pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Modeling God’s Love

Reading: Psalm 24: 1-2

Verse 1: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”.

Today’s passage connects back to Genesis 1. There we find the familiar words, “in the beginning”. When there was nothing, God created – first the heavens and earth and then light, sky, and land. God would go on to create all living creatures, including humanity. It is from this place of understanding that the psalmist writes, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”. God is the creator.

It did not take long for mankind to question our place in the created order. Almost since the beginning of time mankind has wrestled with our position in the world. Consequently, God’s role as supreme, all-powerful creator has been questioned too. “Progress” in many fields has led to a questioning of God’s role in creation and the world and even of God’s existence. Yet, when push comes to shove or when we find ourselves in a time of trial and testing, we come to the honest realization that we have very little control. When one breathes their last, we are helpless. When cancer or other diseases set their course, in spite of our best efforts, we are powerless. When mother nature gathers power and moves across land or sea, we cannot deter her or alter her course or lessen her might.

Even though God is creator and is in control, we do have roles to play in the world. We are called to partner with and to work with God to love and care for the earth and for each other. We love and care for the earth and all of creation the same way we love and care for our fellow human beings. We model the love of God that we find in Jesus Christ. It is a love that considers others before ourselves. It is a love that sacrifices for the good of the other. It is a love that seeks what is best for the other.

When we live out this type of love and allow it to lead and guide all of our decisions and choices, then we honor and glorify God’s intent for all of creation. May it be so for you and me this day and every day.

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Praise

Reading: Psalm 148

Verses 1 and 7: “Praise the Lord from the heavens… from the earth”.

The psalmist calls for all created things to praise the Lord.  He begins with the heavens -the angels, the heavenly host, the sun, moon, and stars, and the sky.  All of these objects in the heavenly realm were created by God and they praise God continually through their splendor and beauty.  They testify to God’s power and might.  The angels and heavenly host praise God continually as they gather around the throne.  Next the psalmist goes on to include all created things on the earth – living and non-living alike.  The mountains, hills, and trees join the sun, moon, and stars in bringing praise to God.  Coming alongside of these are all forms of life, including all types of people.  In the Psalm we see the praise brought to God by all things.

In the Psalm we also gain a sense of the connected nature of all things.  There is a sense that all things have value and that all things matter to one another.  In this way the Psalm reminds me of Paul’s words concerning the parts of the body in 1st Corinthians 12.  Each part of creation would be less if a part of it were missing.  Although mankind is listed near the end of the Psalm, our role is primary in the care for creation and all of life.  As the pinnacle of God’s creation, our role as steward must be taken seriously.  This too is a part of our praise to God.

The Psalm closes with a focus on the singular nature of our praise.  We should not praise our own accomplishments (individually or corporately) but should keep our praise focused on the creator and giver of all good things all things: God.  “Praise the Lord from the heavens… from the earth”.  May we join our voices with all of creation as we praise the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.


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Honor Creation

Reading: Psalm 8

Verse Six: You made him ruler over the world of your hands, You put everything under his feet.

Psalm 8 opens with praise for God.  It then shifts to acknowledge the glory and wonder found in the works of His hands.  Mankind enters the picture in verse four.  “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” reminds us that relative to the heavens, moon, and stars, mankind is a little less.  Yet we are still deeply loved by God.

Verses six through eight establishes the hierarchy here on earth.  Verse six reads, “You made him ruler over the world of your hands, You put everything under his feet”.  This verse clearly establishes mankind as the ruler of the earthly world.  The word “everything” is pretty inclusive.  The list that comes next covers it: flocks, herds, beasts, birds, fish.  Psalm 8 closes with its opening line of praise, but perhaps this time it has a slightly different tone.

Over the years, mankind has indeed ruled the earth.  How well the collective “we” had ruled is debatable.  At times we have practiced things that were bad for the earth.  While at times “we” have harmed the earth, the general trend has been to care for it.  I do not think anyone could argue that we have we cared for it as well as we could have.  Certainly we could have been more diligent in our forethought.  There are things we should have avoided doing but failed to.  This is revealed in our long history of harming the earth and then trying to fix or at least mediate what we did.  Too often progress and the profit margin have led the way and we have done great harms to our waters, land, sky, and the populations of many plants and animals.  The extinction list, for example, has way too many names on it.

If we do indeed praise God and bring honor to the creation of His hands, how do we reflect that in our choices and decisions?  As Christians, we can make choices and decisions that help the earth or do it less harm.  As followers of Christ, we can stand up to protect the earth when we should.  As those in charge of the creation, we can love it as God loves us – caring well for the earth.  It is a monumental task to care for the earth, but it is well within our abilities.  May we love and care for this amazing creation well as we honor God’s work.


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Deep, Deep Love

God’s love is amazing.  God’s love is unending.  God’s love is steadfast and true.  He calls us to abide in His love, to dwell in it, to soak it up, to share it with others.  His perfect love was shown on the cross as God allowed His Son to be our atoning sacrifice.

The cross is also the symbol of how we are to love.  The vertical beam represents the love that flows back and forth between us and God.  Despite our failings and stumblings, His love still always extends to us, always calls us back into relationship with Him.  As we find forgiveness after forgiveness and come to know how much God loves us, our own love begins to flow out to our fellow man.  This love is represented in the horizontal beam of the cross.

At times these relationships with our fellow man will challenge us.  Just as we are to others, some are harder for us to love.  Just as in “The Shack” the God character always said, “I am especially fond of that one,” we too are called to not only say this but to live this out.

One of the best parts of how big God’s love is is shown in our struggles to love all of our neighbors.  His love is so big that we can draw and draw upon it.  In those cases when we especially struggle to love one of our brothers or sisters, draw deep into the love of God.  Soak in His love.  Abide in His love.  Steep in His love.  Then go forth to love that friend in Christ.

Scripture reference: 1 John 4: 7-21


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Love As He Loves

As God continues creation He culminates His work by making mankind in “our image”.  We are created in the image of the Holy One.  Just as God made all, He charges mankind, the one created in God’s image, to care for the earth and all of creation.  We are called to stewardship over what God created.  God gives plants and animals as food and gives the command to all of creation to be fruitful and multiply.  As God finishes creation, He says it is “very good”.

It is too easy to read ‘very good’ as applying simply to mankind.  I think it refers to the whole He created.  It is like a banana split – the ice cream is good, the banana is good, the toppings are good, the whipped cream is good – but together they are very good.  God saw the sum of creation and said it was ‘very good’.

God is a God of relationships.  We are called into a personal relationship with Him through His son Jesus.  When God looked at the complete works of His hands, He saw the relationship between all parts and that was what is very good.  It is all about relationship.  In our role as the ones created in the image of God, we are called to be loving parents of one very large family.  We are called to love the earth as God loves the earth.