pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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In This Moment

Reading: Joshua 5: 9-12

For the Hebrew people, the time in the desert is over and they have crossed the Jordan River into the promised land.  One can almost hear the audible sigh that comes at the end of a long journey.  The people will no longer eat manna but will eat the produce of Canaan.  But first they acknowledge God and His provision.  As all things are in God’s time, they cross over and are right on time to celebrate the Passover – the feast to remember God’s saving hand in Egypt.  They connect to God in the moment instead of allowing it to pass by.  God has led them to this time and place.  They stop to worship Him.

This example of being in the moment with God is a great one for us.  We know that the glory of Easter morning us coming soon.  We know there will be stops in Holy Week where we acknowledge and live with the events and emotions that led to the cross and grave.  Each day between now and then is a day of preparation and looking within.  Let us not skip right past these days in a rush to arrive on the brink of Easter, but let us be present to each day.

Living in the moment each day of Lent could be either rewarding or trying, either joyful or painful.  Maybe we find ourselves experiencing God’s presence in our lives.  We have the taste of His blessings on our lips and we celebrate His presence and look forward to the next steps on our journey.  If so, may we be sure to stop and celebrate our thanksgivings for His presence.

Maybe we find ourselves in the period of testing or trial.  We feel not quite connected to God.  We cannot sense a first or maybe next step to take.  Maybe the unknown is keeping us from stepping forward.  In this moment may we seek God.  His desire is to connect to us and be on the journey together.  May we reach out in this moment and take hold of His hand.  May we walk this day with our Lord.


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Offering All

Reading: Isaiah 55: 6-9

When we first moved to South Dakota, we lived five miles outside of a town of 150 people.  It was dark at night.  On those nights when the moon was but a sliver, the night sky was simply amazing.  In that remote location, on nights with a definite lack of man-made light and little lunar light, the stars were awesome.  To sit outside and stare at the sky filled me with the wonder of God.  To gaze up at the layers of stars that went on forever gave me a glimpse of the power and majesty of God.  Although His power and presence filled me, it was but a glimpse.  It gave me just a little peak into how high and powerful God’s ways are.

In realizing how big and powerful and majestic God is, I also realize how small I am.  This realization brings awareness of how much I need God and His Light and Love, made known to me in Jesus.  Yet as big as God is, He still knows me by name.  He formed me uniquely in my mother’s womb and He knows every hair on my head.  God hears each and every word of each and every prayer I lift up to Him.

This same God knows each sin and impure thought and … that I have.  This brings me to frequent times of repentance and committing again to strive for becoming more like Christ.  It leads me to examine what I am offering to God and what I am holding back.  Almost always I see that I am less that I could be, less than He calls me to be.  May I lay aside all within me that elevates self over God.  May I offer all of myself to the One who gave His all for me in His life and on the cross.


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Being Fruitful

Reading Luke 13: 1-9

The world is sometimes filled with tragedy and sorrow.  You do not have to watch the news too long to feel the urge to turn off the television.  In today’s passage the people come to Jesus with a story of death and tragedy and are seeking help to make sense of it.  Jesus instead bring sup another story of loss and sorrow.  He warns us that tragedy can strike us all and that we must therefore repent, lest we will perish.  Jesus is implying that death will come to us all; it is up to us how we choose to live our lives between now and then.  Will our lives lead us to perish to hell or to rise to eternal life?

Jesus goes on to tell the parable of the fig tree.  The owner comes for a third year and again finds no fruit on the tree.  He instructs the gardener to cut it down.  The gardener asks for one more year.  He will tend to it and water it and fertilize it in an effort to help the tree bear fruit.  In this parable we are the fig tree.  Year after year Jesus pours into us through the Word, in worship, in small groups, …  He yearns to see us bear fruit.  The Holy Spirit works on us also, pruning and fertilizing and guiding us along so that we are more able to bear fruit.

As we continue to grow in our faith, we will bear fruit as we mature, just as the tree will.  As we touch the lives of others, bearing fruit and shining the light and love of Jesus, we will bring hope and comfort amidst the darkness and tragedies of this world.  It is through our witness and love that others will come to know Jesus, the only source of strength, healing, and understanding in the midst of pain and sorrow.  As we are fruitful and faithful witnesses, we are living for and pointing others toward the one and only way to true, eternal life: Jesus Christ.

 


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He Is Faithful

Reading: 1 Corinthians 10: 1-13

Paul opens chapter ten reviewing the sins of the Israelites out in the desert.  It was a time of God’s constant presence in the cloud and pillar of fire, yet the people must have gotten used to having Him around.  They stumbled in a number of ways, sometimes repeatedly – idolatry, overindulgence in food and drink, sexual immorality, testing or doubting God.  Paul uses this review lesson as a way to mirror the sins of the church in Corinth.  As we read these sins, we realize they are still common to man in 2016 and perhaps some are even common to us.

