pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


Leave a comment

Hard Decisions, Challenging Steps

Reading: Psalm 79: 1-4

Verse 4: “We are objects of reproach to our neighbors”.

The Babylonians invaded Israel and left a wake of death and destruction in their path. In Jerusalem, the city walls were destroyed and the temple was leveled. For the Babylonians this was just one more nation to conquer. But for the Israelites, the killing was the murder of God’s chosen people and the destruction of the temple was the defilement of God’s home. What is left is not a pretty sight. “They have poured out blood like water” paints a grim picture. To add insult to injury, “we are objects of reproach to our neighbors”. The tribes around them mock what is left of Israel.

As people of God living in an increasingly non-Christian world, we can have similar experiences and emotions. In parts of our world Christians face persecution and even death. In most of our lives, however, persecution does not rise nearly to that level. Yet being a Christian is not always easy in our modern, secular world. Many of the more recent cultural norms are decidedly anti-Christian. The rugged individualism of the past and the me-first attitude of today combine to make being a humble servant countercultural and difficult. To think less of yourself and more of others can lead to questioning and ridicule. To refuse to be immoral or unethical at work can cost one promotions and can draw the ire of those above you.

Satan works in these and in many other ways to draw us away from God and into the ways of the world. It can be hard to look at what your friends, co-workers, and neighbors are doing and to not want to go along. Inside we all have a strong desire to fit in, to belong, to be liked. At times our faith will deny us these things. Something else inside of us – the Holy Spirit – is also at work to lead and guide us to be faithful and true to the Lord our God. One day we too will be poured out and will breathe our last. But between now and then may we make the hard decisions and take the challenging steps to walk as a child of the light in a world of darkness. May we live a life worthy of the one who called us, Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Guiding God, sometimes it can be tempting to go along with the crowd or to say what pleases. Keep me ever focused on your will and your ways in my life. Hold my hand as I try to walk as a humble servant today. Amen.

Advertisements


1 Comment

Respect and Reliance

Reading: Psalm 4

In our Psalm for today we see what trust in God looks like.  David places God first and relies on God for relief from distress, for mercy for sins, for an ear in times of need, for joy in God’s presence, and for peace in his heart.  Looking at this list, who would not want these things?  All of us want joy, peace, and contentment in life.  When we allow God to be our guide, our defender, our redeemer, and our Savior then our life will be blessed.

Sometimes we get the relationship backwards though.  We set out on our own adengas and we try to be the one in control.  Our focus is on ourselves, we hunker down and move ahead with the plans we have laid.  We have a goal or a desired outcome and we try to work through or around any obstacles that come our way.  Culture reinforces our tendency towards individualism and self-centeredness.  If things get a little hard we may ask God to bless our plans or to make things work out for us.  We set ourselves up in the role of God and then ask the one true God to step in only when we need it.

But this is the reverse of how our relationship with God should be.  It is funny that at times we think we are smarter, more capable, more able … than the God who created the whole universe.  In David’s words we see the proper respect and reliance that God alone deserves.  David reminds us to pray because God hears us.  He reminds us to trust in God alone and to allow God’s light to shine upon our faces.  In verse seven, we begin to see the fruit of doing these things: “You have filled my heart with joy”.  At the end of each day, David lies down in peace.  When God is in control, David experiences blessing.  When we begin each day by submitting our will to God and by asking God to lead, we too will know joy, peace, and contentment.  May we choose each day to place all of our life in God’s hands.


Leave a comment

Bountifully Give

Jesus’ words about leaving home, family, friends, and job to follow Him seem to be difficult words.  To me it is an extension of the choice many make to die to self as they choose to put on Christ and become a new creation in Him.  Often this means we set aside some things and some people in our lives that keep us from fully pursuing a life lived in Christ.  A speaker I heard yesterday said we cannot be 99% in for Jesus – it needs to be 100%.  Until it is 100% we are holding something back.  As it says in Luke 9, we cannot put our hand to the plow and look back.  This sacrifice can be hard but we are promised great reward when we receive eternal life.

In a culture where rugged individualism is valued, we cannot allow that to isolate us or any new believers.  Christianity is not meant to be lived alone but in a community.  One’s new family and friends are the church – a group of loving and caring people who want to come along side the new believer and each other to encourage, strengthen, and support one another.  How we love and care for one another should reflect the love and care Jesus gave to the disciples.

Being such a community can be difficult in a society that so values wealth, power, and position.  These are not the things of God’s kingdom.  The economy in God’s kingdom is based on love, mercy, and forgiveness.  All of these are not things we accumulate to hoard and hold onto.  These are gifts from God that we experience so that we can give them away.  This day may we be filled with these things of God so that we may bountifully give them away.  May His light and love reign today!!

Scripture reference: Mark 10: 28-31