The Ambitious Secretary

Back in his day, all secretaries were men. So that wasn’t why Baruch was hired. Coming from a prosperous and prominent family, he was both highly educated and skilled. Probably overqualified. Nevertheless, he took his job seriously. Whether his boss was in or out of prison, he would be at his side, meticulously taking the dictation.

Moreover, Baruch was well connected in society. His grandfather had been a governor of Jerusalem. Thus, he was no stranger to the political movers and shakers of his time. He understood their language, so to speak, and liked rubbing elbows with them.

His employer, on the other hand, had no life outside of his relationship with God. To him God was the be-all and end-all of his existence. As Mr. Jeremiah’s secretary, Baruch should know. Their close contact gave him a window into the prophet’s soul. Seeing his boss’s innermost thoughts and feelings and the intents of his heart, he knew he was the real deal.

Committed to being God’s messenger, Jeremiah followed to the letter whatever the Almighty told him to do and say. Then he embraced the subsequent suffering.

For more than two decades Jeremiah had been warning his fellow citizens of God’s looming judgment if they didn’t shape up. As if stone deaf, however, the people kept their noses in the air. Disbelief, disobedience, and disrespect for the God of their history festered.

Now God’s mercy had reached the end of its rope. He directed Jeremiah to dictate all of those past prophecies for Baruch to compile in one volume. The time for executing justice had come.

And yet, God held out a shred of hope when He told Jeremiah: “Perhaps when the house of Judah hears about all the disaster I am planning to bring on them, each one of them will turn from his evil way. Then I will forgive their wrongdoing and their sin” (Jeremiah 36:3 HCSB).

As Baruch inked a flair to the final yod, Jeremiah gave him his next assignment. “I am restricted; I cannot enter the temple of the Lord, so you must go and read from the scroll—which you wrote at my dictation—the words of the Lord in the hearing of the people at the temple of the Lord on a day of fasting. You must also read them in the hearing of all the Judeans who are coming from their cities” (Jeremiah 36:5-6 HCSB).

What a stroke of luck! This would be the next rung on Baruch’s climb up the career ladder. He would be in the spotlight, showing off his oratorical powers.

Finally, the seemingly endless waiting was over. The day of fasting had come. “So Baruch son of Neriah did everything Jeremiah the prophet had commanded him. At the Lord’s temple he read the Lord’s words from the scroll” (Jeremiah 36:8 HCSB).

Before Baruch could leave the temple, he was summoned to the palace. The princes who had the king’s ear requested an immediate private reading.

Wow! Another career rung! Baruch massaged his ego that the next step would be an appearance before the king himself. But that’s not what the princes concluded after hearing Baruch read Jeremiah’s prophecies.

Knowing the king all too well, they sensed imminent danger. Instead of ushering the secretary into the king’s presence, they urgently advised, “You and Jeremiah must hide yourselves and tell no one where you are” (Jeremiah 36:19 HCSB).

While in hiding, the ambitious secretary sank into depression. But God would not leave him there. Putting His finger on the problem, God let Jeremiah in on it and gave him a message for Baruch: “But as for you, do you seek great things for yourself? Stop seeking! For I am about to bring disaster on every living creature” (Jeremiah 45:5 HCSB).

Civilization as Baruch knew it was crumbling around him. The day was nearing when Jerusalem would be in ashes, the temple in ruins, and the population in captivity. This was no time for Baruch to be making grandiose plans for himself. It was as if God were saying, “Get a grip on yourself, man. Look at the big picture.”

Evidently, he did. For Baruch was still faithfully recording Jeremiah’s prophecies when the two of them were taken to Egypt.

Dare we have the courage to pray: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24 HCSB)?



Sibling Reversals

“Hey, you little pipsqueak, get down here. Father wants you at home. The judge showed up, and he says he won’t finish his business until he sees you. So hurry up.”

“But what about the sheep?” the boy shouted back.

“You little squirt, don’t you think I’ve thought of that? Do what you’re told, and don’t waste any more time doing it. Why, oh why, am I always the one who has to find the baby brother?”

