

But this past Holy Week, we didn’t celebrate a God who stayed at a distance to watch us do battle with our enemies.  No, we celebrated a God who stood shoulder to shoulder with us in battle. A God who stood shoulder to shoulder with us beneath the sway of tyrants as Pontius Pilate beat and condemned Jesus to death.  A God who stood shoulder to shoulder with us against the devil, who incited Judas to betray Jesus and whose voice can be heard in the shouts of the crowd that day. A God who not only stood shoulder to shoulder with us in this sinful world but who bore the weight of our guilt.  A God who stood shoulder to shoulder with us even unto death – as he died on that cross and was buried in that tomb. He came to this world to stand shoulder to shoulder with us, and finally to take our place in this battle.

And in him, we win.  We celebrated on Easter with shouts of “Christ is Risen!”  The God who stood shoulder to shoulder with us even unto death, walked out of his tomb victorious.  The only thing left buried in that tomb was your sin, your guilt, and even your death. He won. And through faith, that victory is yours.  With God, we win.


PRAYER:  Lord, I thank you for winning the victory over sin and death for me.  I thank you for offering that victory to me in the promises of your Word, the waters of my Baptism, and the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper.  Continue to work in those means to keep me in that victory all the days of my life. Amen.

Jesus Loves Me This I Know - Thursday, April 25, 2019

John 3:16 (NIV84)

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” Maybe you grew up singing that song. Maybe you still sing it with your family. Whatever that song is to you, its words are full of meaning. “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” Jesus loves me! We know that without a doubt in our minds. And how? Because God himself tells us right here in today’s passage.

Some call it “the Gospel in a nutshell.” John 3:16 is likely the most famous passage in the entire Bible, one of the few that’s recognizable just by its numbers. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

You still sometimes see someone at sporting events holding signs that say very simply John 3:16 because it summarizes the message of the bible so beautifully.  Jesus died for the whole world, and everyone who believes lives eternally. Jesus loves me, this I know….

But here’s the test of perspective:  Do you know John 3:14? Can you recite 3:15?  How about 3:17 or 3:18? Those verses tell us a little more about the world Jesus loves. It’s a world where God’s own people, the Israelites, grumbled and complained against him. It’s a world where people willingly reject the name of their Savior. It’s a world unto which a Savior shone the light of his love, but its people still continued to give their love to darkness.

God loved a world like that. When his own people rejected Him, God had Moses lift up a bronze snake to save them from poisonous venom. But God’s purpose was greater than that. He was pointing his people to a Savior who would release them from a far deadlier bite.

As the snake was lifted up in the desert, so Jesus was lifted up on a cross. God so loved a world that rejected and hated him, that he gave it His most prized possession, His one and only son.

Jesus spoke today’s famous passage about the whole world to only one person. Nicodemus was his name, and he was initially attracted to Jesus because of his miracles, but he wanted to know more. So Jesus told him; told him how God loved the world; told him how God so loved him.

On the cross, we see exactly the extent of that love. And that’s why we can confidently sing, with Christians all over this world, “Yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so!”


PRAYER:  Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your son into this world to release us from our sins. Lead us to share your love with this world more and more each day, that all people might come to know the love of their savior. Amen.

He Won My Victory - Wednesday, April 24, 2019

1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV84)

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

Is there someone in the Bible with whom you can really relate? Maybe someone whose experiences in life sound a bit similar to your own? Maybe you identify with Moses, who wasn’t sure of himself when God gave him a really important calling. Or maybe Martha, who wanted to serve Jesus, but sometimes needed a reminder that she just needed to stop working and spend some time in God’s Word. Maybe your struggle is more like that of Elijah, who was prone to bouts of depression. Maybe you relate well to John the Baptist, who slept outdoors and ate insects.  Maybe not.

But how about the writer of today’s verse, the Apostle Paul.  Can you relate to him? He wrote 13 books in the New Testament, went on three different and difficult missionary journeys, raised people from the dead, gave birth to brand new churches, restored life to dying people, served as traveling pastor to countless different congregations, defended Jesus in front of powerful governments and hostile crowds who wanted to kill him, and, in his spare time, he made tents. Can you relate to Paul?

Probably not. Paul was one of the greatest missionaries, church starters, letter writers, all while being one of the greatest theologians the world has ever seen. Maybe you can’t relate to God’s Apostle in those ways, but you do relate to him in another way.

God looks at you in the same way he looked at the Apostle Paul.  In Paul’s letter to a young pastor named Timothy, Paul describes the two ways we can relate to Paul and every Christian for that matter. He says, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

We know Paul sinned.  In his early life, Paul sinned against God and His Church in very open and public ways, which is why so many people in the early church didn’t want to accept him.  So Paul openly admitted it. He says, “I am the worst.” Notice he didn’t say, “I was the worst,” as if after the Holy Spirit brought him to faith, his sin was now gone. “I am the worst.”