Even though God physically was present to the Israelites, they wandered.  As we fast forward to today, we now have the living presence of God present to us in the Holy Spirit.  At times we too can pretend to not hear that little voice in our head or we can shrug off that little nudge that we felt.  Paul issues a warning that applies to us as well: if we feel we are standing firm, be careful that we do not fall.

In this season of Lent, a time of introspection and repentance, let us look hard at our lives.  We may not make golden calves to worship, but are we freely generous with our resources and time?  We may stay away from overindulgence, but do we treat our bodies as temples?  We may not engage in affairs, but does our eye occasionally wander?  And then there is gossip, envy, judging, laziness, …

All is not lost or hopeless.  Paul also reminds us that God is faithful.  God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear.  He will provide a way out.  As we consider the state of our soul this day, may we be willing to use the strength God offers and may we follow the way He provides, lest we too fall.


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All in All

Readings: Isaiah 55: 1-5 and 1 Corinthians 10: 1-5

Even though the Israelites wandered around the desert for 40 years, they were well cared for. God had led them out of 400 years of slavery and had rescued them from Pharaoh’s army. He had provided manna, quail, and water when needed. He was constantly leading them from the cloud and pillar of fire. If not for their times of disobedience, it would have been a nice, relatively short journey. In their disobedience is a lack of trust in God.

Even though we too wander off from time to time and become lost in the wilderness of our sin, we too are well cared for by God. Through Jesus Christ we have been redeemed from slavery to our sin. In the time we spend in worship and personal study we are fed by the Word. As we go through our daily life we are guided and led by the presence of the Holy Spirit. We too are blessed richly by God. We too are a chosen people.

In my life it can be very easy to take for granted all of the ways God blesses and cares for me. I think that can be true for many of us living in a modern and free country. So we too must heed Paul’s warning. We too must not get complacent and take God and His blessings for granted. We too must not accept where we are but ever seek to be continuing on our journey of faith.

In order to not fall into complacency let us stay in regular contact with God. In our times together may we daily offer our sincere thanksgiving for His many blessings and also delve into the Word so that we are always growing to be more and more Christ-like. If we pursue God with all of our hearts, He will become our all in all.


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In Desert Seasons

Reading: Psalm 63:1-8

King David finds himself in a desert season.  During our lives, we will find ourselves in just such a place as well.  These times of trial and struggle will come and go; perhaps now is just such a season.  David’s beautiful words give us encouragement and advice for when we find ourselves in a desert season.

David begins by expressing the thirst he feels in the desert.  In the times we find ourselves in a trial, we too must admit our need for God and then we must seek His guidance and presence in our lives.  To reinforce this, David recalls how he saw God’s power and glory in the sanctuary.  To remember how God has always been there in our times of need reassures us that He will be there again.

Next, David does something that may seem odd when one is in a desert place – he praises God.  In verse three he writes, “Because your love is better than life”.  It is such a powerful and moving statement.  We come to God in praise because of His gift and promise of eternal life.  We know that no matter what this life brings, our ticket to eternal life in glory has already been bought.  There is no better reason to praise!

Lastly, David ends with “my soul clings to You”.  Although it can sometimes be hard to sense God’s presence in the midst of a trial, we must nonetheless cling to God.  We are promised that His love never fails and that He has only good plans for us.  In the midst of it all, may we cling to Him knowing that it is Hi slight at the end of the tunnel and that it is really His arms alone that will carry us through.


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Things That Satisfy

Reading: Isaiah 55: 1-5

Today we hear an invitation to come to God to be satisfied.  Isaiah calls us to the waters that will satisfy our thirst.  He calls us to come and eat without cost.  Isaiah is calling us to come and find salvation and blessing, to enter the reign of Christ.

The passage is full of actions we must take.  “Come” is not the only one.  Isaiah also urges us to listen to what fills out soul, to spend what we have on things that truly satisfy, and to eat of the good that God offers.  When God invites us to partake of all this, Isaiah asks, why do we still seek what does not ultimately satisfy?  It is a good question to ponder.  It is one we wrestle with.

The things of this world can be alluring and enticing.  Satan is excellent at dangling that which draws each of us in before our eyes in a number of ways.  He works at those insecurities and doubts, deftly trying to pry them open just a bit wider all the time.  He nudges us into thinking more of ourselves and less of others as we play the blame and judgment games.

In the season of Lent, may we be increasingly aware of all that has appeal but that does not satisfy.  May we heed the voice of the Holy Spirit ad it warns, convicts, and corrects.  May we draw close to our Lord and Savior to drink and eat of the living water and the bread of life that He alone offers.