pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Daily to Eternal

Reading: Psalm 90: 1-6 and 13-17

Verse Two: From everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Today’s Psalm begins by establishing God as the dwelling place of humanity.  Ever since God walked with Adam and Eve at the beginning, God has been present to His people.  The psalmist then turns to the eternal nature of God.  Before creation, God already was.  He writes, “From everlasting to everlasting you are God”.  These opening verses paint a picture of God’s eternal nature, inspiring awe and praise from us, His creations.

In the next verses, the psalmist turns to our reality – the shortness of life.  It is an interesting comparison when set next to God’s everlasting nature.  We are reminded that man quickly turns back to dust.  This quickness applies equally to a newborn as well as to one passing at 100.  To God, a thousand years in our counting is “like a day that has just gone by” for God.  For an unimaginable amount of time, God has been.  Then we are each born and then quickly gone, almost as if in a flash.  And then, if one has been faithful, we join God in the continuing walk into eternity.  We will then dwell with God forever.
The psalmist then returns to the present.  He calls on God for compassion and to experience God’s unfailing love.  Our time may indeed be relatively short, but the psalmist wants it to be filled with God’s presence.  He seeks a balance of glad days with the afflicted days, acknowledging that life brings its ups and downs.  The Psalm closes with a request for God’s favor and for God to bless the works of our hands.  As Moses writes these words, looking back over a life that was certainly filled with both times of trial and times of God’s presence and blessings, he surely has the confidence that God has been with him and has been active in his life.  It is because of this confidence that Moses rests secure in his eternal destination.

Whether our days are numbered in the single digits or in scores of years, we too yearn for the assurance that we will spend forever with God.  We gain this assurance just as Moses did – keeping a steady faith in God through it all, turning to God over and over, and trusting in God’s constant presence with us.  It is our daily walk that leads into our eternal walk.  May both be fully with God.

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Thanks

Reading: Psalm 100

Verse Five: For the Lord is good and His love endures forever.

In my Bible, the subtitle to Psalm 100 is: “A Psalm.  For giving thanks”.  After reading through the Psalm it is certainly a fitting subtitle!  The psalmist begins by calling us to shout for joy and to worship with gladness and then he gives us the why: know that the Lord is God.  He goes on to remind us that God made each of us and therefore “we are his people, we are the sheep of his pasture”.  It is a good reminder for us.

Sometimes life can get crazy and the busyness can feel overwhelming.  We can almost feel as if we are so busy we are moving near paralysis.  Our minds get consumed by the worries and pressures to the point of feeling we are near to collapse.  It is in these moments that the Psalm is an excellent reminder.  It calls us to slow down for a time, to step back from life, and to step into God’s presence.  The words remind us of the bigger picture – we are his people – and this lessens the importance of the things of this world.  In our craziness may we remember to slow down and to connect to God.

The second stanza again picks up the call to praise God, to “enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise”.  Being thankful is essential to being content.  And being content holds the world and it’s craziness at bay.  Part of my morning routine is my little ‘thank book’s.  I write out five to eight things from the day before that I am thankful for and then I pray through each one.  In giving thanks I can see God’s faithfulness and love for me.

The ending of the Psalm echoes this idea: “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever”.  God was and is and always will be.  No matter what this world brings or has in store for us, God and his love are forever.  Thanks be to God.


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Love, Forever

Reading: Psalm 118: 1-20

Psalm 118 is a celebration of what the Lord has done for the Israelites and of what God desires to do for all who call on the name of the Lord.  It is a song of celebration and hope.  The Israelites sang this song in worship for the same reason we sing “Amazing Grace” or “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High” – to remind ourselves of God’s power and love.  The Israelites have come out of slavery in Egypt; the story of the Exodus celebrates God’s presence with them through it all.  For them and for us, the story of God’s presence is summed up well in verse one, “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever”.  Amen.

As readers of the Psalm today, we must claim the same promises and the hope found in this Psalm of Praise to God.  At times, when we are in captivity to our sin or to the circumstances of life, these words speak to us as well: “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me”?  Verse six reminds us that ‘here’ is temporary and that God is the only one really in control.  Keeping focus on the overarching, supreme love of God can help us in our times of trial or need.

This theme is continued in verse fourteen, but in an even more significant way: “The Lord is my strength and my song: He is my salvation”.  God desires to carry us through whatever life brings.  God deserves to hear our thanksgiving and praise lifted up to the heavens in grateful song.  To be strengthened on the journey and then to sing praises for God’s hand at work in our lives is contagious.  Just as the Israelites sang to remember and to be encouraged, so should we.  And lastly, God is our salvation.  God will save us from our sins and from whatever life brings.  We are children of God, claimed by Christ forever through our proclamation of Jesus as Lord.  His love endures forever.  His love endures forever!!  His love endures FOREVER!!! Amen.


