pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Are You There?

Within our human relationships we often find conflict, a struggle for acceptance, and some competition for attention.  I saw this in my children growing up and sometimes see it in the adult relationships we have with others.  In our adult life we often want to be the ‘best friend’.  And no matter what our age is, we can question our role and whether or not we fit in.

In Genesis 29 Jacob pledges to work for Laban for seven years in order to marry his daughter Rachel.  But on the wedding night, Laban slips in the older daughter Leah instead.  Jacob is upset when he awakens the next morning and finds Leah there.  Yet he works seven more years in exchange for marrying Rachel.  Tension becomes the norm in this dual marriage – no surprise here!

I don’t know if I could do what Jacob did.  He gave 14 years of his life to marry Rachel.  Talk about love!  And within this story we also get a glimpse of what true faithfulness looks like.  I wonder if I would be willing to give 14 years for something or someone.  Would you?  Yet when we think about our pursuit of God, 14 years should just be a beginning of what we offer.

My faith journey is into its fourth decade.  My faithfulness is usually pretty good, but I stumble on the path from time to time.  My pursuit is pretty dogged in general, but it wanes on occasion.  Why continue to work on our faith after we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior?  Because I am not there yet.  Are you?

Scripture reference: Genesis 29: 15-28


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Ears to Hear

Jesus ends the parable of the sower with these words: “He who has ears, let him hear.”  On the surface I thought, ‘all of us have ears so everyone is included’.  But going a bit deeper I realized that although we all have ears, we do not always really hear.  Often people are talking but are not being heard.  Often God or the Holy Spirit seeks to speak into our lives, but we don’t always hear them all of the time.

Jesus sowed good seed into the disciples and those He interacted with all the time.  But many people walked away scratching their heads or dismissing what Jesus had to offer.  We continue to be sown into through the reading and study of the Word, through hearing the Word proclaimed, through Christian fellowship, and so on.  But Satan also sows seeds – seeds of evil and of temptation.  As we grow in our faith, we need to develop attentive and in-tune ears to hear God’s voice while tuning out the voices of evil.  There is both a lot to hear from God and a lot to tune out from Satan!

May we learn to listen long and hard, with compassion and patience, to Him who reigns both now and forevermore!

Scripture reference: Matthew 13: 36-43


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Love ‘Em More!

The parable of the weeds is such a great example of the challenges we all face.  There are ‘weeds’ all around – people and things – even in our churches!  One challenge is to live among the weeds and not to become like them.  The temptation to fit in can be great, even if just for a short time.  Another challenge is to continue to grow in the midst of the weeds we all have in our lives.  These weeds can be both within us and around us.  Satan is always sowing weeds and often they are tempting!

But I think our greatest challenge comes in trying to change the weeds into something else.  It would be easier to just stay within our church walls, to toss out all the weeds, and to live happily ever after.  In the end our churches would be pretty lonely places.

Jesus would counsel us to love on the weeds.  And when they don’t come around Jesus?  He’d tell us to love them some more.  And when they still don’t come around and they are a little messy?  Just love ’em some more!!  In my day today, how will I show love to someone in need of Jesus’ love?

Scripture reference: Matthew 13: 24-30


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Today, Today

Our world contains much that is broken and many who are suffering.  For some it is abject poverty in a country far away.  For some it is oppression that we cannot imagine because of a a political system or because of  prejudices against religion, gender, race, or ethnicity.

Within our own land of plenty and freedom, some suffer in poverty, in abusive relationships, in dysfunctional or broken homes.  Others battle homelessness, addictions, or injustice.  As the people of Abba Father, to whom are we called and what are we called to do?

At a minimum we are to offer what we can – maybe it is in the form of cash or maybe it is actual food, counseling, or other forms of direct assistance.  At a minimum it is praying for justice and equality.  At a minimum it is offering Jesus Christ and the hope that comes with knowing Him.  All Christians are called to make disciples.  All Christians are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  These actions may be in your own home, in your community, or far away around the world.  But today we must each ask, ‘What will I do to answer the groans and needs in my world?’

Scripture reference: Romans 8: 12-25


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Ever Closer

It is pretty easy to drift sometimes.  Even when we are at work and are being paid to produce something or to perform a task or to provide a service, we can drift off every now and then.  During the time each day away from work or school requirements, we can choose to do what we want with our time.  During this ‘free’ time, it is pretty easy to drift away from God.

Yet it is essential to spend time each day with God and Him alone.  Whether it is in the morning or evening or around the noon hour, it is important to set aside time each day.  We must be real and intentional about developing our relationship with God.  To read His word reveals Him to us.  To pray and to ask Him to search us allows Him to know us more fully, and in turn, to know ourselves more.

