pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Ears to Listen

Reading: Isaiah 50: 4:9a

Verse 4b: “He awakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught”.

As I read the opening verse of today’s passage I am drawn to God’s call to each of us. As I read the rest of the passage, yes, my mind was drawn to Jesus. But today, for some reason, that feels like too much for me. As I read and reread verse four, James’ words kept coming to me: “Let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak” (James 1:19).

Isaiah begins verse four by acknowledging that the Lord has given him an “instructed tongue”. With this gift he is able to share words that “sustain the weary”. Through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit we all have this same gift. Maybe you are like me and cannot quote scripture very well. And maybe you are like me and tend to have a rush of doubt right before stepping into whatever opportunity God places before you. Yet whether it was a simple phone call to check in on someone or stepping into an ER room just after someone passed, the Holy Spirit has always been faithful. The words have come. Through the power of the Spirit, Jesus Christ will be at work in and through you too as you faithfully offer words of hope, words that sustain and bring comfort to the weary.

Today, though, the second half of verse four speaks to me: “He awakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught”. To listen. To hear another’s heart. To draw close to their fears, their loneliness, their hurt. To listen. It is a wonderful gift we all have. I encourage you today to reach out, to turn your ears to another. Call a friend or two, reach out to a neighbor or older person who might be having a hard time, who might feel isolated or afraid. And listen. Listen to their heart. And if the Holy Spirit leads, offer words of assurance and hope, words of love and care. Be Christ to others today.

Prayer: Father of all, point me to whom you want me to go. Lead and guide me as you will today. Amen.


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The Healing or the Healer?

Reading: Mark 7: 31-37

Verse 36: “Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone. But the more He did so, the more they kept talking about it”.

In today’s passage, Jesus returns to Galilee and performs another miracle. He heals a man who was deaf and mute. He does so away from the crowds. Jesus instructs, no, commands, the man and his friends “not to tell anyone”. Apparently the initial command is not followed as the verse goes on to say, “the more He did so, the more they kept talking about it”. It seems that they cannot keep quiet about what Jesus did. I wonder how long this lasted.

For the man and his friends, the encounter with Jesus is all about the healing and not about the healer. As such, they miss the opportunity to really connect with Jesus. Many today are like this. They want the healing and not the healer. Folks pray to or even beg Jesus to heal their parent or their child or their friend or themselves. But they do not desire to have a daily relationship with Jesus. It is almost as if Jesus were a drive through window. Hello – here for a quick healing. No time to come inside to sit down and to spend some time together.

It is curious to me that the friends say, “He has done everything well”. They recognize that Jesus has some power, even extraordinary power. But not extraordinary enough to lead them to follow the healer, to believe in the healer. Lots of folks todsy are in this boat too. In a way, even some Christians struggle with true belief today. We pray to Jesus thinking He could do what we are praying for but not fully believing that He will.

To want the healing and not the healer? To be a believer and to pray with some doubt? It reminds me that we are all falling short. Some have begun our walk with Jesus. Others have not yet begun. Today, may we all get one step closer to Jesus, the healer.

Lord, may I come closer today. May my faith grow deeper and more assured. In this process, may I help another to begin a relationship with you today. May it be so today. Amen.


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Patience on the Journey

Reading: 1 Timothy 1: 15-17

Paul is very grateful for Christ’s patience with him.  It took many years of being Saul to shape Paul into who he was for Christ.  Paul describes himself as the “worst of sinners” and describes Jesus’ patience as “unlimited”.  I am reminded of the stories of grandmas who prayed and prayed for wayward grandsons for years and years and years.  Then one day, often late in life, the grandson came to know Jesus Christ.  The patience paid off.  In both of these cases, grandma and Jesus had a love that was unending.  Both had a patience that did not waver.

Patience is sometimes a struggle.  We do not like to sit too long in a state of not knowing or when things are in limbo.  When an issue or problem arises we want a solution right away.  Fix it quick so that we can get on with life.  I think this is why I struggle so when I get a cold or catch the flu.  It has to run its course and it really tests my patience.  Waiting for the results of a medical tests is the worst!

Our culture does not value patience in general.  In our instant gratification society we want success right now.  If something is broken, let’s change it right now.  Often we would rather just go buy new than to take the time to repair what we have.  When we take on a project, our first question is, “How long will this take”?  Our eat-on-the-run, fast food society typifies the premium we place on our time.

And then… and then there is our journey of faith.  It is something that never ends.  For many this is quite a challenge to our ‘just tell me what I need to know now’  mentality.  We can all look back to where we became a Christian, to that point when we claimed a personal relationship with Jesus for ourselves.  We can also look at our faith now and see how we have matured in our faith over the years.  We still have days or times when God reminds us that we still have some growing to do.  We manage to get back on track and we thank God for the patience that is shown each of us over and over again.

John Wesley called our journey of faith the “journey towards perfection”.  Perfection is a place we probably will never reach in this place, but may each day we live take us one step closer to Jesus Christ, the perfector of our faith.