Sibling stress was still rearing its ugly head five years later when David’s father sent him on an errand. He wanted his youngest son to check on the three oldest ones, who were now on active duty in the king’s army. The teenager was to bring them food and greetings from home and then return to his father with news about their welfare.

David was up at the crack of dawn and, having arranged for someone to tend his flock, took the food and was on his way just as Jesse had directed him. He arrived at the camp just as the army was moving into battle formation, shouting the war cry. Israel and the Philistines moved into position, facing each other, battle-ready. David left his bundles of food in the care of a sentry, ran to the troops who were deployed, and greeted his brothers. While they were talking together, the Philistine champion, Goliath of Gath, stepped out from the front lines of the Philistines . . . .
(1 Samuel 17:20-23 MSG)

What happened next between David and Goliath is world-renowned ancient history. But what is sometimes overlooked in the telling of it is that before slinging the fatal stone, David had to ignore a stinging sibling taunt: “Eliab, his older brother, heard David fraternizing with the men and lost his temper: ‘What are you doing here! Why aren’t you minding your own business, tending that scrawny flock of sheep? I know what you’re up to. You’ve come down here to see the sights, hoping for a ringside seat at a bloody battle!’” (1 Samuel 17:28 MSG).

There was no such innuendo fifteen years from that day, however, when David was public enemy number one. Convinced that David wanted the throne, King Saul was hounding him like a mad dog day and night.

Sly as a fox, David had slipped through the maniacal king’s hands again and again by the time he “escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father’s house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became commander over them. And there were with him about four hundred men” (1 Samuel 22:1-2 ESV).

When the brothers joined David’s gang of outlaws–submitting to him as commander–did they recall years ago when Samuel the judge had passed over all seven of them to pronounce their baby brother a future king? Did they remember the day they didn’t expect the puny runt to take out the giant Goliath? How did the siblings feel about the current turn of events?

David recorded his answer. Sometime–whether before, during, or after this development–he wrote, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Psalm 133:1 ESV).



Choosing Sides

Asa felt like he was walking on air. His army, on a wing and a prayer, had brought those invading Ethiopians to their knees. Against all odds, his army had decimated them! The high and mighty weren’t so high and mighty after all.

Oh, the euphoria of victory! This must be the same feeling his great-great grandfather had when he returned from winning battles. He wished David could see him now. He would have been so proud of him. His beloved Jerusalem was still safe.

Coming out to meet Asa, Azariah punctured the king’s musings. The prophet offered neither a congratulatory handshake nor the glimmer of a satisfied smile. All business, he got right to his point for being there: ‘“The Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you’” (2 Chronicles 15:2 NASB).

The warning hit Asa’s heart. He had been made to face his failure.

From the moment he inherited his reign, Asa had zealously worked to purge the nation of idol worship and the downward depravity it induced. But his zeal had stopped short of cleansing the throne room.

Now, ten years later, Yahweh’s spokesman made clear the dire consequences if he did not restore worship of the true God as the national religion. That meant the utter obliteration of paganism. No exceptions! The most influential woman in the royal court and his chief counselor—the queen mother—should be dethroned. The status quo would not do. He must sever this family tie.

At the outset of his reign, Asa had thought it would be too hard to depose her. Today nothing could keep him from doing the right thing. So he “removed Maacah . . . from the position of queen mother, because she had made a horrid image as an Asherah, and Asa cut down her horrid image, crushed it and burned it at the brook Kidron” (2 Chronicles 15:16 NASB).

Where there are divisions in families when a moral choice is at stake, God claims the supreme affection. Jesus made that clear, saying, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37 ESV).

TIP: is selling the eBook $2 less than Amazon is.

The Darkest Dark

It was pitch black at high noon. Thick darkness enveloped the entire earth, not just Calvary’s hill. There, for the next three hours, Jesus would be hanging on His cross in a dark place.

Most likely, you, too, have been in a dark place. A place where only you knew the depths of your suffering.

The criminals crucified on either side of Jesus identified with the pain of nails pounded into flesh, of excruciating gasps for breath, of burning thirst, of a pulsating headache as well as the humiliation of public nakedness. But they did not experience what Jesus Christ went through during those black hours. For God was making “the One who did not know sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21 HCSB). The sins of all people for all time—past, present, and future—were transferred to Jesus. Also, the punishment.

As with the criminals on their crosses, there might have been one or two in your life who related to some part of your pain. But there was no one who could fully comprehend the turmoil within you. Like Jesus, you sank to your lowest point, where you felt that God had abandoned you.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” cried Jesus as the third hour came to a close. The Son of God could not feel His Father’s presence. But had God removed it? There is Biblical evidence He had not.

Look at Moses as he is about to ascend Mount Sinai. “The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:21 ESV). Later Moses would say, “These words the Lord spoke to all your assembly at the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a loud voice; and he added no more. And he wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me” (Deuteronomy 5:22 ESV).

See Solomon standing at the dedication of his spectacular temple when “the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:13-14 ESV). Listen as Solomon then proclaims: “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness” (2 Chronicles 6:1 ESV).

Read what David, Solomon’s father, wrote: “He made darkness His secret hiding place” (Psalm 18:11 AMPC). This was after thirteen years of running for his life from jealous King Saul. Can you imagine the secrets God revealed to him when David knew it was only the two of them!

We should not limit God to our way of thinking. To a feeling. God knows what He’s up to. “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33 NASB).

Even though we may not feel it at the time, God is in our dark places. He is working in secret for our eternal good. Calling us to a deeper experience of knowing Him. Making changes to refine our character for His glory.

We will never be where God is not already there. And there will come the moment when, like Jesus, we can say, “It is finished.”


FYI, below are other Crucifixion-related blogs:

TIP: is selling the eBook $2 less than Amazon is.


This was the worst night of his life! He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t eat. He couldn’t stop pacing. He–the powerful ruler of the greatest kingdom in the world–had been duped. And there was nothing he could do to undo the diabolical deed. He had spent all day frantically trying to figure a way out, but his hands were tied. Even the king was bound to the law that declared once an edict was in effect, it could not be altered.

Those two-faced officials from the highest ranks in his government had successfully sprung their trap. Now he saw all too clearly how and why they had outsmarted him.

Getting wind of his plan to make Daniel prime minister, they had reacted with fear and trepidation. They had foreseen that Daniel, a man of impeccable character and integrity, would always unmask corruption and hold their feet to the fire. So they had plotted to get rid of him by luring their monarch into a trap.

Those self-serving connivers had preyed on his desire as the new king to get the populace behind him. They had deceived him with an idea for unification which stroked his ego. That was why he hadn’t seen through their scheme.

And they had lied that Daniel also was in favor of the decree they proposed:  No one could make a petition to any god or man for thirty days except to the king. If not obeyed, the person would be thrown into the lions’ den.

How he wished he hadn’t been blinded by flattery! Devout Daniel, who prayed to his God three times a day every day would never have agreed to such a law.

And because he wouldn’t, tonight Daniel was out there shut up in that pit with wild lions. There was no way of escape, for he had pressed his royal seal into the stone lid. But not before he had said to his most trusted advisor: “May your God, whom you faithfully serve, deliver you!” (Daniel 6:16 NRSV).

At the break of day, King Darius hurried from his bedroom, down the staircase, and out of the palace. “When he came near the den where Daniel was, he cried out anxiously to Daniel, ‘O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you faithfully serve been able to deliver you from the lions?’” (Daniel 6:20 NRSV).

Daniel then said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths so that they would not hurt me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no wrong.” (Daniel 6:21-22 NRSV)

God will never be outsmarted!


TIP: is selling the eBook $2 less than Amazon is.

Three Years Later

December three years ago I wrote what has become my most popular post. With the hope you have a Christ-filled Christmas, I am reblogging “The Divine Sperm”:

Gabriel had delivered God’s message, but it could not be activated without Mary’s consent. From all the available virgins she was the one who had been chosen; yet she must be willing to submit. Nothing would be forced on her.

The social stigma would be inevitable in her small town. She could expect gossip, suspicion, shame, shunning, possibly stoning. And oh, the pain she would cause her family–her mother, her father–and her fiancé! But there were more lives than hers and theirs at stake.

