pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Be and Share

Reading: Ephesians 3: 1-12

Paul writes of the mystery of God.  This mystery is often seen as the wisdom of God.  Paul writes of the mystery being revealed to the prophets and apostles.  When we think back to Isaiah and Daniel and Elijah and to Paul himself, we can certainly see God’s wisdom revealed in and through these men.

Paul also writes of the whole body of Christ.  To Paul, in this writing, part of the mystery was about the Gentiles becoming part of the family.  As the New Testament unfolds, we come to understand ‘Gentiles’ as all people who do not know God.  We come to understand that there is no one God will not welcome into the family.  As the New Testament continues to unfold, we also come to see all people as messangers and bearers of God’s Word.  We look back on the great commission that Jesus gave in Matthew 28:19 and see it as written to not only the disciples but to each of us as well.

For most of us, the mystery, or wisdom, of God is revealed through the scriptures.  As we read the Word of God and as the Holy Spirit works in us, we too come to better understand the wisdom of God.  In part, we apply this wisdom or understanding to how we live our lives.  We work to live lives that are pleasing to God as we seek to follow His ways.  In this manner we are living out the mystery.

We are also called to share the mystery.  As disciples of Jesus Christ living in today’s world, we are called to bear the great mystery of God to others – to make disciples of all nations.  Just as Paul spoke and wrote to the Ephesians so that they would come to understand the mystery of God so that they could live a life of faith, so too are we to bring the Word of God to the Gentiles of today.

Through the power of Jesus Christ, may we both be and share the holy mystery with others, all for the glory of God.


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Mystery of Love

Reading: Ephesians 3: 1-12

Paul speaks of the mystery in this passage.  Paul experienced a change in his own person that many would call a mystery.  In his conversion experience, he certainly felt and connected to the mystery of Christ.  Paul also speaks of the mystery of the gospel that includes Gentiles and all peoples into the family of God.  To me his speaks of the vast love of God, a love that encompasses all and is so hard to wrap our minds around.

Vast and endless experiences in nature remind me of God’s love.  When I stand on the shore of Lake Michigan and look out to the east, it appears endless.  Water goes on forever.  On a warm summer night when I lay out and look up at the sky, the stars seem endless.  In the endless nature of the sea and sky, I can see God.  In these settings, I begin to gain an idea of how big and unending God’s love really is.  Yet I also know God’s love is bigger than anything in nature and is beyond my comprehension.

The sky is vast and made up of millions and millions of stars.  But each star matters, each star has a place.  The sea is the same – many, many droplets of water, but each its own.  This parallels us and our place in the family of God.  Each of us is one of millions and millions, yet each is a special and unique creation of God – known since we were knit together in the womb.  Each of us individually loved.

In this I find mystery.  God’s love is as vast and endless as the sky or sea, yet God knows each of us by name.  God counts that hairs on our heads.  God knows and loves each of us in a deep and personal way.  His is a mystery I cannot fully understand, but one I am deeply grateful for.  For the mystery of God’s love, we say thanks be to God.


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Magi Faith

Reading: Matthew 2: 9-12

The Magi and the religious leaders in Luke 2 are an interesting contrast.  The religious leaders are steeped in the stories of the prophets, in their own long history with God, and in the prophecies of the much-awaited Messiah.  The Jewish people told their stories over and over again so that all knew the faith.  The Magi notice a new star and somehow connect it to a story they heard long ago.  God helps them begin to connect the dots and they head off on a two year journey to find the answer.

The Magi’s and religious leaders’ paths cross.  Herod brings them together in a meeting that could have been most fatal to his reign.  The Magi provide a thread of a prophecy they heard long ago and the religious leaders quickly rattle off the connecting prophecy from Micah.  The leaders knew the stories well.  It amazes me that the appearance of the Magi did not set off bells and whistles for the religious leaders.  It astounds me that the story of the Magi following a star for two years to this time and place did not draw their attention.  The religious leaders rattle off the prophecy and quickly head back to whatever they were doing.

It amazes and astounds me until I realize how much we today are like this story.  In the Bible, we too have the stories that we read and tell over and over.  In the Word, we clearly understand the call of Jesus upon our lives and how He calls us to live out our faith in the world.  We know the stories well.  But too often we rattle off phrased like “love your neighbor” then walk away from the one in need so that we can get back to what we were doing.  Too often we miss what God has placed before us.  Oh that we were more like the Magi – attuned to the holy mystery, pursuing that which God has placed before us, being faithful to the end of the journey.  May this be the faith we both profess and practice.


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Bow and Worship

Reading: Luke 2: 1-12

The people of Israel had been sent into exile to many points east.  The Assyrians and Babylonians had defeated them and dispersed the Israelites throughout their empires.  Some of the people of God remained faithful while in exile.  And somehow the stories of faith that they told amidst these foreign cultures was heard by outside ears.  When the strange star appeared a long-ago memory was triggered and the Magi head off.  The Magi follow the new Star to see you this newborn king of the Jews.  God provides the lead as the Magi travel west toward Jerusalem, the capital city.  After all, wouldn’t a king be born in the palace?

