Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

“He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives.” -Isaiah 61:1

Jesus chose these words from Isaiah to read publicly in the synagogue. After the Lord read Isaiah 61:1-2 He said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21). Jesus has come and is coming again. Living in the in-between is difficult as we are not likely to be swept up into Heaven like Enoch or Elijah. No, most of us will taste death first if the Lord tarries. Yet it will be light and momentary compared to the eternal weight of glory we see in the distance.

We must also patiently endure our individual means of sanctification for a time on earth. It is not without purpose. God has seen fit to give us physical birth at an appointed time in history, to live where you live, to be in the family you have (or don’t have), to be surrounded by people, circumstances and events which may seem wearisome at the time, yet can serve as our good, in how we respond. Dear Christian, you are being made, crafted after His likeness, because your position in Christ already affirms this.

The grace of God allows sandpaper to refine our own hearts, smooth the rough places, transforming a heart of sin into one of eternal beauty. God makes this so. One day soon and very soon, the tension of the “already and not yet” will be laid to rest in sweet glorification. Until then Jesus calls you and I to walk worthy, obey His commands, stay faithful.

While we wait in hopeful, confident expectation, we can sing ‘Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus’, a hymn written by Charles Wesley. I hope you and your family enjoy a restful and joyful Christmas celebration this year. Jesus is King. Satan may win a battle, but God has won the war.

Grace upon grace,


Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

“Come, Thou long expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free;

From our fears and sins release us; Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art;

Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart.

Born Thy people to deliver, Born a Child, and yet a King.

Born to reign in us forever, Now Thy gracious kingdom bring.

By Thine own eternal Spirit, Rule in all our hearts alone;

By Thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to Thy glorious throne.”

-written by Charles Wesley

Judgment to Restoration

Exodus 21:22-23:13; Psalm 29; Proverbs 7:6-23; Matthew 24:1-28


“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” -Romans 8:22-23

Along with the Ten Commandments, God instituted a standard of living among the Israelites. Like today, we’ve been given commands for how to act with integrity toward each other and abstain from spiritual adultery. “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips” (Exodus 23:13). God alone is to be worshipped.

It’s interesting to observe the contrast in God’s will for us versus the natural bent we have toward sin. Moses wrote down the Lord’s system of order and peace. In the end, a life outside His will leads not only to our own destruction but the breakdown of society. Where moral corruption exists, divine judgement follows. Deception of false Christs, blind leaders, wars, famine, abortion, earthquakes, open hostility and persecution are the norm- for now. Jesus Christ rules and will judge everything.


One day His final judgment will undo the tangled knot of sorrow. Sin does not triumph. The world and the relationships God had in mind for us in Eden will be made true again. Jesus has already conquered death, yet we wait in the “already and not yet” season as God fulfills future promises. In the meantime, the Bible speaks of our weariness and groaning, along with creation, for everything to be made right because deep down we know it isn’t supposed to be this way. We see the devastation sin has done to the world and our lives. Take heart because this is not the end of our Story. Believers look forward to the most wonderful Day when we receive our resurrected bodies no longer tainted by sickness, sin or death. As we live in the middle of the Fall, between Genesis 3 and Revelation 21, God promises to “[give] strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace” (Psalm 29:11). Jesus will restore, making all things new, but first God must refine, judging the dross. If you are in Christ, the Lord is on your side. Who can be against you?


Grace upon grace,


God’s Way

Exodus 19:16-21:21; Psalm 28; Proverbs 7:1-5; Matthew 23:13-39


“What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come […] So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” -Galatians 3:19; 24


There has to be a reason I repeatedly teach my 9 year old not to whine or argue. One, I just don’t like hearing it. But more importantly, I’m parenting for obedience. The lessons I lay out for him now will hopefully change into a habitual behavior. My hope is one day he will want to walk in obedience on his own without me reminding him! I can only assist in modifying actions I know please God, but He has to transform the heart.

