pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Work… Eat

Reading: 2nd Thessalonians 3: 10-13

Verse 10: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat”.

As interconnected people we often have to work together to accomplish or achieve things. This is true at work, in sports, and in our churches. If four people are each working on a part of a project and one person fails to do their part, then the project remains incomplete. In team sports all members on the court or field must each perform their specific duties if the play is to be run well. In church, each member needs to contribute in some way or the church is less than it could be.

When I was still teaching, at times I would have my students work in groups. Occasionally one would not do much. Often the others would pick up the slack because they wanted to succeed. They might finish, but the end product would be less than if all four had done their part. Once in a while the lazy student would become disruptive, taking away from the group’s effort. If redirection did not work, the last resort was to form a “group of one”. This is what Paul is hinting at today’s passage as he addresses the sin of idleness.

In verse ten Paul reminds the Thessalonians of the rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat”. When one fails to contribute and also draws away the resources of the group, this negative balance brings the organization down. But this is just one consequence. It seems the idle folks have found something to do. They have become busybodies. This most likely involves gossip and other forms of negative behavior. They have become the student in the group not only failing to contribute but also being a barrier to the rest of the group completing their work. Paul urges them to get with the program – to “settle down and earn the bread they eat”. Be a contributor and not a taker. In the following verses Paul goes on to offer the “group of one” advice: “do not associate with him”.

The danger of being idle can also affect our personal faith. If we become willing to hit the snooze button instead of getting up to pray and study the Bible, then we inhibit our faith growth. If we become willing to allow a friend to take us fishing on a Sunday morning, then we are missing out on an opportunity to grow closer to God. If we choose or place worldly things or people ahead of our faith, we are being spiritual busybodies. When we do these things, we are choosing not to eat the bread of life. We are also likely filling ourselves with things that negatively affect our relationship with God. When we stray from our spiritual disciplines, our connection to God and to others suffers. Instead, let us each be encouraged by Paul’s words: “Never tire of doing what is right”. Then we will be pleasing to the Lord our God.

Prayer: Lord God, when I am tempted to skip my quiet time or to not go to that study or meeting, remind me of Paul’s warning and encouragement. Whenever I choose you, life is so much better. May it be so. Amen.


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A Love to Share

Our minds are capable of learning many things.  In school and in church we are taught a lot.  While in school we aretaught what is factually correct, in church we learn about what is true: Jesus.

In repsonse to Pilate’s questions about what truth is, Jesus responds, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”  In His answer Jesus implies that there is a relationship or connection between people who know the truth and Jesus himself.  In order to know the truth, we must listen to Jesus and come to know Him.

We listen and learn by being in contact with the teacher.  Through the written Word of the Bible, through the Word spoken in church, through time in prayer, and through fasting we seek to learn about and grow in Jesus.  Our learning and connection to Jesus is in direct proportion to the effort we choose to put in and to the amount of time we spend with Him.  For example, if all we are willing to give is one hour on Sunday morning then our connection and understanding is less than it could be.  On the other hand, if we also choose to spend time in the Word and prayer each day, what we know as truth will be greater.

As we come to know Jesus more and more, what the truth is becomes clearer and clearer.  As we grow in our love of God, it start to spill out into love of all of God’s children.  This love we share with Jesus becomes a love we share with all we meet.  As we grow into Jesus, our lives are transformed by His truth.  Jesus seeks to transform us so that we become His love poured out daily to all we meet.  This day may His love radiate from us and through us in all we do and may it flow out to all we meet.

Scripture reference: John 18: 33-38


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Stand Firm

When life is going well we feel that God is with us, watching over us, guiding us, blessing us.  We feel the God of love’s presence and offer up thanksgiving for His role in our life.  When life seems a little bit sideways or the struggle comes to our little corner of the world, then often we wonder where God is.  The answer, of course, is that He is just as close in the trial as in the smooth sailing.  But for some reason our natural inclination is to assume God has abandoned us when life gets challenging.

Paul encourages us to put on the full armor of God.  By doing so we will be able to stand firm in times of trial.  The fully prepared Christian has truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and God word.  To put these on means to use and train with them each day as a Roman soldier would with his shield, sword, and armor.  If one does not train and practice daily, one is not fully prepared when the challenge arises.  We need daily practice of the disciplines of faith so we are strong and ready when the battle comes our way.  If we are diligent each day, we will be ready all the time.

When the waters get a little rough it is not because God has left the building.  It is because Satan has entered and stirred up the waters a bit.  In this moment we can flex our spiritual muscles and fall back on our training.  We can draw strength from God’s promises of salvation and peace.  We can gird ourselves up with truth and righteousness.  We can live strongly in our faith.  The full armor of God will allow us to withstand the devil and put him to flight.  Stand firm in the full armor of God today!

Scripture reference: Ephesians 6: 10-20