pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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One Matters

Reading: Psalm 99: 1-4

Psalm 99 begins by speaking of God’s love of justice and the nation’s response.  They tremble.  God’s justice is universal – it applies to all people.  God’s justice removes power dynamics and the desire to elevate oneself over others and replaced them with equity.  When do much of our world is driven by power, position, and authority, justice stands counter to these forces, instead saying things like ‘the last shall be first’.  Of course the nations tremble.

The call of Christ leads us to stand alongside God and to champion His love for justice and equality.  Through the ages, great men of faith have gone just this, no matter the cost to themselves.  Martin Luther stood against the abuses of the church, preaching that faith alone saves.  All people can tap into faith, meaning all are loved by God, meaning all can be saved without price.  John Wesley stood for equality, believing that all people should have access to the Word of God.  He preached salvation in the fields, streets, and mines, welcoming all people, not just those who met certain qualifications.  Both of these men, and many others too, led to opening the church doors a little wider and expanding the circle of God’s love.

You and I may not be people of Luther’s or Wesley’s fame, but we too are people who are called to stand for justice and equality, to make a positive difference in our world.  We too are called to be people who say ‘no’ to injustice and inequality.  We too can each work to open the doors of our churches a little wider, to welcome all into our communities of faith, and to draw the circle of God’s love even wider.  One sheep that was lost and is now safely in the fold matters.  One son that was wayward and returns home matters.  One widow who finally receives justice matters.  Who will you matter to today?

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One Day

Reading: Psalm 98

The psalmist solemnly reminds us that the Lord “will judge the world in righteousness and the people with equity”.  It is a truth we know: one day we will all stand before the judgment seat to be deemed worthy of heaven or to be condemned to hell.  We do not know the when or the how, but we know that the who and what we are now is not forever.

God will first judge in righteousness.  There will be truth in how we are judged.  The simple question that is illustrated in the parable of the sheep and the goats will be the one Jesus asks us: “Do you know me”?  It is the hope and prayer of every Christian that when Jesus looks back over the course of our lives, that He will see we knew Him.  It will be revealed in how we lived out our daily life.  It will be revealed in how we treated our neighbor and the stranger in our midst.  It will be revealed in how we used the gifts and talents and blessings God gave us to help build the kingdom here.

God will also judge with equity.  Loving God and loving neighbor can look like and be a lot of different things.  There is not just one way to love.  By judging with equity God will look at each of us uniquely.  If I was given the gift of teaching, did I teach others about God and faith?  If I was placed in a situation to help the person on the street, did I?  If I was feeling the call or nudge to go to a friend in need, did I respond?  We will each be judged by our own lives, not against some set standard.

When Jesus asks, “Did you know me?” may our answer be a joyous “Yes”!  And may our Lord and Savior say, “Yes indeed – welcome home”!  May we live each day so that one day this will be.


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Words

Words easily flow from our lips.  The words we speak can build others up or they can bring people down.  Careful thought needs to be given to the words we speak.  Our words can carry great power.

In the psalm the king has ‘lips of grace.’  The kind and wise words he speaks flow from his heart and reflect the deep compassion and care he has for his people.  In his words he triumphs justice and equality and prosperity for those he leads.  He is a king I would like to be around.

There are people I know who build me up with their words.  They are people I want to be around.  In my life I too try to choose words that build others up.  One cannot simply dispense kind words but the words must be genuine and honest.  Words are powerful and through intentional practices we can build another up or offer some light when another is struggling or is in need.

Jesus was a man who also spoke words of justice, equality, and prosperity.  He advocated loving and serving all we meet.  He was a man that I picture as being slow to speak as He weighed His words carefully.  Jesus’ words convey the deep love and compassion He has for each of us.  He too is a king I like to be around.

Scripture reference: Psalm 45: 1-2 and 6-9