pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Missionaries

Reading: Mark 6: 6b-13

Verses Twelve and Thirteen: “They went out and preached that people should repent… They drove out demons… anointed… and healed”.

After a period of watching Jesus in ministry, the disciples are empowered by Jesus and are sent out two by two. Jesus is beginning to train them to be His replacement. Full of faith in Jesus, “they went out and preached that people should repent… They drove out demons… anointed… and healed”. The disciples are able to model the ministry of Jesus. They preach the gospel news of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. They encounter the demon-possessed and they drive out the demons. They anoint people and heal them of their illnesses and diseases. In all these actions, the disciples are restoring people to wholeness and into faith in Jesus Christ.

Each of these actions drew people to Jesus, depending on their need. These three things continue to be at the core of the ministry of the church. The sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ is still the central activity of the church and of all followers of Christ. This is usually the first step. Belief often leads then to restoration of the person – body, mind, and soul. It is through faith in Jesus that we all find healing.

The sending of the twelve (and later the sending of the 72) establishes the idea that all believers are sent out into the world to be Jesus to the lost, the lonely, and the hurting. Some are sent someplace on the other side of the world and some are sent right next door. All of us are sent. This passage also contains a reality. Although all believers are sent, not all non-believers are ready to receive. Some will not welcome us as we come in the name of Jesus. We offer Jesus as best we can and then we move on. Remembering that we once were lost too, we trust that other believers will follow as God continues to work at saving the whole world.

We go forth today, into our day and into our world, willing missionaries sent with the power of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us. May we ever be faithful missionaries of the gospel. May our words and actions bring healing and wholeness, leading others to Jesus Christ. Amen.

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Reverent Submission

Reading: Hebrews 5: 5-10

Verse Seven: “He offered up prayers and petitions… He was heard because of His reverent submission”.

When Jesus was in ministry here on earth He was more like a common person than a religious leader. He walked and talked and related to people like an ordinary person. He wore common clothes and interacted with all sorts of people. He did not take on the formal office of a religious leader or wear fancy clothes that set Him apart. Jesus was not into titles either. To most people He was simply ‘Jesus’; He was Messiah to only a few until after the resurrection.

Even though in many ways He was common, Jesus also had great authority. As God in the flesh, Jesus could heal and raise from the dead. He could cast out demons and speak from someone’s past and into their future. Any question the Pharisees or other leaders posed was met with amazing insight and wisdom. To do all of this, prayer was essential. Prayer was Jesus’ connection to God. It was His source of power and authority. Paul reminds us that it was not the volume of Jesus’ prayers, but the way in which He prayed: “He offered up prayers and petitions… He was heard because of His reverent submission”. Jesus prayed with a reverent submission. All came from God and Jesus recognized and lived by this.

We too could offer up prayers and petitions that are full of reverence and submission. At times, I am sure we do. But too often I think our prayers are rote and without much conviction. If I were to write, “Our Father who art…” you would almost certainly jump in with “in heaven, hallowed be…”. Even in our meal graces and in my morning prayer time sometimes it feels like the same old, same old. It takes a focused heart and mind to really pray to and connect to God rather than simply going through the motions.

Lord God, this day may we connect in a reverent and holy way as we gather with you for worship. This day may we submit to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to touch us and to draw us into an intimate connection with you. This day may we worship you with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength in a new and fresh way. Bless our worship this day, O Lord. Amen.


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Cast Love

Reading: Luke 12: 49-53

Love is patient, love is kind.  Love is not rude, love is not easily angered.  Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  These words from 1 Corinthians 13 seem so appropriate when we consider today’s passage.  Jesus’ words today seem harsh and challenging.  “I have come to bring fire to the earth” sounds ominous and destructive at first.  He states He came not to bring peace but to bring division.  The passage ends telling of the hardest division: the division of families.

I come not to be served but to be served.  Let me wash your feet.  Love thine enemies.  How can Jesus speak these words elsewhere in the Bible and then say He came to divide families?  While all Jesus did and said was based on love, He knew that not all would choose to follow Him.  Jesus knew that many would reject Him.  He also knew the choice to declare Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior was a personal and individual choice.  Because of all this, Jesus knew division would come as we each make our own decision concerning following Him.

The dividing line between follower and nonfollower is sharp.  As followers of Christ we are called to a radical life of love, self-sacrifice, and absolute dedication to our faith.  One cannot be half way dedicated to following Jesus – lukewarm is not following.  So Jesus knew this decision would cut across family lines, through friendships, and would come to define where we stand and who we are.

Over this reality we cast love.  The great commission calls us to go forth to make disciples of all peoples.  Our faith calls us to go forth in love, as Jesus went forth.  Just as He loved the outcast, the sinner, the anyone, so too are we to love all we meet.  In doing so we become the conduit through which Christ’s love reaches others.  It is a love that conquers all fear, doubt, hate, mistrust.  It is a love for all people.  Perhaps this is the fire Jesus wants to bring – His love spreading like wildfire across the communities in which we live.  Today may we cast out love.


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The Flock

Reading: Luke 12: 32-40

In a world where fear is so prevalent, Jesus’ words of “Do not be afraid little flock” bring us great comfort and reassurance.  In our lives the fear of violence, illness, and death join together with our worries about money, popularity, and appearance.  But in Jesus’ simple words we hear His desire to take us in, to keep us from harm, to protect and guide us.  Metaphorically, we are the sheep and Jesus is the shepherd.

At times in our lives we will feel fear or experience anxiety over money…  We may even begin to feel overwhelmed.  In these moments we must call upon our faith to calm our fears and worries.  God has us.  We are the flock that lives in God’s ever present love and care.  Jesus goes on to remind us of God’s desire to give us the kingdom.  It is a place of love and peace and comfort and rest. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God is constantly st work building up the kingdom here on earth.

As followers of Jesus Christ we are invited both into the kingdom and into the work of building it.  We are invited to live in this place of peace, comfort, rest, and love and away from the things of this world such as fear.  But many do not know of this place.  Many do not have a relationship with Christ.  One of our roles is to help in spreading and building the kingdom here on earth by inviting others in by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.  God desires that all the people of the earth are in the kingdom.  The kingdom is for all people.

With Christ in our lives, we are no longer slaves to fear, to worry, to the things of this world.  We know these things exist and they do creep in from time to time. Because we rest assured in Jesus’ love and care, we can cast all of these things upon Jesus.  This is a wonderful part of being in the ‘little flock’.  It is also a wonderful thing to share.  This day may we work alongside God, striving to add more sheep to the flock.