Even through loss, God loves you

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Luke 21

EVEN THROUGH LOSS, GOD LOVES YOU

And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”  (Luke 21:5-6)

The destruction of the Temple was a death-blow to the heart of the people of Israel.  For centuries it had been the focal point of their relationship with their God, and when it was laid waste by Rome in A.D. 70, the loss was devastating.

Jesus knew this when He prophesied the temple’s destruction forty years in advance.  He knew how painful it would be to God’s people to see something they loved and cherished and relied upon so quickly and violently removed.

And He knew it had to be done, because of love.

Jesus knew that with the temple still standing, it would be a great rival for the affection and devotion of God’s people, but that it could never truly give them what they needed.  Only Jesus could save them, redeem them and fulfill them, and if there was another “savior” in the picture they could never be truly saved at all.

So God, in His mercy, let the thing they loved be taken away.

Sometimes, when you experience great tragedy and loss, you may find yourself wondering, “How could a loving God let the thing I love be taken away?”  Many times, though, it is precisely because of His love that He lets things be taken from us, because He knows that if they remain they will prevent us from receiving and walking in the greatest blessing of all – Himself.

May you have the courage to ask Jesus to be always first in your heart and life, and may you have strength to endure when He removes those things that stand in the way of Him answering your prayer.  As you stay faithful, may you find the hope that comes from this essential truth: Even through loss, God loves you.

-Pastor Phillip


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How Jesus loves you through loss

Scripture Notes on Luke 21

And while some were speaking of the temple, how it was adorned with noble stones and offerings, he said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”  (Luke 21:5-6)

The destruction of the Temple was a death-blow to the heart of the people of Israel.  For centuries it had been the focal point of their relationship with their God, and when it was laid waste by Rome in A.D. 70, the loss was devastating.

Jesus knew this when He prophesied the temple’s destruction forty years in advance.  He knew how painful it would be to God’s people to see something they loved and cherished and relied upon so quickly and violently removed.

And He knew it had to be done, because of love.

Jesus knew that with the temple still standing, it would be a great rival for the affection and devotion of God’s people, but that it could never truly give them what they needed.  Only Jesus could save them, redeem them and fulfill them, and if there was another “savior” in the picture they could never be truly saved at all.

So God, in His mercy, let the thing they loved be taken away.

Sometimes, when you experience great tragedy and loss, you may find yourself wondering, “How could a loving God let the thing that I love be taken away?”  Many times, though, it is precisely because of His love that He lets things be taken from us, because He knows that if they remain they will prevent us from receiving and walking in the greatest blessing of all – Himself.

May you have the courage to ask Jesus to be always first in your heart and life, and may you have strength to endure when He removes those things that stand in the way of Him answering your prayer.

-Pastor Phillip

Freedom comes from letting go

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Luke 20

FREEDOM COMES FROM LETTING GO

He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  (Luke 20:25)

Have you ever found yourself trying to hold on to something that was never yours to keep?  Somehow, even though you know it must be surrendered, do you struggle to let it go?

Maybe it’s a child who’s all grown up now.

Maybe it’s a disagreement from a long time ago.

Maybe it’s the feeling of being offended.

Here’s the thing: when you hold on too tightly to things of this world, it’s only a matter of time before those things start holding on to you.

Jesus wants freedom for His people, and whether it’s surrendering your taxes, your tithe or a thousand other things, you will find yourself most truly free when you’re finally able to let go of those things you weren’t meant to hold on to forever.

This isn’t about not caring or some sort of fatalistic disconnection from the world.  It’s about keeping things in their proper place in your heart – seeing the world through the lens of eternity.

As you let God show you what things to hold on to and what things to let go, listen to Him and follow where He leads.  As you do, you’ll discover the hope found in this counter-intuitive truth: freedom comes from letting go.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus yearns for you to have peace

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Luke 19

JESUS YEARNS FOR YOU TO HAVE PEACE

And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!  But now they are hidden from your eyes.  (Luke 19:41-42)

Time after time in Scripture, we see that Jesus has a heart for the hurting, the broken, and the lost.  Here it is again, this time for the unbelieving city of Jerusalem.

Jesus weeps because despite all of their prayers for the peace of Jerusalem, there will be no peace for these people because they will reject the only One who can truly provide it — Jesus Himself.

He doesn’t stand aloof and cast judgment.  He doesn’t rail against them in anger.  No, Jesus weeps because He yearns for the people to have peace.

