pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


1 Comment

Connection

Reading: Isaiah 61:10 to 62:3

Verse Three: “You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand”.

Today’s passage from Isaiah has both personal and corporate aspects of righteousness.  It begins on the personal level with Isaiah praising God for his “garments of salvation” and his “robe of righteousness”.  God has blessed Isaiah with these things because Isaiah has been faithful to God’s word and because he has been true in his calling to be the voice of God for the nation of Israel.  Isaiah also sees signs that God is at work in the lives of the people.  In verse eleven Isaiah speaks of God preparing the people Israel, like a farmer prepares the soil for a new crop, so that “righteousness and praise will spring up” leading Israel to be restored or to be born anew.

In our passage, the transition from chapter 61 to 62 is where the melding of personal and corporate righteousness begins to take place.  Isaiah writes of Zion – the people of God.  He also writes of Jerusalem – the city of God.  The people are in exile.  As a people of God they seem to have lost some of their connection to God, to being God’s chosen people.  Being in exile can make one question who you are.  After these many years in exile, they long to return to their home land and to Jerusalem, the center of their nation.  Isaiah is speaking of a restoration of both Zion and Jerusalem as he writes, “You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand”.  What words of hope!

In our lives and in our churches today we can experience times like Zion and the nation of Israel are feeling.  There can be times or even seasons when we seem to have lost our way or feel like we are in exile.  God desires to speak into these times or seasons as well.  God still desires to see His people clothed in salvation and righteousness.  If we delve into the scriptures, we will find a connection between living a holy life and being invested in the disciplines of our faith – reading and meditating on the Word, spending regular time in prayer and worship, serving those in need.  It is when we participate in these habits of the faith that we are preparing our soil for righteousness and praise to sprout up.  It is through these disciplines that we come to lead a holy life.  Then God will indeed clothe us in a robe of righteousness that will lead to salvation.

When we get away from being who and what God calls us to be – whether personally or as a community of faith – we lose our connection to God.  Just as He did with Zion and Jerusalem, God remains faithful and continues to call us back to faith and back into relationship with Him.  God promises to be near to us when we draw near to Him.  May we always seek to be faithful to our call to live as God desires, investing our time and hearts in the things of God.  Through the faithful practice of our faith habits, our connection to God will remain strong.  May it be so for you and for me!


Leave a comment

Love Lived Out

For many who return to work today, it signals the end of the Christmas season.  For most it is a return to the normal routine and it is a good thing.  We are creatures of habit.  For the students, vacation lasts a little longer.  But soon enough, even for them, it is nice to return to the routine of school, to seeing friends on a regular basis, and to having a schedule.

For some, Christmas has given them a taste of what a connection to God is like.  Much like the Israelites in today’s reading, they now have a memory of what life could be like.  The people of God recalled life before exile and they long to return to their homeland and to experience life under God’s loving care.  Through Christmas, many people experience what life could be like.  For many, Christmas this year was filled with God’s love and on Christmas Eve they experienced God’s presence as a tangible feeling.  Perhaps this is you or someone you know.  There is a deep call within each of us to connect to God and to experience life as He intended it to be.

In the high of Christmas we see what life should be like.  We realize life has been less than it could be.  But it does not have to be this way.  Through Jesus Christ, God invites us all to order our lives as they should be, focusing on others instead of self, just as Jesus did.  In this loving, giving, self-sacrificing model, we begin to experience life as it should be.  Life lived to the full is a life of love for God that grows and overflows to become love for neighbor.  May our love for God and neighbor be a light shining in the darkness this day, drawing others to the light and love of God, to love lived out.

Scripure reference: Jeremiah 31: 7-9


Leave a comment

Maybe It’ll Grow

Today I read about Benedictine monks.  Each day and week and year is filled with the same pattern – they work and pray and work and pray and work and pray and so on.  Each day is filled with this pattern.  They sleep at night and start the pattern over day after day.  Each prayer time is followed by a period of work.To praythey first center themselves and then they chant Psalms back and forth.  In a month, they pray through the book of Psalms.  Then they start over.

Paul writes often about the same integration of prayer and work.  The idea of regularly stopping our work to pray is found in others.  Daniel, for example, prayed three times a day at his appointed times.  Jesus even went so far as to suggest His disciples pray without ceasing.  But I think Jesus was suggesting we be attuned to praying here and there, whenever we felt led to pray for someone or something.  For the monks, Paul, and Daniel it was spontaneous prayer and also about engaging in formal times of prayer regularly each day.

What would that look like in our lives?  Could we set aside a time to pray upon arriving at work, during morning break, at lunch, during afternoon break, and before departing for the day?  Each prayer time could be specific and focused.  Perhaps this is a great experiment to try for a few days.  Maybe it’ll grow into weeks, months, years…

Scripture reference: 1 Thessalonians 2: 9-13