pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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The Father’s Love

Reading: Exodus 32: 7-10

Verse Nine: “I have seen these people”, said the Lord to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people”.

The people have allowed fear and doubt to win the day and they cast a golden calf to be their god.  Being fully made by human hands, the calf has no power.  But it is visible and present and the people want to believe it can save them.  So they offer sacrifices and worship it.

God looks down on His chosen people and suddenly the Israelites are “your” people whom “you” led out of Egypt.  God uses the third person to talk about His children – “they” are corrupt, stiff-necked.  He is like a parent, angry over what a child has done.  On occasion I have said, “Honey, your son has…” or “That daughter of yours…”

Reading this passage makes me wonder how close I have come to drawing God to the place of wanting to disown me.  One can easily look back over one’s life to identify points where or words or actions or choices maybe upset God, maybe made God feel like giving up on us.  I wonder if God ever thinks, “Not again…” because I too at times am “corrupt” and “stiff-necked”.

Even though we may get upset with our earthly children and “feel like” disowning them, we never do.  They will always be our son or daughter and we will always love them.  Our love for our children pales in comparison to God’s love for us.  God’s love for His children is so much more than we can even understand.  In the 103rd Psalm we are reminded that God removes our sin as far as the east is from the west – they are no more.  In Titus 3 we are told that our sins are washed away, giving us new birth, a fresh beginning.  This is how great the Father’s love is for us, His children.  It is a love that never fails, a love that never ends.  Thanks be to God for this love.

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A Special and Chosen People

Reading: Exodus 12: 11-14

Verse 13: The blood will be a sign… I will pass over you.

The Hebrew people are the chosen people.  They stand in a special place because of their relationship with God.  As God is preparing to set them free from their long years of bondage in Egypt, there must have been some anticipation building up amongst the people.  God instructs them to mark their doors with blood and says, “The blood will be a sign… I will pass over you”.  Others will not be passed over.  Death will come to their houses.  The Hebrews are indeed a special and chosen people.  God also instructs them to eat a special meal in a specific way, all the while ready to go.  As a child we experience this same thing when Mom or Dad excitedly yells,”Everyone, get your shoes and coats on!”  We would know something special was coming our way.

It has been many years since the first Passover.  Yet generation after generation has celebrated the Passover meal each and every year.  The words have been the same almost forever; they are memorized at the earliest of ages.  The youngest one present always asks the same question about the special night.  The story and the words and the meal are passed on generation after generation so that the Israelite people can remember.  The Passover celebration tells them over and over that they are a special and chosen people who stand always in God’s presence.

When Jesus instituted the sacrament of communion, He too used similar words.  He wanted us to always remember that that we are a special and chosen people.  In the Gospel of Luke we read these words: “do this in remembrance of me”.  Each time we gather and celebrate Holy Communion we remember what Jesus did for each of us.  We tell the story over and over so that we remember and so that we are reminded that Jesus made His sacrifice for each of us.  Yet He also did it for all of us – to forgive the sins of the world.  What great love!  We are indeed a special and chosen people, dearly loved by our Lord and King.  May all we do and say this day bring Jesus all the glory and honor, reflecting a love that draws others into this special and chosen people, the church.


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Good News

Acts 2: 14a and 36-41

Verse 41: About 3,000 were added to their number that day.

Peter opens this section of scripture with these words: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Savior”.  Peter speaks with authority and power that comes from two things: he has personally seen the risen Christ and the Holy Spirit now dwells within him.  Those gathered around him must have perked up and paid attention.  They all knew the facts of Jesus’ life and His crucifixion.  They also must sense both the unquestionable truth of Peter’s words and the guilt they feel over what has happened to Jesus.  They are ‘cut to the heart’ and ask Peter and friends, “Brothers, what shall we do”?  Although the Holy Spirit has not yet come to dwell in them, they are certainly feeling the conviction of the Spirit.

Peter responds with an altar call.  He says step up, admit and repent of your sins, and be baptized into the name of Jesus Christ.  Again the people respond to the nudge of God.  We too live with this nudge guiding us.  At times the Holy Spirit leads, at times it whispers, at times it convicts, and at times it nudges.  In all of these ways, the Holy Spirit propmts us to action.  When we are faithful, like the 3,000 in today’s passage, then God responds.  God gives the people the forgiveness of sins and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  This is the essence of the good news.

The same good news exists today.  God still pursues mankind with a love that is unquenchable and undeniable.  It is a love that is offered to one and all.  It is offered equally to sinners and to saints.  No matter where we are on the sinner-saint continuum, may we each realize and accept the good news this day: God loves us, Jesus saves us.  All we have to do is profess Jesus as Lord and we receive the gift of eternal life and the daily presence of the Spirit.  Thanks be to God for this wonderful and incredible gift.


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All Are Welcome

The feeding of the 5000 in the wilderness is much like the giving of the manna to the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness.  In both cases the people of God were in need and He responded by providing their sustenance.

The giving and sharing of the bread has become such an integral part of the church’s life.  As the people of God gather to celebrate communion, we are connecting back to the manna and the loaves.  Through the bread of communion, God is both providing for our need and also reminding us of Jesus’ sacrifice.  Through His broken body and spilled blood we find forgiveness for our sins.  Through the bread and cup we are celebrating Jesus’ mighty act that cleanses us of our sins and leads us out of our own personal wilderness and back into relationship with God.

Like the loaves, when we come to the table, all are fed.  When we come to the common table to celebrate holy communion, there is no cost. The price has been paid for each of our sins.  All are welcome to come and lay it all before the cross.  It does not matter what we come with or how many sins we are bearing.  All is left at the foot of the cross.  And after we take the bread and the cup and confess our sins to God, we walk away fully cleansed, wholly restored.

Scripture reference: Matthew 14: 13-21