Update Your Status

Philippians 3

Monday, August 22, 2022

Paul had more religious credentials than any of the original twelve apostles of Christ.  His resume started in his infancy.  He was circumcised on the eighth day, his family strictly adhering to God’s rule.  His heritage came from the tribe of Benjamin, who were faithful warriors of God.  He was disciplined and studious, becoming a Pharisee. He passionately persecuted the church, having a direct hand in the stoning of Stephen. In so doing, he obtained and maintained a fleshly status that would easily make him an important member of the Sanhedrin in no time.  But that’s all it was.  Someone who lived with a long list of labels, accomplishments, and titles, but ultimately, will be a victim of the same death as those who live without them.

“If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.”  Philippians 3:4b-6

Status, which once was predetermined by feudal, caste, tribal or class systems, is now something that changes with our emotions or musings. Our connotation of the word has changed with the invention of social media..  The evolution of “status-ifying” oneself, has led to the rapid (d)evolution of a crushing identity problem.  Occupation, education, pronouns, history, trauma, gender, race, family, and religion have become our most featured bullet points. We become these things or sometimes, these identities are thrust upon us.  As unpopular as this messaging may be in my place and time, the words of Paul still ring true: It’s all garbage.  Every. Single. Bit.  Anything that doesn’t have eternal value is a name or stigma I no longer bear under the lordship of Jesus Christ.

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, 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 is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”  Philippians 3:7-9

We are not simply made righteous by calling ourselves Christian.  Neither are we made holy because we’re a good mom, dad, or child.  Nor are we not justified because of our bloodline or heritage.  And we are not forgiven because we found a new definition for the same old sin. We are “status-ified” by Christ. So, what exactly is it?  We are, through faith, redeemed and adopted Children of God. It is not our first status.  It is our ONLY status. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul states there isn’t slave, free, man, woman, Jew, or Greek, meaning every title, other than that achieved through faith in Jesus Christ, is negligible, conditional, or temporary, — even dead. When we acknowledge him, He grabs hold of us and doesn’t let go. His Father calls us to resurrection and the treasure that is stored in heaven, ready to descend with the promised return of Jesus Christ, and on that day, there is only one group placed in the Lamb’s Book of Life: those who are saved by faith in Jesus Christ.  Hit the refresh button, and take a good, long look.  It might be time to update your status.

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:10,11

-Aaron Winner

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. IF you were to follow the ways of the world what COULD you use to give yourself status?
  2. What is the eternal value of each item you listed in question 1?
  3. What will/does it look like to reorder your life to gain Christ instead?

All New!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Ephesians 4

One of the most important things a teacher does at the beginning of the school year is establish and practice procedures and routines. From how to enter and exit a classroom, to how to hand in paperwork, to technology expectations, and even knowing how to interact with partners and small groups – these procedures, when done with consistency and proficiency, will create a positive and inclusive classroom environment. 

One would think that a high school teacher wouldn’t have to spend time on such things, but even sixteen year olds need a reminder every now and then about when it is and when it is not an appropriate time to ask to use the restroom. 

But when these kinds of procedures are practiced throughout a school, it builds a culture of excellence. The standards for behavior and academic performance are raised and students find themselves meeting those expectations. 

As I read through Ephesians chapter four, I recognize Paul explaining to the Ephesian believers what a holy lifestyle should look like; what kind of behaviors are acceptable and the kinds of behaviors that are not – especially when it comes to their attitudes and speech. 

Being a believer in Christ should be reflected in how we think about and present ourselves. We no longer engage in unholy behaviors – that’s the old self. The new self is transformed to be righteous and holy. And this should be evident in our day-to-day interactions with others. 

Paul also explains that as a member of God’s family, we each play an important role. When we collaborate with one another amazing things take place for the sake of the Gospel. 

It is important to note that living a holy lifestyle takes intentional effort – it doesn’t just happen. We have to work at it. Much like a classroom teacher spends significant time at the beginning of the school year establishing procedures, regular reminders are key to maintaining a smooth-running classroom. Likewise, if we intend on continuing to grow up spiritually, we also need regular reminders of what a mature believer says and does. This is why the study of scripture and community fellowship is so valuable. As we associate with like-minded believers we are encouraged to continue putting on the new self and working towards becoming the person God has designed us to be, righteous and holy.

