pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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With Praise and Singing

Reading: Psalm 30

Verse 10: “Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me; O Lord, be my help”.

King David lived a life of faith. He was not without sin, but he was a “man after God’s own heart”. David experienced many highs with God and also walked through his share of valleys. Today’s Psalm is a song for the dedication of the temple. It is a song that rejoices in God’s love and care and presence in David’s life. It is a Psalm that we can relate to our lives and to our faith.

We have all been in the depths and have been lifted out by God. We have all experienced healing. We have all lived within that “favor that lasts a lifetime”. Yet we have also felt dismayed when “you hid your face”. We have all questioned where God was at times and have wondered about times in “the pit”. We have all also been where David was in verse 10, when he cried out, “Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me; O Lord, be my help”. We’ve all pleaded and begged for God to be our rescuer.

Because God is faithful, God answered David and has answered us over and over. We awake to a new day or we feel God’s presence in the midst of something and hope is born again. We know God’s power is at work in our lives. We too have felt our wailing turned to dancing; we too have felt our heart filled. In response we have rejoiced with praise and singing to the Lord. We too can join David in singing, “O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever”.

Prayer: O God, you are my God. I will ever praise you. Lord of Lords and King of Kings, I rejoice in your presence in my life. Hallelujah and hallelujah! Amen.

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Unfailing Love

Reading: Psalm 32

Verse 1: “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered”.

When we confess our sins to the Lord and seek to earnestly repent of them, we are washed clean, made new once again. This is what David is writing about in the opening verses of Psalm 32. In verse 1 he writes, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered”. When we walk honestly with the Lord we are blessed.

But we do not always walk honestly and righteously. Sometimes we sin. We are called to confess and repent whenever we feel the conviction of our sin. But we do not always do that. Sometimes we tell ourselves that God doesn’t really know. Sometimes we can try and justify our sins. David tries to hide from God. In verse 3 he writes, “when I kept silent… my bones wasted away”. He felt God’s “heavy hand” upon him and his strength was gone. We have all been there, drained by the efforts to keep up our charade. We know that we are sinning and we know that we need to confess and repent, but we just cannot quite get there. The power of sin is just a bit too much.

With renewed trust and confidence in God’s love, David pushes through. In verse 5 he writes, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you”. David confessed and knew God’s love and mercy: “you forgave the guilt of my sin”. He confessed and was made right with God. David encourages all to pray to God so that they can experience what he did: protection and presence. In verse 8 we read about this as God instructs and teaches, counsels and watches over. We will be surrounded by God’s love.

This Psalm is a great reminder to us. If we are struggling with a sin in our life, it reminds us that life is better when we are honest with God. When we confess and repent, the guilt and shame fall away and we are restored into God’s presence, protection, and peace. Living honestly, not having to hide, is liberating and joyful and leads us to be glad and to sing of God’s love. Psalm 32 is also a great passage to share with those we know who are stuck in their sin. If offers a view of the Lord’s “unfailing love” that we experience when we are made right with God and it offers a view of the life of joy and peace and security we find when we walk with the Lord. Thanks be to God for His unfailing love for all people!

Prayer: Lord, when I find myself in sin and feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit, help me to quickly confess, repent, and turn back to you. When I don’t quite see my sin as sin, reveal it to me by the same power of your Holy Spirit. Give me compassion and love and gentleness when I seek to help another to be freed from their sins. Let your unfailing love shine through. May all I do and say and think reveal your unfailing love to a world in need. Amen.


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Presence

Reading: Psalm 68: 1-10 & 32-35

Verse 35: The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.

Psalm 68 speaks of God’s love and care for His people.  It begins with protection as God scatters the enemies.  In response, the righteous are glad and rejoice.  God has provided protection.  In the next verses, God helps the widow, the lonely, the prisoners – those on the fringes of society.  Not only does God lead and protect the nation, He also protects the least and the lost.  Surely you and I fit somewhere along this spectrum.  Let us also praise our God who protects and watches over us.

The psalmist then recalls the people’s wilderness experience.  They were freed from slavery in Egypt but wandered for forty years.  God gives them “abundant showers” as they eat their fill of manna and quail.  God led them on and they settled into the Promised Land – the land of bounty.  God again leads and guides and protects the people.  And again the psalmist notes that God also gave from that same bounty to provide for the poor.  In how many ways does God continue to provide for and bless us?  Let us praise the Lord our God!

The Psalm closes by offering singing and praise to God’s power and majesty.  God’s power is revealed to the psalmist in the skies – thunder representing God’s voice.  In the thunder is power and majesty.  The Psalm ends by acknowledging that God also gives power and strength to His people.  Verse 35 reads, “The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people”.  They experienced this in the pillars of cloud and fire in the wilderness.  They experienced this in the partings of the waters and in the crumbling of the walls.  The Israelites had some very tangible experiences with God’s power and majesty.

As we fast-forward a few thousand years, we too have a very real and tangible presence of God in our lives.  Through the gift of the Holy Spirit know that God continues to be near His people.  Through the Spirit we continue to receive God’s protection, guidance, direction, power, and strength.  The indwelling of the Holy Spirit provides God’s constant presence in our lives.  It is a wonderful gift.  Through this presence we experience what the psalmist writes about.  For this deep and powerful connection to the Lord our God, may we lift our thanksgiving and praise!


