pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Childlike

Reading: Psalm 71: 1-4

Verse 2: “Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me”.

In our Psalm today, as in many of the Psalms, there is an honest cry to God for help, for rescue, for refuge, for deliverance. The psalmist cries out to God almost like a child would cry out for help… Verse 2 reads, “Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me”. There is an honesty and a trust that reminds me of how a child asks their human parent in times of need. The child has an almost unshakable belief that the parent will come through.

Jesus encourages us to have the faith of a child or to have childlike faith. It is a faith that comes openly and honestly to God with our sincere requests as well as our grandiose dreams. It is a faith that says and believes that God can do anything – no request is too big for God. It is a faith that comes with no pretense and with no agendas. It must be refreshing to God when we come to Him like a child, like the psalmist, with this pure faith.

As adults we struggle to have this kind of faith. We like to pretend that we have it all figured out and to act as if everything were under control. This makes it hard to ask for help. It is hard to ask our spouse or co-worker or boss for help. Ask God for help?! To admit we are in need of help, to cry out to God in our times of trial – well, that is just childlike. And it is exactly what God wants.

Like the psalmist, this day and every day may we seek to have a childlike faith, coming to our loving heavenly Father with and and all prayers. May we bring God our greatest joys and our most heartfelt sorrows. And like a child, may we trust our heavenly Father with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Prayer: Lord, grant me an honest and humble heart. May I come to you ever open and always honest, trusting in you alone. Amen.


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Faithful

Reading: 1 Samuel 2: 1-8

Verse 2: “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no one like our God”.

Today we hear Hannah’s response to having a son. Years of suffering are over as she gives birth to Samuel. Hannah then raised Samuel until he was weaned and then she kept her promise to God. She gives Samuel to Eli, dedicating Samuel’s life to the Lord. Then, in grateful response to God, she offers up the prayer that we find today in our passage.

The prayer begins with Hannah rejoicing in the Lord because “in the Lord my horn is lifted high”. She has found strength in God and delights in the deliverance that she has found. She is no longer barren. She is no longer on the outside looking in. She has given Elkanah a son.

Hannah now knows joy instead of sorrow. She knows that God has been with her throughout. Yes, she spent years in shame but she was not alone. Yes, she spent year after year praying for a son that just never came, but in the end God was faithful. In verse 2 she rejoices: “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no one like our God”. Only God could answer her prayer, only God could give her a son. Yes, there is no one like our God.

A verse later Hannah prays, “The Lord is a God who knows, and by Him deeds are weighed”. Hannah kept her focus on God and on living well. She did not stoop to the provocation by Peninnah. She remained confident in God. God heard her cry for a son and He blessed her with Samuel. We too can rejoice with God when we are faithful, when we walk the narrow path of Jesus Christ. May we trust as Hannah trusted, day by day, walking faithfully so that we too can rejoice in our God, our Rock and our Redeemer.

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for Hannah’s witness of steadfast faith and perseverance with you. Thank you for your faithfulness to her and to me. Praise God! Amen.


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Present

Reading: Exodus 14: 19-31

Verse 31: When the people saw the great power the Lord displayed… the people put their trust in Him.

In today’s passage the Israelites experience the final detachment from Pharaoh and his army.  Fear and doubt has again suddenly consumed the Israelites.  They even uttered to Moses, “It would have been better for us to serve in Egypt than to die in the desert” (Exodus 14:12).  Moses told them to stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord.  Trust – trust in God.

God does indeed deliver Israel!  The angel and pillar of cloud form a protective barrier and God parts the sea.  The Israelites cross over on dry land but when the Egyptians follow God stalls them out and the waters return.  Verse 21 records, “Not one of them survived”.  What the people saw as a huge situation that quickly led to doubt and fear, God saw as an opportunity to deliver His people.  God intervened on their behalf to save His chosen people, whom He dearly loves.

