Thursday, January 17, 2019

Moving Day

For this and future weeks, please find the blog at www.cpcomak.org.
I will continue to maintain deepdiscernment.info as an archive for the blog.
You can also download the CPC Omak app on your Android Device. For Apple Users, download the Share Faith App and select CPC Omak as your Church.
Peace be with you,
Bill Heming
Pastor, CPC Omak

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Common Grace

Devotion: 1 Kings 18:3-6

Common grace is the Reformed idea that while not everyone will turn to Jesus Christ in faith and be saved (what is known as "special" or "saving grace"), everyone still receives some favor from the Lord. God cares for all of creation through His providential sustaining of all that is, God restrains sin by the power of the sword given to the State and God leaves some semblance of morality in man's conscience. While humans are totally depraved, that is tainted in every part by sin, we are not utterly depraved, given over completely to evil, sin and destruction because of God's common grace. The common grace of God is expressed by Jesus in Matthew 5:45b, "For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."
Common grace it what led Ahab to call upon Obadiah as the Lord was sending Elijah to Ahab to restore the rain after the long drought.
"And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly  and when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water.) And Ahab said to Obadiah, 'Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys. Perhaps we may find grass and save the horses and mules alive, and not lose some of the animals.' So they divided the land between them to pass through it. Ahab went in one direction by himself, and Obadiah went in another direction by himself." -1 Kings 18:3-6 ESV
Ahab is not at this time turning to the Lord in his distress for relief. Ahab is, without knowing it, relying upon the common grace of God as he and Obadiah split company to go seek out water for the animals. Ahab, in this way, takes seriously the Genesis mandate (see Genesis 1:28). Ahab is seeking to be a good steward of his animals and calls upon his chief steward, Obadiah, to assist him. To locate water would be a major help to the animals in this time of need.
It should be noted, however, that Ahab may be favoring his animals over human beings. This, of course, is pure wickedness, but common wickedness today. We are called to care for the animals we own, but far too many treat the animals in their own households better than fellow image-bearers of God. [Check out this cat massager! My cats may take my hand off if I attempted this on them!]
At any rate, the action will focus on Obadiah. We are told that as the prophets of the Lord were rounded up for slaughter by Jezebel, Obadiah used his position and authority to secret away some of these men from religious persecution and provided for their needs. In this way we can see that Obadiah was a man of God himself, fearing the Lord out his provision of saving grace. Obadiah took great personal risk to save the prophets of the Lord. He could have pointed Ahab to the water that those prophets were using to water his master's animals, but he keeps them hidden and their supply intact.
At the end of the paragraph Ahab and Obadiah part company to go in search of water. This is a reminder that those who partake merely of the common grace of God will inevitably part company with those who know His saving grace. Obadiah and Ahab will each go on their own search. It is the faithful Obadiah who will encounter the Prophet Elijah and thus begin the amazing process by which God ends the drought.
For us today, let us remember that common grace is a great benefit and blessing to all. How much more the saving grace of Jesus Christ that not only gives water for the day, but living water into eternal life.


The song is "Weaker Side" by Benjamin Torrens.

News for You:

  • Want to stay caught up with CPC Omak? Download the CPC Omak app in the Android store. For iPhone users download the ShareFaith app and type in "CPC Omak" to get access to the same content.
  • Just a reminder that the Annual Meeting is coming up January 20 following worship. If you have a report, get in to the Church office as soon as you can.
  • The Breakfast Potluck will take place following worship Sunday, January 13. Come and enjoy the food and fellowship.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Mercy

