pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Harvest Fields

Reading: Matthew 9: 35-38

Verse 38: Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.

Jesus spent most of His three years of formal ministry being out and amongst the people.  Our opening line reminds us how Jesus went through all the towns and villages teaching, preaching, and healing.  He spent time in the synagogues, but He also spent a great deal of His time outside the walls of the church building.  When we think about all of the stories of Jesus that we find in the Gospels, not too many actually take place in the formal church setting.  This is our first lesson today.

As Jesus spent time with people, as He saw the crowds, “He had compassion” for the people.  Jesus saw the people and their need for a Savior.  Matthew writes that they were “harassed and helpless”.  We too are called to the last, the least, and the broken.  These are the harrassed and helpless of our day.  We are called to also offer compassion as we feed, clothe, visit…  We are called to offer what we can to those in need.  But moreso we are called to share our faith.  Verse 36 ends with, “like sheep without a shepherd”.  To not know Jesus is to wander through life, bouncing from one thing to another in our search for contentment and satisfaction.  Only through knowing Jesus Christ do we find peace and hope in this life.  Jesus had compassion on the people, loved on them, and gave them all He had to offer as He served among them.  This is our second lesson.

Our passage ends with, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field”.  Jesus is encouraging the disciples to go out into the harvest fields.  In the very next verse, 10:1, Jesus sends the 12 out to do what He has been doing: to teach, preach, and heal.  When I think about my community, I see harvest fields.  There are many who do not know the love and grace that Jesus Christ offers.  They have never heard the good news.  Relatively speaking, yes the workers are few.  My prayer is to be sent out into the harvest fields.  My hope is to share the faith I profess with others today.  May it be so.

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Teach and Share. Repeat.

Reading: 2Timothy 3:14 to 4:5

Timothy has been richly blessed in his life.  His family has encouraged and taught him on his early faith journey.  They planted and nurtured the seeds of faith that God watered and made grow.  Paul steps into Timothy’s life to continue to teach and correct and encourage him as he grows in his faith.  Timothy is now at a point where he is ready to preach the Word, to use his faith to help others on their journey of faith.  Timothy’s faith has grown to the point that he feels God’s call upon his life.

We too have walked (or are walking) a similar path.  Our faith is meant to be lived out in community.  It began that we with Jesus and a small group of followers.  Jesus taught them the faith so that they too could one day share the good news with others.  After they had been with Jesus for a sufficient time, He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.  The disciples went out and shared their growing faith with others.  Their own faith grew and they returned to Jesus to learn some more.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples continued to learn and grow from each other and by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We, as current disciples, are called to the same life.  Be in the community, be in small groups to encourage, support, and learn together.  Go out into the world to teach and Share our faith.  Return for more encouraging, supporting, and learning.  Head back out into the world to teach and Share.  Repeat often.  May we learn to follow Jesus’ example, modeled by Paul as well.


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Sabbath Honor

Reading: Luke 13: 14-17

Laws are important.  Imagine for a moment living in a society that had no laws.  It is a frightening image.  In reality, all groups, societies, and cultures have laws or norms that they live by.  Even a band of thieves has some norms that govern life within that group.  Civil societies have many laws that govern behavior and establish order.  The purpose of laws is to protect us, to keep us safe, and help the community function.  And although the law is the law, there are times we see the law as optional or as flexible.  For example, we may walk across a street somewhere other than the crosswalk or we may drive a bit over the speed limit.  Other laws seem to be more absolute.  Election laws are followed precisely and none would ever condone breaking the laws against child abuse.

For the synagogue ruler in today’s reading and for other religious authorities in Jesus’ day, all of the law was absolute.  Keeping every letter of the law is what separated them from and elevated them about the rest of society.  Consequently, they held the view that if you break one letter of the law, you break the whole law.  Jesus grew up a practicing Jew.  He understood and knew the law.  He also understood that at times, as was the case today, that God’s law will at times trump man’s laws.

Jesus chooses to heal a woman on the Sabbath.  Jesus knew the laws against working on the Sabbath.  He also knew that almost everyone there had tended to the animals or the children or …  Jesus knew that the religious authorities had so defined the Sabbath through a myriad of laws that keeping all of the laws had superceded actually honoring God on the Sabbath.  They had lost sight of the day being about resting in God.  The leaders were so caught up in the laws that there was little time left to honor and worship God.  The laws had become the focus.  Lost was the renewing of the mind, body, and spirit that comes from a whole day dedicated to God.

On the Sabbath Jesus sees a women who needs mind, body, and spirit renewed.  She has been captive to her infirmity for many long years.  So Jesus frees her.  He heals her so that she can fully worship God, which she does immediately.  Instead of keeping the whole of the Sabbath law, Jesus instead chooses to honor the Sabbath by following one of God’s ultimate laws – love your neighbor.  Healing this woman was not work.  It brought honor to God.  It restored a child of God to wholeness.  May all we do this Sabbath day bring honor and glory to God.


