pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Even Me

Reading: Ephesians 3: 1-4

Verse 2: “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given me for you”.

Paul experienced God’s hand in a powerful way. He had not always been Paul though. He was born Saul and was raised in the Jewish faith. Saul excelled at learning the Law and eventually became a Pharisee, one of their religious leaders. He was very devout and followed the Law inside out. When the Christians began to try and spread the good news of Jesus Christ, Saul made it his personal mission to persecute them, to stomp out this new religion. Saul was enemy #1 of the early church.

And then, one day as Saul traveled to Damascus to arrest and persecute the Christians there, he met Jesus. In a jarring encounter, Jesus changed Saul forever. The #1 enemy became the #1 evangelist, travelling all over the known world preaching about Jesus Christ and His love. Saul took on the name Paul, the Gentile version, and became the apostle to the Gentiles – all who were outside the Jewish faith. His conversion story is what Paul is writing about when he writes, “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given me for you”. His name alone struck fear into Christians; now, by God’s grace, he was one of them!

As I think about and reflect on this mystery, I am convinced of the fact that God can and will use anyone for His glory. He chose Saul. That means that God can do anything with anyone. God can turn the hardest-hearted atheist into a preacher of the gospel. He can take the most vile criminal and turn them into a leader in a church. God can grab ahold of the one we least expect and use them in amazing ways.

Yes, we are all within reach of God’s grace. We are all available ammunition in God’s battle with the evil and darkness in our world. God desires to use us all for the building of His kingdom of love and grace. Thank you God for using even me.

Prayer: Lord, you call me by name. You ask that I lay down my selfish desires, that I take up my cross, and that I follow you. May it be so. Use me as you will, O God. Make me fully yours. Amen.


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Belong

Reading: 1 Corinthians 1: 10-16

Think about the groups you belong to.  Some are social, some are work-based, some are faith-based, some are by interest or hobby.  Now, think about why you are a part of each group.  Membership and participation are choices, so why do you belong to these groups?

All humans have a need to belong.  If we do not feel welcomed or included when we first try something out, we are very unlikely to go again or to remain a part of that group.  Once in a while we will give a group a second chance if we see real value or significance in belonging to that group.  Our sense of belonging is very important.

Belonging gives a sense of worth, a sense of support, a sense of strength or togetherness.  Belonging brings with it a sense of security and a feeling of being loved and cared for.  I would guess these are reasons we all belong to groups or the reasons we long to be a part of a group.

In our passage today Paul is addressing a group.  But this group is experiencing some disunity and discord.  The church in Corinth in identifying with different leaders and this is causing division.  Paul is calling them back to the only true leader of the church: Jesus Christ.  In reality, Jesus is the only head of the church.  All else is secondary to Jesus and His love.

At times, we today allow things to divide us.  By “we” I mean the church universal.  Christ is what still binds us all together.  All Christians believe in one God and in Jesus resurrected and alive.  Unity in the church universal is needed more today than at almost any time in our history.  May we as part of the global church follow Paul’s advice and go forth hand in hand with all brothers and sisters in Christ, seeking to make God and His love known in all places.

This must of course begin in each of our own churches.  We must be groups that anyone can be a part of.  And by ‘anyone’ I do mean anyone.  So I ask, can anyone from your community walk into your church and feel welcomed, included, loved?  Anyone?  If our answer is not an honest and robust “YES!” then we have work to do.  Jesus began the church based on love and acceptance of all.  May we be Christ-like in this practice too.