pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Go and Do Likewise

Today I am reminded of the song “Better Is One Day.” It begins with the words ‘How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord almighty’ and sings out in the chorus: “Better is one day in your courts, better is one day in your house… than thousands elsewhere.’ How true this is!!

Then I thought, ‘you know, we are all God’s temple’. Christ dwells in all of us. The question is: do we allow Jesus Christ to be the master of this body we inhabit?

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3 that our foundation rests only upon Jesus Christ. He is the sure foundation of our faith. Paul was just one of many who build up their (and our) faith, but he is not the foundation. Just as today we may hear a great message in church or may read a great book about faith, we must also remember that Christ is our sure foundation. That sermon, that preacher, that book, that author – nothing can do what Christ does. Nothing can be what Christ is.

The things of this world will not last. Yet we can chase after them like they do! We can exert a lot pursuing money, power, prestige, things, position… But in the end they all stay here. None of these things really matter to God or to our neighbor. The person in need doesn’t really care how big our house is or what our title at work is. All they want is something to eat or a place for shelter or someone to listen. Really – they wouldn’t even care how big our house is if we were to offer true Christian hospitality and invite them in out of the cold. They really don’t care how much money we have as long as we have enough to buy them a little food.

We all stand upon the one who loves all of us unconditionally, who forgives us all without cost, and who always provides for us. And this firm foundation calls out to us: “Go and do likewise!”


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Walking with God

God desires a deeply connected relationship with us, His children.  As God directs and teaches us, we find delight in His laws and ways.  Our hearts and eyes are turned away from selfish gain and worthless things.  They are turned increasingly towards God.

As we seek personal instruction and enlightenment from God and his Word, a relationship of intimacy develops.  As we focus on God and his word our lifestyle changes.  It affects how we live out our daily lives. With His help and presence we are better able to walk through our daily lives.

God’s influence and direction come to change our words and behaviors towards others.  The question will soon be asked: “What’s different about so-and-so?”. As we continue this walk, we more easily and accept God’s will for our lives.  Our walk comes in step with God’s call upon our lives.  May your journey be blessed!


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So Called to Love

God’s call on our lives is total and complete. How we do each thing should be a reflection of the relationship we have with Him. The way we treat one another, the way we care for one another, the way we deal with one another – all should be a reflection of how God loves us. And as God loves all, we too are called to love all.

The growth we experience as our faith deepens must also be shown on the outside in the relationships we have with others. Faith lived out is faith shared. In Leviticus 19 there is a long list of ‘do not…’ steal, lie, slander, bear grudges and so on. These are all things we would not want others to do to us. There are also three things that are ‘positives’. The first is to rebuke your neighbor so that we do not share in their guilt. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. These two kinda go hand in hand.

In the list of mostly ‘don’t’ do this or that, we can see God trying to limit our natural inclinations to be selfish and to judge others. In this way we can try to legitimize how we treat others or how we withhold from others because they are not worthy of our time, attention, care, and so forth. These are such hard things to curb.

Each little section of Leviticus ends with these words: “I am the Lord.” This gentle reminder serves two purposes: to remind us that we are called to be a reflection of God’s love for the world and to remind us that we can only live this way w/God’s presence and help in our day to day lives. Hebrews 13: 20-21 are a reminder of this reality: “May the God of peace equip you with everything good that you may do His will, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever.”


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Willingness to Give

In many places in the Bible we are called to give. We are called to give of our time, our talents, and our gifts. We find this call in other religions as well. On our confirmation trip to Denver this past weekend, we heard this call to give to those in need echoed in the foundational beliefs of the Jewish and the Muslim faiths. To give to those in need is such a basic human drive when we can set selfishness aside and allow our natural compassion to rise to the surface.

