pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Salvation Call

Reading: Isaiah 52: 7-10

Verse Ten: “All the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God”.

Isaiah writes to a people who are broken, bringing them words of hope and good news.  Our passage opens with, “How beautiful on the mountain are the feet of those who bring good news”.  In our brokenness, we too need to hear good news from God.  It is in those moments that perhaps we hear best what God has to reveal to us.  We are receptive and we are searching for something to bring us hope and joy.  So, in a way, at times we would rewrite this verse to say, “How beautiful in the valleys…”

Isaiah speaks to his people of hope through God and salvation through the Lord.  Isaiah speaks of a time when they are no longer in exile, of a time when Zion will once again be home.  When we share the gospel of Jesus Christ with one living in ‘exile’ we also invite them to live into the hope that Jesus gives and to see a time when God redeems and restores them.  In sharing the gospel and our love, we too will help others begin to sing “songs of joy” as God begins to work in their lives, bringing hope, redemption, and liberation from their brokenness.

As faithful followers of Jesus Christ we have many experiences where God has become present to us in our lives.  We have these tangible moments that we treasure; we cling to these experiences in times of trial and testing.  These are the nuggets we must mine and share with others who are where we have been.  It is those stories of when God rescued us from the pit or when God healed our brokenness or when God redeemed us from our sinful ways that help others to see that God could make a difference in their lives too.  It is one way that God calls us to be actively engaged in our broken and hurting world.  It is our call.  Our passage today concludes with, “All the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God”.  May we each be a part of helping those we engage to see this too.

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Bethel Moments

Reading: Genesis 28: 10-19

Verse 15: I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go.

Jacob has had a long day of travel.  As darkness sets is, he grabs a rock for a pillow and lays down on the ground.  He is happy for his spartan bed.  Perhaps you too have been there.  You have driven a long ways that day and are happy to finally have a place to lay your head for the night.  You’ve gone on a little further just to get a little closer to your destination.  Jacob is just the opposite: he has gone on a lot further to get away from Esau.  He had just stolen his father Isaac’s blessing from Esau and he is fleeing to Haran for protection.

In our passage today, we soon find that God is blessing this whole adventure.  In the middle of the night, Jacob awakens to angels ascending and descending a set of stairs, coming and going from the earth.  Then God speaks to Jacob from the top of the stairs to heaven.  God gives Jacob this great promise: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go”.  What reassurance!  God also adds that He will give Jacob and his descendants this land to live in.  God closes this exchange with another promise: “I will not leave you until I have done what I promised”.  In the morning Jacob awakens and builds a pillar and names this place ‘Bethel’ – house of God.

Like Jacob, we too have our Bethel moments.  We too have come to the place of weariness and have laid down our heads, happy for the day to draw to a close.  We have carried our burdens or worries or anxieties with us and are content to just find a little rest.  And then God has shown up.  Sometimes we have prayed and sought God out and other times He has just shown up.  Sometimes it is God and sometimes it is one sent by God.  God may not remove all of our burdens… but He (or His agent) shoulders some of the load and holds our hand as we begin to move forward.  There is no question that God has been present and we have been blessed by His care and love.  This day may we take the opportunity to thank God for our Bethel moments and to rejoice in His presence in our lives.


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Daily with Christ

Reading: Philippians 3: 4b-12

In our darkest moments Christ is still with us.  In times of deep despair or intense suffering, we can still call out and sense the presence of Jesus with us.  These things we know in our hearts and we trust with our brains.  But sometimes the trial drags on and we begin to question or doubt.  We struggle with how a loving and caring God can allow the struggle to go on for so long.  Thankfully these are just moments.  The trial begins to wane or we again connect to Jesus and realize He has been there all along.  We begin again to trust in our hearts and to know in our brains that He is always present.  As our trust and faith in Him is again secure, we are reassured that nothing compares to or is better than our life in Christ.

In the trial and certainly in everyday life, living with Jesus as the center of our lives is how God calls us to truly live.  Life is simply better then.  Any life without Christ is simply less.  Even when challenges come along and when temptation rises up, we move forward more confidently knowing Jesus is with us and on our side.

Paul speaks of all the credentials he had accumulated in life.  But that was BC.  All the accolades were achievements in the human realm.  Once he came to know Christ, he called them all rubbish.  Paul came to know his identity and the true source of strength in his life came from Christ alone.  The value of knowing the resurrected Christ far outweighed all earthly gains.

The same is true for us.  God calls us heavenward towards the same goal Paul was striving for – to be resurrected with Christ.  In our day to day life, in the good days and in the bad, we always must keep our eyes fixed on the goal: our call to our eternal home, found as we journey with Christ.  We are truly blessed in this life and in the next as we journey daily with Christ, trusting in Him alone.


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Moments and Encounters

Anthony came to church yesterday.  He arrived almost at the end of the 9:30 service. I recognized his face but couldn’t remember his name.  I confessed that to him as I greeted him at the back of the sanctuary.  He kindly reminded me and he apologized for being so late.  I assured him that is was OK and shared that I was glad to see him in church again.  Anthony asked for a Coke and I went downstairs and bought him one.  He did not follow me downstairs but he did wait for my return at the top of the stairs.  After a couple cookies and some conversation with others in the Parlor, Anthony headed off for the next part of his day.  Our paths will cross again.

In encounters such as these, I often wonder if I did enough.  It was a good chat and I was able to meet his request for a pop, but should have I done more?  In the time and space between services on a busy Sunday morning, it was probably what I could offer.  And maybe Anthony sensed that and kept his request simple as well.  And now I will remember his name next time so I can start our conversation by greeting him by name when our paths cross again.  In asking the question about doing enough, we prepare ourselves to do a little more the next time.

Our God has a special place in His heart for the poor and needy, for the widow and the orphan, for the  destitute and powerless.  In many places in the Bible we read about this love and our charge to care for those in need.  In those moments and encounters today and in the week ahead, may we offer all we can, seeking to be His hands and feet.

Scripture reference: Proverbs 22: 1-2, 8-9, and 22-23