pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Extraordinary

Reading: John 2: 1-11

Verse 7: “Fill the jars with water”.

At His mother’s request, Jesus takes action. The six empty jars – the ones used for religious rituals – are standing nearby. Jesus tells the servants, “Fill the jars with water”. I do not sense any hesitation on their part. In fact, our Bibles tell us that “they filled them to the brim”. They do not just put some water in the jars. There is an expectation of something here. Maybe they could sense it in Mary and Jesus’ conversation.

The water that was placed in the jars was just ordinary water. It was probably drawn from the local well – from the well that all the people and animals living in and around Cana drink from every day. But once inside the jars the water becomes something extraordinary. Not just wine, but really good wine. The master of the wedding banquet notes, “you have saved the best until last”.

On one level, in the here and now, this story tells us to look for and to expect God’s abundance in extraordinary ways. The jars are filled to the brim. This is how God wants to fill us. God does not want us to experience some of His love, grace, mercy,… He wants to fill us so full that it even overflows! What is inside the jars is extraordinary because of Jesus. This too is God’s desire for all who follow Christ. When Jesus is in us, we are ‘in the world but not of the world’. We belong to heaven. In this world, we stand out and we are called to be a glorious witness to God and His coming kingdom.

This is the second level of our extraordinary abundance. The passage points to the eternal. Like the wine at the banquet, our best is yet to come. We begin to experience what is to come in our earthly life. God is ever at work in us, sanctifying us – making us more and more like Jesus, living more and more in His image. Through this process we grow in our faith and life is better. Yet this life is just a small glimpse of heaven – not even a little peek. It is just the beginning of a taste. We await a far more exceeding time in glory. This too will be extraordinary!

Prayer: God, thank you for walking with me through this life. In the blessings and in the trials, I know you are there. You have so much more for me than I can even imagine. Help me to trust, to step where you lead, allowing me to spread your love and to help build the kingdom here on earth. Amen.


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Refuge and Strength

Reading: Psalm 34: 1-8

Verse 4: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears”.

In our verses from Psalm 34, it seems as if David trusted in God 100% of the time, always turning to God in all situations. Yet even though he was known as “a man after God’s own heart”, we know that David had his bouts with sin and had his seasons when he was distant from God. Most of our lives are the same – we pursue God and our relationship with God most of the time. But we also have moments or days or seasons when the world or life gets the best of us and our faith. To me, these verses are the ideal, the goal.

In times of trial we naturally seek the Lord. Whether it is an emotional or physical or spiritual trial, we turn to God for direction, relief, discernment, healing… Much of the time we can reflect and give voice to this statement from David: “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears”. God is faithful. When we seek God, we usually find God. And like David, this leads us to thank and praise God.

The day to day is where we can struggle. When life is good, and especially when life is good and life is busy, we can slip away on God. When we feel no pressing need to make sure we honor our quiet time or to remain dedicated to our daily prayers, then it can become easy to just put them off until “later”. Suddenly a few days later we realize that we have not read our Bible or have not really prayed in a while. Often we notice then too that things are not really going so well.

For me this is the encouragement from today’s Word: “blessed is the man who takes refuge in the Lord”. When we choose to daily take refuge in the Lord, we begin to truly live out and into the first half of verse 8: “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. In all things and at all times – good and bad and in between – may we seek the Lord our God, our refuge and our strength. Amen.


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New Heaven

Reading: Revelation 21: 1-6

Today’s reading reminds us that one day there will be a new heaven and a new earth.  In this new and restored creation God will dwell among His people, just as He did at the beginning of creation when He walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the garden.  All things will be made new and there will be no more pain or tears or violence or anything else that is sinful.  All will dwell in God’s love and presence.

At times, when experiencing a very difficult trial or when our health becomes very poor, we long for this new heaven and earth to be here now.  The idea of such a place where all is right and new sounds so good in the midst of the valley.  For many whose faith is solid, death is simply the first step into God making them new and whole again.

But this passage is not only about a time and place somewhere in the future.  It is a present tense promise as well.  In verse five it reads, “I am making everything new!” and in verse six we are promised water from the spring of eternal life.  God will not only restore the whole earth one day, He wants to begin to make each of us into a new creation in Him.  God’s desire is for us to begin living into this new life now.  Once we enter into a personal relationship with God, He offers new mercies each day, a restoration of the brokenness in our lives each day.

The days of abundant and joyous life do not have to wait until we enter heaven or until when the new heaven and earth comes.  God wants us to begin to experience a taste of that life here and now.  Through trusting in God now, we begin to experience His promises and blessings now.  May we live each day with God’s love and restoring power as a daily, present reality.


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Take Refuge, Be Blessed

The psalmist cries out to God and God hears his prayers.  God always hears our prayers.  The response of the psalmist is to extol, praise, and glorify the Lord.  We certainly do this when we receive the answer we want.  A little child whose parent buys them that piece of candy in the check-out aisle does this as well.

The psalmist reminds us that God hears, delivers, and saves.  God always hears our prayers.  Our prayers never fall on deaf ears.  God also always delivers.  This is not to say God fixes all things.  Maybe He does ‘fix’ it.  Or maybe He delivers whatever it is we need in that moment or situation: patience, strength, compassion, understanding, forgiveness, love…  He does not leave us alone.  Sometimes God saves us from hurt and pain; sometimes He is saves is in the midst of it just when we need Him most.  The angels camp around those who fear the Lord.

The psalmist reminds us to taste and see that the Lord is good.  We easily taste and see this when He rescues us from the pain or suffering or fear.  It is a sweet and pleasing experience.  We also do this when we look back on something we endured and we see how the Lord was there in the midst of it with us.  We thank Him as we realize we would not have made it through on our own.

The psalmist reminds us that we are blessed when we take refuge in the Lord.  Whether it is to find help or whether it is to find rest, the result is the same: we are blessed.  Be blessed today!

Scripture reference: Psalm 34: 1-8


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Taste and See

Isaiah 34:6-8:
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
He saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And He delivers them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.

These verses from Psalm 34 really stood out to me this morning. I especially like “this poor man called” and “taste and see that the Lord is good.” God loves us all equally, but He seems to have a special, soft spot for those in need. The need may be physical, emotional, or spiritual. We see this soft spot in Jesus too!!

In Matthew 5 we are called to be salt and light to the world. As salt we preserve and we flavor. When we are salt to others we encourage them in their situation and remind them that God loves them and will help them persevere. Salt reminds us to continue to hang on, to continue to lean into God. As salt we also challenge others to action – to get off the seat of complacency and to be a part of building the kingdom here on earth.

As light we both shed light into the darkness and also provide a way back into the life of faith. At times we are that light that shines into people’s lives who are lost in darkness or sin. We call them out of that life. At other times light means helping people to see God again. At times we all get lost or off track. As the light we are called to help people find God when they are having a difficult time seeing or feeling the light.

Many out there are in need of God. Many who are hurting physically, emotionally, or spiritually. When this poor man calls, may we be there to answer the call. May we be thereto be God’s hands and feet. May we be there so that they can taste and see that the Lord is good!!