pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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God’s Great Love

Reading: Psalm 107:43

Verse 43: “Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord”.

Psalm 107 is filled with memories of God’s actions on behalf of the people. At times, God’s history with Israel included ‘tough love’ – that necessary love that is hard to administer. It is a love that is usually harder on the parent than on the child. The root is still love.

As we remembered yesterday, our faith journeys are also filled with God’s actions in our lives. Each action is also based upon God’s love for us. Perhaps for you, like the Israelites and like me, the love you experienced was tough love now and then. At the time it was hard to hear or to experience. But looking back it was the best way to handle it. God always knows best.

Each time God took action in the lives of the Israelites, they were drawn closer to God. This too is our story. All of God’s actions are experiences with God’s great love for us. It is truly amazing and wonderful. But it cannot stop there. Like Paul and Peter and all those in the early church, God’s love must be evident in our lives. We cannot simply know God’s love, we must be God’s love. We cannot just know the good news, we must be the good news. We must be the gospel lived out to others.

For the Israelites, when they considered “the great love of the Lord”, it colored or affected all of their relationships. It deepened their love for God, their love for their fellow believers, and their love for the one in need. May it be so for us as well.

Prayer: Lord, lead me to live out my faith today. Guide me to be love to all I meet. Fill my heart, my mind, my words, and my actions with your love today. Amen.

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Extraordinary

Reading: John 2: 1-11

Verse 7: “Fill the jars with water”.

At His mother’s request, Jesus takes action. The six empty jars – the ones used for religious rituals – are standing nearby. Jesus tells the servants, “Fill the jars with water”. I do not sense any hesitation on their part. In fact, our Bibles tell us that “they filled them to the brim”. They do not just put some water in the jars. There is an expectation of something here. Maybe they could sense it in Mary and Jesus’ conversation.

The water that was placed in the jars was just ordinary water. It was probably drawn from the local well – from the well that all the people and animals living in and around Cana drink from every day. But once inside the jars the water becomes something extraordinary. Not just wine, but really good wine. The master of the wedding banquet notes, “you have saved the best until last”.

On one level, in the here and now, this story tells us to look for and to expect God’s abundance in extraordinary ways. The jars are filled to the brim. This is how God wants to fill us. God does not want us to experience some of His love, grace, mercy,… He wants to fill us so full that it even overflows! What is inside the jars is extraordinary because of Jesus. This too is God’s desire for all who follow Christ. When Jesus is in us, we are ‘in the world but not of the world’. We belong to heaven. In this world, we stand out and we are called to be a glorious witness to God and His coming kingdom.

This is the second level of our extraordinary abundance. The passage points to the eternal. Like the wine at the banquet, our best is yet to come. We begin to experience what is to come in our earthly life. God is ever at work in us, sanctifying us – making us more and more like Jesus, living more and more in His image. Through this process we grow in our faith and life is better. Yet this life is just a small glimpse of heaven – not even a little peek. It is just the beginning of a taste. We await a far more exceeding time in glory. This too will be extraordinary!

Prayer: God, thank you for walking with me through this life. In the blessings and in the trials, I know you are there. You have so much more for me than I can even imagine. Help me to trust, to step where you lead, allowing me to spread your love and to help build the kingdom here on earth. Amen.


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Best Friend

Reading: Psalm 25: 1-10

Verse Ten: “All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of the covenant”.

In today’s Psalm, David outlines what a great relationship with God looks like. He begins where all relationships must begin: trust. In the opening line, he declares that he is coming to God in prayer because he trusts God. David’s trust in God is based upon past experiences of God being faithful to His promises over and over. From his time as a shepherd defending the flock from lions and bears through the time of the writing of the Psalm, God has protected David as He puts to shame those who have rebelled.

In verse four, David asks to know God’s ways. This is the second step in all great relationships: knowing each other intimately. David asks God to teach and guide him in truth. Verse five ends with the result of knowing God intimately: “my hope is in you all day long”. David knows God and trusts God; therefore, he places all of his hope in God.

Next David admits his shortcomings. Honesty is essential in all great relationships. We are not perfect so at times we must see past the mistakes and failures. God has forgiven David many times, not only because of God’s great mercy and live, but also because of David’s genuine repentance. David recognizes that God is good and upright. Because of these qualities, God chooses to instruct sinners in the right way to walk. Like a great friend, God accepts David for who he is – both the good and the bad – and does all He can to help David’s faithful walk. He is willing to invest in the relationship.

