pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Walk the Path in Trust

Reading: Romans 8: 12-14

Verse Fourteen: “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons [and daughters] of God”.

Paul writes of the choice we have in life: follow the sinful nature and die or follow the Spirit of God and live. It sounds simple. It sounds black and white. It sounds like either/or. In reality, it is difficult, it is grey, it is both/and. This battle of good and evil is a perpetual battle. But take hope, Jesus has overcome the world.

If you were to find the straighest, longest road in your town or city and were to attempt to drive right down the middle, you would ultimately fail. You see the path before you and you may begin exactly in the middle, but soon enough you steer a little to the left and a bit later a little to the right. You might even cross over the line on the side and hit those little vrrp-vrrp strips that remind you that you are drifting.

Such is our walk of faith. We can see the path set out before us by Jesus. We can see that the way is hard and narrow. Our intent is to fully walk right down the middle – right in Jesus’ footsteps. But at times we find His stride outpaces ours or that His footprints are just too big for us in that moment. Other times we are looking around and our focus drifts to other things. We look back to the narrow way and it is over there. Whether we fall behind or can’t quite bring ourselves to what the Spirit is calling us to or whether we get off track, when we look back to the path there is Jesus, holding out His hand, beckoning us back.

If you are seeking the path, Jesus calls out, saying, “Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden”. If you are trying to walk the path, but the road is hard, take hope. You do not walk alone, trust in the Holy Spirit. From experience, it does get easier but it never becomess easy. But with God all things are possible. Trust in the Lord, seek to walk in His ways, and allow the Holy Spirit to lead. You will come to walk in God’s love and grace and peace. May it be so today. Amen.


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Resolute

Reading: Isaiah 50: 4-9a

Verse Seven: “Because the sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced”.

Isaiah begins our passage today acknowledging the word that sustains him and shares how each morning his ear is awakened to listen. For those who regularly invest time in reading their Bibles, they can relate well to what Isaiah is saying here. Whether it is early in the morning or over the noon hour or just before bedtime, daily reading of our Bibles leads to knowing God’s Word. In turn, the Word will sustain us over and over. As a result, Isaiah writes, “The sovereign Lord has opened my ears”. Time in our Bibles leads to our ears being opened more and more to God’s voice in our lives.

Time with God builds our connection with God, just as it would with any relationship. Isaiah goes on to write of not being rebellious. This too is our goal. But the reality is that we will sin. However, the more time we spend with God in prayer, worship, and reading our Bibles, the less we will sin. For example, there are things I did and said ten years ago that I now see as sin and strive to do no more. As we mature in our faith the narrow road becomes narrower as we better and better understand what it means to walk closely with our God.

As one grows in the faith so too does our trust in the Lord. In verse seven Isaiah writes, “Because the sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced”. Isaiah trusts that as he walks in faith, God has his back. This does not mean that life will be perfect. In fact, in verse six, he writes of the abuse and violence that he has experienced because of his faith. At times we too will experience abuse or rejection or maybe even violence because of our faith. Yet even then we do know that God remains with us, helping us through. And maybe we can even get to the place the apostles got to, rejoicing that we could suffer for Christ.

Verse seven goes on to say, “I have set my face like flint and I know I will not be put to shame”. This verse will be echoed in the New Testament as Jesus turns toward Jerusalem for the last time as Palm Sunday approaches. As followers of Jesus, may we also be resolute in our faith, walking a firm and steadfast path, wherever God may lead us this day and each day. Amen.


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Narrow and Hard

Reading: Mark 8: 34-38

Verse 34: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”.

Today’s passage is all about commitment, dedication, obedience, discipline, and, ultimately, transformation. This call to discipleship is hard. That is why Jesus said the way is narrow in Matthew 7. Faith is just like all other things of great value – it requires a great deal of effort to attain our goal.

Jesus begins today’s key verse with, “if anyone would come after me”. He is implying the first thing about faith is a choice. All people everywhere have a sense of God one way or another. Some sense a higher power, some sense God in the created world, some sense God in the “there must be more to life than this” feelings. Faith begins with the inner urge to live for and to connect to something bigger than ourselves. Beginning a relationship is the first step.

Next Jesus turns to those big words I opened with, saying, “he must deny himself”. Denying self and our own wants and desires is the beginning of living out our faith. When asked, Jesus said the two greatest commandments were to love God and to love others. When we truly do this, there is little room for self. In denying self, the transformation process also gets under way. The study and practice of our faith through prayer, worship, Bible study, … is what begins to transform our hearts and minds so that we begin to see and feel and think as Christ did.

