pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Opportunity

Reading: 1st Corinthians 7: 29-31

Verse 31: “For this world in its present form is passing away”.

Paul believes Jesus Christ will return at any moment. This is the general view held by almost all Christians in the time immediately after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Paul’s words in these verses may be a little confusing at first read. Paul’s focus is on God and the people’s relationship with God. There is some urgency to Paul’s words as he states, “the time is short”. Taken in this light, Paul is encouraging his readers not to be too concerned with the things of this world – their relationships, their status, their possessions – but with the coming of Jesus. Paul is not saying to abandon all of these earthly things but instead he is saying to not make them the priority. He wants his readers to first focus on God.

In general, the perspective on the proximity of Jesus’ return has changed. Although it could be today, for the most part we do not necessarily live like it could be. For many folks, Christians and non-Christians alike, the idea of getting to their faith one day – really getting serious – is much the same. Today would be okay but tommorow or, better yet, the next day would be better. Just so busy now.

In spite of this prevelant attitude, Paul’s words are as correct today as they were when he first spoke them: “For this world in its present form is passing away”. Jesus’ return is closer today than it was yesterday and each day that passes we all come one day closer to the day we meet Jesus. Herein lies the urgency for us as Christians. Too often our primary focus is not on God but on the things of this world. This is on a personal level. On the corporate level our mission is just as urgent. In our commission to make disciples we never know when our words or actions may be what finally brings a lost soul to Christ. We may just be planting more seeds, but one never knows. What I do know is this: all should have the opportunity to meet Jesus Christ before they stand before the judgment seat. Who will you introduce today?


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The Father’s Love

Reading: Exodus 32: 7-10

Verse Nine: “I have seen these people”, said the Lord to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people”.

The people have allowed fear and doubt to win the day and they cast a golden calf to be their god.  Being fully made by human hands, the calf has no power.  But it is visible and present and the people want to believe it can save them.  So they offer sacrifices and worship it.

God looks down on His chosen people and suddenly the Israelites are “your” people whom “you” led out of Egypt.  God uses the third person to talk about His children – “they” are corrupt, stiff-necked.  He is like a parent, angry over what a child has done.  On occasion I have said, “Honey, your son has…” or “That daughter of yours…”

Reading this passage makes me wonder how close I have come to drawing God to the place of wanting to disown me.  One can easily look back over one’s life to identify points where or words or actions or choices maybe upset God, maybe made God feel like giving up on us.  I wonder if God ever thinks, “Not again…” because I too at times am “corrupt” and “stiff-necked”.

Even though we may get upset with our earthly children and “feel like” disowning them, we never do.  They will always be our son or daughter and we will always love them.  Our love for our children pales in comparison to God’s love for us.  God’s love for His children is so much more than we can even understand.  In the 103rd Psalm we are reminded that God removes our sin as far as the east is from the west – they are no more.  In Titus 3 we are told that our sins are washed away, giving us new birth, a fresh beginning.  This is how great the Father’s love is for us, His children.  It is a love that never fails, a love that never ends.  Thanks be to God for this love.


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Foundation

Reading: 1 Corinthians 3: 10-11

In the Old Testament, God was the foundation of the Israelites’ faith.  God drew near to them in the pillars of fire and cloud, in the fall of Jericho, in the fire that fell from heaven to consume Elijah’s sacrifice, and in other silimar events.  God also drew near through the voice of the prophets – sharing the Law and other instructions, plus blessings and warnings.  God spoke through Moses and Abraham and Samuel and Nathan and many other people.

As we move into the New Testament, the foundation becomes Jesus, God incarnate.  In Jesus, God draws nearer than ever before.  In Jesus, humanity could see and touch and talk to God.  In taking on the flesh, God chooses to accept human limitations and ultimately suffering and death – all to draw near to us so that we could draw nearer to Him.  In this, God demonstrates the depth of His love for us.  In this, we see a God who loves us so much that there is nothing He wouldn’t do to bring healing and hope to the world.

Paul came to know Jesus as the only way to salvation and, eventually, to eternal life.  While here in the flesh, God said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”.  After Paul encountered the risen Christ, his life was radically altered.  For the rest of his life, Paul worked tirelessly to proclaim faith in Christ alone.  In today’s passage, Paul writes of the one foundation being Jesus Christ.  For Paul, and for us, there can be no other foundation.

When we claim Jesus as our foundation, we choose to stand upon the Rock.  Jesus becomes for us the source of all of our strength and peace and the filter for all of our decisions.  In Him alone we find contentment, hope, peace, comfort, mercy, forgiveness, healing, and love.  Out of this great love for us, God dwells in our hearts so that we can be bearers of all this, bringing Christ to a world in need.  Like Paul, we too may lay a foundation of Jesus Christ in other people’s lives through our words, actions, and deeds.  May we also strive to be expert builders, sharing our Lord and Savior with all we meet.


