pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Guide Our Feet

Reading: Luke 1: 68-79

Verse 76: “And you, my child… will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him”.

As we recall from yesterday, God raised up a “horn of salvation” to redeem his people, offering them mercy and salvation. Jesus Christ is the one who will rescue them and enable them to live holy and righteous lives. Those who believe in Jesus will not fear because Jesus brings victory over our true enemies: sin and death. Starting in verse 76 we shift to the second half of Zechariah’s song. Here the prophesy becomes intimately personal.

Probably holding his newborn son aloft, Zechariah joyfully sings verses 76 through 79. He begins with “And you, my child…”. His own son will be a prophet of the Most High. His own son “will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him”. His own son will prepare people’s hearts and minds to be ready to accept Jesus as the Messiah. John’s role and ministry will be integral to the success of Jesus’ ministry. John will offer a baptism of forgiveness as he calls people to repent of their sins and to “make straight” their lives. All this in preparation for the coming Messiah. John will create fertile ground for Jesus.

In verse 79 we read that Jesus will “shine on those living in darkness”. Sometimes this will be painful. In our day and in our lives, the living Jesus continues to shine light into our darkness. Because he lives in us in spirit, Jesus continues to illuminate the dark corners of our hearts and the areas of sin that we try and keep hidden. There we are living in the “shadow of death”. If that is you, may you hear anew John the Baptist’s call: repent of your sins and seek Christ’s mercy and forgiveness. As Zechariah sang, Jesus still wants to “guide our feet into the path of peace”. May it be so for us all.

Prayer: Merciful God, thank you for the gift of John the Baptist, he who reminds us today of our essential practice of repentance. Humble me today to honestly look within, to see where sin has taken root. Grant me the courage to die to that part of myself – to all the parts that are not pleasing to you. Then guide me, O great Jehovah, to walk the path of peace. Amen.


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A Voice

Reading: Mark 1: 1-6

Verse Two: “I will send my messenger ahead of you… to prepare the way”.

Mark quotes Isaiah to open up his “gospel about Jesus Christ, Son of God”.  This quote from Isaiah 40 is the the Israelites what John 3:16 is to Christians.  It is a very well-known verse to Mark’s audience.  Through hundreds of years of various oppression, exiles, and other trials, the Israelites have clung to the promise of a Messiah.  To the Israelites, the prophets have always been bearers of God’s word.  So when John the Baptist appears in the wilderness, proclaiming that the Messiah is near, people flock out to see and hear him.  John is a one-man faith revival, much like Elijah and the other great prophets who came before him.  Why do people – “the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem” – come out to see John?  Because he speaks words of hope and restoration.

In times of suffering and oppression, when one rises up to speak words of hope and restoration, they tend to draw a crowd, people tend to listen.  In more recent times this has happened with Gandhi in India, with Mandela in South Africa, and with Martin Luther King, Jr., in the United States.  These men spoke words of hope and restoration.  They gave the oppressed a voice that brought hope.  In our nation, Martin Luther King, Jr., brought a voice of hope coupled with compassion, peace, and, above all else, faith.  He sought to bring hope and to bring equality to a people who faced injustices and segregation.  His words of hope, strengthened by faith in God, brought great change to our nation.

Mark writes of one who will bring even greater change than this.  Mark writes of Jesus Christ, the One who will bring hope and love and compassion and peace to all peoples of all nations.  But w are getting a but ahead of ourselves.  Today we have John, the voice who called folks to repentance, preparing them for the One who is to come.  Today, many are out there in the “wilderness”, longing for hope and restoration.  Can we raise up our voices as followers of Jesus Christ, calling people to make straight their paths, to prepare their hearts for the One who is coming?  May we be loud and clear as we invite others to come and know this Jesus, the Savior and Messiah, the hope and restorer of the world.


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God’s Will

Reading: Amos 7: 7-9

Visions are not something we are too accustomed to today.  But in the Old Testament and some in the New Testament, visions were one of God’s methods of communication with His people.  Visions often came through prophets in the Old Testament and through the apostles in the New Testament.  In today’s reading the prophet Amos is receiving a vision from God.  As was the case with many of the visions, here God is giving Amos the vision to try and get Israel back in alignment with God.  Visions, this one included, also often lay out the consequences of continuing to live outside of a right relationship with God.

In these verses God tells Amos that He will “set a plumb line among my people Israel”.  Plumb lines are used to keep a wall true or straight while you are building it.  It is a way to make sure all is right and correct.  Here God is using the metaphor as a means of judgment as He goes on to say, “I will spare them no longer” and then describes their downfall.

Today we might not receive many visions, but for a follower of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit works much the same way.  The Holy Spirit speaks into our lives, prompting us to reach out here, to offer of ourselves there, not to do that or go there.  The still, small voice keeps us in alignment with God’s ways and purposes for our lives.  And much like a vision, the Spirit also warns us of the dangers of temptation and sin while also reminding us of the consequences of choosing to live outside of a right relationship with God.

Thousands of years later God’s desires for His people has not changed.  God desires for each of us “to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).  Each day, as we seek God’s will and purposes for our lives, may we seek these things as we live out our faith wherever God sends us.


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Pointing the Way

John the Baptist knew his role well.  He lived a very basic, simple life.  He did what God called him to do.  Although he had followers and many people came out into the wilderness to be baptized, John remained humble and true to his calling. His perspective never changed – always God’s servant and always speaking the truth.

As we move through Advent and closer to Christmas, excitement builds.  Christ’s birth precedes all of God’s promises being fulfilled in and through Him.  John knew just how important Jesus was to the world and put all of his focus and energy into drawing people’s attention to Christ.

Our role is really the same – to tell His story, to share our story, and to point people to Christ.  Through both our word and example we can help others to “make straight the way for the Lord.”  Our role is to point the way and to help others draw closer to the true and only reason for the season.

Scripture reference: John 1: 16-28


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A Narrow Road

At times in our faith journey we can be immature and rather un-Christlike. We can choose to quarrel or bicker – both within a church and between churches or denominations or religions.

At times we choose as individuals to withhold love or kindness or acts of mercy. There can be a variety of reasons – prejudice, stereotypes, past history…

But thanks be to God that He doesn’t treat us this way! For His love never fails and it never gives up on me. Praise God! At times I must frustrate Him and at times I must miss opportunities He places before me. But He always loves.

As Christians this is our call too. We must emulate this love of God. We are called to love and serve all we meet each day. When they don’t look like us or are different from us or annoy us, this challenge can be hard. But it is the narrow road we are called to walk. May our walks be straight and true every day!!