pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


Leave a comment

Never the Same

Reading: Luke 19: 1-10

Verse 5: “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today”.

Zacchaeus is like many we see coming to Jesus. He is not popular. He lives on the edge or outside of society. He has few friends. He is looked down upon by the religious order and by almost everyone else. This tax collector is like others who came to Jesus: the lepers, the prostitute, the adulterous woman, the blind, lame, mute, deaf, the possessed… Zacchaeus has chosen his lot in life – one would bid for the lucrative position of tax collector. He chose wealth over many other things and over many relationships. He is where he is in life by his own choices.

How like Zacchaeus we are! We might not be tax collectors but we do often choose things ahead of our faith. Every time we sin – no matter how big or small – we are choosing self over God. Each time we make something more important than God we are elevating self over God. The choice is not limited to wealth or possessions. We can pursue a host of other things more than we pursue our faith. We chase after status and titles, after accomplishments and success. We can work hard so that others notice us or so that we gain that recognition. Yes, we can struggle with keeping faith the top priority in our life.

Zacchaeus heard Jesus was in town and wanted to see him. Zacchaeus was not looking to be healed or to have an audience with Jesus. He was curious. For Zacchaeus, yes, friends and some acceptance would have been nice. But life was okay. Wealth can make life feel okay. So can titles and recognition, possessions and status. Zacchaeus runs ahead of the crowd and climbs a tree just so he can see Jesus pass by.

As Jesus gets to the place in the road adjacent to Zacchaeus’ tree, he stops, looks up at him, and says, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today”. The curious is captured by the curiosity. Life will never be the same for Zacchaeus. It was never the same for the lepers, the prostitute, … It was never the same for us. In this sense, we too were once like Zacchaeus. We were curious about Jesus and he eventually worked his way into our lives. Who do you know that is curious about or is searching for Jesus? Help them to know him today.

Prayer: Lord God, give me the words to speak today to turn hearts to you. Guide me by the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.


Leave a comment

Day by Day

Reading: John 12: 20-36

Verse 25: “The man who loves life will lose it, while he who hates his life in the world will keep it for eternal life”.

Our passage today opens with some Greek Jews in town for the celebration of the Passover. They would like to meet this Jesus guy. We can only assume that they have heard something about Him. We do not know if news of Jesus has spread to where they live or if they have heard stories once they arrived in Jerusalem or if they were there for the triumphal entry and are curious.

Many people today are like these Greeks. They have heard of Jesus or have crossed paths with someone who follows Jesus and they’ve become curious. But often there is something else driving them to want to know more. Sometimes life takes a turn or twist and they are searching for understanding or peace or comfort or strength or… Sometimes one just arrives at a point where they realize that there must be more than “this”. For many other reasons, folks come looking for Jesus.

Jesus replies by saying that a seed must die in order to produce more seeds. This is a great analogy. If we remain centered on or just focused on ourselves, then we will remain just one seed. But if we are willing to surrender self, then we can live for much more. In verse 25 Jesus says, “The man who loves life will lose it, while he who hates his life in the world will keep it for eternal life”. When we hold onto our earthly titles and possessions, then we love our life. When we do not cling to the things of this world then we focus in on eternal things and we find eternal life.

Jesus goes on to equate the idea if dying to self with serving and following Jesus. We must follow Jesus’example if we are to be a Christian, a disciple, a follower. Jesus’ example centered first on loving God with all of our being and, second, on loving others as He first loved us. Love was at the core of who Jesus was and it guided all of His decisions, words, and actions. The first question Jesus asked was: how can I love God fully today? The second was like it: how can I fully love all that I encounter today? Great questions to live by. May we do so this day and every day.

Prayer: Loving God, teach me to love as you love. You are awesome and wonderful and loving and forgiving. You are easy to love. This day and every day, may that love grow. As I live out each day though, my struggle is in loving all I meet. Work on that in me, O God. Help me to die within to those things that limit my capacity and ability to love others as you love them. Day by day, make me more like Jesus. Amen.


Leave a comment

By How You Live

Reading: Psalm 112

The psalmist expresses how life is different when our lives are lived in a relationship with God.  The Psalm speaks of mighty children, riches in the home, and good coming to the believer.  The writing also speaks of light in the darkness, of having no fear of bad news, of having a secure heart with no fear.  The Psalm also shares that a God-follower is gracious and compassionate, generous to the poor.  It is not a perfect life, free from all trouble, but it is the only way to truly live.

When one follows in the way of the cross, life is much different than the life of a non-believer.  Life in Christ is marked by joy and peace and contentment.  There is a steadiness that guided through both the highs and the lows.  This all comes from our eternal assurance.  God’s love permeates our interactions with our fellow human beings as we seek to live and serve others as Jesus did.  Non-believers will see us, will notice how we are different – in a good way – and will be curious, will be led to inquire about why we are the way we are.

It has been said the we are the only Bible some people will ever read.  I hope this is only partially true.  Living as a witness to Christ will open the door for us to eventually share our faith with someone who is curious or hurting or broken or lost.  Once that door is opened, we can gently lead them to Jesus.  When the Spirit nudges us to do so, we can share a Bible with the seeker because reading the Bible is a next step for someone seeking Christ.  Yes, how we live our lives is an introduction to faith in Jesus Christ.  But at some point, we must share the Bible too.

Where can you be a light today?  With whom can you share the faith?  How are you living as the Word of God this day?


Leave a comment

Disciple: Love

The crowds wanted Jesus to be an earthly King.  The disciples thought they wanted Jesus to be an earthly King.  Those in authority feared Jesus would become an earthly King.  Sometimes I wish Jesus were an earthly King.  But He said, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

Maybe a better way to look at it is His kingdom is IN the world but not OF this world.  The new command He gave was to love one another.  He went on to explain that people would identify His disciples, those in His ‘army’, by the way they radically loved others.  We are commanded to love one another in this world.  But the love is not earthly love.  It is a love that come from Jesus.  He first loved us and calls us to go out and share His love with others.

Jesus’ kingdom is based on His love with a good dose of forgiveness and reconciliation thrown in.  Jesus knew the normal world operated on violence, coercion, force, power, might.  So in living in this world, He knew His disciples would have to back that love up with forgiveness and reconciliation.  A Christian’s mode of operation and response to the world is based on love.  Love can overcome all things, including violence, coercion, …

God invites us to live from His kingdom’s view.  He commands us to love one another.  And as a ‘reward’ He says the world will know we are Christians by our love.  It is an identifier.  It is a choice that makes some wonder what we’ve got, what makes us so different from the world.  May we make many curious today!

Scripture reference: John 18: 33-37