Resisting Temptation

On October 15, 2018, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Resisting Temptation Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Let us dwell together in peace, and may we not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. Jesus in wilderness for 40 days/40 nights… Idiom = long time…period of challenge that leads to breakthrough […]

Resisting Temptation
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Let us dwell together in peace, and may we not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression; and now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

Jesus in wilderness for 40 days/40 nights…
Idiom = long time…period of challenge that leads to breakthrough or achievement or relief. It’s not a literal 40 days necessarily. It could be a shorter or even longer period of time. It just means a long time.
40 days rain (Gen 7)
Moses sent spies to explore Canaan for 40 days
Kings reigned for 40 years
Goliath challenged Israelites for 40 days
Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai
Elijah spent 40 days walking
Jonah gave Nineveh 40 days warning

Used over and over to signify a time of working through something, sorting things out, or waiting for things to improve The wait may be long, but and the temptation may be to give up, but don’t give up. It’s worth the wait.

Temptation to doubt his sacred value: If you are God’s child…
Most of our fears come from a mistaken belief that we could ever be separated from God. But that isn’t possible. Remember, there’s not a spot where God is not.

Jesus is then tempted to break his fast (spiritual practice)…
Temptation says:
Give up your spiritual discipline.
Give up making time every day for prayer and meditation.
Give up studying the scriptures.
Give up making weekly worship a priority.
Give up worshiping with your tithes.
Give up practicing affirmations.
Give up your spiritual practices.

But Don’t give them up! They will sustain you. They will carry you when you’re too tired or hurt to carry yourself.

Temptation quoted scripture at Jesus to manipulate, shame, and hurt him. The texts weren’t misquoted, they were just misused.
Don’t fall for it!

“What if they’re right”(the people using scripture to shame or intimidate us)?
They’re not. When people use scripture as a weapon to tear you down they are using it demonically. Don’t buy it!

Jesus was then tempted to ignore his values:
To Give up on justice for all.
To Give up on caring for the least of these.
To Give up on equality and fairness.
To Give up on compassion and generosity.
To Ditch it all for personal gain, privilege, and power.

Don’t do it! Don’t give away your soul, your light, your beauty. don’t believe the lie that there isn’t enough for all of us. Yes, we deserve the best; we ALL deserve the best. We don’t have to cheat anyone to have enough. We don’t have turn away from the struggling to have enough. There is enough to satisfy every person’s need, though, perhaps, not enough to satisfy every person’s greed.

Jesus resisted temptation.
He denied that the temptations, the fears, the sense of notenoughness had any power over him. And he affirmed his truth in the wake of the denials. And angels came and ministered to him.

40…the trials may seem long…don’t give up. The rains may come, but the waters will eventually subside.
The journey may be winding, and you may feel lost along the way, but you will eventually get to a land full of promise.
You may be stuck on a mountain, but mountaintops provide a great view.
The giants may torment you for a long time, but their day will come…the bigger they are, the harder they fall.
Resist the temptation to give up too soon!

Resist the temptation to doubt your sacred value.
You are part and parcel of God. You are God’s miracle and not God’s mistake. You are part of the creation that God calls very good.
Resist the temptation to doubt your innate goodness.
God is omnipresent, so I am in and part of God’s presence, so I share in the goodness of God. I am a child of God and divine joy is my inheritance.

And don’t phone in your faith.
Church isn’t just for holidays or when you don’t find anything better to do.
Spiritual texts aren’t just background noise in a worship service. Prayer isn’t just grace at holiday dinners. Tithing isn’t spare change.

Commit to your spiritual practices and never let anyone or anything take them from you. They will lead you to deeper trust in God and that trust will lift you up when circumstances have brought you low.

Resist the temptation to ignore your faith practices. They really can lead to miracles.

Resist the temptation to let religion be used against you.
If someone’s religion is about condemning, shaming, controlling, or excluding others, it is misunderstood, misapplied, and misanthropic. No matter who’s selling it, don’t buy it.

