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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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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Lead Well

“One who rules over people justly, ruling in the fear of God, is the light of the morning.”  How true this is!  Over the years, rulers such as these have risen up.  People like Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr., come to my mind.  Even though they led through some dark and stormy times, they led well because at their core they were men of God.  In their hearts, a healthy fear of God guided their words, actions, and decisions.  As children of God, His light shone out into that darkness again and again casting rays of love, hope, healing, reconciliation, and forgiveness.  They led through their faith.

We too are each called to be leaders.  We may be leaders of businesses, churches, or schools. We may be leaders of social groups, peers, clubs, or teams.  We may be leaders of our families or friends.  Like these great men, we too are called to lead through our faith.  However large or small our sphere of influence, we are called to fill it with God’s light.  Our dark times or tough decisions might not be on the scale of the great men, but they are of equal importance to the people we lead.

In order to lead well, we must look at what all godly leaders do to lead well.  Whether in good or bad, each day we must begin with prayer and time in God’s Word.  The Word is the lamp unto our feet and the light unto our path.  Prayer is where we connect to God and seek His will and way for our decisions.  We must also be attuned to the presence of the Holy Spirit.  We are promised that the Spirit will give us all we need.  Lead well today.  Lead well from a place walking hand in hand with God.  Lead well.

Scripture reference: 2 Samuel 23: 1-7


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One Word

“Ephphata!” – be opened.  With a touch and this one word, Jesus restored a man.  The man brought by his friends was both deaf and mute.  One word from Jesus later and he was healed.  With one word his life was forever altered.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to be blind.  It would be very different as I rely so much on what I see.  From reading to observing people to writing to playing music – I am dependant upon my sight.  To not have the ability to talk and sing and shout would be very difficult as well.

Up to this point the man has been dependent on friends and family.  A job would be impossible so he would beg or impose.  To the Jews, he was ceremonially unclean so he could not enter the temple to worship.  Other than those closest to him, many in society would have shunned him or ignored him at best.

Some people in my world need restored and healed.  They need to be connected to a community to care for and guide them.  They need healing and restoring from a wide variety of things.  For some it is addiction, for others a significant loss.  For some it is broken relationships, for others it is a string of poor decisions.  The list goes on.  We all know people who need much.  All need healed and restored.

Friends brought the man to Jesus.  With a word Jesus restored and healed the man.  Faith grew that day – for the man, for his friends and family, and for all who heard the story.  We all know people who need healing and restoration.  May we all be a part of bringing people closer to Jesus so they can hear Him speak the one word they need to hear: “Come.”  Share Jesus so that the restoration and healing can begin.

Mark 7: 31-37


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Good Choices, Good Practices

When one ascends to the top of the heap, when one attains a certain position of power, then temptation to abuse that power can be great.  The desire for more and the lure of greed often drive the poor choices that people in authority make.  From politicians to star athletes to celebrities to CEOs of companies, the list of offenders is long.  As is the list of victims.

David was like one of these men.  Powerful leader chosen by God Himself to lead Israel.  Victory in all he does, adored by the people.  So as the army heads off to war, David chooses to stay home.  Mistake 1.  As he strolls the roof of the palace he sees a beautiful woman bathing.  Instead of turning away, he allows his eyes to linger.  Mistake 2.  He sends for her.  #3!  It all goes downhill from there and David falls from grace.

None of us is in a position of power quite like David.  Yet none of us is immune because power is a relative thing.  There is usually someone else one rung down on the ladder.  The choice is to remain true to our faith and to be righteous in all we do begins early on in the thought process.  Those first few thoughts is often where the choice is really made.  It does not take too many poor choices to find oneself in a bad spot.

Good choices are rooted in good practices.  By reading His word daily, by confessing our sins daily, by drawing near in regular worship, by being in an accountability group – all are ways we gain strength to make the right choice.  And we must also remember, a poor first choice does not have to lead to a poor second choice.  Temptation is real, but so is the voice of the Holy Spirit.  Listen to the Holy Spirit.  Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.

Scripture reference: 2 Samuel 11: 1-5