In a similar way, God gave us His law not to go through the motions but to promote heart change. Through the law God demonstrates His standard of holiness and how we always fall short because of our sin nature (Romans 3:23). Following the law cannot save us but reveals our need for the Savior. God’s commands are right and good. They keep us from grievous sins against Himself and others. Even the cultural laws for Israel were beneficial to the people as they learned to operate as a set apart nation governed by God.

IMG_0602man in black jacket beside boy in pink jacket holding plush toy during daytime



When we reduce the Lord’s decrees to playing church on Sunday we are no better than the outwardly pious legalists Jesus condemned during His earthly ministry. God says He desires mercy, not sacrifice. So what does that mean? Jesus cares more about the motivation of our hearts than how we appear before others. Is our focus to look “holy” with lengthy superficial prayers, checking the church box, or visible acts of service? Or are we more concerned with what the God of this Universe thinks? Our Father inspects the fruit of the heart.

The Israelites trembled before the Lord in reverence and wonder. They couldn’t bear to have God speak directly to them in all His Glory.  In Psalm 28, David cries out for God to hear his prayer and deliver him from those who defy God’s ways. Our response should be a combination of these two reactions.

As God’s beloved sons and daughters we have the family privilege to boldly approach His  throne of grace. We can cry out to Him in our need, in our thanksgiving, even asking Him to defend us, and He will hear you. Yet this is done with a heart of humility and reverence toward the One who created you. I’m always awe-struck with fear when a storm blows through the area I live in, known for it’s tornadoes. There is such power in the wind and lightning. God is the source of this fierceness. Do you know this kind of God?


When the Lord comes again He will meet us not only as our Shepherd, but as the Great Warrior He is. He will come to end the final war that has raged since the Fall (Genesis 3). His Name is Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11-16). This should bring us to our knees and worship. One day, all will bow the knee before King Jesus and confess Him as Lord (Philippians 2:9-11).

As we seek God, He will fashion our hearts after His own. Over time our desire will be to obey Him more and more as our love for the Lord grows deeper. We won’t be as concerned with what the world thinks of us. We are either being fit for heaven or fit for hell through our obedience or rebellion. Knowing Christ is the one solid anchor we have to hold onto- everything else is shifting sand.

Follow God’s perfect way today. When you realize this isn’t possible to do on your own, go to the One who made our righteousness possible. Jesus fulfilled God’s ways because we never could. Walk with Jesus.


Grace upon grace,


Wholly Loved

Exodus 19:1-15; Psalm 27:7-14; Matthew 22:34-23:12


“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14

God calls His Bride, the Church, to be set apart, as a holy people. We are to “conduct [ourselves] in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27). How can we live perfectly holy before an Awesome God? Well, we can’t. This is actually good news for us. It is exactly why Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross to make a way for wayward people like you and me. We cannot clean ourselves up or ever be good enough- there’s a hole in our holiness. Even if we reform the outside, our hearts are dead apart from God. We are no more than a whitewashed tomb.



In our Exodus passage, God commands Moses to tell the people of Israel to prepare themselves before entering the Lord’s presence. They were to wash their clothes and consecrate themselves so by the third day they would be ready. Under the New Covenant we have Christ’s Presence always with us as His children. He did the work of making us righteous and presentable before a Holy God.

Jesus does not denounce our lack, weaknesses, or limitations. He tenderly tells those who belong to Him they are condemned no more. The indwelling Holy Spirit patiently teaches us how to live in holiness, as we learn to operate out of God’s power and not our flesh. Our Father promises to not give up on what He’s started in you and me, to make us more like Christ (Philippians 1:6). We can be confident we will see Jesus face to face one day in the land of those who’ve really lived. You are His treasure, holy and loved, wholly loved.


