Jesus can turn your defeat into victory

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Mark 15

JESUS CAN TURN YOUR DEFEAT INTO VICTORY

And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!”  (Mark 15:29-30)

When the passers-by looked at Jesus, they thought they saw a failure…but they were blind.

When they mocked His past prediction, they thought they spoke the truth…but they were wrong.

When they challenged the Messiah’s methods, they thought He was misguided…but they were mistaken.

Jesus works in ways that may be unseen and unexpected, but that are unstoppable.  His power operates along paths that may seem unusual or unorthodox, but it’s undeniable.

Jesus doesn’t just pry victory from the jaws of defeat; He uses defeat against itself!

He can do the same for you.

Whatever battle or struggle you face, don’t lose heart.  Whatever failure or defeat you’re experiencing, don’t lose hope!

If you’re in Christ, you can walk in the strength of Jesus today, filled with unstoppable hope because of this unbelievable truth: Jesus can turn your defeat into victory.

-Pastor Phillip


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When you do what you can, Jesus is blessed

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Mark 14

WHEN YOU DO WHAT YOU CAN, JESUS IS BLESSED

“She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”  (Mark 14:8-9)

This woman caused a stir by how she responded to Jesus.

She was surrounded by people who were saying nice things to Jesus, giving polite pleasantries to Him, and listening to Him speak.  But this woman, she showed her devotion in a different way.

Maybe she wasn’t much good at conversation, but she did what she could.  Maybe she wasn’t well suited for study or teaching, but she did what she could.  Maybe she wasn’t able or willing to go out and serve the poor (a fact which her critics were all-too-happy to trumpet), but she did what she could.

And Jesus was blessed.

In this hyper-connected, social media-driven, constant-comparison world, don’t let yourself get drawn in to the trap of comparing your service to others.  Jesus has called and empowered you uniquely, and He’s not looking for you to be like everyone else.  He doesn’t want you to serve exactly like everyone else, either.

He wants you to be faithful to who He made you to be.

As you seek to live your life to honor Jesus (which you should), may you resist the pressure to try and copy the successes and sacrifices of others.  Instead of trying to measure up to other people’s expectations, may you respond to His worthiness in ways that are as unique as you are.  As you do, you’ll discover hope through this truth: when you do what you can, Jesus is blessed.

-Pastor Phillip


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Because of Jesus, God delights in you

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 18

BECAUSE OF JESUS, GOD DELIGHTS IN YOU

He brought me out into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.  The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He rewarded me.  (Psalm 18:19-20)

From relationships between parents and children to those between lovers and friends, we all have a place in our heart that yearns for acceptance, to know that someone delights in us.

The problem is, when it comes to being accepted by God, because of His holiness He can only accept those who are righteous, and none of us qualify.  The Bible is clear that we are born into sin and continue to choose our own way in opposition to God.

However, here’s some good news for all those who follow Jesus.  Christian, the Gospel is that Jesus Christ has given His perfect righteousness to you!  He has transferred the credit for His total obedience into your account, so that when God the Father looks at you, He sees not the dirtiness of your past, but the “cleanness of your hands” in Christ!

As you work out the practical application of living in your position of righteousness, may you be encouraged with hope as you remember this powerful truth about your relationship with Christ: Because of Jesus, God delights in you.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus is your hope beyond this life

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 17

JESUS IS YOUR HOPE BEYOND THIS LIFE

As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with Your likeness.  (Psalm 17:15)

Like many of David’s writings, Psalm 17 is a plea to God for deliverance.

David’s enemies are closing in, ferocious and without pity.  They are strong, but David’s God is stronger.  They are fierce, but David’s God is fiercer.  They have power to destroy, but David’s God has power to deliver, not just temporarily, but eternally.

Look, though, at the last verse of the Psalm, where David reveals His ultimate hope in the midst of trial… He looks to the day when he will “awake.”

For David, it’s as if he understands a deeper truth about our reality, that there is something more real than this visible life, something more solid than this physical world.  Like waking up from a long, strange dream, one day David knows his life on earth will end, and he knows a very specific hope is waiting for him.

“I shall behold your face… I shall be satisfied with your likeness.”

Now, in 2 Corinthians 4, the Apostle Paul writes something profound about Jesus.  He speaks of “Christ, who is the image of God,” and that “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

David’s hope beyond the grave was revealed to him like a shadow on a wall, a dim form without color or definition.  For us, though, we’ve been given a clearer view.

If you want to behold the face of God, look at Jesus.  If you’re looking for God’s likeness, look to Jesus.

