pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Harvest Fields

Reading: Matthew 9: 35-38

Verse 38: Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.

Jesus spent most of His three years of formal ministry being out and amongst the people.  Our opening line reminds us how Jesus went through all the towns and villages teaching, preaching, and healing.  He spent time in the synagogues, but He also spent a great deal of His time outside the walls of the church building.  When we think about all of the stories of Jesus that we find in the Gospels, not too many actually take place in the formal church setting.  This is our first lesson today.

As Jesus spent time with people, as He saw the crowds, “He had compassion” for the people.  Jesus saw the people and their need for a Savior.  Matthew writes that they were “harassed and helpless”.  We too are called to the last, the least, and the broken.  These are the harrassed and helpless of our day.  We are called to also offer compassion as we feed, clothe, visit…  We are called to offer what we can to those in need.  But moreso we are called to share our faith.  Verse 36 ends with, “like sheep without a shepherd”.  To not know Jesus is to wander through life, bouncing from one thing to another in our search for contentment and satisfaction.  Only through knowing Jesus Christ do we find peace and hope in this life.  Jesus had compassion on the people, loved on them, and gave them all He had to offer as He served among them.  This is our second lesson.

Our passage ends with, “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field”.  Jesus is encouraging the disciples to go out into the harvest fields.  In the very next verse, 10:1, Jesus sends the 12 out to do what He has been doing: to teach, preach, and heal.  When I think about my community, I see harvest fields.  There are many who do not know the love and grace that Jesus Christ offers.  They have never heard the good news.  Relatively speaking, yes the workers are few.  My prayer is to be sent out into the harvest fields.  My hope is to share the faith I profess with others today.  May it be so.


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Walk

Readings: Micah 6:4 and Matthew 5: 1-2

When one reads these verses together, there is a connection that forms between Moses and Jesus.  The concept of going up the mountain is sprinkled throughout both men’s stories in the Bible.  Moses often meets God on the mountain – it is there that he receives his call and it is where he commonly interacts with God.  For Jesus, the mountain is often where He goes to pray, to connect personally with God.   Some of the time Jesus also teaches from the mountain, as is the case today.

There is also a parallel in the idea of teaching from the mountain.  God taught Moses, who in turn taught the people, from the mountain.  In our passage from Matthew, we see Jesus in this same role – teaching from the mountain.  With both Moses and Jesus we see God being actively engaged with helping the people grow in their faith.

This process continues today.  God continues to be active in our world, teaching us in the mountaintop experiences, in the valley trials, and everywhere in between.  God continues to teach believers through the words of the prophets, disciples, and apostles.  God continues to be active in our lives through the presence of the Holy Spirit, leading and guiding believers.  God continues to be active by taking individuals like you and me, sending us out into the world to share the good news with others.

At times we learn slowly and at other times in sudden and moving revelations.  At times the Holy Spirit gently nudges and quietly whispers – at other times the compassion to act or the conviction of sin hits us like a sledgehammer.  At times we inch into service at a glacial pace and at other times we burst into action.  It is a process.  It is a journey.  May you be blessed on your walk today.  Whether on the mountaintop, in the valley, or somewhere in between – be blessed as you bless others today!


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Share the Story

Reading: Psalm 146: 5-10

We love a good story.  Good stories make us feel better, they help us to remember significant and important events in our history and in our lives.  A good story can teach us much as well.  And a good story is one that is told over and over again.  The audience is just as excited to hear a good story as they were when they first heard it.

Psalm 146 is a good story, maybe even a great story.  This Psalm would have been as well known as “Amazing Grace” is today.  The Israelites would have sung this story over and over again – they would have known it by heart.  It would have been sung in worship, as one made dinner or plowed the field, as one walked along the road.  It would have been taught to children when they were very young.  It would have been sung or at least been on the minds of many as they neared drawing their last breath.

The words of Psalm 146 can make one feel better.  These words help recall significant and important events.  The words teach much about faith and about God.  Hear again the words!  Blessed us he whose help, whose hope is in the Lord.  God is the maker of heaven and earth.  The Lord upholds the cause of the oppressed and frustrates the ways of the wicked.  The Lord our God gives good to the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind.  Our Father sustains the orphan and the widow.  The Lord reigns forever!

What a story Psalm 146 shares!  It is a good, good story.  May we share the story today and tomorrow and the day after that and…


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Questions

Reading: Luke 20: 27-38

Sometimes we ask questions because we seek information.  Sometimes we think we have the information and we ask questions to test or trap or embarrass someone.  The second scenario is the case with our Sadducees today.  They think up a whopper of a question to test and embarrass this man who seems to have all the the answers.  Even to this difficult question, Jesus has an answer.  It is such a good answer, in fact, that our gospel goes on to tell us that they dared not ask Him any more questions.