He does the same for you.

Maybe your life is in turmoil right now.  Maybe your mind is full of confusion and frustration.  Maybe your heart is full of guilt and shame.

Jesus wants something better for you!

May you receive the peace of Jesus today.  May you embrace Him with open arms and follow Him with open eyes and obey Him with open hands.

As you do, you’ll experience the hope that comes from the fulfillment of this truth: Jesus yearns for you to have peace.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus responds to persistence

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Luke 18

JESUS RESPONDS TO PERSISTENCE

And he cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded him to be brought to him. And when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Recover your sight; your faith has made you well.”  (Luke 18:38-42)

Most of us don’t like to be bothered repeatedly.

Few parents encourage their kids to shout louder after they’ve heard them the first few times. Few friends encourage each other to keep calling again and again after the first conversation was finished.

But Jesus isn’t like that.

In the first part of Luke 18, Jesus tells a story to demonstrate how persistent prayers are a delight to the Father, and in the last part of the chapter He demonstrates the same heart by healing a blind man who just wouldn’t shut up.

The man had cried out loudly and the crowd told him to shut it, but he persisted. The man had been blocked by the crowd but he didn’t give up. The man wasn’t afraid to make a scene because he believed that Jesus could heal him and he showed his faith by his persistent action.

And Jesus stopped what He was doing, and responded.

No matter what your need looks like, may you have the confidence to continue asking for Jesus to intervene. May you have courage and diligence to keep praying, keep asking, and keep walking in faith, and as you do, may you find hope in this truth: Jesus responds to persistence.

-Pastor Phillip


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God’s grace is your level ground

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 26

GOD’S GRACE IS YOUR LEVEL GROUND

But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me.
My foot stands on level ground; in the great assembly I will bless the Lord.
(Psalm 26:11-12)

Integrity is a theme that comes up all throughout the Psalms and Proverbs.  It is a consistency of action and behavior, a harmony between what you say and what you do and a life lived according to God’s principles.

We see that this kind of life produces blessing and favor, and it is this kind of life that provides the “level ground” we all need in order to build a life of stability and peace.

Too bad it’s impossible.

To live with 100% integrity all the time, in all circumstances sounds like a great goal, but it’s one you can never reach on your own.  Try as hard as you like, but somewhere, sometime, in some circumstance you’ll find even the best of intentions can go wrong.

That’s why we need God’s grace!

It is only when we stop trusting in our own efforts and abilities that we can discover God’s power at work in us.  It is only after we’ve laid down the reigns and handed over the keys that God can take our life and steer it in the right direction, permanently.

Friend, have you been trying to find some level ground in your life?  Have you been working hard to live with total integrity but find yourself struggling?  Take heart!

Ask God for His power and let go of your right to control.  Don’t depend on your own efforts to work things out for you, trust in His mercy and love.  As you do, you’ll find hope in the reality of this truth: God’s grace is your level ground.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus bore shame so you could be spotless

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 25

JESUS BORE SHAME SO YOU COULD BE SPOTLESS

Indeed, none who wait for You shall be put to shame.  (Psalm 25:3a)

Shame comes from many places.

It comes along with failure.  It comes along with inadequacy.  It comes when we’ve done some great wrong, or when great wrong has been done to us.

But Jesus takes shame away.

Jesus did no wrong, so He can take away the shame of the wrong we’ve done.

Jesus never failed in His mission, so He can take away the shame of our failure.

Jesus was perfectly sufficient, so He can take away the shame of our inadequacy.

Jesus was shamefully treated, but by His resurrection He offers the power of redemption that makes all things new!

If you’ve been waiting for a day or a person to come along and take away your shame, may you receive this truth and let it fill you with hope: Jesus bore shame so you could be spotless.

-Pastor Phillip


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God brings answers as you go

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Luke 17

GOD BRINGS ANSWERS AS YOU GO

As [Jesus] entered a village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  When He saw them He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”  And as they went they were cleansed.  (Luke 17:12-14)

Sometimes Jesus heals while we just sit there.

Sometimes we pray, then wait, and Jesus responds with the answer we were looking for without us having to do anything.  We remain passive, and He takes the active role in making things happen without any involvement on our part.

But that’s usually not the case.

All throughout the Gospels, we see Jesus healing people, cleansing people, responding to people’s needs.  Yet, in so many of the accounts, we see that though all the power comes from Him, He loves to use human action as a catalyst for the divine miracle.

The Bible calls it faith.

