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In Very Nature God

As we continue our study of this Philippian hymn, we encounter this tiny little phrase with deep theological
significance. We are told Jesus is “in very nature God”. Orthodox Christian teaching holds that Jesus is fully man and
fully God. In some way we cannot fully understand that he was both a living, breathing, physically human being, but also
God in every sense of the word. 100% man and 100% God. This may sound like meaningless philosophical mumbo
jumbo, but it is of utmost importance. Jesus was the mediator between God and man. If he was all Divine and not man, he
could not have taken our place on the cross. If he was all human and not divine, his death would not cancel all of
humanity’s debt.

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Attitude of Christ

In Philippians 2 we find a poetic description of Christ’s humility. Many scholars believe that Paul is
actually quoting a poem or hymn the church already knew. We will be looking at this powerful passage over the
next few weeks. The first line is:
 
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus”. The King James says, “Let this mind be in you,
which was also in Christ Jesus.” Sometimes when we hear the word attitude, we think either of having a
positive attitude and smiling all the time, or a teenage rebel having an attitude and adamantly defying someone.

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Where Do I Start?

For those who missed my sermon yesterday, here is my suggested Bible reading plan:
Mark, Acts, James, Romans, Philippians, 1-3 John, Genesis, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel,
1 and 2 Kings
 
The rationale is that Mark is a great introduction into the life of Jesus. Acts is the sequel to the gospels and
describes the early church. James because it’s incredibly practical and easy to read. Romans succinctly conveys
a great deal of theology. Philippians and 1-3 John are short, easy to read, and give a good sampling of the other
letters. Then we go back to the Old testament and read the history books pretty much in order. Once you make I
through this list, you can tackle pretty much any book in the Bible.


Trouble in Paradise

In Genesis chapter one, every time God makes something He calls it good. The earth is good. The trees are
good. The birds and fish are good. The animals are good. But then in Genesis chapter two, there is one thing
that is not good: for man to be alone. This is before the Fall. The world is idyllic and unmarred by sin. Yet still,
in this paradise, there is something that is not good. To fix this, God forms Eve to be the perfect partner for
Adam. Most times I have read or studied this passage, the theologians speak of the institution of marriage.
Rightly so! That is clearly mentioned in this passage. But in our Sunday School discussion yesterday, we
discussed how in our modern, pandemic-affected world, “It is not good for man to be alone” has taken on a
different layer of meaning. The past several months have been a challenge for many as they we isolated in
homes, away from friends and family. Nursing homes and hospitals restricted visitation, often completely. In
the midst of this profound isolation and loneliness, we have lived out the truth that “it is not good for man to be
alone.” Today, give a call to someone who might be alone. You might just be that lifeline of friendship in a
dark time.


Oh, Say, Can You See

Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the Star-Spangled Banner while on a British ship during the bombardment
of Fort McHenry. Key, a loyal American, was unable to do anything but watch as the British bombarded the
fort. Through the darkness of the night, it was difficult to tell what was happening. Had the fort surrendered?
Had they held out? Would they fly the white flag of surrender, or the star-spangled banner? It wasn’t until “the
dawn’s early light” that Key could see which flag was waving. In relief and joy, he saw the flag of his new
country, flying true in the midst of the battle.
 
Sometimes as Christians, in the dark of the night, we can question if God is still in control. Does He see what is
happening? Does He even care? But when the morning comes, we realize He has been there all along. Today, if
you are going through a battle in the night, with bombs bursting in air all around you, take heart, because our
God still stands.


Trusting When It’s Hard

Saul tore his gaze from the backs of yet another pair of soldiers running off into the woods long enough
to glance up at the sky. The sun was sinking lower. Less than an hour till sundown. The soldiers that remained
were shaken, almost literally. They jumped at every sound, and their heads darted from side to side like a
nervous bird. They too would flee at the first sight of danger.
 
How had they come to this? He started with 3,000 fresh troops, giddy from the victory Saul’s son
Jonathan had achieved over the Philistines. Samuel was supposed to show up, offer the sacrifices, and then the
battle could begin. Now, seven days later, fear latched onto the soldiers. Too much time to sit, with nothing to
stop them from dwelling on thoughts of the more numerous and technologically superior Philistines that could
attack at any moment. Day by day, more men deserted until Saul’s army shrank to the mere 600 men still with
him.
 
Something had to be done. Didn’t God make Saul King? These men are his responsibility. The very war
itself is his burden to bear. And who knows what happened to Samuel. He could have been captured. Killed!
The Philistines aren’t the only threats out there. One man alone could fall victim to highwaymen or even to wild
animals driven into frenzy by hunger. Should Saul keep waiting for what may never come?
 
So Saul stood up, and grabbed a branch from the campfire, the far end blazing like a torch. “Bring the
sacrifice!” he shouted. The men looked up, hesitant. Slowly, a few rose to their feet and went to the animal
pens. Moments later, the sacrifice was completed, and Saul could see the men’s spirit rising.
 
“What have you done?” Samuel’s voice lashed out of the near darkness. Saul jumped in spite of himself.
Saul was King, but Samuel made him feel like a young child standing before the principal. “You acted
foolishly,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would
have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has
sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the
LORD’s command.”
 
At first glance, this might seem harsh. Saul was doing what he thought best. But he defied the explicit
command of God. Think about your life. There have probably been times that you thought, “I know God says
this, but surely he would understand. My situation is different.” And so we defy God’s commands, but God is
never glorified by our disobedience. And our own lives are harmed by our disobedience as well. When God
leads, our responsibility is to follow.


Adoption

Often people who know we have adopted and do foster care will ask, “How many of the kids are
yours?”. We always answer, “They all are.” But then will proceed to try to answer the question they meant to
ask, which is usually, “How many are biological?”. Early in our marriage, I was somewhat resistant to adoption.
I had all the usual questions. Would I be able to love a child that didn’t share my DNA? Would it be the same as
having a biological child? Those questions and fears kept me resistant for some time.
 

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Traditions

At the last Kewanee Ministerial Association meeting the other ministers began discussing Ash Wednesday, the
best way to make or purchase ashes, and how to best apply the ashes. When I mentioned that our church doesn’t celebrate
Ash Wednesday, it was met with surprise. Then, this past Sunday, our Sunday School class began discussing traditions
and the pros and cons associated with them. It reminded me about my visit one time to a Greek Orthodox Church. The
Priest told me, “The difference between your church and mine is that you just have the Bible, and we have the Bible and
tradition. So if you didn’t have the Bible, you would have nothing, but we still would have tradition.” This always stuck
with me because I thought and the time, and still think today, that tradition that has no connection with the scripture is not
a good foundation for a church.

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Words to Build a Life On

I have had several conversations recently about the reliability of the scriptures. I’m thrilled that
people are talking about this, because the scriptures are the foundation of what we teach and preach at
FCC, and it is quite natural for people to make sure that foundation is secure before building their life on
it.

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Denominations

Question: Why do we have so many different denominations within our churches. I didn’t really see Jesus going around
preaching Baptist agenda or Methodist agenda or FCC agenda. Why and where did this take place? Jesus just preached the word and people just seemed to accept it but how and why did that change into so many different things and beliefs over small things and big things.

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