-Bethany Ligon

Application Questions

  1. Looking at Ephesians 4 again, what “old self” attitudes, actions, or mindsets does Paul tell the believers to get rid of. In your own “old self”, what have you been (or are currently, or ought to be) working on removing?
  2. Describe the “new self”.
  3. Looking at your own life, what percentage are you “New Self” – are you still walking around in “old self” socks? What will it take to boost that “new self” percentage higher?



2 Corinthians 12

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

In this section of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he shares with them about the thorn in his flesh. If you notice, we are not told exactly what this thorn is. He even mentions that three times he asked for it to be taken. But the LORD’s response was not that of immediate healing. Rather God left that thorn there, so that through this weakness Paul and others could see the power of God perfected. Paul began to view this thorn as something to keep him humble.

     Let’s think about this in a bit of a different perspective. Have you ever been out walking in the summer? Picture the trees and the birds singing, the warm air on your face and the peace of the moment. Everything is great, that is until you take that next step. Yep, there it is… Something is in your shoe.

     Imagine if it was out of your power to remove that nuisance in your shoe. You are stuck with it and now you have a limp. You cannot walk upright unless you lean on the sturdy walking stick you had brought with you but had been neglecting.

     This stone in your shoe has caused you to rely on something other than your own two feet. Paul’s thorn in his flesh gave him even more of a reason to remain humble and to rely on his God.

     We each have things in our lives that we struggle with. It may be a temptation we face, an insecurity we have, a sickness we carry or the pain of watching a loved one in agony. So often we think that God can only care for us if he is helping us fix these problems and removing these thorns. But scripture tells us that the LORD is near to the broken hearted.

     In Paul’s case, we know the LORD was with Paul. So even if your thorn is still there, it does not mean the LORD is not with you. In fact, that thorn may be the very thing that shows you that He is there. When that thorn gets uncomfortable, lean into the LORD as you would on that walking stick. And look with hope to the day when the LORD will wipe away every tear.

-Hannah Deane

Application Questions

  1. How can you be strong while you are weak? Is there a time you have felt this in your own life? When have you observed it in others?
  2. Why is God’s first priority not to give you everything you want to make yourself comfortable? What does He want instead?
  3. How does pride affect your relationship with others? How does pride affect your relationship with God? Where and how can you weed out some pride and replace it with humility?

Trust Issues

1 Corinthians 16

June 17

1 Corinthians Chapter 16 begins with Paul directing the Corinthians to set aside some money on the first day of the week.  He wants them to budget their charitable donations before they spend their money on other things during the week .  From this chapter alone it may not be immediately clear what the fundraiser was for.   Through supplemental materials we can see that the common consensus was that Paul was raising funds for the Christian Jews living in Jerusalem. They were being persecuted for their Christianity and there were many impoverished widows to support. Paul was collecting donations from many of the Gentile churches he had helped to establish, including the church in Corinth. (Partially sourced from Bibleref.com). Paul does not want to handle the money directly but plans to write letters of reference or maybe even personally  accompany delegates to deliver the money to Jerusalem so that the recipients know they can trust the source.

The chapter also talks about several people that will be visiting the Corinthians.  The Corinthians are instructed to trust and accept these visitors as ministers officially recognized by Paul himself.

Finally Paul closes his lengthy letter with well wishes and invites the Corinthians  to authenticate his handwriting.

As I read this chapter, it seems to me that the Corinthians may have had trust issues.  Paul seems to be challenging them to trust in God’s provision through the week even though they give charitably at the beginning of the week.  He directs them to trust the visitors he sends their way and finally he invites them to verify that the letter is really from him in case they don’t trust its content.

-Brian Froehlich

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1.  Do you ever distrust someone’s motives?
  2. Was there a reason that person lost your trust?
  3. Do you ever struggle to fully trust God?
  4. Is there a reason God has given you to not trust him?
  5. What is God calling you to trust him with in your life today?

Paul’s Job

1 Corinthians 4

June 5

The life story of Paul is always a fascinating read. Bad guy turned good. And it even has a cool name change from Saul to Paul. But more importantly it’s a story about how God used our brokenness and yet found a beautiful way to restore us and give us a purpose through Him. And throughout his letters it is evident that God was working through him. There is nothing that Paul did to deserve being “put in charge of explaining God’s mysteries.” (1 Corinthians 4:1) The important part is that he answered the call and gave God all the glory – as He deserves.

