pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Remaining Faithful and Diligent

Reading: Luke 18: 1-8

Verse 8: “I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly”.

Our God is full of love and mercy and compassion. Our God is righteous and holy and good. Our God stands for justice and equality and truth. Our God works for restoration and reconciliation and redemption. As we continue to work out our faith journeys, we should seek to grow in all of these things, becoming more and more like our Lord.

Today Jesus focuses on being persistent in our prayers as we seek justice. Justice, like all of the other qualities or characteristics listed above, are intertwined and interconnected with the others. For example, love, mercy, and compassion lead us to seek a justice that applies universally to all people. These qualities lead us to stand up and even to sacrifice so that the oppressed and marginalized experience the same justice as we and others experience. As we do this, we are a bit like John the Baptist, seeking to become less so that Jesus becomes more.

In our parable today Jesus acknowledges that there is some injustice in the world. This is not pleasing to God. It should not sit well with us either. In verse eight we read, “I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly”. God will see that justice prevails – at some point. A good example of this is found in the story of Lazarus that comes in Luke 16. Lazarus had a very hard life but receives his comfort in heaven. God’s timing is a mystery to us. This leads us back to the other focus of the parable: be persistent in prayer. We do not fully understand all the ways of God. But we are called to place our trust and hope in God alone.

As we come to God in prayer, may we remain faithful and diligent, assured that God will hear and bring justice… at just the right time – at God’s time.

Prayer: Lord, listen to your children crying. Lord, hear the voices of the oppressed and the marginalized. Raise up the cries to the ears of your people. Lead us to be your heart and voice, to be your hands and feet, O God. Amen.


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Praise the Lord

Reading: Psalm 150

Verse 6: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord”.

Today’s passage opens and closes with the same line: “Praise the Lord”. In between it speaks first of where: in the sanctuary and in His heavens. Broadly interpreted, the sanctuary is all the places we find God. Yes, it is our church sanctuary, but it is also along the wooded path, by the bass pond, in the hospital room, on the open prairie, at the quiet desk. In between the psalmist speaks second of why we praise. We are to praise God for His acts of power and for His surpassing greatness. Yes, it is for how God sent Jesus as our example and for how God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit. But it is also for the safe travels home and for the personal nature of our relationship.

Lastly, in verses 3 through 5, the psalmist speaks of how we are to praise God. He lists the trumpet, harp, lyre, strings, flute, and cymbals as the instruments and he lists dancing as the action. Yes, it is this but also with the organ, keyboard, drums, guitars, and voices. It is also with arms raised up, with hands clapping, with heads bowed, and with hearts open. And it is in prayer as we go for a walk. It is in the conversations with one who is lonely or grieving. There are many, many ways to praise the Lord.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord”. We have breath. May we praise the Lord today!

Prayer: Lord God, may all I do and say bring you praise today. May my every breath and action praise the Lord. Amen.


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Focus

Reading: 1 Corinthians 3: 1-9

Paul spent a year and a half with the church in Corinth.  He established the church and spent the rest of this time teaching them how to live as Christians in a pagan culture.  After laying what he thought was a solid foundation and moving on to other missionary work, Paul now realized the church in Corinth is struggling.  He hears how they have lost their focus on God and are squabbling over which human leader to follow.  Paul identifies their spiritual immaturity and accurately asks, “are you not worldly?” as they fight amongst themselves.

Paul tries to reframe their focus and to get them moving forward and growing in Christ again.  He knows he had a role in developing the church, but Paul also firmly believes that only God has the power.  He also knows that Apollos has a role to play as well.  Paul sees Apollos as a fellow worker, not as competition, as the church in Corinth does.  Paul reminds them of all of this with the great line we find in verse six: “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow”.  Paul seeks to return their focus to God and to the things of God.

In reading this passage, we too are reminded of our need to stay focused on what really matters, on the only thing with the power to transform lives: God.  In our churches and ministries, we need our energy focused on God and doing God’s work in our world – not on the color of the new carpet or on the style of worship or on any other earthly matter.  As the body, when we focus on heavenly things, we grow in faith and God will bless our efforts.

There is also a personal level to Paul’s call to focus on God.  Do we as individuals remain connected to God and stay focused on His will in our lives or do we allow other things in, drawing us away?  We must be aware of the pull and lure of outside voices and must remain dedicated to our own faith practices.  It is when we falter within that we are more prone to see division rather than unity in the larger body.  May we tend well to our own souls so that we may be part of the larger body’s aim for the same goal: a living, breathing, active, growing faith in Jesus Christ.


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Beautiful Feet

Reading: Isaiah 52: 7-10

Christmas fills the air!  In our churches, in our homes, in our cars, and even in some of our offices the sounds of Christmas fill the air.  In church we have been singing carols.  Playlists are filled with our favorite Christmas songs.  Music gets us in the mood to celebrate.  As Christmas itself draws near, the songs remind us both of the stories and serve to build up our anticipation and excitement as we wait.

In Isaiah 52 the watchmen are atop the wall waiting for news to come.  There is anticipation and excitement, hoping for good news.  The psalmist writes, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news”.  In one way many people today are much like the men on the wall: they long for good news.  They peer out into the world, longing to hear something good.  For followers of Christ, at times we too long for good news.  Then a song like “Joy to the World” or “K the Herald Angels Sing” floats into our ears or minds and we are reminded: good news is indeed on the way!

In Christmas we celebrate the gift of Jesus.  We celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world.  In acknowledging the babe as the Savior, we connect the baby to the good news.  The baby will grow into a man willing to give all of himself for the world.  The good news of Jesus Christ is that through Him sin and death have been defeated.  Jesus conquered them.  We know the end of the birth story and it gives us hope.  Yes, this life will have its trials and troubles, but ultimately we we will rise to eternal life.  This is the gift we find in the manger on Christmas Eve.  What a wonderful gift indeed!

As believers we know the story.  We sing the songs to remember and to remind ourselves.  May our voices carry the good news to those who wait along the wall, eager to hear some good news.  May our feet be beautiful today.


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True Life

Reading: Psalm 119: 97-104

What voice is your guide?  What voice directs your decisions and informs your choices?  These are hard questions to answer honestly.  These are questions whose answers might shift from time to time – or often.  Oh to be like the psalmist in today’s passage and to only listen to God!

There are many voices that compete for our attention and our allegiance.  Primary among them is our own voice.  The voice of self is powerful.  How will it affect me and what’s in it for me are two of the loudest voices of self that I wrestle with.  Other voices out there do not help.  Society’s voices tell us to ‘just do it’ and ‘watch out for #1’.  We hear whispers from Satan that bring doubt and fear, jealousy and want, just to name a couple of the great Temper’s common lies.

In our Psalm we see the better choice.  In God’s words we find that one voice that matters.  In God’s Word we find the words that are not only ‘sweeter than honey’ but the words that lead to peace and contentment in this life and hope in the life to come.  The psalmist writes of meditating on God’s ways ‘all day Long’s and that is what it takes to keep focused on God in our day and age.  For us today it goes back to the famous slogan and bracelets: WWJD.  If we lived with this question as our constant filter and guide, we would indeed be following Jesus and living as faithful disciples.

The voices are many.  Ultimate truth is found in the Word of God.  Read His Word.  Study the Bible.  Come to know the Lord our God and find life that is really true life, life lived as a follower of Jesus Christ.