pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Lord of All

Reading: Luke 20: 27-38

Verse 36: “They are God’s children since they are children of the resurrection”.

The Sadducees have a question for Jesus. It is a complex issue of which, if any, of these seven devout Jewish brothers will be the husband of the unlucky wife in heaven. They are testing Jesus in two ways. First, the Sadducees do not believe in a resurrection of the dead so they want to know where the teacher stands on this topic. Second, they are testing his scriptural chops. How would a good scholar sort out which two would form the happy couple in heaven? Jesus addresses both of their questions.

First, marriage is for this age, for our time upon the earth. Jesus tells them that in the resurrection – implying that resurrection will happen – we “will neither marry or be given in marriage”. So the answer to the original question is “none”. Neither the woman nor any of the seven who married her on earth will be married in heaven. Jesus goes on to explain why. In verse 36 he says, “They are God’s children since they are children of the resurrection”. The primary relationship in heaven will be our role as child of God. If we experience the heavenly resurrection, our new self will be defined by our place as a child of God. Elsewhere in scripture we gain insight into heaven. We will maintain some form of who we are. We will be reunited with those we love. We will not experience tears, pain, sorrow… But the focus, far and away, will be to worship the Lord of all. We will simply dwell in his presence. We will be the bridegroom of Christ and Christ alone. The relationship that takes absolute priority will center on Christ.

As followers of Christ in this time and place, we are called to live out this same idea. Following Jesus, our relationship with him should be our top priority. From there family, work/school, and self should round out the list. How easily we get the order wrong at times. How easily we elevate self or work or school or family above our faith. Here, in this life, we can struggle with our fleshy and worldly desires. In the resurrection that will be no more. Jesus Christ will truly be our all in all. What a glorious day that will be!

Prayer: Lord of all, what a day it will be when we stand in your presence! As I live out this life, please help me to walk more like I will in heaven – focused solely on you. May it be so. Amen.


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Trials and Temptations

Reading: Matthew 4: 1-11

Jesus prepares for His ministry with a period of testing.  He fasts for forty days and is physically weak.  Satan comes then and tempts Jesus with food, trust, and power.  Food represents both our basic needs and our desires.  Is our life about pursuing these things and then giving what’s left to God?  Or do we first give to God, knowing that He loves us and will provide for all we need?  The second temptation partly involves trust.  We we step out or step forward, trusting that God will have our back?  And perhaps before this first step, did we seek God’s discernment and direction or did we just make our own plan?  When seek God’s will and when we obey His lead, there is no fear or lack of trust.  Power is the third temptation.  Worship Satan and all the world is yours.  We like to be in charge.  What a temptation!

In our own journey of faith, we are often tempted and often out to the test.  In our giving, do we obediently give our tithe or volunteer for that cause that pulls at our heart strings?  Or do we focus on what “has” to be done first or pay all the bills and then see if we have time or money left for God?  In those moments when the Holy Spirit nudges us to get involved or to offer our talents or to engage the stranger, do we trust that God will give us the words to say or will show us what to do?  Or do we apply excuses or rationalize away the opportunity?  And when we look at our priorities, do they reveal that God is #1 in our lives?  Or does ‘God’ fall somewhere down the list?  If one looked at our lives, they should see how we are investing our lives in God’s work in the world and in growing our own personal faith.  Is that what they would see?

Just as Satan tempted Jesus to rely on something other than God, he will also tempt us.  How we respond to or react to the above questions and scenarios indicated how successful Satan may be at drawing us away from God.  In this season of Lent, where we too are preparing ourselves for ministry, may the Lord our God strengthen and encourage us each day as we strive to walk as disciples of Jesus each and every day.


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God’s Economy

Reading: 1 Kings 21: 1-21a

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.  The wealthy strive to attain more and more while the marginalized cling to what little they have.  The powerful use the system to add to their position and possessions; the downtrodden feel trapped and isolated.  This is part of the world’s economy.

The last shall be first.  When you do this for one of the least of these…  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Love one another as I first loved you.  Do not go over your field a second time and do not harvest all the way to the edges.  These things are part of God’s economy.

In Elijah’s time the precedent was set for the king to care for and protect the people.  The king’s role had been established in the desert when God gave t he covenant.  The king was to be the champion of the oppressed, the poor, the widow.  But King Ahab strayed far from this idea of benevolent king.  Queen Jezebel, who was not an Israelite, certainly helped this departure from God’s covenant.

