pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Hope and Compassion

Reading: Genesis 24: 58-67

Verse 67: So she became his wife and he loved her and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Abraham’s act of fatherly love culminates in a successful wedding.  He has managed to do what all good parents try to do – bring joy to their children in times of sadness.  Isaac is in mourning over the loss of his mother Sarah.  Their relationship was especially close and her passing has created a large void in his life.  Abraham was simply trying to remove this pain from Isaac’s life.

When we find ourselves in a time of suffering and sadness, we too want to be surrounded by those we love.  We find comfort and compassion and, through our loved ones, our sorrows are alleviated.  We seek out those who will love on us and turn our thoughts to brighter and happier things.  This is the role Abraham plays for Isaac.  The last line in today’s passage reads, “So she became his wife and he loved her and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death”.

As Rebekah responds to the call to go, her family sends her with a blessing.  These words – “may you increase to thousands and thousands” – remind us of God’s covenant with Abraham to have descendants as numerous as the sands on the seashore.  It is just one more showing of God’s hand orchestrating and blessing this whole situation.  It is evidence of God’s love for and concern for His people and their future.

God has the same love and concern for you and I and for our future.  Just as God compassionately cares for Abraham and Isaac and Rebekah, so too does He care for us.  All we need to do is enter into a relationship with God to know His love and care and compassion.  All we need to do to experience a future of promise is to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  God’s love and compassion work to draw us in.  They call out to us.  May we, like Rebekah, step into God’s love and live into the hope and promise that God offers to all who call on His name.


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Hope

Reading: Roman 5: 1-5

Verse Five: God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

Chapter Five opens with Paul’s declaration that we can claim peace with God through Jesus Christ because we are made right through our faith.  It is a bold statement but one we live into every day as Christians.  Our faith in Jesus Christ brings us into God’s grace, the unmerited gift of forgiveness that washes away our sins so that we can stand before God holy and pure.  It is an amazing love that makes us righteous day after day after day, sin after sin after sin.  It is a love without limit.  It is indeed the hope of the glory of God which leads Paul to rejoice.  May we rejoice as well!

In verse three Paul shifts directions but not end results.  Not only do we enjoy a peace with God that leads us to rejoice, but Paul also encourages us to rejoice in our sufferings as well.  Being made right through God’s grace allows us to have hope in our future.  For Paul, he saw this same hope as the end result of our suffering.  For Paul, suffering was a necessary part of our Christian journey.  As Saul the Pharisee he certainly had inflicted much suffering on Christians and as Paul the Apostle he definitely endured his share of suffering and persecution.

For Paul, he rejoiced in the sufferings because he knew it would lead to a deepening of his faith.  Paul had learned that in suffering righteously one learns perseverance.  When we lean into God and endure with the power and hope that Jesus Christ offers, then through the power of the Holy Spirit we can persevere.  As we trust in God and live within His presence, that develops our Christian character.  Our hope in God’s glory grows as we experience the power and strength of God carrying us through our trials.  We begin to see these earthly troubles as bumps along the way to experiencing God’s eternal glory.  This in turns leads to an ever growing hope.  It is a hope that is everlasting.  It is the hope that will not disappoint or fade.  It is the hope that thieves cannot steal and moths cannot destroy.  It is the hope we come to know beyond the shadow of a doubt because we come to fully know that “God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit”.

As Christians we face each new day with God’s love deep in our hearts.  May we walk in faith and hope this day and every day, trusting in the God who loves us beyond all measure.


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New Hope

Reading: Isaiah 65: 17-25

In Isaiah’s words we hear of a future with hope.  For those he lived amongst, they needed to hear words of hope.  At times in our lives, we too need to be reminded of the hope that rests in our faith.  The Israelites had plenty of trials and despair during the fall of Jerusalem and their time of exile.  Isaiah has plenty to say about this.  Life will also bring us times when we feel like we are being crushed and when we feel like we are living out in the wilderness.  In these times, Isaiah’s words speak to us as well.

