Call to Worship & Opening Prayer — Psalm 105:1-4 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!
Quiet Meditation — Psalm 107:8-9 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
Pastor James challenged us with Romans 8:28 as our fighter verse this week. I believe “challenged” is the proper word because although we are believers and know our eternal destiny, it can be hard to be positive as we look at our situation. During the past year we have faced unprecedented times due to a global pandemic that has not been previously encountered. Our lives have been challenged due to mandatory adjustments to our lifestyles in an attempt to arrest the spread of the coronavirus. We have been forced into relative isolation and limited exposure to activities and products we normally rely on. What positive message or result can we take from this experience?
Well, I for one am still alive. I know that many have died from the disease. If this happened 100 years ago I don’t doubt that many more would have died. Past epidemics of the bubonic plague, diptheria, rubella, and tuberculosis claimed many lives. My father lost two siblings he never met because they died from epidemic diseases as infants before he was born. Today we are blessed to have well trained and creative medical and scientific professionals who were able to find ways to mitigate the spread of the disease, and create new types of vaccines to help prevent its spread.
The message of Romans 8:28 is to trust that God will provide a positive outcome for all of life’s problems and events for those who have joined His family as believers in His Son. Although our minds know this as a fact, our emotions can still feel worn down in a way that leaves us unsettled and anxious. Sometimes music helps to ease my worries and help me return to a happier place mentally. Often Christian music or hymns helps to remind me of God’s place in my life. Pastor James’ devotional brought to mind another song that enters my mind from time to time. While it isn’t a hymn or even a Christian song specifically in message, it reminds me of the beauty in God’s creation and of good in the world. It is actually a medley of two songs, both popular in their original versions, performed in a unique way.
In 1992 my brother Jeff and I went to Hawai’i on vacation. It was my first visit there, and it would turn out to be Jeff’s only visit. We were introduced to an incredibly beautiful land, met many warm and hospitable people, and were introduced to a unique history and culture. Part of that culture that has stuck with me to the present is a great appreciation of Hawaiian music and musicians.
At the time one of the most popular musicians of the time was a giant of a man in stature, ability, and impact as an ambassador for native Hawaiians. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (often called simply “Iz”) stood about 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighed a great deal throughout his life. He came almost entirely from native Hawaiian blood, a rarity in Hawai’i even during the 1990’s. It is believed that he had some of the royal Hawaiian bloodline in his heredity. He had a great love of his land and his people, and did his best to promote respect for them. He was blessed with talent in being able to relate to people, play the ukulele, and most of all, sing. He had both a rich natural baritone voice that he used for some songs, and a golden floating Hawaiian falsetto tenor voice that he used in others. Whatever he performed, he had what I call “the touch”– the ability to sense the right feeling and emotion to deliver the message he wanted to deliver. His producer Jon de Mello described his sound:
“For reasons that cannot be adequately explained or understood, people feel good when they hear his voice, they feel safe and they feel happy. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from. It doesn’t matter whether you are a truck driver or a movie star. That indefinable unique characteristic which is at the core of all great music burns bright in Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s voice. It is for that reason that Hawaiians worldwide consider him their standard bearer.” (from Iz’s biography at https://izhawaii.com).
He passed away at age 38 from respiratory failure in 1998. His body laid in state at ‘Iolani Palace in Honolulu, an honor normally reserved for the royal family. Thousands of people came to pay their respects. Although he has been gone almost 23 years his songs have become standards in Hawai’i. I have been to Hawai’i a number of times, and have never failed to hear many of his songs on many occasions. They are a part of the musical soundtrack for Hawai’i. Many people have been blessed by his somewhat short life.
The song (actually medley of two songs) that comes to mind is one that probably most have you have heard– “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World.” It was recorded in a sound studio in the middle of the night, in one take. It’s amazing to me that the song so often heard by so many was performed for its official recording just once. When I hear this I can close my eyes and feel a sense of calm and appreciation for the good and beauty in the world. It takes me away from worries about other things that by comparison are pretty temporary.