Grace upon grace,


Long-suffering Mercy

Exodus 15:19-17:7; Matthew 22:1-33

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” -2 Peter 3:8-9
How do we handle the sins of others against us? When we’ve been deceived, betrayed, lied about, or mistreated? How does God deal with sin? How has He dealt with my sin?
We are all unrighteous before the Lord yet He freely offers grace for those who recognize their need for Him. Jesus has prepared a place for such people. Some respond to the invitation of the Gospel with apathy, others openly rebel in opposition to God’s gift. The kingdom of Heaven is not for them. So the Lord chooses an array of people from every nation, tribe, and language to serve His Name, delighting in His feast. He is mercifully long-suffering.
Moses cried out to God when the Israelites complained of hunger and thirst. The Lord heard him and miraculously provided in the desert, meeting their physical needs. Water from a rock, meat in the evening and manna in the morning- for forty years! He is mercifully long-suffering.
In His earthly ministry, our Lord Jesus addressed the religious leaders intent on destroying His reputation and credibility. Jesus knew their hearts better than they did. He responds to the attacks to trap Him with patient wisdom, demonstrating His authoritative knowledge over the ways of men and Scripture. He is mercifully longsuffering.
Sometimes the word ‘long-suffering’ seem to fit better than ‘patient’. Long-suffering gives an image of endurance, perseverance, love bearing all things. This is exactly what Jesus did and does for you and me. In any of these examples God could have annihilated anyone questioning His provision, goodness or authority. But He didn’t. The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love not wishing any should eternally perish. Think of His response during the mock trials, insults, beatings, and ultimately, His crucifixion (Isaiah 53:7-11). He is mercifully long-suffering. Jesus has invested His life in all the elect, knowing we would not walk perfectly, knowing there would be days you and I completely fail.
But His mercies are new each day.
In light of how the Good Savior treats us, eventually sacrificing Himself for our eternal good, we can respond with mercy and patience when we are sinned against. Because I hope someone would extend the same grace to me when I sin against them. Cry out to God when you feel wronged, be sober-minded with self-control, quick to forgive, slow to anger. Because this is what Jesus did for you. This is what God loves.
Grace upon grace,

The Great Deliverer

Exodus 13:17-15:18; Psalm 26; Proverbs 6:16-19; Matthew 21:23-46


“In Your unfailing love You will lead the people You have redeemed. In Your strength You will guide them to Your holy dwelling.” -Exodus 15:13


The character traits outlined in our Proverbs passage describe what God hates: pride, liars, murder, deceitfulness, divisiveness, and hatred. Examples of this nature are seen in Pharaoh and his army as well as the Pharisees who challenge Jesus’ authority. The nature of man apart from God does not change. How the Lord addresses our sin may vary. Meaning, the Egyptians experienced immediate consequences as they were drowned in the Red Sea. Their wickedness brought about their own ruin, but God’s glory.

On the other hand, the Pharisees’ rebellion against Jesus does not receive prompt judgment. It looks like they’ve won as Jesus is crucified and they triumph over His death. But this isn’t where the Story ends. Death did not hold Christ. The One murdered on the cross will judge the hearts of men at the end of Time. Like the Pharisees, all who remain unrepentant in their sins will be held accountable on Judgement Day. This is the worst consequence of all.


The righteous pray for God’s salvation over them. As David does in Psalm 26, we can seek the Lord without fear as He no longer sees our former nature. We boldly come before His Throne and appeal to the Lord. He has covered us in the righteousness of Jesus and our sins no longer condemn us (Romans 8:1). Our love for the Father grows and deepens hope. The desire to live in holiness is His gift to us and the mark of genuine faith.

El Shaddai delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt. Then in His perfect wisdom and time, the Lord came in the person of Jesus Christ to be our Great Deliverer. Rest in God’s wisdom today. He will watch over you and be your Help for those who know their need of Him and seek His Face.


Grace upon grace,


Macro and Micro

Exodus 12:14-13:16; Matthew 20:29-21:22


“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” -Hebrews 1:1-3


Before Jesus’ earthly ministry began, God spoke through appointed men and prophets. When Christ came He dealt face to face with people. Still the same true God, the Lord reveals Himself in a much more personable, tangible way as Jesus became flesh, living among men. Suddenly our view of God is up close.

