pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Fear Not!

Our faith must be humble – if we exalt our own faith and try to lord it over others, we have missed Jesus’ example.  He came to love and serve, not to judge and condemn.

Even though we may have faith, fear can keep us from doing much.  God wants us to lat aside our fears.  He offers us reassurances.  In our times when we don’t think we know the answer – trust in the Holy Spirit.  We are reminded by Jesus that all will be revealed and he will be with us always.  In times when we are concerned for our well-being, we can rest assured of His care for us.  We are worth more than many sparrows.

When we choose to own our relationship w/God, He will choose to own us as well.  He longs for us to acknowledge Him and to be connected to Him.  God desires to pour blessings out upon us.  May we be willing and open to His vast love!!

Scripture reference: Matthew 10: 24-33


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Count the Cost

Remember this song – “I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus – no turning back, no turning back”?  How well the author knew our human condition!  The walk of faith can be hard and it can be challenging to stay the course.

Jesus knew well the cost of discipleship.  He faced rejection and ridicule and was often outcast.  When He spoke of man against father and daughter against mother, He was speaking of the possible opposition our faith may bring us.  He knew it may come with a cost.

At times our commitment to our faith will cost us things.  It may cost us relationships, a promotion at work, or the way we are called to do business may run counter to the world’s way and cost us customers or income.  Jesus knew our faith may cost us.

Jesus wants us to choose Him.  There will be no forcing us.  It is a free choice.  Maintaining our faith continues to be a free choice.  But it is free in choice only.  Are we willing to choose authentic faith and to gladly count the cost?

Scripture reference: Matthew 10: 34-39


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Love Joy Hope

Have you ever gone to put on your favorite jeans and thought, “Oh – a little tight”?  Ever had those last couple Oreos and then felt the guilt settle in?  Remember that comment that slipped out and you knee the regret even before the last syllable sounded?  Me too!

Yes, we all sin.  We all fall short.  And we are all under God’s grace and love too!!  Paul writes in Romans 6 of our making the choice to die to sin and to live for Christ.  In crucifying the old self that lived sin, we are choosing to live differently.  We are choosing to begin to live a life of live, joy, and hope.

And they lived happily ever after….  You neither?  Although sin and death continue to be realities of our human existence, once we live for Christ they lose their ultimate power over us.  Christ controls our eternity.  We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to resist the pull of sin.

As we live into our relationship with Jesus Christ, we are always being changed to be more and more Christ-like.  Our love of Jesus and our desire and will to live for Him works in us to continue to diminish the pull of sin.  Yes, I may still want those last few Oreos and occasionally I will want to eat my words, but Christ continues His work in me.  None of us are complete.  But with Jesus’ love, joy, and hope we grow more and more like Him each day.

Scripture reference: Romans 6: 1b-11


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What Is Our Response?

In our culture today we view greatness in terms of superior athletic prowess or in terms of vast amounts of money in the bank or in terms of captivating beauty or musical talent or in terms of controlling a vast economic empire.  Yet for some they are one injury or poor decision from being just like the everyone else.  For others it is simply time that robs them of their greatness.

But the one who created the land and sky and creatures from the chaos and the one who raised His Son from the grave does not change.  His greatness remains.  The same God who spoke and created the world whispers in our ear through the voice of the Holy Spirit and through the words we read in the Bible.  The same God who allowed His Son to be crucified for our sins loves us as much today as He loved us that day.

And what is our response to God’s greatness?  To His unchanging and amazing love for us?  We seek to be humble by letting go of self.  We seek to be forgiving by letting go of judging.  We seek to be more prayerful by letting go of idle talk.  Through these things may we glorify our God!!

Scripture reference: Psalm 86: 8-10


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Time Invested

What makes some friends closer than others?  I think it is partly time invested.  It is also partly a natural connection.  In our relationship with God we need both parts.

At times we are blessed to abide in the presence of God.  Sometimes it is in worship, maybe it is in a sunset, maybe it is in the gentle embrace of one you love.  At other times, God simply happens into our lives.

Yet doesn’t God deserve more?  He is free with mercy when we sin and always hears our prayers.  None compare to His ceaseless love and His provisions for our lives.

So how do we offer more?  I think it is how we offer more to a dear friend – time invested.  It is time spent – being often in prayer.  It is time given – loving those in need.  It is time meditating – seeking His will in our lives.  Becoming a good friend with God takes a commitment.  But oh how great a friend He is!!

Scripture reference: Psalm 86: 1-10 and 16-17


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In Our Moments

Have you had someone suddenly mad at you or suddenly lost a friend and had no idea why?  In that moment, you were probably stunned, sad, angry, hurt.  Sometimes you figure it out and become friends again, sometimes you do not.  Sometimes you just never know.

Hagar was Sarah’s maidservant.  Sarah was barren and advanced in years, but desperately wanted a family.  So Sarah convinced Hagar to sleep with her husband Abraham to bear them a child.  I imagine it was hard to  bear a child for a man who would never love her, who already had a wife he loved.  But she did.  I imagine that Hagar felt like she had done something special for Sarah and Abraham.

Fast forward a few years and now Sarah is pregnant and bears Abraham a son named Isaac.  Sarah becomes jealous and protective and wants Hagar and her son Ishmael sent away into the wilderness.  Abraham is unwilling but God reassures him of he plan and he sends Hagar and son out into the desert with some bread and water – presumably to die.  As this happens, can you imagine what is going through Hagar’s mind?  Do you hear her thinking, “But after what I did for you…?”

After they run out of water, Hagar walks off a little way from Ishmael and resigns herself to death.  She cannot bear to be near him and to hear his cries for water.  Hagar is in anguish.  But then suddenly a strange thing happens.  God sends an angel who asks her, “What is the matter?”  What a question!  God provides water, reassures her, and continues to watch over them as the boy grows up.  It all turns out OK for them.

Has God ever asked you, “What is the mattter?”  Has God ever entered into your brokenness?  You and I are blessed – always just a prayer away from God’s presence.  Yet sometimes we too are like Hagar – too broken and distraught to even offer up a prayer.  In these moments God will seek us out too.  Our God is a God of love.  A God who will seek out to lost and the broken.  Praise be to our God!!


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We Too Will Be Blessed

Do you recall a time when you let go of something that you did not have to, in order to be in a better place or situation?  Maybe it was a house or a town, maybe it was a friend or someone you were dating, or maybe it was a job or volunteer position.  The promise or call of what lay ahead drew you forward.  Yet there is still some pain in the letting go.

In times of decisions like these, we need to spend time in prayer with God and to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  When we have wrestled with the decision with God at our side and the Holy Spirit leading us on, we move forward in a much different manner than if we go it alone.

Like Abraham, when God told him to send Hagar and Ishmael (his firstborn son) out into the wilderness, we too can move forward with God at our side.  Despite the pain of watching them walk away forever, into a wilderness, Abraham knew this was God’s plan and he trusted and obeyed.  He did so because he knew God is faithful.  He knew God’s promise is to never leave us.  He knew God’s promise is to always love us.  Upon His promises we too can walk forward with confidence and assurance.  And we too will be blessed.

Scripture reference: Genesis 21: 8-21