pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Restore

Reading: Psalm 80: 5-7 and 17-19

Verse Five: “You have fed them with the bread of tears”.

Psalm 80 is a song of lament.  As one reads the Psalm, you can feel the people’s pain and hurt seeping out of the words.  They are calling out to God and and feel as if God were not there.  In the opening line of our passage, the psalmist asks, “How long will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people”?  They are searching for God.  They long for God’s face to once again shine upon them.

Today our headlines are filled daily with stories of people who could use God’s face shining upon them.  And there are countless others who feel this way whose stories do not cross our TV screens or our Facebook feeds.  There is much hurt and brokenness in our world and even in some of our lives.  We continue today to ask where is God in the midst of the pain and suffering of our world.  We wonder why God would allow tings to be as they are for so many people.

On behalf of the people Israel, the psalmist laments to God: “You have fed them with the bread of tears”.  It is a sad image to have in our minds.  Instead of being filled with God’s love and compassion and healing, they are eating tears.  They long for God’s presence instead.  The psalmist goes on to ask, “Restore us, O God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved”.  The people long for God to look their way.

Many would voice this call today.  “Restore us, O God Almighty”.  You are powerful and can do anything.  You came down to earth and lived among us, healing many – physically, emotionally, spiritually.  You continue to be present both through the Holy Spirit and through us, your disciples.  So Lord, God Almighty, send us out, led by the power and presence of your Holy Spirit.  Send us out to bring healing and restoration to the broken people of our neighborhoods and communities.  Send us out to be your love and compassion to those who are eating tears.  Lead us and guide us to fill them with your bread of love and hope.  Send us out.  Amen.

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I Am Sending You

Reading: Matthew 10: 1-23

Verse 16: I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.

Jesus is sending out the twelve to “drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease”.  In this passage today, they are being sent to fellow Jews.  Jesus calls these the “lost sheep” – tying back to why He had compassion on the crowds in Matthew 9:36.  The twelve are first to preach that “the kingdom of heaven is near” and then to heal diseases, raise the dead, and drive out demons.  The authority Jesus gives them to perform miracles will lend credence to the message they bring.

As we go out into the world, we go for the same reasons.  We go to share the good news of Jesus Christ as we work to heal a broken world.  Each of us who knows Jesus as Lord and Savior has a story to tell that will be good news for others.  Each of us can love and serve others too.  We may not be able to work miracles, but by caring for basic needs and by giving of our time and talents we do bring healing.  It is through our loving acts of service that we too gain footing to share Jesus with the lost.

Jesus warned the disciples: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves”.  There is a defenselessness that comes to mind with this statement.  It requires trust in the Shepherd.  He goes on to advise them to be on guard against men.  Jesus warns them that persecution is going to be a part of the journey.  He also tells them that the Spirit will be with them.  The Holy Spirit will give them the words to say.  And then Jesus encourages them, stating that “he who stands firm to the end will be saved”.  Keep the faith, I am with you.

We too are sometimes sent to people or places that make us feel like sheep among wolves.  We too must trust into the lead, guidance, and protection of the Holy Spirit.  In those uncomfortable or outside our comfort zone times, if we keep the faith the Spirit will give us just the right words to say as well.  May we be like the twelve, trusting He who sends, going forth to share the good news and to bring healing to our broken world.  May our light draw others in to Jesus Christ – the One who saves.


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Answering the Question

Most of us do not have a vision experience like Isaiah – winged creatures, smoke filling the room, trembles that shake the foundations.  For most of us, our encounters with God tend to be on the quieter side.  We do not hear an audible voice asking the question: “Whom shall I send?”  But we do often hear the question.

For many of us though, we are adept at acting like we do not hear the question.  Like a phone ringing that we choose not to answer or a text message that we choose to ignore, it can be easy to avoid responding to the question.  We certainly could not avoid the question if our call experience was like Isaiah’s.  And for some, God’s call approaches this scale.  But for most it does not.

God continues to actively call each of us.  It could be through something we see on TV or read in the paper or observe out in the world.  It could be through the words of another who encourage us or ask us to join them.  It could be through an encounter with someone that somehow strikes a passion within us.  God speaks to us in many ways.  He calls for us to minister to His people over and  over and over.

The voice never goes away.  He never ceases to ask the question.  The call never ends.  But the more we hear it, the more we have the opportunity to tune in and to hear God.  Funny thing though, saying ‘yes’ does not make the call go away.  It makes the next call clearer.  It helps us say ‘yes’ quicker next time.  When God asks “Whom shall I send?”, the answer is clear.  In each case, God already knows the answer to the question.  May we respond with the answer He longs for: “Here I am.  Send me.”  For where He leads we are to go.  And where we go, He will be there too.

Scripture reference: Isaiah 6: 1-8