pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Unfailing Love

Reading: Psalm 107: 1-9

Verses 8-9: “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love… he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things”.

The Bible is one big story that tells of God’s love for all of creation. It begins in a garden paradise and it ends by returning to a paradise – the new heaven and earth. In between it is the story of God helping as many people as possible find eternal life.

In today’s Psalm, the writer recalls some of the ways that God has expressed love for the Israelites. In the opening verses of Psalm 107 God is remembered redeeming them from their foes, gathering them from afar, delivering them from distress, and leading them to a city to settle in. Verse eight echoes some of verse one. In verses eight and nine we read of the psalmist’s response to all that God has done for Israel. He writes, “Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love… he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things”. These verses themselves also remind the people of God’s love and care.

As Christians, we can look to the New Testament to find many stories of faith. We also each have our own faith journey that is also filled with stories of when and how we personally experienced God’s love and care. There is the time when Jesus became “real” and we claimed a personal relationship with him. There was that time that God saved us from injury or worse. There was that time when God answered that big prayer and then all the times those small prayers brought help or relief or comfort or guidance or peace or… Then there was that time, in the darkest of valleys, when God carried you through. And there was that time when helping a stranger you saw the face of Christ. And then there was…

Those stories, those moments, those experiences, they lead to growth in our faith and to deepening our relationship with Jesus Christ. They build our trust in God’s love and care. They make us feel connected. They bring us into the family of God. Like the psalmist, may we too remember a few of our own stories of faith today and may we then declare with the psalmist, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever”.

Prayer: Lord God, as I look back on my years I can see the many times and ways you have been a part of my life. Some are monumental for me; others are quiet and personal. Most fall in between these two. Yet each, every one, has led me a step or several steps closer to you. Thank you for your unfailing love. You are good! Amen.

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Respect and Reliance

Reading: Psalm 4

In our Psalm for today we see what trust in God looks like.  David places God first and relies on God for relief from distress, for mercy for sins, for an ear in times of need, for joy in God’s presence, and for peace in his heart.  Looking at this list, who would not want these things?  All of us want joy, peace, and contentment in life.  When we allow God to be our guide, our defender, our redeemer, and our Savior then our life will be blessed.

Sometimes we get the relationship backwards though.  We set out on our own adengas and we try to be the one in control.  Our focus is on ourselves, we hunker down and move ahead with the plans we have laid.  We have a goal or a desired outcome and we try to work through or around any obstacles that come our way.  Culture reinforces our tendency towards individualism and self-centeredness.  If things get a little hard we may ask God to bless our plans or to make things work out for us.  We set ourselves up in the role of God and then ask the one true God to step in only when we need it.

But this is the reverse of how our relationship with God should be.  It is funny that at times we think we are smarter, more capable, more able … than the God who created the whole universe.  In David’s words we see the proper respect and reliance that God alone deserves.  David reminds us to pray because God hears us.  He reminds us to trust in God alone and to allow God’s light to shine upon our faces.  In verse seven, we begin to see the fruit of doing these things: “You have filled my heart with joy”.  At the end of each day, David lies down in peace.  When God is in control, David experiences blessing.  When we begin each day by submitting our will to God and by asking God to lead, we too will know joy, peace, and contentment.  May we choose each day to place all of our life in God’s hands.


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Giving All

Reading: Luke 7: 11-17

In His encounter with the woman outside of Nain, Jesus extends deep compassion.  He sees the funeral procession nearing His group and identifies the woman as the mother of the son who has died.  The deep compassion Jesus feels leads Him to offer her some words of comfort, “Don’t cry”.  Perhaps He chooses these words because He already knows what is coming next.

At times we too have encounters where we can see quickly that one is suffering or is in grief or is somehow afflicted.  Compassion rises up in our hearts as words begin to form in our minds.  We want to offer comfort or relief.  We want to help their situation.  But sometimes we do not know how or maybe we are unsure of what the next step will be so we really do not offer all of the compassion we are capable of giving.  We hold back.  Our words are short and superficial.  Then there is no commitment or need for follow through.

It is unclear whether or not Jesus knew the woman’s situation.  Maybe all He saw was her grief and He was moved with a deep compassion.  Or maybe He knew her full situation.  In either case, Jesus offered all He could.  He followed up His words of comfort with action.  Jesus called to the dead son to get up and He breathed new life into him.

In our encounters with those in need, we sometimes hesitate at the action step.  We pause and ask ourselves what this step of action might cost us.  Maybe we wonder if we really even have anything to offer that will help.  The cost and whether or not we have something to offer are things we should not consider.  What we have to first offer in all situations is free and costs us nothing.  The love of Christ in us should always lead the way.  What comes next is also a gift from God.  All that we have to share is a gift from God.  Whether a physical blessing or a gift such as empathy or compassion, God blesses us so that we can bless others.  God expects us to love freely, to not hold back.  Jesus demands of us what He was willing to give Himself: all.  Jesus gave all of Himself for you and for me.   Let us do the same for Him.