pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Going Out

Reading: Acts 1: 1-11

Verse Eleven: “Why do you stand there, looking into the sky”?

The book of Acts opens with a brief recap of the forty days after the death and resurrection of Jesus. It reviews how Jesus offered “convincing proofs” that He was alive and it reiterates His promise to send the Holy Spirit. The disciples then ask when Jesus is returning to restore the kingdom of Israel. Yes, they are still thinking of earthly kingdoms instead of the heavenly kingdom. Again, Jesus promises the Holy Spirit. Then Jesus is taken up into heaven and the disciples stand there staring up. Two angels appear and ask, “Why do you stand there, looking into the sky”?

The angels indicate that Jesus will come back. But the implication in the question is ‘stop staring, it is time to get to work’. There is much to be done, so let’s get busy. Much needs to be accomplished before Jesus returns, so let’s get to work. Quit standing around staring at the sky.

I wonder how often God thinks thoughts like these today. How much of our time is spent staring up at heaven instead of engaging the work that needs to be done down here? How much time do we spend each day in prayer and personal study and how little time do we devote each day to the acts of mercy that Jesus so often called His followers to?

Nothing builds itself. While it is wonderful that we Christians spend our “alone time” with God each day, we must spend at least that much time spending “face time” with the lost, least, and broken of this world. No one will come to faith and experience the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promises without someone first introducing that person to Jesus Christ. It is essential to go outside of our churches to find those who need a saving relationship with Jesus. They are not coming to us. We must go to them.

Each and every day may we look down and around us, seeking to be kingdom builders, going out into the world to share the light and love and hope if Jesus Christ with a world in need. Amen.

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Focus

Reading: Luke 1: 26-38

Verse 33: “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end”.

God intercedes in Mary’s life in a powerful way.  Around the same time He is interceding in Elizabeth’s and Joseph’s life as well.  Soon enough God will intercede in some shepherds’ lives as well.  In all of these intercessions we see that “nothing is impossible with God”.  While many Christians will acknowledge that this remains true today, I think many of us acknowledge it in our minds but do not truly believe this in our hearts.  I suppose if an angel or host of angels personally visited us, it would help with our belief.  In a similar manner, if a “miraculous” event happened to us, our faith would increase.

The reality, though, is that for most of us, faith is a one-on-one personal connection with God.  Just like all of our relationships, our relationship with God requires investment, commitment, and dedication.  All of these are generally spelled T-I-M-E.  For most of us, we like to say that time is in short supply.  Yet each day we all spend at least an hour on our phones or computer or tablets and we all can invest at least a couple of hours into the television.  So, in reality, when we are honest, it is not time that is in short supply.

The Christmas season is no doubt busier than most times of the year.  There will also be other non-religious holiday times of the year when we will be busier than normal.  It is part of life.  Yet even in the busiest of times, God wants to remain a focus of our daily lives.  One could even argue that we need God more when life is busiest.  For almost all people, we meet our need for God by carving out time each day to be with God.  It is in this half hour or hour that we deeply and meaningfully develop our relationship with God and therefore our faith in God.  What the angel said to Mary remains true today: “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end”.  Our question is this: will we daily give time to God or will we get to that tomorrow or sometime next week?  Is that my cell phone buzzing? 🙂


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Thanks

Reading: Psalm 100

Verse Five: For the Lord is good and His love endures forever.

In my Bible, the subtitle to Psalm 100 is: “A Psalm.  For giving thanks”.  After reading through the Psalm it is certainly a fitting subtitle!  The psalmist begins by calling us to shout for joy and to worship with gladness and then he gives us the why: know that the Lord is God.  He goes on to remind us that God made each of us and therefore “we are his people, we are the sheep of his pasture”.  It is a good reminder for us.

Sometimes life can get crazy and the busyness can feel overwhelming.  We can almost feel as if we are so busy we are moving near paralysis.  Our minds get consumed by the worries and pressures to the point of feeling we are near to collapse.  It is in these moments that the Psalm is an excellent reminder.  It calls us to slow down for a time, to step back from life, and to step into God’s presence.  The words remind us of the bigger picture – we are his people – and this lessens the importance of the things of this world.  In our craziness may we remember to slow down and to connect to God.

