pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Each Day

Reading: Romans 6: 1b-11

Verse 8: “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him”.

Once we take on Christ, we die to self and are made into a new creation. There is a temporal and an eternal aspect to our new self. Yesterday we read about Christ’s defeating of sin and our call to walk in a new way. Sin is still something we struggle with from time to time, but it is no longer our way of life.

In verse eight we read these words: “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him”. The temporal application of this is in our day to day lives. It is living each day following Jesus and modeling the love for God and others and the obedience to God that both exemplified his life. It is living with hope and peace, with joy and contentment, with trust and assurance. A life lived in Christ reflects him to others. The eternal application is that one day we will live eternally with Jesus Christ – if we live day to day with him now. Professing and living with Jesus as Lord of your life on earth is intertwined with a life in eternal glory. Now, there is no set number of days one must live as a follower of Jesus Christ in order to enter heaven. In Luke 23 we see that the thief on the cross only followed for a few hours. But once we know Jesus – who he is and who he can be in our lives – it is then that following becomes becomes the requisite for both life here and for entrance into the life to come. May we each live fully with Christ today!

Prayer: Lord God, help me to walk closer with you. Guide my heart and mind to be in tune with yours. Draw me ever more obedient to your example, to your love and grace. Amen.


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Believers in Fellowship

Reading: Acts 2: 42-47

Verse 44: “All the believers were together and had everything in common”.

The book of Acts records the early history of the church. In our passage today Luke writes about what makes the church the church. It remains true today. The early Christians learned about Jesus and God. They spent time together in fellowship meals (that included what we call communion) and in times of prayer. The Holy Spirit was present, filling them with awe and empowering the apostles to offer signs and miracles. Generosity abounded. No one was in need as they cared for one another. They were a community. Verse 44 summarizes this: “All the believers were together and had everything in common”. Over all of this was their faith in Jesus Christ, revealed in their love for one another. Non-Christians, who were primarily Jews with a few Romans mixed in, noticed. In some cases, they were drawn to the love and became followers of Jesus Christ.

There are many times when the church today reminds us and the larger world of the picture painted by Luke today. That picture continues to attract people to the church. In times of trial, the body surrounds someone or a family or group of people. In times of need people step up both financially and physically. At gatherings there is joy and love present. This is the common “scene” in many churches. But the scene outside most all of our churches is much different than the scene outside the early church in Jerusalem.

Although “the Lord added daily to their number”, the city was not particularly welcoming or friendly to this new group. The church was a very small minority in a very Jewish and Roman world. Neither the Jews nor the Romans liked these Christians. At this stage they were sort of tolerated. As the church stuck and started to grow the persecution and worse would grow too. The reality of this fellowship of believers would change soon. Yet it would grow and grow and grow. God remained at work in and through the church. The same remains true today. Faith and love still guide the way. The Lord still draws us closer and closer while inviting others in. Praise God!

Prayer: Lord God, I am so thankful for the church. Although not a building, it is a “place” filled with loving and faithful people. I am blessed to be a part of your church. Continue to be present to us, to lead and guide us in fellowship with you, with one another, and with the world. Amen.


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Today

Reading: Matthew 23: 8-10

Summary: You have only one Master… one Father… one Teacher… The greatest among you will be your servant.

We often come to church or a time of prayer or a time of Bible reading when we are seeking comfort or care or relief from some burden.  After tragedies and large losses we often see a spike in church attendance, interest in faith…  IT is natural to seek these things from God.  Yes, at times this is just what we find at church, in prayer, in the Word.  But often we also find what the Pharisees found in today’s passage.  They want to be recognized and looked up to and respected, but what Jesus offers is a dose of reality as He knocks them down a few pegs.  He draws a sharp contrast between how they are teaching and leading and how God wants them to teach and lead.

Today many will come to church.  Almost all will be seeking to be filled up, to be encouraged, to feel their burdens lifted.  It is my prayer that if this is what they need today that this is precisely what Jesus brings them.  I hope people experience a compassionate and loving Lord.  But sometimes Jesus has other plans.  Sometimes we open the Word seeking discernment and Jesus only causes us to think deeper and to wrestle more with whatever is troubling us.  Sometimes we feel overwhelmed and we go to our knees seeking relief and Jesus only adds to our “to do” list, placing someone or something with a need on our heart.  Sometimes we walk into church looking to recharge our batteries and we walk out, convicted by the Holy Spirit to go and serve or to be the one to take the first step of reconciliation.  Sometimes Jesus asks more.

Jesus reminds us today that we have only “one Master… one Father… one Teacher”.  We are not the ones in control, not the ones with the answers.  Today we may come looking for something from God.  May we find what we seek.  But let us not be closed off to what else Jesus has for us today.  Jesus may offer more today – a word of challenge or conviction or discernment.  May we be responsive and open and willing.  May we seek to be the humble servant today.


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Day to Day, Take My Hand

Reading: Matthew 17: 1-9

Peter, James, and John are blessed to experience the transfiguration.  It is an event that would stick with all of us forever.  In this one moment these disciples see the Law, the Prophets, and the Messiah together.  In seeing Moses, Elijah, and Jesus talking, we get a glimpse of the span of the Bible and can see the connections between these three central themes.  Peter’s response is to offer to build three shelters, one for each man.  He wants to prolong this moment.  I would want to do the same.

From time to time in our faith journeys, we too are blessed with moments where Jesus has touched our lives in a special way.  Those moments when we feel an undeniable closeness to His presence or when we can see the answer to our prayers are touch points in our faith.  They are times when we know that Jesus is real and alive and is truly present with us.  In this transfiguration moment, the disciples are blessed to see that this human man that they have been following is also a divine being that is connected directly to God.  For the disciples in today’s story and for the touch points in our life, these moments, these experiences, they shape our faith.

Like Peter, we too would like to extend these moments and sometimes we wish we could stay in that sacred moment forever.  But we cannot.  Although they are etched into our memory, we must move forward with life.  The reality of our faith, though, is that Jesus is not just in the touch points.  Jesus comes down off that mountain and walks with us in the day to day of life.  It is His constant and abiding presence in all of life that is the bedrock of our faith.  Jesus’ presence in the little scrapes and in the small victories that occur day after day are the basis of our trust that He will be there in the really tough times as well.

Yes, those touch points are awesome and are significant for our faith.  We are stronger Christians and better disciples because of them.  But my deepest need is for Jesus in the day to day.  Dearest Lord Jesus, take my hand, walk with me through all that life has for this day.  Please be with me, dearest Lord Jesus.


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Perspective

Perspective is an important thing.  As followers of Christ, we believe He will return one day to bring final judgment.  It could be today, next week, or in two thousand years.  From this perspective we live each day prepared for this to be the day.  In a sense we live with one eye always on heaven and our eternity.

Yet we must also keep today in perspective.  We cannot live detached from this world as we await the next.  Even if our lives in this world, though we may live to be hundred, are just a flash in the spectrum of eternity, each day still matters.  Each person and encounter is an opportunity to be Christ’s light and love.  Each is a chance to affect someone else’s eternity.

In the here and now it is our relationships that matter most.  Our relationship with Jesus Christ takes priority because it does reflect and impact the eternal.  And all of our present relationships are also important as each person is a child of God and has worth.  Each person – from our family members to the person we meet on the sidewalk – matters.

How we choose to live in each moment does impact our eternity.  All the choices, decisions, and actions play a role, as does the lack of action…  As we go through our day today, may our eyes be open, may our hearts be willing, and may our ears be sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Scripture reference: 1 Corinthians 7: 29-31