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Step Forth Boldly

Reading: Luke 10: 16-20

In a way Naaman and the 72 are opposites.  Naaman loads up the treasure to pay for his healing and heads off to find the man of God.  The 72 go out with nothing, taking the word of God, empowered by Jesus, to give away healing and hope.  In Naaman is healed, he may be drawn near to God.  The 72 are going out to bring the kingdom of God near to all people.  Even to those who reject the Prince of Peace, the disciples proclaim that He is near.  Too many of today’s Christians and too many of our churches today are more like Naaman, seeking to get something from God instead of striving to offer God to others.

Earlier in Luke 10 Jesus stated the reason for sending out the 72: “the harvest is plentiful”.  It is certainly plentiful today as well!  The disciples trusted in Jesus’ power and stepped out boldly to heal the sick and to proclaim that the kingdom of God was drawing near.  At first they must have been way outside their comfort zones.  Naaman too must have wondered a time or two what in the world he was doing as well.  But God rewarded their faithfulness.  Both the 72 and Naaman experienced firsthand the simple power of God to bring healing and to know personally how impactful the kingdom is in their lives.

Jesus calls on us today in the same ways.  Trust in Him and in His power to guide us.  Rely on Jesus alone.  Go forth and trust in the Lord of the Harvest.  May we too boldly step outside of our comfort zones, trusting that God will lead.  Through our simple faith, may we this day bring the kingdom of God near.


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Presence

Reading: Psalm 77: 1-2 & 11-20

Psalm 77 begins with, “I cried out to God for help; I cried out for God to hear me”.  In this opening line we can feel connection.  Whether recent, long ago, or present, we have all had occasions to cry out to God and to lay out great need at His feet.  When we find ourselves at the end of our hope, we desperately reach out to God and beg Him to hear our prayer.

Then the psalmist goes on remind himself of all that God has done.  In this way we too can recall times we have been in God’s presence in our past and can again rejoice in the blessings we have and are currently experiencing.  Then he goes on to recount God’s goodness and the many miracles God has worked in the past.  In the midst of a difficult time it is important to think on God’s love, goodness, and power.

As the Psalm concludes, the writer recalls God’s leading of the people.  God still desires to lead us each day of our lives as well.  God seeks to be an active and engaged participant in our lives.  In times of stress or trial it can be easy to forget God’s role in our lives.  Even in those times that He seems to be absent, He is always ad near as our next prayer.

God’s desire is to heal and save the world.  The master plan is to make all things new again.  There is hope in our faith.  We do go through dark moments in our lives, but we also dance in God’s light and love.  May today be a day of dancing.  And even if the dance is slow and mournful, may it also be bathed in God’s presence.


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Prayers and Promises

At times we wrestle with a deep ache inside.  Sorrow and dreams that never come to be are two of the things in life that we all face at times.  It can be that moment we realize we are not going to make the team or get that position or promotion.  It can be when a relationship ends or when one we love passes on.  The deep ache inside is very real.

Hannah longed for a child.  Peninnah, the other wife, had borne Elkanah children and was more than willing to point this out to Hannah.  Elkanah loves Hannah more.  Peninnah’s unfulfilled dreams was to be the love of Elkanah’s life, but she was second in his heart.  To soothe her ache she lashed out.  But the ache remained.  Human solutions and efforts do not heal such aches.

Hannah chose instead to bring her ache to God.  In prayer she poured out her heart to God.  In faith she turned to the only one who can truly bring us the healing we need.  God heard the prayers of His faithful servant.  God’s response filled Hannah’s ache and brought her hope.

God may not bring us the job or the child or the spot on the team.  He may not restore the relationship and seeing our loved one who has gone on waits for us to join them in eternity.  But God does respond to the prayers of the faithful servant.  If we allow How to, He will restore, heal, and pour His love into us.  The promise is not to give us all the desires of our heart.  The promise is to be present, to dwell in us, to fill us with His love, to give us what we need.  For this great love, thank you God.

Scripture reference: 1 Samuel 1: 4-8


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Accept, Accept, Accept

At times in life we find ourselves where we do not want to be.  There are things we cannot control, such as health, and we feel a little powerless.  Sometimes it as if we were on the other side of a window looking at an unfolding scenario.  We desire to rush in and change things, but we cannot.

Jesus experienced this in His hometown.  He was there to teach and heal but He could not.  He was amazed at their unbelief.  Jesus did not scold them or have a meltdown or launch into a rant.  He simply moved on to other places and continued His work.  He also sent out the twelve to teach and heal.  Perhaps in reaction to what happened in His hometown, the twelve were sent out with the instruction not to take anything along but instead to rely on the hospitality of those they ministered to.  If people were not welcoming, they simply moved on.

Again, there was no forcing the issue.  There was no shoving faith down someone’s throat.  There was no judgment or condemnation.  The twelve simply shook the dust off their sandals and moved on.  I hope to show the same grace and love the next time someone rejects my attempt to share faith with them.

The lessons here for us are many.  Accept things as they are without dwelling on disappointment, anger, …  Accept the situation as it is without piling on our own expectations or judgments.  Accept the possibilities that God places before us.  Live fully in the moment at hand, offer all that we have and are, and experience God’s transforming power at work.

Scripture reference: Mark 6: 1-13