pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


Leave a comment

Listen

Reading: Genesis 2: 15-17

Adam and Eve began in the garden.  Each day they walk and talk with God, enjoying all that God has provided.  They have been given almost unlimited access to the garden and all of its bounty.  The one restriction God places is upon the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  God lets Adam and Eve know that they will die if they eat of this one tree.

Can you remember as a kid when your Mom or Dad said, “Don’t do” this or that?  At least some of the time these were things you never would have thought of on your own.  But more often than not, your wise and loving parents knew from experience that sooner or later that tree or rooftop or toy your sister had would be more than you could resist.  We were the same way.  All parents are.  If there was something that could harm or be bad for our children, we warn them about it.  God was doing the same thing in the garden.  God knew that once the knowledge of good and evil entered the minds of mankind, that the world would never be the same.  He was right.

As grown adults, we continue to get many warnings.  Sometimes they come from our spouse or our friend or our coworker.  Sometimes the warnings even come from our own minds.  Sometimes the words are in the form of a whisper from the Holy Spirit.  Like we would have been when we were children, we would be wise to heed the warning, to listen to the voice of those with our best interests at heart.  This day, O Lord, help me to be obedient and faithful as I try to follow the example of Jesus.  It is only possible through your power and presence, so please be with me today.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Kingdom Builders

Reading: 1 Corinthians 2: 12-16

As followers of Jesus Christ, we receive the Spirit from God.  Through our baptism we become part of the family of God.  When we accept Christ as the Lord of our life, we are blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  It is the Spirit that helps us to discern and understand the things of God.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit we come to know the gifts and talents that God has blessed us with and how to use them for the glory of God.

Paul writes to the church in Corinth to encourage them and to spur them on to action.  Paul reminds them that when they allow the Holy Spirit to lead and guide them that they will speak not with human words and wisdom but instead they will speak words taught by the Spirit.  With the power of the Holy Spirit they will speak to others “expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words”.  God will fill them with “the mind of Christ” so that they are able to share Jesus’ light and love with others.

Both remain true today.  God has blessed every member of every church with gifts to be used for the kingdom.  As members of the body of Christ, we are called to help each other discover our gifts and talents.  We do this through fellowship, by getting to know one another, and by inviting one another to come along as we go forth to serve Christ in the world.  We also do this through prayer and study, allowing the Spirit time and space to reveal who God created us to be.  Once we know our gifts and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the use of our gifts, then through the power of God we will be able to do great things for the kingdom of God.

May we each play our role well – both by seeking the Holy Spirit and by faithfully serving God with the gifts we have been blessed with.  May we each be kingdom builders today.


1 Comment

God’s Power

Reading: 1 Corinthians 2: 1-16

Paul was well-educated and knew the Jewish faith inside out.  He could quote from the scriptures all day long.  He could probably recite all 623 codes found in the Law.  Paul was a man with great knowledge.  And he was very smart – he knew that the power to transform lives was held by God alone.  So Paul chose to proclaim faith, not religion.  Paul chose to share the words brought to him by the Spirit instead of relying on all the fancy religious terms and rules he knew so well.  Paul chose to speak from the heart and not the mind.

When we come to the sacred place of being able to share our faith with someone, they want to know the source of our joy, peace, and contentment.  They want to know how God has transformed us.  They want to know how accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will change them forever.  There is no interest in knowing what committee we are on or where to sign up to be an usher.  The seeker simply wants to feel what we feel and to experience the power of Christ in their life.  They want to hear and feel from our hearts what it means to be in a relationship with Jesus.

Others will come to us in times of pain or brokenness.  They often do not know where else to turn.  They have exhausted their other options.  Some have a sense that only God can help.  It may be prompted by a sudden tragedy, by an unexpected job loss, a request for a divorce that comes out of nowhere.  Here too we must speak from the heart and must rely on the power of God to give us the words to say.  Like Paul, we must trust in God to lead and guide us and to help us “speak not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths”.  In situations that are truly beyond us and make us feel inadequate, we must call upon God and seek the power of God.  Then the words we speak will be the wisdom of God.

In all things we must rely on the Lord our God.  This is true of our words, our actions, our relationships.   May we ever seek God first, trusting fully in God’s power alone.


Leave a comment

Signs and Wisdom

Reading: 1 Corinthians 1: 18-31

Jesus did not fit into the mold that some people had.  He did not meet their expectations, so they struggled to see Him as the Messiah.  Even though the Jews were looking for a Messiah, Jesus did not match their vision, therefore He was rejected.  The Greeks operated on wisdom and logic.  A person cannot be argued into or convinced of belief.  The miracles had to have some logical explanation.  Jesus did not fit their mold either.

For the Jews, their history is full of big signs of God’s presence.  The signs are often on the national scale.  All of the firstborn die in Egypt – except the Jewish families were passed over.  The manna and quail come for a long period of time to feed the whole nation in the desert.  God sweeps in the Assyrians and then the Babylonians to deal with the nation’s sin.  Perhaps Jesus giving sight to a blind man or raising one person from the dead were simply too small.  These miracles did not fit into their understanding of God at work amongst the nation.