Paul makes it clear that his desire is to visit Corinth again. But he tells them that when he gets there they will inevitably receive praise or discipline from him. Because while he was away they were either following God or they weren’t. In the same way, everything we do either brings us closer to God or pushes us away. The Corinthians were given a chance to turn from their sin and follow God. Paul warns them to change before they have to face the consequences of their choices. We may never have Paul sending us emails or posting his wisdom on Instagram but we still have the same choice as the Corinthians 2000 years later. And thankfully God still has other ways to communicate with us and warn us when we find ourselves going down a slippery slope. Whether through our conscience, a godly mentor, or even a timeless letter from good ol’ Paul. Thankfully we can read the same words that Paul wrote to the Corinthians and we have a chance to learn from them.

God is love. But we often forget this attribute is still being displayed when it’s time to be disciplined. He loves us enough to warn us countless times when we choose to walk down the wrong path. His justice and love compliment each other in ways that we cannot understand. But we can know for certain that God loves us and has our eternal interest in mind. He wants us to be in His Kingdom, but we ultimately have to make the decision to accept God’s gift of eternal life. 

The concept of Paul sending Timothy whom he refers to as his beloved and faithful child in the Lord is strikingly similar to God sending His only begotten Son Jesus, on behalf of Him. The connection between Paul and his mentee Timothy makes me think about the nature of the relationship between God and Jesus. Since Paul was preaching the message to other cities he sent Timothy ahead of him to Corinth to continue his ministry. In a similar way, since God is not able to be in the presence of sinful humans (aka the earth) he sent a man, His Son, Jesus to represent God. Jesus’ mission from his father was to proclaim the gospel (the name of Jesus and the message of the Kingdom of God) and die on the cross for the sins of the world. This ultimately will eventually allow God to come to the earth after the earth has been judged from its sin. The big picture shows the importance of being on the right side, God’s side. So learn from God’s discipline now before the world is judged for not following God. 

-Makayla Railton

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. How is discipline an important part of God’s love? Where have you seen or witnessed his discipline and justice at work for good?
  2. Who has God sent to reveal/explain His mysteries to you? To whom can you share what you have learned and how you live?
  3. If Paul were to be writing to you and your church, or even stopping in to visit this Sunday morning – what words do you think he would bring?

A Scary Word

1 Corinthians 2

June 3

Here at the Oregon church we have really been focusing on evangelistic outreach. No other word puts quite the fear in the heart of a Christian like the world evangelism. There are many anxieties that come with the idea of evangelism: sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. There is the fear of rejection. There is the worry that you might look foolish. There is maybe a concern that you won’t say the right things. Maybe there’s a worry that you don’t know enough about the Bible and therefore you aren’t qualified to reach out to people about Jesus and the kingdom. There is just a lot of worry that goes into it.

A lot of the fear and anxiety that comes from sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with people is that we can make it about us. Look above at what was said about the fear of sharing the gospel: every fear and anxiety that was mentioned about sharing the gospel is because we focus on how it affects us. We make it about our rejection, or our feelings or our knowledge. God has made the gospel so simple and yet we can be so afraid of it. And when I say we are afraid, I’m talking about me too. Just because I’m a pastor doesn’t mean that I don’t have fear and anxiety about sharing the gospel. You don’t need a PhD in theology to share the gospel with people. You don’t need to have a deep understanding of Levitical dietary laws, or a complete understanding of ancient Greek. The gospel was made understandable so that no matter who we talk to they can grasp it. We tend to make it more complicated than it has to be.

Paul makes this very point in 1 Corinthians 2. He says: “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

Paul was an extremely well educated man. He was well studied and well read. He knew the Hebrew Bible in profound detail. He was someone that could have really made the gospel presentation more complicated than it should have been. But instead of making a mess of things he says to the Corinthian church that he didn’t come with lofty speech or wisdom. He decided to know nothing besides Christ and him crucified. What Christ accomplished on the cross is of chief importance. Christ died as a substitute for you and me and he rose on the third day. He did this so that one day we can be in the kingdom of God forever. The components of the gospel are easy to remember this way: the kingdom, the cross and the resurrection. The other doctrines of the Bible are important but only believing the gospel is what saves us. The good news of the kingdom of God and our entrance being purchased by the death and resurrection of Jesus is what matters above all else.

