pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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King

Reading: Mark 15: 1-15

Verse Five: “But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed”.

In our passage today, Jesus stands trial before Pilate. The religious leaders bind Jesus and bring Him to Pilate. Pilate asks Jesus a simple question: “Are you the king of the Jews”? Jesus gives a simple answer: “Yes, it is as you say”. Then the chief priests pile on the charges against Jesus. He remains silent in the face of all the accusations. They do not matter. Who and what He is has been established. What He came to do clearly lies ahead. All is going according to plan. So Jesus just stands there. Verse five reports, “But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed”.

In the same situation I think we would defend ourselves right up to the moment the nails we’re driven in. But not Jesus. The work is done. If one looks back over the course of His ministry, this fits the pattern. In all of His teachings, Jesus said what He wanted to say and left His hearers to make their own decision. Sometimes His words were encouraging, sometimes they were challenging. Sometimes they were loving, sometimes they were hard words of truth. But they were said and the rest was left up to the hearer. Jesus did not ever chase after someone who chose to walk away. He did not ever try to reword a parable so someone could understand it better.

So when Jesus stands before His accusers and Pilate, He is silent. The past three years give plenty of evidence as to who Jesus is. In the miracles we see divine power. In the teachings we see incomparable wisdom. In the parables we see the path to living for God. In the words of forgiveness we see what grace and mercy look like. Over all of this we see love. In the silence after we encounter Jesus each time, we too are left to decide. Do we follow closer or do we choose to remain where we are at? Do we engage and become a greater part of Jesus or do we remain on the edge of the crowd? Do we commit or do we wait and see what happens?

Over the cross on which Jesus died Pilate wrote these words: “King of the Jews”. It was one more silent testimony to who Jesus is. He desires to be our king as well. But there is no forcing or coersion. The choice is fully ours. Will we each choose to let Jesus be our King today?


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Speak

Reading: 1 Samuel 3: 1-20

Verse One: “In those days, the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions”.

As Eli aged the word of the Lord was not often heard.  Eli had chosen to ignore the immoral actions of his sons in the temple, thereby allowing them to continue to sin against God.  Ultimately God will not forget – there will be a consequence to pay for their actions.  I wonder if this is how God looks at us and at our world from time to time.  As a whole, Christianity is not the voice that rises up against obvious wrongs or injustices.  Does God think we too often sit silent when we should speak?

It can be difficult to speak out, especially when it seems to go against the norm or the popular or accepted thought of the day.  Even within our communities of faith, it can be difficult to hold one another accountable without seeming like we are being judgmental.  But if we are open to it and seek to hear what God is saying to us, like Samuel, we too can receive guidance and instruction from the Lord.

All it takes for God to speak is one receptive ear.  Our passage today tells us, “In those days, the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions”.  Eli had turned a deaf ear to the messages about his sons.  So God turned to Samuel.  But Samuel was young and Eli was still seen as the prophet of God.  It took a few times, but Eli did realize that God was calling out to Samuel.  Eli must have realized that this signaled a changing of the guard as well.  Perhaps this is why Eli pushes Samuel to tell him what God revealed to him.  Eli appears to know that the bad news pertains to him and his household.

How receptive are we to the voice of God in our lives?  Do we create time and space for His voice to be heard?  Do we try and discern if God is speaking into our life or into a situation in our life or in our world?  God desires to be active and involved in our lives.  May we be receptive to our God and His word.  Like Samuel, may we too say, “Speak, for your servant is listening”.


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All in for You

Reading: Amos 8: 7-12

The time of action and judgment has come for the people of Israel.  These people who wanted to focus on money and crops instead of worship will get what they want.  They had endured worship and the Sabbath like it was a chore.  So God has chosen to grant their desire – He will step away from His people.  He will allow His petulant children to live without Him for a while.  A time is drawing near when a foreign king will conquer and destroy.  God will be a silent, non-involved observer.  Public worship will not occur in captivity and there is no Bible yet.  It will be a difficult time for Israel.

It is hard for us to imagine what it would be like to have all of our churches shut down.  It is even harder to imagine that our access to the Word of God could be removed.  We have easy access to physical Bibles and constant access to a myriad of virtual Bibles.  So imagine for a moment if all access to the Word were removed and we could not gather for worship.  It would be very hard to remain connected to God and our faith.

Although this idea of no access to God or His Word seems so foreign to us who have easy access to these things, our attitudes at times are not so far removed from those of the people of Amos’s time.  We have all been reluctant worshippers.  We have all looked at our watches or cell phones as we creep past the time church was supposed to end.  We have all drug our feet or scowled all the way to church and part way through it.  This is not the worship God desires.

Lord, make our hearts like Your heart.  Help us to love you with all we are.  Lead our spirit to seek Your Spirit.  Draw us into You.  Move us to offer all of ourselves in grateful response to Your love and mercy that never fail.  May we be all in for You, O Lord.