God’s Kingdom is your community

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Romans 14

GOD’S KINGDOM IS YOUR COMMUNITY

For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.  So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.  (Romans 14:17-19)

Have you ever felt alone in your walk with Christ?  Have you ever felt isolated, like it was just you and Jesus and nobody else understood?

God wants more for you than that!

The Christian life isn’t supposed to be about rituals, but relationships.  It’s not supposed to be about performing moral duties, but about experiencing the presence of God in the life and community of fellow believers.

It’s easy to get so focused on the do’s and don’ts of our faith that we miss the delight of being filled by the Holy Spirit.  Yet, that filling will bring you not only the ability to serve Jesus effectively, but also the joy that comes when you do God’s work, God’s way.

The Bible is not a tax code; it’s a ticket to a life of peace filled with the joy of Jesus and covered with the righteousness of Christ.  Not only that, but as you walk in His Word, the result is an overflow of community with other believers.

That peace Jesus offers?  It’s not just for you to feel in your own heart, but for you to share with fellow travelers.

That joy Paul talks about?  It’s not just for you to keep to yourself, but to experience with others.

That righteousness that leads to right living?  It’s not just for you to get a merit badge for good behavior, but to make something beautiful with other believers.

Don’t let the enemy isolate you in your walk with Christ.  Let the Holy Spirit connect you with others, and as you do, you’ll find the hope that comes from this truth: God’s Kingdom is your community.

-Pastor Phillip


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Your redemption gets closer every day

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Romans 13

YOUR REDEMPTION GETS CLOSER EVERY DAY

The hour has come for you to wake from sleep.  For salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed.  (Romans 13:11b)

Have you ever wanted to hide from your problems, or maybe go to sleep and wake to find them all gone?  Perhaps you’ve been through seasons of simply burying your head in the sand in hopes that your troubles would just go away.

Well, friend, it’s time to wake up.

It’s time to get back to work, to get back on the horse, to get back in the game.  You have a mission from God, and here’s what it is.  No matter what your circumstances look like, you are His agent of love in a world that desperately needs it!

You don’t have to be fixed to fulfill God’s destiny for you, just faithful.  You don’t have to have all the answers, just be willing to act.

“But how can I do this?” you may ask.  Simple.  You do it one day at a time.

Remember this.  Every day that passes is one step closer to your reward.  Every season you get through brings you closer to your ultimate salvation, eternity with Jesus, no more pain and struggle, no more hardship, no more night.

Don’t worry about next week or next month or next year.  God will take care of those.  You focus on living fully for Jesus today, and as you do, may you be strengthened by the hope in this truth: Your redemption gets closer every day.

-Pastor Phillip


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Your life is all about Jesus

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Romans 11

YOUR LIFE IS ALL ABOUT JESUS

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be glory forever.  Amen.  (Romans 11:36)

Over and over in the Bible, we see that salvation and grace come from God.  They are gifts that He offers out of the overflow of His love, not wages we earn through the abundance of our good deeds.  It’s from Jesus.

We see, too, especially in the book of Romans, that the power to live in Christ also comes not through our own strength and ability, but His.  We are enabled by His Spirit, not our effort.  It’s through Jesus.

Don’t miss the point of it all, though.  Our salvation and strength, redemption and resurrection are great gifts from our loving Father, but there is a purpose in them beyond ourselves and our happiness.  The reason for all of this?

It’s to Jesus.

This means that your performance at work isn’t about you, it’s about Jesus.

It means that your interactions with your neighbors aren’t about you, they’re about Jesus.

This means that your studies and your children and your marriage and your hobbies certainly involve you and hopefully benefit you, but they aren’t really about you in the end.  They’re about Jesus.

So, when your life isn’t living up to the goals you set, you can still be at peace if you are living for Jesus.  When your plans turn out differently than you expected, it’s not a failure, just a new opportunity to give Him glory.

Remembering that He is the point of it all will relieve a lot of pressure.  So, as you meditate on the true purpose of your life, may you be filled with hope as you dwell on this truth: Your life is all about Jesus.

-Pastor Phillip


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In Christ, you are never second-class

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Romans 10

IN CHRIST, YOU ARE NEVER SECOND-CLASS

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him.  (Romans 10:12)

There are no second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God.

Yes, there are differing levels of reward based on faithfulness, but this is the distinction between how many trips to the buffet line we take, not the difference between who gets only leftovers and who gets to sit down at the feast.

In Christ, you have been given the full blessing of His grace, full rights as a citizen of the Kingdom, full acceptance as a son or daughter of the King!

Walk with confidence today as you rejoice in this truth.  No matter your background or level of ability, Jesus paid the price for your place at the table, and in Christ, you are never second-class.

-Pastor Phillip


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God’s love makes you steadfast

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 52

GOD’S LOVE MAKES YOU STEADFAST

“See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!”
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.  I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.
(Psalm 52:7-8)

The world has its way of seeking security, but it will always ultimately fail.  Power and wealth may bring stability for a season, but eventually they only produce bitter disappointment.

