True Christians look like Jesus

Scripture Notes on Romans 12

The Bible says that “the disciples [of Jesus] were first called ‘Christians’ at Antioch.” (Acts 11:26)  The word “Christians” means both “followers of Christ” and “those identified by Christ.”  The idea is that as people saw how these disciples lived their lives, it was evident that they belonged to Jesus not by what they said they believed, but what they showed by their actions.

With that in mind, consider Paul’s instructions to the Christians in Rome about how their lives should look and ask yourself two questions: 1) Is this what Jesus’ life on earth looked like, and 2) is this what my life is increasingly becoming?

Romans 12:9-18

Let love be genuine.

Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

Love one another with brotherly affection.

Outdo one another in showing honor.

Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another.

Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Do you see it?  Do you see the portrait of Jesus in this passage?  Do you see Him loving by sacrificing Himself?  Do you see Him serving by healing all who came to Him?  Do you see Him showing honor to His disciples by washing their feet in the upper room?  Do you see Him weeping with Mary and Martha at the death of their brother Lazarus and rejoicing with them as He raises His friend from the dead?  Do you see Jesus blessing His tormenters from the cross, praying “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing”?

Now, do you see these qualities in you?

Here’s the thing.  The Christian life is not about trying to behave in a certain way so we’re “good enough” for God.  It’s about living out of the overflow of a heart transformed by God’s grace to us in Christ.

These things Paul speaks of aren’t a list of instructions to follow, but a list of indicators of the true state of your heart.  To be a Christian is much less about your behavior and much more about your motivation.  It’s less about what you do, and more about what you truly desire.

So, as you examine your life, ask yourself the hard question, “Am I truly becoming more like Jesus because I want to, or am I just trying to keep the rules?”  Don’t skip by with an assumed response, because your answer to that question has profound implications for your life.

As you see your choices becoming more like Christ, as you see your heart truly desiring to love like His, rejoice!  This is the surest and most joyful sign that your salvation is genuine and that your life has been truly made new, because true Christians look like Jesus.

-Pastor Phillip

God saves you for His glory

Scripture Notes on Psalm 79

Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for Your name’s sake!  (Psalm 79:9-10)

There is an order to all creation, a cosmic balance in the physical universe that was designed to work in harmony. When that balance is disturbed, chaos ensues.

The same is true in the spiritual world. There is an order, a balance, a divine order of priority that God established, and when things are in their rightful place, there is harmony and peace.

This is why it is so vital to remember the preeminence of the glory of God.

He is not a selfish tyrant seeking an ego boost. He is a loving father who knows how His universe and His people will best flourish, and that only happens when all things are focused on bringing glory to God.

As you pray for help and deliverance, let your heart and mind be tuned to the thing that matters most. You will find your greatest peace comes when you remember this great principle. God saves you for his glory.

-Pastor Phillip

Your Father wants you to come home

Scripture Notes on Psalm 78

Their heart was not steadfast toward Him; they were not faithful to His covenant.
Yet He, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them;
He restrained His anger often and did not stir up all His wrath.
He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.

(Psalm 78:37–39)

Your failures are no surprise to God. When your love for Him grows cold, when serving Him gets old, when following gets wearying and your heart drifts towards other things, God is not caught unaware.

Yet, He still loves you just the same.

God’s mercy is so great that through Christ He has already atoned for your lack of love towards Him, and how He simply wants you to come back to where you belong. He remembers you are weak and He wants you to remember how He is strong so that instead of continuing to run from Him, you’ll run to Him.

Whatever the state of your heart or your life, know this and respond to it. Your Father wants you to come home.

-Pastor Phillip

God will lead you through the storm

Scripture Notes on Psalm 77

Your way was through the sea, Your path through the great waters; yet Your footprints were unseen. You led Your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. (Psalm 77:19-20)

Life can often feel like a raging storm. Confusion, conflict and chaos are all around. The clouds and rain block your view of where you’re going and it feels like the wind is taking you out of control.

Then one day the storm stops. The clouds lift, the wind stills, and you wonder, “How did I finally get here?”

It was God, of course, but you couldn’t see Him working because of the storm. His hand was invisible, His footsteps were unseen, but know this: He was there the whole time. You couldn’t see Him, but He was still watching over you, because you are His and He loves you.

In whatever season you find yourself, hang on to this truth. God will lead you through the storm.

-Pastor Phillip

When you focus on Jesus, He steadies your heart

Scripture Notes on Psalm 75

When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars. (Psalms 75:3)

Our world is full of instability. From economies in turmoil to civil unrest, discord in the workplace and division at home, sometimes it can feel like the whole thing is getting ready to tumble down.

Yet, there is hope for the believer. There is a promise for all who are in Christ, that even though everything around you may be shaking and unstable, you can have a steadfast peace in the midst of it all.

When your world feels insecure, remember and apply this powerful truth. When you focus on Jesus, He steadies your heart.

-Pastor Phillip

God is the source of all good things

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 72

GOD IS THE SOURCES OF ALL GOOD THINGS

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.  (Psalm 72:18)

When the rising or setting sun paints wonder in the sky, it’s a gift from God.

When a newborn child opens its eyes to see their mother and father for the first time, it’s a gift from God.

When a goal is achieved or a journey is ended, when a task is finished or a season completed, it is a gift from God.

Whether first kisses or graduation from rehab, the taste of chocolate or the familiar tune of a favorite song; whether the roar of engines or the crash of ocean waves or the whisper of a child saying, “I love you,” it’s all a gift from God.

As life speeds by with all its ups and downs, take time to give thanks and worship today, because God is the source of all good things.

-Pastor Phillip

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God is your continual salvation

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 71

GOD IS YOUR CONTINUAL SALVATION

Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; You have given the command to save me, for You are my rock and my fortress.  (Psalm 71:3)

Life is hard.

Perhaps you’ve discovered this, that every person sees their fair share of trouble and finds themselves in need of deliverance.  Not only that, but maybe you’ve seen that as life goes on, we find ourselves in need of saving again and again.

That’s why we need a Savior!

Here’s good news.  In His great love, our God does not get weary of us coming to Him for help.  He doesn’t tire of our neediness or get annoyed with having to rescue His children again and again.  He is a refuge for His people, not just once, but all the time.

No matter how frequently you find yourself struggling, if you’re in Christ you can take heart in this.  God is your continual salvation.

-Pastor Phillip

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