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Forever…

Reading: Psalm 30: 6-12

God rescued David and his grateful response is to praise God and give Him thanks forever.  Forever is a very long time.  It really far exceeds anything we can grasp.  When we say ‘forever’ we are making a pretty big commitment.  Although our concept of forever is limited, sometimes it is the word that best expresses what we feel at the time.  Perhaps the best example of this are the wedding vows that speak of forever.  For the couple standing there, so deeply in love, forever expresses it best.

Sometimes, though, we use forever in a promise to try and leverage God.  We pray, “If you will ___ God, I’ll ___ forever”.  We pray the ” If only…” prayers with a promise tied to forever.  But even in these instances, we use forever to try and sum up just how much we want the answer we want.  It is a word we use to try and demonstrate our great commitment to whatever we are praying for or about.

God also uses forever.  God promises to love us forever.  Underlying this promise and His other promises is an understanding on God’s part of how long this really is.  God promises to forgive our sins and mistakes forever.  In spite of His knowledge of who we are, His promise is still to forever, without any limits.  God promises to be with us forever.  He was and is and will always be.  Through the constant presence of the Holy Spirit, God  abides with us forever in this life.  Lastly, God promises us forever.  Once we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, God promises us the gift of eternal life.  We begin this life here and now but it will continue on forever even when we leave these earthly tents.  For these promises, we offer our grateful praise forever.


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Trust and See

A bloom appears in the desert.  Hope rises up our of the midst of despair.  New life stirs as the dust of a tragedy settles.  In all things God works for the good of those who love Him.

God never promised us that life would always be happy and easy.  He did promise us that life would be blessed.  He promised us that His mercies and grace would be new every morning.  He promised that His love would endure.  It is with these promises that we can walk through our times of despair, trial, and tragedy.

As we grow in our faith, God builds us up to be able to go through bad things and to still stay connected to Him.  Jesus is for us that living water that keeps us connected to God.  In our passage for today, Paul speaks of commending themselves in every way – even in the trials, beatings, imprisonments, and hunger.  In these types of things our faith will allow us to rely on God’s grace as well.  Paul ends this section of scripture with these words: “having nothing, yet possessing everything”.  At times we feel totally lost, yet still have our faith and that is everything.

In the good and bad times we rely on God.  He alone has the love, strength, and grace to see us through. These qualities of God are always present but we most need them in times of trial.  Trust in Him and cling to faith – there we will see that God is good.  He is good because His steadfast love endures forever!

Scripture reference: 2 Corinthians 5:20 to 6:10


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Praise Indeed

Today is “Native American Day” in my home state.  I think in every state except South Dakota that today is “Columbus Day.”  I do not know the reasoning that went into the name change and shifting the focus of the day, but I think it is cool.  The Lakota and Columbus both tie into a theme found in Psalm 104 – discovering something amazing.

Psalm 104:1 calls for us to praise God who is great and who is clothed in majesty and splendor.  For the Lakota and many other indigenous peoples, there is a holy connection to the Creator and to all of life.  They see the Creator God in all things and in all of life.  God ‘pulses’ through each creature, mankind included.  The Creator is the life force.  In my Lakota friends I see the wonderful way that they have of continually discovering God and His goodness in people, nature, and so forth over and over and over.  It is awesome!

Columbus set out into the unknown to try to find a new way.  As Christians we often wrestle with our faith and in knowing the unexplainable God we worship.  As we walk along on our journey of faith, we often encounter the unknown or that which we cannot give a logical explanation right away.  Yet with time in the Word, in prayer, in study, and in meditation, we can often find a way to either a new place of faith or to a place where we are comfortable again with God.  Often we are also reminded of how immeasurable and big our God is.  This connection builds our faith as well.

In Job, God tells him to brace himself.  Sometimes I think we are like Job in this. When we are willing and open to God and where He wants to lead us in life, sometimes I think I need to brace myself.  To trust and step into this unknown takes a lot of faith and trust.  God asks Job (and us) who was there when the foundations of the earth were laid or when the cornerstone was set.  God reminds him and us that none were there except the stars and the angels!  It is good in this story to remember that God was there before the beginning, at the beginning, is here now and will forever be.  Praise indeed for the God of the universe and the same God that walks and connects with us daily so that we can discover and grow in our faith.

Scripture references: Job 38: 1-7 and Psalm 104:1