Jesus is your guaranteed inheritance

For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.  Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  (Hebrews 10:34-35)

The world has its values system of what matters and what doesn’t, and it teaches us to safeguard what we hold to be most valuable.  Yet, in this life we have far less control than we imagine, and in light of this vulnerability, how do we deal with the inevitability of loss?

We fix our eyes on the one thing we can never lose: Jesus Himself.

It is Christ who is our cherished possession, and His love that is our greatest reward.  If the uncertainty of life has you down, you can be lifted up by re-orienting your values system around this one simple truth.

Jesus is your guaranteed inheritance.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus’ second ministry: the WORD (Luke 5:1)

As the crowd was pressing in on Jesus to hear God’s word, He was standing by Lake Gennesaret.  (Luke 5:1)

People came for the miracles, but they stayed for the message.  They were drawn in by the wonders, but they were hungry for the word.

Credibility and interest can be built by the supernatural power and love of God.  This is why we must make space in our church gatherings and our relationships with others to let the Holy Spirit show up and show off.

Yet, it is just as vital that after the display, we have something deeper to give.

The people were hungry for an authentic word from God that was bigger than their personal experiences and traditional religion.

Maybe they still are.

What do you think?

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus offered himself for you

How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.  (Hebrews 9:14)

There were powerful people who conspired against Jesus, but they were not the ones that put Him on the cross. Many enemies wanted to see Him dead, but it was not their will that won the day.

Jesus gave His life willingly on your behalf.

When you are confronted with your own inadequacies and sin, do not despair.  When you are brought face-to-face with your failures, do not lose heart.

Remember that Jesus loved—and still loves—you exactly as you are, and that He loved you so much He was willing to die.  As you dwell on this, may you be encouraged by this truth.

Jesus offered Himself for you.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus’ first ministry: the WONDERS (Luke 4:42)

When it was day, [Jesus] went out and made His way to a deserted place.  But the crowds were searching for Him.  They came to Him and tried to keep Him from leaving them.  (Luke 4:42)

The people were astounded at the miracles Jesus did.  When He healed, it was authentic.  When He cast out demons, it was dramatic.  The people simply couldn’t get enough of it.

Those same people would feel very differently later on when Jesus began to call them to repent of their sins and selfishness and follow Him instead, but for now, they were transfixed and hungry for more.

Perhaps one reason we don’t see more people flocking to church gatherings is because we’ve emphasized the second part of Jesus’ ministry but nearly forgotten the first.

What do you think?

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus is your conduit of mercy

“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.”  (Hebrews 8:12)

Guilt is a powerful motivator.  It can change habits and open handbags, clean up words and free up wallets.  Yet, in the life of a Christian, guilt is not of God.

Conviction is the sorrowful sense that something is not right in your life and that a change must take place, but conviction differs from guilt in a very important way. Fear.

Guilt brings fear of punishment, but conviction carries with it this blessed assurance: In Christ, God has full forgiveness for you!  In Christ, God has unstoppable love for you!

In Christ, nothing you could ever do would make God cast you away, so let this truth set you free to live a life of holiness without fear.

Jesus is your conduit of mercy.

–Pastor Phillip

Service (Luke 4:39)

So [Jesus] stood over [Peter’s mother-in-law] and rebuked the fever, and it left her.  She got up immediately and began to serve them.  (Luke 4:39)

In the culture of Jesus’ day, it was customary and expected for a woman to serve as a hostess whenever guests were in her home.  So, the fact that Peter’s mother-in-law responded to her healing by serving is at one level simply a societal norm.

At another level, however, she is a perfect illustration of a proven truth.  One of the surest ways to tell if someone has been deeply touched by Jesus is their willingness to serve others.

How are you doing?

–Pastor Phillip

Running Again

Running Again

(Or, “How the Worst Itch Ever Reminded me of the Best Fix of All”)

The itch was so bad I could barely stand it.

There I was, surrounded by the beauty of a fresh sunrise, sidewalk-jogging past a serene waterway and a meticulously trimmed golf course, and all I could think of was the fire under my skin.

It was my first time running in a while, and based on past experience, I knew exactly what this was: my blood vessels overheating because they simply weren’t used to that kind of throughput. The sensory result? Itch, itch, itch, itch, itch.

