pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Everything

Reading: Ecclesiastes 3: 1-13

“There is a time for everything…”. Time – we do not always get to choose and must instead trust into God’s timing.  After all, God alone is in control and God alone truly understands the big picture.  Each of our lives is but a small piece of the larger picture.  So we must trust.

Ecclesiastes 3 covers most of what life brings, from the big to the small.  All life begins with birth and ends in death; all life has periods of laughter and times of tears.  We build and we tear down, we plant and we harvest, we rip and we mend.  Life is full of many experiences.  God is present in them all – celebrating with us at times, crying with us at times, always present.

In verses ten and eleven we gain a glimpse of both our reality and of our promise.  In verse ten, we are reminded that toil is part of life.  We must each work at something to find value in ourselves and to provide for our needs.  Work is simply part of life.  But it is just part of the day to day of life.  We begin to get in trouble when we place too much value in or emphasis on our toil.  When our job represents who we are or when it becomes the focus of our life to the exclusion of faith, family, and friends, then our priorities need realigned.

Life will have its ups and downs.  God is our constant.  In verse eleven, we are reminded that “He has made everything beautiful in its time”.  God is present in all things.  The plans He has for us are for our good.  When we have God as our foundation, there is beauty in all that life brings.  Verse eleven goes on: “he has also set eternity in the hearts of men”.  In eternity, we find hope.  In hope, we walk through both the ups and the downs with a different perspective.  We know, as followers of Jesus Christ, that our eternity rests in His hands.  We know this promise.  We find peace, comfort, strength, and hope in this promise.

There is indeed a time for everything.  And in everything, God is present.  As we go through the day to day of life, may we always trust in God, our all in all, our everything.


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Coming Soon

Reading: Isaiah 2: 1-5

Today’s reading paints a picture I long for.  Isaiah speaks of going up to the mountain of God so that we can learn his ways in order to walk his paths.  It ends with a great line, “Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord”.  All humanity longs for a sense of peace, for a sense of well-being.  We find this by faithfully living our daily lives in God’s presence.

In our lives and in places around the world, peace and contentment do not always rule the day.  On a personal level, we all deal at times with issues of health and rocky relationships and other trials.  In the world, violence and oppression and injustice are everyday occurrences in some places.

On a personal level, when we learn God’s ways we are better equipped to walk through the storms of life because we know that God is present to us.  God’s light guides our path and we live with a confidence that no matter what the world brings, we know that ultimately we are in God’s hands.

But there is much sorrow and pain and brokenness is our world.  For me to begin to understand how this can be ‘fixed’ is simply beyond me.  Yet I know it is well within God’s care.  In today’s passage we find comfort and reassurance that God has a plan.  Verse four is one of great hope for me.  One day God will settle disputes between peoples.  They will then “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks”.  Instruments of war and violence will become implements to feed one another.  People will provide for one another’s basic needs and famine will be no more.  A time of peace is coming.

Advent is just around the corner too.  It is a time when we prepare for the coming of the Prince of Peace.  Humbly we ask, O Lord Jesus, come soon.


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God is There

Reading: Habakkuk 1: 1-4

Habakkuk begins by voicing what many of us have voiced as well: “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen”?  Sometimes our prayers have been for a loved one, sometimes for a friend, and sometimes they are for a far away someone or a group of people that we do not know personally but are somehow connected to our heart strings.  We see hurt and injustice near and far and we bring it to the Lord.  But is seems to persist anyway.  Like Habakkuk, we cry out, “How long?”

Sometimes we come to a place where we feel we cannot bear the pain or hurt any longer.  Our cries turn to anger and we express our frustration with God’s apparent inactivity.  We hear this cry in Habakkuk’s words.  In our mind it makes no sense why our living God would ‘allow’ it to continue.  In our anger we may even want to turn away, to just forget the situation.  But we cannot.  Deep down we know that God does not ‘allow’ pain…  It is part of the world, just as joy is part of our world.  The Spirit reminds us of Jeremiah’s words, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (29:11).  We may not be able to understand God’s plans, but we still hold onto the promise.  There is comfort in this as we walk through the midst of a time of suffering or pain or injustice.

Even as we cry out, “How long?” we know that God is right there.  Our God of love seeks to bring us peace and strength and comfort and reassurance and whatever else we need right in the midst of our trial.  “I am with you” says the Lord.  In our trials, may we always trust into God and hold tightly to the hope we profess.  God is faithful.  God is love.  May we cling to the Lord our God in the storms.


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God’s Promises

Reading: Jeremiah 32: 1-3a and 6-15

Many are the promises of God. “I will never leave you or forsake you”.  “I will be with you until the end of this age”.  “My mercies are new every morning”.  “I am the way, the truth, and the life”.  “The Holy Spirit will teach you and remind you of everything I told you”.  “Trust in me alone”.  These are but a few.

