Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Hold True

Devotion: Philippians 3:15-16

The Apostle Paul resumes his thought from 3:3 where he stated, "For we are the circumcision who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh." The next paragraph (3:4-14) is a description of the Apostle setting aside his confidence in the flesh and describing the life of faith as one of humble reliance upon Christ Jesus in all things.
The Apostle describes the basic posture of the Christian life as humility--not a self-deprecating attitude, but one that puts the self in proper relationship to God, to creation and to other people. This posture, though one necessarily adopted in faith, is one that is developed over time. It is a bit like developing good posture in the literal sense (we sit up, we strengthen the back, and little-by-little, our posture improves). The Apostle here indicates that the life of faith characterized by humble reliance of Christ is both something we attain and something we are attaining.
"Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained." -Philippians 3:15-16
Maturity comes when we surrender to Christ day-by-day. This leads to a change of heart and mind that take hold immediately and continue to take hold each day. The Apostle is so sure of this view, that our confidence is only and ever in Christ and never in the self, that he claims everyone who is growing in faith, becoming mature, will come to this same conclusion.
So where do we find ourselves? We are somewhere between starting out and finishing up. The question is not if we are totally perfect, but rather are we being perfected? The Apostle suggests that we should receive and hold onto what we have been given by God in faith, but also be open to the Lord giving more and leading us to greater maturity in faith. In this we have comfort that God is still doing a work in us. So, let us hold true to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and see God perfect us.

News for You:

  • CPC is having a Rummage Sale coming up Friday 3/31 and Saturday 4/1 from 9 am-4 pm each day. The sale will benefit Camp Chelan.
  • Holy Week services are as follows:
    • Maundy Thursday (4/13): A service of confession and communion at CPC 7 p.m.
    • Good Friday (4/14): Community worship service at Cornerstone at 7 p.m.
    • Resurrection Sunday (4/16): A service of celebration at CPC 10 a.m

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Going and Arriving

Devotion: Philippians 3:13-14

The Apostle Paul placed resurrection (and the perfection it entailed) clearly as the goal or end of Christian life. After noting that Christ has claimed the Apostle as his own, he reiterates that he has not yet arrived at perfected resurrection life. Instead, he views his life as a form of pilgrimage, a religiously-motivated journey toward the goal.
"Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."-Philippians 3:13-14
The place of the Christian life is to make movement toward the goal--and that goal is Christ and his resurrection life. What can hang up on this journey is the emphasis on arrival rather than taking stock of movement. It's a bit like when a child asks, "When do we get there?" The child desires arrival and does not see the progress of the going. The Apostle encourages us all to lean forward and move toward Christ by breaking with past accomplishments and past sins. Only Christ matters in the end--his resurrection is the goal and his call is the prize itself.
Take a moment and thank God for the movement you are making toward the Savior. Ask the Spirit to realign your heart to the goal. Seek Christ and his upward call and find that the things of the past that held you back fade away.

News For You:

  • A BIG shout out to our crew (Joe, Kurt, Jim, Butch, Randy, John and Bill) that helped change lights and put in the projection system in the Sanctuary. You WILL notice some changes this Sunday.
  • We could use help to staff our Rummage Sale coming up Friday 3/31 and Saturday 4/1. The sale will benefit Camp Chelan.
  • Holy Week services are as follows:
    • Maundy Thursday (4/13): A service of confession and communion at CPC 7 p.m.
    • Good Friday (4/14): Community worship service at Cornerstone at 7 p.m.
    • Resurrection Sunday (4/16): A service of celebration at CPC 10 a.m

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Christ Has Made Me His Own

Devotion: Philippians 3:12

In our passage this week the Apostle Paul takes a moment to make a distinction that many of us are not expecting in our current context. We have no suspicion or inclination that the resurrection of the dead has already taken place. How do you know? We can visit a cemetery and see first hand that people who have died are still dead. Yet in the Apostle's day, with the freshness of the faith and eschatological hopes running high, there was a real suspicion by some that the general resurrection (as opposed to the specific resurrection of Jesus) had already taken place. We catch hints of this in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 2 Timothy 2:14-19 How does the Christian think about death? In 1 Thessalonians, the Apostle is challenging the notion that those who die are somehow being judged unworthy of eternal life and that it is living who have been resurrected already and will live eternally. Instead, the Apostle keeps intact the Jewish notion of the general resurrection (of which Christ's resurrection was a foretaste, a future event brought into the present as a guarantee of sorts and source of hope) and dismisses the idea that those who die are somehow to be found outside of the Kingdom of God at the final judgment. Instead, death, as an enemy defeated by Christ, for the Christian, is a death to sin and death, but a welcome into glory. What's more, the general resurrection will mean the dead in Christ will live anew and eternally with him. To teach that the resurrection had already taken place (as the heretics named in 2 Timothy 2 taught) was to exclude those who had died in the Lord from eternal life and to privilege the living as the only true faithful. This is to fall into the trap that G.K. Chesterton identified as the "oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about."
The Apostle, in rejecting and refuting any claim he had to righteousness based upon his own works, put himself completely into the arms of Christ Jesus for salvation.
"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." -Philippians 3:12 ESV
Paul did not consider his present circumstance (suffering in prison) to be resurrected and glorified life. Instead, he saw his own resurrection and perfection in the future. To be sure the resurrection of the perfect God-man was a sign and seal that the Apostle would, through faith and the subsequent righteousness of Christ in that faith, obtain resurrection and perfection. It is the Christ who enables this pressing on toward resurrected perfection because through faith, Christ Jesus has made the Apostle his own.
And that is where we all must stand today. In faith, Christ Jesus claims us as his own. Through faith the atoning work of Jesus Christ upon the cross is applied to our lives consistently and constantly by the Holy Spirit. We have hope of resurrected perfection because we belong to Jesus. In the end, this is the only hope that can last and be assured. So, no matter the circumstance, it is our belonging to Christ that enables and empowers us to press on toward him.

