pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Enduring Patience

Reading: James 5: 7-10

Verse 8: “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near”.

Patience, patience, patience. Patience is such a tough thing to practice, especially when the situation is difficult. The difficulty can come from a variety of angles. For the brothers and sisters in Christ that James is writing to, the difficulty comes from the persecution and suffering that they are enduring. When we have been experiencing times of stress or distress, we have known how hard it is to patiently endure. This is what James is addressing in our passage today.

James turns to a familiar test of patience. He encourages them to consider the farmer. The farmer sows the seeds and then he patiently waits. With the sun and the rain that will surely come, he waits, trusting that the land will “yield its valuable crop”. It can be hard to have patience when growing crops. I have had a home garden for many years now. As I reflect back on each season I can now remember a familiar scene playing out. We would plant carrots, lettuce, and so on. Then about a week later I would go out to the garden, sometimes multiple times each day, checking to see if those little green shoots had popped up yet. Soon it became a practice in patience. Early in my gardening career my mind would question or doubt if the shoots took a little too much time to come up.

Our faith is a lot like that too. When the first trials or seasons of suffering come along, we do not have much patience. We quickly cry out, “How long, O God”? But as we spend a few more seasons in the valleys, experiencing God’s presence and strength and guidance… over and over again, we begin to build trust in God. Our doubts and questions and fears ebb away. We soon see these seasons as times of growth and maturing.

In verse eight James writes, “You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near”. Be like the farmer, trust in God. For all who are struggling in the trial right now, cling to these words of hope and promise. To do so yields an unshakable belief that becomes your rock. As the faithful Christian endures the storms with patience and faith, we do come to know the truth of Jesus coming near. He never leaves us or forsakes us, especially in the trials. Be near to us, Lord Jesus, this we pray.

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for being my anchor in every stormy gale. In the lows and in the highs and everywhere in between, your Holy Spirit is ever present. Thanks be to God. Amen.


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Pruning

Reading: Isaiah 5: 1-4

In our passage today God laments, “What more could I have done for my vineyard”?  God thinks back to the fertile land flowing with milk and honey that was handed over to Israel.  God recalls the cities they did not built that were offered as dwelling places.  God remembers how a shield was kept about them, protecting them from their enemies.  God’s people, the vineyard so carefully tended, is now producing bad fruit.  The people had all they needed to produce good fruit but have instead turned away from God.  God looks and sees bloodshed instead of justice, heard cries of distress instead of righteousness.

The passage calls us to look at and reflect on our own lives.  God has also richly blessed us in so many ways.  God has built hedges of protection around us.  God has poured into our lives the example of Jesus found in the scriptures and has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us.  God has given us all we need to go forth and produce a good crop.  So we must honestly ask ourselves if we are doing so.  Are we using all of God’s rich blessings to go out and produce a crop of justice and righteousness and love?

Too often we can be like the crop God finds in Israel.  The soil is good and the leaves are healthy.  But the fruit underneath is sour.  We go to church and maybe even read our Bibles every day.  Then we go to work and exploit those with less power or cut a corner or bend a law for our own gain.  Or maybe we say and do all the right things out in public but harbor an addiction within the secret places of our lives.  We somehow think God does not know, but the pruning shears are ready to go to work.

Maybe instead we are holding onto a sin we can’t quite give to God or we are nursing a grudge or hurt from long ago and we can’t quite offer forgiveness to another.  God calls aloud for us to give up all that holds us back, to release anything that separates us from God, and to lay it at the cross.  God invites us to do this so that we can walk in a right relationship with our Lord and Savior.  God desires to prune away all that keeps us from being all God intends us to be.  Pruning can be hard but the results are a healthier plant that produced a better crop.  May we be willing to lay down all that hinders and separates us from God so that we may walk humbly and faithfully with our Lord.