In our text, Jeremiah is under house arrest in a city besieged by the mighty Babylonians.  He had warned the King about the danger of relying on Egypt and had prophesied about Israel’s impending doom.  The time had come.  In the midst of this scene of doom and destruction, Jeremiah’s cousin visits him to sell him some land.  To all but Jeremiah this seems like a foolish investment.  This would be like a football coach calling a timeout with one second left on the clock when their team is down 50 points.  Yet Jeremiah buys the land.  It makes no sense.  Except to Jeremiah.  He was trusting in God’s promise.  God had told him that one day, even though hard to believe at this point, that one day God would restore and redeem Israel.

At times life will besiege us as well.  The storm may come in the form of a broken relationship, a health crisis, an unexpected loss, or ….  In these moments, we feel lost and alone and like we are about to go under.  Into these moments, God will speak.  If we are open to God’s Spirit, we will be reminded of God’s promises.  God never stops loving us, never stops reaching out to us, never gives up on us.  In life’s trials, may we turn to the promises of God, our rock and redeemer, our Savior and hope.


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In Desert Seasons

Reading: Psalm 63:1-8

King David finds himself in a desert season.  During our lives, we will find ourselves in just such a place as well.  These times of trial and struggle will come and go; perhaps now is just such a season.  David’s beautiful words give us encouragement and advice for when we find ourselves in a desert season.

David begins by expressing the thirst he feels in the desert.  In the times we find ourselves in a trial, we too must admit our need for God and then we must seek His guidance and presence in our lives.  To reinforce this, David recalls how he saw God’s power and glory in the sanctuary.  To remember how God has always been there in our times of need reassures us that He will be there again.

Next, David does something that may seem odd when one is in a desert place – he praises God.  In verse three he writes, “Because your love is better than life”.  It is such a powerful and moving statement.  We come to God in praise because of His gift and promise of eternal life.  We know that no matter what this life brings, our ticket to eternal life in glory has already been bought.  There is no better reason to praise!

Lastly, David ends with “my soul clings to You”.  Although it can sometimes be hard to sense God’s presence in the midst of a trial, we must nonetheless cling to God.  We are promised that His love never fails and that He has only good plans for us.  In the midst of it all, may we cling to Him knowing that it is Hi slight at the end of the tunnel and that it is really His arms alone that will carry us through.


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Seek the Lord

The psalmist speaks of times when our enemies rise up against us and when we feel besieged on every side.  In this life, there are certainly times when these things are true.  But our greater truth is God’s constant presence amidst all of life.  It is in His presence that we find love, peace, comfort, and mercy.

Sometimes we feel besieged by things from the outside.  It may be a situation at work that is not going so well.  It may be a conflict with a spouse or a child or a friend that is bringing discomfort in your life.  It may be a health or financial stress that has suddenly risen up.  As this “thing” consumes more and more of our time, we can seem to drift away from God.  But what we really need most is to spend more time in His presence.

At other times our struggle comes from within.  A temptation or sin can get ahold of us and that is all we can seem to see.  It could be pride or being judgemental.  It could be greed or jealousy.  It could be lust or coveting.  It could be any number of sins.  But one of these can become our focus so easily and we find ourselves far from God.  Sometimes this is because we are struggling to break free and other times it is because we have broken free but feel to guilty or dirty to come into His presence.  In these cases too, in that loving, caring, merciful, forgiving presence is precisely where we need to be.

When we are in one of these trials of life – whether from the outside or inside – we must seek God.  For some, maybe that is to physically go into the sanctuary or chapel to be in His presence.  For some it is to go to their prayer space at home.  For some it is driving in the car or walking along a path in the woods. God is everywhere do we can find Him anywhere.  He simply waits for us to reach out, to seek Him, to reconnect to Him.  In our trials, may we eagerly run into His presence and receive respite and relief.  In His presence we begin to live into His love, peace, comfort, and mercy.

Scripture reference: Psalm 27: 5-14


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All the Days

Reading: Psalm 27: 1-4

David begins by declaring that the Lord is his light and salvation, his stronghold.  He twice asks, ‘whom shall I fear?’  In David’s opening lines, there is an offering from God that we too can claim.  The God of David who offered him light, salvation, and strength is our God as well.  When we choose to claim these offerings as well, we too may ask: whom shall I fear?

Life will bring us challenges and issues that we all have to face or work through.  As followers of Christ, though, we go about this not from an earthly perspective but from an eternal one.  When we know that God is our salvation and that our lifetime here is just preparation for eternity, then our trials here bear much less weight.

We also do not walk alone.  In life’s lows, people we count as friends often rally around us.  If they are fellow believers, they also lift us up in prayer and seek God’s help or healing or intervention.  The Holy Spirit and Jesus also intercede on our behalf before the throne of God.  The Spirit and Jesus are always on our side, keeping us ever before God.  Even when our struggle is just within us and no one else knows our struggle, they are coming before God constantly on our behalf.

Today’s reading ends with a beautiful request.  David writes, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”  David knew how important it is to have God as our focus, as our center, as our everything.  May we also live as David lived, always seeking God, always asking each day to dwell in the presence of God, our Lord and King.