What Paul said was true. That title belonged to him.  Just as it belongs to you and to me. Paul called himself the worst of sinners because he knew that any little sin, no matter how it compares to the sins of anyone else, separates you from God.

But Paul also knew something else. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” Are you a sinner?  Then you can relate to Paul in that Jesus Christ went to Calvary to save you. Do you think you’re unworthy of your callings? Paul was too.  Do you think you’ve done some terrible things in your life? Paul did too. And he wasn’t shy about talking about it. He didn’t hesitate to tell others about his sin because it only emphasized all the more the grace, mercy, and power of God, in the resurrected Christ.


PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, we praise you for your forgiveness in Jesus. Like you did with Paul, tell us the truth about our lives.  Convict us of our sins so that we might repent and, in Jesus, see the forgiveness that is freely ours. Amen.

Transformed for Home - Tuesday, April 23, 2019

1 Corinthians 15:52–57 (NIV84)

52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We love stories about transformation. Flip on the TV and someone is taking an old, out-of-date home and turning it into a person’s dream home. Wallpaper is replaced by shiplap, new flooring is installed, and new lighting and fixtures brighten up the space. Suddenly what was old is new again. In just half an hour we saw something ugly transformed into something beautiful.

Easter promises a transformation that is instant. TV shows can take a complicated project that might take weeks or months and edit it down to just half an hour. However, even that is too slow as compared to the instantaneous transformation that God promises. No commercial breaks and no filler shots. Instead, it will happen in the blink of an eye and you and I will be new again.

Easter promises a transformation that is complete. This transformation is more than just shiplap, flooring, and fixtures. This transformation means that our bodies, however imperfect they may be now, will be perfect like they were meant to be. There won’t be any more sickness, disability, or death. The aches and pains, the stress and heartache, the death and sadness will all be gone. Instead, you and I will enjoy living as we were meant to live in a perfect eternity.

Easter promises a spiritual transformation. Our entire being and souls will be made perfect. We will live and serve without sin. No longer will jealousy, selfishness or anger harm even the best of our intentions but we will know love and obedience like God knows love and obedience. Sin with its temptation and guilt will not afflict us any longer. We will be holy and perfect and truly at one with God.

When you watch some of those remodeling shows you sometimes wonder why the previous owner did what they did. What were they thinking with that shag carpeting and all that paneling on the walls? When the remodelers get done it seems like the home is finally the way it was meant to be. The transformation that you and I will experience will be the same. More than any questionable design decisions from the seventies, you and I were never meant to experience things like death, heartbreak or disobedience. We brought these terrible things onto ourselves but we were never meant to experience them. And so in the ultimate transformation, you and I will experience life as it was meant to be. With the power of sin, death, and the law broken, we will be transformed and will be as we were always meant to be.

PRAYER:  Father, you will transform our lowly bodies to be like your heavenly body. Keep our hearts and minds set on that day that we may look forward with perfect confidence and eager expectation. Amen.

A Finished Project - Monday, April 22, 2019

Luke 24:1–8 (NIV84)

24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.

“You have to eat all your vegetables before you get dessert,” says the exasperated parent. “We can’t leave until this project is finished,” the manager tells employees eyeing the clock. “We aren’t going out to recess until everyone is done with their work,” the teacher tells impatient students. It may be difficult but the expectations are clear: complete the work and then the reward will certainly come.

On Easter morning the women go to the tomb with work to do. When they arrive they are perplexed as there is no sign of Jesus’ body. An angel appears and asks the women what they were doing there. The angel tells the women that the tomb was a place for dead people. They would not see Jesus there because he had finished his work of dying and now he was alive, just as he said he would be.

Jesus came to this world with work to do. God had set forth a plan in eternity to save his people. He had to be born into this world and live a perfect life in our place. Never once did he sin or disobey a single commandment. He needed to be handed over to wicked men where he was crucified and he died, offered as an innocent sacrifice for guilty people. Three days later he had to rise from the dead showing that his saving work was over.

Since Jesus was not in the tomb that Easter morning we can have confidence that God’s saving work is completed. He had finished what his Father had sent him to do. With suffering and death behind him, Jesus would put the final stamp on our salvation by rising from the grave. He had done what he had set out to accomplish. He had finished what he told the disciples he would do.

Some days I feel like a pretty incomplete project. I look at my life and see the mistakes I continue to make. I am confronted by sin that habitually plagues me. I suffer the effects of living in a fallen world. All of these things can make me wonder if there is something more I have to do to. Easter assures me and reminds me that my salvation is complete. Nothing more can be done to save me because Jesus has completed it all. Jesus has finished the task of redeeming me and he has done everything he said he would do. He is not at the tomb because he has finished his work of defeating death. The work of my salvation is done and Jesus is alive.

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, you sent Jesus to accomplish the work of my salvation. He has done everything well for me. Give me faith and peace to trust in Jesus’ completed work. Amen.

