pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Shouldn’t We?

Reading: Philippians 3: 10-14

Verse 12: “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”.

In the section of Philippians that we read today, you can hear and feel Paul’s desire to follow Jesus. He is willing to give up and do anything to meet this desire. Paul gave up the titles and status he had held as Saul to give his life in service to Jesus Christ. He wants to now know Christ and his sufferings, his death and resurrection. Paul doesn’t wanna kinda be like Jesus; he wants to be totally in. He doesn’t just want to walk the same path, he wants to walk in the footprints of Jesus.

In verse twelve we read these words: “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”. Paul is writing these words while under house arrest in Rome. Think about that. Paul is in jail, awaiting trial for spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. In all likelihood he is nearing the end of his life and he still wants to press on. That is a strong desire to follow Jesus. So, what does it mean to ‘press on’? What are the implications of these words?

One presses on when the way is not easy, when those around you are not receptive or are even hostile. One presses on when one knows the road ahead will be hard because the message or cause is worth suffering for. Paul was radically changed when he met Jesus. Weren’t we all? He was so filled with the love and compassion of Christ that all he wanted to do with the rest of his life was to help others know this life-changing Jesus. Shouldn’t we, those who Jesus has taken hold of, shouldn’t we give all that we are to help others know this life-changing Jesus? May it be so.

Prayer: Lord, may it be so in my life. So fill me with your love and compassion that it can’t help but spill out into the lives of all I meet. May it be so, God, may it be so. Amen.


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Speaking and Hearing

Reading: Acts 2: 1-11

Verse 11: “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues”.

Today and for the next two days we will focus on Pentecost – the day largely accepted as the birthday of the church. A small group of Jesus’ followers were gathered together for worship. A loud and powerful wind announced the arrival of the Holy Spirit. Represented by what appeared to be “tongues of fire” that lit on each one, the followers were filled by the Holy Spirit.

Meanwhile, Jews from all around the city were drawn by the sound of the wind. These Jews were from all over the known world – come to Jerusalem to celebrate one of the three yearly Jewish festivals. Filled with the Spirit, Jesus’ followers begin to each speak in languages native to these Jews. The Jews from around the world are bewildered because “we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues”. How could these simple Galileans be speaking in so many different languages? Clearly something amazing is going on here!

The followers speaking in tongues is only part of the miracle though. The Holy Spirit was not just at work among the followers of Jesus. Just because words are spoken, it does not mean they are heard. Many of the Jews there that day had open ears and receptive hearts. It will still take a little Holy Spirit fueled preaching by Peter to really help bring them to Christ, but with the Spirit’s continued work the church will grow that day.

Each of us is a follower who could do what was done in today’s passage. Our gifted language may not be Egyptian or Arabic or any other foreign language. But it is addiction or divorce or grief or abuse or justice or single parenthood… Each of us has stories about the “wonders of God” in our own lives. If we are sensitive to and pay attention to the Holy Spirit living inside each of us, we will have opportunities to speak new life into someone else’s ear. Will your words be the miracle of healing or recovery or restoration or belonging that someone needs to hear? Are you ready to speak?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, my journey to this point has been long and filled with many Holy Spirit experiences. Help me to see each as a step in my journey, as a possible step in another’s journey of faith. May the Holy Spirit be at work in me, leading and guiding me to tell the story of faith as I have opportunity. Thank you, Lord. Amen.


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Willing Vessels

Reading: Jeremiah 18: 1-11

Jeremiah 18 opens at the potter’s house.  The potter forms the clay into a desired form.  But if the form is flawed, the clay is reformed and reshaped.  The clay can be remade into what it was intended to be.  And so it is with us.  God has a plan and a purpose for each of us.  We can become flawed but through God’s love and mercy we can be reformed and reshaped.  We can be reshaped over and over and over again into the creation that God intends us to be.

Oh how we can fight this process.  We can turn away from God and we can even run away at times.  We can and often do act as if we were the one in control.  Yet God continues to work on us, to mold us into who we were created to be.  When we take a fork in the road that God did not want us to take, another fork is being prepared to guide us back to God’s path.  God never gives up.

Jeremiah 18:1 says, “the Word came” to Jeremiah.  This is still true for us.  God is always right there, always ready to re-engage us, ready to reshape and reform us, always ready to restore us.  The Word that comes draws us back to God.  The Word that comes will be specific to us and to God’s purposes.  The Word may be one of promise and hope.  It may be one of comfort and peace.  It may be one of direction and discipline.  It may be one of forgiveness and mercy.  It will be what we need.

Unlike the clay that is placed on the wheel and taken into the potter’s hands, we have a role to play.  If we desire to hear the Word that God has for us, we need to seek God out and to be receptive to the Word that God comes with.  This day, may we seek God and may we be willing vessels in God’s hands.  May we be who God created us to be.