Jesus meeting us where we are in our humanity is significant for many reasons, but it is especially important for how we relate to Him. Christ had to become like one of us, perfectly keeping the Law, thus fulfilling the Law and becoming a Perfect Sacrifice. He identifies with man so that man could identify with Him. God has always been the same majestic Lord, unchangeable yesterday, today and forever. Yet in His love and grace the Father sent His Son to a world in need of redemption. Jesus condescends from His Heavenly Glory momentarily to teach us more about Himself. Just as created things like bread, water, and blood point to a deeper spiritual truth, so God incarnate teaches us of His sacrificial intimate love for the Father and the people He died for.

God’s holiness is also applied to our environment as Jesus daily interacted with others, enduring physical limitations as a human, experiencing hunger, temptation and tiredness yet He did not sin (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 2:14-18). Jesus Christ is uniquely and supernaturally fully God and fully man (Hebrews 1:1-12; Matthew 22:41-46; Psalm 110:1).


The God of Moses Who delivered His people from Egypt is the same God Who restores sight to the blind, encourages children to praise Him, displayed foreknowledge of a donkey and colt to be used for His purposes, and curses a fruitless fig tree. The macro and micro pictures we have of our Great God are one in the same. What a mighty God we serve!

The Lord redeems His children and destroys the wicked, just as Pharaoh and his army were suddenly overtaken by the same sea God protected Israel with. His ways are limitless, His power unmatched; this is God. He sent His Son, God incarnate, to die for a lost world, in order that we could know Him, enter His Presence and have peace with the King of the Universe. The most wonderful question we can ask ourselves is: Who is Jesus? What is your answer?


Grace upon grace,






Exodus 10:1-12:13


More than once Pharaoh tried to compromise with Moses on conditions for letting the Israelites go worship. Moses was unwavering because these were God’s terms. Like Pharaoh, those who attempt to negotiate with the Lord have no fear of God, not rightly understanding Who He is.

The last plague left no room for compromise with judgment over every firstborn son in Egypt. The instructions for Passover were very clear, as the Israelites obeyed God’s word by placing the blood of an unblemished lamb on the sides and top of the doorframe to their homes. Then each Hebrew ate the roasted lamb, bitter herbs and bread without yeast in haste as instructed by the Lord. Because of their obedience, God spared the firstborn in each Israelite home unlike the Egyptian families.






God defends those who take His Word seriously and obey Him- these are His people.  We may think it harmless to cut corners at work, lack integrity in how we treat others, or see how far we can push the envelope, but how we live before others matters. John MacArthur points out how the Church is responsible in representing Christ to the world saying,

“The Church’s greatest testimony before the world is spiritual integrity. When Christians live below the standards of biblical morality and reverence for their Lord, they compromise the full biblical truth concerning the character, plan, and will of God. By so doing, they seriously weaken the credibility of the gospel and lessen their impact on the world.”

The truth is God will not honor bargaining His commands of any kind. He does not haggle. This is the way of the unrighteous. God’s people obey Him and serve others because this reflects the heart of Christ who did not compromise His mission on the cross. Aren’t you glad Jesus perfectly obeyed the will of the Father? Christ set the example for daily living by demonstrating whole-hearted devotion to God alone as the only way to live. It’s important to note that this isn’t done in our own strength. As we mature in our understanding of God’s grace, the Holy Spirit enables us to live out the Lord’s will. Gradually our desires begin to match His, as our hunger for God grows. How incredible God even helps us obey Him!

God’s standard is ultimately in our best interest. We need not fear “missing out” on a full life because we don’t succumb to the pressures of the culture. God’s way leads to solid joy in a forever relationship with Him. In the end, those who remain steadfast and uncompromising in the Lord will hear “well done, My good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). Keep persevering. Our Father sees your faithfulness to Him.


