pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Drawing Near

Photo credit: Soul duvOcean

Reading: Mark 1: 14-15

Verse 15: “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news”.

Jesus steps into his ministry as the one who prepared the way has been arrested. John the Baptist has been imprisoned by Herod. John spoke truth against the power of the day and it would cost him his life. Jesus travels to Galilee to begin his ministry. This region to the north was isolated, away from the power structures of the day, home to many in need of the good news. As he begins his ministry Jesus announces, “The time has come”. John had prepared the people for this very moment.

Jesus continues with the message that John had preached. It is one of the constant messages of the entire Bible. The practice of repentance always remains central to the walk of faith. In verse fifteen Jesus says, “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news”. In Jesus, God draws near to us. This is what draws us to him, it is what drew the first disciples into following Jesus. In our lives today we have moments when this is especially true. These are the times when we can tangibly feel God’s presence with us. To have any relationship, change is necessary. It is true of our relationship with Jesus. This relationship begins in a place of humility, in the place where we recognize our need for a Savior. Sensing that we are entering a holy space, stepping into the presence of the Messiah, we are naturally led to repentance. Entering that space we feel that we need to be our best. Part of that involves laying aside our imperfections, our sins, our selfishness. Looking within, we see that which separates us from the one we want to draw near to. Repenting of these we draw nearer to the kingdom of God. It is in our moments of closeness to Jesus that we come to belief as we surrender our lives to him. As we continue to draw near we experience grace and mercy and forgiveness as we are made new over and over. We experience freedom from the things of this world as our focus and love shifts toward the eternal. We come to live out the joy and hope and peace that grows from belief and trust in Jesus. We come to see Jesus as the “good news”, as the way, the truth, and the life, as the one who gives us the final victory over sin and death.

This day may we spend time in his very presence, allowing the good news to permeate our very being. May the kingdom of God draw near to you this day!

Prayer: Loving God, you draw near to me in so many ways – in these quiet moments, in the interactions with others, in the ordinary of life. In love you fill me with a peace and hope and joy that nothing in the world can give. Thank you, Lord. Amen.


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In the Light

Reading: John 12: 20-36

As Jesus is speaking of His own impending death He is also calling us to be willing to offer our earthly life as well.  This does imply a faith we are willing to die for.  But it also speaks of us dying to self and all of the earthly desires that compete with the divine nature within us.  As a means of encouragement, Jesus reminds us that when a seed dies it produces a crop.  When we are willing to surrender our all to Jesus, then our old self falls to the ground and dies as our new self rises up to produce a harvest of faith.

Jesus encourages us to walk in the light.  When we have chosen to give up our old self we are choosing to step out of the darkness.  The darkness can hide our imperfections and defects.  When we step away from the darkness and into the light of Jesus Christ, we begin to see that the ways we were living were not pleasing to God.  We realize that we were living to please and glorify self.  And just as the dawn rises and light slowly creeps across the landscape, so too does His light.  As we grow in our faith, the light continues to shine into dark corner after dark corner as He continues to refine us.

This choice of laying aside self and walking in His light is a hard choice.  Jesus acknowledges the hard choice that He too faced and yet recognizes that this is why He came – to offer His all for you and me.  He leaves us no wiggle room as well.  He wants us to feel our discomfort over having to choose light or dark.  He urges us on, asking us to put our trust in the light so that we might become sons of light, heirs of an eternal inheritance, receivers of the gift of true life.