Choose instead spiritual views that are uplifting, compassionate, generous, loving, and healing. When people sling religious crap at you,
affirm: I am covered in spiritual teflon; BS just slides right off!

And finally, resist the temptation to give up your hopes.
In our idealistic, optimistic days, we believed that peace was possible, that equal opportunity was our birthright, that equal protection was possible, that we could save the world. We could care for the environment and speak up for the voiceless. We believed the pen was mightier than the sword and that love would win. We believed that the moral arc of the universe was long but it bends toward justice. We knew in our hearts that God is love and divine love leaves no one out.

Sometimes, we are tempted to think that is all terribly naive. Hate seems to be racking up more points these days. Violence is ignored or even rewarded. Rights aren’t always guaranteed and sometimes are even under attack. When the vision is fading, recommit to it. Don’t let the dream disappear. The will to power, oppression, injustice, marginalization of entire communities…those goblins may have their day, but they cannot take our vision of God’s kin-dom away from us.

When things are better, Alleluia! And when they are going in the wrong direction, God give us courage to lift up the dream and breathe new life into it.

Have you been tempted to become pessimistic?
Have you been tempted to disengage?
Have you been tempted to accept something less than God’s best?
Have you been tempted to accept injustice and cruelty in the world?
Have you been tempted to give up hope for your own personal need.

In Jesus’ name, I ask you to resist those temptations, and if you will continue to resist them, I promise there are angels on the way to minister to you. And this is the good news. Amen.

Fear has no power over me.
I am God’s child!
I am forever blessed.
The angels of God’s presence come to my aid.
And I reject any thought to the contrary.

Soaring with the Eagles

On October 8, 2018, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

Soaring with the Eagles Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins Let us dwell together in peace, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen. 20 years ago I walked up on a tiny bird guarding her nest and eggs. […]

Soaring with the Eagles
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins

Let us dwell together in peace, and let us not be instruments of our own or others’ oppression. And now, may God’s word be spoken, may only God’s word be heard. Amen.

20 years ago I walked up on a tiny bird guarding her nest and eggs. She had set up house on the front lawn of the church, and I just walked up to check it out. This tiny little bird let me know unequivocally that I was not welcome near her home. She spread her little blue wings out and cursed me out in bird language. She was ready to take me on!

I was no threat, of course, but she wasn’t taking any chances. She was ready to give everything in defense of that nest and its inhabitants. That’s how much God loves us. Like a mother bird hovering over, caring for, protecting her young.

God is love, and love loves. Love gives what it is. God is love, and divine love is perfect love, a love that casts out fear, a love that rejects no one for any reason.

That may be a comfort for us today.
This has been an anxious couple of weeks for a lot of people. Old wounds in people’s lives have been reopened. Feelings have been triggered. People have witnessed privilege and patriarchy strike with typical brutal force. And some of us are tired, and heartbroken, and afraid.

But I can tell you this: Nothing that has transpired in the halls of power has or ever will change this truth: You are the apple of God’s eye and God will forever bear you up on eagle’s wings.

The pugnacious power of putrid patriarchy time and again ignores the pain that it perpetuates.

And so, we keep working and waiting and hoping and praying and loving. Let us become more determined than ever to keep Jesus’ dream alive. Let us pray with the angels, “Peace on earth; goodwill toward all people.”

In the gospel of Luke, people come to Jesus to warn him that Herod wants to kill him. The kingdom, the empire, the patriarchy, the status quo, the power keepers are not on board with Jesus’ mission of lifting up the downtrodden and healing the heartbroken and affirming the marginalized. And word on the street is Herod is coming for Jesus, but Jesus says, “You tell that old fox, Herod, that I will keep on driving out demons and healing the sick today, tomorrow, and the day after that” (Luke 13.32).

