pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Back to the Wheel

Reading: Jeremiah 18: 1-6

Verse 4: “So the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him”.

As a potter sits at the wheel with a piece of clay, in their mind is an idea of what the clay will become. It may be a bowl or a cup or a plate or a pitcher in the idea that the potter envisions. As the wheel turns, the potter’s hands gently but firmly shape the clay into something. Sometimes the thing that begins to evolve is not what the potter had envisioned. The potter then reforms the lump and begins to sculpt again, creating that which was planned.

God and the relationship with humanity is much like the metaphor of the potter and the clay. God formed Adam then Eve in his image. Since then God has knit each of us together in the womb, as we read about the last two days in Psalm 139. Ever since the creation of the world, God has had a plan. At times the people of God have wandered from that plan, becoming a thing that God had not intended. And like the potter, God worked to reshape the people, bringing them back to what was planned. As is the case today, God sends a prophet to try and guide the people back to God and back into a right relationship with God.

This general pattern has continued since the creation of the world. The cycle of sin is ever repeated. God, in abundant patience and love, continues to shape and reform us into what we were created to be.

When I think about my life and the cummulative journey of my 53+ years, I am amazed. I cannot even begin to fathom how many times God has said, “Back to the wheel”! More than the “stars in the sky” comes to mind. What amazes me is that God always remains faithful. When I take option “John” instead of option God, God just revises. God goes to plan B or C or Z to get me heading back to point Q. Like the potter, God continues to shape my life, to work me back around to his plan, to help me be what I was created to be. How grateful I am.

As you look back on your years, how has God shaped and formed and reshaped you? How is God doing so today?

Prayer: Creating God, continue to work within me, ever shaping me to be who you created me to be. Form my will to yours, O God. Work in me to shape me more and more into your son’s image. Carry me through the valleys and hard days. Amen.


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The Law

Reading: Psalm 19: 7-14

Verse Eleven: “By them [the Law] is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward”.

The Law that began simply with the Ten Commandments is the core of the Old Testament and Jewish religious practices. The Law is what defines the relationship between God and the chosen people. The Law also teaches how God expects His people to be in relationship with each other. Yes, over time the Law became a man-made beast with over six hundred rules or statutes. It was practically impossible to keep all of the Law. Yes, in the New Testament we see a shift away from the rigid Law with all of its punishments and consequences to a covenant relationship with Jesus based upon love and grace. Because of all this, the Law tends to have a bad reputation in Christian circles.

Today, I invite you to consider the Law from the psalmist’s perspective. At its core, the Law is good and holy because it is from God. Even Jesus said He did not come to abolish but to fulfill the Law. The psalmist sees the Law as it was intended. Listen to the words he uses to describe the Law: perfect, trustworthy, giving joy to the heart and light to the eyes, more precious than gold. Instead of seeing the Law as something that limited and only dealt in consequences, the psalmist sees the Law as providing structure and guidance in his relationship with God. The Law is seen as the teacher. With the Law we learn of our shortcomings; this leads us to walk a more holy path and to recognize our need for God.

In these ways the Law is not much different than the ways of Jesus in the New Testament. Jesus was all about showing us how to live out God’s love in the world. Jesus was all about the relationships He had with God and with His fellow man. These things too are the essence of the Law. The psalmist wrote, “By them [the Law] is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward”. The reward comes in knowing God better and in having a fuller understanding of our relationships with God and with each other. May we be open to the Law and all that it reveals about God, His love, His plan for creation, and His intent for humanity. Jesus is still our way, truth, and life. But there is also much to learn from the Law.


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Unity

Reading: Psalm 133

Verse Three: There the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore.

Unity is fragile and something we must be aware of and be willing to work to maintain.  In this sense, unity is a mindset.  It is something either we value and are willing to give effort towards or it is not.  Unity and the desire to have unity are fueled by love and faith.  As unity is something that can be broken easily, we need to recognize that our humanity makes unity hard to maintain.  This difficulty grows with each person or group added to the mix.

Within our families, unity is driven most by love.  We want those we love to be happy and cared for and content.  Yet every once in a while we do or say something selfish or in anger and unity is temporarily lost.  As our desire for unity is driven by love, we quickly work to restore it.  We apologize or we correct the wrong and receive forgiveness.

But as the circle grows, unity becomes increasingly harder.  Other people and groups we are not a part of have differing thoughts, interests, and opinions.  At times these seem to be in contrast to our thoughts, interests, and opinions.  If we truly see all as dearly loved by God and all as worthy of our love as well, then we must begin to seek to understand those who are not just like us.  It is only when we stop and listen to the other that we can begin to find some common ground.  This common ground allows us then to speak the truth in love.  We must be careful here – the truth is God’s truth in love, not our truth in love.  From here we must be willing to seek a way forward.  We must be open to envisioning the way forward as God envisions the way forward and we must allow God to lead.  For our part, we must live into God’s plan.

Over all of this is love and forgiveness.  Recognizing our own humanity, we should be ready to offer love and forgiveness in heaps.  Unity is how God designed creation and how He intends the world to be.  “There the Lord bestows His blessing, even life forevermore”.