pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Walking with God

Reading: Mark 10: 23-27

Verse 24: “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God”.

Today we continue in the aftermath of the young man walking away sad. Remember, a part of him ran to Jesus to find out how he could inherit eternal life. Probably as he can still be seen walking away, Jesus says, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven”. We can be rich in many things and in many ways. For example, an abundance of pride can be a great barrier to the kingdom. Looked at another way, in America we are all rich when compared to most people around the world. In this instance Jesus is talking about material wealth. This is a topic that Jesus teaches on frequently. Wealth or possessions often are people’s idols, over and above their faith in God. Money or wealth isn’t our only idols. To this point, Jesus perhaps turns the situation more general, saying, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God”. It is indeed hard. The road is narrow and the choices are challenging; there is a cost to discipleship.

Our pursuit of God is unlike our pursuit of money or status or popularity or anything else. With all the idols that we can pursue, the pursuit is intermittent. For example, we can work really hard for a time for that title that brings the recognition that we desire. Once we attain that, it only requires periodic maintenance. But in our relationship with God, our pursuit of God must be 24-7. We cannot take take away from being in a relationship with God to live as a person of the world for a time. God must be our sole focus, our sole purpose in life. The well-known ‘What would Jesus do?’ (WWJD) question must be our filter for all decisions, situations, and experiences.

To pursue God 24-7 is difficult. The disciples were literslky with Jesus all the time yet knew struggle. They ask Jesus, “Who then can be saved”? It is a legitimate question. On our own we cannot be saved. Salvation is not about what we do. It is all about what Jesus had already done. Just as on our own we cannot be saved, on our own we cannot pursue God 24-7. There is hope though. Jesus speaks our hope today: “All things are possible with God”. With God we can do all things. If we are in a personal relationship with God, we can walk with God 24-7 because God is pursuing us too. God’s voice whispers out when we need a reminder, His Spirit prompts us when we need a nudge or a redirect. Walking with God all things are indeed possible. May we each walk with God today and every day.

Lord, I love you and want to walk with you always. In those moments when I am weak, I know you will be strong. Thank you Lord! Amen.

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Endless Pursuit

Reading: Exodus 20: 18-20

Verse 18: When the people saw the thunder and lightning… they trembled in fear.

Moses has come full circle.  It was on this mountain that God gave Moses his call to go to Pharaoh to free the Israelites.  The Lord God had “heard their cries” and responded.  The plagues in Egypt were powerful displays of God’s might, but they were directed at someone else.  Since they have been freed, the Israelites have grumbled and complained, questioning both Moses and God all along the way.  And now Moses calls them to this mountain.  We hear the people’s reaction: “When the people saw the thunder and lightning… they trembled in fear”.  This God who passed over their first born, who parted the sea, who brought quail and manna and water – now He looks a bit angry stop that mountain.  They have grumbled and questioned all along.  It is not surprising that they are afraid and want to keep their distance.

Moses calls the people to the mountain to hear a word from God.  The people fear that they will die if God speaks directly to them, so they ask Moses to be the messenger.  Really, they are asking Moses to once again stand between them and God.  Through their fearful eyes all they can see is the smoke and thunder and lightning.  To them, the desert and even this mountain are a vast wasteland.  There is nothing there, yet they have survived.  Over and over and over again God has provided and led and protected them.  They have missed the lessons along the way: trust in God, keep the faith, live into being the chosen people, and, most importantly, God loves you.  Lost in their fear and negative attitude, they cannot see God for who and what God is.

At times we walk this road too.  We become so stuck in our situation or in the past that we cannot hear God’s word for us.  The word may be grace or love or forgiveness or peace or strength or hope.  Just as with the Israelites, though, God never gives up.  God keeps on pursuing us no matter what.  Thanks be to God for the endless pursuit of each of us, deeply rooted in His love.  Thanks be to God.


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Relentless Love

Do miracles really happen?  Miracles really do happen.  Do they really still happen?  They really do still happen.  God and His Spirit are still active in the world.  They do not only work through miracles but they also work through people like you and me, making a difference in everyday life.  God still answers big audacious prayers (and small ones too), still heals people of ‘incurable’ and ‘terminal’ diseases, and still restores relationship that were long ago dead.

