pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Trust and Call

Reading: Romans 10: 5-13

Verse Ten: It is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Rules or faith?  Myself or God?  Know or trust?  Living by faith can be a challenge to each of us.  Paul begins today’s passage with a quote from Moses about the Law.  Moses is basically saying that if one follows the Law, one is righteous for living according to God’s rules.  But the Law is something outside of us.  It is a list of do’s and don’ts.  The Law focuses on what I can (and cannot) do and is very black and white.  It says things like do not murder and keep the Sabbath holy.  In this sense, the Law is easy to understand.

To live by faith is another matter.  Paul quotes Deuteronomy and writes, “The Word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart”.  Faith in Jesus Christ is very much an internal thing.  Faith is about a relationship that shifts the focus from us to God.  This relationship begins with confessing “Jesus is Lord”.  This confession places Jesus instead of self on the throne of our heart.  It becomes less and less about what we can or cannot do (the Law again) and more and more about what Jesus is doing in and through us.

The Law is about knowing God in our head.  Faith is about having God in our heart.  The short distance between head and heart can be a very long journey.  Sitting in a pew each Sunday is following the rule written in your head.  Worshipping and praising God each week is Jesus living out of your heart.  It is a world of difference to have God in your head versus having Jesus in your heart.  Paul writes, “It is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved”.  Faith resides in the heart.  It leads us on that journey to confession of our sins and receiving mercy and forgiveness.  Through our relationship with Jesus Christ we are made holy and pure once again.

Paul concludes today’s passage with two more Old Testament quotes.  First, from Isaiah: “Anyone who trusts Him will never be put to shame”.  Faith involves trust.  In faith, Jesus has our backs.  Second, from Joel: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”.  It’s not ‘could be’ or ‘might’ but WILL BE saved.  Trust and call on the Lord.  He is all we need.  Jesus is our all in all.  Thanks be to God.


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Eternal Yet Present

Reading: Revelation 22: 1-5

This final chapter of the Bible provides a beautiful image of heaven.  God and Jesus seated on the throne will be the center piece of the city.  All will serve and worship them and all will be marked as their children.  Out of the throne will flow a beautiful river, crystal clear, carrying the water of life.  Along the banks of this river will stand the tree of life.  The tree of life will bear twelve crops in the twelve months and the tree’s leaves will bring healing to all nations or peoples.  The light and warmth that basks this scene will come from God.

Revelation 22 indeed paints an amazing picture of the new heaven.  It is a place one is drawn to, a place one yearns to be present in.  The promises of complete healing, of being constantly in God’s presence, the beauty that will be the new Jerusalem – all draw one towards eternity.

Yet this idea of finally getting ‘there’ can distract us from this life.  While living with one eye on eternity can help keep us focused on how we are called to live in this world, all of our focus on eternity can cause us to look past what God has placed before us in this life.  On the other extreme, if life here is instead consumed by making the next step up the ladder of success, God has almost no role in our life.  When we are focused almost exclusively on the next promotion, the next new car or home, the next gadget, then the role of God in our life is minimal or nonexistent.

May we instead live life with the knowledge of our eternal home in mind while being fully present and attentive to God’s hand at work in this life.  May we trust in His plan and in His love both in this life and the next.


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Promises

In today’s psalm is the root of the promise that our faith rests upon.  God promises David that a descendant of his will always be on the throne of Zion, God’s chosen resting place.  Jesus was the last in David’s human line.  The resurrected Jesus completes the ‘forever’ part of God’s promise as He leads us from beside God’s throne.

In Jesus we see God’s love poured out as He kept this promise.  This should be no surprise as God always keeps His promises.  Just as God chose Zion, through Jesus Christ He chooses you and me as well.  We are each God’s beloved children.  But sometimes we forget that.  Sometimes we turn our relationship with God into a relationship like our other human relationships.  Sometimes our relationship with God digresses to bartering, dealing, if-then statements.  If I go to church, then God will…  If I help my neighbor, then God will…

But God does not promise us an if-then relationship.  He does not love us more or less based on our actions, words, and deeds.  He simply loves us.  He simply loves us.  The gift of salvation offered through Jesus Christ is God’s unmerited, no-strings-attached, free gift to us, His children.

Jesus was and is the embodiment of God’s love.  This is why Jesus brought and offered this gift for you and me.  When we are tempted to slip back into the wheeling and dealing relationship, we must remember Jesus’ example of perfect obedience to the Father’s will.  When we want to pick and choose when to be a Christian, we must remember how Jesus loved all who came to Him, no matter the time of day or season.  And when we question, when we falter, we must remember Jesus’ promise as well: I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.

Scripture reference: Psalm 132: 10-18


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To the Throne

Sometimes in life we make poor choices and we sin.  Sometimes there are consequences we must face and deal with and live with here in this life.  When we sin there are always consequences to our relationship with God.  But we do not have to live with these.  Some do choose to but none of us have to.

Just prior in Hebrews we are reminded that we will have to give account of ourselves to God.  While this is true, in today’s reading we find our true hope.  We are encouraged to hold fast to our faith in times of suffering and pain because we have access to the great high priest, Jesus Christ.  We are invited to approach His throne boldly and without fear.

Do not think that what you have done is too much for Him to bear.  Do not think it is too depraved to reveal before Christ.  His love is greater than any sin we can commit.  In Hebrews we are reminded that Jesus, our great high priest, was tempted in every way.  He has been right up to that line where we cross into sin.  He has felt every temptation we feel.  Even though Jesus was without sin, He can relate to us in our sin and temptation.

We can boldly approach the throne with confidence because the one who sits on the throne walked where we walk and faced what we face.  At that throne we can lay our burdens down and confess our sins and sufferings and find nothing but mercy and receive nothing but grace.  At His throne we are washed clean and made new.  Go often and always for His love never ends and His mercies are made new every morning.

Scripture reference: Hebrews 4: 14-16