On the other hand, look at those whose hope and security are found in the Lord.  You will find stability in their heart.  You will discover joy in their life.  They are steadfast, because their trust is in something that never fails: the steadfast love of God.

May that be your trust, too, and as you keep your eyes fixed on Him, may you experience the hope found in this truth: God’s love makes you steadfast.

-Pastor Phillip


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God builds brokenness into praise

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 51

GOD BUILDS BROKENNESS INTO PRAISE

For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
Do good to Zion in Your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem;
Then will You delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Your altar.  (Psalm 51:16-19)

God isn’t looking for showy sacrifices; He’s looking for humble hearts.

The outward forms of religion do nothing to purge the inner stain of sin.  Only repentance does that, and true repentance always includes brokenness.  It may not be the weeping repentance of a downcast heart, but those who are truly seeking God’s forgiveness must always know the brokenness of their life without Him.

However, God doesn’t want His children to STAY broken!

Yes, brokenness is the doorway to healing, but God loves to restore through the process of repentance because He loves His children.  Our Father is the Master Builder.  He creates new life out of dead hearts and restores broken things to better than they were before.

So, whatever pain or problem you’re experiencing right now, may you take heart and find hope in this truth: God builds brokenness into praise.

-Pastor Phillip


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Salvation is God’s free gift to you

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Romans 9

SALVATION IS GOD’S FREE GIFT TO YOU

What shall we say, then?  That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why?  Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works.  (Romans 9:30-32a)

At the core of the Gospel is this simple truth: you did not pursue God, He pursued you.

You did not “do the right thing” and decide to follow Christ on your own.  Your decision was a response to a regeneration God did in your heart.

Why is this important?  Because it means God loves you even more than you imagined!  It means you are off the hook to maintain your status of salvation, because it was all God’s doing in the first place.

Because it was God’s initiation that brought you into a saving knowledge of Christ, He’s the one who is responsible for keeping you in His grace, and He is always, always faithful to His responsibilities.

Do you want to have deep peace, full confidence and lasting joy in your salvation?  Then let your heart be filled with hope as you dwell on this truth: Salvation is God’s free gift to you.

-Pastor Phillip


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This is God’s love for you in Christ

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Romans 8

THIS IS GOD’S LOVE FOR YOU IN CHRIST

When it comes to God’s Word, sometimes what we need most is not for someone to explain, but for our souls to fully engage.

In that spirit, the passage below has been divided up into five key thoughts.  Take time to read each one slowly, carefully, letting each idea sink in.  Don’t bypass things you’ve heard before, focus on them.  Meditate on them by turning them around in your mind and exploring them from different angles.  Ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate them for you so that you might see more clearly the brilliance of the light of Christ.

Be encouraged as you read this passage, and as you do, may you be filled with hope because of this truth: this is God’s love for you in Christ!

-Pastor Phillip

Romans 8:31b-39

THOUGHT 1
If God is for us, who can be against us? (31b)

THOUGHT 2
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (32)

THOUGHT 3
Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (33-34)

THOUGHT 4
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (35-37)

THOUGHT 5
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (38-39)

AMEN.


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Spirit-led service leads to joy

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Romans 7

SPIRIT-LED SERVICE LEADS TO JOY

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.  (Romans 7:6)

Obligation strips the joy out of obedience. Isn’t it true that when you are forced to do something it’s much harder to be happy about doing it?

This is the dominant method of religion, though.  Rules and regulations and duty and shame and fear, these are the hallmarks of a law-centered life.

But Jesus came to set you free!

If you’re in Christ, your life is no longer about being a slave to sin, which causes you to disobey God’s law.  It’s also not about being a slave to the law itself so that you’re under the constant burden of performance.  Jesus came to give you life so that your obedience to God can now come out of the overflow of His love rather than an obligation to the law.

Here’s the thing.  The hallmark of a life that’s truly free is a genuine desire to serve.  When you experience true freedom in Christ, it will produce gratefulness, a desire to obey Him, and a willingness to share His love with others.  And, you’ll discover that as you pour yourself out, you’ll be continually filled with hope because of this truth: Spirit-led service leads to joy.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus is your living guarantee

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Romans 6

JESUS IS YOUR LIVING GUARANTEE

We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.  (Romans 6:4-5)

You cannot “turn over a new leaf” in your life and expect everything to get better.  No amount of trying, no collection of self-help materials, no great set of new habits can truly change your life for the better.

But Jesus can.

To come to Christ is not to sign up for a program, but to surrender to a Person.  It’s not about accepting a new set of duties, but about embracing the death of yourself so that Christ might live through you.

This is incredible news for all who struggle (and all of us do struggle) because it means we don’t bear the burden of having to work out a resolution to all of our problems.  Instead, we hold out for a resurrection that we know is coming to set us free one way or another.

How can you be sure of this in your own life?  How can you know that this resurrection is coming for you?  Because Jesus was raised from the dead, and that is the sign that He can keep His word to you!  That means if you’re in Christ, you can have unshakeable hope because of this truth: Jesus is your living guarantee.

-Pastor Phillip


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