pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Thanks

Reading: Psalm 100

Verse Five: For the Lord is good and His love endures forever.

In my Bible, the subtitle to Psalm 100 is: “A Psalm.  For giving thanks”.  After reading through the Psalm it is certainly a fitting subtitle!  The psalmist begins by calling us to shout for joy and to worship with gladness and then he gives us the why: know that the Lord is God.  He goes on to remind us that God made each of us and therefore “we are his people, we are the sheep of his pasture”.  It is a good reminder for us.

Sometimes life can get crazy and the busyness can feel overwhelming.  We can almost feel as if we are so busy we are moving near paralysis.  Our minds get consumed by the worries and pressures to the point of feeling we are near to collapse.  It is in these moments that the Psalm is an excellent reminder.  It calls us to slow down for a time, to step back from life, and to step into God’s presence.  The words remind us of the bigger picture – we are his people – and this lessens the importance of the things of this world.  In our craziness may we remember to slow down and to connect to God.

The second stanza again picks up the call to praise God, to “enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise”.  Being thankful is essential to being content.  And being content holds the world and it’s craziness at bay.  Part of my morning routine is my little ‘thank book’s.  I write out five to eight things from the day before that I am thankful for and then I pray through each one.  In giving thanks I can see God’s faithfulness and love for me.

The ending of the Psalm echoes this idea: “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever”.  God was and is and always will be.  No matter what this world brings or has in store for us, God and his love are forever.  Thanks be to God.


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Psalm Prayer

Reading: Psalm 130

Verse 5: I wait for the Lord, my souls waits, and in his word I put my hope.

Today’s Psalm is a great prayer.  It is a wonderful prayer because it lays out the mercy and love God has for us.  Within this we find forgiveness and hope – two of the greatest gifts that God gives to us. Upon these elements we build our relationship with God.

In the opening verses, the psalmist cries out from the depths.  He pleads for God to hear and be attentive to his prayers.  What depths do you need God to pull you up out of?  Go to God in prayer.

Verses three and four turn to the depths of God’s forgiveness.  The psalmist realizes where we would all stand if God kept track of our sins.  If we could only earn forgiveness or could only be acceptable to God based on our own efforts, we would utterly fail.  Lift up to God your thanks for His great mercy.

The next verse, verse five, is almost a response to the opening verses: “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope”.  We too wait with hope, a hope built upon the truths we find in scripture.  What truths found in the Word of God do you cling to?  His promise never to forsake you?  His promise to give us what we need for the moment at hand?  His promise to dwell in us?  Another promise?  As we wait, we wait in the truths and promises of God.  Lift up your thanks for the truths that anchor your soul.

The closing two verses draw back to verses three and four.  We are reminded again of God’s unfailing love and full redemption.  It is a love that always forgives and always welcomes us back into a right relationship with God.  It is a redemption fully paid for by Jesus Christ’s blood on the cross.  Like the psalmist, the love and forgiveness are our hope as well.  Spend a few moments in praise and adoration for God’s great love and forgiveness.  May it be well with your soul.


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Rejoice and Give Thanks

Reading: Isaiah 35: 1-10

Isaiah 35 opens with a blossom coming forth in the wilderness.  This burst of life brings joy and rejoicing.  In it one sees the power and the glory of God.  As we begin today, where has God blossomed lately in your life?  Rejoice and give thanks!

Isaiah encourages those with feeble hands and weak knees, saying “Be strong, do not fear.  Your God will come”.  In our times in the wilderness, when we are weak – this is a good reminder.  Our God will come; we do not need to be afraid.  We know that “he will come and save you”.  It is a promise.  Rejoice and give thanks!

God will heal the blind, the lame, the deaf, and the mute.  Water will gush forth in the wilderness.  Life will grow in these formerly dry lands.  And God will make a way.  God will lead the people out of the wilderness and along a path that will enter Zion.  Gladness and joy will overtake us.  Rejoice and give thanks!

All this is a gift from God.  All of this from a God who continually calls to us, who constantly offers us mercy and grace and forgiveness, and who loves us forever.  What a mighty God we serve!  Rejoice and give thanks!


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Marvelous Deeds

Reading: Psalm 72: 18-19

Our short passage for today so well sums up the spirit of this time of year.  “Praise be to the Lord our God, who alone does marvelous deeds”.  In the bringing forth of the baby Jesus, God indeed did a wonderful thing.  But the list is much longer than this.  Take a moment or two and make a little mental list of the marvelous deeds that God has blessed you with in your life.  Praise be to the Lord our God indeed!

