pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Two Realities

Reading: Psalm 27

Verse 11: “Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path”.

The Psalm today acknowledges two realities: evil in the world and God’s constant presence. The psalmist encounters evil men who attack and besiege him, who surround him. The psalmist acknowledges times when mother, father, and others have turned away. These are hard, difficult trials. The bigger reality, though, is God’s presence. There is no fear of the things of this life. God is his present and eternal stronghold, his eternal light and salvation.

The psalmist finds refuge in God. When he seeks God and is in God’s house, there in assurance. There is a peace and a beauty found in the house of the Lord. It is the place he wants to dwell. There the psalmist can sing and make music; there he sees the goodness and the beauty of the Lord. To become closer to God, he requests, “Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path”. When not finding refuge in the house of God, he wants to know God and His ways so that he can take it with him out into the world. He will seek to walk a straight path – one that is pleasing to God and brings honor to God.

We live within these two realities as well. We will encounter people who are unkind, who attack us, who gossip about us, who take advantage of us, who abuse us. We will also experience times of illness and loneliness and we will separate ourselves from God as we sin from time to time. We also seek the Lord our God. We turn to God in prayer, we worship God in God’s house and in His world, we read and study our Bible… We too seek to dwell with the Lord. And as we go out into the world, we seek to bear witness to the light and love of Jesus Christ. We too live between these two realities that the psalmist writes of today.

The Psalm concludes with these two verses: “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness and beauty of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord”. God is here. We can be confident of that. When we seek the Lord, we will find Him. God wants to be known. We do not have to wait long – God is as close as our next breath. Turn to God and breathe in the Lord.

Prayer: God, I thank you for your abiding presence in my life. May I ever look to you and always seek your face. Draw me to you, O God, moment by moment, day by day. Amen.

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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.


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Share the Breath

Reading: John 20: 19-23

Verses 21 and 22: Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent me, I am sending you”.  And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”.

We live by faith and not by sight.  Our faith, like the faith of Christians for the past 2,000 years, is built upon the witness of others and on our own experiences with God in our lives.  Faith is not fact so we grow in our faith as we interact with God, others, and the world.

Jesus’ disciples knew for a fact that Jesus had been crucified.  At least one, John, had stood with the women and saw Jesus draw his last breath.  Maybe some were still there when the body was taken down or when it was laid in the tomb.  This experience was in stark contrast to the miracles they had been there to see.  Bling men saw, lepers were healed, the dead came back to life.  They saw and believed even though they could not explain how these things happened in human terms.

Their witness is partly what we build our faith upon.  We have also done things and observed people do things that are difficult to explain in human terms.  We see the couple who takes in the homeless man to help him get back on his feet.  We observe God at work in his life as he becomes an active member of passing God’s love on to others.  We have felt God’s presence there with us when life both draws it’s first breath and it’s last breath.  We have been a part of surrounding the surviving spouse with a community of love and support.  In these ways we too are becoming part of another’s faith story as we build our own.

“Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent me, I am sending you”.  And with that He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit”.  He comes and stands among us too.  As the Holy Spirit lives and breathes in us, may we ever share the breath of life with others, so that they too may be filled with the Holy Spirit.