pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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All the Time!

Being grateful for all of God’s blessings makes such a difference in our lives.  Every day, as part of my morning ‘routine’, I write in my ‘thanks journal.’  I write down at least five things I am thankful for from the day before and lift up a little prayer of thanksgiving to God.  It is important to me to recognize all God does for me.

In hospitals and hospice care they asses a person’s spiritual vitality by measuring the patients’ gratitude towards God.  Psychologists have identified gratitude as a powerful force in the lives of people who are healthy and resilient.  When one is truly thankful for the things one has in life, it shows in their attitude.

In life all is not roses.  Trials and sufferings will come.  These things are inevitable.  They are a part of life.  As with the Psalmist, we too know God is with us in both the good and the bad.  In the bad, God offers us relief from all sorts of suffering and oppression.  When we experience God’s liberation, or response is grateful praise.  The psalmist wrote, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  When we have an attitude of gratitude it is natural to want to share how good God is with others.

When our normal mode of operation is to recognize God as the giver of all good things, then we know Him as good and through this can better weather life’s storms.  In these times of trial we can go to God for peace, comfort, strength, … in prayer, in reading His Word, in worship.  When we know the Lord is good through our daily practice of gratitude, the darkness is not as deep and we know there is His light at the end of the trial.  God is good.  When we live and acknowledge this often, we are blessed by His presence all of the time, in both the good and the bad.

Scripture reference: Psalm 34: 1-8


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Has Been All Along

Jesus and the disciples set out across the lake in a boat at night.  It is hard to see and to read the sky at night.  A storm suddenly began and soon the disciples were fearing for their lives.  And Jesus was asleep.

Life can be routine.  We can go to work day after day.  Weekends come and go but don’t seem to really interrupt the routine.  They are just part of it.  Life is just moving along and suddenly there is a storm.  It seems to come out of nowhere and takes us by surprise.  We had been walking along, as if in the dark.  We call out to Jesus but realize that maybe we’ve let Him slip out of our daily life.  That matters not to Him.  He is right there.  Has been all along.

When the disciples woke Jesus because their fears had conquered them, He did not throw them overboard.  He realized their fear and rebuked the storm.  Immediate calm.  After giving them what I imagine was just enough time to take in what just happened, He turns to them.  In essence He asks, “After all this time, still no faith?”

When the storms of life suddenly blind side us, we flail and reach for Jesus.  In our minds we may even wonder how He could let this happen.  I don’t want to know what is on His mind.  Maybe His first question to us would be, “Where ya been?”  Truth be told, our faith waivers a lot.  In the trials we definitely think we need Jesus.  But He knows better.  That is why He is always right there.  And that is why He has been all along.  Thanks Jesus!

Scripture reference: Mark 4: 35-41


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These Truths Remain

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever.”  These same words begin and end Psalm 118.  These eternal promises of God are reaffirmed by Jeremiah and he adds, “His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

The middle of the psalm is filled with the trials of life – anger, hate, rejection.  These are the things Christ battled in the week leading up to His crucifixion and they are the thing we face too at times in our lives.  Trials are sure to come our way.

But, thanks be to God!  Just like this psalm, at the beginning and end of each day, God is still the same.  He is good, His love never fails, and His mercy is unending.  In the midst of whatever we are going through, these truths remain.  Thanks be to God.

Scripture reference: Psalm 118: 1-2 & 19-29


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He Is Faithful

As the wandered in the wilderness without water, the Israelites began to grumble against God and against Moses.  without this basic necessity for life, they were getting testy.  God heard their cry and responded through Moses, bringing forth water from a rock.

How often do we too feel abandoned or question God’s presence?  How common is it to question whether or not He cares when we are walking through a difficult situation in life?  Sometimes in the depths of the valley it is hard to see God’s light and to remain faithful to Him.  Through it all, though, He is faithful to us.  Through it all, He is always right there.

When we look back on our trials, we can usually see how God was there and how He helped or guided us.  As we reflect on and are thankful for His help, we are strengthened in our faith.  Then He is closer when we walk through the next valley or trial, for we know Him more.  God uses our experiences to draw us closer to himself.  We must remain faithful, for He is always faithful.

Scripture reference: Exodus 17: 1-7


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Trust in Hope

All on this earth will have trials and tribulations.  All will experience doubt and fear.  All will endure pain, loss, and suffering. These things are part of life. What separates Christians is their hope and faith in God.

God never promises us an easy life or constant smooth sailing.  He does promise to always be with us, to never leave us or forsake us.  The maker of heaven and earth promises to be with us at all times – in the good and in the bad.  God is on our side.  He is our hope and our ransom.

When the waters of life boil up around us and threaten to engulf us or when our foot strays too near the snare, we ned not fear.  Jesus has paid the price, we have been redeemed.  By His grace we are welcomed into eternal life.  Once we call on His name and call Him Lord and savior, we have life.  Our eternal life begins then, not the moment we die.  This grace allows us to see the waters and snares of light in a new way, in a way that knows they do not control us any more.

In Psalm 124 we read that the waters cannot trap us.  They cannot hold us.  They cannot define us.  It is God who holds and defines us.  Life will be hard at times as we pass through trials and difficulties.  But God will always have a hand on us, will always love us through.  Trust this hope.  Trust God.

Scripture reference: Psalm 124


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Natural Connection

Do people of faith always feel connected to God and to other Christians?  Do we always feel like we are part of the family?  At times I think we all feel disconnected from God and from our community of faith.  We are never truly disconnected, but at times we feel like it.

As life tosses us about we can wonder if God is present in the midst of the storm.  We do not see Jesus walking on the water towards us.  As emotions of sadness or loneliness sink in, we question if He is there.  We do not see His hand reaching out to pull us up out of the turmoil.  As we pass through difficult seasons in life, we sometimes look around but fail to recognize Him.  We do not see Jesus in the people God sends our way.  Yet we feel apart from God only in our own minds – God and His love are always present.

In these trials, how do we maintain contact with God and our community of faith?  It starts long before the storm, before the sad emotions, before the season.  If we spend time reading, praying, studying, we build up that “reserve” that will carry us through the trials.  The more we know God, the more natural that connection becomes.  If we spend time in fellowship and in caring groups within our faith community, then we are known and we know others in ways that will sustain us in the trials.  Just as we can learn to sense when another needs us to walk alongside them, others too will come to sense when we need that as well.  We train for the race so that we can run it with perseverance, with strength, and with God’s presence.

In Psalm 31, verse 3 we read: “You are my rock and my fortress; for Your name’s sake You lead me and guide me.”  When we know Him as rock and fortress, trials are so much easier to walk through.

Scripture reference: Romans 11:1-2a