Countdown to Liftoff – Day 19

“You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Luke 24:48-49

He didn’t say how long to wait, exactly,
or where to wait, specifically,
or what they were waiting for, precisely.

God is big on waiting.
He is not limited by time or space.
He doesn’t wear a watch or keep a planner or feel hurried and rushed.
He has all the time in the world.

When we’re told to wait, we have a choice how to go about it. We can wait patiently, with trust and confidence in His timing, yet shivering with anticipation. Or we can wait nervously, agitated and grumbling while biting our nails and clenching our teeth.

We once had a dog that knew how to wait. We would put a treat at one end of the kitchen floor, put her at the other end and tell her to “stay”. She never took her eyes off that treat. As she waited, her body began to quiver and drool started to drizzle down from her mouth. She would whimper slightly, give us a quick glance and then refocus on the treat. When there was a puddle of drool under her chin, we would say “Okay” and she would make a mad scramble across the kitchen for the small morsel.

She never knew how long she was going to have to wait.
She didn’t know why her loving masters were causing this suffering.
But the reward was well worth the wait.
Oh, for the obedience of that dog.

For the disciples, the Father’s promise raised more questions.
Did it matter where they stayed in the city?
What did it mean to be clothed with power?
When was this thing going to take place?
What if they missed it when it came?


Countdown to Liftoff – Day 20

“He told them, ‘This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.'”
Luke 24:46-47

Remember Easter?
It was only three weeks ago.
Jesus walked out of the tomb
and started showing up in random places.

We’re only halfway through His time on earth between the resurrection and the ascension. At twenty days in, He’s still alive and still going over the same material with His disciples.

Except Jesus began to clarify one important point:
forgiveness would be offered to all the nations.

Including the Gentiles.
That’s us.

Jesus was going about His Father’s business by blowing open the doors of His Father’s House.
The Chosen people would be made up of people who would choose Him as Savior.
The Day of Atonement would be in effect every day of every year.
The Holy Priesthood would consist of multicultural believers.
The Holy of Holies would move into their hearts.
All nations — one Spirit.

This thing was going global to the world God so loved.

“My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 56:7

Countdown to Liftoff – Day 21

“He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” Luke 24:44-45

There are over 300 prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament.
They were written between 500 and 1000 years before Jesus was born.
The mathematical chances that any one person could fulfill all of them is
one in a
And Jesus had to fulfill every single one, or He was not the Messiah at all!

The probability that someone could fulfill just eight of these prophecies is one in 100,000,000,000,000,000!* 

I like those odds.

The Old Testament is all about Jesus.
Like the disciples, we often need help understanding the Scriptures.
Oh, how He delights in giving us insight.

Theologian Benjamin Warfield said,
“The Old Testament is like a richly furnished but dimly lit room.
In the New Testament nothing is added but light.”

Come, let Your Light shine in.


Countdown to Liftoff – Day 22

“And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’ They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.” Luke 24:41-43

I grew up on a beef farm. We ate a steady rotation of meat and potatoes with a side of garden vegetables. I don’t remember having fish for dinner while growing up on the farm. Ever. I still don’t eat fish very often, but when I do, it’s beer battered and deep fried and smothered with tartar sauce. Not exactly Mediterranean style fare. Roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy would be my first choice for a post-resurrection meal.

The shocked disciples were not convinced Jesus had a real body. They saw Him with their eyes and they touched His skin, yet they were still having trouble believing. To prove He wasn’t a disembodied spirit, Jesus asked them for something to eat.

One of them grabbed a piece of leftover broiled fish (yuck!).
Jesus took it in His hand.
They leaned in.
He took a bite and chewed.
They watched His mouth.
He swallowed.
They watched His throat.
Their eyes moved down His chest.
They stared at His belly.
He smiled.
And there was no more talk of unbelief.

The way to the men’s hearts was through His stomach.

Countdown to Liftoff – Day 23

“He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.” Luke 24:38-40

Are you feeling troubled today?
Are doubts filling your mind?

I have a suggestion for you.
Look at Jesus.
See the wounds
in His hands and feet.

Those healed scars are there to remind you
the extent to which He would go
to prove how much He loves you.

Those nail holes are big enough
to swallow up your troubles and doubts.
Pour them all down into the glorious hollows.

He wasn’t some ethereal apparition, floating like a phantom.
He had flesh on the outside.
He had bones on the inside.
He had actual feet standing on the ground.
He had genuine, touchable skin.
He was real.

Christ came near to His disciples in the midst of their doubts.
He didn’t wait for their belief.
He is in the room with you now.
Let Him show you what is real.