Devotion: 1 Kings 18:1-2

The drought that the Lord sent upon Israel because of their sin of idolatry had grown quite severe in the days of King Ahab. Ahab, for his part, was the chief idolator. Ahab was the reason that Elijah, the prophet, the man of God, appeared on the scene and declared in no uncertain terms that there would be no rain except by his word. Such a statement could lead to the mistaken idea that somehow Elijah was graced with supernatural abilities that he could use at his own whim. This mistaken idea unfortunately lives in the church today regarding the matter of spiritual gifts. Yet, the Apostle Paul is clear that the use of spiritual gifts is for the benefit of the whole body of Christ, that is, the Church (see Romans 12:3-8). These gifts are given for the glory of God in service of Christ's Church. So it is with Elijah's various miracles. They are not for his glory, but for the glory of his God and in the service of the correction of God's people.
In due time, the Lord lifts the drought as we read:
"After many days the word of the LORD came to Elijah, in the third year, saying, 'Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.' So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria." -1 Kings 18:1-2 ESV
So what do we make of the Lord's choice to lift the drought from his people? First, the Lord's decision shows that while God is just, He is also merciful. Elijah sojourned in a foreign land for a time while the Lord withheld rain from the region. We are told that the famine had grown very severe. God's people, disobedient and sinful as they were, were suffering and our merciful God moved to alleviate said suffering. Note that the movement of God in mercy was not predicated on the  prior repentance of either the king or the people. God's movement to return Elijah to Israel (specifically the capital city, Samaria, of the northern kingdom and its surrounding area) was not a response, but purely on the Lord's own initiative. Put plainly, the Lord does NOT wait for us to move first and then move.
At this point the most common objection will be regarding so-called 'free-will.' The counter-argument will be stated that God did not create us to be robots and therefore we are free to either choose or reject Him. Now, that may have been true for the First Adam, but the children of Adam have not had that luxury. We are locked into the flesh by the sin of Adam and so the Apostle can affirm, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" [Romans 3:23-24]. Our sin is not merely potential (original sin) but actual. We are broken and alienated from God, as incapable of making our way back to God as we are incapable of causing it to rain apart from His mercy and grace. Indeed, the Apostle is clear, "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins" [Ephesians 2:1]. The dead cannot help themselves, but rely on the only one who can raise the dead to new life--the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who raised Jesus from the dead!
Elijah has no power on his own, but relies upon the Lord to manifest His own glory through the prophet. God has a big plan for just how rain will return to the land. Yet, the point before all that is that the Lord Himself, the very one who caused the drought and subsequent famine to chastise His people for their idolatry would be the very one out of His abundant mercy, to bring it to an end. The people did not repent. The people did not cry out to God. God simply showed His divinely good character and rained mercy upon them.
It is the Lord who turns to us in mercy and grace in Jesus Christ. He does this out of His own abundant kindness and on His own initiative. So is there nothing to do if we find ourselves being chastised by the Lord? No, we are called to repent and lament and turn to the Lord in times of great need. The prophet Hosea put is this way:
"Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth." -Hosea 6:1-3 ESV
May the mercy of our God rain upon you through the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The song this week is "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" from Red Mountain Music. 

News for You:

  • The Candlelight Christmas Eve service will be 12/24 at 7 p.m. Please come and celebrate the birth of the Savior with us!
  • A big thank you to all the adults and children who made our Christmas Pageant a great success!
  • Note: I am in the process of migrating my blog to our new website. If you would like to catch up on past posts you can find them at deepdiscernment.info.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Miracle

