pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Present

Reading: Psalm 139: 13-18

Verse Eighteen: “When I awake, I am still with you”.

Each of us are unique creations of God’s mighty hand. We are all “fearfully and wonderfully made”. Each of our days are ordained or blessed by God. Sounds pretty wonderful, doesn’t it?!

The Psalm gives us a feeling of being intimately known by God. On our good days this does feel like a blessing. To know and to feel like God is present is reassuring and comforting. But on our days when we wrestle with the things of this world and when we sin, that presence can feel a little uncomfortable. When we stumble because our flesh is weak, it is disconcerting to know that God is present for those moments too. Yes, God is right there then too.

And then there are those times when life happens – when there is a cancer diagnosis or when someone dear passes or when our job suddenly comes to and end or… We are not the cause and we are not caught up in sin or evil, but these days come too. And in the midst of all this, God too remains present. Sometimes God even enlists helpers. Friends drop by with a meal or just to visit. The church seems to become a little closer too as people check in on you. Phone calls and texts and cards arrive from folks you forgot you knew. God’s love and care comes in many ways. The Holy Spirit even joins in, reminding us of those passages that we need to hear again. We think, along with the psalmist, “How prescious to me are your thoughts, O God”!

In our days of faithful obedience, in our days of rebellion, and in our days of trial and suffering, our one constant is God’s presence. God brings us hope and strength and reassurance and comfort and … God has been present since we were knit together and God will ever be present to us – in this life and in the life to come. Each and every day we can offer up this praise: “When I awake, I am still with you”. Thanks be to God for always being present! Amen.


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Caught Up in Conflict

Reading: Exodus 17: 5-7

Verses 5 and 6: Walk on ahead of the people… I will stand there before you.

At times we have all experienced flaps and disagreements in our churches.  Generally speaking these conflicts are not over large theological issues.  These issues, for the most part, have been hashed out and settled as the different denominations have formed and defined themselves.  Today the conflicts tend to center around personal preferences and choices.  But some of the conflicts center around important and path-altering issues or decisions.  Such is the conflict Moses faces today, at least on the surface.

The central issue is the lack of water for the people and the livestock.  Water is an essential of life so it is a need, not a want or a personal preference.  But the issue is brought forth with much grumbling and a bit of complaining.  It is not an open and honest conversation.  Couched within the need is a questioning of both Moses’ leadership and God’s care for the people.  Conflict often has multiple layers to it.

Moses has some options on how he could handle the situation.  At first one can read some frustration into his words with God.  Moses could go to the grumblers and react back out of his emotional hurt.  But this does no good so he instead seeks out the one who can give him a little guidance and some empathy.  Moses turns to God and God gives him guidance, directions, and reassurance.  God instructs Moses to “walk on ahead of the people”.  He is instructed to take some elders along – wise and trusted leaders, not the grumblers.  ‘Gather some support around you’ is what God is saying here.  God then says, “I will stand there before you”.  God will be there with Moses.  Then strike the rock and water will pour out.  God will meet the need and He will be present for Moses, bringing him reassurance as God reinforces Moses’ leadership role.

Moses’ example gives us good steps to follow when we feel caught up in conflict.  Don’t take it personal, seek God as trusted friend and guide, proceed forward in God’s presence.  Doing so, we know that God is in our thoughts and decisions and that God is in control.


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Call in Faith

In the New Testament we encounter people such as Bartimaeus – people who come to Jesus to find healing.  They do no come hoping He can heal them. They come knowing He can heal them.  There is a big difference.

In a lot of these cases, Jesus assures them that it is their faith that has made them well.  It is the difference between hoping and knowing.  He reassures them that it is their faith that has brought them to Him and their faith that has driven the healing.  Like the man by the pool, like the woman with the bleeding problem, like the centurion, Bartimaeus did what he needed to do to be close enough to Jesus to find healing.

Two thousand years later many people still long for Jesus’ touch and for healing from Him.  We cannot be physically touched by Jesus but in faith we call on His name and know that He will draw near.  In faith we ask Jesus for those things we need to find healing and wholeness.  When we experience His presence and healing, it is still for one of the reasons people in Jesus’ day did: to restore them to a full life or to begin them on their journey as a new creation in Christ.

When we pray to Jesus for healing or to restore a broken relationship or… , sometimes the healing in physical. sometimes it is emotional, sometimes it is spiritual, and sometimes it is a combination of these.  Whatever the case, in faith we call out and in faith we know that Jesus will draw near.  It is through His presence in our times of need that we grow in our faith, just like Bartimaeus did.  In faith, call on His name – shout it out if you have too – and lean into His arms.

Scripture reference: Mark 10: 46-52


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Bring God’s Presence

The psalmist expresses the belief that God has given Israel the land and will assure their possession of it.  He acknowledges that evil will come in from time to time but that God will ultimately restore good to the people.

In America we live in the general belief that our country is secure, almost impenetrable.  We feel like no other country could invade and topple us.  9/11 and events since have brought home the fact that we are vulnerable to attack but I think most see these as isolated events.

In other parts of the world warfare and living in fear are the norm.  In some countries, war or civil war has been almost constant.  Daily children are left as orphans and property is taken or destroyed.  In some countries, parents worry daily about their children being abducted or drafted into the militia.  In some places, religious intolerance and persecution forces Christians to live in secret and to fear exposure.

In our country people live in poverty, many on the streets or in shelters.  Others live with a feeling of insecurity and some segments of our society live with injustice and oppression.  For many here and abroad, the world is a tough place.  For many, they question God or they do not even know His presence.

The psalmist reminds us and the afflicted that God will surround those who trust in Him like mountains.  How reassuring.  But many do not know God.  This day may we pray for all who suffer and for all who do not know God’s love and protection.  And may we be moved to do all we can for those God places before us this day.

Scripture reference: Psalm 125