Countdown to Liftoff – Day 24

“While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.” Luke 24:36-37

PB’s dad was a man of prayer. Some of my favorite memories of my father-in-law involve him praying. He “prayed in” the new year on New Year’s Eve. He prayed over our babies at their dedications. He prayed in restaurants.

I don’t know how he did it, but Dad O. had a knack for timing his prayer right as the waitress came to take our order. As she approached our table, he would say something like, “And Lord, thank You for our waitress. Bless her as she serves us today. Help us to also be a blessing to her, letting her know she’s appreciated.” Many times, we would open our eyes and lift our heads to see a shocked look and sometimes, tears. The presence of God was tangible around those diner tables.

Then he would leave a big tip.

God loves it when we talk to Him about people.
God loves it when we talk to people about Him.

When the disciples talked about Jesus,
He came and stood in their midst.
The presence of Jesus comes to us,
not just when we talk TO Him,
but also when we talk ABOUT Him.

When we talk about the Lord to each other,
He listens in and comes alongside,
bringing His peace.

“Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other,
and the Lord listened and heard.”
Malachi 3:16

Countdown to Liftoff – Day 25

“They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, ‘It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.” Luke 24:33-35

God has secrets.
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God.”
(Deut. 29:29)
I’m ok with that.
I don’t need to know everything He knows.
I don’t want to know everything He knows.

God knows our secrets.
“He knows the secrets of every heart.”
(Psalm 44:21)
I’m cool with that.
It’s good to be known that intimately.
I want to be known by Someone I can trust.

Sometimes, God tells us secrets.
“I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stored in secret places.”
(Isaiah 45:3)
I’ve found a few of those treasures in the pages of Scripture.
I’ve stumbled on a store of riches in quiet moments with Him.

Simon Peter was the first disciple to see the Risen Lord. He had a personal audience with Jesus, away from all the others. No details about that meeting were recorded. Peter was most likely dealing with feelings of utter failure after his triple betrayal. How sweet it must have been for Peter to get a moment with His Savior. They had a private reunion, off the record. It was just between the two of them — a confidential meeting, face-to-Face, man-to-Man, sinner-to-Savior.

Some of my quiet moments with Jesus
are meant to be kept between the two of us.

They don’t need to be shared on social media
or blogged about
or spoken of.
It’s good to have some secrets with God.

“When you pray,
go into your room,
close the door
and pray to your Father,
who is unseen.
Then your Father,
who sees in secret,
will reward you.”
(Matthew 6:6)

Countdown to Liftoff – Day 26

“When they (the disciples) heard that Jesus was alive and that she (Mary Magdalene) had seen him, they did not believe it. Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either.” Mark 16:11-13

No sugar-coating here.
They flat out didn’t believe any of the scuttle-butt.
Wild rumors.

We shouldn’t be too hard on these guys, though.
They had never known anyone who was dead, become un-dead.
They had no personal experience with open, empty graves.
It had been a stressful week, what with earthquakes and blackouts and losing their best friend along with their best hope of freedom from Roman oppression. It was all very confusing.

Jesus told the disciples many times that he was going to rise from the dead.
Being told something and believing it is two different things.
Maybe they thought it was just too good to be true.

“It may be too good to be understood,
But it’s not too good to be true.”
Jess Ray

Countdown to Liftoff – Day 27

“They asked each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?'” Luke 24:32

Dear Jesus,
we invite You to talk with us on the road,
open the Scriptures up to us,
and set our hearts on fire.

Don’t be scared of the weird picture.
This is a beautiful song.
Press play!
Did Not Our Hearts Burn
Jess Ray

Countdown to Liftoff – Day 28

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.” Luke 24:30-31

Jesus was recognized at the table.

Maybe is was because He took on the role of host.
Maybe it was the way He took the bread and broke it.
Maybe it was something about His prayer of thanks.
Maybe they saw the scars in His hands.

Or maybe the time spent in Bible study with Jesus
caused the eyes of their minds and hearts to be receptive.

A sudden gasp, “It’s You! It’s been You all along!”

Eugene Peterson, the writer of “The Message” and many other books, also was a pastor for 29 years and a college professor for seven years. When he retired from pastoring and teaching, he and his wife, Jan, used their dining room as their new headquarters for ministry. In one year they had over 200 overnight guests in their home. Hours were spent around the supper table, listening, advising, encouraging. Later, their son heard comments like, “Your parents saved our marriage that weekend,” or “That dinner with your dad gave me renewed passion for ministry,” or “Their kindness around the table saved my life.”

If you have a table,
then you have a ministry.

The table is a sacred place of fellowship with each other,
especially when we invite Jesus to join us.
Every table — the communion table and our kitchen tables.