pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Bloom

Reading: Jeremiah 29: 1 and 4-7

The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and hauled off the leaders and gifted people to Babylon as slaves.  Many Israelites were the victims of this forced relocation.  They found themselves slaves in a strange new place, surrounded by a culture much different from their own.  Instead of instructing them to keep isolated, to long to return to Jerusalem, or to rebel, God instead instructs them to settle in, to build homes, to marry off their children.  The message is that this is not temporary.  To further indicate this God instructs them to begin praying for the Babylonians to prosper.

We too can find ourselves in a strange or foreign place.  Sometimes this is physical.  Our parent or spouse receives a new job or is transferred and we find ourselves in a new place amongst many new faces.  It can be when we head off to college or to our first ‘real job’ and we come to realize we are alone in a new world.  Sometimes our new surroundings are emotional.  We come home to find out a divorce looms and life is suddenly altered.  We receive the phone call that a loved one has passed and life is forever different.  Or one day, in the middle of a normal day, we realize that we are lost in life or are just drifting along and we long for an anchor, for a purpose.  And, of course, all of these physical and emotional changes affect our spiritual life too.

God instructed the Israelites to become part of their new surroundings.  God wanted them to grow, to multiply, to prosper in this new place.  When all else was stripped away, all the Israelites had to rely on was God.  God was the one constant for the people.  In the midst of our own times of exile, God calls out to us as well.  When all else seems new or foreign, God is still the same.  Like the Israelites, our instructions are the same: trust in God alone, cling to God alone, and bloom where God has planted us.  May we trust in God’s plans and may we obediently follow God’s will as we follow wherever God leads.

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Where You Go

The famine passes in Judah and Naomi decides to return to her homeland.  She urges Orpah and Ruth to stay in Moab, to remarry, to start life over again.  It is certainly within the realm of possibilities – both are young enough to do so.  To go against Naomi’s wished and to instead move to a foreign land would be a risky and challenging move.  Naomi knows this as she herself made the same type of move just ten years ago.

Often we too are faced with a similar choice – to stay in the comfortable, know place or to step out into uneasiness and the unknown.  It is easy to stay comfortable.  Orpah chooses to stay with her people.  But Ruth decides that she will go.  Her love for Naomi makes her willing to be that stranger in a foreign land.

Where is your ‘foreign land’?  Is it taking the time to sit and have lunch with the homeless person who asked you for $5 for lunch?  Is it going to that part of town to replace the kitchen faucet for a single mother with lots of young children?  Is it going to the jail to visit and share the love of Christ with an inmate?

Ruth said to Naomi: “Where you go, I will go.”  Christ calls us to go to many places where His light is dim and His love is unknown.  But He always goes with us.  May we, like Ruth, say to Christ and live out those same words: Lord, where you go, I will go.

Scripture reference: Ruth 1: 6-18


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Hold Onto God

A famine at home forced the family of four to move to a foreign land.  They left behind their kin, the culture they knew, their faith base, and all else that mattered to find food.  The family made the move to survive, to be in a better situation.

In smaller ways we do this all the time.  We make a little change here or there seeking to be happier, healthier, or somehow better off.  Sometimes we too make larger changes.  Maybe you have moved to a new city or state or even country to have a better ‘opportunity’.  If you have done this, you can relate to this family – strangers in a foreign land.

Just as they were getting settled, the father dies. The mother at least has her two sons.  They each eventually marry a foreign woman.  The sons are happy and the possibility of grandchildren may some day bless her life.  Slowly the foreign land becomes les foreign as they learn the ways and begin to put down roots.  Ten years later, no grandkids.  Both boys die.  She is left with just two daughters-in-law.  And more pain and loss.

Perhaps a change you have made did not work out either.  Maybe the job wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.  Maybe something outside of your control changed your situation too.  Maybe like you, this woman found herself in a tight spot.  Virtually alone in a foreign land, she turned to her foundation, to God.  In Him she laid her trust.  In Him she laid her future.  Although tragic to this point, it is just the beginning of her story.  In the end it is a story of God’s blessings.  Hold onto God.  He wants to bless you too.

Scripture reference: Ruth 1: 1-5