pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Beautiful Feet

Reading: Romans 10: 14-16

Verse 16: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.

Paul has just built his case for what one must do to be saved: believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead and confess with your mouth that “Jesus is Lord”.  In verse 13 Paul writes, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”.  It is a faith that is offered to all people.  This echoes Jesus’ commission to bring the good news to all nations.  God’s love and saving grace are for all peoples in all places.

Today’s passage shifts to some realities that make most Christians a bit uncomfortable.  In our minds, yes, we all know that the Great Commission applies to all followers of Jesus Christ.  We are all called to proclaim the good news.  Today, Paul gives us a series of questions to consider.  First, how can anyone call on someone they do not believe in?  If one does not believe in Jesus then they will never experience salvation.  This is a matter of great eternal consequence.  It is imperative that all people have the opportunity to call on Jesus for salvation.

Paul then asks how one can believe without hearing of Jesus Christ.  It is indeed very hard to believe in someone you have never heard of or understand.  So all must hear the good news and come to understand what Jesus offers.  Then Paul asks how someone could hear without someone else speaking.  Again, if we do not tell others the good news of Jesus Christ then it is very unlikely that they will hear.  Paul then says that we each must be sent in order to tell.  Jesus’ parting words to all of us was to go and make disciples of all nations.  We are sent.  Each Sunday we close worship with a benediction – a reminder to the people of God to go out and bring Jesus to the world – to go forth to love and serve the Lord our God.

Paul closes with these words: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news”.  He is quoting from the prophet Isaiah, who lived hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth.  Isaiah’s statement remains true.  The good news is still the good news.  All need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ.  Do you want beautiful feet today?

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Our Great God

Reading: Psalm 86: 1-10 & 16-17

Verse 16: Turn to me and have mercy on me; grant strength to your servant.

We often cry out to God.  We often feel as if we are hard-pressed and God alone can intervene.  Then we are grateful and offer up our praises to God.  Such is the content of today’s Psalm.  David is writing intimately about the experiences we can all have with God.  For ages this Psalm had been read by Jews and then by Christians in times of trial and suffering because it connects us so well to the relationship we have with God.

The psalmist opens with a request to be heard by God.  David reminds God of his devotion to God and seeks mercy and joy from God. From time to time it is good to remind ourselves of our devotion to God – it recalls for us our part in the relationship.  David next reminds God of who He is: “forgiving and good” and “abounding in love”.  We come to God for mercy and help because of God’s nature and because of God’s great love for us.  It is good to remember this in times when we have allowed the cares and troubles to crowd out our connection to God.

David then turns to the omnipotent nature of God.  “There is none like you” establishes God as the one true God.  David envisions all nations coming to worship and bring glory to God.  God is over all.  The evidence of God’s power: marvelous deeds.  In the works of His hands we see the greatness of God.  The Psalm ends by returning to the request for help: “Turn to me and have mercy on me; grant strength to your servant”.  Be with me, give me strength, grant mercy to me.  These are familiar refrains.  They always have been and they always will be.  David closes we a great reminder for us: “for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me”.  Our great God of love remains steadfast and true.  God is our help in all ways.  Thanks be to God.


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Our Great Example

Reading: Psalm 72: 1-7

Solomon’s Psalm today seeks God’s presence and guidance in his reign.  He asks to be able to judge with righteousness and to bring justice to the afflicted.  Solomon asks God to help him save the children of the needy and to crush the oppressors.  Solomon requests a long reign and for it to be like the blessings of rain falling on a field.  He asks that God’s blessings allow the righteous to flourish and for prosperity to abound.

Solomon desires to be such a good leader!  He comes to God with these requests, knowing that his prayer is aligned with God’s will.  Solomon knows that all the good kings before him have looked out for the needy, have wanted prosperity for the people, and have sought a time of justice and peace.  All of this is God’s desire for the people too.