Daily submission allows God to become king of our lives 24/7.  As He searches, finds, and redeems us, we are drawn ever closer to Him.  We read in Psalm 51, “Create in me a clean heart, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  We become more like Him through our steadfast devotion to Him.

Scripture reference: Psalm 139: 23-24


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He Wants Us to Know

Have you ever had a friend so close that you finished each other’s sentences?  God goes one better – He knows the words before our minds even form them.  Ever been so close to someone that you could sense something was wrong before they showed a physical sign anyone else would notice?  God sees it brewing before we even know its in the pot.

Most of the time I think we’re pretty unaware of God’s presence in our lives.  Sure, there are times when we feel His presence or direction, but it is usually involving something big – Sunday worship, a big decision in life, a friend with cancer.  Yes, in these times, we know God is near and we seek His presence.

Yet in the small, day to day moments we don’t always sense or seek God.  We need to.  He is there “before and behind”.  A life saturated with God is a life of peace, contentment, and love.  He already knows it all.  He wants us to know too!!

Scripture reference: Psalm 139: 1-12.


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Won’t You Be There Too?

In one of my devotionals this morning I found this great line: “We wrestle with life and dance without recognition”.  How often this is true!  Too often we struggle with an issue, a decision, or a person and do not seek God.  I can almost imagine Him saying, “Hey… I’m right here”.  Not often enough do we think, “Oh ya!”

Yet God is always around us.  God is always there just waiting on us to recognize His presence.  But we too easily get lost in our own perceived ability to do it, in our own little subculture, in our social media worlds, and in our own neat and tidy museum where we gather once a week to sing songs, to pray a few prayers, to fellowship.  We can just see church as the place where God is present to us.  And just in that hour.
God desires more.  God wants more.  He deserves more.  Imagine being head-over-heels in love with someone and choosing to only spend one hour s week with them.  When they’re there all the time!
God wants all of us, all of the time.  He wants to be the first one we turn to on the morning, the last one we say goodnight to, and everything in between.  He’s there.  Won’t you be there too?

Scripture reference: Genesis 28: 10-19a


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Ever Thankful

Our human nature naturally seeks what we perceive as best for us.  At times we may even rationalize and blur the lines for something we want.  It may be as simple as to win at a game or it may be as complex as attaining a position at work.

And then we realize the error of our ways.  The guilt – and not always in proportion to our sin – begins to set in.  We seek forgiveness – maybe from another, maybe from God, maybe from yourself, maybe from all three!  We try to ‘fix’ it if we can and try to restore our relationships and our reputation.  Maybe we even vow, “never again”.

At the point of repentance, God’s grace washes over us like a mighty river.  He washes away all of our iniquities and renews our soul.  His free gift is always there, always extended.  I am ever thankful for the price Jesus paid to wash away my sins.  Praise be to God for His amazing gift!

Scripture reference: Genesis 28: 10-19a


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Being Good Soil

How good is our soil?  Are we receptive to the seeds God wants to sow into our faith?  When we are good soil, we hear the word of God and understand it.  As God’s roots take ahold of us, He becomes a part of all aspects of our lives.  We in turn come to bear fruit not only with our words but also with our actions and deeds.

As we seek to be sowers, we must be humble and submit to the yoke of Jesus Christ.  As we seek to build the kingdom we must acknowledge the fact that all we can do is sow.  We are utterly dependent upon God to make the seeds grow and for new life to spring forth.

When we accept God’s call upon our lives, we take up that yoke 24/7 by connecting to God through prayer, study, worship… to nurture our faith, to better understand the Word, and to better equip ourselves to be sowers of seeds of faith.  We have to first be good soil to sow into other’s lives.  Work your soil!

Scripture reference: Matthew 13: 18-23


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Worthy Soil

Often we do not sow seed where we can.  Sometimes it is because we see another’s ‘soil’ and think ‘Why bother?’  So we withhold God’s word through us from that person.  And maybe it was just the things they needed to hear at that moment.  Or maybe it was just the story we needed to share!

How often is it us that does not receive?  Do we miss some blessing or experience God is trying to send us because we are hard soil, rocky soil, or soil choked with weeds?

On a regular basis our soil needs tilled, fertilized, and watered.  Do we practice compassion and generosity instead of a ‘me-first’ attitude?  Do we spend time building our faith to gain strength and inspiration to serve?  Do we spend time listening to the still, small voice of God as He calls us to do this or to serve there?  To go out and sow seeds, we must first become soil worthy of God’s garden.

Scripture reference: Matthew 13: 1-9