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His Love Never Fails

God’s love never fails. While it is true that tongues will become still and knowledge will pass away, God’s love will always remain.  Paul ends this chapter in his letter to the Corinthians with the reminder that faith, hope, and love remain with us, but that the greatest of these is love.  It is knowing how deep and wide God’s love is that allows us to hold onto our faith and to keep hope even in our hardest trials.

Since the moment we were formed, God’s love surrounds us.  His love continues to be with us daily, giving us comfort, strength, and protection.   We see His love surrounding many in the Bible.  A few examples are when He guided the people through the sea as He protected them from the Egyptians; when He kept David safe as Saul pursued him; when He comforted Jesus in the wilderness; and when He gave Stephen strength in his time of persecution and stoning.  And these are just a few examples.

Paul also writes of setting aside childish ways and becoming mature in our faith.  This is what we continually do on our journey of faith.  As we grow in our faith, we learn to trust in God a little longer, to hold onto our hope a little tighter, and to rely on His love a little more.  It is a process though.  We are never suddenly right where we want to be in a growth process.  It takes time.  We experience a setback here and there.  But we must keep going forward and striving to grow in faith, hope, and love.

God’s love never fails.  May we ever keep this locked in our hearts and written on our minds as we continue on this journey of faith.  Blessings!

Scripture reference: 1 Corinthians 13: 8-13


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The Gift of Music

Have you ever heard a song and continued with the words or the tune long after it stopped playing?  Ever had a song come to mind as you were praying over a concern or trouble?  Music has a way of soothing and also a way of encouraging.

Psalm 124 is believed to be a call and response song often sung as people made their way up to the temple for worship.  The content of the song recalls how God has intervened in the past to save Israel from its enemies.  It was a concrete reminder of how God is always present to protect the people, always there to preserve at lead a remnant.  As Psalm 124 was sung, it also reminded the people of their dependence on God.

We too are often blessed by God’s hand and are often living under His protection.  The words of songs or hymns that we know can remind us of these gifts.  Their words can also encourage and lift us up in times of need.  Music can be powerful.

Psalm 124 prepared the people for worship as they made their way to the temple.  It put them in the right frame of mind.  I imagine at times people would sing or hum the song as they went through the ups and downs of their daily lives.  Music serves to connect us to God as well, reminding us of who God is and of how we are in relationship with God.  May we too find encouragement and strength when needed and may we offer up our praise and thanksgiving as well through the gift of music each day.

Scripture reference: Psalm 124


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Our Rock and Redeemer

God is perfect.  Therefore we find perfection in His laws and in all of His ways.  The psalmist extols the laws’ benefits – it revives the soul, makes the simple wise, and makes the heart rejoice.  Benefits come from living under the law.  The psalmist recognizes his own imperfection and acknowledges that God does not expect perfection from us either.

The ways of God are valuable and important to life.  To the psalmist they are as valuable as pure gold and as sweet as honey.  For us as well there are benefits from following God’s statutes.  They give us both guidance and protection.  Life is smoother and within a peaceful contentment more often when we seek to follow His ways.  Yet we cannot always follow all of His laws and the psalmist admits this as well.

The psalmist goes beyond this admission as he asks God to find his hidden faults too.  The obvious sins are just that.  But we sometimes sin in ways that we do not even realize and he is asking for forgiveness for these as well.  Perhaps these are things like the missed opportunity we did not even see or the words that hurt another unbeknownst to us.  We too need what the psalmist asks for – forgiveness from sins and protection against future sins.

The psalmist closes with a popular and well-known prayer: “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”  Today, may this be our prayer.  May the words in our mouths and in our minds be acceptable to God.  May all of our thoughts and ideas honor God.  And may we find rest, peace, comfort, and love in the Lord, our rock and our redeemer.

Scripture reference: Psalm 19: 7-14


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Unity and Protection

Jesus makes it clear that as His disciples we are no longer of this world but belong to Him and the heavenly realms.  In this human form we are in the world not but our true and eternal home is not here on this earth.  Yet in our time here we are called to be in ministry to one another and to stand strong for our faith when Satan comes to drag us down.

The prayer that Jesus prays for His disciples is a prayer for each of us as well.  Jesus knew that this struggle to spread the gospel to the ends of the earth would go on for generations and generations so He was and is praying for us and future disciples as well.

Jesus first asked God for unity amongst His disciples.  In the time of the prayer the disciples faced strong opposition both from the Jews and the Romans.  The first church was a small band that really needed to stick together.  Today we continue to face many challenges from the culture and world around us.  True disciples are a minority even within some churches.  We too need to be united as the body of Christ; together we are strong.

Jesus also prayed for protection for His disciples.  It is so easy to give in to the things of this world, to give in to the pressure, to believe the evil one’s lies.  Jesus knew firsthand the evil one’s temptations and He prays for us because He knows that Satan does not go away.  In the trials, lean into Jesus.  Know that He too never goes away.  Jesus is always by our side, right until the end of the age.  Amen.

Scripture reference: John 17: 6-16