pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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All Things New

Reading: Revelation 21: 1-6

Verse 1: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away”.

There are two kinds of people in the world when it comes to broken things. One type is quickly willing to discard the broken item and purchase a new one if necessary. The other type will tinker and tinker, will try this and that, to repair the item to get just a little more life out of it. When you think of God and our world, which type is God?

I tend to fall into the second category. I will try and repair it, to somehow get a little more use out of it. Sometimes if it is mechanical my limited ability and knowledge forces me to seek a mechanic or repair person. Even then I am willing to try a little something to get more time out of the vehicle or lawnmower. Which type are you?

When we think about our relationships, we fall into similar categories too. When our relationships are great and going well, life is good. But once in a while we hit a bump in the road. It is at these points that we must make a similar decision: do I want to save this relationship or do I just want to let it go? This question applies to all of our relationships – from parents to spouses to best friends to co-workers or classmates to acquaintances. Some of us will do all we can to reconcile or to save the relationship. Others will quickly walk away. When you think about God, which type is God?

In our passage today, God gets to the point of starting over, of bringing total healing. Our key verse reads, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away”. There will come a day when all things are made new. A reboot happened once, when God covered the face of the earth with water. After the flood, God said not again. The next time will be final. Since then God has been working to renew our lives, getting some more good years out of us. God continues to be at work in our world, drawing all things to Him. God works in us, ever refining us to be more like Him. God never gives up on us, always extending mercy and grace and forgiveness. Our God is a loving and patient God. Yes, the new heaven and earth will be beautiful beyond words. But for now, I rejoice in God’s love and patience with me and with our world.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your deep, deep love that continues to work in my heart and in my life. When I fail and create some separation between you and I, all you do is reach out and call me back. Thank you for your example of love and grace. Amen.

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Love, Discern, Fruit

Reading: Philippians 1: 9-11

Verses 9-11: “This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more… that you discern what is best… may you be filled with the fruit of righteousness”.

In our passage today, Paul offers a prayer for three things that are connected. One leads to another; one depends on the two proceeding it. These three play out in our lives of faith.

Paul begins by praying that the Philippians’ love “abound more and more”. This is the picture of love in our lives. The day we marry or have a child, we think we can’t possibly love our spouse or that child any more than we do that day. Yet we most certainly do. The same is true in our relationship with God. And the same is true of our love of the stranger. Christ’s love within us leads us to someone in need and as we share the same His love with them, our love of them begins to grow.

Love leads to discernment. When we know how our spouse or child or neighbor ticks, it is because our love for them has grown. It leads us into understanding them. Understanding them and our relationship with them is what allows us to look past faults, sins, and even wrongs against us. This discernment allows us to continue to love them and sometimes to love them even more. It is this knowledge built upon love that leads us to action – “to be filled with the fruit of righteousness”, to use Paul’s words.

When we come to love and know someone, we know their situation, their struggles… This allows us to become humble servants at times. This produces fruit – pure and blameless because it is not about us but is about doing the work of the Lord and bringing Him the glory. The more we love God, the more we know God, the more we are led to be His light and love in the world. It is a connection that we are blessed to be a part of and we are blessed when we are participating in it. May it be so for each of us.

Prayer: God of love, help me to love you and all of your creatures more today than yesterday. May love lead to knowledge and knowledge to service, producing kingdom fruit. Amen.


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Closer and Closer

The psalmist’s words exhibit a deep relationship with God.  There is a connection that the psalmist feels has been present since birth.  In this statement it is implied that being in a relationship with God is all the psalmist has ever known.  For their part there is no other desire than this relationship.

Perhaps we each have similar relationships with our spouses or best friend.  While we have not been in the relationship since birth, over time it has grown to feel this way.  We feel as if we were “always” in the special relationship.  It is hard to remember a time when we were not deeply connected.

Both of these relationships share similar traits.  Over the years these relationships have seen good and bad sides as we have shared all of the joys and trials that are part of life.  There is also an intimacy that develops from being in the relationship day after day, year after year.  The level of honesty and openness is such that we can share anything with each other.  We grow to rely and depend on one another.

Many of us have this type of relationship with our spouse or best friend.  But is the same true of our relationship with God?  The psalmist certainly has this type of connection to God.  There is blunt honesty and high expectations in the writer’s relationship with God.  There is reliance and dependence also.  This is the type of relationship that God desires with all of His children.  To get there we must surrender some of self as we elevate the relationship above our own desires and wants.  Each day may we grow closer to God, falling more and more in love each day.

Scripture reference: Psalm 71: 4-6


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Lead and Leading

Parents often try to nudge or encourage their children to try or do something they think their child will enjoy or benefit from.  Sometimes a parent sees something in their child and tries to develop that skill or gift.  And a lot of the time the child responds with some resistance!  This is the case in today’s passage.  Mary nudges Jesus to exercise the gifts He has.  He responds with basically “not now”.  Maybe those things she treasured in her heart and perhaps a thing or two she has observed since then are promoting her to ask Jesus to perform a miracle and to begin His public ministry.

Sometimes in our lives we too are encouraged, invited, nudged… by others.  Maybe it is our parents.  Maybe it is our spouse or a coworker or a friend.  People often see gifts or talents we have that sometimes we do not.  At times we too can do the same for others in our lives.  It is a wonderful thing to see and affirm the God-given gifts we see in each other.

Often the nudge or encouragement comes from the Holy Spirit.  We see or find ourselves in a situation and we can almost physically feel the guidance to do or say something.  In other instances we can hear the voice whispering to us.  It may be in the moment or it may be later as we reflection our day or as we spend time in prayer.  These “too late” or after the fact prompts prime us for action the next time out.  It is still God at work in us.

God always continues to be active and involved in our lives and in the world.  He encourages all followers to use the gifts and talents He gave us through the nudges, prompts, … of the Holy Spirit and those around us.  We too at times invite, nudge, … others.  In all cases, may we be willing servants of His kingdom, whether leading or being lead, all for the glory of God.

Scripture reference: John 2: 1-5