In Leviticus 19 God directs the farmers to leave the produce missed in the first picking so that the poor and the traveler may come and glean from the fields. God instructs them not to pick all the way to the edges and not to go over the field a second time. In the New Testament we see Jesus and his disciples being the recipient of this practice. When harvests were bountiful, this must not have been so hard to do. But in a year with drought and a poor crop coming in, a farmer would be tempted to get every last grape or head of grain out of the field. Society knew this practice was in place and that people could come glean from the harvested fields. Because it was a social norm, it removed the need for the poor and alien to have to come beg from the landowner. It was an early form of social justice and loving neighbor in the biggest sense of the word neighbor.

So… how do we seek to administer similar acts of social justice and giving? How do we honor the call to share our time, talents, and gifts? How intertwined these can be!! For most the simplest way is to share our gifts (money) – we give some back to the church to use in various outreach and mission projects or causes. Some also chose to donate directly to a cause or to sponsor a child in a third world country. We may volunteer to teach Sunday school or to help with Youth group or donate some time each week through a program like CASA that helps those in need. All great ways to say ‘thank you’ to God for all that he has blessed us with. All ways to share with our neighbor the things that God has given to us!

However we chose to make a difference in our world, it is all based on the same underlying idea. All that we have is God’s. In the days of old Israel, the farmers got to keep almost all of the crop that God had blessed them with. Today if you go so far as to tithe, you still get to keep 90% of what God has blessed you with. May we joyfully give from what we have been blessed with!! In the end, it is all God’s anyway!!


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Set on “Radical”

Early in our faith, Moses directed us to be a holy people, because our God is holy. Actually he directed the Israelites, but it applies to Christians today as well! In the original language of Hebrews the word was “qadash'” and it meant to consecrate, to dedicate, to sanctify our lives. It was and is meant as a mandate to live a life set apart from the worldly way of life. When we dedicate, sanctify, or consecrate our lives to God we are being called into an obedience to live as God’s representatives in this world. Our radical obedience to God’s call in our lives will set us apart.

Yet so often we are neither radical nor obedient. Does our daily walk of faith truly represent a holy God? Does our walk obediently tread where God is leading or where He is pointing us to go? Does our faith extend beyond Sunday morning worship AND outside the walls of the church? Or is our obedience and holiness limited?

God’s grace, love, and mercy for us are not limited. He does not ever hold any of this back from us. And so it should be with our obedience and our holy walk of faith. Our holiness should reflect a God who is loving and caring for all humanity, all of the time. Our obedience should be set on ‘radical’ constantly!


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Living Each Day in the Word

Blessing come to us as Christians when we seek God with all of our hearts. The blessings may be things like comfort and a good life. But this is not a guarantee. The only sure thing is that by seeking we can come to know Him more.

As we come to know and live by God’s ways and as we seek to live out Jesus’ example, our knowledge of God will grow. As we continue to do these things our relationship with God grows.

With knowledge comes understanding. The words on the page become more than just words. We come to see the Bible as the living, breathing Word of God. And we must stay in the Word as it can reveal something new to us each time we read a passage. When we are seeking, often the book will meet us where we are.

As our understanding grows, our relationship begins to shift from head to heart. We move from a concept of loving God and neighbor to actually living it out in our daily lives. Our faith becomes how we live. May we all seek to live each day in His name!!

 

[Side note – this and the last post were from this weekend.  I was without internet connections!!]


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A Narrow Road

At times in our faith journey we can be immature and rather un-Christlike. We can choose to quarrel or bicker – both within a church and between churches or denominations or religions.

At times we choose as individuals to withhold love or kindness or acts of mercy. There can be a variety of reasons – prejudice, stereotypes, past history…

But thanks be to God that He doesn’t treat us this way! For His love never fails and it never gives up on me. Praise God! At times I must frustrate Him and at times I must miss opportunities He places before me. But He always loves.

As Christians this is our call too. We must emulate this love of God. We are called to love and serve all we meet each day. When they don’t look like us or are different from us or annoy us, this challenge can be hard. But it is the narrow road we are called to walk. May our walks be straight and true every day!!