pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Marching Orders

Reading: Isaiah 65: 17-20

Verse 19: “I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people”.

In today’s reading God lays out a beautiful future. In verse 17 God promises, “I will create new heavens and a new Jerusalem”. To the Israelites, this would be music in their ears. To think of what God could create would bring needed joy and hope and encouragement to the people. Jerusalem, a term representing all of God’s people, will be God’s delight. God says, “I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people”. This vision is a wonderful image to hold in one’s mind and heart.

Today, on Veterans Day, we remember the many men and women who have served our country. Scores upon scores upon scores have served our nation and many gave life for our freedom. The idea of a new Jerusalem ties in. War is a hard thing. War is sometimes necessary. In our nation’s history, war has been fought to make the world a better place. A world without slavery or fascism or genocide or terrorism is a better world. Today we recognize and honor the many men and women who have been a part of making the world and our nation better. I appreciate their service to a nation founded and still guided by faith. The ideal of world peace remains the ideal. I am grateful for those who have served and for those who still serve to protect our nation and this ideal.

In the second half of verse 19 and in verse 20, God fleshes out the picture of a new heaven and earth. There will be no more weeping or crying. Life will be long-lived. God’s vision for what will be is a glimpse of heaven on earth. Today many long for a taste of this vision. This paradise is not a reality for lots of people. Yet for many of us it is a reality. We live in peace with relative abundance. We have both the means and the ability to help others experience more of a new Jerusalem. Whether that involves generously sharing our blessings and talents or guiding them to a faith that brings hope and encouragement in this life, as followers of Jesus we too have our marching orders. Jesus was clear in his call to go to the poor and blind and lonely and lost and broken. The gospel imperative to feed and visit and care for and to teach others about Jesus is clear. May we each joyfully and willingly accept the call of Jesus Christ to be his hands and feet, his light and love in the world.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you first for the many who serve and have served our nation. Bless them and their families, O God. Guide and encourage me to serve you well, bringing your love and hope to all who need it today. Use me as you will. Amen.


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Obeying Truth

If I were king I would expect my word to be like law.  If I said it was to be so, then I would expect it to be just so.  I assume this is the line of thinking common to kings.

But in today’s story we find that King David’s order is not followed.  There is no “I didn’t know” here because the Bible specifically mentions Joab’s presence when the order was given.  There is no “I had no choice” as the victim was killed while hanging in a tree, trapped and vulnerable.  David weeps over Absalom’s death but there is no record of harsh words or anger at Joab for disobeying orders and killing Absalom.

Perhaps this is because David gave the order from the heart instead of from the head.  It is natural for a father to overlook a son’s sins and even rebellion and to continue to love him in spite of all he has done.  It is not hard for me to imagine doing this myself.

So why did Joab kill Absalom anyway?  It was not for power or revenge – Joab serves David faithfully for the remainder of his reign.  Joab, however, saw the reality and acted upon it.  He knew that if allowed to live, Absalom would always challenge to be king and would remain a thorn in David’s side.  One could even argue that Joab did this for the kingdom.  Joab did what David knew needed to be done.

Although the result has not been death, at one time or another we have done or said what was right instead of ‘obeying orders.’  If you have not, you will one day.  What allows us to discern such a course of action?  The Spirit will guide.  Prayer will bring clarity.  Scripture will reveal truth through the words of the prophets and Jesus.  In short, our faith and our God will bring us discernment.  We just need to seek Him and hear His voice.

Scripture reference: 2 Samuel 18: 15 and 31-33