The second stanza again picks up the call to praise God, to “enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise”.  Being thankful is essential to being content.  And being content holds the world and it’s craziness at bay.  Part of my morning routine is my little ‘thank book’s.  I write out five to eight things from the day before that I am thankful for and then I pray through each one.  In giving thanks I can see God’s faithfulness and love for me.

The ending of the Psalm echoes this idea: “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever”.  God was and is and always will be.  No matter what this world brings or has in store for us, God and his love are forever.  Thanks be to God.


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The Better Choice 

Reading: Luke 10: 38-42

In today’s reading, Mary has chosen Jesus, the “better part”.  Martha has chosen busyness.  She is working hard to serve Jesus and His traveling companions.  While being a servant is usually a good thing, what Mary has chosen is definitely better.  When Martha complains to Jesus that Mary is not helping her, Jesus names Martha’s lesser choice and defends Mary’s better choice.  The question is: did Martha stop and sit at Jesus’feet as well or did she let out a frustrated sigh and stomp off to continue her preparations?

Often we find ourselves in the same dilemma.  Do we stop or lay aside what we are doing to make the better choice that God has placed before us?  Do we take the time to share Jesus either verbally or through our actions when God places us in that situation where we can be His light and love?  Or do we go on with excuses and rationalizations rolling off of our tongues?

Later, in the Gospel of John, we see that Martha has learned what the better choice is.  After Lazarus has died, she is the first one to run to Jesus as He approaches to declare her faith in Him and to proclaim that He is the Messiah.  Whether it happened right after Jesus declared the better choice in Luke or whether it happened sometime before this story in John, we are thankful that Martha eventually made the better choice.

This day and every day, may we all be like Martha, joining Mary and sitting at the feet of Jesus, hearing His words and growing in our faith.


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Experience God

Reds, oranges, and yellows slowly fill the sky as the sun begins to break forth over the horizon.  At the end of the day, the occasional purple or blue may mix with the reds, oranges, and yellows as God says ‘good night’ and brings rest to the earth.  The beauty, power, and majesty we find in sunrises and sunsets is spoken in every language in every place on earth.  “Their voice goes out into all the earth”, declares the psalmist.

As a Youth growing up in Connecticut, I can remember going out early to a rural turkey farm early on Easter morning.  We would arrive when it was still dark.  It was always cold.  As we waited in only the calm sounds of nature, one could sense God was near.  Slowly the sun would creep up and begin to warm our silent faces, simply watching God’s handiwork unfold.  Once the sun was risen, we would join in song, prayer, and the Word for our Easter sunrise service.  The sunrise was always like God’s welcoming presence coming amongst us.

We were very intentional about awaiting God’s entrance and His presence on those mornings.  Sometimes life can just become so busy that opportunities like this are gobbled up.  We can work and work and work and become so consumed that we miss the beauty of God’s voice calling out to us as it echoes through nature.  We miss those still moments where God is trying to consume us with His power and beauty and majesty so that He can refresh and renew our spirits and our souls.  It is a shame we so often miss it.

“The heavens declare the glory of God” reminds the psalmist.  May we more often make the time to experience the things of God.  Let it begin today.

Scripture reference: Psalm 19: 1-6


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There to be Found

At times we all enter into periods when it seems God is not around.  It can be for just a short time or it can be for a season.  About the time we start to question God’s whereabouts, we realize that it was us who was missing because God is always present.  Maybe it is our choices that have led us away.  Maybe it is because we have allowed ourselves to become too busy with life.

Sometimes it is a challenge to stay connected to God during a busy time like Advent.  Seems counterintuitive, but it happens.  A famous theologian once said, “Today looks like a very busy day.  I better pray for two hours instead of one.”  His attitude is so spot on.  Advent calls us into a deeper relationship and commitment despite the increased business of the season.

God desires to speak peace, comfort, love, and strength into our lives.  He desires a close daily relationship with us.  And what does it require of us?  Simply time, an ear turned toward heaven, and a faithful heart.  He is there to be found.  May we each connect with Him this Advent season!

Scripture reference: Isaiah 40: 1-5