For David and all of God’s people, it is Jesus who will be waiting for us when we awake from this life into the true life of eternity, and it is Jesus who will be our satisfaction forevermore.   Jesus is our hope beyond this life.

And if you’re in Christ, then you can have hope in this truth: Jesus is your hope, too.

-Pastor Phillip


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God has given you the tools to stand

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Mark 13

GOD HAS GIVEN YOU THE TOOLS TO STAND

“For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.”  (Mark 13:22-23)

Jesus told His disciples what to expect at the end.

He told them about circumstances, about characters, about creation itself falling apart. He told them about destruction, deception, and the demonic opposition they would face.  He told them what to do and what not to do. He told them how to stay strong, how to prevail.

In fact, He told them “all things beforehand” so they would have everything they needed to stand firm when it mattered most.

He’s done the same for you.

Whether physically or spiritually, internally or externally, you will encounter opposition if you are truly following Jesus.  The good news is that for every situation you may face, Jesus has already prepared the tools you will need!  His Word and His Spirit are ready for you to take hold of.  His people and His power are waiting for you to connect with.

No matter what obstacle or persecution comes against you, Jesus is for you and He’s given you all you need to prevail!

May you have eyes to see His deliverance today, and hands ready to take hold of all He has given for your freedom.  As you do, you’ll find hope in this truth: God has given you the tools to stand.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus sees your sacrifice

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Mark 12

JESUS SEES YOUR SACRIFICE

And he sat down opposite the treasury and watched the people putting money into the offering box. Many rich people put in large sums.  And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny.  And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”  (Mark 12:41-44)

It was common in Jesus’ day for wealthy people to make a big deal out of their giving.  So common, in fact, that in Matthew 6:2, Jesus specifically told His disciples not to give that way.

But this woman couldn’t have drawn much attention if she wanted to.

This poor, widowed woman brought a small gift, a tiny offering, a seemingly insignificant sum in comparison to what others were able to give.  Her contribution was a pittance, and would have made almost no difference to the Temple’s bottom line at the end of the day.  It’s likely her presence didn’t even register with most people, or if it did, her gift provoked pity at best, and ridicule at worst.

But Jesus sees with different eyes.

Maybe you feel like what you have to give is insignificant.  Maybe you want to serve God in some way, but you feel like what you’re able to do just isn’t much.  Maybe you’ve already been trying, been doing, been serving or giving but you feel like it’s not making a difference at all.

If that’s you, take heart!  Don’t get discouraged by your ability or lack thereof, because in God’s economy, the most important thing isn’t the size of the gift, but the heart of the giver.  It’s not the amount of the offering in the plate, but the amount of surrender in the person.  God is less concerned with the product of your hands, and more interested in the process of shaping your heart.

Don’t stop serving and giving, and don’t lose heart.  Stay faithful, because as you keep going, God has a fresh hope prepared for you though this truth: Jesus sees your sacrifice.

-Pastor Phillip


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Are you ready for delight?

An Encouraging Word

ARE YOU READY FOR DELIGHT?

I’ve never been very good at packing in advance.

When I was a boy, our family would go on vacations to various places, and there was always packing going on until the very last minute…and sometimes a little beyond.  We scrambled to get ready because we knew that the better prepared we were, the more fun we would have.

Been there?

Later in life, I entered the work world.  Though thankfully it wasn’t a regular occurrence, I remember days at various companies where I had a performance review or manager’s visit coming up and I found myself scurrying around trying to look busy.  I scrambled to get things done because I knew the better prepared I was, the less likely I would be to get in trouble.

Sound familiar?

The Bible says in many places that Jesus is coming again.  He will take His sons and daughters away to be with Him in a New Heaven and a New Earth, and it will be a new life for us that will be very, very good.

When Jesus talks about it, He often uses the language of “being ready” for when He comes, like He does here in Matthew 24:44, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

The question is, what does He mean?

Does He mean, “Be ready, because if I catch you doing something wrong you are in SO much trouble…” or does He mean “Be ready, because I don’t want you to miss a bit of the wonderful things I have planned for you“?

The Bible is clear that judgment and wrath await those who refuse to trust Jesus for salvation, but that for believers, the level of our reward will be determined by the level of our obedience.

That is what Jesus is talking about.

He loves to bless His people, to lavish His grace upon us and display His glory through us.  His desire, then, is not that we would live in fear of not having “done enough” to pacify Him when He comes, but that we would live in joyous anticipation of His reward, and use our life now to participate with Him as much as we can.

