pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Reconnect to God

Reading: Psalm 42

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by problems relating to money, health, relationships, and vocation.  When a couple of these worries pair up, which they often do, then our lives can be quite challenging.  Our habit tends to be to dwell on such things, to allow them to consume our lives.  The cloudiness that settles in can even affect our relationship with God.

Sometimes we become so centered on our problems that we forget God is available as a source of strength and relief.  Our troubles can consume us.  When we finally are reminded of His presence we wonder why we did not turn to Him sooner.  At other times we are like the psalmist.  We seek God but end up asking, “Where is God”?  Despite our efforts, God feels distant.  The cloudiness can be hard to shake.

In these cases, we need to practice the motions of faith that we know so well.  First, we need to pray.  We need to pray out to God even if we feel all alone.  God is near and He is listening.  If we pray faithfully, He will be present.  Second, we need to praise God.  If we are too downcast to find any current praises, turn back to times and ways in which God has blessed you before.  Also, we can be thankful for the littlest things.  Song is another way to pray and to praise God.

In both of these ways we will reconnect to our God, our help and our rock.  In prayer and praise we invite God’s presence to be real to us and to also offer ourselves back to Him.  May we place our hope in God, for He is ever faithful and His love never fails.


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His Joy

Happiness or joy?  These similar emotions or states of being are not the same.  Happiness is about something we think we have a guaranteed right to have.  Happiness is pursued.  But soon enough the new car is not quite new enough and we want a newer one.  In time the raise that would finally allow us to be ‘comfortable’ does not seem to be enough anymore so you work more hours seeking that next raise or promotion.  The pursuit of happiness becomes a constant chasing of ‘just a little more.’

By contrast, joy is something deeper within our souls.  Joy comes from our relationship with God and not from external sources or achievements or gains.  Joy is rooted in God’s love for us.  God’s love is a love that does not change – it is constant and abundant.    It is always there although at times we can create a distance between God and ourselves.  Even then, God’s love is always reaching out to us, calling us back.

Joy is also rooted in our relationships with others.  Here it is an extension of God’s love.  It is love of family, love of our fellow beilevers, and love of the stranger.  It is expressed as Jesus expressed love – in service to others.  Joy leads us to give love and joy away.  But unlikehappiness, our joy seems to only grow when we give it away.  Joy grows because God’s love is abundant.  God’s love is like an overflowing well.  When we find joy rooted in God’s extravagent love, we find a joy that also passes all human understanding.  This day, may we share His joy with all we meet.

Scripture reference: Philippians 4: 4-7


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Love: Sacrificial and All-In

Throughout our lifetimes many relationships will end.  Some childhood and high school and even college friends drift apart and life takes each a different way.  Sometimes people have to move to a new state or city.  Sometimes life comes to an end for one of the people in the relationship.  Sometimes our approach to marriage is similar.  They drift apart, one moves in a new direction, or one passes.  For some couples, divorce is the solution.  It is just a little easier to part ways than it is to keep it together.  For some people their marriage with the church comes to an end.  Both of these endings may be because of drift or because one changed or because of  hurt that occurred.

Both of these marriage relationships should reflect the love of Christ for us.  Recently scientists discovered that over time in a long-term, committed relationship something called ‘pair bonding’ occurs.  As it was once written: the two shall become one.  The love of Christ must be at the center of our human marriages as well as at the heart of our relationship with God and His church.

Every relationship has the potential to end.  In our human marriage the goal when it begins is ‘to death do us part’.  We pledge love and loyalty through thick and thin.  And couples really do mean it on day one.  When one chooses to join and be attached to a church, the words are much the same as is the intent.

The reality is both marriages take work.  A lot of work – both personal and as a ‘couple’.  Although there are circumstances that cause a split, these should be far fewer than they are.  Our love in these marriages needs to reflect the pure love that Jesus Christ demonstrated.  Our effort in these relationships should reflect His effort and commitment at the cross.  May our love also be sacrificial and all-in.

Scripture reference: Mark 10: 2-12


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One Word

“Ephphata!” – be opened.  With a touch and this one word, Jesus restored a man.  The man brought by his friends was both deaf and mute.  One word from Jesus later and he was healed.  With one word his life was forever altered.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to be blind.  It would be very different as I rely so much on what I see.  From reading to observing people to writing to playing music – I am dependant upon my sight.  To not have the ability to talk and sing and shout would be very difficult as well.

Up to this point the man has been dependent on friends and family.  A job would be impossible so he would beg or impose.  To the Jews, he was ceremonially unclean so he could not enter the temple to worship.  Other than those closest to him, many in society would have shunned him or ignored him at best.

Some people in my world need restored and healed.  They need to be connected to a community to care for and guide them.  They need healing and restoring from a wide variety of things.  For some it is addiction, for others a significant loss.  For some it is broken relationships, for others it is a string of poor decisions.  The list goes on.  We all know people who need much.  All need healed and restored.

Friends brought the man to Jesus.  With a word Jesus restored and healed the man.  Faith grew that day – for the man, for his friends and family, and for all who heard the story.  We all know people who need healing and restoration.  May we all be a part of bringing people closer to Jesus so they can hear Him speak the one word they need to hear: “Come.”  Share Jesus so that the restoration and healing can begin.

Mark 7: 31-37


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What Do You Want?

“Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”  Just imagine for a moment if God asked you that.  I am sure we have all had practice dreaming about what we would do if we won the lottery or if we somehow found a genie in a bottle.  Our answer would reveal a lot about us.

God asked Solomon this very question.  He could have asked for wealth or power or at least for peace during his reign.  He could have asked for long life.  He did not ask for anything for himself.  Or for his family.  Solomon asked God for a discerning heart to govern justly and to be able to distinguish right from wrong.  God was very pleased with Solomon’s request so He granted it and gave him more.

You and I may never be asked this question.  But we do answer it each day with how we live.  We reveal what we desire and what we value by the way we live.  Every word we speak, every choice we make, every action we undertake, every goal we set – all answers the same question: “What do you want?”

If we desire a deep faith, do we invest daily in the development of this faith?  If we long for contentment, do we choose to live simply and not choose to chase after the next, newest, best thing?  If we want quality relationships, do we give of ourselves honestly and sincerely all the time?  If we feel led to help the lost and the least, do we spend time with alongside them ministering to their needs?

So.. what do you want?  What has your answer been and how does it need to change?

Scripture reference: 1 Kings 3: 5-9


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Perspective

Perspective is an important thing.  As followers of Christ, we believe He will return one day to bring final judgment.  It could be today, next week, or in two thousand years.  From this perspective we live each day prepared for this to be the day.  In a sense we live with one eye always on heaven and our eternity.

Yet we must also keep today in perspective.  We cannot live detached from this world as we await the next.  Even if our lives in this world, though we may live to be hundred, are just a flash in the spectrum of eternity, each day still matters.  Each person and encounter is an opportunity to be Christ’s light and love.  Each is a chance to affect someone else’s eternity.

In the here and now it is our relationships that matter most.  Our relationship with Jesus Christ takes priority because it does reflect and impact the eternal.  And all of our present relationships are also important as each person is a child of God and has worth.  Each person – from our family members to the person we meet on the sidewalk – matters.

How we choose to live in each moment does impact our eternity.  All the choices, decisions, and actions play a role, as does the lack of action…  As we go through our day today, may our eyes be open, may our hearts be willing, and may our ears be sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture reference: 1 Corinthians 7: 29-31