pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Encouraging and Uplifting

Reading: 2nd Timothy 4: 16-18

Verse 17: “The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength, so that the message might be fully received”.

As a young married couple my wife and I became part of a couple’s group at our church. Each month when we would gather, we would talk about marriage and we would listen to the stories of the two older couples who led the group. Their experiences made our marriages better. Over the course of the past 20+ years I have been blessed to be in and eventually to lead numerous Bible studies and other small groups. In each of these settings there were always more experienced disciples of Christ. From these would and do come stories of faith and of when God acted in their lives. These witnesses to the faith were encouraging and uplifting for my journey of faith.

Paul has been mentoring young Timothy. He has chosen him to carry on the work of spreading the gospel. Paul is entrusting his life’s work to this young disciple. Timothy has shown himself capable and gifted. This is not a random selection. So in today’s passage Paul has a few stories to share with Timothy. He begins by sharing that at times one may feel alone in ministry – “everyone deserted me”. Paul quickly follows up with a deeper truth: “The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength, so that the message might be fully received”. God did not ever desert him! Just the opposite – God delivered him “from the lion’s mouth”. With an assurance based on both faith and experience, Paul adds that God has rescued him from every evil attack and will continue to do so as God brings Paul “safely to his heavenly kingdom”. Paul is sharing his faith and his experiences as a way to encourage and uplift young Timothy.

As I have progressed into my middle years, I find that I too have some stories to share. On the journey of faith we all have experiences when God guided or intervened or rescued us. These are the stories we have to tell to encourage and uplift those that we gather with on Sunday mornings, that we sit around a table with, that we work with… Like Paul, may we be intentional about passing the faith along to both those in our lives who are on the journey with us and to those yet to begin the journey, all for the glory of God.

Prayer: Father God, thank you for the journey so far. You have been with me in many ways and many times. Each experience with you builds up my faith and helps me grow closer to you. Open my eyes to the blessings and to the opportunities to share my faith with others. Amen.


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Work for God

Do you work for God or for yourself?  In the reading of this psalm, if you work for yourself, you are working in vain.  Since the beginning of humanity, it has been God’s intent for us to work.  Right away He set Adam to work caring for the garden.  As ones created in the image of God, we are made as creators and laborers.  Our work is for a purpose and that purpose is greater than ourselves.

When we do our work apart from or without God, it is in vain.  When our work becomes addictive or compulsive or all-consuming, it is far from God.  On the other extreme, when our work is lazy or shoddy or resentful, this too is far from God.  When our labor is all about us and cares nothing for God or those around us, then it is easy for it to become these bad things.

Instead our work must be done for God.  The purpose of our labor needs to be aligned with God.  On a basic level our work must provide for ourselves and for our loved ones.  But it must also bless those around us.  Part of this idea again goes back to how we work.  When we are joyful, hard-working, honest, encouraging, supportive, and so on, we bless those we work with.  The other part is that the fruits of our work become the tangible ways in which we bless those in need.

For some, our ‘work’ is school or what one does in retirement.  The goal is still the same: to honor and bring glory to God through how we ‘work’.  Each day may God and His purposes be the focus of our labor.  Each day may we bless others through our labor and the fruit of our hands.

Scripture reference: Psalm 127