pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


Leave a comment

Our Great Example

Reading: Psalm 72: 1-7

Solomon’s Psalm today seeks God’s presence and guidance in his reign.  He asks to be able to judge with righteousness and to bring justice to the afflicted.  Solomon asks God to help him save the children of the needy and to crush the oppressors.  Solomon requests a long reign and for it to be like the blessings of rain falling on a field.  He asks that God’s blessings allow the righteous to flourish and for prosperity to abound.

Solomon desires to be such a good leader!  He comes to God with these requests, knowing that his prayer is aligned with God’s will.  Solomon knows that all the good kings before him have looked out for the needy, have wanted prosperity for the people, and have sought a time of justice and peace.  All of this is God’s desire for the people too.

Our point of contemplation is this: do we want to reign our own lives with these same ideals?  Should all within our realms of influence be affected by us in these ways that Solomon is praying for in his kingdom?  I believe so!  We are called to care for the needy and to stand up for the oppressed.  We are called to help end injustice and to bring peace to all.  We are called to live righteous lives and to share God’s blessings.

Yes, Solomon is a good example for us to follow.  But we have a far greater example in Jesus.  In Jesus, we find our best example of what it looks like to live God’s love out each day.  Jesus was more like us in one important way – He lived a common life down amongst humanity.  The things Jesus did and taught are things we can do and teach.  His life is a life we can pattern ours after.

And Jesus is also divine.  Thus, He was without sin.  He lived a ‘perfect’ life.  This allowed Jesus to be more than an example.  This perfection allowed  Jesus to go to the cross as the sacrifice to take away the sins of the world.  Through this gift you and I have the way to eternal life.

Yes, Jesus is a great example for our daily lives.  And, yes, Jesus is also the way to peace in this world and in the world to come.  Thank you Jesus for being our past, our present, and our future.


Leave a comment

God’s Kingdom

Reading: Isaiah 11: 6-10

The vision Isaiah lays out is hard to wrap our minds around.  We can picture a wolf with a lamb or a lion eating straw.  But to imagine this and all the other images Isaiah presents as the daily reality for all of the animals of the world really stretches our minds.  When Isaiah writes, “They will neither harm nor destroy on all my Holy mountain”, he means everyone and everything – man, animals, plants, nature…

We imagine heaven a number of ways.  Some see a beautiful city with streets paved with gold.  Some see us floating up in the sky, lounging on the clouds.  Some imagine a giant mansion with endless rooms in it.  But even more than what heaven will look like, we ‘know’ what it will be like.  We will constantly be in the light and live of God.  There will be no tears, no pain, no hurt, no hunger, no injustice, no oppression, no sin.

Jesus said, “This, then, is how you should pray… your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6: 9-10).  These familiar words from the Lord’s Prayer tie into the vision in Isaiah 11.  When Jesus taught the disciples this prayer, He included the idea of God’s kingdom coming here.  God’s will for the earth is peace, love, understanding, reconciliation, mercy.  God’s kingdom vision for the earth is the same as the vision for heaven.

So, what would our world look like if we put an end to all the harm and destroying?  What would life be like for all people if there was no violence, no abuse, no injustice, no oppression?  What would the world look like if there were no famine or drought or pestilence?  We, as God’s people, are kingdom builders.  What are you going to do today to help bring God’s kingdom to all the people you will encounter this day and to all the places you will be this day?


1 Comment

Hope and Promise

Reading: Isaiah 11: 1-5

In many places winter is settling in.  On the coldest of windy days, one just wants to hunker down inside with a good book and a cozy blanket.  In this way, one finds a little comfort and solace in a harsh world outside.  In today’s passage, Isaiah is offering a vision filled with words of hope and promise.  The people are in exile.  Their surroundings are secular, polytheistic, and oppressive.  To a degree, they have begun to ask God how long this season of exile will last.

Into this despair and a growing sense of abandonment, God uses Isaiah to speak a word of hope.  Isaiah speaks of a shoot that will come up.  Just like us looking for that first burst of green after a long winter, Isaiah tells of a time coming soon when hope and promise will rise up from the house of Jesse.  Isaiah goes on to describe this new King – He will reign with wisdom and understanding and power and knowledge.  To these Isaiah adds that the King will give wise counsel and will live with a fear of God.  And not only all of this, but the king will also stand for the needy and those dealing with injustice.  To a people living in oppressive exile, someone who reigns by righteousness and faithfulness would provide great hope and promise.

Many living today need to hear these words of hope and promise.  Many in our country and probably some in all of our communities need to find a little hope and promise.  Some in our congregations need to know hope and promise.  Hope and promise abound in this passage from Isaiah.  A king who loves and cares for the needy and oppressed, one who rules with justice and righteousness – this is a king many need.  This King comes to us again this year in a manger, soon to be celebrated in all of our churches.  In this season where we prepare to welcome again the baby Jesus, may we also share the King of Kings, the King of justice and righteousness with a world so in need.  May we each share the King’s hope and promise this day.


Leave a comment

Each Day

Reading: Matthew 24: 36-44

Almost everything about “the end” is unknown.  Personally, we do not know in advance the date on which we will draw our last breath.  As a faith, we do not know the date that Jesus will return.  We do not know if this will be during our lifetime or if His return is thousands of years away.  We simply know that one day Jesus will return to make all things new.

