Welcome to 2020! Even yesterday I took the van in for maintenance and our service rep said "Happy New Year!" and it caught me off guard a bit. It seems like Christmas and New Years was so long ago. Yet, unbelievably, I went to a local Shoppers Drug Mart and saw Easter stuff out already!
Christmas seems to come and go so fast. All the anticipation and waiting has come and gone. All the decorations are put away and now we move on to the next thing. All the hope and dreams for a New Year are seemingly so far in the rear-view mirror that we cannot honestly think anything might change in this new year. We start asking, "now what?"
We ramped up for Christmas at Calvary thinking, "everything will be different once Jesus gets here". Because once we present the question of "making room in our hearts for Jesus" on Christmas Eve, surely people will respond and life is going to be completely different, new, and exciting.
But, in these few weeks after Christmas, after celebrating the gift of grace that God gave us in sending His one and only Son, have you noticed that anything has changed? It doesn’t feel like it, and we start asking, "now what?"
I know this seems like a little bit of a downer question to ask but as our culture hurries on to the next great thing, we are sometimes forced to ponder what difference did Jesus' coming into this world really make?
Our family has returned to our normal crazy routine now that Christmas is over. I have had to scratch out 2019 and write 2020 a few times but by and large, nothing much has changed. We have slipped back into the way things were. Sure, we gave a nod to the cataclysmic events surrounding our Saviour’s entry into this world, but now what?
I get a little bit of this sense when I read the end of the book of Luke when, before He ascends to heaven, Jesus says to his twelve disciples, "but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high" (Luke 24:49).
In other words, Jesus says, "wait".
Had I been there to hear the commission and watch my Saviour return to heaven I wonder if I would be running off to tell everyone what Jesus had done. If I had witnessed the events of death and resurrection and told to wait I think my head would have burst.
But they waited.
They went back to Jerusalem and waited for God to send the power they needed for mission. Namely, a special empowering of the Holy Spirit to launch the church into mission.
I hate to wait. I hate not moving fast and getting on mission. I have a hard time resting and waiting for God to do what only God can do while I faithfully seek to follow Him. But sometimes God says, "wait, my son or daughter – wait until you have from me what you need for what is next." God is preparing you for what He has in store for you this year. God is doing a work that is far above our little piece of the puzzle but at the right time, He will turn our waiting into mission. He will turn our waiting into fulfillment as we see what His plans are for us, for our families, for our church. We need to only be faithful to what we know to do already. He has given us what our mission and priorities should be and while we wait for God to accomplish His will, we worship him and continue to help others come to worship Him.
Pastor Aaron Groat
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. (1 John 1:5-6)
Have you heard this message of how great God is and of how we cannot be in His presence because our sin has separated us from God? The truth is that we all walk in darkness.
Some of you might be familiar with the dcTalk song, “In the Light.” This song lays out the stark truth about our human nature:
I keep trying to find a life on my own, apart from You.
I am the king of excuses: I've got one for every selfish thing I do.
What's going on inside of me? I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions that I'm still a man in need of a Savior
And then comes the chorus:
“I want to be in the light as you are in the light…”
This song by dcTalk reinforces what we have already read in 1 John: we all are filled with excuses, we’re selfish, we walk in darkness and we want to live a life of our own design.
But don’t be dismayed or think you are without hope, because if we keep reading in 1 John we’ll see this:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:7-9)
Jesus died, bearing the punishment for the sins of all who put their faith and trust in him. And if we confess with our mouths that we are sinful, then we can be made pure and holy and be reconciled to God.
Did you catch in verse 7 the one expectation of us? “If we walk in the light,” then we are given the promise of fellowship with God. This is picked up in the song by dcTalk when they write that to ‘be’ in the light is to ‘walk’ in the light. Walking is an indicator of action.
This means that we don’t stop with confession – God wants people who demonstrate their faith through their action by choosing to walk in the light.
To walk in the light means to confess your sin before God and remove what is separating you from a right relationship with the Creator. It means to express gratitude for the presence of the Spirit, to follow the example of Christ and be in fellowship with God, and to commit to walking daily with the Lord.
Have you heard the message? If you have, how will you respond today? I pray that you demonstrate your response and your faith by walking in the light.
Matt Bean, Elder
Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
These are the words I’ve been reflecting on for the last few weeks, as I’ve been preparing for our series in the book of James in Student Ministry. These are the words I’ve been trying to figure out how to teach to a group of students who I’m sure are all facing varying trials in school, relationships, and/or at home. “Count it a great joy…whenever you experience various trials.” On its own, this seems like really bad guidance. “Oh, that thing you’re struggling with? Get excited about it!”. You go around saying that to someone without any context, you may as well present them your jaw for a good ol’ punch.
But what we need to remember is that we are not facing these trials on our own. God doesn’t say to us, “Okay, now, go through this really hard thing, I’m gonna sit here and watch, make sure you survive!” No, as we know from the Great Commission, that we’ve been reciting together as a church, Jesus finishes his time on earth by saying, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”. Jesus is with us.
When we’re going through that trial, he’s standing there with us. He’s encouraging us and speaking to us to persevere. He’s given us His word to use as a backbone for our defence. We see Jesus, when he was tempted in the desert, he doesn’t overcome the adversary alone. He uses scripture to stand firm. And we also need to. God is with us. When we’re going through trials, God, in His grace, is saying something like, “Okay, you’re going through this hard thing, but don’t fear, I’m with you, you can overcome this, with my help”.
Now, I don’t wanna cut Jolene’s grass, but Hillsong released an album this year that had a song called Another in the Fire. And I want to leave you with it. When you’re going through something difficult, whatever the circumstance, remember that you are not alone. As it says in the song, “Should I ever need reminding, how good you’ve been to me. I’ll count the joy come every battle, ‘cause I know that’s where you’ll be”
Mike Sanders, Youth Director
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