Why does God continue to do such works?  It is through our encounters with the divine that our faith grows and that we come to know the nature of God more and more.  When Peter healed the beggar at the gate to ‘perfect health’, it was great for the man.  But the higher purpose was to give Peter an audience to share the story of Jesus with.

Another reason we continue to experience God through a variety of means in real ways is to counter our doubt.  Doubt and questioning continue to pull at us and to creep into our lives.  Yet our God continues to and will continue to pursue us.  His longing for each of us is to form and mold us into just the person He created us to be.  He has a plan for our lives.

Sometimes we don’t always hear His voice and some of the time we make decisions or choices we shouldn’t.  We get off track.  We drift.  We lose touch with our faith.  But our God never gives up.  Another person comes along or we encounter God through an event or other experience.

In His relentless pursuit of us, God never, ever gives up.  Through whatever means necessary He continually works to shape and mold us into just who He created us to be.  That is just how much God loves us.

Scripture reference: Acts 3: 12-19


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Daily Pursuit

One of my devotionals today spoke of a man who for almost forty years has made a 10″ by 20″ sketch of the sun’s surface each day.  Scientists use his sketches to predict solar flares.  The artist had this quote: “The value… is in the daily record.”

God began his recording with these word: “In the beginning…”  Genesis 1 tells the story of God’s creation of the earth and all that lives on the earth.  Ever since that day, God has been in the creation business.  There is a real constancy to God.  Our God was and is and always will be the same.

This idea may lead some to think you only need to read the Bible once or only need to pray or worship once in a while.  But one must also remember how big our God is.  There is so much to learn from Him and to know about Him that it must be a daily pursuit.

Many people say they love their spouse more than they did when they first got married, yet when they first fell in love they couldn’t imagine how they could ever be more in love.  As we spend time each day reading His Word, being in prayer, and worshipping our Lord, we too fall more and more in love with Him.  Like the sun sketcher, there is much value in the daily pursuit.

Scripture reference: Genesis 1: 1-5


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Are You There?

Within our human relationships we often find conflict, a struggle for acceptance, and some competition for attention.  I saw this in my children growing up and sometimes see it in the adult relationships we have with others.  In our adult life we often want to be the ‘best friend’.  And no matter what our age is, we can question our role and whether or not we fit in.

In Genesis 29 Jacob pledges to work for Laban for seven years in order to marry his daughter Rachel.  But on the wedding night, Laban slips in the older daughter Leah instead.  Jacob is upset when he awakens the next morning and finds Leah there.  Yet he works seven more years in exchange for marrying Rachel.  Tension becomes the norm in this dual marriage – no surprise here!

I don’t know if I could do what Jacob did.  He gave 14 years of his life to marry Rachel.  Talk about love!  And within this story we also get a glimpse of what true faithfulness looks like.  I wonder if I would be willing to give 14 years for something or someone.  Would you?  Yet when we think about our pursuit of God, 14 years should just be a beginning of what we offer.

My faith journey is into its fourth decade.  My faithfulness is usually pretty good, but I stumble on the path from time to time.  My pursuit is pretty dogged in general, but it wanes on occasion.  Why continue to work on our faith after we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior?  Because I am not there yet.  Are you?

Scripture reference: Genesis 29: 15-28


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Faithful Pursuit

What is God’s call upon your life?  God has a plan for all of us.  The plan He has for each of us is a part of His overall plan to redeem mankind and the earth.

Each of us are gifted with skills and abilities to accomplish what God has called us to (or will call us to).  Some people know their gifts, know God’s intent for their lives, and are working the plan.  Others wonder what their gifts are and haven’t heard God’s call yet.  Others remain in between – some questioning the gifts and/or the call and others knowing gifts and call, yet hesitant to begin the work for a variety of reasons.

In His pursuit of us, God asks that we remain open to His guidance and direction.  If we are faithful, He will reveal the plan.  If you are getting along in years and wonder when the plan will finally be revealed – remember, God used some people that were ‘advanced in years’ to do His work.  (See childbirth at almost 100?!)  Keep faithful.  And if you are young and wondering ‘now?” remember, He used some teens in the Bible to accomplish His work too!  (David anyone?)  Be faithful!

If we look for opportunities to share our faith story, to serve others, to offer love where needed, then we will come to know both our gifts and God’s call upon our lives.  Faithfully pursue God and He will use you just as He has always intended to use you!

 

Scripture reference: Genesis 25: 19-34