Jesus has true power just for you

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 19

JESUS HAS TRUE POWER JUST FOR YOU

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.”  Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this.  But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?”  And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.  (Acts 19:13-16)

Why did this story end so badly for these men who were trying to do a good thing?  Because they were dealing with power far greater than they realized, and that power didn’t belong to them.

They thought using the name of Jesus was just another incantation like all the rest.  They thought they could use it and duplicate the results they saw from the Apostle Paul.

They thought wrong.

The name of Jesus is powerful beyond compare.  It is not part of some religious ceremony or ritual.  Rather, it is the container for the very nature of Almighty God.

Not only that, but the name and power of Jesus are not available to just anyone, but only those who have trusted Him as Savior by surrendering to Him as Lord and who are filled with the Holy Spirit.

This means that while the seven sons of Sceva were shamed for lack of power, if you’re in Christ, you can stand in Jesus’ name!  So as you face opposition and temptation in this life, take heart, and find hope in this truth: Jesus has true power just for you.

-Pastor Phillip


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God has prepared a harvest for you

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 18

GOD HAS PREPARED A HARVEST FOR YOU

And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”  (Acts 18:9-10)

Jesus said the harvest was plentiful so workers were needed.  It turns out He could say that because He is the one who prepares the harvest in advance!

When God called Paul to share the Gospel, it wasn’t a mission with only a possibility of success.  It was a calling to a certain victory!

Now, God has called you to share, and here’s the great news: the same truth applies.  Jesus has prepared people to receive and respond to the Gospel, now, if you’re willing to take a step of faith to reach out and share, you get to see it happen.

God’s done the hard work already.  Now you can do your part with confident hope because of this truth: God has prepared a harvest for you.

-Pastor Phillip


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God delights to deliver you

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 44

GOD DELIGHTS TO DELIVER YOU

For not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but Your right hand and Your arm, and the light of Your face, for You delighted in them.  (Psalm 44:3)

The Psalmist knows that swords and shields aren’t the true source of protection, God is.

The Psalmist knows that strength and cunning aren’t the true source of deliverance, God is.

The Psalmist knows that clever plans and comprehensive strategies aren’t the true source of victory, God is.

Maybe deep down you know this too, but oh how easy it is for us to forget!

We pour our time and energy into devising our own deliverance and then collapse in despair when it doesn’t come through.  We invest our money and creativity in strengthening our positions and then fall apart when they don’t prevail.

Of course they don’t prevail.  They were never designed to.

God alone is the source of true strength and deliverance, because that’s the way He made things to be.  God alone is the source of true rescue and redemption, because that’s the way He planned for things to work.  God alone is your true hope, not your own abilities, and that is an incredibly good thing!

Why?

Because even though your deliverance plans may fail, God’s never do, and He delivers those in whom He delights.  That’s good news, because it means if you’re in Christ, you can have hope because of this truth: God delights to deliver you.

-Pastor Phillip


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God is your refuge in times of trouble

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 43

GOD IS YOUR REFUGE IN TIMES OF TROUBLE

In the wake of an historic Supreme Court decision that has left so many believers saddened and afraid for what’s to come, the best thoughts of all are not those I could share from my heart, but those God would share from His.

In the calendar of content that guides this devotional series, today brought us to Psalm 43.  I invite you to read it slowly and prayerfully, and as you do, may you find hope in this truth: God is your refuge in times of trouble.

-Pastor Phillip


PSALM 43

“Vindicate me, God, and defend my cause 

against an ungodly nation; 

rescue me from the deceitful and unjust man. 

For You are the God of my refuge. 

 

Why have You rejected me? 

Why must I go about in sorrow 

because of the enemy’s oppression? 

Send Your light and Your truth; let them lead me. 

Let them bring me to Your holy mountain, 

to Your dwelling place. 

Then I will come to the altar of God, 

to God, my greatest joy. 

I will praise You with the lyre, 

God, my God. 

 

Why am I so depressed? 

Why this turmoil within me? 

Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, 

my Savior and my God.”

http://ref.ly/Ps43.1-5;hcsb



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Don’t let politics derail your perspective

An Encouraging Word

DON’T LET POLITICS DERAIL YOUR PERSPECTIVE

Today my friend texted me in despair.

“I’ve given up on everything political,” he said.  “If things are going to change for the better, it’s going to happen by changing the hearts of men.”

How right he was.