In our world we certainly have death and hunger and injustice and violence and many other things that bring pain and heartache.  Perhaps you are in the midst of this pain right now.  Into this pain and heartache, God reminds us that all of these things are passing away.  God does not promise to take away the trials and sufferings that are a part of this life.  God instead tells us of the coming of a new heaven and earth.  God tells of the time that draws ever nearer when there will be no more pain or tears or hurt.  God gives us the ultimate hope in life eternal, a life that awaits all who call on God as our only hope.

Our passage today begins with “Behold”.  It is a word full of hope and promise.  Another story begins with this word: “Behold, the Lamb of God”.  This too is a story full of hope and promise.  And this is the story of hope and promise in the here and now.  In Jesus, we find one who walks with us in the midst of all life brings, one who will carry us if that is what we need.  In Jesus, we find comfort and strength in our time of need.  In Jesus, we find the compassion and love to offer comfort to others in their time of need.  In Jesus we also find the grace and forgiveness we need to make us new again when it was we who brought the pain and separation upon ourselves.  Jesus us our present hope that enables us to live towards and into the promise of a new heaven and earth.  May we hold tightly to Jesus Christ as we live with hope filled anticipation for our eternal future that is sure to come.  It is God’s promise.


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Past, Current, and Future

After a period of silence, Zechariah can again speak.  Filled with the Holy Spirit he begins to share a prophecy about his son John.  In his prophecy he connects the past and the future.  Zechariah begins by recalling God’s mighty acts in the past.  He tells of God’s redeeming acts, of the prophets God sent to guide and lead the people, and of God’s rescue of the people from their enemies.  Zechariah ties all of these acts into the old covenant.

In remembering God’s mighty acts Zechariah reminds the people and us of who God is.  He reminds them and us of God’s faithfulness by recalling all of the ways that God has shown love to His people.  Zechariah is building up the base knowledge so that it can be the foundation of the future.  It is reassuring and it provides hope for the future.  It reminds the people and us of who we are in God.

In Advent we wait with longing and expectation for the coming of Christ.  There is definitely a future aspect to Advent, yet it is also rooted in the past.  Our current and future hope rests upon Jesus.  It is surely built upon the foundation of what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.  His free gift of eternal life and the unending forgiveness of our sins provides our hope and lays out our future.  Because of His great love we can now live free from captivity to sin.

Our future and our eternity is also with Jesus.  We live here and now looking forward to and longing for the moment we see Jesus face to face.  This day and every day we live fully in His promises and also awaiting the fulfillment of His promised return.  Our foundation is sure in Jesus.  Our day today is secure in His hands. Our future rests with Jesus as well.  Thanks be to God.

Scripture reference: Luke 1: 67-75


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Memory and Reassurance

As Israel prepares to cross the Jordan River, they must have felt so much emotion.  This moment is like crossing the Red Sea in  some ways.  God is parting the waters and providing a way across.  In both events they can clearly see God’s power and feel His presence with them.  One chosen by God himself leads them.  Yet these crossings are also different.  At the Red Sea they were fleeing their enemy and were about to enter the wilderness.  At the Jordan they were crossing over to face their enemy at Jericho and they were leaving the wilderness.  Joshua had replaced Moses, but God was clearly with Joshua, just as He had been with Moses.

The connection to and memory of what God has done forms the foundation of their faith and also provides reassurances that He will continue to be present with them.  Our history and experience does the same for us.  To remember that difficult situation that God walked us through or to recall that job that He provided reassures us of His love for us and also gives us a basis of hope for our future.

God is always and always will be.  As we remember what He has done for us, hope and faith are built up in us.  We look forward with confidence, knowing God’s steadfast hand will continue to guide and lead us.  Whether facing a wilderness or preparing to enter a promised land, we can step forward knowing the He will never leave us and that He will never forsake us.  A God that always was, will always be, for He is everlasting.

Scripture reference: Joshua 3: 7-17