The passage ends with, “May the whole earth be filled with his glory”.  When we praise God for all of the marvelous deeds and wonderful blessings in our lives, we bring God alone the glory.  It is through us that glory is brought to God.  We can bring God glory in many ways.  It can be in our private prayer time.  It can be by singing a song or hymn that offers thanks to God or brings glory to God for the marvelous deeds that he has done.  It can be in the ways we speak to others and in the way we treat them that we bring glory to God.

This day, may we be cognizant of and thankful for all of the marvelous deeds of God.  And may our joyous and grateful response bring God the glory!  Amen and amen.


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Thanks

Readings: Philippians 4: 4-9 and John 6: 25-35

Thanksgiving is an awesome day where we gather with friends and family to give thanks for all that God has blessed us with.  All that we have comes from the Lord.  This day we give thanks.

Our Israelite forefathers recognized God’s provision from day one.  Adam was grateful for God’s love and care in the garden.  His son, Abel, brought the first lamb of his flock and sacrificed it as a thank offering to God.  The Israelites continued to give thank offerings and have a festival at harvest time where they thank God for all of their blessings.  Other festivals, such as Passover, also give thanks to God for the role God has played in their history.

Our American forefathers began Thanksgiving out of gratitude for surviving in a new and wild land.  They were grateful for those who God had sent to teach them what they needed to do to survive here.  They too recognized God’s hand at work in their lives and gave thanks.

Today, as we gather with family and friends, may we too give thanks for all of the ways God brings blessings into our lives.  May we celebrate today with a grateful heart full of thanks to God our Father, the giver of all good things.


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Love Eternal

Reading: Luke 20: 27-38

It is odd that the Sadducees ask Jesus a question about relationships in heaven when they themselves do not believe in the resurrection.  They thought long and hard about how to ask a question with a hypothetical problem whose circumstances are based solidly in the Law of Moses.  The hypothetical location of this problem is heaven.  No one, including us, really knows exactly what heaven will be like.  The exception is, of course, Jesus.  He has been there in heaven so he can answer their ridiculous question from a position of authority.

I can picture Jesus’ smile turning to a grin as He begins to answer their question.  He begins by explaining that our earthly relationships will be secondary at best in heaven.  The only relationship that will matter in heaven, Jesus says in essence, is that we are the children of God.  In other words, the only relationship that will really matter in heaven will be our relationship with the Lord.  It will be true in the eternal but it is also true here in the temporal.  Relationships with spouses, family, friends, and so on makes life here much more pleasant and enjoyable.  But many here have these relationships but no relationship with God.  For these, their eternity will be much different than for those who claim a personal relationship with Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Jesus explains to the Sadducees that to God we are all alive, whether living or dead.  This is clearly true now.  Jesus says it will also be true in heaven.  The constants are God’s love for us and our status as children of God.  Although we do not clearly know what we will be like in heaven, we do know that some representation of us will be with God if we have a personal relationship with Jesus while here on earth.  At least the part of us that has a relationship with God will remain alive with God in heaven.  To me, this is our spirit or soul.  But this is a guess at best.  What we do know is that God’s love never ends and that it remains the same here on earth as it will one day be in heaven.  For God’s unfailing love and eternal claim bonus ad children of God, we say thanks be to God.


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On Our Hearts

Reading: Jeremiah 31: 27-34

In my limited mind, understanding the depth of God’s love can be hard to fathom.  Because of my own struggles to forgive at times, it can be hard to comprehend God’s willingness to forgive my sins over and over and over… In my life, in my own experiences with how easy it can be to withhold love, it is hard to fully wrap my head around the fact that God always loves me, no matter what I’ve done or said.

The passage from Jeremiah marks a shift in God’s relationship with the people.  In the past, the Law has been God’s primary tool for faithfulness and obedience.  With the Law there were consequences and rewards.  With the Law there were times when separation and punishment were used to realign the people’s minds with God’s ways.  Over time the Law grew and grew to try and cover every possibility of sin.  But it also became so cumbersome that it was impossible to keep all of the Law.  Failure was all but guaranteed.  So God offered a new way.

God opted for a new covenant based upon a personal heart relationship with each of us.  Instead of a mountain of Laws, God instead offered mountains of love and grace and mercy.  Instead if the unending stream of sacrifices, God instead offered up, once and for all, the perfect sacrifice of Jesus.  It is through Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit that we can enter into a personal heart relationship with God.  It is in this personal relationship that God’s ways are written upon our heart.  It is through this relationship that our lives begin to reflect God’s love and grace and mercy.  Verse 33 states, “I will be their God and they will be my people”.  Thanks be to God that we are claimed as God’s children, loved and forgiven, so that we too may offer God’s gift to our broken world.  Thanks be to God!