Today’s landmark Supreme Court decision will forever alter the fabric of our society.  It will have far-reaching effects in our families, businesses, schools, churches and beyond.  It will impact our lives in ways we can’t see yet, affecting issues we haven’t even begun to imagine.

Even so, this thought gives me peace:
God is still on His throne.An-Encouraging-Word-WP-Logo-2015

“Of course He is,” you may say, “that’s why we need to __________.”  But maybe, just maybe, what we need to do most is simply breathe.

Government is neither a Messiah nor the Anti-Christ.  It never has been, and it never will be.  Both great and evil things can and do happen through political process.  It’s always been that way.  It will stay that way as long as humans are involved in the process.

But God is still on His throne.

If you rejoice in this decision and expect it to usher in a golden age of tolerance and diversity, it won’t.  If you mourn this decision and see it as the end of morality in America, it’s not.

This is simply a step.

For some it’s a step forward, to others, a step back, but it’s only a step.  It’s a big step, to be sure, but it’s only a step.

Don’t hear me saying this is not a big deal, because it is.  Don’t hear me saying there won’t likely be hard times ahead for the Church, because there will be.  I’m simply saying this…

God is still on His throne.

This decision changes everything for our country, but changes nothing for Christians.  Why?  Because the Christ we follow never commanded us to seek political solutions to spiritual problems.  Nor did He tell us to be disengaged, but rather to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  (Mark 12:17)

This means that all of us, whether we agree or disagree with the decision, have both an opportunity and an obligation to do what Jesus has always commanded us to do: deal kindly with those on “the other side” of our position.

It means as the sticky situations and uncomfortable conversations begin to increase, we must respond with wise and thoughtful dialogue, not foolish fear-mongering, name-calling, and doom-saying.

So, whether you feel elated or defeated by today’s ruling, take a deep breath today, and remember this:

God is still on His throne, so don’t let politics derail your perspective.

 

–Pastor Phillip

PowerPoint-Title-Card-[Counter-Culture]p.s. Do you want to engage helpfully on issues like these but aren’t sure how?  Join me starting tomorrow night at 6:00pm for an all-new outpostChurch teaching series called, “CounterCulture: navigating the war zone between culture and Christianity.”  We’ll explore what the Bible says about many hot issues of our day, and how Christians can respond well as we engage with the world around us.  (Can’t make it tomorrow night?  Listen or watch online at outpostChurch.org!)

God placed you for a purpose

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 17

GOD PLACED YOU FOR A PURPOSE

[God] made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him.  (Acts 17:26-27a)

Your address is no accident.

Your birth date was not based only on your parents’ choices.

You may feel like your life is random or that your circumstances have no grand design, but that’s not the truth.  The truth is that God decided when and where you would be born, and He has directed you behind the scenes to just where He wants you to live right now.

Why?

Because God wants you to know Him, and then make Him known to the people around you.  In fact, He put those people close to you for that very reason.  This means no matter where you live, work, play, study or spend, you have a mission and a purpose for your life!

So, rejoice today, knowing that God loves you and has a part for you in His glorious plan for the world.  As you remember this, you’ll be filled with hope as you embrace this simple truth: God placed you for a purpose.

-Pastor Phillip


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God chose you to be a deliverer

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 16

GOD CHOSE YOU TO BE A DELIVERER

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.  When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.  But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”  And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas.  Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  (Acts 16:25-31)

It would have been so easy for Paul and Silas to keep silent while the jailer killed himself.  With him out of the way, they and all the other prisoners could have simply walked out free.  They could have even told everyone how great it was that God sent an earthquake to deliver them.

Yes, they could have done that, but if they had they would have failed at their greater mission.

Rather than look out for their own needs, Paul and Silas knew the jailer had a far greater need—salvation.  They were willing to trade their chance at freedom for the opportunity to give their captor a chance for eternal life.

That decision was incredibly worth it, because not only were the jailer and his whole family saved, but God worked out Paul and Silas’s freedom anyway!  He even ensured that their wounds were taken care of in the meantime.

God loves to deliver His people in creative ways, but that’s not all.  If you’re in Christ, He also wants to let you be a part of extending the blessing to others!

Don’t miss the opportunities He brings for you to join Him in His work of redemption.  Open your eyes and your heart to see the needs of the world around you, and as you respond to them in the power of Christ, you’ll find hope in this truth: God chose you to be a deliverer.