Today many stray from the commands of God.  Today many, like Ahab and Jezebel, seek to place themselves and their desires far above God’s.  The forces that drive the world’s economy are powerful.  The pull on individuals to be successful in the world’s eyes is strong.  Injustice and oppression often occur as the costs of the world’s economy.

God stand opposed to these things and calls on His children to do the same.  We are called to be servants to one another and to share His blessings with those in need.  God desires for our hearts to grow to become His heart, loving and caring for those with less.  May we bring God into the world, being a people who give freely and love deeply.  May we lay aside self and seek to care for the needs of all of His children.


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God Reigns

Reading: Psalm 96: 10-13

The psalmist proclaims that God alone reigns.  The psalm calls for all of creation – plants, animals, sea creatures, fields, mankind – to rejoice for God will come to judge the earth.  When God comes He will judge in righteousness and truth, restoring equality and fairness.  At the initial reading this sounds like a problem for those living outside of God’s ways.  While this is true, it is also a call to enter into a life that recognizes God’s sovereignty.

I can recall many instances as a child when my parents either insisted I do something or were very adamant that I not do something.  Every child has a list like this by the time they enter adulthood.  This list was added to by teachers and coaches then by a spouse and by bosses.  In the moment I sometimes chafed at not having a choice or being placed in a spot I did not like at the time.  But it was often the case, always after the fact, that I realized my parents always had my best interests at heart.  My coach or teacher or spouse or boss was trying to pull out of me or develop in me something that I could not see myself.  They were coming from a place of righteousness and truth.  They were guided by love and concern for me.

In much the same way God desires for us to live in righteousness and truth.  His plans for us are to prosper us and to bring us good.  At times we too chafe at what our faith calls us to do or because of what it denies us.  We are human so at times we are drawn to earthly desires and temptations.  When we choose to declare God the Lord of our life, we are making the choice to follow His ways over the ways of the world.  Once we make this choice and proclaim God our Lord, then the Holy Spirit enters into our hearts and begins to guide and lead us to live in God’s righteousness and truth.  This path is narrow and the way is hard, but peace and contentment are found along this path.  Joy and everlasting life are found along this path.  May we choose to daily make God the Lord of our life so that we may live freely as a beloved child of God in this world.


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Mirrors

Celebrations are fun.  Whether a birthday or an anniversary it is a joyous occasion to celebrate all that has been and to look forward to the future with excitement.  Holidays are often the same although they can also have a somber side to them.  Such is the case with the Jewish holiday Purim.  After being saved from sure death and annihilation by Esther and Mordecai, Mordecai sends out a letter to all Jews in the region instructing them to celebrate God’s saving act with feasting and the giving of gift to the poor.  The act of giving mirrored God’s amazing gift of saved the Jews when all seemed lost.  The captives in the foreign land experienced God’s extravagant love in a way that should be celebrated.

As Christians we too have reason to celebrate each day.  Left on our own we would be dead in our sins.  Without the saving grace of God and without the gift that Christ bought with His life, we would be slaves to sin and death.  Although we are in a constant battle with the desires of the flesh, once we have called on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we know we are saved.  What a reason to celebrate!

Just as during Purim the Jews give gifts to the poor, each day we too are called to share this amazing gift we have received with those who have not.  We are called to lead others into a relationship with Jesus Christ as that they too can be freed from their captivity to the desires of the flesh.  May our lives this day mirror God’s love as we seek to share the light and love of Christ with a world in need.

Scripture reference: Esther 9: 20-22


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Alignment

David is often called a “man after God’s own heart”.  Although he had his moments of poor choices and bad decisions, in the end David always humbly came back to God seeking His forgiveness.  No matter how mighty or great he would become, David honored God’s call on his life in the end.  David recognized that he was just a small part of God’s plan.

David so desired to return the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem because it symbolized God’s presence with the people of Israel.  To live as a people of faith it is very important to have a sense of God’s presence nearby.  Corporately we gather for worship to gain a sense of God present with us.  Individually we can experience His presence in times of prayer and study as well as at times throughout the day as we feel God through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

David offers extravagant worship to God for allowing the ark to return.  He knew that all is simply better when life is lived in relationship with God and in alignment with His plans.  In this David is a great role model for us.  And like David, we too have a role to play in God’s grand plan for our world.

To live in alignment with this plan we must submit our will, our desires, our plans, our priorities to God’s.  We must align our goals with God’s goals for a world known for justice, love, peace, and grace.  As we live out our lives in alignment with God we bring healing and restoration to our world.  Each and every day as we live as a follower of Jesus Christ, we make a heavenly difference in the world.

Scripture reference: 2 Samuel 6: 12b-15