The pendulum swings. There is good news and bad news; there are hills and valleys, seasons of rain and seasons of drought: but somebody can tell patriarchy that come what may, we will keep on confronting diabolical injustice and we will keep giving hope to the hurting and we’re going to do it this year, and next year, and the year after that!

People still heartbroken from Pulse and from school shootings…here, we see you and we grieve with you.

You who were told by religion that you were broken or damaged…here, we see you and we see you as whole and beautiful and innately good.

Those who realize you are more likely to be killed, incarcerated, or discriminated against because of your race…here, we see you and we declare boldly that your lives matter.

Same-gender loving people who waited a lifetime to marry the person you love…here, we see you and we affirm your union and your love always.

Transgender friends, please forgive us for waiting so long to try to hear your stories and understand your struggles…but here, now, we see you and we bless you and we thank God for who you are.

Caribbean neighbors who have been dislocated by brutal storms followed by deadly apathy…here, we see you and we embrace you with open arms.

Women who have found the world too often to be an unsafe place…here, we see you and we hear you and we believe you.

Jesus was in a desert right before he kicked off his ministry. And while he was in the desert, he was tempted. He was tempted to give in to fear, to greed, to despair, to short cuts and cheating and selfishness. Why should he emerge from a desert only to confront empire and wind up with his butt in a sling. There must be easier, more self-gratifying paths to take!

And so temptation came. The first was to abandon his fast. Abandon his spiritual practice. In the end, he refused to relinquish his soul nourishing spiritual practices.

The second temptation was to hurt himself. Why abuse yourself in a misguided attempt to prove that God loves you. That’s twisted thinking. It’s also all too common. Jesus, thankfully, didn’t give in to that temptation either.

The third temptation was the most insidious. The final temptation was that Jesus considered the kingdoms and fortunes of the world. He thought about the benefits of power and privilege and patriarchy. And temptation said, “you can have it all if you worship me.”
If you worship power rather than sharing empowerment, if you tolerate oppression instead of seeking liberation, if you adore hierarchy rather than equanimity, if you embrace an unfettered will to power you can have it all…others may be get hurt or left behind, but you can come out on top.

And Jesus remembered this phrase from the Torah: “Pay homage to god only. God alone is who you must serve.”
There is only one presence and one power in the universe and in me: God the good, God the good, God the good omnipotent.

God the good. God who is love. God who is omnipresence and includes all life. God who is the substance of the whole world. That’s what we worship, and that worship demands justice and generosity and compassion and caring.

Power and privilege and turning his back on those who have been denied justice is not what Jesus was about! So he said, “Get away from me Satan!”
Get away from me temptation to value my own privilege over justice for all.

Jesus wouldn’t reject the hurting, the abused, the victimized, the poor, the sick, the refugee. He wouldn’t abandon those already left in the margins. He could have, and he could have benefitted from the systems of patriarchy, but to that he said, “Get away from me Satan.”
He didn’t change the systems. He didn’t defeat the systems. But he chose to confront them when he could. It cost him his life, but it gave hope and joy to countless other lives.

And so it is that he soared from that desert experience and began a ministry that changed lives and changes lives still.

We may feel like we’re in a desert, but we’re not alone. We’re together. Always together. And when we have one another, even desert sands can become an ocean of hope and empowerment.

With Jesus, we can be mount up on eagles’ wings, our strength can be renewed, we can find ourselves being carried on currents of divine grace today, and we can say no to the temptation to give in to despair, and we can move forward continuing to tell every person who has been wounded, “YOU ARE GOD’S MIRACLE AND NOT GOD’S MISTAKE.”

Friends, “let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” God will sustain us in the desert and care for us; God will guard us as the apple of God’s own eye. As an eagle hovers over her young, covering them with her wings, and bears them up…So God does care for us. And, as we are God’s hands, let us care for one another…in the name of God: Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Amen.

Heal me deeply, O God.
Fill me with peace, hope, and joy.
I receive your blessings with gratitude.
And I share them gladly.

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