The intent of the Sadducees was not good.  We have all been in or witnessed such a scenario ourselves.  A person in authority asks a question their inferior likely cannot answer as a means to reinforce their own position or status.  A child asks another a question about something they just learned in hopes of appearing smarter than the other.  A colleague asks an apparently innocent “how was your weekend?” question, already knowing about the embarrassing thing that happened.  All of these questions are questions asked to knock down another while falsely building ourselves up.  This is not how we are called to live as followers of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is all about positive relationships and about helping others to grow in their faith.  It is true that at times Jesus asked tough questions.  He never sought to do this and only asked them as a way to prompt someone, not to force out an embarrassing revelation or confession.  At times we too will have teachable moment that call for us to ask a tough question in order to allow another to grow.  For the most part, we are called to ask questions that build others up, to ask questions that prompt growth and learning and thinking.  Our line of questioning should allow others to consider and contemplate their faith without condemning or judging them.  May we be careful with our words, always seeking to build up and teach and encourage growth in others so that they may grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. 


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Prayer Encourager

Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1: 11-12

Paul played many roles for his churches and those he shared the faith with.  He was most often a teacher.  The main goal of Paul’s life was to bring people to Jesus Christ.  He traveled all over the place preaching and teaching.  Paul would often offer remedial lessons, found in the form of his letters we find in the New Testament, that would refine his teaching, would fix errors in both thinking and practice, and would seek to resolve disputes within the churches and between individuals.

We see another of Paul’s roles today: prayer.  He is one who prays.  Paul prayed all the time for the churches he established, for churches already in existence, and for those he knew and was mentoring in the faith.  Through prayer, Paul often sought to encourage those who would read his letters.  Through prayer, Paul encouraged the good things about a church or person and sought to remind them if God’s hand at work among them.  In these ways Paul’s prayers were like compliments.  Not only were they positive and uplifting, but they also would spur the readers on to continue in the faith and to build up their faith.  Reminding them of what they did well led them to do it all the more.

We can also read Paul’s prayer today as an encouragement to our faith.  We can also pray this prayer for those in our lives who need encouragement.  To pray that we are “worthy of his calling” implies that we are indeed called.  Born a child of God, we have been called since birth.  To pray that we act “by his power” reminds us that we need to rely fully on God, not on ourselves.  To pray that God is present in fulfilling “every good purpose and every act prompted by our faith” implies an active and responsive faith, a faith lived out.  All of this leads to Paul’s conclusion: all of this done so that Jesus Christ may be glorified.  May it be so in our lives this day.


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Teach and Share. Repeat.

Reading: 2Timothy 3:14 to 4:5

Timothy has been richly blessed in his life.  His family has encouraged and taught him on his early faith journey.  They planted and nurtured the seeds of faith that God watered and made grow.  Paul steps into Timothy’s life to continue to teach and correct and encourage him as he grows in his faith.  Timothy is now at a point where he is ready to preach the Word, to use his faith to help others on their journey of faith.  Timothy’s faith has grown to the point that he feels God’s call upon his life.

We too have walked (or are walking) a similar path.  Our faith is meant to be lived out in community.  It began that we with Jesus and a small group of followers.  Jesus taught them the faith so that they too could one day share the good news with others.  After they had been with Jesus for a sufficient time, He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.  The disciples went out and shared their growing faith with others.  Their own faith grew and they returned to Jesus to learn some more.

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples continued to learn and grow from each other and by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We, as current disciples, are called to the same life.  Be in the community, be in small groups to encourage, support, and learn together.  Go out into the world to teach and Share our faith.  Return for more encouraging, supporting, and learning.  Head back out into the world to teach and Share.  Repeat often.  May we learn to follow Jesus’ example, modeled by Paul as well.


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Doing Much, Together

Scenario 1 – Load up all of your home into a U-Haul.  Place all of the neighborhoods in your community on a big roulette wheel.  Spin the wheel to find out where your family will now be living.

Scenario 2 – You get paid once a month and it is the 23rd.  You are out of money and the credit cards are maxed.  You are cooking the last food in the house for dinner tonight.  Tomorrow you will take the car title down to the loan place.  Try to figure out how you’ll catch up next month.

In the first scenario, are there places where you really hope the spinner does not stop on?  What makes you not want to live in certain areas of town?  In the second scenario, have you ever had to put something essential on the line just to put food on the table?  Ever had to choose between food for the kids and heat for the house or gas for the car?  These are real choices real people have to make every day.

God pleads the case of the poor.  In Proverbs we are earned not to exploit the poor.  How broad should our definition of ‘exploit’ be?  Should it include ‘ignore’?  In many places in scripture we are instructed on how to care for those in need.  It is our call to do all we can.

When we are able to donate a few cans of food at church, we must because if we don’t then someone will have less.  When we are able to teach a class on budgeting and sound finances, we must because then someone will not have to go to the loan place.  When we are able to advocate for better housing and safer streets, we must because then others start to have a chance.

Individually we cannot do it all.  But we can all do something.  Together we can do much.  What will you do today to help another in need?

Scripture reference: Proverbs 22: 22-23