pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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I Will Be with You

Reading: Exodus 3: 7-15

Verse 12: And God said, “I will be with you”.

Moses has been selected to go to God’s people to lead them to freedom.  God has heard their cry and has seen their suffering at the hands of their slave drivers.  The God of justice will use Moses to guide the people to a “land flowing with milk and honey”.  The plan all sounds great – except to Moses, who asks God,”Who am I…?”

In each of our communities there is certainly suffering.  It may be caused by difficult financial situations or by things such as drugs or alcohol addiction.  It might be caused by mental illness or by the past experiences caused by generational abuse of one type or another.  It might be caused by prejudices and bigotry that keep a segment of the community on the outside looking in.  There are people suffering due to events of nature and others suffer because of the actions and poor choices of individuals.  There is no shortage of things that cause suffering.  To some of us, God calls.

Just as Moses was called and sent by God, over the centuries God has called both prophets and ordinary people to speak words of hope and love and healing and, at time, hard words of truth.  God has seen and will continue to see the suffering in our world and He has and will continue to send those who will lead the people away from sin or out of the oppression and suffering that they are enduring.  Often the person has looked at the task ahead and questioned God and uttered some form of Moses’ “Who, me?”

Yet God reassures the doubtful and fearful Moses; Moses will not go alone.  When we sense a call from God to lead someone to freedom or to offer relief from suffering, we do not go alone either.  Just as God went with Moses, God will go with us as well.  This is a promise we too can trust and lean into as we respond to the call that God has placed upon our hearts.  Like Moses, may we find reassurance in these words: “And God said, ‘I will be with you'”.


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True Life

Reading: Psalm 119: 97-104

What voice is your guide?  What voice directs your decisions and informs your choices?  These are hard questions to answer honestly.  These are questions whose answers might shift from time to time – or often.  Oh to be like the psalmist in today’s passage and to only listen to God!

There are many voices that compete for our attention and our allegiance.  Primary among them is our own voice.  The voice of self is powerful.  How will it affect me and what’s in it for me are two of the loudest voices of self that I wrestle with.  Other voices out there do not help.  Society’s voices tell us to ‘just do it’ and ‘watch out for #1’.  We hear whispers from Satan that bring doubt and fear, jealousy and want, just to name a couple of the great Temper’s common lies.

In our Psalm we see the better choice.  In God’s words we find that one voice that matters.  In God’s Word we find the words that are not only ‘sweeter than honey’ but the words that lead to peace and contentment in this life and hope in the life to come.  The psalmist writes of meditating on God’s ways ‘all day Long’s and that is what it takes to keep focused on God in our day and age.  For us today it goes back to the famous slogan and bracelets: WWJD.  If we lived with this question as our constant filter and guide, we would indeed be following Jesus and living as faithful disciples.

The voices are many.  Ultimate truth is found in the Word of God.  Read His Word.  Study the Bible.  Come to know the Lord our God and find life that is really true life, life lived as a follower of Jesus Christ.


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Healing and Wholeness

Reading: Lamentations 1: 1-6

The title of the book from which we read says a lot about the content.  There is much to be sad about.  The words chosen convey this: deserted, desolate, distress, weep, grieve, slave, exile, sins.  It is indeed a dark time in Israel’s history.  It is made even darker because of the reason they are lamenting.  It is not because of a cruel twist of fate or because of a random act of history.  It is because of a long period of sinning against God.

There are times in our lives when we find the need to lament.  These are times when many tears are shed.  The sadness seems deeper when we have had a hand in bringing on the season of lament.  Because of our own poor choices or bad decisions, we find ourselves in the wilderness.  We can look back and see how our own actions have led us to where we are.

The years the Israelites shed were at first tears of sadness.  They looked at their new situation and cried and mourned.  They longed for what was.  This is often our first reaction as well.  But we cannot stop here.  Just as the Israelites realized the error of their ways and repented and came back to God, so too must we learn from our poor choices and bad decisions.  Our tears of regret must lead us to change, to become more than we have become, to repent, and to begin walking as God calls us to walk as disciples of Jesus Christ.

As the Israelites cried tears of repentance, God began to work in their hearts and began to restore them to a righteous relationship once again.  God desires to do the same with each of us each time we go astray, each time we fail, each time we hurt.  We too must repent and turn back to God.  Then God will dry our tears and lead our hearts to turn back to our faith.  There we will find healing and wholeness and love.  There we will be made righteous and holy once again.  May we humbly and earnestly seek the Lord our God.


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Faithful Trust

Reading: Luke 16: 10-13

Trust is the key word in this passage.  Jesus begins by transitioning from talking about the shrewd manager to talking to the general audience, which now includes us.  In essence, Jesus is saying that if we prove trustworthy with the little things, then eventually we will be trusted with bigger things.  If we are trustworthy with another’s resources, then one day we will be trusted with resources of our own.  Jesus also ties this into our relationship with God.  He reminds us that if we cannot be trusted with earthly resources, then how would God ever trust us with heavenly riches?

