pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


Leave a comment

Out of Love

Reading: Matthew 16: 16-20

Verse 16: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

As we continue along on our faith journey, we come to know Jesus Christ more and more as our faith develops and matures.  We come to know Jesus in various dimensions: friend, shepherd, redeemer, healer, restorer, protector, and so on.  He comes to be all things to each believer.  The longer we walk with Jesus, the longer our list becomes.  If we were asked the question “Who do you say I am?” today and then again in a month, our answer might be different.  Yet no matter our need or where we are at in life, ultimately our answers all tie back to Peter’s confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”.

As the Son of the living God, Jesus embodies God’s character.  Central to that character is love.  Above all else, love arches over everything.  It is God’s unending love for you and me that first drew us into relationship with Him.  It is through this love that we experience grace.  Grace is God’s undeserved, unmerited free gift of forgiveness.  Because grace is built upon God’s love it is also unending.  Love is at the core of all Jesus is for us.  He guides us out of love.  He redeems us out of love.  He heals us out of love.  He ___ out of love…

Once we begin to understand the depth of Jesus’ love for us, we begin to sense the call to share this gift with others.  As we go forth and share this love, it grows in us.  So this day, whether in word or action or deed, may each of our lives join Peter in declaring Jesus Christ the Son of the living God.


Leave a comment

Light

Reading: Matthew 5: 13-16

Upon entering the old gold mining shaft, it seems like the old coffee can lanterns are just not very bright.  But as we proceed and our eyes adjust to the darkness of the cave, those little candles seem awfully bright.  Usually when we get to the small room at the end of the main tunnel, we have a short devotional and then blow out all the candles.  In that moment it is absolutely dark.  After a short prayer, we relight one candle.  It seems so bright.  As we pass the light from one lantern to the next, the small room becomes brightly illuminated.

Jesus’ words today speak of us being a light in the darkness.  We need to be a light because, in the world, there is much darkness.  Satan created much darkness in people’s lives.  Through the lies and deceptions Satan tricks and leads many into sin.  Jesus calls us to be the light that shines into this darkness in people’s lives.  Just as the small candle lit up that room in the cave, the light of Christ within us can expose what lingers in the dark.  Sometimes the light is a relief as it spreads and casts out the darkness.  Sometimes the light is very bright at first and causes one to recoil – just like that one candle that was relit after the time in darkness.  But gradually the light is welcomed as the love of Christ begins to work in their heart.

The light we bring is so often what one living in darkness so desires.  When one feels stuck or lost in life and does not know where to turn or how to even get moving, the light can guide their path as the Holy Spirit gets ahold of them.  When one is mired in the pain or loss or grief that life has brought, the light brings warmth and hope in the arms of the great Comforter.  When one is trapped in addiction or some other situation, the light reveals the first steps of recovery as the loving Healer touches their life.  When one cannot see past their doubt or feelings of unworthiness, the light of the compassionate Redeemer takes them by the hand and pours in love and value as a child of God.

We are children of the Light.  “Let your light shine before all men so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”.  Be the light today!


2 Comments

Healer

Reading: Luke 13: 10-13

Many people live with pain.  For some, it is related to life.  Some live in pain from a sport or activity that they participated in.  Some live in pain from an accident they were involved in.  For others, they live with pain that cannot be traced back to an event or activity, but simply started one day and has persisted.  For many, either the pain is not serious enough to warrant surgery or medical relief is delayed for a number of reasons.  In any event, many people live with pain over a prolonged period of time.

People become accustomed to living with pain.  It is part of life.  But it can affect our personality and outlook on life.  There are times when the pain is worse than normal and it makes all of life darker and gloomier.  Some have found the grace and strength to rise above the pain, but for many it is a daily struggle.

We all know people who live with chronic pain or perhaps we do ourselves.  So we can relate to the woman in today’s passage.  She has lived with pain for 18 years.  To put it in perspective, she has been vent over, unable to straighten up, for 6,570 days.  If she is like us, she has been to every doctor she could find.  She has been to the priest.  She has offered sacrifices.  She has tried to make deals with God.  And then one day at the temple a man calls her over.  He simply says, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity”.  He touches her and she is immediately healed.  Life changing.

For each of us, when healing comes, it is often a mystery.  Whether a physical, emotional, or spiritual healing, often it is a mystery why we are suddenly better.  The pain or blue feeling or lostness is suddenly gone.  We may not understand but we rejoice and give thanks to God.  God has come to us and touched us too.  God continues to desire to come to us, to bring healing, to be with us in our time of need.  When in any form of pain or hurt, we must take it to God.  At a minimum God will give us the grace and strength we need to love and live the life we have.  At best, we are set free.  Turn to the healer.  Trust in the healer.  Allow God to change your life.