God had led them out of slavery and had even blessed their exit.  He had guided them to this point, yet fear and doubt rose up quickly.  God’s mighty act of deliverance in the Passover was still very fresh in their minds, yet they quickly abandoned their faith.  We too can be much like the Israelites.  We can walk in close connection with God for days and days or even for years and something arises that makes us question or doubt and our faith almost evaporates.  The doubt or fear or anxiety or whatever quickly dominates our thoughts.  And then God still steps in and begins to work in our situation and delivers us too.  We look back and wonder why we ever questioned, why we doubted, why we didn’t just continue to rely on God.

The Israelites are delivered!  It was a powerful experience of God’s might.  Verse 31 tells us, “When the people saw the great power the Lord displayed… the people put their trust in Him”.  This too is an experience like the Passover, one they will tell over and over down through the generations.  Our experiences with God delivering us can be such moments as well.  May we also remember when God was present and acted in our lives, so we can retell and retell the story so that our faith and trust grows and grows.  God is ever present in our lives.  May we live into this more and more each day.


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Trust

Reading: Psalm 31: 1-5 and 15-16

Verses 1 and 2: In you, O Lord, I have taken refuge… be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.

Today’s Psalm 31 verses really represent the best of King David, “a man after God’s own heart”.  It demonstrates for each of us the relationship we all should strive for with God.  It speaks of refuge, strength, redemption, and deliverance.  In the verses not in our reading, the Psalm recalls some of the trials and sufferings of David’s life.  It is good to balance out the verses we read with a reminder that even the great King David hadn’t his struggles as well.  As we too face trials, temptations, and struggles it is good to know that we are not alone.  To acknowledge this makes the verses for today all that much more relevant to each of us.

At times, life does seem to storm about us.  The Psalm opens with David taking refuge in God.  There is a trust in this action that we should emulate as well.  Seeking refuge in God signals our admission of our inability to handle it or solve it on our own.  It admits our absolute need for God.  David goes on to extend the place of refuge to be a place of leadership and guidance.  Once David feels the safety and protection of God’s refuge, then he begins to seek the next steps.  David asks God to lead and guide him.  He does not say, “The storm has calmed” and then step back out on his own.  David’s example maintains the trust in God and the dependence on God.  We would do well to follow his example.

The last two verses of our reading reiterate these points.  David writes, “my times are in your hands” and asks for God’s face to shine upon him.  He also seeks saving through God’s unfailing love.  All we have and are rests in God’s hands as well.  May we trust into this reality as we spend our days.  When we trust and love God with all of our being, His face shines upon us too and we will certainly walk each day in the light of His love.  Amen!


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Hope, Deliverance, Praise, Joy…

Reading: Psalm 118: 1-2 & 19-29

Verse 24 – This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Today we are blessed to join thousands upon thousands who have read this text and have been lifted by hope or praise or deliverance or joy.  The great cloud of witness that has read this Psalm begins in the earliest days of the Passover celebration, as they celebrated the day the Lord led them from slavery.  This Psalm is still read each year as part of the Passover liturgy.  Fast forward from that first Passover and you will hear these words being read again and again in times of trial and struggle. The Psalm was read often during the exile in Babylon and then in later years under the oppression and persecution of the Romans.  In these times, Psalm 118 brought comfort and reassurance of God’s love and gave them hope for a better future.

This well-known Psalm was used as a part of the Palm Sunday procession as well.  Verse 26 was one of the Old Testament passages shouted as Jesus entered the city.  Early on in the Christian tradition this Psalm took on new meaning as a key Lenten reading.  And certainly this Psalm was on Jesus’ mind as He entered Jerusalem.  He entered the gates in righteousness (verse 19), knowing full well the new meaning of verse 22 – the stone that would soon be rejected.  The light of God was shining upon the people as He joined the festal procession (verse 27).  As Christians today, we remain profoundly connected to the words of Psalm 118.

Verse 24 reads, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it”.  Let us rejoice indeed!  Read through this great Psalm again and claim for yourself whatever you need or desire.  If you need deliverance or want to celebrate newfound freedom, read and connect to the earliest traditions of this Psalm.  If you need hope, read and celebrate the love of God that flows throughout this text.  If you are feeling led to lift your praises to God, read the Psalm as those first Palm Sunday participants did, offering praise for God’s presence and blessing.  “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever”.  Amen and amen!