To temper and reframe all this talk about wealth, Jesus shifts gears in verse thirteen.  He ties what we are trusted with into who we serve.  Jesus plainly states that we cannot serve two masters.  There is still the implication that the people of the world pursue only wealth, that wealth is their god.  At the end of the verse, Jesus clearly draws the line: “You cannot serve both God and money”.  Put another way, in a way that ties back into verses 10-12, you cannot trust both God and money.  But oh how we try!

Our trust must rest fully in God.  Too often we say we trust in God, but we act like we trust our money and other resources.  We allow our trust to waver and we rationalize our choices and priorities in life.  We cannot trust God in some areas and we can in others.  We compartmentalize.

Our trust must be fully and completely in God.  This means continually saying, “Your way” instead of “my way”.  It means giving without limit to the things God has placed upon our hearts.  It means allowing God to be in control.  It is terribly difficult to give up one’s will fully to God’s will.  Yet this day, may we begin.  As it is written, “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much”.


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Choices

Reading: Galatians 5: 1 and 13-25

Life is full of choices.  Some call them decisions and some call them forks in the road.  Our reality is that at many points we make choices that move us forward in life.  Some of the time these decisions are not in our best interests or are not good for our faith.  We can certainly make other choices that then realign us with God’s will for our lives, but we do have detours from time to time.

Our faith is built on God’s unfailing love, His steadfast faithfulness, and His unending grace through Jesus Christ.  Once we are in a saving relationship with Christ, our status is as a child of God.  Even once we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior we can still make a poor choice and can still go in a direction away from God.

Paul encourages the Galatians and us to “stand firm and do not submit to a yoke of slavery”.  Paul saw sin ad a controlling force.  Sin occurs anytime we choose our desires over God’s desires for our life.  It is anytime we choose the things of the world over the will of God for our lives.

Paul encourages us to live by the Spirit and to allow God to guide our choices and our lives.  May our life be led by His will and may we trust in the Spirit’s guidance.  And when we fail, may we fall back into God’s love, faithfulness, and grace.  He will redeem us and again welcome us back into a right relationship with Him.


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To the Throne

Sometimes in life we make poor choices and we sin.  Sometimes there are consequences we must face and deal with and live with here in this life.  When we sin there are always consequences to our relationship with God.  But we do not have to live with these.  Some do choose to but none of us have to.

Just prior in Hebrews we are reminded that we will have to give account of ourselves to God.  While this is true, in today’s reading we find our true hope.  We are encouraged to hold fast to our faith in times of suffering and pain because we have access to the great high priest, Jesus Christ.  We are invited to approach His throne boldly and without fear.

Do not think that what you have done is too much for Him to bear.  Do not think it is too depraved to reveal before Christ.  His love is greater than any sin we can commit.  In Hebrews we are reminded that Jesus, our great high priest, was tempted in every way.  He has been right up to that line where we cross into sin.  He has felt every temptation we feel.  Even though Jesus was without sin, He can relate to us in our sin and temptation.

We can boldly approach the throne with confidence because the one who sits on the throne walked where we walk and faced what we face.  At that throne we can lay our burdens down and confess our sins and sufferings and find nothing but mercy and receive nothing but grace.  At His throne we are washed clean and made new.  Go often and always for His love never ends and His mercies are made new every morning.

Scripture reference: Hebrews 4: 14-16


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Doing Much, Together

Scenario 1 – Load up all of your home into a U-Haul.  Place all of the neighborhoods in your community on a big roulette wheel.  Spin the wheel to find out where your family will now be living.

Scenario 2 – You get paid once a month and it is the 23rd.  You are out of money and the credit cards are maxed.  You are cooking the last food in the house for dinner tonight.  Tomorrow you will take the car title down to the loan place.  Try to figure out how you’ll catch up next month.

In the first scenario, are there places where you really hope the spinner does not stop on?  What makes you not want to live in certain areas of town?  In the second scenario, have you ever had to put something essential on the line just to put food on the table?  Ever had to choose between food for the kids and heat for the house or gas for the car?  These are real choices real people have to make every day.

God pleads the case of the poor.  In Proverbs we are earned not to exploit the poor.  How broad should our definition of ‘exploit’ be?  Should it include ‘ignore’?  In many places in scripture we are instructed on how to care for those in need.  It is our call to do all we can.

When we are able to donate a few cans of food at church, we must because if we don’t then someone will have less.  When we are able to teach a class on budgeting and sound finances, we must because then someone will not have to go to the loan place.  When we are able to advocate for better housing and safer streets, we must because then others start to have a chance.

Individually we cannot do it all.  But we can all do something.  Together we can do much.  What will you do today to help another in need?

Scripture reference: Proverbs 22: 22-23