God chose you to belong to His people

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  (1 Peter 2:9-10)

You were created for belonging.  In the very beginning, God declared, “It is not good that the man should be alone,” (Genesis 2:18) and He meant it.

Yet, sin separates us not just from God, but also from one another.  Sin drives us deeper into the cave of lonely individualism, and tells us we can be just fine on our own.  Sin tells us we don’t need anyone else, that we alone have what it takes to live a full and meaningful life and have no need of other people.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

God is a relational God, and He created us as relational people.  Although sin separates, in Christ, God desires to bring together a people who have fellowship not only with Him, but also with each other.

Don’t believe the lie that you can experience full life with just you and Jesus. Jesus wants you to be a part of His body, His family, His people the church.  This is God’s will for you, not just to believe, but to belong.

You don’t have to be alone, so be blessed as you take action on this truth.

God chose you to belong to His people.

–Pastor Phillip

God reveals His blessings through community

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Philemon

GOD REVEALS HIS BLESSINGS THROUGH COMMUNITY

And I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.  (Philemon 1:6)

When we hear the phrase, “sharing your faith,” we likely think about evangelism.  Certainly we should share our faith with those who don’t have it, in hopes that they might believe.  Yet, there is another kind of sharing that is vitally important, too.

We must share our faith with other believers, not in the sense of only telling them about our experience, but listening to theirs, too.

The greek word used here for sharing is “koinonia,” a word we often translate in english as “fellowship.” It’s a picture of the Christian life as a family potluck dinner.

So, here’s a question.  Can you survive by only eating what you cooked up yourself?  Sure, but you’ll miss the fulness and beauty of enjoying what other people bring to the table.

God’s plan for your life in Christ was never about you and Him in isolation together.  He has wired your heart in such a way that the only way you will receive the fulness of His blessings is by being in fellowship regularly with His people.

God uses people to accomplish His work, so as you structure your life and your schedule, let this truth direct your priorities: God reveals His blessings through community.

-Pastor Phillip

You are part of the foundation

God’s Hope for Your Heart from 1 Timothy 3

YOU ARE PART OF THE FOUNDATION

But if I should be delayed, I have written so that you will know how people ought to act in God’s household, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.  (1 Timothy 3:15 HCSB)

The Bible says God has a family, a household, a group of people united under the banner of Christ who are all part of one another.  This family is the Church.

But the Church does not exist only for the people inside.

It is not only a source of provision for the needs of its own, but a source of preservation for goodness and truth in the world.  The Church is the bedrock, the guardian and steward of the Good News God wants to share with humanity.

That means that if you’re in Christ, you’re not just part of a club or even a family.  You have a purpose and a place in something far bigger than yourself!  So, when your life feels unimportant and insignificant, be encouraged by this wonderful truth: You are a part of the foundation.

-Pastor Phillip

In the Kingdom, your labor is never in vain

God’s Hope for Your Heart from 1 Corinthians 15

IN THE KINGDOM, YOUR LABOR IS NEVER IN VAIN

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.  (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)

Do you ever get tired of sharing God’s love with others, or doing the things Jesus has called you to?  Do you ever grow weary in serving the church or doing the work of the ministry?  If you’ve ever been in that place, here’s some good news…

Your labor is not in vain, because God gives you the victory.

Your labor is not in vain, because Jesus is the guarantee of your success.

Your labor is not in vain, because nothing matters more than the Kingdom of God, and no other enterprise is closer to His heart.

Your labor is not about growing an organization, it’s about building a Kingdom.  It’s not about keeping rules, it’s about resting in relationship with Jesus and sharing that love out of the overflow.

Be encouraged, because if you’re in Christ, you are already victorious!  This means that you can rest in the hope of this simple truth: in the Kingdom, your labor is never in vain.

-Pastor Phillip


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There’s a place for you in God’s family

God’s Hope for Your Heart from 1 Corinthians 12

THERE’S A PLACE FOR YOU IN GOD’S FAMILY

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”  On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor…  (1 Corinthians 12:21-23a)

The world looks for superstars and high-performance people, but the Church is not supposed to be like that.

The world elevates the talented and marginalizes the average, but the Church is not supposed to be like that.

The Church is a place for broken people to be made whole.  The Church is a place for hurting people to be healed.  In fact, the Church is a place that is not a place at all.

It’s a people you belong to, a family in which everybody has a part to play.

So, no matter what your background is, no matter what abilities you may or may not have and no matter how many times you’ve seen “church people” fail to live this out, may you be encouraged by the hope of this truth: there’s a place for you in God’s family.

-Pastor Phillip


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God gives you freedom to figure it out

God’s Hope for Your Heart from 1 Corinthians 8

GOD GIVES YOU FREEDOM TO FIGURE IT OUT

Food will not commend us to God.  We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do.  But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.   (1 Corinthians 8:8-9)

One of the hot moral issues of Paul’s day was eating food sacrificed to idols.  It was a divisive issue, to be sure, with people on either side certain the others were not pleasing God by their behavior.

