Pastor’s Ponderings: Self-Reflection for Advent

Posted by on Dec 19, 2020 in FEATURED, Pastors Ponderings | 0 comments

As we travel through this uncertain tunnel of Covid and  approach Christmas and the new year, it’s a good time to access where we are.  How has your relationship with God changed during this year?  What can you do to continue growing or to grow more in the coming year?  Pastor Jim submitted the following thoughts about this on 12/19/20…

 

Greetings Friends:

Please consider these words from the apostle Peter…

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

1 Peter 5:6-9


 
Living a holy life as a modern-day disciple of Jesus requires God’s people to utilize the spiritual practice of self-examination.  This is not popular with many people for a number of reasons we don’t have time to unpack in this humble offering. Over the years, spiritual self-examination, especially during the seasons of Advent and Lent, have been a key part of the Christian faith in general and for Methodists in particular.  This self-examination comes about with the assistance of prayer, Bible reading, times of self-reflection, service through the church, small groups, and any number of other spiritual disciplines.

The Apostle Peter cautions God’s people to “Be on guard.” We all know too well that temptations abound, including participation in things which are less than “holy” or God-like.

You might recall that in a sermon I preached some time ago from Jonah 1, we saw that “when we choose not to follow God’s will, Satan always has a boat waiting to take us to Tarshish.” In other words, when we make choices that are contrary to God’s, in thought, word, or deed, we run the risk of going in the wrong direction spirituality and even in more practical ways.  This is why John Wesley echoed the Scriptures in reminding Christians to be on guard, praying constantly to Jesus Christ and not allow any sin to be present in our lives.  Notice especially the second paragraph below.

In a sermon he wrote and preached in 1777, “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection,” John Wesley said the following:

In the greatest temptations, a single look at Christ, even barely saying his name, does the job of overcoming the wicked one, just as long as you say his name with confidence and calmness of spirit.”  

Wesley then adds, “As dangerous winds enter at little openings, so the devil enters most dangerously by little, unobserved incidents.  Those incidents seem nothing, yet unknowingly they open hearts to great temptation.  

Therefore, renew yourself from time to time, closely examining the state of your soul.  Do it as if you never did it before.  Nothing encourages the full assurance of faith more than keeping yourself by this means of humility, and by the exercise of all the good works you do” 

——   John Wesley, 1777

 
Great advice from the Scriptures and from John Wesley. As we continue of journey through Advent, may we take time for self-reflection inviting the Holy Spirit to guide us, helps us, and prepare us for the Christ child once again.

Shalom,

Pastor Jim

 

Pastor Jim’s sermon that’s presented in the below post isn’t the same one he mentioned above, but his thoughts in the below message can guide us on our path forward…

 

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