Christ’s Example (Humility)

cross-1872550_640.jpgSeventeenth Sunday after Pentecost (October 1, 2017)


Philippians 2:1-13 | New Living Translation (NLT)

Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,
    he did not think of equality with God
    as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
    he took the humble position of a slave
    and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
    and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
    and gave him the name above all other names,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.


This past summer, this passage was given new meaning as I took a seminar at Refresh (which is the Western New York Family Camp.)  This is an interesting passage. One that I have looked at many times before, but each time I see it in a slightly different way.  Interestingly enough, we used this passage tonight at our worship celebration at Emmaus Road.  Pastor Terri talked about unity…which comes from humility.  This passage tells us about Christ’s humility and Paul is encouraging his readers to have the same characteristics as Jesus had.  Look at the first few verses – look what Paul is asking the church.  Since the church belongs to Christ…since there is comfort from his love…since we have fellowship in the Spirit…since our hearts are tender and compassionate…we should be unified, loving one another, working together with one mind and purpose.  This looks like a list that we also saw in Romans – Don’t be selfish, don’t try to impress others, be humble, look out for the interests of others above your own.

Paul is reminding his readers that these are the characteristics of Christ and then goes on to quote one of the two oldest hymns of the church (the other one found in Colossians 1:15-20.  This is a hymn of Christ’s humbleness and God’s exaltation of Christ.  The word we would use for that is Kenosis – Christ emptied himself and God exalted him.  Jesus who was God, emptied himself – gave up his divine privileges and came to earth to save us. We talk about this at Christmas when we talk of the incarnation – that is, Jesus coming to us in human form – fully God, fully man and yet Christ was completely helpless, having to be fed by Mary. He was obedient to God.  We are called to be obedient to God.  Christ relied on the Holy Spirit and we are to rely on the Holy Spirit as well.  Christ – fully God – fully man died on the cross to save us from our sins.  Then God raised him up on the third day and then 40 days later Christ was elevated to the place of highest honor – the right hand of God the Father. And as this early Christ hymn finishes…there is coming a day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.

For now, Christ calls those who take his name to follow his example – have the same characteristics and have the same attitude as Jesus himself.

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Sunday Night Thoughts

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I think the weather is confused. Here we are on the last Sunday of September and the mercury has gotten to 85 degrees.  It was a warm morning in church – the last week has been warm – actually hot.  It has made it tough to run in the afternoons.

I’m writing early because we are having the first of our family movie nights.  We are showing the Disney classic, “The Aristocats.” We are trying to reach out to young families in our community.  The festivities kick off at 6, so I thought I would get this in early.

This past week, I had the opportunity to lead worship at out monthly district pastor’s gathering.  I always enjoy leading worship at events like this because as soon as you start, people are usually engaged.  Later that day we picked up daughter and two children and brought them back to Eldred with us.  Tomorrow we go back to Buffalo to pick up Michael.

It was good to be back after a week off. We had a wonderful service this morning.  I preached on going to the next level.  What will it take for us (McCrae Brook) to go to the Next Level as a church.  It was challenging for me to preach and I’m know the message was challenging for the congregation as well.

I think I’m finally recovered from my cold that I caught while in Virginia last week.  The heat this week, made it difficult to get runs in but I modified my workout to make it happen.  That’s about all I have for this week.  Looking forward to what God has in store this week.

 

Prayer for the Week

cropped-cropped-cropped-worship111.jpgGrant us, Lord, not to be anxious about earthly things, but to love things heavenly; and even now, while we are placed among things that are passing away, to hold fast to those that shall endure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Live for Christ

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16th Sunday after Pentecost – September 24, 2017


Philippians 1:21-30 | New Living Translation (NLT)

For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.

Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.


We have finished our journey through Romans and now will take a short look at Paul’s letter to the church at Philippi.  Philippians is a missionary support letter – from Paul to the church at Philippi.  He wants to let the church know how things are going.  Compared to the letter of Romans, this letter is short, but it is a powerful short letter.

Paul begins the letter with a salutation and then thanks to the church and a prayer. This is followed by Paul telling about some of his current circumstances.  We often think that Philippians is a letter about joy – and that can certainly be said of it, but wait…there’s more…much more.  Our passage today gets to the heart of the whole letter – living for Christ – living as a citizen of heaven.

Paul writes: “For to me, living means living for Christ…” That should be the aim for every one who calls themselves a Christian.  He goes on to say that if he continues to live, he can do more fruitful work for Christ.  We are getting near the end of Paul’s life here and he says I want to live for Christ, but dying is even better…Paul is torn. I’ve seen saints reach the end of their life and they talk about going home.  Paul is torn – he wants to live for Christ, but he also longs to see Jesus face to face. He also knows that he still has work to be done, being fruitful for Christ…doing the work that Christ has called him to do.

He knows the churches under his care still need his teaching.  The desire of his heart is to help the believers grow and experience joy in their faith.  Paul says it is better for the sake of the believers here that he stays on this earth and help them live as citizens of heaven.

What does a citizen of heaven do?  Paul tells us that they must conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.  I think we can draw parallels in what it means to be a good citizen of a country and a good citizen of heaven.  As a citizen of heaven, we want to promote it…we want to live lives that are worthy of it.  We want people to know that Jesus came, Jesus died, Jesus rose again, and Jesus is coming again – after all that is the Good News.  Not only do we let people know about the kingdom, but we fight for it – don’t be intimidated by our enemies.  I think one of the things that I want to point out here is let’s identify the correct enemy.  Other believers – other denominations are not our enemy.  Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers of another kingdom.  Paul says, I know you are standing together – with one spirit – with one purpose.  This is unity of the body of Christ.  So many times we think unity is everyone thinking or doing the same thing, but it is unity in spirit – having the mind of Christ. It is unity in purpose – contending for the faith, sharing the Good News, doing the fruitful work of Christ that Paul is talking about here.  As Paul says, and I’ve said to our church here at McCrae Brook, “We are in this struggle together.” So live for Christ, be fruitful in doing his work, be of one mind (the mind of Christ), be of one spirit and be of one purpose…That is how we are citizens of heaven and live for Christ.