pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


Leave a comment

Resurrection

Reading: 1st Corinthians 15: 12-20

Verse 20: “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead”.

As chapter 15 opens, Paul reminds the people of the church in Corinth of the basic truths of their faith. Paul reminds them that Christ died for our sins, was raised on the third day, and then appeared to many, many people, including Paul himself. All of these appearances offer proof that Jesus was indeed resurrected. Paul closes the opening section by saying, “This is what we preached and this is what you believed”. This sets the context for today’s reading.

There are now some in Corinth who are questioning the facts of the resurrection. To those with Jewish roots the resurrection is an end-times occurrence. To those coming in new to the faith, the idea of being raised from the dead is a struggle. People today struggle with this idea. In verses 12-19 Paul lays out why belief in the resurrection is necessary – through Jesus’ resurrection we too find hope for life eternal. In verse 20 he concludes with a reiteration of this fact that was made real for him in his own first hand encounter with the risen Lord, writing, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead”. Christ resurrected and eternal is simply one of the bedrock truths of our faith.

This truth affects our eternity as well as our earthly lives. Knowing that we have a future filled with hope is one thing that helps us in the struggles and trials that we face in our earthly bodies. It is the “something more” that can pull us through. In the darkest of valleys it is the promise that one day we will be reunited. As people of faith, we know that our last breath here is not “the end”. In the vast scheme of things, our earthly life is but a “mist”. For the gift of hope that we find in our resurrection faith, today I say thanks be to God.

Prayer: Savior, I rejoice in knowing that you not only lived to give me an example of how to love, but that you died and rose to show me the way to life eternal. Thank you Jesus! Amen.

Advertisements


1 Comment

Strong and Loving

Reading: Psalm 62: 9-12

Verses 11 and 12: “O God, you are strong… O Lord, you are loving”.

There is a shift as we move into the second part of our reading from Psalm 62.  Verses five through eight were all about placing our trust in God and today’s passage begins by reminding us of our limits and shortcomings as human beings.  The psalmist reminds us that no matter how rich or poor we think we are, no matter how important or lowly we think we are, it does not matter because we are simply a breath.  Soon we will be no more.  For the psalmist, this means that all of our hope and trust must be in God alone.  The things of this world and our pride will not last and they will not save us.

The Psalm reminds us that we are all equally powerless before God.  Even though we know deep down that we really cannot control much in this life and that when our time comes we cannot delay it in any way, we still turn to things like riches and position to determine our worth.  We also tend to compare ourselves to others to feel value.  And too often when we feel that we do not compare well, we turn to judging others as a means to elevate ourselves.  Things have not changed too much since the Psalm was written.

Our passage today comes near to a close with these words: “O God, you are strong… O Lord, you are loving”.  In the face of our pettiness and frailty, we are reminded of the eternal truths of God.  God remains strong and loving in all ways and at all times.  When we can choose to focus on God’s goodness and strength and love, then we can rest content in who we are as a child of God.  When we know God in this way, the things of this world pale.  Yes, we are but a breath, but we are a breath that has been breathed by God.

As our passage closes, it speaks of rewarding us accordingly.  When we walk this life with a deep and abiding trust in God’s strength and love, then we are assured of our eternity with God.  Our future does not get any better than that!  Each and every day may we trust into the only thing that truly lasts – the Lord our God.


Leave a comment

Praise the Creator

Reading: Psalm 104: 24-34 and 35b

Verses 24 and 35b: How many are your works O Lord! … Praise the Lord.

Our Psalm today opens with a great reminder about Creator God: “How many are your works O Lord”!  All that there is – from the largest to the tiniest, all that covers the land and swims in the waters – was created by God.  The psalmist then offers praise for God’s provision.  At just the right moment, God provides for the needs of what He has created.  His love in reflected in His care.  And the Psalm also acknowledges that life ends, that breath is no more and life returns to ashes.  As created beings, we too live within this cycle of life.  We are created by God, we are loved and cared for by God, and one day our human bodies draw our last breath and we too return to ashes.

The psalmist then opens up the praise in verse 31.  In the simplicity of life we can see the glory of the Lord.  We are amazing creations, as is all of life.  Just as in the beginning God was pleased with all He had made, God continues to be pleased with the work of His hands.  Our response?  Verse 31 sums it up well: “I will sing praises to my God as long as I live”.  Because God continues to be active and engaged in our lives and world, He is worthy of our praise.

Today may we join with all of creation in praise of the mighty works of God’s hands!


Leave a comment

Hope and Restoration

Reading: Ezekiel 37: 1-14

Verse 3: He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live”?

Ezekiel walks and walks amongst​ the dry bones.  There are literally millions of Bones strewn across the valley – enough to make a vast army.  As he walks among the bones, to him they are at first just dry old bones scattered across the valley.  There are no grave markers to identify who exactly is where.  These bones are symbolic of Israel.  The bones and their dryness indicate the state of Israel in exile.  They are long in exile and have lost touch with the faith and with God.  The bones coming back to life and standing as a vast army is symbolic of how God will bring His people out if exile one day and will restore them as a nation.