What made it worse was the fact that I knew a surefire solution that could stop the discomfort. I knew there was one simple action I could take that would completely stop the agony and return me to sanity: quit.

If I just stopped running, gave up on the whole thing and returned to a leisurely pace, the itching in my legs would go away.

Have you ever been there? Maybe not with jogging or physical activity, but have you ever been in a spot where you were in so much discomfort, so much pain even, that it seemed like quitting was your only option to make it go away?

The whole thing reminds me of a passage from a letter written by the Apostle Paul to a group of Christians in the city of Galatia. He knew that following Jesus in their day –as in ours– definitely brought with it an element of discomfort. Yet, this seasoned saint also knew that when it comes to our walk with Christ, the prize is always worth the pain. Look at what he reminded them…

“So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.  (Galatians 6:9)

There it is, a simple reminder with staggeringly powerful implications: don’t give up.

When the discomfort threatens to derail you, don’t give up.

When the struggle feels like it will sink you, don’t give up.

When the pain eclipses your perspective, forget about what you feel, and simply remember to DO this: Don’t. Give. Up.

It may seem like quitting is the only option to deal with the pain, but that would mean ditching the prize. It may feel like stopping is the only way to survive, but failing to finish would mean relinquishing the reward.

You see, in that itch-filled moment on the jogging trail, I knew that quitting might fix the discomfort, but I would have surrendered the satisfaction of a job well done. I also knew that if I kept at it, not only would the itch eventually fade away, but in its place would be the power of better blood flow and the pride of an accomplishment, a much better “fix” indeed.

So, what did I do that day? I kept going until I hit my goal.

Where do YOU need to keep going today?

Maybe you have a relationship that’s seen better days, but don’t give up.

Maybe there’s a workplace conflict you can’t seem to resolve, but don’t give up.

Maybe it’s a habit or sin or addiction that feels impossible to break, but whatever it is: Don’t. Give. Up!

If you’ll keep on pressing forward, I can’t promise your circumstance will improve right away, but I can guarantee you’ll receive a breakthrough in the one place that matters most…

Your heart.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus is your better hope

For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7:18-19)

There are many substitute saviors in this life.  For the Jewish people, it was observing the law of Moses.  For many religions today, it is doing good works.  For the irreligious it is “just being a good person.”

But none of these things can ever provide a lasting hope and full security of salvation.  After all, if your salvation depends on what you do, how will you ever know if you’ve done enough?

That’s why Jesus makes all the difference!

Since your salvation depends on Jesus alone, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’ve done enough. Jesus has!  In Christ, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re good enough. Jesus is!

Don’t let yourself slide into works-based thinking that tries to make you earn right standing with God. Instead, let your heart be set free by this magnificent truth of grace.

Jesus is your better hope.

–Pastor Phillip

Defending Jesus (Luke 4:29-30)

[The people] got up, drove Him out of town and brought Him to the edge of the hill their town was built on, intending to hurl Him over the cliff.  But He passed right through the crowd and went on His way.  (Luke 4:29-30)

Jesus has no need of a bodyguard.  He is not helpless and fragile, hoping someone comes along to bail Him out.

Neither has He any need of a Public Relations team to make Him cool, a Brand Strategist to make Him relevant, or a Salesperson to make Him desirable to the disinterested masses.

He wants witnesses who tell the truth about what they’ve seen and heard and experienced.  That’s it.

Apologetics certainly have their place, but if you really want to help the cause of Christ, don’t worry about defending Him.  Instead, focus on developing a vibrant relationship with Him that actually gives you something to say.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus is the anchor of your soul

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf… (Hebrews 6:19-20a)

Of all the storms in this life, perhaps none is more troubling than uncertainty.  Bad news and hard times can at least be faced head-on and dealt with, but how maddening it is when you just don’t know.

Not only that, but what more painful uncertainty could there be than not knowing where you stand with God?

That’s why Jesus is such a great Savior!  Not only does He make righteous all who come to Him by faith, but He himself is the personal guarantee of your acceptance by the Father.

No matter what your past reveals, how bad your present circumstances are or how uncertain your future may appear, if you’re in Christ, you can find strength as you meditate on this truth: Jesus is the anchor of your soul.

–Pastor Phillip

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