Sometimes we pray for something and then sit back in our easy chair and expect God to act.  However, more often than not, there is some level of participation that Jesus is looking for from us.  It’s not about earning the answer, it’s about partnering with Jesus to bring glory to God through answered prayers!

So get out there!  Get going!  Start looking for opportunities to not just wait for God to move, but rather, to let Him move through you.  God’s not looking for you to prove yourself worthy for anything.  But He does love to give you the joy of participating in the miraculous.

As you pray and seek God for answers in your life, may you follow the practical steps He shows you and demonstrate faith through action.  As you do, watch and worship as you experience the hope of this unfolding truth: God brings answers as you go.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus wants true riches for you

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Luke 16

JESUS WANTS TRUE RICHES FOR YOU

“And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.  One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.  If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?”  (Luke 16:9-11)

Luke chapter 16 records two parables Jesus told about the true purpose and nature of wealth.  In one, a manager uses money in such a way that he receives commendation for his shrewdness.  In the other, a rich man uses money only for his own pleasure, and receives condemnation for his selfishness.

Sandwiched in the middle, Jesus tells us the main purpose of the blessings of the material world.  The point is to use them as tools to gain the far greater riches of the Kingdom.

The manager knew his time was short, so he got to work.  He made hard choices, had awkward conversations and put himself at great risk by what he did, and he was rewarded.  The rich man paid no attention to anything but his own pleasure.  He didn’t look outside his own gates to the needy and the hurting, and he, too, was rewarded in kind… by everlasting punishment.

The point isn’t that riches are bad.  The point is that earthly riches are not trophies to be hoarded but tools to be used for the greater good, gaining “the true riches” that Jesus talks about.

The point also isn’t that if we do enough good deeds we can earn our place in heaven, for that would contradict the rest of Scripture.  Rather, the point is that what you consistently do on the outside reveals who you really are on the inside.

It’s a question of the heart.

As you ponder your own financial situation and make choices about how to live your life, don’t let the lure of worldly wealth make you blind to the things that matter most.  Don’t let the trappings of temporal success cloud your vision and keep you from pursuing what’s really important.

God wants good things for you, not just here and now, but for eternity!  So, let Him free your heart from the bondage of self-indulgence and lead you to opportunities to invest in the Kingdom.  As you do, you’ll discover the hope found in this truth: Jesus wants true riches for you.

-Pastor Phillip


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God’s blessing is already yours

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Luke 15

GOD’S BLESSING IS ALREADY YOURS

But he was angry and refused to go in.  His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.”  (Luke 15:28-31)

Why was the older brother so angry?

Was it that his father was kind to his brother?  Partly, but it was deeper than that.  Was it because he was comparing his life with his brother’s?  Partly, but it was deeper than that.  Was it because he misjudged the heart of the father?   Partly, but it was deeper than that, too.

The brother was angry because at the deepest level, he felt cheated out of the rightful wages of his obedience, and he resented the grace the father showed to someone who hadn’t earned favor at all.

He felt the father owed him.

He throws up a comparison chart with obedience in one column and reward in another and throws it in his father’s face, claiming injustice.  “I obeyed you, and you never gave me a thing” is what he seems to say.

But he had the equation all wrong.

Gently, the father takes the balance sheet, rips it in two, throws away the column of obedience and fills up the column of reward.

“Don’t you see, Son?” he is saying.  “All that I have is yours.  You have been waiting for a reward from my table for all of your work, but the whole pantry was always open to you and yet you never took what was yours.  You waited for wages but the gift was already yours to take.”

“Son, you never received it because you didn’t trust my heart.  You thought I was harsh and demanding so you spent your life trying to work for approval and favor that you thought you didn’t have, but it was yours all along because you’re my son.”

God wants to say the same thing to you today.

Your Father in heaven has invited you in to His family through the perfect work of Jesus, an invitation that brings with it the full rights of sons and daughters, heirs of the Kingdom.

Yet, if you’re spending your life working for approval that you already have, trying to earn favor that’s already been given, you’ll become harsh and angry, frustrated at God when He blesses others more than you because you feel like He owes you.

Here’s the thing, though.  Anything you thought you earned yourself was already paid for at the cross of Jesus Christ.  All that’s left is for you to receive it!

Will you?

Today, may you hear the voice of the Father saying “Son, Daughter, all that is mine is yours…” and as you do, may you find hope in this truth: God’s blessing is already yours.

-Pastor Phillip


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