Our point of contemplation is this: do we want to reign our own lives with these same ideals?  Should all within our realms of influence be affected by us in these ways that Solomon is praying for in his kingdom?  I believe so!  We are called to care for the needy and to stand up for the oppressed.  We are called to help end injustice and to bring peace to all.  We are called to live righteous lives and to share God’s blessings.

Yes, Solomon is a good example for us to follow.  But we have a far greater example in Jesus.  In Jesus, we find our best example of what it looks like to live God’s love out each day.  Jesus was more like us in one important way – He lived a common life down amongst humanity.  The things Jesus did and taught are things we can do and teach.  His life is a life we can pattern ours after.

And Jesus is also divine.  Thus, He was without sin.  He lived a ‘perfect’ life.  This allowed Jesus to be more than an example.  This perfection allowed  Jesus to go to the cross as the sacrifice to take away the sins of the world.  Through this gift you and I have the way to eternal life.

Yes, Jesus is a great example for our daily lives.  And, yes, Jesus is also the way to peace in this world and in the world to come.  Thank you Jesus for being our past, our present, and our future.


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For I am with You

Reading: Haggai 1:15b to 2:9

Remember when America was great?  A TV in every living room and a car in every driveway…  This was the ‘land of opportunity’, the place where hundreds of thousands came to make a better life for themselves.  Every parent’s dream was for their children to be better off than they themselves were.  It was a significant event when that first child from a family went off to college.  Remember the good old days?!

Haggai speaks to the people in a time just after the Babylonian exile has ended.  The people returning to Jerusalem and other communities remembered their homes and the temple in an idealized way.  All was beautiful and perfect in their mind’s eye.  But they return to a temple in ruins, to homes that show decades of neglect.  There is such a disconnect between what they envisioned and their reality that it is depressing and causes them to question all that matters, especially their faith.

We too can experience this remembering of a glorified past.  It can be physical – like when one returns to the old family home and thinks, “My this bedroom is small, I remember it being bigger”.  This can also happen in our faith.  Like those returning to Jerusalem, we too can return to our faith after a time of exile.  After we have been away from God for a while, we come to return and expect God’s magnificent presence to be there all the time.  We recall our ‘mountaintop’ faith moment and want to reclaim that feeling.  But our reality is that often times our faith must be rebuilt, just like the homes and temple that the people of Haggis’s had to rebuild.

The Lord speaks to Haggai as this large task has deflated the people.  “Be strong all you people of the land and work.  For I am with you…  I will fill this house with glory”.  These are our promises too.  Be strong, stay true to our faith, work at it.  God is with us.  God loves us.  God will fill each of us, all of us, with God’s glory.  God is faithful.  May we be too.


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Expect God

Expectations.  We all have them.  When someone you know and love is struggling with something, what do you expect?  When life throws you a curve ball, what us it that you expect?  For most of us, we expect to make it through, to be okay in the end.

A large crowd had gathered to hear Jesus teach that day.  They were spellbound with His words.  The day grew long.  Jesus tossed a problem to the disciples – feed them.  We’ve been there – maybe just not quite this extreme.  Boss or teacher or parent tosses us an assignment, project, or task that is due yesterday.  After the panic passes, we set to it and somehow get it done.  Sound familiar?

The disciples also panic.  They utter out loud what we usually only think.  What?!  Do you know what you are asking?  There are thousands here!  Can you see Jesus watching, arms folded, slight grin on His face?  Without being asked He steps in.  Just moments later thousands have eaten their fill and 12 baskets of leftovers are gathered up.  All from two fish and  five loaves of bread.  A miracle has happened.  All are amazed at His power.

Do you think they all expected to be fed?  Surely they could see there was no caravan of wagons laden with food.  Do you think any of the disciples’ first thought was to turn to Jesus when He handed out this impossible task?  Neither is mine.  It should be.  I read all about the miracles.  I believe them.  I hear of miracles in the world today.  I believe they happen all the time.  I just don’t expect them in my life.  I should.  Lord God, open my eyes and heart to the expectation of miracles in my life and in my world.  Help my unbelief.

Scripture reference: John 6: 1-15