pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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God’s Hands

Reading: Psalm 121

Verse 2: “My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth”.

Psalm 121 is one of my favorites. It is a Psalm that reminds me both of God’s grandeur and of God’s intimate care for each of us. I enjoy being out in nature. One of my favorite places to be out in nature is a church camp in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Lookout Point is my go-to place there in camp. From the point I can look out over the hills and pine forests to see the rolling plains and even the Badlands on a clear day. About 100 feet below the point a creek churns with life and energy. Sitting there in the beauty of God’s creation, I feel close to God.

Verse two is a great reminder for me: “My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth”. It is a verse that brings assurance and comfort as I am reminded of how close God is to each of us. God is our helper. One could use other terms: provider, giver, father. There is a deep love that God has for you and for me, his children. That feeling of being loved continues in verses three and four. Here the psalmist reminds us that “God will not let your foot slip” and that God watches over us as we sleep. Perhaps a childhood bedtime prayer comes to mind for you too! As a loving God, he is our protector, our shield, our defender, our guardian.

What beautiful images of our God. May we rejoice today in the God who is both the hands that formed all of creation and the God who holds us each in those same hands. May our lives proclaim God’s glory!

Prayer: Father God, thank you for the many ways you touch my life. Thank you for the beautiful and magnificent world to live in. Thank you for the personal and intimate relationship that I have with you. You are a good and great and loving God. All praise and honor to you! Amen.


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Gospel of Love

Reading: Isaiah 58: 9b-12

Isaiah calls upon faithful Israelites to live out their faith by being compassionate and by reaching out to the hungry and others in need.  He calls for God’s people to break the yokes of oppression and to “spend” oneself meeting the needs of the less fortunate.  There are two components that drive this call.  One is outward and one is inward.  The outward component is the love that flows throughout the Bible.  The call to love one another without limitation is modeled by God in the covenant with Israel.  It is the promise to love no matter what.  This model is continued in the love for all of mankind exhibited and lived out by Jesus.  The call to love our neighbors as self that began in Leviticus 19:18 is repeated in the New Testament ad Jesus declared this one of the two great commandments.  This love involves “spending” oneself for others.

The second component is inward.  When we live life as compassionate people spending ourself for others, then God is at work within us.  When we are givers instead of takers, we see and live life in a new way.  We ourselves become so much more aware of and grateful for all the ways that God blesses us.  This inner attitude of gratitude is contagious, leading us to reach out to others, to meet their needs, to work to root out injustices they face, and to end any oppression that they are living under.  When we are faithful in living out the gospel of love, God renews us with His love and watches over us with His care.

On our mission trip last summer, one group was working in a park.  During a morning water break a man in need wandered over.  The group gave him some water and talked with him for a few minutes.  Later, at lunch time, a girl noticed the man on a bench across the park.  She walked over and gave the man her sack lunch.  Another youth brought over a bottle of water.  Compassion for one in need.  Loving others as God loves us.  Thinking of others above self.  It was a great witness to God’s love.  May we too be willing bearers of the light and love of Christ.


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Thanks

Readings: Philippians 4: 4-9 and John 6: 25-35

Thanksgiving is an awesome day where we gather with friends and family to give thanks for all that God has blessed us with.  All that we have comes from the Lord.  This day we give thanks.

Our Israelite forefathers recognized God’s provision from day one.  Adam was grateful for God’s love and care in the garden.  His son, Abel, brought the first lamb of his flock and sacrificed it as a thank offering to God.  The Israelites continued to give thank offerings and have a festival at harvest time where they thank God for all of their blessings.  Other festivals, such as Passover, also give thanks to God for the role God has played in their history.

Our American forefathers began Thanksgiving out of gratitude for surviving in a new and wild land.  They were grateful for those who God had sent to teach them what they needed to do to survive here.  They too recognized God’s hand at work in their lives and gave thanks.

Today, as we gather with family and friends, may we too give thanks for all of the ways God brings blessings into our lives.  May we celebrate today with a grateful heart full of thanks to God our Father, the giver of all good things.