Jesus is Alive! - Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019

Matthew 28:1–7 (NIV84)

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

Jesus was dead. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary knew that quite well because they had been there and watched as he took his final breath upon the cross. They knew that Jesus was dead and so they had gotten up early to walk through the still cool and dark air to go and prepare Jesus’ lifeless body as it lay in its final resting place. Jesus was dead and so they were going to the tomb where he lay.

As they drew near to the tomb that dark air turned bright, brighter than any dawn, as an angel announced that the women had no reason to fear because Jesus was alive. This angel invited them to look into the tomb and see the place where Jesus used to lay. The angel invites those women to come forward and look at where they expected Jesus to be and see nothing was there. Jesus had risen and the tomb was forever empty.

Jesus is alive. He conquered sin and death and so there was no reason for him to be in the tomb. The angel told the women that Jesus had gone ahead into Galilee and that they should go there too with his disciples. In Galilee, they would see him with their own eyes. They would see him walking and talking and eating because Jesus is alive.

If Jesus does not come back first, there will be a day for each of us when, like Jesus, we will take our final breath. Like Jesus, though, death will not be our final place. Our tombs also will be empty because Jesus will make us alive. And then we, like Jesus’ disciples, will see him. Not in Galilee but around the throne of God forever and ever.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went looking for Jesus among the dead but he was not there. Jesus had risen and was alive and Mary Magdalene and the other Mary would see him. Jesus is alive and we also will see him.

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, you raised your Son Jesus from the dead. As certainly as Jesus lives, give us faith in you to believe that we also will live. Amen.

When Finished Means More than Done - Saturday, April 20, 2019

John 19:30 (NIV84)

30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

“Finished!” the young boy yells to his mom as he slams his math notebook closed and heads outside to play with his friends! “Finished!” says the couple as they send in their tax returns and breathe a sigh of relief. There is something really satisfying about being finished, whether that’s with homework or taxes. There is relief and release when you reach that moment that you can say, “Finished!”

From his cross and with his dying breath Jesus said, “It is finished!” That three-word phrase is actually just a single word in the Greek text of John 19:30, the Greek word: ‘tetelestai’ (pronounced ‘te-tel-e-sty’). When Jesus utters, “tetelestai,” he is expressing more than just relief and release.

To deepen your appreciation for the full significance of what Jesus said with his dying breath, consider these examples of several different ways that the word “tetelestai” could have been used in Greco-Roman culture during Jesus’ days. [1]

  • A servant who completed an assigned task might notify his master, saying, “Tetelestai!” “I have completed what you told me to do!”

  • When presiding over a case and rendering a ruling, a judge could have said “Tetelestai!” The point? “Justice has been served!”

  • A priest might say to a person offering a sacrifice before God that their sacrifice is Tetelestai! What the priest means is that the sacrifice met the requirements of the laws of God.

  • When a customer paid off their invoice, a merchant might have stamped the bill with the word Tetelestai! The purpose? The word verifies: "the debt has been paid."

  • When routing an enemy, a soldier might have said “Tetelestai!” announcing to his adversary, "You are finished!"

Jesus, the Suffering Servant, cried, “Tetelestai!” announcing to all that He has finished the work of salvation assigned to him by the Father. Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, cried, “Tetelestai!” to proclaim that God’s wrath against all human sin has been justly satisfied. Jesus, our Great High Priest, uttered, “Tetelstai!” affirming his sacrifice for us has met the requirements of divine law and is acceptable to Heavenly Father. Jesus, our Gracious Benefactor, paid our debt in full. Jesus, God’s Army of One, cried, “Tetelestai!” It is his victory cry, announcing Satan’s defeat! Thank God for Christ’s “Tetelestai!” It is Jesus’ cry that our salvation… “It is finished!”

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, You finished for me what I could never have accomplished. You paid for me what I could never afford. You satisfied for me what I could never have made right. You met the standard which I so often fall so far short of. And you conquered the enemy that I have been so powerless against. For your finished work for me, Lord Jesus, I offer my life, my heart, my all in praise and thankful service to you! Amen.

[1] https://carm.org/devotion-it-is-finished


Saving Connection - Good Friday, April 19, 2019

Matthew 27:46 (NIV84)

46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Lillie was entranced with all the varieties of sweet treats in the candy aisle. Her palate salivating over the different varieties of sugary goodness on display, she didn’t even notice that her mom had continued onto the next aisle. Little Lillie’s delight turned to horror when she looked away from the candy to find mom, and mom was nowhere in sight! Tears formed in her eyes as she cried out, “Mom! Mom! Where are you?” Separation can wrack the soul with anxiety.

What anxiety did Jesus feel? “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

This separation anxiety wasn’t temporary like a child distanced from her parent. This separation was eternal. It was purposeful. It was awful. And it was exactly what was needed.