In sending Ezekiel among the dry bones, God is acknowledging the state of affairs with His chosen people.  All are cognizant that their choices, their sins, have led to where they currently find themselves.  It is what it is.  But in this vision, God is saying, “I am not done with you yet.  This is not the end of the story.  I will restore you.  I love you”.  God see what will be once again.  God wants to share this hope with Ezekiel, His prophet to the people, so that the people can hold onto and look towards hope and restoration.

Isn’t this still the story today?  Isn’t this still the message that all who are ‘dry’ or are out in the valley need to hear today?  There are lots of people who feel lost or not connected to God.  They desperately need the breath of life to breathe into them.  There are lots who feel defeated.  They need God to pick them up, to strengthen them, so that they can stand once again.  There are others who feel that God has forgotten or abandoned them.  They need to be reconnected to the source of life.  There are many who need to hear the story.  There are many.  Who will you share the story if hope and restoration with today?


Leave a comment

Pentecost Ripples

Reading: Acts 2: 1-21

On the day of Pentecost the Spirit came and began to fill the hearts of the believers.  Like a stone that is thrown in a lake, the ripples spread slowly but steadily out from the center, out from Jesus, out from Jerusalem.  The power of the Holy Spirit is shown in how far those ripples went: to the ends of the earth.  As His followers today we continue to be a part of this motion; we continue to go out and faithfully follow the Holy Spirit, bringing good news to all the corners of our world.

On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit entered in a new way.  With this new entrance, God began a new creation.  God is all around us.  Jesus the man came and lived among us.  The Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of each of us.  This is a different relationship, a different dynamic.  Like the ripple in the water, the Spirit is inside of us, seeking to radiate out in all directions.  The infinite love of God dwells in the heart of each believer, making them a new creation.

On the day of Pentecost, those first disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to change the world almost immediately.  The Word of God was spoken and many were baptized and came to know Jesus as Lord and Savior.  On this day of Pentecost, the Spirit continues to fill the hearts of all believers, old and new, eager to move in and through them.  On this day of Pentecost, may we too be filled with the breath of God, allowing the Holy Spirit of God to move in and through us.


Leave a comment

Spiritual Life

Reading: Psalm 104: 24-34 & 35b

In the Psalm today we see the timelessness of the Holy Spirit.  The psalmist writes of the Holy Spirit coming and breathing life into all of the creatures of the earth.  We see a similar giving of life in Ezekiel 37 where the dry bones are covered in tissues and flesh but require the Breath or Spirit to come into them to give life.

At Pentecost, the life given is a spiritual life, not a physical life.  When the Holy Spirit descended on those first believers, they were physically alive.  But when the Spirit entered them they were born anew, not of flesh and bone, but of the Spirit of God.  They were each made into a new creation as they were filled with a power and presence unlike anything before.  The living and active presence of God was now here to dwell in the hearts of all who call on Jesus as Lord and Savior.  The physical sign of the flames that descended on each there that first Pentecost demonstrated that the Holy Spirit is not limited to one place or time and is not limited in its presence.

Just as the Spirit breathes physical life into all things, the Spirit can breathe spiritual life into all of humanity.  Just as the power and presence empowered the first disciples to take the message of Jesus to Jerusalem, Samaria, and across the known world, so too does the same Holy Spirit enable us to take the same good news out into the whole world.  Just as the first disciples allowed the Holy Spirit to set them on fire for sharing the good news, may we also be lit ablaze with the light and love of Jesus Christ as well!


Leave a comment

Breath of New Life

Reading: Psalm 104: 24-34 & 35b

When God created the world, He gave the breath of life to all living things.  Each day since then, He has breathed new life into each that is born.  But for humanity, God has taken one more step.  For all who call on His name, God offers grace.  He breathes the Holy Spirit into each who professes their faith in Christ and makes each a new creation, children not of the world but children of God.  As a child of God we continue to live for a time in the world, but we are no longer of this world.  As heirs of Christ, we now belong to Him and heaven is our destination.

Once we claim Christ and He claims us, the Spirit comes and dwells in us.  We begin to live as free people, no longer chained to the desire to acquire more, to rise higher, to seek the approval of man.  Instead we are freed to give, to love, to serve.  In the body of Christ, we experience life abundant.  As the body of Christ we find support, encouragement, guidance, help, and fellowship in Him and in each other.  In our interactions with the world we meet many people who do not know Jesus as king.  The body of Christ is an inclusive body.  In Him there is no Jew or Gentile, no this or that.  The peace and joy we know in Christ is ours to share so that all can come to know the way of the cross.

As a redeemed people we are called to make disciples of all nations.  This task is the task of every Christian.  Sometimes we do this directly as we go to those in need and meet their needs.  The need can be physical, emotional, spiritual, or relational.  We do as Christ did and simply offer all we can.  Sometimes our witness is by how we live our lives.  The light of Christ within us should shine forth so that all see it and are drawn to it – eventually wanting to know how they can have that joy, peace, contentment, and love in their lives.  They come to desire that God breathes the breath of new life into them as well.  In all we do and say this day, may we bring God the glory!