pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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A Delightful Inheritance

Reading: Psalm 16: 1-6

Verse 2: I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord, apart from you I have no good thing”.

Today’s portion of Psalm 16 describes the intimate relationship King David had with God and also defines the relationship with God that followers of Christ also enjoy.  David opens the Psalm with “keep me safe”.  Another translation reads, “Protect me”.  Our relationship with the Lord begins here as well.  There is much in the world that we need God to keep us safe from and to protect us from: temptation, sin, death – just to name a few.  Like David, we too take refuge or find shelter in God.

In verse two David writes, “I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord, apart from you I have no good thing'”.  He is acknowledging what we must acknowledge each day as well.  All of the good things in life, all of our blessings, come from the God who loves us as His dear children.  It is so important to acknowledge this and to give our thanks to God every day.  It keeps us connected.  It keeps us humble.  It keeps us in proper relationship to God.

In the next verse, David gives thanks for the ‘saints’ – those who have gone before and have given us an example of how to love God and how to live out our faith.  These include the greats of the faith: Moses, Elijah, and Daniel for David; Jesus, Paul, Peter, pastors, parents, that Sunday school teacher for us.  Part of giving thanks for these ‘saints’ is also in recognizing our own call to be this for those to come.

Verse four touches on worldly things, ‘other gods’, as David puts it.  We too can get caught up in chasing after these things: money, fame, power, beauty, possessions, and so on.  As David notes, chasing such things only brings sorrow.

In contrast to “chasing the wind”, as Solomon wrote, David is secure and content in his lot.  David gladly accepts the “portion” and the “cup” assigned to him by God.  We too can find great contentment when we rest in God and all that He provides for us.  It is true that, like Paul, at times we may know want just as we know plenty.  And like Paul, we too know that God is present in all situations.  In this there is also contentment and peace.

David concludes this portion of the Psalm by stating that his “boundary lines” have fallen in “pleasant places”.  He is joyful about where God has placed him.  He loves living within God’s ways.  He concludes this portion with these words: “surely I have a delightful inheritance”.  Surely he does.  So do all who call on the name of the Lord as their refuge and strength.  Thanks be to God!


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Prepare

Reading: Luke 12: 16-21

Jesus asks, “Who will get what you have prepared for yourself?”  The answer we give to that question can come on the earthly level or on the spiritual level.  Jesus is posing a serious question that can be difficult to answer or even to wrestle with.

In terms of possessions, the things requiring bigger barns, our culture has shifted a great deal over the past fifty years.  We have gone from a society that cared for our family to the end of life to one that places our loved ones in a facility.  We often grew up and then lived in the same town all of our lives and now many young people cannot identify a ‘home town’s because they moved so often.  Great, great grandma Ethel’s China hutch that was eyed by many as her life ebbed away now has no value for young eyed.  Who would want that old thing?  In terms of our possessions, more and more it is about the bank account.  People want an inheritance they can spend how they want and on what they want.

To that end we have become a society that accumulates money.  Almost all else has become disposable.  Thus, for many their security is in how much they have in the bank.  Our reality is that we all need money.  Each of us requires ‘x’ dollars per day or week based on a number of factors.  This is determined by questions such as: ‘how big a house?’, ‘how new a car?’, ‘how often a vacation?’, ‘how many clothes in the closet?’

Looking at Jesus’ question from the spiritual side is a reality check.  If we are the recipient as well, are we preparing for life eternal?  If we prepare for this well, there is a trickle down affect.  The inheritance our children and grandchildren receive is the gift of faith.  The answers to the above questions are very different.  We see wealth as something we are blessed with so that we can bless others.  This holy day, may we wrestle with this side of the question.


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Secure?

Reading: Luke 12: 13-15

The issue of greed is the central focus of today’s reading.  One brother asks Jesus to help him get his share of his father’s estate.  We do not know his status – rich, poor, comfortable, in deep need.  Nor do we know his brother’s situation.  Jesus does not seem to care about this.  He aims right at a huge issue in the day and probably for these brothers: greed.  This focus may or may not be related to the man’s request for his share of the inheritance.

Greed us certainly an issue still today.  So Jesus’ teaching on greed is still very relevant today.  It always will be so.  Just as the brother is warned to be on their guard against greed, we too are warned.  We must be on our guard against greed because it can so easily become consuming of our focus and attention.

In the parable Jesus is clear that greed is not the possessing of things but in being possessed by what we have or what we lust after.  It is entirely possible to have much and be possessed by none of it.  We can be richly blessed and be very generous in offering what we have when a need arises.  But it is hard.  To attain wealth takes some time and effort, therefore we tend to develop an attachment to our wealth.  This is hard especially in our culture.  The main message of society is more, more, more.  Society encourages us to own or have as much as we can.  This easily leads to the mindset of greed.

So Jesus is right to warn us of greed.  We must be on our guard to not be drawn into being possessed by what we possess or desire to possess.  To do so our focus must be on Christ and the treasures of His kingdom.  This is the true inheritance we must seek.  It is the only inheritance that matters.  Our possessions do not secure our future.  It is our relationship with Jesus Christ that secures our future.  He is the only way, truth, and life.  May we do all we can to seek Jesus as our all in all.  Holy Spirit work in us this day to set Jesus as our all in all. 


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When He Calls

“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance…” (verse 34).  On the day you stand before the Lord, do you hope to hear those words of acceptance and inclusion?  I sure do.  But today’s parable is about how some who think they are “in” are sent away from heaven and into eternal punishment.

Evidently the filter for our eternal destination is not totally about whether or not we believe in God or Jesus.  It is not about the career we had or how much wealth, possessions, or status we accummulated.  It is not even really about if we were regular chuch attenders or consistent givers to the church.  Instead of caring about who we were or what we had, Jesus appears to be more concerned about how we live our lives – about the condition of our hearts.

In today’s parable Jesus chooses serving the poor and powerless as the filter.  The inheritance we all want went to those who fed the hungry, clothed the naked, cared for the sick, and visited the prisoner.  And moreso than if we did any of these things, Jesus is concerned with how we did them.  When one works with another in need, is it out of love and compassion, so you see them as Jesus did?  Or is one there because they have to be or because it is the ‘right thing to do’?

“Whatever you did not do to the least of these, you did not do for me” (verse 45) was Jesus’ response to those who thought they were “in” but were not.  It is not that we all have to be in full time ministy to the poor, but it is really about how we respond when God calls.  Are we willing to lovingly serve those God places before us or to give our time or gifts when they are needed?  Do we hear God’s voice speaking through the Holy Spirit?  Do we answer His call?  And most importantly, when we do answer, do we see Jesus in all we meet and in all the situations that God calls us to?

Scripture reference: Matthew 25: 31-46