pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Step by Step

Reading: Matthew 11: 25-30

Verse 29: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart”.

In the second section of this week’s passage from Matthew 11, Jesus begins by reminding us that faith comes to those who are pure in heart and who have a childlike heart. Faith is, after all, a thing of the heart, not of the head. The wise of this world have no need for faith in Jesus – at least in their minds. Only those whom God chooses to reveal the Son to will know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

In verse 28 we hear the invitation to come to Jesus, to turn over our weariness and burdens to him. When we give these things to Jesus, we find relief. When we trust him with our worries and fears, with our doubts and concerns, he will help to lift these things. When we are worried and burdened by our sin, when we confess and repent of these things, he will lift these as well. This is what Jesus is talking about when he says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart”. A yoke implies a pair, a team, a partner. Jesus is inviting us to be yoked to him. He is inviting us into a relationship with him where we walk side by side, sharing the load together. As we do so, we do learn from him. We learn first that Jesus is gentle and humble. Love comes first with Jesus, followed quickly by grace and mercy, peace and joy, forgiveness and restoration. He is the gentle shepherd. Being humble comes next. Jesus teaches us to think less and less of self and more and more of God and other. He models a servant’s heart that is willing to serve one and all.

As we walk, yoked to Jesus, we do find rest for our souls. The burdens and cares of this world begin to pale. This happens as our trust in God grows to become more and more like Jesus’ trust in God. The further we journey, the more we come to understand that his “yoke is easy” and that the “burden is light”. As we mature in faith, the walk of faith becomes easier as our trust grows and following becomes more natural as we learn to walk step by step with Jesus Christ. Today and every day may we be yoked to Jesus, learning to walk more and more like him.

Prayer: Loving God, thank you for walking with me daily, for showing me the way that leads to abundant life. Your love and kindness amaze me. Your grace and mercy astounds me. Guide my feet and my heart today as I seek to walk in step with Jesus. Amen.


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Community

Reading: Philippians 1: 3-8

Verse 6: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul begins by thanking God for the faith this church displays. Each time that he prays for them he rejoices in their “partnership in the gospel” with him. They must be living out their faith well. Paul also recognizes the end game as well. Their faithful living will lead to the redemption of their souls. In verse 6 he writes, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”. Paul is thankful for their place in the family of God both now and in eternity.

Do you have folks in your life that you can say this about? Can you survey those you know and offer up such a prayer of thanksgiving for them? We each have people “in my heart”, just as Paul did, that we too can be lifting prayers of thanksgiving for. There are many in my family and in my circles of church friends and colleagues who have great faith that I am thankful for. Their witness and example encourage and strengthen me on my journey of faith.

For Paul, whether in chains or out preaching the gospel, he appreciated the connection that he has with all Christians everywhere. Paul knows that the family of God extends across geographical spaces and through cultural and social differences. He writes, “all of you share in God’s grace with me”. If he were reading this line aloud, I think Paul would emphasize the word “all”. There is a unity amongst and a connection between all members of the body of Christ. For this too I rejoice. For Christians everywhere, no matter our denominational flavor, we all share the same Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We are all living under the same covenant of grace. In the essentials, we enjoy unity and community. Praise be to God!

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for all of those you have and continue to place in my life who live as witnesses to your will and way. They mean so much to me, to my faith. Bless them, O Lord. I also thank you for my fellow Christians, who also seek to bring you glory as together we build the kingdom. Thank you God for the larger community of faith. Amen.


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God Partner

God is a giver.  God is a creator.  God calls us to partner with Him, to work along with Him, and to be faithful to Him in how we give and create.

God, as creator of life, gives us children as a gift and as our heritage.  Within the miracle of birth, we have a role to play.  Together with God we collaborate and cooperate, but it is God alone who plants the divine spark within us.  Then as parents, teachers, mentors, and as fellow Christians, we work together with God to nurture this spark into a life lived for God.

God, as creator of new life, gives us opportunities to be in ministry to those around us.  Again, we do this in collaboration and cooperation with God’s guidance and efforts.  Just as we seek to bring our children up in the faith, we also seek to share our faith with others.  In our work and social circles we are called to respond to the opportunities God provides.  Sometimes this is to bring healing or hope; sometimes to bring encouragement or blessings; sometimes to build up or to help; or, sometimes to simply be present or to listen.

God prompts us through the Holy Spirit to recognize and respond to His activity in our lives and in the world.  When we do so, we partner with God to bring and make His divine love real in the world.  Through us, our colleagues and friends can begin to experience self-giving love – both God’s and ours – as their initial call to faith or as a way to again begin to walk with God in their life.  In this, our role is vital.  Lord, make me willing and obedient to Your call today.

Scripture reference: Psalm 127


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Partners with God

Imagine the happiest couple you have ever seen – 80+ and still holding hands, giggling, kissing.  The deep and pure love that flows between them is just a glimpse into the vast love that God has for all of creation.  In creation itself we also see much of God.  In creation itself we can see both complexity and simplicity, both often created in wonder and beauty.

In creation we witness God’s strength and power.  He spoke all into being simply with His words.  God did not have to go into the lab in heaven to create water and earth and plants and animals and us.  He simply spoke and each was created.  What is even more amazing than this to me is that God also passes this power and strength on to us.  God gives His power and strength to all, especially to those who are weak and powerless and in need of God’s power and strength to face the many challenges that life brings their way.

In the continuing works of God and in the life of Jesus Christ, God continues to reveal Himself to us.  Our God created us as good and He desires that we act in good ways, bringing righteousness and equality into the world around us.  In Jesus we were shown what true love is really all about.  The love Jesus modeled is kind and gentle and truthful and giving.  This love flows to all, not just to a select few.  Our love is meant to be like Jesus’ love –  poured out to many to transform lives.

The amazing omnipotent and omnipresent creator of the universe and all that is in it invites us to partner with Him in transforming the world.  May we live lives full of His love, justice, strength, and power, bringing these into the lives of each we meet to do our part in healing a broken world.

Scripture reference: Psalm 45: 1-2 and 6-9