pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Glory and Power

Reading: Revelation 1: 4-8

Verses 5-6: “To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood… to Him be glory and power for ever and ever”.

Today and tomorrow we spend a brief time in the book of Revelation. The vision of the unfolding of the end of this present time is given to John by an angel. It is a story that plays out over a long period of time. Revelation contains a lot of frightful imagery and violence. Ultimately, though, Revelation is the story of God’s love and of how God will bring about the new creation. Revelation will end with the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of a new heaven and earth. Like humanity did in the original garden, we will once again walk, talk, and dwell with God.

John understands Jesus’ central role in restoring the world. Our passage today is the greeting and doxology of the letter. John begins with the eternal nature of Jesus – who was and is and is to come – and then identifies Jesus’ roles. He is “the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth”. Each of these roles focuses on the central theme of Revelation: God’s love. As Jesus lived out His life on earth, He was a faithful and obedient witness to God’s love. He lived it out every day. At the end of His earthly life, Jesus was raised from the dead – the tomb was empty. His death was out of love for us and His resurrection demonstrates God’s eternal love for us. Because He lives we will also live. One day Jesus will return to rule over all the earth. He will rule over all the kings and over all of creation. Every knee will bow. His rule will not be one of power and might through force, but one of love.

John closes the greeting with worship and praise for his Lord Jesus. In verses 5 and 6 he writes, “To Him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood… to Him be glory and power for ever and ever”. There is a connection between Jesus, His blood, and our sins. Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to die for us while we were yet sinners. Jesus shed His blood in love. On the cross Jesus took upon His perfect self the sins of the world. He then died as the atonement or payment for our sins. With His life Jesus was the sacrifice for our sins. That is love. Because the price is paid, we are freed from the guilt and shame and debt of paying for our sins. Through His blood we are redeemed and made new again. It is a foretaste of eternity.

May our reaction and response to this gift be the same as John’s – to proclaim to Him be the glory and power for ever and ever. All praise be to Jesus Christ, our Lord and King!

Prayer: God, thank you for your love. Thank you for a love that gave your only Son for me, a sinner saved by grace. May all I do and say bring you honor and glory today. Amen.


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He Is Alive!

Reading: John 20: 1-18

Verse 18: Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news, “I have seen the Lord”!

In the original garden, Adam and Eve walked and talked with God.  They had a close, personal relationship.  Their sin cost them much: they were forced from the garden.  With sin, death also entered the world.  We fast forward to another garden, this time the garden of Gethsemane.  In a moment of weakness, we find a human Jesus worried about death.  He does not want to die.  The physical part of Jesus knows what it will be like to be crucified.  But Jesus masters the fear and prepares to walk to the cross.  The divine Jesus triumphs and He is willing to drink of the cup for us.  The cup represents the new covenant, made with His blood.  This cup of forgiveness is for all who call on Jesus as Lord and Savior.  His blood was “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).  The sin that had entered in the first garden is defeated by Christ on the cross.  In the new covenant, we are freed from the power of sin.

Today’s story takes place in another garden.  Hope seemed lost.  Mary and the disciples have seen that the tomb is empty, but the do not understand.  The one they called “Messiah” – Savior of the world – was gone.  Mary stands alone, weeping.  Then angels appear, almost to announce what happens next.  Mary turns and asks for the body.  “Mary”.  Jesus speaks her name.  “Mary”.  With her name spoken, suddenly she knows it is Jesus.  She knows His voice.  He calls her by name.  In John 10:14, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me”.  At His voice, Mary knows it is Jesus.  On the cross, Jesus defeated sin.  From the grave, He defeats death.

Jesus continues to call out, calling us each by name.  He calls us by name, into a personal relationship with Him.  When we open our hearts to Jesus, He comes and dwells within us.  In this relationship, we know Jesus, just as He knows us.  In this relationship, we experience what He experienced – victory over sin and death.  May we join many, proclaiming what Mary proclaimed: “I have seen the Lord”!  Hallelujah and amen!  He is risen!  He is alive!!


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Listen

Reading: Genesis 2: 15-17

Adam and Eve began in the garden.  Each day they walk and talk with God, enjoying all that God has provided.  They have been given almost unlimited access to the garden and all of its bounty.  The one restriction God places is upon the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  God lets Adam and Eve know that they will die if they eat of this one tree.

Can you remember as a kid when your Mom or Dad said, “Don’t do” this or that?  At least some of the time these were things you never would have thought of on your own.  But more often than not, your wise and loving parents knew from experience that sooner or later that tree or rooftop or toy your sister had would be more than you could resist.  We were the same way.  All parents are.  If there was something that could harm or be bad for our children, we warn them about it.  God was doing the same thing in the garden.  God knew that once the knowledge of good and evil entered the minds of mankind, that the world would never be the same.  He was right.

As grown adults, we continue to get many warnings.  Sometimes they come from our spouse or our friend or our coworker.  Sometimes the warnings even come from our own minds.  Sometimes the words are in the form of a whisper from the Holy Spirit.  Like we would have been when we were children, we would be wise to heed the warning, to listen to the voice of those with our best interests at heart.  This day, O Lord, help me to be obedient and faithful as I try to follow the example of Jesus.  It is only possible through your power and presence, so please be with me today.


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Worthy Soil

Often we do not sow seed where we can.  Sometimes it is because we see another’s ‘soil’ and think ‘Why bother?’  So we withhold God’s word through us from that person.  And maybe it was just the things they needed to hear at that moment.  Or maybe it was just the story we needed to share!

How often is it us that does not receive?  Do we miss some blessing or experience God is trying to send us because we are hard soil, rocky soil, or soil choked with weeds?

On a regular basis our soil needs tilled, fertilized, and watered.  Do we practice compassion and generosity instead of a ‘me-first’ attitude?  Do we spend time building our faith to gain strength and inspiration to serve?  Do we spend time listening to the still, small voice of God as He calls us to do this or to serve there?  To go out and sow seeds, we must first become soil worthy of God’s garden.

Scripture reference: Matthew 13: 1-9


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The Master Gardener

Perhaps it was no coincidence that Mary Magdelene mistook Jesus for a gardener.  In many ways Jesus was and is a gardener.

Jesus taught and continues to teach through stories, parables, examples, and healings.  Within each are little seeds that are planted in our hearts and minds.  Each time we read the Bible we glean insights from his words, often times a new insight from a passage we have read before.  One day these seeds will sprout.  In the meantime the gardener works the soil, tending to it so that one day it can nurture good growth.  The gardener continues to turn over our soil with His words, making us into the soil that will produce a crop.

As we grow, He prunes us as well, to shape us into the best disciple we can be.  Sometimes the gardener prunes off parts of us that hinder our growth as disciples, cutting off a little pride here, a little jealousy there, a bit of anger right there…  At other times He prunes to encourage growth in our faith lives.

All the while He is also teaching us how to garden.  Through His example and work in our lives, we come to understand how we can help others on their walk of faith.  We can share the stories from the Bible and from our own walks of faith.  We can tend the soil and encourage growth in those we know.  We can also prune when needed.  But the greatest lesson we learn from Jesus is to garden with love.  It is to produce growth and to encourage that the seeds produce a crop in our garden and in the gardens of those we meet along the way.  Happy gardening!!!