We are not too far removed from the Jews and Gentiles of Jesus’ day.  Wisdom gets in the way of following Jesus all the time.  We rationalize why we couldn’t possibly do this or that instead of stepping forth in faith. We think we know best and need to be in control instead of trusting in God’s lead.  At times we demand signs too.  We try and strike if-then deals – if You will do this Jesus, then I will…  We want to see Jesus at work in the answer to our prayer or in the resolution to a situation and then we will…

The perspective had also changed.  God’s covenant was with the nation of Israel and it covered individuals.  This is how they wanted Jesus to act too.  They wanted to see the Romans banished in one fell swoop, for example.  But Jesus sought a personal relationship with each believer.  Jesus sought a covenant with individuals that extends to the whole world.  This is still what Christ seeks: a one-on-one relationship with each of us.  This relationship is based upon faith, belief, trust, love…  All are foundational.  And all must be experienced.  This is how the relationship begins and how it grows.  These are our experiences that translate into ‘wisdom’ and ‘signs’.  This is what we have to share with those in our lives who do not have a relationship with Jesus.  Through each of us, may the world come to know Christ, one person at a time.


1 Comment

Hope and Promise

Reading: Isaiah 11: 1-5

In many places winter is settling in.  On the coldest of windy days, one just wants to hunker down inside with a good book and a cozy blanket.  In this way, one finds a little comfort and solace in a harsh world outside.  In today’s passage, Isaiah is offering a vision filled with words of hope and promise.  The people are in exile.  Their surroundings are secular, polytheistic, and oppressive.  To a degree, they have begun to ask God how long this season of exile will last.

Into this despair and a growing sense of abandonment, God uses Isaiah to speak a word of hope.  Isaiah speaks of a shoot that will come up.  Just like us looking for that first burst of green after a long winter, Isaiah tells of a time coming soon when hope and promise will rise up from the house of Jesse.  Isaiah goes on to describe this new King – He will reign with wisdom and understanding and power and knowledge.  To these Isaiah adds that the King will give wise counsel and will live with a fear of God.  And not only all of this, but the king will also stand for the needy and those dealing with injustice.  To a people living in oppressive exile, someone who reigns by righteousness and faithfulness would provide great hope and promise.

Many living today need to hear these words of hope and promise.  Many in our country and probably some in all of our communities need to find a little hope and promise.  Some in our congregations need to know hope and promise.  Hope and promise abound in this passage from Isaiah.  A king who loves and cares for the needy and oppressed, one who rules with justice and righteousness – this is a king many need.  This King comes to us again this year in a manger, soon to be celebrated in all of our churches.  In this season where we prepare to welcome again the baby Jesus, may we also share the King of Kings, the King of justice and righteousness with a world so in need.  May we each share the King’s hope and promise this day.


Leave a comment

Trust

Reading: Luke 21: 10-19

Today’s passage really lays out what is ahead one day and makes it clear that God will be present through it all.  The reading opens with a view of a grim future that evokes connections to Revelation.  We do not know when, but we do know that the world will be in rough shape with all the earthquakes, famine, violence, and so forth.

Then Jesus steps back and makes it personal.  Jesus speaks of a time of persecution and trial for the believers.  Believers will be persecuted and arrested and put on trial.  Why?  So we can witness to our faith.  It is interesting that we will not be rescued from the trial by our carefully thought-out arguments.  Jesus even says not to prepare any.  He says, “Trust”.  Do not worry – “I will give you words and wisdom”.  Do not rely on your own skills and knowledge and rhetoric, but only rely on your faith.  Just like the Holy Spirit filled Peter and John when they were on trial before the Sanhedrin, so too will the Holy Spirit fill each who trusts fully in Jesus.

This message of trusting in God holds true for all believers in all times.  We need to remember this because we know that in this life we will face times of trial.  There will be difficulties.  There simply will be.  Jesus encourages us in how we approach and walk through these times.  The first thing we must do is trust in God and not in ourselves.  Once we acknowledge our absolute need for God, then we fully open ourselves up to God’s presence to work in our lives.  In this way we will bear witness to our faith in a world that doubts and questions.  By trusting fully in God we demonstrate that God is absolutely in control.  By living out a peace that passes understanding we bear witness to God.

God is faithful and God is loving.  When we trust fully in God, we experience these things.  There will be pain and hurt in this life, but when we hold fast to our faith in God, we retain a hope greater than anything in life can defeat.  May we trust fully in God, knowing our eternity rests securely in God’s loving hands.


Leave a comment

Wisdom

Reading: Psalm 8: 1-4 and 22-31

God’s wisdom calls out to us, seeking to fill us with an understanding and awe of God.  Wisdom calls out from many places to all of mankind.  There are many worthy things she wants to share with humanity.

Wisdom has existed since the beginning – she was there before the formation of the earth and before time began.  Before there were oceans and land, mountains and sky, wisdom was there.  She saw the creation of all things, therefore she understands God’s power and might.  This is part of what wisdom desires to share with us.

Wisdom also wants us to be filled as she is, day by day delighting in God’s presence and power.  Day by day wisdom rejoices in His presence and marvels at His creation.  Day by day she delights in mankind, made in God’s image.  Wisdom recognizes the power and might of God and offers her praise and worship.

This day may we also draw upon wisdom, seeing the power and might of God in the creation and in each other.  Through this, may we too offer our praise and worship.