Sin separates. It breaks trust. Betrays confidences. Violates standards and destroys protective boundaries. It’s hard to be around someone who continually and intentionally sins against you. Sin isolates the sinner.

On the cross, Jesus experienced the ultimate outcome of sin - utter isolation from God. The Father purposefully hid His face from His Son on the cross. Not because Jesus had sinned. But because we have. On Good Friday afternoon Jesus experienced all that our sins deserve: to be completely separated from God, absolutely isolated from Him and all of His blessings.

Separated and alone, Christ cried out for his Father. And for the first time (and only time) in all eternity, the Father didn’t answer. There was no reply. Just pain-filled silence. Anxiety’s ultimate fear - utter isolation! How awful!  

And yet how awesome for you and me! Not because we like to see Jesus suffer. But because Jesus willingly suffered the separation of God. He was left alone so that we never would be.

God treated Jesus as our sins deserve so that he wouldn’t have to treat us that way! When we cry out to God through Christ, God always hears us and answers us. Whenever you feel alone, abandoned by God, remember what Christ suffered for you. Remember why he did it: to accomplish your salvation. Jesus did it so that through Him you can find what you truly long for: real, deep, genuine connection with God!

PRAYER:  Lord Jesus, how can I thank you for what you have suffered for me? Not even eternity is enough to fully express just how grateful I am for what you have accomplished for me! With each new day you give me, Lord, lead me to live it in praise to you, because through you I am truly connected to God, the source of life and the reason for living! Amen.

Salvation Belongs to our God - Holy Thursday, April 18, 2019

Revelation 7:10 (NIV84)

10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

We usually don’t like it when someone tells us the ending of a good book or movie. We might feel like it’s not even worth reading the book or watching the movie if someone spoils the ending. But people really want to know the ending when it comes to their life. People want to know what’s going to happen when their days on the earth are over. The book of Revelation gives us a glimpse of the end of our story - all of history. And this small glimpse of the ending is amazing for us as believers!

The scene in heaven involves multitudes of believers from every nation standing before the throne of God. They’re wearing white robes. They’re holding palm branches. They’re crying out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” We look forward to the day when we get to join that multitude in singing that song.

In the meantime, while we wait to be part of that scene in heaven, we need to focus on what those saints are singing about. They’re singing about the Lamb. Jesus is the Lamb of God. He gave himself as the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. That sacrifice paid and paved our way to the eternal throne of God in heaven. Yes, salvation belongs to us! Not that we could claim it for ourselves. Rather, because of his sacrifice and substitute, Jesus is our Savior.

How fitting that the saints in heaven are depicted as holding palm branches. Salvation was as good as done when he entered under the branches that Palm Sunday. We have the comfort of knowing the end of our story this week and every other. And since that is the end of our eternal story, nothing can change it. Salvation belongs to our God and he delights to share it with us.


PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, we long to be gathered around your throne in heaven, singing songs of praise with all believers. We thank you for sharing your salvation with us in your Son. We rejoice that salvation belongs to us and we look forward to enjoying salvation with you in eternity. Amen.

Salvation Comes from the Lord - Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Jonah 2:9 (NIV84)

9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you.

What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.”

Getting thrown off a boat into the sea would put a damper on your day. Getting swallowed by a fish after getting thrown overboard would make your day even worse. You might not feel like singing praises to God at that moment. However, the prophet Jonah thanked and praised God as he lay in the cramped, slimy, smelly stomach of a fish. He realized that God had saved him from drowning at sea. More than that, Jonah realized that God had decided to spare him even after he ran away from his calling.

As Jonah lay inside the nasty stomach of that fish, he was he was already making plans for the future. In verse 4 he says, “I will look again toward your holy temple.” In verse 9 he says, “I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good.” What made Jonah so optimistic? What made him already start planning for the future?

Jonah trusted that God saved him from the sea because God is gracious. He trusted in the God who saves him from when God wasn’t first in his own heart. And the God who saved him from sin, death, and despair saved him to serve in his original calling. And now the rebellious prophet was motivated to take up his calling and bring God’s message to the city of Nineveh.

The salvation that comes from our Lord allows us to have an optimism no matter what situation we find ourselves in. We know the Lord has already saved us from the worst threats we face. He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, knowing that he would face hatred, unfairness, murder, and, worse yet, hell. Our sin has been buried in the tomb with Christ. Death has been swallowed up in victory. A heavenly mansion is waiting for us in God’s presence in heaven. We get to plan for a future with the Lord who saved us.

Like Jonah, we are also motivated into action by the Lord’s salvation. We take up our individual callings in life to serve our Lord and love our neighbor. We take up our most important calling as we share the good news of Jesus with those walking in darkness. We join Jonah in shouting our grateful praise. Salvation comes from the Lord!


PRAYER:  Dear Lord, our salvation comes from you. You give us optimism for this life and hope for a future life with you. Allow your salvation to motivate us in living our callings to your glory. Amen.