I have attached the song. I hope that listening to it will give you a few minutes of peace and remind you that God is bigger than our temporary problems, and that He will make everything work to our good if we devote ourselves to Him.
Our fighter verse for this week continues from our study last Sunday morning – Romans 8:28.
And enjoying this update from our staff in Uganda!
This Sunday morning we will continue in the Gospel of Luke – Luke 22:63-71.
And we will be coming together for the Lord’s Supper!
And a reminder of the challenge before us – 3000 steps. There are two ways to accomplish these steps. The first is in your neighborhood. And the second is in our neighborhood (Clague Road). This week take a walk and look for opportunities to see the people in your neighborhood. God has set you down where you live to reach all kinds of people. And also take a walk in our neighborhood and see the people. God has set our church down where we gather to reach all kinds of people. And when we have an opportunity to share about our church, we share about Jesus.
Call to Worship & Opening Prayer | Psalm 103:1-5 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Quiet Meditation | Psalm 103:11-12 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
I try to stay informed about what is happening in the news without dwelling on it to the point of becoming frustrated or depressed. Media coverage anymore tends to be woefully unbalanced, but I will not dwell on that at this time. What I find especially depressing is politicians’ inconsistent actions in regard to their faith. This usually comes in two forms. First, those who claim to have true faith ignore it in making decisions because it isn’t politically expedient. They don’t want constituents angry with them because they acted in a way that doesn’t follow the current “flavor of the day” of societal preferences. Second, those who claim to have faith sometimes adjust their understanding of God’s instruction in Scripture to make it conform to current societal preferences.
This past Saturday I visited a historical site that has been relatively nearby throughout my lifetime, but I had never visited. I visited the McKinley Memorial and tomb in Canton. After my visit I was motivated to do some research. He was born in Niles Ohio, and while he was growing up his family lived there before moving to the town of Poland. As with many leaders his parents were a huge influence on his faith. They were devoted believers and were founding members of the Methodist church they attended in Niles. They went to church at every opportunity, and William developed a strong faith. At 16 he decided to devote himself to God with formal acceptance of Christ, and was immersed in a creek outside of Poland. His mother hoped he would become a minister, but he chose to study law.
He eventually became involved in politics, which led to serving in Congress. He lived much of his adult life in Canton, which he considered his home. He was a member of the Church of Our Savior Methodist Church, and served as the Sunday School superintendent and as a trustee. He devoted daily time to prayer and Bible study, before and during his presidency. He became a member of the Foundry Methodist Church in Washington. It has been noted that he liked to invite friends to the White House on Sunday evenings for hymn sings. He was known to make declarations about how following God’s rules guided him in the decisions he made while President. Even in his time these statements made many other politicians uncomfortable, especially those who didn’t share in his belief in God. In his first inaugural address, he made the following declaration:
“I assume the arduous and responsible duties of President of the United States, relying upon the support of my countrymen and invoking the guidance of Almighty God. Our faith teaches that there is no safer reliance than upon the God of our fathers, who has so singularly favored the American people in every national trial, and who will not forsake us so long as we obey His commandments and walk humbly in His footsteps” — First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1897.
He was guided by his beliefs as he made many decisions, notably helping to fight to overthrow the rule of Spain from both Cuba and the Philippines. Not long after his second term as President began he was shot by an anarchist, and died about a week later. His last words were, “Good-bye, good-bye all. It’s God’s way. His will, not ours, be done. Nearer my God to Thee, nearer to Thee” — September 14, 1901.
David speaks to the attitude that I believe William McKinley used as a pattern for his life, and it is my prayer that all of our leaders would read and pay heed to it:
“I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:7-11).
It is often easier to see negative qualities in our leaders regarding fidelity to God and His teachings. Today current popular opinion usually carries the utmost importance in determining the best course to follow. William McKinley was a leader who didn’t necessarily choose the most popular action, as demonstrated by his choices in dealing with Cuba and the Philippines. He honestly tried to make the decisions he believed God wanted him to make.
I am glad I became more acquainted with President McKinley and his history. Learning about one of our leaders who wasn’t afraid to be led by his faith gives me hope for the future, that there may once again be someone dedicated to God’s law above the law of popular opinion. I hope that becoming acquainted with him strengthens you also.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge;
Quiet Meditation | Isaiah 12:2
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.
