MONDAY MINUTES With Pastor Chris McCool (11/9/2020)

We certainly live in tumultuous times, don’t we? We often lament our present circumstances, and sometimes even become depressed about what is going on in and around our lives. What should we be focused on in such troubled times?

Well, let’s look at what was a comfort to the Apostle Paul. Paul wrote the Philippian letter while in prison in Rome. Prison is not a nice place, especially in Rome! But in this letter, Paul does not lament his present circumstances. Rather, the purpose of the letter appears to be to thank and encourage this sweet church that had meant so much to him in his ministry! In chapter 3, he describes his own focus while under persecution, in verse 10 sets forth his whole purpose in life: “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death. . . .” Phil. 3:10.

Did you notice the focus in this verse? It’s on “Him”, not “me”! Paul realized that focusing upon his own terrible circumstances would lead him to despair, whereas focusing on the Savior would bring him peace and comfort. There are three things in view here:

First, Paul focuses upon the person of Jesus – that I may know HIM. Remember, my friends, that Jesus is a real, living, loving Person! He is not some impersonal god who sits in the heavens like some distant potentate, untouchable and unapproachable. No, our Jesus is a REAL person who walked the dusty roads of this sin-cursed world, who wept at the graveside of a friend, who cuddled little children in His arms, and fellowshipped daily with His friends! Heb. 2:14-7 tells us, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.”

And He is the most amazing Person Who ever lived! He is the Son of God (Mark 1:1), and also the Son of Man (Luke 1). He is the Savior of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), and the Seeker of the lost (Luke 19:10). He is the great Sympathizer with the suffering (Heb. 2:10, 4:15). He is the Supervisor of legions of angels (Mat. 26:53), yet the Pursuer of little children (Mark 10:14). What an amazing God is He!

Second, Paul focuses us on the power of His resurrection. The resurrection placed the punctuation mark on the redemptive work of Christ – it was the final act of approval by God, proof positive to us that the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was accepted by God the Father! It was resurrection power that placed us in a position of sonship with God, and points us to the ultimate hope of our lives – the final Resurrection of the body, when Jesus comes back to set all things right!

But Paul knew that, whereas we should focus on the “sweet by and by,” we dwell in the “nasty here and now.” He knew that we need guidance in our daily walk! And Paul tells us how to live a resurrected life here and now. He says, “but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:11-14). What he is telling us is basically this: “I have been apprehended (captured, or laid hold upon) by Jesus for all eternity; while I live here and now on the earth, I want to begin to enjoy that eternal life by apprehending (laying hold of) myself!” The picture here is of a father and small child, holding hands as they walk together. The father has a tight grip on the child, but the child continues to squirm to try to get his hand out of the father’s stronger hand. The father looks at the child and says, “Son, hold my hand! I have you and won’t let you go, but I want to feel YOU holding on to me as well!” Paul says his goal is to “hold on” to the God Who is holding on to him!

Finally, Paul points us toward the sufferings of Christ, and describes our experience here as “fellowship” with that. When we suffer, we should not be surprised or shocked – Jesus Himself promised that tribulations would come (John 16:33); but He said He would be holding onto us during these tribulations, and that we should endeavor to hold onto Him as well.

In these troubled times, I pray you will hold onto this wonderful, personal, ever-to-be-adored, everlasting Friend of Sinners! He truly is the ONLY hope for us in this sin-cursed world.

In Christ,

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor