pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Presence, Rest

Reading: Exodus 33:14

Verse 14: My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.

Today’s passage is one verse long.  It is given to Moses by God to reassure and encourage him.  It is a good promise for us to remember as well.

God’s presence goes with us in so many ways.  I think it begins with the situations and people that God brings into our lives.  These are both opportunities to share God with others and to experience God through others.  Sometimes in our lives we have the blessing of ministering to others and at other times we are ministered to.  When we respond to these opportunities, when we are open to the moving of the Holy Spirit in our lives, surely God’s presence is with us.

A few days ago I felt a nudge to go visit a friend who had experienced a very difficult loss.  I was going to be traveling through her state so I asked if we could have coffee.  As I drove yesterday, the Spirit was at work and the Lord placed upon my heart what I needed to share.  I was able to do that and it was a wonderful experience of being able to share God’s presence and love with a fellow child of God.

The second half of today’s verse is such a blessing too when we can get there.  Life does not get much better than when we can find that sweet spot of rest – whether in the recliner, out on the deck, on the couch in the afternoon sun, in the qiuet of the early morning.  But it can be so elusive!  Life is usually so busy and we go at such a non-stop pace that periods of rest can be hard to find.

One of the most restful times of the day can be our times of prayer and study.  If one is willing to carve out 15, 30, or even 60 minutes each day to spend time with God, then He will be both present and He will bring you rest.  In those quiet, still moments spent talking with God, He fills you with peace and rest for your mind and soul.  God renews your spirit.  Taking time to read and meditate on God’s Word is both nourishment and peace for the heart, mind, and soul.  He is surely present and certainly fills us up!

Lord God, may I dwell in your presence today and maybe honor you in all I do and say today.  May your Spirit grant me rest.  Amen.

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Present

Reading: Exodus 14: 19-31

Verse 31: When the people saw the great power the Lord displayed… the people put their trust in Him.

In today’s passage the Israelites experience the final detachment from Pharaoh and his army.  Fear and doubt has again suddenly consumed the Israelites.  They even uttered to Moses, “It would have been better for us to serve in Egypt than to die in the desert” (Exodus 14:12).  Moses told them to stand firm and see the deliverance of the Lord.  Trust – trust in God.

God does indeed deliver Israel!  The angel and pillar of cloud form a protective barrier and God parts the sea.  The Israelites cross over on dry land but when the Egyptians follow God stalls them out and the waters return.  Verse 21 records, “Not one of them survived”.  What the people saw as a huge situation that quickly led to doubt and fear, God saw as an opportunity to deliver His people.  God intervened on their behalf to save His chosen people, whom He dearly loves.

God had led them out of slavery and had even blessed their exit.  He had guided them to this point, yet fear and doubt rose up quickly.  God’s mighty act of deliverance in the Passover was still very fresh in their minds, yet they quickly abandoned their faith.  We too can be much like the Israelites.  We can walk in close connection with God for days and days or even for years and something arises that makes us question or doubt and our faith almost evaporates.  The doubt or fear or anxiety or whatever quickly dominates our thoughts.  And then God still steps in and begins to work in our situation and delivers us too.  We look back and wonder why we ever questioned, why we doubted, why we didn’t just continue to rely on God.

The Israelites are delivered!  It was a powerful experience of God’s might.  Verse 31 tells us, “When the people saw the great power the Lord displayed… the people put their trust in Him”.  This too is an experience like the Passover, one they will tell over and over down through the generations.  Our experiences with God delivering us can be such moments as well.  May we also remember when God was present and acted in our lives, so we can retell and retell the story so that our faith and trust grows and grows.  God is ever present in our lives.  May we live into this more and more each day.


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For the Common Good

“For the Common good” is why we are given gifts.  It is part of the concept of being one big family or of being one body with many parts, each working together.  Our varied and unique gifts are meant to unite us as we come to learn what we each can offer to the whole.

In life we each face situations.  Sometimes we can maneuver through them on our own.  In other cases, we are a little more pressed and the gifts and skills God has given us are not quite enough.  In these times we need to call on others whose gifts will help with our situation.  There are two byproducts of this system God designed: as individuals we experience humility as we rely on others.  As part of the body we come to value and appreciate others for their role in the larger community of faith.

For us to play a role in this system, we must know what our gifts are.  The list in today’s reading includes teaching, discernment, healing, prophesying, and speaking in and interpreting tongues.  In Romans 12 is another list and in Galatians 5 we find a list of the fruits of the Spirit, which can also be seen as gifts we possess and can share with others.

For some of us, our gifts are revealed through our passions.  For example, one drawn to working with young people discovers their gift for teaching.  Often we “do” what we are gifted at or with.  For others, it takes effort and sometimes trial and error to find their gifts.  And, uniquely, for some their gifts are totally different than what they do for a living.

Whatever the case, we are each called to use our gifts for the common good.  May God’s Spirit work in us to reveal our gifts if we do not know them.  If we do, may God provide opportunities for us to exercise our gifts today, for the common good and for God’s glory.

Scripture reference: 1 Corinthians 12: 1-11


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Accept, Accept, Accept

At times in life we find ourselves where we do not want to be.  There are things we cannot control, such as health, and we feel a little powerless.  Sometimes it as if we were on the other side of a window looking at an unfolding scenario.  We desire to rush in and change things, but we cannot.

Jesus experienced this in His hometown.  He was there to teach and heal but He could not.  He was amazed at their unbelief.  Jesus did not scold them or have a meltdown or launch into a rant.  He simply moved on to other places and continued His work.  He also sent out the twelve to teach and heal.  Perhaps in reaction to what happened in His hometown, the twelve were sent out with the instruction not to take anything along but instead to rely on the hospitality of those they ministered to.  If people were not welcoming, they simply moved on.

Again, there was no forcing the issue.  There was no shoving faith down someone’s throat.  There was no judgment or condemnation.  The twelve simply shook the dust off their sandals and moved on.  I hope to show the same grace and love the next time someone rejects my attempt to share faith with them.

The lessons here for us are many.  Accept things as they are without dwelling on disappointment, anger, …  Accept the situation as it is without piling on our own expectations or judgments.  Accept the possibilities that God places before us.  Live fully in the moment at hand, offer all that we have and are, and experience God’s transforming power at work.

Scripture reference: Mark 6: 1-13


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Trust Him. Never Be Alone.

As Israel approached the Red Sea they were in a tight spot.  Pharaoh and his army approached from behind and the sea stood before them.  Their only option was to trust God and He saved them.  How often is it that we truly and fully turn to God only when we get to the point of seeing no other option?

Maybe we think we can handle life.  But after we have tried this and that and that again, the situation is unchanged.  Almost in desperation we turn to God.  Maybe we think that we or the situation is unworthy of God’s time.  So the situation persists.  In any case, God is always there and is just waiting for the invite.  This doesn’t mean we never suffer but it does mean that God will see us through. With God we never have to go it alone.

How do we get to the point of seeing God as our first option, as our only option?  It is through connecting daily in a personal way.  It involves making time with Him a priority.  It means every morning or every noon or every evening.  It is coming to know Him and being known by Him.  We really only trust those we know to be worthy of our trust.  God is worthy.  Trust Him with all of your life!

Scripture reference: Exodus 14: 19-31