Our passage today closes with David recognizing what makes God such a great friend, saying, “All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of the covenant”. God is indeed loving and faithful. The second half of this verse turns to us. That is only right as all great friendships are two way streets. What does it look like to keep our side of the covenant? It may sound familiar. The demands are to trust God, to seek to know Him better and better, to be honest and to seek His mercy when we stumble, and to acknowledge that our best friend is loving and faithful and steadfast in His covenant. May we ever strive to live as faithful servants of the Lord our God, the best friend and father in the world. Amen.


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Giving Self to God

Reading: Colossians 2: 6-19

We often try to fill our lives with so many things and activities that we think will bring us joy, happiness, contentment, peace.  We chase after things that appear to be just what we need to get us to that ‘place’ where we think all will be ‘good’.  As we pursue these things of the world we come to realize soon enough that they do not really satisfy.

In other seasons of life we fill our lives with so many things and activities that we do not seem to have time for Christ.  So many things simply consume our time and leave us exhausted and with little energy to pour into our relationship with Christ.  What little we have left that we do offer to Christ is a pittance of what it should be.  As we get completely run down we realize our need for Christ and our need to re-prioritize our lives.

In each day we have a finite amount of time and energy.  Christ needs to be the center of our lives if we are truly to find content and satisfied lives.  He is the big item that must first be given time and energy each day.  When Christ is our core and foundation, all else will fall into line, all else will be taken care of.  Our gift of our presence must be the first thing we give to Christ each day.  In this way we demonstrate our love for Him by giving Him our best and we also show our trust in Christ that all else will be cared for throughout the day.  Each day may be begin by dedicated ourselves to God, by giving Him the best moments of our day, and we will find the joy, happiness, contentment, peace we desire.


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Enough?

Reading: Luke 10: 25-28

In our culture there is a large emphasis placed upon ‘success’.  This emphasis leads us to judge others and to compare ourselves and our status or position to others.  We begin doing this the first time someone compares us to someone else.  It may be a bike race, the height chart on the wall, or any other form of evaluation.  Not to say competition or success are bad things, but early on we are taught to compare ourselves to others.  And naturally, we want to be the best.

Of course there can only be a small handful of ‘best’ people.  There is only one at the top of each list.  And for almost all of us, none are at the top of any of these lists.  In turn our success becomes relative.  We work hard for the next promotion, the bigger house, the nicest yard, the next gadget.  Life too easily can become all about our stuff and how it compares to those in our little worlds.  But all of this is temporary and in the end bring no satisfaction because there is always a ‘next’ thing to buy or to accomplish to keep ahead.

By contrast our faith leads us to consider other before self and to find our contentment in our relationship with our Creator.  Once we understand and know God’s great love for us, we are led to share this love with others.  It is a great gift that compels us to share it with all we meet.  We treasure this gift of live above all else and we want others to experience it as well 

But sometimes the drive for success and the call to love God and neighbor collide.  We ask the question the lawyer asked: am I doing enough?  The harsh reality is that when we ask that question, the answer is almost always ‘no’.  When loving God and neighbor permeate our life, we seldom look within to find ‘success’.  We are simply led to offer all we can to all we can whenever we can.  When we miss an opportunity to do so, we note it and commit to not missing the opportunity the next time.  It is not a competition but a life of service to God and neighbor.  May we live our faith in such a way that we never have to ask that question.  May love always be our guide.


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Rest

There are times we get run down and tired.  Life can just seem to consume us and suddenly we find ourselves with very little left in the tank.  As the disciples returned to Jesus after being sent out two by two, they were excited by all they had done but Jesus could see they were exhausted too.  His desire was to find them rest.  So they load up the boat and head out.

But a buzz moves on ahead of them and by the time they land ashore, a large crowd has gathered.  And it is not a welcoming committee.  It is a crowd full of people with needs.  The Bible tells us Jesus saw them as “lost sheep” and that He takes compassion on them.  Jesus steps out of the boat and begins to teach and to heal many people.

I can imagine that Jesus saw the crowd flowing to where they were headed to land.  So I can surmise that He made the decision not to change course and to go away from the gathering crowd.  Jesus knew or felt He was up to the task ahead so He chose to engage the crowd and to minster to their needs.

At times we too must make that assessment.  As we see a potential need coming our way we to must assess if we have enough left in the tank to meet that need.  We must remember that at times even Jesus stepped away for solitude and refreshment.  A time of Sabbath is essential to being able to minister effectively.  When we are dry and empty, we have nothing left to pour out into others.  We must care for ourselves so that we can offer our best to the care of those in need.

Mark 6: 30-34 and 52-56