But both sides were wrong.

To be clear, this was not an issue that God had spoken about definitively one way or the other…until now.  This was not about a commandment being broken.  It was about a cultural practice and a conscience issue.

So, as the Apostle Paul wrote under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration on this hot-button issue, he gave this instruction to the Corinthian Christians…

“God doesn’t care, just be considerate of one another.”

What?  God didn’t take a side in this culture war?  Nope, He just wanted His people to care for each other.

Again, this was not a cut-and-dry issue like sex or murder or marriage or obeying the law.  This was a gray area, and by leaving it gray, God left room for growth.

Here’s why this is good news.  It means that in Christ, you have room to figure things out for yourself as you follow the Holy Spirit!  It means that in the gray areas in your life, you have the freedom to seek God through His Word and discover where He wants your convictions to be.

In Christ you can rest easy and be free of the fear of getting things wrong, because God gives you freedom to figure it out.

-Pastor Phillip


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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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God loves to provide through His people

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Mark 10

GOD LOVES TO PROVIDE THROUGH HIS PEOPLE

Jesus said, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.’  (Mark 10:29-30)

Walking with Jesus always has a price, and sometimes it’s more costly than others.  We follow a crucified Savior who was homeless and poor.  Yet, notice how Jesus speaks of the reward He has prepared for those who sacrifice for Him.  He says they will be given “a hundredfold now in this time…

Does this mean that every believer who loses their home for the Gospel gets a hundred parcels of real estate down the street?  Of course not; there simply isn’t enough land on the planet for that.  Does it mean that every biological family member who rejects a believer is replaced with one hundred more?  All the adoption agencies in all the world couldn’t keep up with that!  So, what does Jesus mean?

He’s talking about the Church.

It is the plan and purpose of God that His Church should be a people who help one another generously,  sharing affection and commitment, support and strength, and when needed, even finances and a place to stay.  In fact, all throughout history we see examples of Christians who understood that God called them to be a family to one another, and as they opened their hearts and homes they became the fulfillment of His promise.

In many ways, this is completely counter-cultural to the western mindset.  Our spirit of rugged individualism calls us to take pride in doing things on our own, on needing no one, on making things happen for ourselves, and when we do, on keeping as much for our selves and our own families as we can.

But that is not the Spirit of Christ.

May you be willing to second-guess the gospel of consumer culture and be obedient to God by being generous with others.  May you be willing to sacrifice your preferences and pride on behalf of brothers and sisters in Christ.  As you do, you won’t just be obeying Jesus.  You’ll be laying a foundation for others to do the same for you, too, because of this hope-filled truth: God loves to provide through His people.

-Pastor Phillip


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You are Jesus’ family

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Mark 3

YOU ARE JESUS’ FAMILY

“For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35)

Jesus says a curious thing when His mother and brothers come to fetch Him home from His traveling ministry.  He knows they probably think He’s a little misguided, maybe even crazy, and that they want Him to come back to the family and just be normal again.

But the way of Jesus is anything but normal.

Jesus looks around Him at the people who have come to see Him.  They are sick people in need of healing, broken people in need of fixing, and weary people in need of encouragement.  They are looking to Jesus for the answers, trusting in Jesus to make things right.

And Jesus says they are the family to whom He really belongs.

It’s not that Jesus is disrespecting His own flesh and blood.  It’s just that He knows God is building a bigger family that will also be united by flesh and blood — His own.  Now all who do the will of God by trusting Christ for salvation and surrendering to Him as Lord are not just “saved” for eternity.

We are family here and now.

Maybe your family is a great one, or like most, leaves a lot to be desired.  Maybe you feel like you belong, or like many, you feel like an outsider.  Either way, remember this.

If you’re in Christ, then you are a valuable member of the family of God, and even though we children have plenty of dysfunction, here’s great news: we have the best Father of all.

Rest in that reality today, and as you do, you’ll discover hope in this truth: You are Jesus’ family.

-Pastor Phillip


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God chose you to belong to His people

Scripture Notes on 1 Peter 2

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

You were created for belonging. In the very beginning, God declared, “It is not good that the man should be alone,” (Genesis 2:18) and He meant it.

Yet, sin separates us not just from God, but also from one another. Sin drives us deeper into the cave of lonely individualism, and tells us we can be just fine on our own. Sin tells us we don’t need anyone else, that we alone have what it takes to live a full and meaningful life and have no need of other people.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

God is a relational God, and He created us as relational people. Although sin separates, in Christ, God desires to bring together a people who have fellowship not only with Him, but also with each other.

Don’t believe the lie that you can experience full life with just you and Jesus. Jesus wants you to be a part of His body, His family, His people the church. This is God’s will for you, not just to believe, but to belong.

You don’t have to be alone, so be blessed as you take action on this truth.

God chose you to belong to His people.

-Pastor Phillip

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