Grace upon grace,


Set Apart

Exodus 8:1-9:35; Psalm 24; Matthew 19:13-30


There is a fatal misconception that there many ways to heaven- in the end all people are God’s people. This simply isn’t true. The Bible shows us how God set apart the people of Israel for Himself. He is a Covenant-keeping God, long-suffering with wayward, scared, ungrateful and at times faithless people. Good news for us. We aren’t that much different in our sin nature from Israel and yet God still pursues His people, displaying a love and power only He can possess.

The Lord wields His dominion over creation with the plagues He set upon Egypt. Scripture specifically points out how God protected His people from these afflictions, passing over the land of Goshen where the Hebrews lived (Exodus 8:22-23; 9:4; 26). He saved them from His wrathful plagues. The wonder of salvation is that none of us deserve it. We are all dead in our sins, guilty to have plagues set upon us before a holy God. Yet in His great mercy the Lord created and preserved a holy nation, a royal priesthood, the body of Christ, the Church. We who are in Christ Jesus are set apart as His holy possession. All acts of redemption recorded in the Bible foreshadow God’s greatest work in Jesus, rescuing us from the slavery of sin, resurrecting spiritually dead men and women for His ultimate Glory and our eternal good.


Jesus told His disciples that with man salvation is impossible. We cannot save ourselves or find another way to heaven than through Him (John 14:6). But with God, the miracle of salvation is not only possible, He actually made this a reality for all who place their trust in Jesus. God makes the impossible, possible.

Since the beginning of Time it was God’s desire to enjoy fellowship with His creation- us. When we separated ourselves from Him in sin, God made a way in Christ to set us apart once again, but this time with a purpose to make us holy. As Christians we are no longer held captive to our culture and the depravity of man. He has made and is making us holy to be like He is. Paul explains it this way, “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). If you are a Christian, you are becoming what God has already called you to be. He is faithful to sanctify you and me until the day of Christ Jesus when we see Him face to face (Philippians 1:6). As God’s beloved, we are set apart to be free.


Grace upon grace,


Signs and Wonders

Exodus 5:22-7:25; Psalm 23; Proverbs 5:22-23


Our Father is a faithful leader guiding His people throughout history with anointed leadership, Scripture, the Holy Spirit and prayer. God used Moses and Aaron to speak on His behalf, to demonstrate His Power when the Israelites were in Egyptian captivity. Even when Israel lacked faith in God’s redemptive plan and Moses became discouraged, the Lord still moved forward in rescuing them. Moses’ staff becomes an object of God’s power and authority as it turns into a snake. His staff then swallows the Egyptian magicians’ staffs turned into snakes.

God’s goodness to never give up on His people, to guide and correct us when necessary carries over into the beautiful 23rd psalm. He is our Great Shepherd with His own staff and rod, not out of sadistic pleasure but out of His love for us. It is always for our good, as we learn to walk in the footsteps of Christ.


By contrast, Pharaoh’s hardened heart depicts the wicked who refuse to obey God’s correction. Rejecting His truth, His light, darkens the mind and sears the conscience.  The Lord will eventually give them over to their sin (Romans 1:21-25; 28). Disobedience is not freedom but eternal slavery.

God’s staff of righteousness is the perimeter by which we live our lives. Boundaries are for safety yet we must trust in our Father’s wisdom, operating within His commands. The Israelites didn’t demonstrate faith in Egypt until they were shown God’s signs and wonders.

Jesus rebuked the religious leaders who demanded a sign from Him to prove His Sonship (Matthew 12:38-41). They hated Jesus’ ministry and condemned Him to the cross. Yet this was not the end. Just as the Lord prophesied, this generation witnessed the ‘sign of Jonah’ as Jesus overcame death and lives today. What other wonder do we need? Blessed are those who acknowledge the Lord’s goodness and authority without demanding a sign and walk in obedience (John 20:29).


Grace upon grace,