pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


1 Comment

Living Water

Reading: Jeremiah 2: 4-13

Where do you get your sense of worth?  Where is it from that you draw confidence, peace, and contentment?  Where do you turn in time of trial, stress, or temptation?  The answers to these questions will reveal much about your faith and your relationship with God.

Jeremiah is writing to a people who have turned away from God.  The people have strayed from God and have turned to worthless idols.  They have defiled the land with altars to foreign gods.  They have put their trust in “broken cisterns” – in their own power and might.  In this sense they have made themselves gods.

Like the people of Jeremiah’s day, we also turn to idols.  We look to our bank accounts and retirement investments for reassurance that all is well in life.  Instead of building altars to foreign gods, we park shiny new toys in our driveways and garages.  In these we see our own worth.  We see our name on the door of our office with its fancy title and think we are content.  But when a storm rolls in we turn to alcohol or drugs to dull the pain or to TV or the internet to numb the mind.  Too often God is a last resort, a desperate prayer when we have exhausted all other options.

Soon enough the shiny becomes dull, the title just isn’t what it once was, and the ways to cope don’t seem to be working anymore.  We feel lost and stuck at the same time.  All the while the Holy Spirit has been present, trying to turn us outward instead of inward, to look to the only way, truth, and life instead of everywhere else.  Even in our most self-centered moments, God does not give up, does not stop loving us, does not stop reaching out.  It is a live beyond our understanding.

At some point we all come to sense that our peace, contentment, and joy cannot come from the things of this world.  They are all temporary.  At some point we all get to this place.  It is a place of silence, of being alone.  It is a place where all else is stripped away.  It is where we meet God.  Maybe it is ‘again’ for some, maybe it is the first time for others.  It is here, in this place of solitude, that the living water seeps in through all the cracks in our brokenness.  It is here that we begin to find peace, contentment, and joy.  But our cracks remain.  We are imperfect creations.  We will lose our focus and fall back to the things of this world.  We will stray from God and our souls will become dry.  But our God is never done with us.  This living water is always seeking to seep back in, to fill us up.  Always.  It is a love beyond our understanding.

This day and every day, may we enter the silence, draw near to God, and confess our sins.  This day and every day, may we invite God in so that the living water will fill us up.


Leave a comment

Patience That Never Ends

Moses come down the mountain with God’s Holy Law as found in the Ten Commandments.  His face is literally radiant from His time with the Almighty.  Trip number one was interrupted by the people encamped at the foot of the mountain when they decided to make and worship a golden idol.  They did so while they could see God’s glory just outside of camp.  It is amazing that His presence could be so close yet they turn to a false god.

In reality we are the same.  Right in the middle of worship, have you ever had an unkind thought about the family coming in late or the song that was selected or the pastor’s message?  In the Holy presence of God one can go directly from saying the Lord’s Prayer to questioning or judging the words used in the morning prayer.  Even while in worship, our lips can bring praise but out hearts are far from God.

The same is often true for other times in our lives.  After a moving morning devotional time, we can get in the car and curse a fellow driver.  After spending a few minutes in awe praising God for the beautiful sunrise, we can turn and yell at our child for getting up a few minutes late.  How quickly we can praise God one moment and absolutely drive Him nuts the next.

And what is God’s response to all this and what does it reveal about God?  He sends Moses down the mountain one more time with the stone tablets.  He forgives us for the zillionth time.  Over and over and over He says, “Close, but… let’s try this again”.  I am so thankful that God’s patience never runs out.  How great is the Father’s love for us!  Imperfect as we are, He loves us anyway.  Thanks be to God!

Scripture reference: Exodus 34: 29-32


Leave a comment

Still Seeking Us

God does not expect perfection.  I just don’t think He ever expects us to get there in this lifetime.  Our God is a God of mystery – absolute and unconditional love for creatures who seem bent on sin and who must constantly be reminded of who we are in Him.  God will always love each of us with this amazing love.

Because of this love, God comes to meet us in all the ugliness of life.  He comes to us in our brokenness, in our failures, in our rebellion.  God does not seek out just the holiest of saints, but He seeks out each and every one of us.  That a God who is perfect in every way would seek to be in relationship with you and me is hard to comprehend.

Yet God meets us just right where we are.  His Spirit enters into our hearts and dwells within us.  In the constant battle with our inclination to temptation and sin, the Spirit never gives up, never tires of reminding us of God’s ways.  God sticks with us and continues to offer this divine presence, almost in spite of us.

It does require almost constant effort to keep us on track and on the path that God desires for our lives.  At times we take a great detour.  But it matters not – God is always there, waiting for an audience with us.  His patience must be almost as big as His love.  Each of us is capable of mirroring a glimpse of this great love and, like all good parents, God eagerly awaits those moments when His heart swells with pride and the angels cheer.  Soon enough though, we return to being just ourselves – human in all ways, imperfect in many.  Yet God still loves us.  God is still right there.  It is not about us in any way.  It is simply because of His great love.  For this, thanks be to God.

Scripture reference: 1 Kings 2:10-12 and 3: 3-14


Leave a comment

Imperfect Yet Loved

As imperfect people we are prone to sin.  Temptation is around us all day, from the leanings to think unkind thoughts all the way up to the more serious actions we may ponder.  In the mix, pride and rationalization toy with us and society tells us anything is okay, just go for it.  Yet an innate part in all of us also senses when we are about to do something wrong, whether to self or another, and it cautions us.

Even though we can admit to all of this, at times we are still reluctant to admit our sins, to bring our faults out into the light.  Often sin is also seen as a shortcoming or a weakness – things we are unlikely to admit to as well.

But perhaps the biggest thing that holds us back from admitting our sins is the idea that once we confess our sin before God, then it is out there and we are called to repent, to begin to battle that sin in our life, to turn away from it.

In Psalm 51, David writes, “Against you, you only, have I sinned.”  Our sins too are between us and God alone, for He alone can offer the mercy, forgiveness, and cleansing of our soul that we so need.  David goes on to ask God to “create a pure heart within” – something we all need as well.

We are imperfect.  We all sin.  Our God of steadfast love and unending mercy knows this.  When we come with a broken and contrite heart, His love washes over our sin and He renews our spirit.  In turn, may our lips sing His praises!

Scripture reference: Psalm 51: 1-17


Leave a comment

In Christ’s Way

God calls us to a life of holiness.  In living a life of holiness we are called to live with God’s love being our guiding light.  Although we are imperfect in our human form, we are called to emulate our perfect God.

In daily living we are called to build others up, to pray for all we encounter, to do good and to do no harm, to serve and to give to others.  Elements such as pride, greed, envy, and such are not welcome in our hearts.  Our covenant with God calls us to holiness.  And through this covenant we find God’s power being present to help us accomplish this calling.

Paul looked at holiness as a holistic or complete package.  It involves our body, mind, and soul living a life worthy of Jesus Christ. Our journey of faith should lead us closer and closer and closer to Christ.

God knows we are imperfect creatures.  As we prepare to celebrate Christ’s birth, we are also reminded that Jesus walked this earth too.  Although He was without sin, He felt all of the emotions and things we deal with and struggle with.  Jesus is on our side.  He intercedes for us.  God calls us to perfection, seeking to make saints out of our imperfection.  The road is narrow but His love never fails and His hand is always upon us, guiding and leading us to walk in Christ’s way.

Scripture reference: 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-24