You may have noticed it: I've been "titling" our weekly Monday Musings. No longer are they just dated, but there's been "just a little bit more" to identify them. Last week was the "Valentine's Day" edition. A couple of weeks ago we had the "it's still cold" edition and the week before that the "snow my" edition (I admit it, I may try to get "too cute" at times).
Today finds me in a quandary. We could call this the "2sday" edition (people are making a big deal that this afternoon we will hit 2:188.8.131.52 and this evening 22:184.108.40.206). We could call this the "whew, they're gone" edition – no explanation necessary for those who live in Ottawa. Or perhaps this is just a "late" edition, because it is Tuesday (no Musings yesterday, Family Day). Therefore, not late . . . just delayed a (holi)day.
So . . . today . . a not so extraordinary title, nor a cute one. Because life does indeed go on. And the great thing about life going on is that we are not alone. God walks with us in the good days and in the hard days. Which brings to mind this song. I happen to like the Elvis Presley version – there are other great ones as well.
We are not alone. Never have been. We never will be. Psalm 139 reads
1 O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
5 You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
And not only does He know us from afar, He knows us intimately. He knows all of our hopes and all of our fears and all of our ways: we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin [Hebrews 4:15]. He is near in sunny days and sunny ways. He is near in stormy days – and in "storm the parliament" days. He is near in the days when we feel that we are under attack, and He knows just what we are going through. Tempted . . . just as we are.
When we read the temptation narrative – as recorded in Luke 4 – we can dismiss it without realizing what it means. Jesus was tempted, we read, but don't understand that He was tempted! We can put some kind of spiritual twist to the passage that understates what temptation was for Him. Hebrews says in all points tempted, which means that He was tempted and that He could have fallen.
If the temptations to perform a miracle for his own provision (bread) or for power or for protection (testing God) were not real temptations then they mean nothing. But knowing that He resisted in the power of God shows that we can resist in the power of God as well! And we can continue to resist, even when the devil comes back "at a more opportune time"
And . . . if we should somehow fall – and admittedly, we do sometimes fall – it can be easy to focus on the failure. To be overcome by guilt. Even to wallow in self pity. But this thing that we call 'failure' is not the falling down, but the staying down. We get back up and begin again.
You can “revisit” yesterday’s service on our Facebook page (click here) and on our YouTube channel (click here). Watch . . . be challenged . . . be blessed. The message transcript is available on our web site (click here).
It is not really a series. Not even a mini-series. It is just two messages, the second building on the first. A reminder (yesterday) of the reality of temptation and that we cannot escape it. A reminder (Sunday coming) that temptation is not a one-time event or occurrence but that it is ongoing in our lives. It would be nice if once we resisted the temptation to say “me” (and isn’t that what temptation – sin – is all about? Me?) – if once we resisted temptation it would never come our way again.
Unfortunately, the threat – or promise – of a “more opportune time” is real. The type of temptation to do (or not do) something or to say (or not say) something may change as we mature as followers of Jesus, but the temptation to choose me does not end, throughout life.
We’ll meet Sunday morning at 11:00 Eastern and look at the first fall and at our continual capacity to fall (our message: Falling, Falling). If you do not feel comfortable joining with others in the congregation in person please join us through our Facebook feed (click here) or our YouTube feed (click here) – or link directly from our web site (click here). Please “check in” – let us know if you worship with us “live or delayed”. If you do join us “in person”, remember to give yourself ample time to go through our COVID protocol.
In the weeks to come (following our look at temptation) we’ll start our journey toward Easter in our messages. As we focus on Lent we’ll see how people interacted with Jesus. We’ll look at the life of the Jesus-follower who is far from perfect (that could be you or me!). And continue our journey to maturity.
We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves though . . . so . . . join us this week!
We meet Wednesday evenings at 7:00 – gathering for a virtual prayer time through ZOOM. John Wesley said that God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it. Join us for this important part of the life of the church, as we search for God’s direction and power as a congregation. E-mail the church for log-in information.
In past years we have held a potluck meal the last Sunday of February to remember our commitment to the churches we have sponsored in Cuba. We weren’t able to get together last year for our International Food Fair, and due to the pandemic, we won’t meet for a meal together this year either (although it looks like restrictions will soon be lessened, they won’t be soon enough).
So, a reminder: a number of years ago churches in Ontario were asked to sponsor a church in Cuba, and we at Trinity Church agreed to do so (actually, we sponsor the pastor, as the Cuban government forbids pastors to work outside the church, and most churches cannot afford to support one). The church in Cuba is thriving, and soon we were asked to sponsor a second pastor/congregation . . . and we did (this, along with the child we are sponsoring).
We have committed to sending a minimum of $200 a year to each pastor . . . and I ask that you think and pray about giving a special offering this month (over and above your regular tithes and offerings) to support our work in Cuba. Thank you for your continued generosity as we work together for the Kingdom of God . . . to see people find Jesus.
Thank you again for your faithful support of the work we are trying to accomplish for Christ through what we do as a church . . . for giving generously of your tithes and offerings to the meet the needs of our local church. We continue to receive our tithes and offerings through e-transfer (email@example.com) and through the Canada Helps web site (click here).
The heart of our focus as a church is to point people to and to help people into the Kingdom of God. Sometimes we get lost. Our focus changes. We get caught up in making sure the church machinery runs properly and we get caught up in making sure church services run smoothly and we get caught up in day-to-day living itself.
And so we pause. We listen for the voice of God. We listen to the voice of God. So we can start again.
Our denominational leadership is calling us to do just this – to pause and to listen. We have been invited to join with the 500,000 Nazarenes in USA and Canada in a prayer initiative called The Half-Million Mobilization.
In February, district leaders took time to seek God. March 1 is a day of prayer for the lead pastors of the denomination. Board members have been called to pray during the April Board Meeting. And on May 1 all are invited to begin a daily prayer journey, where we Nazarenes in Canada and the United States will “Pray our Way to Pentecost” (June 5).
More information will be shared in the days ahead, but plan to be part of this great time of prayer. Begin now . . . join us as we pray for protection, for direction, for revelation, and for renewal.