pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Our God Remains

Reading: Psalm 23: 1-4

Verse 4: “I will fear no evil, for you are with me”.

Today’s passage is one of three this week that draw upon the image of shepherd and sheep. This is a common illustration in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In today’s passage, God is the shepherd and we are the sheep. The opening three verses detail the care that the shepherd provides. “I shall not be in want” – God will provide for our basic needs. “He makes me lie down” – God gives us periods of rest. “He restores my soul” – God brings us back into right relationship with Himself and with others in our lives. “He guides me” to learn more and more about God. God, our shepherd, offers good, loving care to each of us, the sheep of His fold.

Because of this daily and constant care, we come to trust in our God. Over and over and over our God has been present. This develops a deep sense of trust and reliance. Because of the trust, we will go where we would not. Because of the reliance, we turn quickly to God when we feel uncomfortable or are in unpleasant situations. Verse four reminds us of this. At times we walk in the “darkest valleys”. The loss of a loved one, a move to a new community, the ending of a relationship or employment, depression, anxiety, addiction – they all can feel like the darkest of valleys. These are not places we choose to go. But God chooses to go with us. In those dark valleys, God remains steadfast and true. Even there our God cares for, provides for, gives us peace and rest, even restores us. Because God remains with us always, we can always say, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me”. From our past experiences with our God, we can trust in Him.

Yesterday in church we sang a song called “You Never Let Go”. The pre-chorus contains these very words: “I will fear no evil, for my God is with me. And if my God is with me, whom then shall I fear”? Like Psalm 23, this song’s source, it is a great reminder that God remains present. The chorus goes on to remind us that “in every high and in every low” God never lets go of us. Whether today, tomorrow, or sometime down the road, when we find ourselves in the valley, may we always draw upon both the promises of God that we find in Psalm 23 and upon our own experiences of God’s steadfast presence, rejoicing in God’s love and care for us. You are our God. We will fear no evil. Thanks be to God.

Prayer: God, over and over you remain present. In the valleys you are there. When I stumble and sin, you remain present, calling me back into your presence. Even in the best of days, it is your hand that guides. Thank you, God. Remain ever present to me, each and every day. Thank you, God. Amen.


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Closer and Closer

The psalmist’s words exhibit a deep relationship with God.  There is a connection that the psalmist feels has been present since birth.  In this statement it is implied that being in a relationship with God is all the psalmist has ever known.  For their part there is no other desire than this relationship.

Perhaps we each have similar relationships with our spouses or best friend.  While we have not been in the relationship since birth, over time it has grown to feel this way.  We feel as if we were “always” in the special relationship.  It is hard to remember a time when we were not deeply connected.

Both of these relationships share similar traits.  Over the years these relationships have seen good and bad sides as we have shared all of the joys and trials that are part of life.  There is also an intimacy that develops from being in the relationship day after day, year after year.  The level of honesty and openness is such that we can share anything with each other.  We grow to rely and depend on one another.

Many of us have this type of relationship with our spouse or best friend.  But is the same true of our relationship with God?  The psalmist certainly has this type of connection to God.  There is blunt honesty and high expectations in the writer’s relationship with God.  There is reliance and dependence also.  This is the type of relationship that God desires with all of His children.  To get there we must surrender some of self as we elevate the relationship above our own desires and wants.  Each day may we grow closer to God, falling more and more in love each day.

Scripture reference: Psalm 71: 4-6


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Self-Sufficient or God-sufficient?

As a kid growing up I learned that if I worked hard and followed the rules, there would be rewards. If I did really well at work, on the team, or in school there would even be praises and maybe even recognition. Sound familiar?

When things got tough the message was just to work harder. The underlying implication was that I wasn’t trying hard enough. Just do more and it’ll get better.

As we grew older we learn that our job is important. We learn that others notice our position and our possessions. We come to think the who and what we are is pretty important. Being self-sufficient and independent tend to become valued commodities in our lives.

Somewhere along the line some of us hear this small voice saying, “Hey, I’m still right here.” And we realize that we have lost sight of God for it is Him calling. For others it is life crashing in around them at the sudden onset of cancer, or the company’s downsizing, or …Then they wonder where God is. As they seek to make sense, God is there.

In Isaiah 1, God’s strength and grace are promises to those who live in fellowship with Jesus. His presence in our lives allows us to release the need to be in control because we can rest in His wisdom and grace.

I admit it is a struggle. I like to be in control. I like to hear praises and be recognized for my efforts. It is important to come before our Lord each day and to ask Him to be that – the Lord of our life. It is important to remind ourselves that He is in control when we start to drive the car. May the giver of grace give us the weakness today to rest in Him who loves us far more than we could ever imagine!!