Paul continues in the section by saying that we don’t use lofty wisdom and persuasive arguments in order that we aren’t relying on the wisdom of man. Wisdom is important, but ultimately the best and truest wisdom comes from God. The gospel is simple in order that we can fully rely on the power of God to work through us to share to those around us. God is saving the world through His gospel and we should want to be a part of that.

We don’t need to make the gospel more complicated than it is. The simple message of the death and resurrection of Jesus purchasing our gift of eternal life if we believe in him is as easy as it gets. Sharing the gospel doesn’t have to be scary either. It comes from the concern and urgency of wanting people to be in God’s kingdom. It comes from the outpour of our lives as a demonstration of the saving power of God working wondrously through us. Let’s choose to know nothing but Christ and him crucified and share that to a hurt and broken world. Let’s be the people that God works through to reconcile His creation back to Himself.

-Nathan Massie


  1. To remember that the gospel has been made simple so that we can share with everyone: the kingdom, the cross and the resurrection.
  2. To realize that God is the one who is working through us to share the gospel to the world. It’s His power and not our wisdom that makes the gospel effective.
  3. To realize that the gospel is the power of God and it is of chief importance since believing the gospel is what saves us.
  4. To pray about our anxieties and fears about sharing the gospel and to ask God to give us the strength to share even when we are afraid.
  5. To recognize that when we share the gospel we are making an eternal difference in the life of the hearer.

Be A Good Neighbor

Romans 13

May 29

For most of my adult life I’ve lived in an apartment and one of the biggest realizations is this: it can be difficult to have neighbors that are so close to you. Rarely have I had quiet neighbors that have totally kept to themselves. I’ve heard the intricacies of arguments that I wish I could unhear. I’ve smelled cooking that was not appealing. I’ve been awakened in the middle of the night to a barking dog or to a loud crash of pots and pans falling out of a cabinet unexpectedly.

It isn’t always fun being a neighbor.

Sometimes it’s challenging to want to be a good neighbor to people because of the way they act. On the other hand, it’s not always as obvious to us that we might be the neighbor that needs some improvement. Being a good neighbor should not be something that we do because it is reciprocated by another person. Being neighborly to others is what God asks us to do despite the way they might treat or think of you.

The biblical concept of being a neighbor goes beyond those who are in our immediate vicinity. It is not just someone who lives in your apartment building or on your street. A neighbor is not limited to someone that looks like you, talks like you, or acts like you. A neighbor is not just someone who is a Christian. A neighbor is not just someone who shares citizenship in the same country as you. The Bible is clear that all fellow humans are our neighbors. This is a concept that Jesus really drove home in a conversation with a Pharisee.

The expert lawman approaches Jesus and asks “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). Jesus then asks for the man’s opinion on what the law has to say about it. The man responds with “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Luke 10:27). Jesus affirms the lawyer’s answer, but the lawyer had a follow up question: “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). The question: “Who is my neighbor?” is not a
question of identifying who his neighbors are but rather who they aren’t. The question that the man is really asking is this: who am I allowed to not be loving towards and still get away with it? Jesus explains in the parable that follows this interaction that being a good neighbor means loving other people regardless of who they are.

Paul in Romans 13 really drives the point home on what it means to love our neighbors.

He says this:

“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).

Paul begins his thought on neighborly love by speaking about debt. Paul wants to make it clear that the only thing we truly owe one another is to love one another continually. What a remarkable thought. That’s a type of debt that even Dave Ramsey can get behind!

Paul continues with a list of familiar commandments. The “shall not” list is a list of bare minimums of how we should treat one another. We shouldn’t be killing each other, or stealing from each other, or desiring one another’s possessions. But if we seek to love one another we are truly fulfilling what is required of us: not just scraping by on what’s minimally expected. That’s why Paul finishes up with this thought: “Love does no harm to a neighbor”. We should look to fulfill the highest good to those around us by never seeking to do harm in any capacity. Let us seek the good of those who might not seek our good in return. Let us not repay negatively for what negative things people might have done to us. Let’s take the higher path and accept the greater calling that God has called us to: to love others with no bounds.

Let’s strive to be good neighbors by seeking out the good to those around us. Let us be as loving as possible to others who are different from us. Let us fulfill what God has called us to: to love people no matter who they are or how different they might be. Let’s continually aim to fulfill the high calling of loving others as we love ourselves.