Leave a comment

His Ways

The psalmist refers to God as their refuge, rescuer, and deliverer.  These are just a few of the many names we can attribute to God.  Others include, but are certainly not limited to, healer, provider, forgiver, restorer, reconciler, redeemer, comforter, King, and guide.  Each of these names speak to a characteristic or trait of God.  As His children, we call on Him to act on or to be these things as we seek His action through our prayers.  It is at times as if we are reminding God of who He is in hopes of finding healing or restoration or whatever it is we are petitioning God for.

The names we attach to God can also remind us of who He is.  The many and varied names remind us of how powerful and limitless our God is.  The fact that He is so many things to us reinforces the belief that God can be our all in all.  As we consider this, we come to realize that our God is capable of anything.

Yet, to us, God does not always do all that we ask.  Or so it appears to us.  For example, in the midst of a storm or trial in life, we ask our Great Deliverer to deliver us from the situation.  Or perhaps we come to our Great Healer and ask for Him to bring healing to a friend or loved one.  But we find that the trial goes on or that the person passes away.  We question if He is indeed deliverer or healer.  We forget that His plans are not our plans.  Maybe in the first case God was not quite done refining us.  Maybe in the second, the person found the healing they truly needed.  His ways are far above our ways.

In the end, if we are faithful, we will find deliverance or healing or whatever we seek.  May we be ever faithful and trust in His ways and in His plans for our lives.

Scripture reference: Psalm 71: 1-3


Leave a comment

Revealing Jesus?

In the day people thought Jesus was many things: teacher, prophet, healer.  Some even thought He was the Messiah, the Holy One of God.  Two thousand years later the answers are not all that different: a wise teacher, a good person, a revolutionary hero, a symbolic figurehead.  Some still see Him as Messiah.

In the day those who refused to see Jesus as the Messiah had something to hold on to.  The political and religious leaders had their positions and power to hold on to.  Others had the same things we do.  They and us hold onto our illusion that we are in control, of having time before we really have to commit to this Jesus, or of Him not being the absolute Lord of life.  Like many in the day and like many since then, we yield up some control of our life and offer a level of allegiance to Jesus the Christ.  But we hold onto some ourselves; we are not totally committed.

In the day Jesus’ disciple Peter correctly identified Him as the Messiah but Jesus told them not to tell anyone.  Perhaps the claim of divinity would have been too much right then or maybe some would look to Jesus for political and military leadership.  It was enough at that point for the disciples to know.  Soon many would come to know Jesus as the Son of God.

If one were to simply observe our life and listen in on the conversations we have, would we reveal Jesus as the Messiah?  If we are seeking to draw others to Jesus as Lord, then the answer has to be ‘yes’.  Our lives “reveal” who we ‘say’ Jesus is.  May we live in such a way as to reveal that Jesus is Lord of our life and is a Lord others want to get to know.

Scripture reference: Mark 8: 27-30


Leave a comment

One Small Step

At the very beginning of the story in Mark, Jesus was just a rabbi.  The news of who he really was wasn’t out yet.  In Mark, he began his formal ministry teaching in the synagogue, where he also cast an evil spirit out of a man.  What stood out to the people was the authority by which Jesus taught.

That day Jesus also went to Simon’s house, one of the first disciples.  There he healed Simon’s mother-in-law.  News of the man Jesus began to spread because by night many people from the town were brought to Jesus for healing and others were brought so that he could cast out their demons.  Someone more than a good teacher was present.  But Jesus would not let the demons speak – they knew who He really was.  As the day wore on, people must have been wondering just who or what this Jesus was.

For some today this is still Jesus – a nice person who had good teachings and maybe healed and did a few other amazing things.  Some call them ‘miracles’ but…  They like and respect him but do not commit to Him.  They may even follow some of his teachings but are not all-in for Him.  They are not quite willing to surrender their lives to this man Jesus.

Yet this step of knowing about Jesus is a first step.  It is a beginning.  It is the start of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives.  It is the first evidence of seeds planted and starting to take root.  As believers we must be sensitive to the curious and the seekers among us.  We must share our stories and experiences, to help faith become more ‘real’ for them.  We are just one small step along their journeys of faith.  May we be a good step for all.

Scripture reference: Mark 1: 29-34