News for You:

  • We are in need of a few good workers March 20-25. We are changing lights in the sanctuary and fellowship hall and could use plenty of help to construct and move around some scaffolding. In addition, we are doing some work to update our system of projection in the sanctuary.
  • A Rummage Sale to support Camp Chelan will take place March 31-April 1. We could use items to sell and help to sell them.
  • Holy Week services are as follows:
    • Maundy Thursday (4/13): A service of confession and communion at CPC 7 p.m.
    • Good Friday (4/14): Community worship service at Cornerstone at 7 p.m.
    • Resurrection Sunday (4/16): A service of celebration at CPC 10 a.m

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Christ or Everything Else

Devotion: Philippians 3:8-11

After recounting the reason the Apostle Paul would have for confidence in his own merit, he quickly dismisses any of these as they are of no value when compared with knowing Christ:
"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead." -Philippians 3:8-11 (ESV)
The Apostle basically has a choice. He can choose everything else or Christ. He can attempt to stand on his own adherence to the Law or faith in Christ Jesus. He can put forward his own righteousness or be found covered in the righteousness of Christ. The Apostle is clear that the first, standing on his own, will lead to eternal death and the latter, faith in Christ, will lead to eternal life. The cost of everything, then, is worth it to receive Christ.
Now, as the Apostle Paul was in prison and awaiting trial for his life because of the proclamation of the Gospel his mention of sharing in the suffering of Christ is more than academic. He really was suffering for Christ. To many suffering is a sign of God's disfavor, but to the Christian who understands that our salvation comes through the suffering of Christ, to suffer is to draw closer to Christ and appreciate all the more just how wonderful is our salvation.
There is indeed nothing that compares to the wonder of salvation through faith in Christ. Like the Apostle, may we all consider everything else that would shape and define who we are and what we do as rubbish.

News for You:

  • Do not forget to spring forward one hour this week (3/11) for Daylight Saving Time or risk being late to church!
  • The Green Potluck will be this Sunday, March 12. Please bring something green to share.
  • Holy Week services are as follows:
    • Maundy Thursday (4/13): A service of confession and communion at CPC 7 p.m.
    • Good Friday (4/14): Community worship service at Cornerstone at 7 p.m.
    • Resurrection Sunday (4/16): A service of celebration at CPC 10 a.m.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Sackcloth and Ashes

Note: We are taking a break from our series in Philippians this week. We will return to the series next Wednesday.

Devotion: Matthew 11:20-24

Ashes being prepared from last year's palms for our service today.
Today, March 1, 2017, is the first today of the liturgical season of Lent. If you search your Bible for Lent I assure you that you will not find it as it was created by men as a lead up to the celebration of Resurrection Sunday (this year on April 16). The Church recognized that the call of the Gospel is to faith in Christ, but that faith leads us to repentance--a turning from sin to God in a continual, faithful way that yields the fruit worthy of repentance as a result. While every day in the life of the Christian should be an exercise in repentance, it is useful to have a time in the life of the Christian to have a season when repentance takes a place of prominence.
As Jesus went about his earthly ministry he indicated that the proclamation of the Gospel in the form of miracles, should have resulted in repentance, symbolized in the Old Testament by the wearing of sackcloth and ashes.
"Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 'Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.' " -Matthew 11:20-24 ESV
 For the Christian today, we have the miracle of faith that leads us to a salvation in Christ. As a result, it is right for us to repent and even to set aside seasons in our lives when repentance is of prime importance. If you are in a place when repentance is needed (which is everyone always), then come and take the symbol of ashes and sackcloth today and seek God in prayer, in fasting and in devotion to turn from sin and to turn to His will. Let this season be an open time of confession, but also of moving away from sinful patterns and into godly ones. It is not enough to merely stop sinning, we must take up faith in its place for it to be true repentance. This is not an instantaneous act, but one that takes place over time. As we enter this season, I invite you to a time of repentance. Come to Jesus and lay down the burden of sin and take up his yoke of faith. Let repentance be the work of the Spirit in your life to remove sin and bind you to the Savior as you find your rest in his love, grace, mercy and forgiveness.

News for You:

Our Ash Wednesday services will be today, March 1, at noon and 7 p.m. The short services are an open invitation to a season of repentance.