Fear of Man

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Fear of man is a snare.  (Proverbs 29:25)

The Gospel frees us from the insecurity of needing other people’s opinions to validate our worth.  It frees us, therefore, from needing to manipulate the perceptions and impressions of everyone around us.

This means that when we receive the truth of the Gospel and embrace who God says we are in Christ, we no longer have to use people for their accolades.

Instead, we can love them authentically and serve them for their benefit… rather than using them for ours.

–Pastor Phillip

Vision, Distraction, and Expectations

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“So I sent messengers to them, saying, ‘I am doing a great work and cannot come down.  Why should the work cease while I leave it and go down to you?’”  (Nehemiah 6:3)

Fulfilling a vision means being able to say no to the distractions of less important things.  It requires boldness and determination, and a willingness to hold the line even (and especially) in the face of criticism.

When it seems like everyone is pressing and everything is urgent, just remember this.  Don’t let the expectations of others derail the destiny God has for your life.

–Pastor Phillip

Why people flocked to John

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Then people from Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the vicinity of the Jordan were flocking to [John], and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins.  (Matthew 3:5-6)

Why did people flock to John?  Some came out of curiosity, to be sure, perhaps even many or most of them.  Yet, even they were drawn by something deeper, because their visit resulted in repentance.  Surely this can only be the result of the supernatural hand of God, stirring hearts in need of repentance towards a desire for repentance!

After all, John is not portrayed as a particularly eloquent or crowd-pleasing speaker, so the delivery wasn’t the key.  He was in the wilderness, not a lovely temple, so the environment wasn’t the draw.  He was dressed in rough garments, not in fine clothes that signified authority or appeal, so that wasn’t it, either.

No, it was simply a Spirit thing.

John served as a focal point for something God already wanted to do.  He was not the cause, only a catalyst, and even that was not because of his own noble choice.  It was because God called him.

So, here is the deep question for us today: if we want to see people come to faith in Christ and rally to repentance, what should we do?

Here are three suggestions…

  1. We should “Make every effort to make [our] calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10) by focusing on our personal walk with God.  It is doubtful John thought of making the desert his home base on his own.  Surely this must have been revealed through his intimate relationship with God.  This is why prayer is vital.
  2. We should pay attention to the times and seasons of the world around us.  What is God already doing?  How is He already stirring hearts and preparing them to respond to a catalyst?
  3. We must obey God when He tells us what to do, no matter how uncomfortable or unorthodox the instruction may seem.  I doubt locusts, wild honey, desert life and came-hair clothing would have been at the top of John’s list of goals for his life, but there he was, being faithful…

And God responded in amazing ways.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus’ Word to You

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Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.  (Mark 13:31)

An old saying goes, “all good things must come to an end,” and in most cases this is true.

Companies close and relationships fall apart.  Nations crumble and loved ones die.  Hopes fail and dreams fade and according to Jesus, even heaven and earth will one day cease to exist as we know them.

But there is at least one good thing that will never, ever come an end: Jesus’ word to you.

So what is His word to you if you’re in Christ?

You are loved, embraced, accepted and forgiven, and nothing can ever take that away.

–Pastor Phillip

A Legacy of Faith

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I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure, dwells in you as well.  For this reason, I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.  For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.  (2 Timothy 1:5-7)

For what reason does Paul remind Timothy to press on and increase in the power of God?  Because of Timothy’s godly heritage.

A legacy of faith is both an opportunity and a responsibility.  It provides a set of shoulders on which to stand, and a charge from God to rise to the occasion so that others may stand on your shoulders, too.

If you come from a long line of believers, may God give you strength and will to follow the path they started.  If you don’t, may He give you courage to blaze the trail for those who will come behind.

–Pastor Phillip

For or Against

Anyone who is not with Me is against Me, and anyone who does not gather with Me scatters.  (Luke 11:23)

Jesus is looking for partners in His purpose, co-laborers in His mission, not curious bystanders who want to “try before they buy” but not make any real commitment.

You may think you can follow Jesus on a part-time basis, but He says differently.

You may think you can sign up for a short-term discipleship trial run, but Jesus says the opposite.

You may think that by delaying your choice to respond to the Gospel with wholehearted commitment, you’re somehow standing on safe, neutral ground.

You’re not.

–Pastor Phillip

A House Divided

Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and a house divided against itself falls.  (Luke 11:17)

It is the common and constant refrain of Christian leaders and concerned friends: “Don’t be ‘yoked’ with unbelievers.”

We use the imagery of two oxen connected by a wooden yoke to symbolize things like partnerships in marriage and partnerships in business.  We plead with people, “Don’t get tied in with someone who doesn’t follow Christ!”

Some resist, “I know they aren’t a Christian, BUT…” and they sign the deal or walk the aisle anyway.

Don’t be that person!

Jesus isn’t trying to restrict your freedom, He’s trying to rescue your future.

–Pastor Phillip

Serving and Sitting (Luke 10:38-42)

While they were traveling, [Jesus] entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said.  But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  So tell her to give me a hand.”
The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:38-42)

Working for God without spending time with God is a fast-track to frustration.  Taking time to listen and learn from Jesus is a pathway to peace.

Often we may seek to work for the Kingdom because it produces the immediate gratification of a job well done.  This is not a bad thing, but separated from quality time simply listening to the King, it’s not the best thing.

Don’t just work for Jesus, walk with Him, and in doing so you’ll not only be able to learn; you’ll also be showing your love.

–Pastor Phillip

Preconception and Revelation (Luke 9:43b-45)

While everyone was amazed at all the things He was doing, He told His disciples, “Let these words sink in: The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men.”  But they did not understand this statement; it was concealed from them so that they could not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask Him about it.  (Luke 9:43b-45)

Jesus makes it clear that He wants the disciples to understand what He is saying, but the plain truth is too far outside their expectations to sink in.

Sometimes God may have something to say, but we are too focused on our own ideas to see and hear it.

All too often, only by removing our preconception can we receive God’s revelation.

–Pastor Phillip

Waking up to Jesus (Luke 9:32)

Peter and those with him were in a deep sleep, and when they became fully aware, they saw His glory and the two men who were standing with Him.  (Luke 9:32)

Jesus’ glory was on full display, but His disciples almost missed it.  They were “weighed down with sleep,” and almost missed a chance to see Jesus for who He really is.

What causes you to feel “weighed down?”

What makes you want to keep your eyes closed, to sleep and retreat instead of standing and engaging?

Maybe your greatest encounter with Jesus is just around the corner, if you’d just be willing to do the work of waking up…

–Pastor Phillip