pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Cycling Closer

Reading: Psalm 80: 1-2 and 8-19

Verses 1-2: “Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel… Awaken your might; come and save us”.

Today’s Psalm echoes the emotions and events of the passage from Isaiah 5 that we have read the last two days. God rescued the people from Egypt and led them to the Promised Land. God cleared away the inhabitants and Israel grew and prospered. All was well in the land. Then, starting in verse twelve, things head south. Israel is picked at and ravaged. The psalmist pleas for God to look down and watch over them once again.

This cycle is common in the Old Testament. Life is good when Israel walks in God’s ways. Then sin enters the people. It is usually through engagement with outside people that leads to worshipping other gods. This leads to a consequence from God. In time the people repent and return to walking in God’s ways. All is well again in the land.

In verse sixteen is the admission of guilt. The people do not like the consequence – they are perishing. Again the psalmist asks for God to rest favor upon the people, the children that God has raised up. The psalmist offers God backwards logic: “revive us and we will call on your name”. The Psalm closes with one last plea for God’s face to shine upon the nation of Israel.

When I read and consider this Psalm, it is an easy connection to my life. I journey through the same cycle. I live in close communion with God and life is good, all is well. Then I am tempted and fall into sin. While the actual sins have changed over time, the root cause remains the same: choosing my will over God’s will. This will ever remain part of who I am. It is a battle that will always be fought as long as I draw breath. All followers of Jesus Christ know this cycle, know this battle.

We also know it does not end in defeat. We have hope in our Lord. We receive mercy and grace and forgiveness. God never gives up on us, just like God never gives up on Israel. God continues to till our soil, to mature our faith. As we grow in faith, we sin less often. Our understanding of sin becomes more refined, our eyes become sharpened. We hear the Holy Spirit better and better, avoiding the sin we once stumbled into. God’s face shines brighter. Thanks be to God!

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for the journey that you have walked with me. Thank you for ever being at work within me, drawing me closer and closer to you. May I walk each day a little closer than the day before. Amen.


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However He Comes

Reading: 2 Peter 1: 19-21

Peter begins by helping us remember the words of the prophets, words that draw us to Jesus and to God.  Prophets like Moses and Elijah, who he saw in the transfiguration, and prophets like Samuel and Isaiah – all men who spoke the word that God has placed in their mouths.  In his reference to light shining in the darkness, Peter draws in John the Baptist, another prophet who pointed people to the Messiah, just as all the Old Testament prophets ultimately do as well.  As modern day disciples of Jesus, this is our call as well: to draw others to the light, to the Messiah.

Sometimes we think of the light of Jesus as a slowly growing presence, a light that steadily bathes one in His encompassing love.  This love gradually progresses in an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus.  This is often the norm for those raised in the church.  They would say they have always known Jesus.  But this is not the pattern for all believers.

In the original Hebrew, the word we have translated as dawn has a more piercing, more sudden connotation to it.  Think of turning on a bright flashlight after spending several moments in a dark cave.  The light is sudden.  It is sharp.  The light pierces through.  Some are experience Jesus this way.  Life is as it has always been.  Then all of a sudden, Jesus comes charging in, taking center stage in their life.  

Jesus can enter in a similar way for believers as well.  We go along as always.  Then suddenly Jesus bursts into our daily routine unexpectedly.  Maybe it is a sudden revelation of a truth as we pray or study our Bible.  Maybe it is in a surprising conviction we suddenly feel.  Maybe it is in an urge or nudge we feel to reach out to someone.  Or maybe it is an experience like Peter, James, and John had, up on the mountain top.  This day, may we be open to the presence of our living Savior, however He may come today.