pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Action

Reading: 1st John 3: 16-18

Verse Eighteen: “Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth”.

Already in the early days of the church John was seeing a struggle between the words Christians said and claimed and the actions that they were living out. In the first chapter of 1st John, he encourages the followers of Christ to walk in the light. Walking is an active verb – John wanted them to walk in the faith or to have an active faith. He continues this encouragement in chapter two and then turns to warnings against loving the world and being led astray by false teachings. In chapter three John turns to our call as children of God and how to live righteous lives. It is within this chapter that our passage today lies.

For John and for the church today, we cannot separate the idea of being a Christian from the idea of love. The two cannot be separated. Jesus was all about loving others and that is one of Jesus’ primary directives to His followers. In most churches, we do this very well with each other. Yes, we will disagree now and then, but by and large the folks in our churches love one another well. Those John was addressing must have done this well too. The challenge comes in loving those outside the walls of our churches, those who are different, those who struggle with sin or hardships in their lives.

John was challenging the church to love those in need in a time when persecution was high. We are challenged today in a time when it is pretty safe to be a Christian. Yet we too struggle to always help those who cannot help themselves and to offer self-sacrificing love that goes out and meets people’s needs where they are at. John wrote, “Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth”. Don’t say you love your neighbors but actually go out and love them. Don’t see injustice and do nothing about it. Don’t see the hungry without feeding them, the naked without clothing them, the lonely without visiting them…

There is much need and brokenness in our world. There is much love in our hearts. May the two meet not only in our thoughts and words but out there in the real world too. May we each be a part of making this happen today.


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His Witness

Reading: Ephesians 1: 15-23

Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus is that the Holy Spirit would bring wisdom and revelation to the church so that they would know Jesus better.  Paul lists three reasons why he is praying this prayer: to know the HOPE of salvation; to know the riches of the larger church; and, to gain a sense of His power.

It is one thing to know who Jesus is.  A good teacher.  A man with the power to perform miracles.  A moral example.  Yes, Jesus is all of these things.  But to know Jesus more, to the depth of calling on Him as Lord and Savior, requires faith and belief that He is the Son of God.  Once our ‘knowledge’ of Jesus has reached this place, then we begin to live for Him and not for self, knowing that our salvation, the eternal rescue of our spirit, rests firmly in His hands.

As we become a part of a community of faith we become richer.  The fellowship, worship, mentoring, accountability, and love of the faithful makes our lives so much better.  In turn we too can discover and offer the gifts that God has bestowed upon us to enrich the lives of the church and the world in which we live.  These experiences of sacrificially giving of self to others and receiving from others unconditionally opens the way for us to begin to sense His power at work.  It is through these acts of love and sacrifice that we begin to truly live as Jesus lived.  As we connect others to Him, we ourselves deepen our relationship with Jesus as well.

May we be His witness and example today, growing in our knowledge of Jesus Christ by following Him in all we do today.


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Mentors

Reading: John 14: 25-29

As we go through life, especially when we are younger, we find people that mentor and shape us.  They are people who  see something in us worth investing some of themselves in.  They usually are older and have been through a little bit more of life so they carry wisdom and expertise with them.  They are kind and loving and sacrificial people.  Mentors help us navigate our careers, our families and relationships, our faith.  If we have been mentored we are likely to become a mentor ourselves.

Jesus himself was a mentor.  For the disciples and undoubtedly others who followed Him, Jesus mentored many in their faith and how to live it out.  Indirectly Jesus continues to mentor each of us as we read His Word and apply it to our lives.  But Jesus also knew that the disciples and eventually we would need more than memories or the written recording of them.  He knew we would need an active and alive presence to continue to mold, shape, and guide us.  So Jesus gave mankind the gift of the Holy Spirit.  To all who call on Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Spirit comes and dwells within them.  Once there the Spirit is the constant presence of Jesus, reminding us and teaching us about Jesus and the example He set.

As we think about the people who have poured into our lives, at some point we must also begin to become aware of those around us who could use someone to mentor and shape them.  Other people have poured into us so that one day we too could pour into others.  As we seek this our may we be open to how the Spirit guides and leads us in this as well, always remaining a willing and humble servant.


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Her Offering

It is a challenge to be content, to trust, to be obedient.  The world tells us we need a bigger house, a better body, a higher title.  It tells us we need recognition and to rise above everyone else.  These are the attitude Jesus points out in the teachers of the law.  They do much for show.  Then He goes on to observe the offering box in the temple.  Many with much come along and drop in their offering.  He makes no judgment but only offers that it is easy for the wealthy to give out of their excess.

Then along comes the widow who puts in two small copper coins.  “Such a tiny offering” the teachers of the law, the wealthy, and the disciples observe.  We would have too.  But then Jesus notes this is all she had to live on.  All.  Oh.  What trust in God to do such a thing!  True, but it is more.  It is the joy of giving.  It is sacrificing so another can have some.  It is being obedient.  Just imagine for a moment gathering all you have – all your money – and giving it to the church.  All the money you had.

What would it have taken for this widow to do such a thing?  What would it take for me?  To be honest my faith is a long way from this widow’s.  We may pray to the Spirit to guide us, but we have our limitations.  There are things we hold back.  This poor widow is a tough example to follow.  But one worth striving to be more like.  Make me a  willing giver of all I have to offer Lord.  Help me to abandon self for You.

Scripture reference: Mark 12: 38-44


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Just Like Ruth

Ruth was faithful to both Naomi and to God.  She is a great example of the self-giving love we are all called to offer others.  Ruth puts the needs to Naomi far above her own.  In the end, she finds another who offers her this same kind of sacrificial love.  It is no wonder that Ruth and Boaz are part of the family tree that will one day produce Jesus.

In marrying Ruth, Boaz offers both her and Naomi kindness, protection, security, and a sense of belonging.  For two women living as widows with no kin to care for them, this must have been a great relief to them.  But this was not just some act of God.  Boaz was drawn to Ruth when he saw her in the field, working hard to glean grain for herself and Naomi.  He was drawn to her even more when he heard her story and what she had done for Naomi.  Ruth remained faithful and through this both her and Naomi’s lives were redeemed.

Our faith journey is much like Ruth’s story.  At times we will experience suffering and walk a hard road.  But we will not be alone, God will be there too.  At times we too will offer ourselves to another, giving our sacrificial love to them, following the example of Ruth and of Christ.  At times we too will experience redeeming love as God will enter into our brokenness.  In times when we most need God’s redeeming love, it will be there to redeem and restore us.  And just as Boaz stepped in and negotiated for Ruth, Christ will step in and intercede for us before the throne of God.  And just as Ruth was faithful, so too must we be faithful.

Each day we are called to offer ourselves to God and to others, living as His example of sacrificial love.  May it be this day.

Scripture reference: Ruth 4: 13-17


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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