Make Known His Salvation - Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Isaiah 12:1–6 (NIV84)

12 In that day you will say:

“I will praise you, O Lord. Although you were angry with me,

your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.

2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.

The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”

3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

4 In that day you will say:

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name;

make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.

5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.

6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”

Isaiah wrote, “Make known among the nations what he has done.” That can appear to be a daunting task in this world as we know it. There is opposition to just about any side. What is more, how many people feel that Christianity is the wrong side to be on? But you notice in Isaiah’s words, what is commonly referred to as his “First Song,” the Spirit didn’t inspire him to consider whether or not the world would always listen. In fact, from what we know about Isaiah, few if any of God’s own people listened to his message. Even still, that doesn’t diminish the truth of this message. “Surely God is my salvation. I will trust in him and not be afraid.”

We have a lot in common with Isaiah. It seemed like it wasn’t that long ago when people would be a little more receptive when we shared our faith and the glorious things he has done. It can be easy to become more silent and give in, just a little, to the opposing voices that seem to dominate the landscape. But what do we have to be afraid of? We can say with Isaiah, “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust in him and not be afraid… make known among the nations what he has done.”

And we can be so bold because we know that God accomplishes great things under the guise of humility and defeat. Look again at the Savior riding into the city of his death on a donkey? It would seem that all the praises and proclamations would be in vain. More than that! Such voices are foolish. But here we see God do his glorious things. Under the appearance of a normal looking man is the Son of God. Behind the sight of a man on a donkey is our Champion who would conquer our greatest foes. In between the lines of the shouts was the truth behind every word. He saves because he is our God. He is our salvation.

So, we do have something to say in our world today. Just as is true in every age, we have a message that is powerful enough to change eternity and transform hearts and lives regardless of the contentious landscape today. We can sing those Palm Sunday truths in Isaiah’s words, “Surely God is my salvation… make known among the nations what he has done!”

PRAYER:  Dear Holy Spirit, through the message of salvation in Jesus, changes hearts and lives. Help me to grow more and more in understanding the grace I have been given. Move me to speak of Christ and his saving work whenever possible. Make me bold to speak of his salvation and give me opportunities to share with others, through Christ my Lord. Amen.

Save Us! - Monday, April 15, 2019

Mark 11:9–10 (NIV84)

9 Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

10 “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!”

He sat, trying to catch his breath. He was exhausted. He had barely managed to escape the jaws of the massive dogs chasing him. But his ordeal was not over. There he sat on a branch that was holding him, for now, while those massive dogs paced below him. How long could he stay out of reach? How long before the branch snapped or he lost his grip? Then darkness falls. He can hear the dogs, still stalking, refusing to let him go. Suddenly he sees a flashlight beam and shouts, ‘Help!’ The stranger arrives and drives away the dogs. He’s rescued.

If you were the man, how would you greet your rescuer? Hopefully, you have never had the opportunity to be in a situation like this one. Yet, you can probably imagine the kind of gratitude and appreciation you would feel for someone who rescued you from danger. You would not hesitate to speak his or her praise to whoever would listen.

That’s the situation in Mark 11. Whether the crowds really understood exactly what they were shouting or not, they were shouting the praise of a rescuer. They shouted “Hosanna!” which means “Save us!”. It was spot on! Jesus had come to save!

Worse than dogs, the jaws of death had already closed around each and every one of us. Worse than dangling over danger we were stuck in the nightmare of spiritual death, doomed to hell. So we shout, “Hosanna!” “Save us!” Jesus came and freed us from the jaws of death. Jesus has brought us to safety with him forever.

Of all that the people may or may not have known, we do know that they almost only shouted “Hosanna!” to those powerful enough to save. Jesus is our king. In fact, he is the son of David that God promised to send who would reign on the eternal throne of God. That throne is one of grace – love for people who do not deserve it, like us.  That throne is one of power – power over sin. That throne is one of life – life over death. That throne is eternal – eternity over hell. And all of this from the one who left heaven’s throne in order to take his seat on a donkey. But he chose that donkey and the pathway that eventually led to the cross because he would not abandon us. So, it is right that we would join the crowd in shouting “Hosanna!” because Jesus has saved us!


PRAYER:  Hosanna, Lord Jesus. Thank you for coming to save me! Your sacrifice in my place has rescued me from sin, death, and hell. Help me to live my life always giving you praise. Give me many opportunities to shout your praise because you have saved me. Hosanna. Amen.

The King of Peace Enters - Palm Sunday, April 14, 2019

Luke 19:38 (NIV84)

38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

The Palm Sunday scene must have been something to behold! A street filled with crowds. Cloaks and palm branches laid in the road ahead of the approaching donkey. Shouts of acclamation. All for a man dressed remarkably like a teacher rather than a mighty king and followed by commoners rather than nobles. Yet the scene could not have been more fitting.