Gathering up faith to accept the Divine offer with all its known and unknown risks, she gave the waiting Gabriel her answer.  “Then Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be done to me according to what you have said. And the angel left her” (Luke 1:38 AMP). When Mary merged her will into God’s will, the power of the Holy Spirit impregnated her with the Son of God.

Three decades later one man’s worldview was revolutionized when the Son of God discussed supernatural birth with him. Nicodemus, a member of the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body of the Jews, was stunned when “Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 AMP).

To Nicodemus, held captive by his inquiring mind as an Old Testament scholar, such an idea was absurd. But to the Son of God, it made perfect sense:  “What is born of [from] the flesh is flesh [of the physical is physical]; and what is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:3 AMP). This rebirth is a choice any individual who wants to become a legitimate child of God can make.

But to all who did receive Him,
He gave them the right to be children of God,
to those who believe in His name,
who were born,
not of blood,
or of the will of the flesh,
or of the will of man,
but of God.
(John 1:12-13 HCSB)

Did the highly educated and socially esteemed Nicodemus activate God’s promise of a new birth? If so, he could only do it with the key of faith. Did he decide to merge his will into God’s will? You be the judge:

After it was all over, Joseph (who came from Arimathaea and was a disciple of Jesus, though secretly for fear of the Jews) requested Pilate that he might take away Jesus’ body, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took his body down. Nicodemus also, the man who had come to him at the beginning by night, arrived bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. So they took his body and wound it round with linen strips with the spices, according to the Jewish custom of preparing a body for burial. In the place where he was crucified, there was a garden containing a new tomb in which nobody had yet been laid. Because it was the preparation day and because the tomb was conveniently near, they laid Jesus in this tomb.
(John 19:38-42 (Phillips)

Decision time comes at the moment we realize God has chosen us to be born again in a spiritual sense. Will we by faith merge our will into God’s will? If we give the consent for His seed to be implanted in our soul, God’s nature will germinate there and never die.

No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him [His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God. (1 John 3:9 AMP).

TIP: is selling the eBook $2 less than Amazon is.



Hot diggity dog! David was thrilled beyond measure! His idea was so good, he couldn’t wait to tell Nathan. Caught up in the king’s exuberance, Nathan advised him to go for it. Oops!

Nathan, a prophet, should have known better. The Architect should have been consulted. God had not signed off on David’s building plan. Both the king and the prophet assumed He would be delighted with David’s grandiose plan for a spectacular house of worship.

But in the same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying, “Go and say to My servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Are you the one who should build Me a house to dwell in? For I have not dwelt in a house since the day I brought up the sons of Israel from Egypt, even to this day; but I have been moving about in a tent, even in a tabernacle. Wherever I have gone with all the sons of Israel, did I speak a word with one of the tribes of Israel, which I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?’”’
(2 Samuel 7:4-7 NASB)

And David would hear more from Nathan:

The LORD also declares to you that the LORD will make a house for you. When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
(2 Samuel 7:11-13 NASB)

Not only did God stamp an absolute no on David’s plan, He inserted a promise to make David a house. That is, a dynasty.

This was a lot for David to take in. So he went to the tent of meeting–the tabernacle God designed. David craved to connect with God one-on-one.

At the house of prayer, did he stand with hands and eyes lifted heavenward to praise God? Or did he look down with bowed head and closed eyes in submission? Did he drop to his knees in repentance? Did he prostrate himself and beg?

None of the above. “David the king went in and sat before the Lord” (2 Samuel 7:18 NASB). Alone with God, he sat on the dirt floor, where he meditated in a prayer of gratitude.

“Oh, the thought of having God all alone to myself and knowing that God has me all alone to Himself!” (Andrew Murray)


TIP: is selling the eBook $2 less than Amazon is.

I See You

She was pregnant and scared. If only she could get back to the place of her birth, she would be safe. Far from the abuse. From conflict’s slippery slope. So she ran away.

She never wanted to become a surrogate mother. But whatever happened to her had been and always would be at the whim of that bitter battleax. She owned her–body and soul. It was her idea that she become the secondary wife to that old husband of hers. Her way of getting what she wanted most in all the world. Mr. Abram didn’t have to go along with it, but he didn’t have the courage to tell his wife no.