In Matthew 24, Jesus speaks of the unknown nature, saying only God knows the time.  Even this is unclear.  Does this mean God has a date marked on the heavenly calendar or does it mean that only God will know when the time is right for Jesus to return?  In either case, Jesus’ advice is the same: keep watch, stay ready.  For emphasis, the passage ends with, “because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him”.  One will be taken, one will be left.

If this passage is not a call to live each and every day as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ, I do not know what it is.  Jesus came to earth to reveal what God is like.  Jesus came and walked and lived among humanity to show us what God’s love looks like lived out in the flesh.  Jesus came to show us what it looks like to daily love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and what it looks like to daily love neighbor as self.  And He said, “Go and do likewise… make disciples of all nations…”

As disciples of Christ, we yearn to be more and more like Him every day.  We study the Bible, we spend time in prayer, we participate in small groups and in classes, we worship regularly – all to get to know Jesus better.  All this to keep watch, to stay ready.  Each day is another day to know Jesus more and to share Jesus with more people.  Each day is one day closer to when we meet Jesus face to face.  Each day, may we continue to be God’s love lived out in the world.  Each day, may we shine the light, ever walking with Jesus.


Leave a comment

Each Day

Reading: Romans 13: 11-14

Paul writes to the church in Rome with some urgency.  As time has elapsed since Jesus’ resurrection, they need some encouragement.  Early believers thought Jesus would return soon – surely in their lifetimes.  But as year after year ticks by, their mindset began to change.  For many, “when” became “will” Jesus return?  Some in the church in Rome have begun to drift.  Paul’s words to “wake up” reflect this idea.  Paul writes, “our salvation in nearer that when we first believed”.  While is is true for the Roman church, it is also true for us.

Paul calls the church in Rome to faithful living each day.  “The night is nearly over” implies again that again that Christ is coming soon.  Or at least that they should return to living that way.  He urges them to put aside sin and to “put on the armor of light”.  The people must have been straying a but from the faith.  The list of actions Paul mentions are things more common to secular Roman culture.  Paul is calling the church away from this lifestyle and back to following Christ faithfully each day.

Living today we too have much that we can turn to for pleasure and gratification.  Just like the Romans, we too can engage in wild living and a loose lifestyle.  The more modern temptations of the TV screen and internet are readily available and offer a degree of privacy.  Even more private are our thoughts of jealousy and judgment and envy and freed that can so easily pop up and cause us to sin in our hearts.  Our focus on faithful living day by day can be quite a challenge.

So, Paul’s words speak to us as well.  We must constantly be aware of the efforts of Satan and work daily to stay out of “darkness”.  We must always be ready, always seeking ways to be in the “light” instead.  It is a daily battle.  It is a daily choice.  Each day, may we also “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ”.  If we begin each day in Christ, our hearts and minds are better prepared to meet the assaults of the day.  We are better prepared to honor God with our choices and decisions.  Strengthen and encourage us each day, O Lord our God.


1 Comment

Love Lived Out

Reading: Matthew 24: 36-44

No one knows the day or the hour when Jesus will return.  There will be no mistaking it when He returns.  Our passage today speaks about one being taken and one being left behind.  The rapture will be the first unmistakable sign.  With all this in mind, Jesus urges us to always be ready.  If we are ever seeking to live a life worthy of Jesus’ example, we will always be ready for the moment He returns.

Salvation is something we do not lose once we declare that Jesus is Lord and Savior of our life.  Once we receive Jesus into our heart, we are saved.  This status does not change.  But for many people, they have not chosen to accept Jesus as Lord.  For some, it is an intentional choice.  They are still choosing self even though they fully understand what Jesus offers.  They are not willing to surrender.  For others, they do not know who Jesus is or how Jesus can work in their lives or maybe how to begin a relationship with Jesus.  In all of these scenarios, all are lost and need to enter a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

One of our primary roles as followers of Jesus is to share the good news with the world.  We do this in our daily lives.  It is both our words and our actions.  In our words are love, compassion, mercy, grace, understanding, forgiveness…  In our actions we are a servant to all, humbly doing for others.  Another role we play is prayer warrior.  Just as Jesus and the Holy Spirit are interceding for each of us, we too are called to pray for one another.  Sometimes our prayers are general – asking God to help our church reach out or helping us see opportunities that God places before us.  Some prayers are more specific – for a certain person or situation, for God to work in a loved one’s heart, for someone we know is sensing God’s hand at work in their life.

Each and every day may we be God’s love lived out – in our actions, in our words, in our prayers.  May we be love to the world.


Leave a comment

Thanks

Readings: Philippians 4: 4-9 and John 6: 25-35

Thanksgiving is an awesome day where we gather with friends and family to give thanks for all that God has blessed us with.  All that we have comes from the Lord.  This day we give thanks.

Our Israelite forefathers recognized God’s provision from day one.  Adam was grateful for God’s love and care in the garden.  His son, Abel, brought the first lamb of his flock and sacrificed it as a thank offering to God.  The Israelites continued to give thank offerings and have a festival at harvest time where they thank God for all of their blessings.  Other festivals, such as Passover, also give thanks to God for the role God has played in their history.

Our American forefathers began Thanksgiving out of gratitude for surviving in a new and wild land.  They were grateful for those who God had sent to teach them what they needed to do to survive here.  They too recognized God’s hand at work in their lives and gave thanks.

Today, as we gather with family and friends, may we too give thanks for all of the ways God brings blessings into our lives.  May we celebrate today with a grateful heart full of thanks to God our Father, the giver of all good things.