pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Ambassadors

Reading: 2nd Corinthians 5: 16-21

Verse 20: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us”.

Today many will gather in churches and homes to worship. We will sing, pray, read scripture, hear a message,… An outside observer could probably identify us as Christians. Then we will leave our places of worship and enter the world. When observed there will we still easily be identified as Christians?

Paul encourages us to not see people as the world sees them. He reminds us that once we are “in Christ” we are a new creation. We no longer see as a person of the world but now see as Jesus Christ saw the world. As such, we are called to first reconcile ourselves and then the world to Christ. We confess and repent and seek to live like Jesus. In turn we are called to help others do the same. Paul writes, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us”. As ambassadors we should represent Christ well and should help others to know the One that we know.

In a general sense, folks should see Christ in us. This emerges in how we treat others, in the ways that we live with integrity and honesty and love and compassion and mercy… People should notice that we are different from the world. But being “in Christ” also calls us to go a step further. We should also see and act as Jesus did. That means noticing the one who feels unlovable and then loving them as Jesus does. It means noticing the one that feels trapped in their sin or the guilt and shame and then helping them to be freed. It means seeing the one in need and then meeting their needs as we are able. It means seeing oppression and injustice in our community and addressing it. In living out our faith in real and practical ways we serve as good ambassadors for Jesus Christ. In this process, we also become more and more “the righteousness of God”.

This day and every day, may we not only live as good examples of Christ, but may we also be Christ’s love.

Prayer: Lord, help me to not only see as you saw and to not only love you, but also to see and love my neighbors in both word and deed. Amen.


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Love Overflowing

Reading: Hebrews 1: 1-12

Verse 12: “You remain the same, and your years will never end”.

Today is Christmas! Merry Christmas!

Our passage from Hebrews is a great place to be on Jesus’ birthday. Today in our reading we are reminded first of Jesus’ divinity. He is “the exact representation of God’s being”. We are also reminded that Jesus has always been – “you laid the foundations of the earth”. And we are reminded of Jesus Christ’s eternity – “you remain the same, and your years will never end”. Jesus is the One who was and is and is to come.

In our passage we are also reminded that Jesus is the One who fulfills all righteousness. He was born and laid in a humble manger, accepting the limits and vulnerabilities of the flesh. Yet while in that body Jesus remained pure and holy – fully righteous. While in the flesh, Jesus revealed the core character of the God that He was the exact image of: love. In all that Jesus did and said and thought, love was the guide. May this too be our guide. In all we do and say and think today, may we be like Jesus, our love overflowing to all.

Prayer: Lord, may I be love today. May all I meet know your love. Amen.


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Represent

Reading: 1st Thessalonians 1: 1-10

Verse Three: Work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, endurance inspired by hope.

Thessalonica was a large city.  It was an economic and political hub.  In the city was a mix of Romans, Greeks, and some Jews.  It was a worldly city – a place with lots of idols worship and plenty of wild living.  Paul had been there on a missionary journey and had begun a church.  It was a challenge to be a Christian in such a setting.  Our world today is still filled with many false idols and it is easy to stray from the faith into the dark side of the world.

Yet the Thessalonicans remain faithful.  Paul commends the church for the faith that they have and live out in the city.  Their faith has drawn some persecution yet they remain steadfast and joyous.  Their faith is known around the city and region.  Paul notes the three ways in which their faith is seen: “Work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, endurance inspired by hope”.  Their faith has gone from their head to their hearts and pours out of their mouths, hands, and feet.  It is a faith that is easy to see.

In our daily lives, is our faith so easy to see?  By simply watching us, can others see the joy of the Lord in us?  When the storms of life come, can others see our endurance that is inspired by our hope in God?  Our faith should pervade our lives in the good and the bad, being on display for all to see.  Do people see us as the hands and feet of Jesus in our daily lives?  Do they see in us a servant’s heart, offering our work and labor as an offering of love and faith?  In our daily living others should see the ways that we serve Christ.  In these three ways, we model Christ and introduce the world to our Lord.  May we represent well today.


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Represent

Reading: Galatians 1: 1-12

Paul is angry with the Galatians for living a gospel that is less than what he taught them.  They have come to accept a gospel that is less than they first believed.  Although the way of the cross is hard and the path is narrow, there is only one way, truth, and life.  There is only one good news.

Before we condemn the Galatians, let us look within first.  Have you ever bought an imitation product before?  Even though you knew it wasn’t the real thing?  Maybe it was a watch or pair of sunglasses or a handbag.  We buy such things because we want to appear to be something or someone we are not.  If we were really what those items represent, we would buy actual Rolex or Oakley or Gucci.

Our faith is not very different.  If we were to honestly assess the faith we are practicing daily and living out in the world, then we would have a good look at the gospel we have accepted.  I am guessing it is also less than what we first accepted.  At some point we have read “with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” and thought, ‘not yet, but one day’.  To fully love God with our all is the goal.  When we fell in love and gave our lives to Christ, this was our goal: to make Him #1 in our life.

Maybe tomorrow you will worship the god of green pastures and little white balls.  Maybe tomorrow you will worship the god of still waters and drowning worms.  Maybe tomorrow you will worship the Lord of you life and sing and praise His Holy name with your church family.

Either we are living a sold out, 100% in faith or we are living something less.  Are we really who we say we represent?  May the true gospel of Jesus Christ be our all in all, our way, truth, and life.  All of it.


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Who Today?

God’s voice has always been active in our world.  In the beginning He spoke and created all things.  God continued to speak to and through the prophets for thousands of years.  Next He spoke ad Jesus, the “exact representation of His being”.  God continued to speak through the words of the apostles and disciples.  God’s voice was preserved in the Bible and He continues to speak today through this living word.  God continues to lead and guide each of us today.

As Christ was the exact representation of God, we as Jesus’ followers are called upon to grow in our faith to become exact representations of Christ.  Our journey to becoming just like Christ is one we will never accomplish in our human lifetime but we are called to grow to be more and more and more like Christ.

As we read and study the Bible, the word that stands out more and more is ‘love’.  It is in what I consider the ‘big’ passages: for God so loved the world… love the Lord your God with all your… love one another as I first loved you….  Jesus set us the example by offering love to all He met.  Then He called us to follow.

For many non-believers today we can read or quote scripture to them all day long and it will not matter.  They are just words.  It will only be when our love becomes an action and we selflessly give of ourselves to minister to their needs that they will begin to catch a glimpse of Christ.  Through love hearts will be changed.  Lives will be made new.  So, who will you love today?

Scripture reference: Hebrews 1: 1-4