Devotion: 1 Kings 17:17-24

There are three major eras in the Bible in which miracles take place through human agency. In other words, God works through human beings to perform wonders and signs, things that seemingly defy the natural order of creation takes place in three distinct time sets. On a side note, God as Creator is free and able to act in His creation however he pleases, "Our God is in the heavens, he does all the he pleases" (Psalm 115:3 or you can hear Shai Linne rap about it).
These three eras begin with Moses and Joshua as they lead the people of Israel out of Egypt and into the land of Canaan. The second era covers the prophets Elijah and Elisha as they proclaim the Word of the Lord in the midst of gross apostasy. The final era covers Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God and his Apostles who proclaimed the Gospel. I am never quite sure what to do with miracle claims outside of those three eras and I will leave it to you, gentle reader, to make up your own mind about such claims when they crop up today.
At any rate, while the announcement of Elijah concerning the drought is a miracle, the personal miracle this week is closer to the miracles of Jesus. Indeed, this story will find parallels in the Gospel accounts of raising Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:21-43) and the raising of the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-17).
So let's recall that Elijah had been sent to stay with the pagan widow of Zarephath. God had provided food miraculously for them all. And then a crisis hits.
"After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill. And his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. And she said to Elijah, 'What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance and to cause the death of my son!' " -1 Kings 17:17-18 ESV
The widow is distraught as her son is dying. She blames the man of God for bringing her sin to remembrance, most likely the Lord's remembrance. As a result, since she regards YHWH as Elijah's God and does not know nor worship Him, she assumes the Lord is very much like the pagan idols she worships. She fears that her sin has cost her son. She is angry and scared.
"And he said to her, 'Give me your son.' And he took him from her arms and carried him up into the upper chamber where he lodged, and laid him on his own bed. And he cried to the LORD, 'O LORD my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by killing her son?' Then he stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the LORD, 'O LORD my God, let this child’s life come into him again.' And the LORD listened to the voice of Elijah. And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived." -1 Kings 17:19-22 ESV
Elijah, for his part does not become defensive when confronted by the widow. He takes her son and prays over him, and stretches himself out over him three times. He correctly trusts YHWH, the Creator, to have the power over life and death. YHWH listens to His prophet and the boy lives, a miracle if ever there was one. The breath of life once more courses through him and he revives.
"And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, 'See, your son lives.' And the woman said to Elijah, 'Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.' " -1 Kings 17:23-24 ESV
The return of her son brings about faith of a sort in the widow. Miracles are meant to lead to faith. Miracles are never ends, but means to faith. The Lord did what he pleased and the woman believed. May we pray to be used by God in ordinary and, perhaps, extraordinary ways to bring others to faith in the power of the Lord!



The music this week is "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" performed by Red Mountain Music.

News for You:

  • Adam's Road Piano will be coming to CPC on 12/6 at 7 p.m. Please join us for a night of music and testimony!
  • The Women's Ministry is hosting a Women's Breakfast and Cookie Exchange on 12/8. Look for details in the bulletin or at the Welcome Center at CPC.
  • The monthly Men's Breakfast will be meeting in the youth room at 6 a.m. on 12/8.
  • Our children are putting on a Christmas Play during morning worship on 12/16.
  • The Candlelight Christmas Eve service will be 12/24 at 7 p.m. Please come and celebrate the birth of the Savior with us! 
  • Check out more at the new and improved www.cpcomak.org!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Trusting the Word of the Lord

Devotion: 1 Kings 17:8-16

After Elijah's time at the brook Cherith he is sent north and west by the Lord to the pagan country of Sidon to a village called Zarephath.
"Then the word of the LORD came to him, 'Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.' " -1 Kings 17:8-9 ESV
The sending of the man of God to pagan country was a great indictment of the northern kingdom of Israel and its gross paganism. In essence, the Lord sends his man to a pagan widow because Israel is certainly no better and in many ways worse. While the pagan widow worshiped false gods in ignorance, Israel, led by the wicked King Ahab, worshiped false gods in full knowledge of YHWH and His commandments.
There is an interesting reversal here as well. God's Word calls over and again to care for widows, the fatherless and the sojourner (e.g. Exodus 22:21-24, Deuteronomy 24:19-21). Now, Elijah is being called to sojourn among pagans and a widow will care for his needs (we will get back to the fatherless child later). God will provide for his man and do so in a powerful way.
"So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, 'Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.' And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, 'Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.' And she said, 'As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.' " -1 Kings 17:10-12 ESV
The prophet is obedient to the Word of the Lord and travels to the village of Zarephath. The drought that had stricken Isreal had also impacted this area, leaving little to eat and drink.  When Elijah is about to enter the town, he sees a widow gathering up small bits of firewood. Knowing the Word of the Lord the prophet asks to the woman to provide for his needs (food and drink). The widow believes Elijah's requests are either ignorant or outright offensive.
Her response is to invoke the name of YHWH, but to attribute him to Elijah, i.e. 'your God.' Her oath is meant to be a strong indicator of the truthfulness of her claim that she lacks food for herself and her son and so has none to spare for Elijah. The meal she is about to prepare will be a last supper of sorts before a long painful death from starvation. She has no hope that things may improve and has accepted that she will die. She does not appeal to her gods nor to the man of God to intervene. She is matter-of-fact in her assessment of the situation. Yet, God is at work!
"And Elijah said to her, 'Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, "The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth." ' " -1 Kings 17:13-14 ESV
Elijah tells the woman to put away her fear. He politely (for the time) requests that the widow do as he has said and makes a promise. The jar of oil that is about empty will never run out and the jar of flour will always be enough until the Lord sends rain upon the earth again. In other words, God will care for this widow, this fatherless child and this sojourner because His people, Israel, have failed to live up to their responsibility under the Law. This should point us to Christ who steps in to do what we have failed and cannot do for ourselves through his active obedience to the Father even to the point of death on the cross.
"And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah." -1 Kings 17:15-16 ESV
The widow, for her part, trusts the Word of the Lord that came through the prophet and does as he requested. Sure enough, God keeps His promise and the sojourner, the widow and the fatherless child are cared for once again.
Friends, I hope the Scripture lesson today will lead you to trust in the promise of hope you have in Christ and lean on that promise in times of plenty and want.


