power suits


You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. [Luke 24:48-49 ESV]

A new chapter of mankind is dawning for these humble fishermen, tax collectors and handmaids.

These will be those who turn the world upside down and inside out.
These who witnessed, and performed, miracles had a story to tell.
These who loved Jesus, and walked with him in friendship, will continue his mission.

They will be those who first proclaim the good news to all of the earth.
It is amazing when you consider the extent, and the impact, of their message on humanity.
How is it that these humble few could do such a thing?

Jesus tells them that they are not yet ready for the mission though.
They must wait until they are "clothed with power from on high".
Does that image simply captivate your imagination?

I think that we sometimes get a bit too theological about this phrase.
So easy to gloss over the work and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The truth is that these who Jesus spoke to were timid and afraid.

The bravest of them lacked the ability to continue Jesus' mission.
They needed to wait for the promise of the Father.
To wait until the Holy Spirit clothed them with spiritual power.

Teach me to wait for the promise Lord. I need to be clothed with holy power.


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

willful ignorance


“Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” [John 20:25 ESV]

I think that it is so interesting how Thomas rejected the witness of his friends.
These had actually seen the resurrected Christ and testified about it to Thomas.
In a sense Thomas was the first skeptic in a very long procession of skeptics.

Many people reject the testimony of first hand witnesses like John, the writer of this passage.
Strange how skeptics think that it is 'intellectual' to dismiss these eye witness accounts.
It seems to be a case of willful ignorance and an unwillingness to believe.

Eight days later, Jesus appeared again and confronted Thomas saying:
“Have you believed because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
This account not only confronts the willful ignorance of Thomas but of modern day skeptics as well.

In reality faith is embracing a message told by faithful witnesses.
A blessing comes when we believe what we have not seen.
I am one of those who have been blessed by believing the reports of the faithful.

Lord I believe the reports of the witnesses. Thank you for their first hand reports.


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

the first message after the resurrection


On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” [John 20:19-23 ESV]

Can you imagine what it was like for Jesus to simply materialize in a locked room?
Visions of Star Trek transports and materializations come to mind.
I know that I would have been both freaked out and amazed.

Luke adds to the record of this event reporting how Jesus said:
"Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?"
Isn't that the way that we so often deal with things that our brain cannot comprehend?
When something unexplainable happens we are troubled and have difficulty believing.
Things that seem too good to be true are often hard to believe.

To comfort them Jesus speaks peace and shows them his wounds.
In Luke's account he even eats a meal to show he was real.
Even those present in the room had trouble embracing the resurrection.

And how interesting that the Lord's first message to them is about forgiveness.
A bible college teacher once told us about his struggle to forgive and how this verse helped him.
He realized that those he forgave were forgiven even though his feelings told him they were not.

Many times I remember that when I forgive - feelings will eventually follow the act of forgiveness.
It is hard to accept the reality of forgiveness because of the conflicts we feel.
In such times it is helpful to remember the words of Jesus - they are forgiven.

I am in awe of the resurrection Lord. It causes me to realize my need to forgive.


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

Jonah and Jesus


Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. [Matthew 12:38-40 ESV]

Little is written about the time between the cross and the resurrection.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians about it.
He wrote of Jesus leading captivity captive when he descended into the earth.

There is much speculation about what that means.
Some think that Jesus set righteous saints free from Sheol, the place of the dead.
Some think that the captives that were set free were those living in bondage on earth.

Such speculation is interesting and worthy of thought.
What I think about is how similar the experiences of Jesus and Jonah are.
  • Both were alive during the experience - Jonah in the fish and Jesus in heaven. 
  • Both were missing - deemed dead and gone.
  • Both needed a miracle to survive their experience. 
  • Both returned and had a message of hope for people under a sentence of death.
This is where we are today.
We embrace, with much hope, the mystery of the death.
As we live we look forward to that time of resurrection and new life.

Thank you for experiencing and tasting death for me Lord. I am in awe of you.


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

into your hands


It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things. [Luke 23-44-49 ESV]


This last utterance from the cross reminds me of these words that Jesus once said:
I lay down my life that I may take it up again.
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.
Even at this very last moment of his life we are reminded.
The son of God was not a victim of circumstances or of man's evil plans.
At any point Jesus could have chose another path for his life.

Yet love compelled him to stay the course and freely offer his life for us.
Love compelled him to stay committed to the words he prayed in the garden.
"Not my will but thine be done".

And since that final moment we have all been beating our breasts.
Like the centurion, and those who watched at a distance.
We have all been wondering how this could have happened to an innocent man.

Perhaps it could have happened no other way?
Maybe the whole spectacle took place to reveal the darkness of man.
And the brilliant light of God's one and only Son?

This reminds me of how we daily need to place our lives into divine hands.
When things seem so crazy and out of control we need to release control.
As we let go we commit ourselves again and trust the hands of God.

Father, into your hands I commit my body, my strength, my soul, my life and my spirit.


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

walking towards suffering


And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” [Matthew 20:17-19 ESV]

Once again Jesus stops along the way to Jerusalem to give a reality check to his disciples.
Can you imagine the disbelief evident on the faces of these who loved him so much?
They have been with the Lord for three years and have watched him do unimaginable things.

They saw him open blind eyes and heard him call Lazarus back to life.
They ate the multiplied fish and bread with the five thousand.
In their wildest imaginations they never dreamed of a crucified ending to His ministry.

What is so impressive is how Jesus set his face towards suffering.
Knowing his horrible fate, he seemed to look past the pain of the cross.
I think that he embraced this thought I shared a few years ago from Joni:
"Trials are not just assaults to be withstood. No, trials are opportunities to be seized!"
Jesus inspires me as I read of him walking towards his suffering.
He did not back down from pain but headed straight for it.
He saw his trials as an opportunity to show the world that God is no stranger to pain.

When he forgave those who were inflicting his pain he was giving us each an example.
A model of amazing grace under trial and perseverance in suffering.
He was showing us how to glorify God in when life takes a really bad turn.

You are worthy of my worship Lord Jesus. Help me to glorify you in my trials.


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

divine philanthropy


And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius. Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’

But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last. [Matthew 20:8-16 ESV]


Jesus continues teaching the disciples about wealth by telling them about vineyard workers.
These all received the same daily pay even though they worked different hours.
I think that many of us can relate to this seemingly unfair action by the owner of the vineyard.

Anyone who has lived for a while understands workplace feelings of unfairness.
When another gets a raise or a promotion and our pay remains the same
Many of us would react in ways similar to vineyard workers who worked the entire day.

It is interesting how the master responds to their disappointment with the word generosity.
When it comes to eternal matters and everlasting fairness it is good to pause for a moment.
It is good to understand that life is all about the generosity of God.

Whether we have followed Him a long or short time, it is all about His generosity.
If we are gifted or blessed in any way it is because we serve a philanthropic God.
How much more should we live in ways that reflect His generosity in our lives?

There is no philanthropist like you Lord! Help me to live and give in generous ways.


... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.