pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


Leave a comment

Love Our Fellow Man

Reading: Romans 13: 8-10

Verse Eight: He who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.

God has always loved humankind.  Mankind was created in His image and we are intended to be like Him.  The essence of the relationship between God and human beings is love.  God loves us and cares for us in so many ways.  In return, we love God and try to live lives that are pleasing to God.  To help us understand what love is really all about, Jesus came and walked among us, revealing what it looks like to live out God’s love for humanity.  Jesus did not really come to teach us a bunch of new things but to better understand what was already there.  When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He did not make up something new.  Instead He reached deep into the scriptures and named two from the Old Testament.  Both centered on love.  Jesus said, in fact, that if we love God with all we are and if we love neighbor as self, then all the other commandments will follow.

Paul picks up on these themes today.  In an increasingly diverse church, Paul is sensing a growing need for unity and community.  So he returns to the foundation: love.  It is at the center of God, was at the center of Jesus, and must be at the center of all believers.  In verse eight Paul writes, “He who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law”.  For Paul, we must love one another.  This is where unity and community begin.  Once we truly love one another then things like trust and cooperation and hospitality are soon to follow.  Once we begin to understand this aspect of God’s love, we begin to practice it with others.

Being human himself and understanding that the church is made up of other sinful creatures, Paul also knew another aspect of God’s love was also important.  Paul knew the church also needed to know and live out God’s love revealed in His mercy.  At times our relationships require forgiveness and reconciliation.  This side of God’s love is all about renewing and restoring and forgiving.  This too is a part of God’s love for us.  This too is a part that we are called to share with one another.  In all ways this day, may we each love our fellow man.


Leave a comment

Love Our Fellow Man

Reading: Romans 13: 8-10

Verse Eight: He who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law.

God has always loved humankind.  Mankind was created in His image and we are intended to be like Him.  The essence of the relationship between God and human beings is love.  God loves us and cares for us in so many ways.  In return, we love God and try to live lives that are pleasing to God.  To help us understand what love is really all about, Jesus came and walked among us, revealing what it looks like to live out God’s love for humanity.  Jesus did not really come to teach us a bunch of new things but to better understand what was already there.  When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He did not make up something new.  Instead He reached deep into the scriptures and named two from the Old Testament.  Both centered on love.  Jesus said, in fact, that if we love God with all we are and if we love neighbor as self, then all the other commandments will follow.

Paul picks up on these themes today.  In an increasingly diverse church, Paul is sensing a growing need for unity and community.  So he returns to the foundation: love.  It is at the center of God, was at the center of Jesus, and must be at the center of all believers.  In verse eight Paul writes, “He who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law”.  For Paul, we must love one another.  This is where unity and community begin.  Once we truly love one another then things like trust and cooperation and hospitality are soon to follow.  Once we begin to understand this aspect of God’s love, we begin to practice it with others.

Being human himself and understanding that the church is made up of other sinful creatures, Paul also knew another aspect of God’s love was also important.  Paul knew the church also needed to know and live out God’s love revealed in His mercy.  At times our relationships require forgiveness and reconciliation.  This side of God’s love is all about renewing and restoring and forgiving.  This too is a part of God’s love for us.  This too is a part that we are called to share with one another.  In all ways this day, may we each love our fellow man.


Leave a comment

Good and Bad

Reading: Psalm 29

Our Psalm today begins by reminding us to give God the glory and to worship the Lord “in the splendor of His holiness”.  The Psalm continues and shares how God’s voice is powerful and majestic.  God’s voice thunders, flashes, and shakes and breaks the earth.  There is indeed much power in the voice of God – much like a huge thunderstorm that rolls in.  In the rolls of thunder that shake the house and in the flashes of lightning that illuminates everything, I gain a sense of God’s power.  It is unavoidable.  Even in the rains that fall, one sees God’s blessing and provision.