Yes, she would be honest and admit she had brought some of this on herself. As soon as she had found out she was pregnant, she gloated. A smirk,  a dropped insult, a curled lip–all intended to send her mistress the message. She, a slave, could have something that the high-and-mighty Sarai could not. A baby.

How foolish was she to think she could get away with rubbing it in her face! Oh, Sarai knew how to make a life unbearable! So she was hightailing it back to Egypt. But now she would stop and rest at this spring for a while and put it all behind her.

That, however, was not to be. For Hagar had an encounter there that changed her plan. Someone met up with her in her distress.

But the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, on the road to [Egypt by way of] Shur. And He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where did you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.” The Angel of the Lord said to her, “Go back to your mistress, and submit humbly to her authority.”
(Genesis 16:7-9 AMP)

Why would she do that? Because the One speaking to her saw her past, her present, and her future:

The Angel of the Lord continued,
“Behold, you are with child,
And you will bear a son;
And you shall name him Ishmael (God hears),
Because the Lord has heard and paid attention to your persecution (suffering).”
(Genesis 16:11 AMP)

When the encounter ended, Hagar spoke of this messenger as “El Roi.” El Roi is the name for God that means “God who sees.” The all-seeing God was looking after Hagar, watching out for her in her suffering.

The One who sees us is El Roi. He meets us in our place of desperation in order to reach out and help us. El Roi always sees, always knows, and always understands.

TIP: is selling the eBook $2 less than Amazon is.

No Buts

Whoopee! Finally, something was going to be done! He was all in on the plan until it suddenly became personal: “Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10 NASB).

But God was making a mistake! Who was he for this momentous undertaking? When God’s answer dismissed that, Moses produced another objection.

But he didn’t know enough to handle the questions that would be thrown at him in Egypt. God met that objection and Moses had another.

But he would be discredited. God then endowed Moses with three signs to demonstrate divine power. Again, Moses argued with God.

But he was not eloquent. He did not have talent to match the task.

God said, “And who do you think made the human mouth? And who makes some mute, some deaf, some sighted, some blind? Isn’t it I, God? So, get going. I’ll be right there with you—with your mouth! I’ll be right there to teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4:11-12 MSG)

His bag of buts now empty, Moses resorted to begging. “But he said, ‘O my Lord, please send someone else’” (Exodus 4:13 NRSV).

Unlike Moses, Isaiah was desperate to go when he heard the word “send”:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8 NASB)

Isaiah volunteered. And that was before he knew the job description! Isaiah was willing to serve God no matter what, no matter where, no matter how. No buts.

TIP: is selling the eBook $2 less than Amazon is.

Hiding and Hoping

The marauders, swarming like locusts, would be here any day now. Maybe any moment. For seven years they had raided at harvesttime, pillaging and plundering. When the last camel was out of sight and the sand settled, nothing was left. No livestock. No crops. A pitiful existence.

This year, hoping beyond all hope those destroyers would not notice him, Gideon hid in his father’s winepress. Not to squeeze grapes but to beat wheat on the stone bottom. He was desperate to eke out what little food he could for his family.

Hitting the wheat again and again with his staff, Gideon constantly looked over his shoulder. Suppose he was discovered. Oh no! He already was! Someone was sitting up there under the oak tree. Gideon stood still, his arm and staff freeze-framed in midair.

And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O brave man” (Judges 6:12 AMP).

Who me? You’ve got to be kidding.

The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this strength of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” (Judges 6:14 AMP).

Me strong? I’ve got my doubts about that. I’m a nobody. How can I do anything?

But Gideon said to Him, “Please Lord, how am I to rescue Israel? Behold, my family is the least [significant] in Manasseh, and I am the youngest (smallest) in my father’s house” (Judges 6:15 AMP).

What Gideon missed in the word “strength” was that God was speaking of  the future Gideon, not the man who was holing up in a winepress pit. One person plus God always equal a majority.

The LORD answered him, “I will certainly be with you, and you will strike down the Midianites as [if they were only] one man” (Judges 6:16 AMP).

And it was so.

TIP: is selling the eBook $2 less than Amazon is.