A lot has been said about loving others and seeking the good of those around us, but that is more of an ideal than something to do. Loving those around us in a neighborly way is extremely practical. It could be meeting the needs of someone in your community – whether physical, spiritual or emotional. It could be volunteering at your local food pantry to sacrifice some of your time to help the hungry. It could be spending time after school tutoring someone who is struggling in a subject. It could be performing a service for someone that isn’t physically capable of doing it. It could be spending time with a shut-in who is lonely. It could be discipling someone to follow Jesus. Loving people is an extremely practical act.

Being a good neighbor means meeting the needs of those around you regardless if they return the favor to you. Loving people is an endless job that will never have an end. The world needs strong examples of what it means to be a good neighbor, and it starts with us.

-Nathan Massie


  1. What does it mean to be a good neighbor?
  2. Who are some neighbors in your community that need help, and how can you
    help them?
  3. How does being a loving neighbor positively impact your community?

Paul Before Felix

Acts 24

May 12

Once again Paul is calmly stating the facts against his false accusers.  He stresses “there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” (v.15).  Felix likes to listen to Paul, probably hoping for a bribe.  He’s a willing audience until Paul starts stepping on his toes.  When the subjects of righteousness, self-control and the coming judgment come up, Felix suddenly has better things to do.

Take care not to listen to God just when it’s convenient.  Or stop fellowship if someone steps on your toes.  Proverbs 27:17 tells us “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”   God wants us in fellowship for a reason.

-Annette Osborn

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Have you ever been in a “bad situation” (before your accusers or in custody for two years or something else) that was an opportunity to share about Jesus and a coming resurrection for the righteous and wicked? (Hint: the answer is yes) Did you seize the opportunity? How could you see the opportunity and be bold to do so next time?
  2. Are you easily offended or avoid further contact when your toes are stepped on? What is a healthy attitude to take?


Acts 23

May 11

Let’s start with some definitions.

Pharisee-felt spiritually superior; held themselves to the strict letter of the law; observed traditions to be as binding as the written word.

Sadducee- wealthy upper class; didn’t hold to tradition; denied there was a resurrection of the dead… which is why they were Sad-you-see

Sanhedrin- Jewish court of justice.  Made up of both Pharisees & Sadducees.

When the commander realized Paul was a Roman citizen, he wanted to unload this problem in a hurry.  When brought before the Sanhedrin, Paul took the bull by the horns.  As a Pharisee, he focused on an issue he knew was divisive:  resurrection.   So strong were their differences, the groups came to blows and even plotted to assassinate Paul. 

Violence is never the answer.  In our dealings we must remember to represent our humble Lord.       

Proverbs 15:1 “A soft answer turns away wrath”.   Paul calmly stated his belief.  He didn’t shout down the opposition. 

James 1:20 “Man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires”.                      

I Corinthians 16:14 tells us to “Do everything in love”.   Paul didn’t bully people into his way of thinking.  We are called to preach the kingdom.  God will change men’s hearts.

-Annette Osborn

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. How was God working through this situation so that what He wanted done would be done? (see verse 11 and the rest of the chapter)
  2. What groups today are in sharp dispute with one another, sometimes leading to violence?
  3. How will you practice a “soft answer” and “doing everything in love” next time you are in the middle of a dispute?

Your Story

Acts 22

May 10

A personal story is an effective way of connecting with others, often opening doors to intimate conversations.  I often felt that I was missing out on something by not having a “come to Jesus” moment to tell others.  Raised in church, I knew right from wrong.  Though I didn’t always choose wisely, I never veered too far from the path.  What’s encouraging about that?! 

I found some pointers for writing a faith story…

Think about your life before your baptism.  What was missing? 

What did you do to feel fulfilled and accepted?       

What led up to your decision to be baptized? 

Was there a person, event, scripture that opened your heart?        

How has your life changed? 

How is God meeting your needs? 

What is your relationship with God today?

And this tip from 1 Peter 3:15-16 “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

-Annette Osborn

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. See questions above… 🙂
  2. Who do you personally know who could benefit from hearing your story? How will you make opportunities to tell them?
  3. How can you share your story (or pieces of it) with others beyond your closest friends and family? When? Where?

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