Jesus may not have looked the part on the outside but he is the eternal king. Humbly clothed in human flesh, Jesus entered Jerusalem with the greatest purpose imaginable. He came to bring peace better than the peace provided by any king or ruler before or since. Why? Because rather than bringing peace with some foreign nation, Jesus brought peace with the just and holy God.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem proclaiming a peace that human beings could never claim or broker for ourselves. And he brought peace for us? Scripture describes us as people who have gratified the sinful nature and who deserve God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:3). It seems impossible that he would do this for us when we know how we fail. In the mirror, we see a person who said, “Never again.” But we have. And Jesus came to bring us peace?

It seems impossible, but Jesus entered Jerusalem to accomplish the impossible. He came to accomplish our salvation. YOUR salvation. Even as he entered he proclaimed peace because with Jesus the king, the battle was as good as won already. He declared peace for us because he turned his power against those enemies that kept peace from us. The crowds were right as they shouted, “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Jesus entered Jerusalem on the path to Calvary’s cross. On that cross, he would fight the ultimate, final battle to break the hold of sin, death, and Satan over our souls.

Jesus your king, entered Jerusalem to bring you peace! Remember that when you look in the mirror. Jesus won the battle against your sin and took it away forever. Even when Satan, the great accuser, points out the guilt of your past, you have great peace. Jesus has accomplished it. Jesus came to accomplish your peace. You are at peace with God.


PRAYER:  Dear Savior King, Thank you for accomplishing what I could not. Thank you for bringing peace to me. When guilt and fear try again to overtake me, remind me that you entered Jerusalem to bring me peace. Quiet my doubts and fears and lead me to trust you. Amen.

By His Blood - Saturday, April 13, 2019

Hebrews 9:22 (NIV84)

22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

What are some things you enjoy about being in church on a Sunday morning? Sermons that touch your heart and teach you God’s truths? Music that lifts you up and leaves you inspired? Bible studies where you grow in knowledge and understanding? The water, wafer, and wine, through which the Spirit works? The encouragement and fellowship of a Christian church community? And all that blood.  Wait…what? Blood?!

We would be more than a little shocked to have the sight and stench of blood welcoming us to church some Sunday.  For Old Testament believers, though, blood was an essential part of worship. As animals were slaughtered in sacrifice each day, there was no escaping the blood – flowing from the animal’s side, sprinkled on the altar, or dripping from the hands of the priest.  By including sacrifice for sin as a part of worship, God reminded his people over and over again “The life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Leviticus 17:11).  Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.

Yet it wasn’t the blood of those animals that forgave sins “because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).  Those thousands of bloody sacrifices were but a shadow of the one bloody sacrifice on the altar of Calvary’s cross. The blood of Jesus – flowing from his side, dripping from his head and hands and feet – purifies us from all sin.  This once-for-all sacrifice for sins is an act of amazing love that only God could initiate and only Christ could accomplish. Sin’s burden has been lifted forever.

Now freely forgiven, once and for all by the blood of Jesus, we dedicate our lives to him in praise and worship.  Part of that worship includes being in church on Sunday morning. Hearing sermons that touch your heart and teach you God’s truths.  Listening to music that lifts you up and leaves you inspired. Growing in knowledge and understanding as you study the Bible. Experiencing the blessing of fellowship with a Christian church community.  Witnessing the work of the Spirit through wafer and wine, body and blood. And in it all, looking to the cross where all that blood was shed to forgive your sins.


PRAYER:  Dearest Lord, forgive me for my sins which put your Son on the cross.  Thank you for his perfect sacrifice of blood by which all my sins were forgiven forever.  Let me never stop looking to the blood of Jesus in my life of worship. Amen.

Remembered No More - Friday, April 12, 2019

Hebrews 8:12 (NIV84)

12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

It is fascinating what our minds can remember!  Without a second thought, you could probably punch in the digits of your childhood phone number or recall exactly how much you paid for your first home.  We play trivia games where we impress each other by reciting the lyrics to old pop songs or obscure advertising slogans. And there are certain moments so fixed in our minds that we can recall decades-old details as if they were happening right now.

It is just as fascinating (and frustrating) what our minds can’t remember!  Despite sticky notes and cell phone alerts, we are bound to forget one item on the grocery list, an important event on the calendar, or where we left our keys.  We might long to relive a family vacation or hear the voice of a loved one now gone, but we can’t quite conjure up the memory.

On the other hand, there are some things we’d love to forget, but just can’t.  The hurtful comment that you overheard still stings. The biting words that you blurted at your spouse are used as ammunition the next time around.  The sins of your youth enter uninvited into your mind, where they feel as real as the sins of yesterday. It’s our sin - our own wickedness - that is ever present and unforgettable.

Yet there is one who is all-knowing, that remembers our sins no more.  Your God, who knows you better than you know yourself, has forgotten all your sins.  It’s not that he chooses to ignore them, or has them on a decades-old list to deal with later.  It’s not that he is saving our sins to dredge out as ammunition for next time around. Those sins are forgiven. Gone. Removed as far as the east is from the west.  Jesus took every ounce of our wickedness on himself. Christ hung with those sins upon the cross, accomplishing what we could not, remembering not what we could never escape.

Because of what Christ has accomplished, we now stand forgiven.  This life of sin-forgotten forgiveness is our eternal reality. We are freed from the sins of our youth and the sins of yesterday.

Yes, it is fascinating what our minds can remember and what they can’t.  But be fascinated by and rejoice in God who has powerfully, mercifully, and eternally forgiven all of our sins and remembers them no more.  Rejoice in what Christ has accomplished.

PRAYER:  Dear Lord, you know I am unworthy of all the goodness you show me.  I am unworthy of your love and forgiveness. By grace, you sent Jesus to forgive all my sins, and you now remember him when you look at me.  Help me never forget this forgiveness. Amen.

Instant Gratification - Thursday, April 11, 2019

Psalm 32:5 (NIV84)

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”— and you forgave the guilt of my sin.

The expression “instant gratification” has become associated with people who expect to get what they want when they want it. Instant gratification is viewed negatively because it takes the easy way out. The opposite of instant gratification is delayed gratification. Psychologists say that people who are willing to delay gratification will generally be more successful in achieving their goals because they have the ability to wait for something better.

In most areas of life, it is probably better to practice delayed gratification, but when we talk about the forgiveness of sins, isn’t instant gratification a better model to follow? How often do we unnecessarily persist in carrying heavy burdens of sin, guilt, and shame without going to God with a repentant heart? How often do we unnecessarily hold grudges against other people because we are unwilling to say those three simple words, “I forgive you.” Spiritually speaking, isn’t it true that when we cover up our sins instead of confessing them or withhold forgiveness instead of offering it, we are delaying the gratification of forgiveness for which God paid so dearly?

The psalm writer, King David, says, “‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.” When David finally was willing to own up to what he had done and confessed his sin, God forgave him instantly. There was no delayed forgiveness. There was no trial period where David had to prove he was really sorry. There was no additional work that needed to be done. David confessed his sins. He trusted in God for that forgiveness. His sins were forgiven instantly.

Don’t delay the gratification of the forgiveness of sins. Whatever reason you have for holding on to your sin, it’s not worth it. In fact, holding onto your sin could be deadly to your faith. Whatever reason you have for holding onto a grudge, it’s not worth it. In fact, holding onto that grudge could also be deadly to your faith. Your Savior is waiting eagerly to welcome you back into his loving arms. The forgiveness he won for you is yours without conditions. So when it comes to forgiveness, don’t delay gratification by holding on to sins or grudges. Experience the instant gratification that comes through the forgiveness of sins and be comforted as David was. “‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin.”


PRAYER:  Forgive our sins, Lord, we implore, That they may trouble us no more; We, too, will gladly those forgive Who hurt us by the way they live. Help us in our community To serve each other willingly. Amen. (Christian Worship, 410, v. 6)

Your Sins Are Covered! - Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Psalm 32:1–2 (NIV84)

1 Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.

2 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.

Have you ever tried to cover up something wrong that you have done? As a person with a sinful nature, the answer is yes. When we follow the desires of our sinful nature, we take steps to cover up our sinful actions. Our sinful nature may even convince us that such a cover-up might work and no one will discover our sinfulness. We may even succeed in fooling family members, friends, co-workers, and so on, but ultimately we are just fooling ourselves. No matter how hard people try, none can ever succeed in covering up their sins. God knows each and every one. It doesn’t matter how elaborate the cover-up or how tiny the sin may seem. God knows what you have done. You can’t cover up your sins.

Sinful human beings cannot fool the almighty, all-knowing God. We sin, and there is nothing that we can do to remove those sins from our lives. We cannot cover them up. Hiding sin doesn’t bring relief. It brings guilt and shame. The devil would love nothing more than to use that guilt and shame to suffocate faith. The psalm writer, King David, also felt the guilt and shame of his sins as he tried to cover them up. It nearly suffocated his faith. Though he tried, David could not cover up his sins.

Only God can cover up your sins. No, God does not help you carry out some elaborate scheme to fool the world into thinking you are a good person. God knows your sins, but he loves you anyway. God covers up your sins in a way that only he could accomplish. God’s son, Jesus, gives to you the robe of righteousness that he won for you on the cross. Jesus wraps you in that robe of righteousness so that when God looks at you he does not see your sin, guilt, and shame. These have been covered by the blood of His son, Jesus. Your sins have been removed. Your sins have been covered.

Next time you feel the temptation to try to cover up a sinful act, remember that Jesus loved you so much that he sacrificed himself to cover up your sins. Then, filled with the Holy Spirit, turn away from the temptations of the devil, the world, and your sinful nature. Repent of your sins and leave them behind. Jesus has blessed you with the forgiveness of sins and taken away your guilt and shame.