“Jesus Looked and Peter Remembered” – Luke 22:54-62
This Sunday, April 25 at 10:00 am, we will come together to worship together. A part of our worship together will be spent in Luke 22:54-62.
And this Sunday, April 25 at 5:00 pm, we will come together to pray together.
I want to emphasize something that was emphasized last Sunday. Worship together and prayer together are not all we do together and not all that we are to do together. But worship together and prayer together are some of the things we are to do together.
And there are all kinds of times to pray together. Praying together does not have to happen every Sunday at 5:00 pm or every Wednesday at 7:00 pm. Praying together is to happen though. Praying together can happen in our worship together. Praying together can happen before our worship together. Praying together can happen after our worship together. Praying together can happen in our community groups. Praying together can happen in our private conversations together.
The point is that praying together is not limited to nor is it to be limited to a weekly schedule of praying together.
The last two weeks we have learned two things regarding prayer. First, we are to pray with purpose (see Luke 22:39-46). Praying with purpose means to know why we are praying – adoring God for who He is; thanking God for what He has done or is doing; asking God to do something; asking God to do something for the sake of others; praying when anxious or afraid or hurting; praying when not knowing what to do or praying when we want to do what we want to do. These are just some examples of what it means to pray with purpose and it applies whether praying alone or with others.
And second, when we pray with purpose we get prepared for whatever it is God allows to come our way (see Luke 22:47-53).
Again, this Sunday evening, we will come together to pray together. It is something that has been on my mind since Good Friday. And we will pray with purpose. And it has to do with being the local church God wants us to be and to do the things as a local church that God wants us to do. We are specifically praying for our church family as a church family.
So, how will we pray together?
First, grab a blank piece of paper and a pen. You will need to do some writing before we come together Sunday. Next…
Adore God for who He is – write this on your blank piece of paper and underneath begin to adore God for who He is. For example, God is our very present help. Why is this so amazing and why does it mean so much? Write this out.
Thank God for what He has done and/or is doing – write this on your blank piece of paper and underneath begin to thank God for what He has done and/or is doing. Write this out.
Psalm 139:23-24 – write this Bible reference on your blank piece of paper and then read it. From what you just read, what is your prayer for yourself? And from what you just read, what is your prayer for our church family? Write this out on your blank piece of paper.
Romans 5:1-5 – write this Bible reference on your blank piece of paper and then read it. From what you just read, what is your prayer for your church family? Write this out on your blank piece of paper.
Saved lives – this is pretty straight forward. We will pray that Calvary Community Church will reach all kinds of people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Write out the words “Saved lives” on your blank piece of paper and underneath write out your prayer that your church family will reach all kinds of people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Revived lives. We will pray that Calvary Community Church will be a part of seeing the joy of salvation restored in the lives of Christians. So, write out the words “Revived lives” on your blank piece of paper and underneath write out your prayer that your church family will be a part of seeing the joy of salvation restored in the lives of Christians.
It is really important that you do the above before we come together to pray together Sunday, April 25 at 5:00 pm. This will be our purpose in praying and how we will pray. Listening to others pray in these ways will help you pray in these ways, too! So, bring a pen with you to add to how you will continue to pray in these ways.
I hope this helps you and encourages you as we look forward to our Sunday together.
Here’s our Bible Reading plan for April 18-24. It is our prayer that this time in God’s Word is helping you continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. How is God revealing the truth of His grace to you through your reading?
If you haven’t yet, you can download and print the Reading Guide here. If you haven’t been reading along with us, it’s not too late! You can catch up or just jump in where we are.
This week’s readings are: Matthew 8 // Psalm 91 Matthew 9 // Psalm 92-93 Matthew 10 // Psalm 94 Matthew 11 // Psalm 95 Matthew 12 // Psalm 96
* This year we are also encouraging you to watch the corresponding overview videos from Bible Project. There are no corresponding “Overview” videos this week. Here’s the first video for Matthew, in case you missed it.