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Heart Faith

Reading: 1 Corinthians 1: 17-18

Paul understood the role that Christ called him to: to preach the gospel.  It was a call he received directly from Jesus himself on the road to Damascus.  This would become Paul’s life work: preaching the gospel.  In proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, Paul spoke from the hesrt, not from the head.  Paul knew that fancy words, the wisdom of the world, even impassioned rhetoric, would never convince someone of faith.  He knew these approaches “emptied the power of the cross” because one cannot be argued into believing.  One cannot be led through a linear progression to arrive at faith.  Paul knew his witness and testimony must come from the heart and not the head.

This is because the cross defies logic and understanding from the human perspective.  Paul writes, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing”.  That a loving father would allow his son to die for the mistakes of others is illogical.  That Jesus came for the very purpose of going to the cross for our sins is hard to understand.  Why would someone do that?  If one approaches the cross and the message of the gospel trying to make sense of it all, then it does appear as foolishness.  Faith comes from the heart, not the head.

Jesus spoke to Paul and gave him directions to follow.  In Paul’s mind this encounter had to seem crazy, really impossible.  “Did that just happen?” would have been foremost in his mind.  But Jesus wasn’t working in Paul’s mind, He was working in his heart.  Ananias was sent to Paul and, in the name of Jesus, healed his blindness and Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Paul was baptized and soon began preaching in the synagogues.  Paul opened his heart to Jesus and the Holy Spirit came flooding in.  From then on, Paul was dedicated to sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with all he met.  The story was always from the heart, because that is where Jesus lived inside of Paul.

Our task is the same: “go and make disciples of all nations”.  Some of us will do that by telling others the good news of Jesus Christ and what He has done in our lives.  Some of us will show Jesus in our heart by how we live our life.  Some of us will let the love of Christ tell the story as it spills out of our hearts and into the lives of those affected by our actions.  There are many ways to proclaim the good news.  May we open our hearts today, allowing the gospel of Christ to radiate out in our words, actions, and deeds.


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Healing

Reading: Matthew 11: 2-6

Jesus’ response to John the Baptist’s question is interesting.  Jesus speaks of the restorations prophesied about in Isaiah 35: the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are healed…  All of these things listed are physical limitations.  Make no mistake, throughout the world people are healed every day from physical afflictions, all in the name of Jesus.  The work Jesus began continues through His followers.  Jesus’ response is interesting because the true healing Jesus brought was for our inner healing.  Ultimately Jesus Christ came to free us from the powers of sin and death so that we could one day enter eternal life.

When John preached in the wilderness, h called for people to repent of their sins and to make straight paths for the coming of the Messiah.  John challenged people to be rid of the sin in their lives so that they were ready to welcome the Messiah.  Jesus’ response to John’s question is about change in the physical sense.  John predicted one who would come to bring healing in the spiritual sense.

Jesus speaks of a healing that I think most often must come first.  Before people can hear the good news of Jesus Christ, they must first have their basic needs met.  It may be one of the physical limitations that Jesus speaks of that is a barrier to their spiritual lives.  It may be a physical limitation such as food or shelter or clothing.  Jesus certainly addressed our call to meet these needs as well.  By bringing healing and restoration in the physical realms, we open the way to healing and restoration in the spiritual realms.  This day, through our words, prayers, and actions, may we each bring healing to our broken world, all in the powerful name of Jesus Christ.


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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.


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His Love

Reading: Acts 9: 36-43

As human beings one of our greatest non-physical needs is to belong. As social creatures, we need to feel like we are a part of the group and that we matter to others.  In turn we feel a need to have others feel that they  matter to us, that they are important parts of our life.

In today’s reading this is shown as a dear friend, Tabitha, passes away.  She seems to be the glue that held this small community together, so the grief is especially deep.  She not only shared her presence and love with her friends, she also showed it in her actions and in how she gave physical gifts to them as well.  Her friends and the two disciples who are present decide to send for Peter, who is in a nearby town.  The depth of love in this small community is amazing.

The depth of this love has power.  The level of caring is evident.  Peter comes and cares for Tabitha’s friends by restoring their dear friend to life.  By the power of this miracle many outside the group of friends come to believe in the Lord.

We too use the love of Jesus to form bonds of friendship among fellow believers.  Through study and fellowship we can find deep, caring relationships that meet our need to belong and to matter to others.  In turn we care for and love one another in acts of presence and in acts of service and in sharing together the love we find in Jesus.

This same love and actions that emulate His love and example can be brought out into the world.  Just as Tabitha’s resuscitation brought new believers to faith in Christ, our words and acts of service to others can help them to come to know Christ.  Our words and deeds may not be miracles in and of themselves like the miracle in today’s story, but they are the seeds that one day can lead to another coming to know Christ.  It is all about planting seeds and sharing His love.  May we plant well today!