pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Distance

Reading: Isaiah 64: 5-9

Verse Five: “We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

There are times when we all feel distance from God.  Sometimes it is because we are struggling with sin in our life and this separates us for a time.  Sometimes it is our own inability to move past the guilt or shame that comes from our sin.  We stew init a bit.  We feel unworthy of God’s forgiveness so we do not ask for it.  And some of the time we want to be near God but it just feels as if He were absent or very distant.  We can cause the distance some of the time, but once in a while it is not rooted in us.  It just feels like there is some distance between us and God.

In our writing from Isaiah, there is some distance or separation that the people are feeling.  Verse five opens with a truth: “You come to the help of those that gladly do right”.  This verse may be wishful thinking or it may be a call to get back to doing what is right so that God can again feel present.  As verses five through seven unfold, we see that sin has definitely been a part of the separation.  Isaiah also admits that “no one calls on the name” of God and that no one “strives” to get a hold of God.  There is a complacency also at work here.  despite it primarily being their sins that separate them from God, the people still want to blame God.  Their logic makes no sense.  God cannot be more present.  God’s mercy and grace are always available and at work in our lives.  God never hides from His children.  They are playing the “if only you were here” game with a God who is always there.

The tide begins to turn in verse eight.  Isaiah writes, “We are the clay, You are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”  He is reminding the people that they are indeed in God’s hands and that, even in the midst of feeling like there is separation, God is still at work.  Even in the trials, God is shaping us too.  Verse nine closes with a plea: “Oh, look upon us, we pray, for we are all your people”.  God has, is, and always will be looking upon His people.  It is a reminder to themselves as much as it is a request of God.  At times we too must confess our need for God.

When we feel separation, we must find the root.  If it is sin that separates us from God, may we cast that aside,  repent, and seek God’s forgiveness.  If it is just a feeling, may we seek God with all that we are.  When we seek Him, we will find Him.  Delve into the Word.  Go out and be the hands and feet.  Spend time in fervent prayer.  Lift your voice in praise.  God is present.  We will find Him when we seek Him.  Amen.


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Reconnect to God

Reading: Psalm 42

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by problems relating to money, health, relationships, and vocation.  When a couple of these worries pair up, which they often do, then our lives can be quite challenging.  Our habit tends to be to dwell on such things, to allow them to consume our lives.  The cloudiness that settles in can even affect our relationship with God.

Sometimes we become so centered on our problems that we forget God is available as a source of strength and relief.  Our troubles can consume us.  When we finally are reminded of His presence we wonder why we did not turn to Him sooner.  At other times we are like the psalmist.  We seek God but end up asking, “Where is God”?  Despite our efforts, God feels distant.  The cloudiness can be hard to shake.

In these cases, we need to practice the motions of faith that we know so well.  First, we need to pray.  We need to pray out to God even if we feel all alone.  God is near and He is listening.  If we pray faithfully, He will be present.  Second, we need to praise God.  If we are too downcast to find any current praises, turn back to times and ways in which God has blessed you before.  Also, we can be thankful for the littlest things.  Song is another way to pray and to praise God.

In both of these ways we will reconnect to our God, our help and our rock.  In prayer and praise we invite God’s presence to be real to us and to also offer ourselves back to Him.  May we place our hope in God, for He is ever faithful and His love never fails.


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Always Right There

At times the veil of unbelief is drawn over our eyes and the light is dimmed.  Our choices and decisions land us in a place away from God and we sense the separation.  Many things can get us to the place where we feel like we have lost our connection with God and all of these things are our own doing.

In these times of doubt or unbelief or spiritual dryness, it is the gods of this world that are ruling our life.  Allowing something or someone other than God to rule is a bad thing.  Yet even out of this bad place, we can grow closer to God and we can strengthen our faith.

Even when we have separated or disconnected from God, He is working to bring us back.  Whether through a person, through something we read or hear, through an experience we have – He is always seeking us.  God never gives up on the children He loves so dearly.

No matter what is separating us, we can always sense that God is still there.  Once we have come to know God and His love, that feeling is in our minds and is always something that we sense is missing when we are away from God.  The instant we reach out to reconnect, He is right there to gladly welcome us home.

In those moments or seasons, help us God to remember this simple prayer offered to Jesus: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

Scripture reference: 2 Corinthians 4: 3-6


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An Amazing Love

All along our journey of faith there will be times when we are separated from God, adrift in our faith.  The circumstances of life will draw us away, both in the good and in the bad times.  Sometimes when life is really going well we can start to take the credit or we can get comfortable with our faith and suddenly God has a back seat.  We can feel that we don’t seem to ‘need’ God at times.  Other times, after being in a long struggle, we can come to a point where we question God’s presence or we may wonder of our prayers are being heard.

As the food that they had brought with them from Egypt began to run out, the Israelites began to grumble against Moses and Aaron and, ultimately, against God.  They could still remember the pots full of food from their days as slaves in Egypt and they longed to be filled again.  Our loving God heard them and sent manna and quail, but with some instructions.  If they took more than they needed, then it would be rotten.  God wanted to meet their need, not to spoil them.  Once they saw God’s provision, their faith in Him was restored.  But eventually they will fall away again.  And again.  And again.  And again.

We are just like the Israelites.  As my friend Kent likes to say, “One more time around the mountain!”  Yet the amazing thing is our God.  He never  leaves us.  No matter how many times we have to circle back around, He is always right there.  It is only us that chooses a time of separation.  And over and over and over and over again, when we seek Him, God is right there.  His great love for us is amazing.  It is a love that never ends, that never fails.  It is an amazing love!!  Praise be to God!!

Scripture reference: Exodus 16: 4-15