But the God who leads them from afar only leads them so far.  The star disappears as they come to Jerusalem.  So the Magi go to King Herod – it must be his newborn son that they have journeyed two years to see.  But this is not the case.  So Herod gathers the religious leaders and they quickly recite the Micah prophecy.  The Magi head off towards Bethlehem.  For the Magi what happened next must have been attention- grabbing.  The star that had appeared and disappeared suddenly reappeared.  The star guides them on into Bethlehem and comes to rest over the home of Mary and Joseph.

God’s amazing power again emerged as the Magi continue their journey.  They have brought gifts – a customary gesture.  But as these educated men enter the house to end their quest and to satisfy their curiosity, a strange thing happens.  They worship Jesus.  These scholars bow down and worship Jesus.  Not their intent when they began the trip.  Being in God’s incarnate presence must have triggered something in them.  Perhaps it was the same sense or feeling that lef the first disciples to leave all when Jesus simply said, “Follow me”.  May it be the same in each of us this day.  May we bow and worship the King!


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Arise, Shine

Reading: Isaiah 60: 1-6

At times, things can seem dark.  For individuals, sudden and unexpected loss can make the world heavy and can make it hard to get through the day to day.  And at times, even the normal day to day life can be a bit hard at times.  One only has to spend a little time watching or listening to the news to develop a sense that the world is bleak and gloomy.  Story after story brings more bad news.  This was the feel of the times into which Isaiah writes.  The exiles have been gone so long it seems like they will never return.  Things in Jerusalem have continued to erode – the walls, the food, the hope, …

Isaiah opens this writing with hope – glorious hope – “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you”.  These words contain much hope.  God is returning!  Into all of this darkness comes the Lord Almighty.  It is such good news that Isaiah repeats it again in the next verse.  He goes on to write of the return of sons and daughters from exile.  Then he writes of how other nations will see the glory of God in Israel and will come with camels, gold, and incense.  Lots of good news is on the way!  Praise the Lord!

Within this chapter of joy for Israel, we too can find hope in our day to day.  If we are in the midst of a difficult time, like Israel was, it can feel like God is not there or is distant at best.  The good news is for us too – we too can find strength and hope in God.  If we seek Him, we will know God’s presence, for God is always near.  For those not dealing with a personal trial, may we arise and shine forth the glory of the Lord, for all the world to see.  May the light shine so that all may be drawn to the Lord.


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Praying for Our Leaders

Reading: Psalm 72: 1-7 and 10-14

A good king in Israel would rule with justice and righteousness.  A good king would protect the people and provide for their needs.  A good king was sensitive to the needs and concerns of the poor and needy, giving them voice and meeting their basic needs.  A good king ruled according to God’s will.  The people prayed daily for the King, asking God to bless their reign with justice and righteousness.  Life was simply better when a good king reigned.

Today we do not have kings but have presidents, prime ministers, chancellors, senators, representatives, judges, governors, legislators, mayors, councilmen, and councilwomen.  The titles have changed by the roles should not.  As whatever level one serves, it should still be with righteousness and justice.  All should serve for the good of the people and the prosperity of the nation, state, city, or community.  It should not be a self-serving role.  Our role should not change either.  Our role is still to pray daily for all of our leaders.

As the people of God, we should pray each day for our leaders, at all levels, whether or not we align with their political leanings.  Each day we should pray for our leaders to govern with righteousness and justice, with compassion and understanding.  Each day we should pray for our leaders to be sensitive to the needs of the poor and the outcasts, for those without voice.  Each day we should pray that our leaders would lead according to God’s will.  And each day we should pray for our leaders to know and walk with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

May we be faithful in our daily prayers for our leaders so that God’s blessings and justice and righteousness may touch the land.  May we ever lift up our leaders so that God’s glory may shine through them.


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Hallelujah

Reading: John 1:1-14

Our Savior is born!  Hallelujah!  The babe lies in a manger, wrapped in swaddling cloths.  Mary and Joseph must have been beaming but tired parents.  Jesus has been born!

The baby we celebrate grew up to be a man.  Jesus was full of wisdom and compassion.  There was power to heal and to give life in His hands and in His voice.  He spoke with authority and amazed all who heard Him; He even confounded a few.  Jesus was God in the flesh, living life fully as one of us.

As a man Jesus spoke words that transformed lives.  Jesus offered grace upon grace, all poured out in God’s love.  It is a love we share.  It is a love that comes to dwell in each of us. As children of God, we become a fellow servant with Jesus Christ.  Through His name we go forth to bring healing to our broken world.  In the power of Jesus’ name we partake in the transformation of the world.

For this wonderful gift of Christ and His continuing presence in the world, we say thanks be to God!  Hallelujah!