pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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The Call Remains

Reading: Amos 8: 1-12

Verse 2: “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer”.

In last week’s reading, at the end of Amos 7, we learned that all was not “plumb” in Israel. The Lord God declared that judgment is coming. Today reading opens with a basket of ripe fruit. When fruit is ripe, it is picked and is consumed shortly. In verse 2 we read these ominous words: “The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer”. God is ready to act. The temple will soon be filled with wailing.

In verses 4-6 we read of the ways that the people have fallen away from God. The general charge is that they “trample the needy” and they “do away with the poor”. The merchants are using dishonest scales – raising the price while selling less than advertised. The people rush through the festivals and Sabbath so that they can get back to the business of making money. They may be present at the temple, but there is no worship. The rich are also selling the poor into slavery because they cannot pay off the debts they have accumulated. God promises not to forget anything they have done.

If we flash-forward almost 2,800 years, we as a society continue to trample the poor and needy. The exile that the Israelites endured was not enough to rid the people of God of our selfishness and of our appetite for more. The poor are forced to pay high rent for substandard housing because they have no choice. Homelessness is high in many places. Payday loan businesses and pawn shops help keep the poor trapped in cycles of poverty. Handing out money has become our choice because it is easier than walking alongside people, helping them learn a better way while building their self-worth. The sex industry is huge. Drug epidemics plague many places and people groups. God must look sadly down upon our world today.

God called Amos to reveal the woes of society. His words did not bring change, so judgment came. We are the voice of God today. The call remains. May we seek ways to right injustices, to end wrongs, to halt abuses, to carry the cause of the poor and needy. In doing so we will reveal God’s love for all people. It is the only thing that can heal our broken world.

Prayer: Lord, like most I do not actively oppress or take advantage of the poor and needy. And like most, I do not always seek to stand and speak for those in need. Open my eyes and move my hands, feet, and voice to be your light and love in the world. Amen.


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The Solution

Reading: John 21: 1-14

In the Gospel of John, Jesus has already appeared to the disciples two times, but they have not yet been empowered.  They are still in the “now what?” stage.  Jesus is indeed risen, but…  Fear of the authorities is maybe a little less now, but it is still real.  In the midst of all this waiting around behind locked doors, Peter announces that he is going fishing.  The combination of knowing Jesus is alive and being couped up for a while may explain his decision.  But for Peter, part of it may be the emotions he is personally dealing with.  Bold and fiery Peter swore allegiance to Jesus at all costs, even death, but had denied even knowing Jesus three times that last night.

So maybe Peter was seeking to return to something he knew, to his roots.  Up until meeting Jesus he had always been a fisherman.  We all find comfort in knowing what we are doing, in the familiar.  Out on the water with his friends, Peter probably found a measure of peace.  Doing something familiar probably took his mind off his guilt.

Sometimes we are not unlike Peter.  After a tough day a big bowl of ice cream or a bag of chips sure can help a lot.  For some, addictive or destructive habits can be where they turn.  We run the gamut with our coping mechanisms.  But our root cause and solution are the same: something has created tension or angst and we want to occupy ourselves somehow, so we reach out for what we know.

When Peter is in the boat and he comes to recognize it is Jesus on the shore, he immediately jumps into the water to get to Jesus quickly.  His fishing trip didn’t really fix anything.  Peter knows Jesus can.  In our times of trial may we too quickly look to Jesus.  May we too go to Him without hesitation.  Jesus is always the solution.  Always.