Then Jesus turns to our calling. He next instructs us to “take up his cross”. As we are transformed more and more into His image, we come to discover that special blessing or talent or gift that God has given us to serve His will. Some teach, some preach, some feed, some clothe, some visit, some sing, some clean, some sew, some lead, some transport, some… The cross represents Jesus and our gift or talent is how we share Jesus with others. Our “cross” is what helps others to connect to Jesus.

Once we have been drawn into relationship, once we have been transformed to love God and others more than self, once we have found our niche in serving God, then and only then can we say we follow Jesus. May we all choose the hard and narrow way of Jesus today. It is through the Lord that we find the life truly worth living. Blessings on your journey.


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Choice

Reading: Deuteronomy 30: 15-20

As the Hebrews stand on the edge of the Promised Land, they face a whole new life.  It is a life unlike any they have known or heard about.  It is a life that contains options, choices, freedom.  All of the stories they heard as children were of slavery in Egypt and of God’s redemption.  As slaves, the people had to follow Pharaoh’s orders or they died.  Even when God redeemed them and Moses led them out of Egypt, they were ‘free’ but we’re very dependant on God.  They wandered for forty years in the vast desert, dependant on God for everything.  On the occasions when they tested out freedom, like when they built and worshipped the golden calf, the consequences were dire.

What lay ahead was the land of milk and honey.  The land would provide their food.  The toil of their own hands would also play a role in what seemed to produce the crops.  Instead of being the only people isolated together in the desert, now rheyb would live in and amongst many different tribes.  Each of these tribes brought and offered choices.  Who to fight with, who to intermarry with?  Who to shun as outsiders, whobto kneel beside at the altar to an idol?  The Hebrews entered a new land flush with choices and freedoms.

We too live in a land flush with choices and freedom.  We too live as aliens amongst many different tribes.  Not only this, but we live in a world of tolerance and acceptance.  The ‘just do it’ and do whatever you need to to find success mentalities are poor examples of these good ideals.  And to add to this, the list of what our culture idolizes is long.  It is a tough time and place to be a devout Christian.

Each day, we too face the choice that Moses presented to the Hebrews: choose life through God or choose death through the world.  When we choose God, we are choosing the narrow road.  Our choices are not unlimited but are bound by God.  All of our choices and decisions must be filtered through lens of ‘What is God’s will in this’?  How we speak, act, and do must also be aligned with God’s will.  When we choose life through God we are choosing life in Christ.  When our choice is Jesus and we choose to declare Him the Lord of our life, we hand it all over to Him, surrendering all that we are.  When we choose life in Christ, we are choosing to become slaves to His love, hope, mercy, compassion, …  And what a life of freedom it is!  There is a choice to be made.  What is your choice?


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The Way

Reading: Isaiah 35: 1-10

John the Baptist calls out and encourages us to make our lives straight pathways for the Lord.  It is a matter of repenting of our sins and living a righteous life.  Today’s passage from Isaiah speaks of this same way of life.  Isaiah proclaims that the glory of the Lord will be revealed.  The blind will see, the lame will leap, the mute will shout, and the deaf will hear.  God will restore us to wholeness.  God redeems and restores us so that we can walk “the Way of Holiness”.  God calls us to journey on this path, to walk in the Way.

In the New Testament, Jesus laid claim to this prophecy from Isaiah.  Jesus stated, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”.  Jesus established that the only way to eternal life was through Him.  More specifically, through a relationship with Him.  Isaiah proclaimed that the wicked will not walk this way.  There will be no fools or ferocious beasts on this road.  The prophet tells us that only the redeemed, only the ransomed of the Lord, will walk this path.

God wants all people to walk this path.  But God will not force anyone to walk the way of holiness.  Many will choose to walk a different path.  Jesus stated that the Way is narrow and that it is a hard road to walk.  Satan and the lies of this world constantly work to pull the saved off of the Way of Holiness.  Our human flesh is weak and we are prone to temptation and sin.  But evil will never triumph over good.  Jesus has already fought that battle.  On the cross, Jesus forever defeated sin and death.  Even though we stumble, once we claim Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, we are His.  Nothing can change that, nothing can separate us from the love of God we find in Jesus Christ.

Baby Jesus is coming soon.  We await with anticipation and expectancy.  The world senses this.  The world senses the possibilities of hope and promise that comes in Christ.  May we, as ones on the Way, help others to see the path that God also calls them to, drawing them into His love.