The song is "All Things New" from Red Mountain Music.

News for You:

  • The Children's Christmas Tea is scheduled for 12/1 at noon. Please RSVP today if you plan to attend.
  • Adam's Road Piano will be coming to CPC on 12/6 at 7 p.m. Please join us for a night of music and testimony!
  • The Women's Ministry is hosting a Women's Breakfast and Cookie Exchange on 12/8. Look for details in the bulletin or at the Welcome Center at CPC.
  • The monthly Men's Breakfast will be meeting off campus 12/8. Look for details in this week's bulletin.
  • Our children are putting on a Christmas Play during morning worship on 12/16.
  • The Candlelight Christmas Eve service will be 12/24 at 7 p.m. Please come and celebrate the birth of the Savior with us!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Obedience and Seasons

Devotion 1 Kings 17:2-7

In pastoral care I often advise people that our life is best thought of in terms of seasons. Scripture is replete with examples and teaching along these lines, the most significant of which is Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. There are times to mourn and times to dance, so the Scripture teaches. The task is to observe the season in which we find ourselves and act in obedience to the Lord in the present circumstance. Misreading the season can lead to an attempt at obedience that will simply fail. That is the message behind our passage today.
"And the word of the LORD came to [Elijah]: 'Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.' " -1 Kings 17:2-4 ESV
After the prophet proclaims that there will be no rain except by his word, the Lord calls to him to go to a particular brook in trans-Jordan (modern day Jordan). The prophet is to settle there for a time and receive sustenance from the Lord through some helpful ravens.
"So he went and did according to the word of the LORD. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. " -1 Kings 17:5-7 ESV
Elijah obeys the Word of the Lord and it is just as the Lord said it would be. Yet, because of the drought, the brook eventually dries up. In other words, the season changed. We will see next week that the Lord leads Elijah elsewhere to provide for his needs. Yet this passage tells us something about following the Lord. We need to read the season and understand that being faithful in the new season may not look the same as the old season.
Do not misunderstand what I am saying. I am not advocating discarding the Biblical witness, and especially not its ethical teaching. We do not get to proclaim that it is a new day or a new season simply because we do not like what the Bible teaches on, say, loving the neighbor or rejecting greed, let alone sexual morality. We are not talking about changes in substance (function), but changes in method (form). If Elijah locks down his understanding of obedience as something like, "The Lord said to sit by this brook, and even if it is no longer a brook because it stopped flowing, I am going to sit here because that's what a good YHWHist would do." That would be foolish and would result in him dying of thirst.
Likewise, we cannot lock in place things of the past that have no bearing on the underlying truth of Scripture. Let me give a few examples. The translation of the Word of God needs to be updated to reflect the current vernacular. We do not speak the King's English any longer and so insisting that only a translation in the King's English is correct is wrong. The season has changed and we should update our translation accordingly. You may continue to use and enjoy the King James Version all you like, but we cannot insist it is the only acceptable English version. To move to a modern English translation, like the English Standard Version, is adjusting to the season without tampering with the call to faith and obedience that are timeless.
Another example would be the style of music in church. Unless you are advocating for acapella Psalms only, every song we sing in church was new at some point. The style of music has never been fixed for all time in the church and any music that gives glory to God in both arrangement and lyrics is permissible in the church. While I prefer hymns personally, I recognize this is a preference and not really a mark of obedience or principle.
The season shifted while Elijah sat by the brook as it dried up. If he continued to insist obedience only meant staying there, he would have violated the Word of the Lord (that comes again in 1 Kings 17:8) by not adjusting his obedience to God's Word to the present season. Jesus himself said, "And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins." [Mark 2:22 ESV]. Jesus' claim is that when the new comes, namely the new covenant in his blood, it will not fit into the forms for the old covenant. It is still wine (faith in YHWH) and it still needs to be carried in wineskins (a covenant relationship through faith in YHWH), but it will have new forms (faith in Jesus as YHWH in the flesh and a new covenant in his blood shed for us and for our salvation on the cross).
As the season changes, the timeless truth of Scripture does not. Jesus is the Son of God, the only savior of the world. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus as he is revealed in Scripture to God's glory alone. We are called in our faith to a life of thankful obedience to the clear ethical teaching of the Scriptures. These truths will not change. Yet we must recognize that the season in which we follow Jesus may change. We cannot lose sight of the truth, but we can adjust our forms of obedience to reflect the current season within reason. For example, most of us will never be invited to outright idol worship. We will not gather in pagan shrines and sacrifice animals to pagan idols. Yet, we the call to reject idolatry remains pressing for us. Idolatry may not be blatant, but we are still called to worship power, money, sex and death. If we insist that idolatry is ONLY attending pagan worship services, we will fail to adjust our obedience to the new forms of idolatry we actually see around us today. The form of that idol worship has shifted, but the timeless call to reject idol worship remains. To fail to see the shift is to risk sitting by a dried-up brook and dying of thirst.