-Pastor Phillip


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God’s grace removes your burden

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 15

GOD’S GRACE REMOVES YOUR BURDEN

“…And [God] made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.  Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?  But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”  (Acts 15:9-11)

Jewish Christians in the first century were very concerned that the Gentile Christians weren’t “doing it right,” and they were quite vocal about it.  They were convinced that to truly be saved, there was a whole list of rules people needed to keep in addition to trusting Christ for salvation.

While they would talk about grace, their actions and attitudes were more focused on what people were supposed to do rather than what Jesus had already done.

However, grace with conditions isn’t grace at all.

Peter and Paul and the Jerusalem council agreed that to lay great burdens of rule-keeping on the necks of Gentile believers was antithetical to the Good News of grace.  They recognized, both in this instance and in letters written later, that following Christ does include pursuing a holy life.  However, they also strongly affirmed that making holiness a condition for salvation rather than a joyful response to salvation is not what Jesus intended at all!

Of course, the same debate continues today.

There are some who are so focused on “doing it right” that they miss the Gospel of grace.  They will emphasize all of the moral instructions and commands of Scripture and insist that anyone who doesn’t follow their particular understanding is certainly in the wrong.

Yet, Jesus didn’t come to bring burdens, but to relieve them.  He didn’t come to weigh you down with law, but to lift you up with grace!

Because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, all who come to Him and put their faith in Him are called righteous and holy, and nothing can change that!  When He calls and commands you to pursue a life that’s in line with God’s Word, it’s not a beforehand requirement for His love and acceptance.  It’s a grateful response after you’ve received them by faith.

May your life be marked by a desire to follow God’s instruction in Scripture, but don’t let an endless burden of rules keep you from living in the beauty of grace.  Trust in the kindness of Christ today, and as you do, you’ll discover the hope found in this liberating truth: God’s grace removes your burden.

-Pastor Phillip


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The Holy Spirit is your boldness

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 14

THE HOLY SPIRIT IS YOUR BOLDNESS

But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.  But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe.  When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch…  (Acts 14:19-21)

Paul and Barnabas had been rejected at Antioch, kicked out of Iconium, and Paul had just been stoned by the people of Lystra and only survived by the grace of God.  Now, after a brief stop in another city, here they are going back.

What’s the deal with that!?

You’d think they would have learned the first time.  You’d think they would have gotten the hint that there was high opposition to the Gospel in those cities.  You’d think they would have looked for other places to minister where the work wasn’t quite so challenging.

However, in this passage we see that Paul and Barnabas don’t think that way.  They don’t feel that way.  They don’t work that way, because they have something that is working in and through them that is far more powerful than any opposition they may face.  That something is a someone, the person of the Holy Spirit.

Because they are empowered by the Spirit, they are emboldened for the Gospel.  Because they follow His command, they are filled with His courage and nothing can hold them back from spreading the Good News.

You know what’s even more exciting?  If you’re in Christ, that same power is available to you.

Don’t let the world’s resistance hold you back from the wonderful things God has planned for you.  Don’t let fear and uncertainty cripple the faith and confidence God wants to give you.  Trust Him today, follow His leading where ever it may take you, and as you do, you’ll be filled with hope as you walk in this truth: The Holy Spirit is your boldness.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus is your ultimate inheritance

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 13

JESUS IS YOUR ULTIMATE INHERITANCE

And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this He has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus… (Acts 13:32-33a)

Inheritance rights are a big deal.  All throughout history and even in our own day, it’s more common than not to see families squabble and fight over who gets the most valuable items or amounts after a loved one dies.

Why is this?  Because we all want to have the best portion of the inheritance.

Make no mistake about this, though.  Above silver and gold, above lands and property, above stocks and bonds and heirlooms and memories and anything else you might receive, there is one thing you have coming to you that is far more valuable than anything else.  Not only that, but there is one thing you can pass on as a legacy that outshines anything else, too.

Jesus.

Maybe your family situation is pristine or maybe it’s problematic.  Maybe you have a great inheritance coming to you or maybe there’s nothing left but a string of unkept promises.  Maybe you have a great ability to leave an inheritance for those you love, or maybe you find yourself lacking in more ways than one.

Whatever your circumstance, don’t miss this simple but powerful promise from God.  If you’re in Christ, then Jesus Himself is God’s gift to you.  His presence is yours to experience, His power yours in which to walk.  His love is there for your peace, and His grace is yours in which to stand.

Rest in this promise today, and as you do, may you find hope in this truth: Jesus is your ultimate inheritance.

-Pastor Phillip

p.s. To learn more about God’s INCREDIBLE inheritance for you in Christ, check out my teaching series “Inheritance” by CLICKING HERE.


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