He is coming soon, so may you use your time wisely in His service, not out of fear, but out of the joy of future delight.

-Pastor Phillip

Jesus will take care of the results

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Mark 11

JESUS WILL TAKE CARE OF THE RESULTS

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.'”
And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it.  And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go.  
(Mark 11:1-6)

Imagine the surprise of the disciples as they received a very unusual command from Jesus.  It’s not every day that your teacher tells you to go and “borrow” someone else’s property without permission.

Imagine their nervousness untying the colt, probably looking this way and that, wondering if someone was going to challenge them.

Then they hear it: “What are you doing, untying the colt?”

Imagine their hearts pounding, their mouths dry with anxiety as they replied with the simple phrase Jesus told them to say, hoping and praying it would be enough to keep them from being chased off in embarrassment at best, and taken to the authorities at worst.

“The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.”

And the owner of the animal sends them on their way with the colt.

Faith is not the same as belief.  Belief says, “Yes, Jesus, I’m sure that IF we were to go take someone’s colt, they would let us do it if they knew it was for you.”  Faith starts untying the animal.

Belief says, “Yes, Jesus, I’m sure that IF I were to offer to pray for that person or tell them about You, they wouldn’t mind too much.”  Faith starts the conversation.

Faith is acting on what you say you believe.

Here’s the beautiful thing about acting on what Jesus says.  He’s already prepared the way for you!

As you take confident action today on the things God has called you to do, remember this.  All you have to do is obey, and walk in the hope that comes from this truth: Jesus will take care of the results.

-Pastor Phillip


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God loves to provide through His people

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Mark 10

GOD LOVES TO PROVIDE THROUGH HIS PEOPLE

Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.’  (Mark 10:29-30)

Walking with Jesus always has a price, and sometimes it’s more costly than others.  We follow a crucified Savior who was homeless and poor.  Yet, notice how Jesus speaks of the reward He has prepared for those who sacrifice for Him.  He says they will be given “a hundredfold now in this time…

Does this mean that every believer who loses their home for the Gospel gets a hundred parcels of real estate down the street?  Of course not; there simply isn’t enough land on the planet for that.  Does it mean that every biological family member who rejects a believer is replaced with one hundred more?  All the adoption agencies in all the world couldn’t keep up with that!  So, what does Jesus mean?

He’s talking about the Church.

It is the plan and purpose of God that His Church should be a people who help one another generously,  sharing affection and commitment, support and strength, and when needed, even finances and a place to stay.  In fact, all throughout history we see examples of Christians who understood that God called them to be a family to one another, and as they opened their hearts and homes they became the fulfillment of His promise.

In many ways, this is completely counter-cultural to the western mindset.  Our spirit of rugged individualism calls us to take pride in doing things on our own, on needing no one, on making things happen for ourselves, and when we do, on keeping as much for our selves and our own families as we can.

But that is not the Spirit of Christ.

May you be willing to second-guess the gospel of consumer culture and be obedient to God by being generous with others.  May you be willing to sacrifice your preferences and pride on behalf of brothers and sisters in Christ.  As you do, you won’t just be obeying Jesus.  You’ll be laying a foundation for others to do the same for you, too, because of this hope-filled truth: God loves to provide through His people.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus meets you where you are

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Mark 9

JESUS MEETS YOU WHERE YOU ARE

Someone from the crowd answered [Jesus], “Teacher, I bought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute.  And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid.  So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able… And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him.  But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’!  All things are possible for one who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:17-18, 22-24)

Notice what Jesus doesn’t do in this situation.

He doesn’t criticize the man for his lack of belief, He simply highlights it to create an opportunity for growth.  He doesn’t tell the man, “If you don’t do your part, I can’t do mine,” and leave him stranded in his condition because he had unbelief in his life.

In fact, Jesus doesn’t even tell the man that first he must muster up more belief and then Jesus will heal his son; Jesus simply heals the boy and lets them go on their way.

Yes, this man struggled with unbelief, but don’t we all do the same sometimes?  Yes, Jesus told this man “all things are possible for one who believes,” but He didn’t say that nothing is possible for the one who tries but just isn’t quite there yet.

That’s good news.

If you find yourself wrestling with unbelief and wishing you had just a little more faith, relax.  Yes, Jesus wants you to believe in His power, but He also wants you to rest in His peace.

When you come to God in prayer, don’t fret if you’re full of mixed emotions.  Bring them all to Jesus and trust Him to heal your heart and grow your faith.  As you do, you’ll discover the hope that’s found in this life-changing truth: Jesus meets you where you are.

-Pastor Phillip


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