pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Coming Soon

Reading: Mark 13: 24-31

Verse 28: “You know that it is near, right at the door”.

At first glance, today’s text seems odd for Advent, the season where we celebrate the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  The sun being darkened, the stars falling, and the heavens quaking don’t quite have that Christmas vibe.  But if we dig a little deeper, the reading makes sense.  There are signs all around that the world is more ready than ever for what this passage speaks of.  Each year we can look back and think the world is more ready than ever for Jesus to return and make all things new.

If we dig down into the core of why Jesus came, we find our answer in the fullness of God’s love: for God so loved the world…  Because God looked down and saw His children living in darkness and sin, He sent Jesus.  We remember too that Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save it.  God looked down upon a world dead in its sin and did something about it.  Today many people still live in darkness and the only true, lasting light remains Jesus.  As we await the return that today’s passage speaks of, we do so following our call to bring the light and love of Jesus to all people and to all nations.  This call is a great reason for us to celebrate the birth and life that brought hope and love to a world in great need.

We wait, though, in a tension.  Verse 28 speaks of this tension: “You know that it is near, right at the door”.  Just as the fig tree shows signs and calls people to anticipate summer, so too are we to live with the sense that Jesus is coming soon.  Soon is a good place to be.  When we live with a sense of Jesus coming soon, we live with a faith that is active and alive.  We live with a faith that matters today in the present.  We live with a faith that seeks to share the hope and love of Jesus with all we meet.  We live with a faith that is full of promise and expectation.  As we live out a “coming soon” faith, may we live so that others may sense that Jesus is right at the door of their hearts too, seeking to come in.

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Anticipate

Reading: Isaiah 64: 1-4

Verse One: “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down.”

As we begin Advent today, we are preparing to remember when Jesus first came as a baby.  There is an anticipation that builds as we walk through this holy season.  There is an excitement that grows as we draw nearer to the celebration of Jesus’ birth.  Part of our excitement and anticipation is built upon what comes next though.  The birth is exciting and grand partly because of the life that is then lived by Jesus the Messiah.  Jesus the Savior brought new life and love into the world.  Jesus allowed people to connect to God in a new way and also opened up the way to eternal life for all who believe.

As Isaiah wrote today’s passage, there was a deep longing for hope and God’s presence.  The Israelites had just returned from a long period in exile.  Things were not as they had been.  Life was hard.  Isaiah voices the people’s deep-felt need for God when he writes, “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down.”  It is a plea.  He is begging for God to come down and to intercede for the people.  The people long for God to come down to “make your name known” as God once again does “awesome things”.  The people of God are anticipating the restoration of God’s reign.  It is a waiting they want ended very soon.

On the edge of Advent, we too anticipate God’s reign.  Many people long for God to intercede in their lives today.  They long for God to bind up their hurts, to end their season in exile, to make all things new, to once again feel hope and love.  We all long for the God who “acts on behalf of those who wait upon Him”.  We too wait with hope and excitement for Christ to come down once again, to begin His forever reign.  In the interim though, we live now with the risen Christ, daily looking forward to His presence and activity in our daily lives.

As we wait, we pray for Jesus to be near the broken, to heal their hurts, to restore their lives to wholeness.  We ask that we may be used in the process, to have open hearts and willing hands.  May it be so.  Amen.


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Giving Thanks and Looking Forward

2015 ends today.  Tomorrow is the start of 2016.  Today is Thursday.  Tomorrow will be Friday.  In one sense, today is just another day.  While all this is true, there is still something special about the coming to the end of one year and the anticipation of a new year about to come.

People often celebrate at the end of the year.  As people of God we too should celebrate all that He has done to touch our lives in the past year.  As we look back over the year, may we offer our thanks to God for the guidance, blessings, and love He has poured out upon us.  May we also give thanks for the opportunities we have had to share His message and His love with others.  And lastly, may we give Him thanks for the times when His strength and love were all that carried us through.

As 2016 is about to dawn, we also must look forward to the new year.  We wonder what all God has in store for us.  We wonder how and where we will grow in our relationship with God and anticpate the ways He will use us in 2016 to be His light and love and hope in our world.  May we enter into the new year as eager disciples, seeking to draw ever closer to God in our walk of faith and seeking to be ever more like Jesus in our walk in the world.

Scripture reference: Psalm 147: 12-20


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Transform and Lead

John came to prepare the way for the Lord.  In the desert he preached a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”  He came to bring a message that would transform people’s hearts and make them ready for Jesus.

The radical changes to the earth that Isaiah wrote about and Luke quotes are very dramatic – valleys are filled in, mountains laid low, and crooked paths made straight.  Powerful things that only God could do.  But John called for and calls today for us to undertake such radical transformations in our lives as well.

As we seek to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ this Advent season, what valleys or low spots in or lives do we need God to lift us out of?  What mountains or pedestals do we need to step down off of to allow humility in and God to be the one lifted up high?  What crooked paths do we sometimes walk that we need the Holy Spirit to turn us from and to walk alongside us on the narrow path?

We anticipate a time of celebration as we remember Christ’s birth.  We also need to be transformed by and made right with God.  May we allow God to transform us and to lead us in a life that knows His saving grace.  May we prepare Him room in our hearts.

Scripture reference: Luke 3: 3-6