PRAYER:  Passover Lamb, the blood that you shed on the cross has covered my sins. Thank you for this sacrificial gift. Give me the strength to turn away from temptation and trust in you for forgiveness when I fall. In your name I pray, Amen.

So Great! So Far! - Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Psalm 103:11–12 (NIV84)

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

From the point where you’re currently sitting, how far would you have to travel before you could say, “I believe I’ve reached the east?” Hmm. Wouldn’t the east still be beyond the horizon? Or if you headed the other direction, how far would you have to go before you could say, “I’ve actually reached the west”? Hmm. Wouldn’t the west stretch still further west? And as for the distance between those two unlimited distances, is anyone actually capable of arriving at a fixed number of miles for it?

With the Spirit of the Lord on his tongue, King David compels us to imagine a limitless distance that’s beyond our imagination. “As far as the east is from the west,” he says, “so far has (the Lord) removed our transgressions from us.” Have you failed to love him as you must? Or misused his holy name? Or despised his word? Have you always honored the government he’s put in place over you? If you’re married, are you content with the spouse God’s given you? If you are single, have you struggled against lust? Have you been stingy? Have you been greedy? Do you protect other people’s reputations even if they aren’t always so kind to you?

Turn to your God and take heart! Your God has removed all those sins so far away and he will never to reinsert them into your record. He’s cast them away from his mind. He will never bring them back up. For now and forever, your transgressions are “as far as the east is from the west.”

NASA launched Voyager 1 back in 1977. Traveling at a speed of 38,610 miles per hour, the space probe is currently more than 13.5 billion miles from earth. Hmm. Is that how high the heavens are above the earth? The most distant galaxy, scientists speculate, is billions of lightyears away. Not miles. Lightyears. Hmm. Is that how high the heavens are above the earth?

Once again the psalmist has us trying to imagine an unimaginable distance. “As high as the heavens are above the earth,” he sings, “so great is (the Lord’s) love for those who fear him.” It’s so great that he came from his heavenly throne to be conceived of a woman, cradled in poverty, raised in obscurity, rejected by his own people, despised by earthly authorities, arrested, accused, condemned, and “pierced for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5). It’s so great that was willing to be “pierced for our transgressions, … numbered with the transgressors.” It’s so great that he “bore the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).

As you go through the day today, try to imagine once again how far your transgressions have been removed. The distance from the east to the west. Ponder the height of his love. Like the heavens are above the earth. Impossible to fully grasp? Of course it is. Nevertheless, its comfort is without scope or limit. His glory is beyond measure.


PRAYER:  Oh, the height of Jesus’ love, Higher than the heavens above, Deeper than the depths of sea, Lasting as eternity, Love that found me—wondrous thought!—Found me when I sought him not. Amen.

No Payback! - Monday, April 8, 2019

Psalm 103:9–10 (NIV84)

9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

After they’ve threatened his father, the war hero shoots a corrupt policeman and the head of a crime family. After they’ve kidnapped his daughter, an ex-CIA agent finds the perpetrators and kills them. Al Pacino, Liam Neeson, John Wayne – it doesn’t much matter who the star of the film is. If someone’s been seriously wronged, moviegoers flock to see what sort of vengeance is in store for the bad guys. The more brutal the payback, it seems, the more pleased the audience. Of course, art is merely imitating real life. More than once you or I have been pleased when a criminal got what was coming to him, whether the payback was legal or not.

Yet what if the LORD should feel that way or act that way toward us? You’ve ignored the giver of every perfect gift. Shouldn’t the LORD pay you back by ignoring you? I’ve harbored bitter thoughts toward someone who wronged me years ago. Shouldn’t the LORD turn the tables and harbor bitterness toward me? At times, we’ve withheld forgiveness from someone who has wronged us. Doesn’t the LORD have the right to withhold forgiveness from us? Payback says the LORD should do those very things in this life and then top it off by casting us away from his presence forever. Indeed, justice says he has every right to do that.

During the season of Lent, we observe that God is different. He accuses with his holy law, and our many crimes against his name certainly anger him. But there’s no vengeance. There’s no payback. Rather, as the psalmist puts it, “he will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” Indeed, the LORD directs his Servant Jesus to pay for our iniquities with his holy precious blood. He subjects his willing Son to the punishment our sins have deserved. He unleashes his angry justice against our Substitute, accusing Jesus in our place.

In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul puts you in God’s courtroom. If God desired payback, the future would be terrifying. If God had vengeance in mind, we would be destroyed. But God promises mercy: “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen?” He announces what has actually happened. “It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33). No payback. No vengeance. No accusations. No anger. Just a “not guilty” verdict and everlasting freedom. All for Jesus’ sake.

PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, continue to be merciful. Be mindful of the verdict paid for by your Son at the cross and confirmed at his resurrection from the grave. For his sake grant us your peace. Amen.