For me, it is easy to see God in the powerful thunderstorm.  But when the storms of life settle in, I can find it difficult to sense God is near.  I find this to be particularly true when the storm seems to rage for a period of time.  I feel a sense of being alone and I struggle to hear the powerful and majestic voice of God.  I allow the worries of the world to wash over my faith and to obscure the voice and presence of God.  And then I near the point of breaking, of drowning in the storm, and I cry out and reach out to the Lord our God.  And God is right there.  Has been all along.  I wonder why I didn’t seek God sooner.  God is always present – it was I who was absent.

After such storms, I am more aware of my constant need for God.  But as life returns to normal, I can drift again.  For me, prayer is the key to staying connected.  God desires a relationship that is 24-7-365.  God desires to be my God in the good and in the bad.  There is a song from the O.C. Supertones that reminds me of this.  The song is called Jury Duty.  The pre-chorus sings, “You know I haven’t had the best of days, but I want to stop and thank you anyway”.  Even on a bad day, God blesses us.  The chorus goes on to sing, “Cuz every single moment, whether sleeping or awake, is your creation, and what you’ve made is good.  I don’t always thank you for the rough days and the hard times in my life, even though I should”.  Even on those ‘jury duty’ days, we need to be in connection to God.  On those days especially!

O Lord, when I am tempted to just get on with the busyness of the day, slow me down and center me in prayer.  On those stormy days, help me to remember to bow to you and to worship in the splendor of your holiness.  And at the end of each day, whether good or bad, always draw me back to you, offering you my thanksgiving and praise.  May it be so each day.  Amen.


Leave a comment

Faithful to Minister

Reading: Acts 16: 13-15

When Paul and company arrive in Philippi, they go down to the river because they think it may be a place to pray.  The city has no synagogue or church.  They find some women there praying and they strike up a conversation with them.  God is continuing to guide and lead Paul as he continues to work to spread the gospel.

It turns out these women are praying to God, so they are open to hearing Paul’s witness about Jesus.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Paul’s words hit home in one of the women’s hearts.  Lydia and her household believe and are baptized into Christ.  This encounter leads her to open her home to these traveling evangelists.  Lydia provides the base of operations from which Paul and companions can continue to share the gospel.

Each day of our lives God and the Holy Spirit lead us to opportunities to share our faith in Jesus Christ with others.  Every day.  It may be that our faithful witness comes simply through how we live our lives.  Those around us experience Jesus simply by being in our company.  At other times we are called to verbally witness to our faith.  One of those who have been observing may finally ask by we are so loving, caring, compassionate…  Or maybe one is finally open to the conversation we have tried to start a few times and God leads us in the witnessing to our faith.

There are many people searching for meaning in and a center for their lives.  God is the only one who can truly fill these needs in us and only He can bring true contentment, peace, understanding, …  Paul’s vision was of a man calling him to Macedonia.  When he arrived, God placed Lydia before him.  Paul was faithful to minister to who God placed before him.  May we too be willing to minister to whomever God places before us and to witness to our faith to any and all that God brings our way.


Leave a comment

God as Center

Psalm 123 is a song that the people would sing as they made their way to worship.  They would seek God’s mercy and hand of protection as they prepared their hearts and minds for a time in the presence of God.  The psalm speaks of the people looking toward God as we would look towards someone we trust completely; perhaps your parent or spouse fills this role, perhaps it is God.

For most of us, our world is busy and full of things that compete for our time and energies.  It can be a struggle to carve out space to gaze upon God each day.   But to do so is essential.  In that time and space, as we gaze upon our God, we find renewing of our souls, a calming of the things that swirl around us, and a focus on the things that really matter.  Then as we face the day and all of its things that tug and pull, then God goes with us and is present in the midst of it.

When God is the focus in our personal quiet time each day, then He walks with us all day long.  We begin to see Him in places we wouldn’t normally and in the people and events of our lives.  In those moments of blessing, we are able to connect with God, to be in His presence, and to share Him with others.  As God becomes the center of or lives, His presence will be in all we do and say.  Through this, others will be blessed as well.

Scripture reference: Psalm 123