pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Willing?

Reading: Acts 8: 26-40

Verse 34: “The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else'”?

There are three active characters in our passage today. The three are Philip, the eunuch, and the Holy Spirit. As followers of Christ, the Holy Spirit is an active part of our lives, just as it was with both Philip and the eunuch. Sometimes in our lives we are like Philip and like the eunuch is the other. At other times we are like the eunuch and the role of Philip is played by a teacher or a mentor or other more mature Christian. In either case, the work of God hinges on our willingness.

The first level of willingness comes from within and asks, ‘How willing are you to listen to and to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit’? We all hear the voice and feel the nudges. Do we demonstrate a willingness to follow whatever or wherever the Spirit leads? In this, we can be the teacher or we can be the seeker, the one serving or the one in need.

When we are the seeker, like the Ethiopian eunuch in today’s passage, are we willing to say, “Tell me please?” when we have questions or doubts or curiosity? At times we too need another to help us along on our faith journey or on our walk through the dark valley. We must be willing to receive when that is our need in life.

Sometimes we are approached by or encounter the seeker or the one in need. When we sense the Holy Spirit leading us to the other, like Philip was, are we willing to take the time and to take the risk to give of ourselves? We may not think we gave the knowledge or the skills or the… for the situation, but we can trust that with the Holy Spirit’s power and presence, we will. When we are willing, God will provide the words or the way or whatever else we need to help another grow closer to Christ.

This day God will provide opportunity. It may be for us to grow in our faith, it may be for us to help another grow in their faith, or it might just do both. May we be willing servants today. Amen.

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Lead

Reading: Matthew 23: 1-12

Verse 11: The greatest among you will be your servant.

Leadership today is usually about having good people skills, making wise decisions, knowing the intricacies of the trade, carefully using ones power, and gaining experience in one’s field.  Society may even overlook some behaviors or actions if the bottom line is healthy enough.  In our world we also see some trying to lead, but they lack some of the necessary qualities and skills to lead well.  Others are following their own agendas and are leading a very small band or a group of one.

Jesus addresses leadership in Luke 23.  He is talking once again about the religious leaders and the Pharisees.  He begins by acknowledging that they sit in the seat of authority.  Therefore, He says they deserve obedience.  But from here, Jesus addresses their woes.  First, they do not practice what they preach.  Second, they use the Law to place heavy burdens on the people but they themselves do nothing to help the people live out the Law.  Third, they love recognition.  They desire to be noticed and recognized for their apparent holiness and esteemed positions.  It is all about them and little about helping others to know God and to live devout and righteous lives.

Jesus then shifts the focus to who we should really be following.  He insists that there is really only one true Father and only one true Teacher.  God alone is to be worshipped and we should follow Jesus alone.  As John the Baptist said, we must become less so that Jesus can become more.  Jesus also speaks of this today, saying, “The greatest among you will be your servant”.  The greatest here on earth will be the servant.  Faith is about loving God and, in turn, loving others.

The humble servant loves and serves and then points to Jesus Christ and His love as the reason why.  This is the task of all Christians: through our lives we are to point others to Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.  To a degree, we are all called to lead.  By our prayers, our presence, our witness, our service, and our gifts, may we always lead others to Christ.  As we live out our lives and as we love others as humble servants of the Lord our God, may we ever shine the light on Jesus, the author of our faith.


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“Crazy” Promises?

Reading: Genesis 15: 1-18

In Genesis 15 we hear one of God’s “crazy” promises.  He again tells Abram that he will have an heir after all these long years.  You see, Abram had heard this promise before – first at age 75 when God also told him to move to a foreign land and again years later after Abram had moved to Canaan.  At age 99, almost 25 years after first hearing the promise, God tells Abram that is will soon occur.  God renames him Abraham and at 100 an heir is borne to him by his wife Sarah.  It is true that 100 then is not what 100 is now – his father Terah lived to 205 after all.  Abraham remained faithful to God’s promise and, in the end, the promise came true.  This should not surprise us – it is God making the promise.

I imagine it was hard for Abraham to wait all of those years without doubting, without starting to question the promise.  At least a little.  In my times of uncertainty, it can be really hard to keep faithful and to fully trust in God.  It can be all to easy to worry and fret and to become lost in the midst of the uncertainty.  It can be hard to remember His promise to us: “I will never leave you, I will never forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Yet this ancient promise still rings true for each of us.  In faith we can face whatever uncertainty we may have.  Maybe life seems to be heading in a direction like Abraham’s.  The questions of “Do what?” and “Now?” may be ringing loudly in our heads.  But quietly, underneath these noises, is the quiet and sure voice of God.  It is steady and unchanging.  He reminds us that He created us just as He intended so that we could fulfill just the purpose He has for our lives.  The road may be rocky at times and fear may rise up from the uncertainty, but God has it.  He will carry us when we need carried; He will strengthen us when we falter.  He reminds us that He has given us the skills and talents for the task at hand.  In faith, we step forward into God’s plans, fully knowing He is in control.


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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