pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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In His Footsteps

Reading: 1st Peter 2: 19-25

Verse 25: “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”.

Today our passage contains a reference to sheep and/or shepherds. This metaphor carries us through this week. Sheep were plentiful in Palestine. The landscape and climate were not well-suited to cattle; sheep were the primary source of both meat and wool. Sheep are funny critters. In that way, they are a lot like us. But the commonalities do not end there. Although generally good followers, at times sheep will wander. Although exclusively loyal to the voice of their shepherd, at times they do not understand or remember the words spoken. Although docile and timid in general, on occasion they become playful or rambunctious – depending on your perspective. Although not known as trouble makers, once in a while sheep will get into a spot or predicament that does require some maneuvering to get back out of. Some suffering may be required.

In 1st Peter 2 today we read about times of suffering for our faith. Peter reminds us, “to this you were called”. Peter is writing within the context of submitting to masters. He includes kings, governors, and slave owners in the list of masters. We would have different titles today, but the principles remain the same. We are still called to respect and submit to authority. In our lives Jesus has the ultimate authority. That is one of Peter’s points. In our day and age, being obedient to Christ can bring some suffering our way. In our land that usually looks like a little ridicule, maybe some ostracizing, and possibly a little self-denial. Once in a while our faith may lead us to take a stand or to enter into a situation that brings some adversity or a bit of discomfort. These are not situations that we step into lightly – especially the second or third or… times. They come with a cost. Yet this is precisely what Peter is calling us to when he writes, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps”. Whether it was injustice or oppression or false religion or unethical behavior, Jesus stepped in and confronted it head on. And there was always a cost. None of us have to look far to find an ill or a difficult situation that needs addressed. We are called to follow in the footsteps of our Shepherd. Instead of sheep simply going astray, may we boldly and courageously follow in Jesus’ footsteps. May we each shine light into the darkness, building the kingdom here on earth.

Prayer: Dear God, give me courage both to see and to act. Lead me into the darkness, that your light and love may be known. Gird me up, making me willing to pay the cost for you and for the building of your kingdom here in this place. Go with me, O God. Amen.


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Reverent Submission

Reading: Hebrews 5: 5-10

Verse Seven: “He offered up prayers and petitions… He was heard because of His reverent submission”.

When Jesus was in ministry here on earth He was more like a common person than a religious leader. He walked and talked and related to people like an ordinary person. He wore common clothes and interacted with all sorts of people. He did not take on the formal office of a religious leader or wear fancy clothes that set Him apart. Jesus was not into titles either. To most people He was simply ‘Jesus’; He was Messiah to only a few until after the resurrection.

Even though in many ways He was common, Jesus also had great authority. As God in the flesh, Jesus could heal and raise from the dead. He could cast out demons and speak from someone’s past and into their future. Any question the Pharisees or other leaders posed was met with amazing insight and wisdom. To do all of this, prayer was essential. Prayer was Jesus’ connection to God. It was His source of power and authority. Paul reminds us that it was not the volume of Jesus’ prayers, but the way in which He prayed: “He offered up prayers and petitions… He was heard because of His reverent submission”. Jesus prayed with a reverent submission. All came from God and Jesus recognized and lived by this.

We too could offer up prayers and petitions that are full of reverence and submission. At times, I am sure we do. But too often I think our prayers are rote and without much conviction. If I were to write, “Our Father who art…” you would almost certainly jump in with “in heaven, hallowed be…”. Even in our meal graces and in my morning prayer time sometimes it feels like the same old, same old. It takes a focused heart and mind to really pray to and connect to God rather than simply going through the motions.

Lord God, this day may we connect in a reverent and holy way as we gather with you for worship. This day may we submit to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to touch us and to draw us into an intimate connection with you. This day may we worship you with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength in a new and fresh way. Bless our worship this day, O Lord. Amen.


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Respect and Reliance

Reading: Psalm 4

In our Psalm for today we see what trust in God looks like.  David places God first and relies on God for relief from distress, for mercy for sins, for an ear in times of need, for joy in God’s presence, and for peace in his heart.  Looking at this list, who would not want these things?  All of us want joy, peace, and contentment in life.  When we allow God to be our guide, our defender, our redeemer, and our Savior then our life will be blessed.

Sometimes we get the relationship backwards though.  We set out on our own adengas and we try to be the one in control.  Our focus is on ourselves, we hunker down and move ahead with the plans we have laid.  We have a goal or a desired outcome and we try to work through or around any obstacles that come our way.  Culture reinforces our tendency towards individualism and self-centeredness.  If things get a little hard we may ask God to bless our plans or to make things work out for us.  We set ourselves up in the role of God and then ask the one true God to step in only when we need it.

But this is the reverse of how our relationship with God should be.  It is funny that at times we think we are smarter, more capable, more able … than the God who created the whole universe.  In David’s words we see the proper respect and reliance that God alone deserves.  David reminds us to pray because God hears us.  He reminds us to trust in God alone and to allow God’s light to shine upon our faces.  In verse seven, we begin to see the fruit of doing these things: “You have filled my heart with joy”.  At the end of each day, David lies down in peace.  When God is in control, David experiences blessing.  When we begin each day by submitting our will to God and by asking God to lead, we too will know joy, peace, and contentment.  May we choose each day to place all of our life in God’s hands.


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Alignment

David is often called a “man after God’s own heart”.  Although he had his moments of poor choices and bad decisions, in the end David always humbly came back to God seeking His forgiveness.  No matter how mighty or great he would become, David honored God’s call on his life in the end.  David recognized that he was just a small part of God’s plan.

David so desired to return the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem because it symbolized God’s presence with the people of Israel.  To live as a people of faith it is very important to have a sense of God’s presence nearby.  Corporately we gather for worship to gain a sense of God present with us.  Individually we can experience His presence in times of prayer and study as well as at times throughout the day as we feel God through the presence of the Holy Spirit.

David offers extravagant worship to God for allowing the ark to return.  He knew that all is simply better when life is lived in relationship with God and in alignment with His plans.  In this David is a great role model for us.  And like David, we too have a role to play in God’s grand plan for our world.

To live in alignment with this plan we must submit our will, our desires, our plans, our priorities to God’s.  We must align our goals with God’s goals for a world known for justice, love, peace, and grace.  As we live out our lives in alignment with God we bring healing and restoration to our world.  Each and every day as we live as a follower of Jesus Christ, we make a heavenly difference in the world.

Scripture reference: 2 Samuel 6: 12b-15