The song this week is "Spirit Resurrect" by Josh White and Josh Garrels.

News for You:

  • Our annual Trunk-or-Treat will be 10/31 from 4-7 p.m. Come have some fun!
  • Pick-a-party fundraisers for Chelan Camp, our youth outreach camp, are ongoing
  • Do not forget to fall back one hour this Saturday (11/3) or else, horror of horrors, you may be early to church!

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Prophet

Devotion: 1 Kings 17:1

Into the tyrannical chaos created by Jeroboam and perpetuated by his various successors, culminating in the most vile of these men, King Ahab, God sends his man. Ahab had rebelled completely against the Lord and enough was enough.
"Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, 'As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.' " -1 Kings 17:1 ESV
Elijah arrives on the scene with a bang. There is no antecedent for the prophet--he simply emerges from Gilead to proclaim God's wrath on Israel. The prophet makes a bold claim of drought and claims even more boldly that his word is the only way to lift the drought. A drought is a poetically appropriate way to call Israel to attention for since Israel left Egypt, they have had to rely on the Lord for precipitation to grow crops and raise pasture land for their herds (see Deut. 11:8-17). The blatant violation of the commands of the Lord led to the drought condition announced by the prophet.
So what do we make of the prophet? Many see here a proto-progressive, "speaking truth to power." That seems to me to be reading modern thinking into ancient events (i.e. eisegesis). No, Elijah is not a powerless prophet hoping to sway the powerful Ahab. Instead, Elijah is the powerful speaker on behalf of God bringing the petty tyrant to heel. Elijah, so far as he is faithful to the Lord, is the powerhouse in this story.
Perhaps this is the lesson for us today. If we speak truthfully on behalf of God, our words carry with them the very power of God to accomplish the task to which they are set. This is what happens when we proclaim the Gospel--we speak not merely the words of men, but the Word of God (see 1 Thessalonians 2:13). Elijah the prophet had power in his words because he spoke on behalf of the all-powerful God he served. Our words have the same power when they serve to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


This is the Introduction to Mendelssohn's "Elijah Oratorio"

News for You:

  • Our annual Trunk-or-Treat will be 10/31 from 4-7 p.m. We could use some more cars to participate in this fun event.
  • Pick-a-party fundraisers for Chelan Camp, our youth outreach camp, are ongoing.
  • Interested in becoming a part of CPC Omak? Come to the discussion following worship on 10/21. Lunch will be provided.