Your accuser has no power over you

God's Hope for Your Heart Header

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.  And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.  (Revelation 12:10-11)

War in heaven, the angels of God against the demons of the dragon: different scholars believe different things about when these events will take place and what exactly the images mean.  Yet, nestled in the midst of these descriptions of battle is a word of hope for every believer in Christ.

When Jesus died, His blood was shed on your behalf.  Like a sacrificial Lamb, His death was offered as payment to God the Father for all of your sin.  When Jesus rose, His victory was validated, His triumph secured and His Kingdom authority confirmed.

Now, look at the result of Jesus’ triumphant work on the cross…

“The accuser…has been thrown down…and they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives unto death.”

This means if you’re in Christ, your sin can no longer be used against you because the prosecutor has been kicked out of court!

If you’re in Christ, your failures have no impact on your membership in God’s family because your accuser has been thrown down!

If you’re in Christ, then you have no need to wallow or worry because your guilt and shame now have no effect on your standing before God!

So, stand strong and free today as you trust the finished work of Christ on your behalf.  Don’t let your past sins or present struggles have any power over you, because they have no legal claim on you anymore.

Christian, if you feel the weight of failure and condemnation, push it aside and be released as you walk in this powerful truth today.

Your accuser has no power over you.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus cleared your debt completely

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Colossians 2

JESUS CLEARED YOUR DEBT COMPLETELY

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  This He set aside, nailing it to the cross.  (Colossians 2:13-14)

Creditors do not simply give up on collecting debts that are owed to them.  Judges do not simply toss aside convictions because they feel like it.  No, consistency and justice in finance and the law are vital components to an ordered society.

This reality is a reflection of the character of God, because He is a God of order.  He is a God of justice.  He is a God who rightfully and righteously demands that all debts must be paid, and all sins must be punished.

Yet, God is also a God of compassion.  He is a God of mercy, the Lord of love who takes no pleasure in suffering and pain.

So, Jesus paid the price to reconcile all these things together.

Jesus endured the full wrath of God the Father, suffering the full penalty for sin.  He paid the debt that you and I owed for our own sin, so that our record could be made clean in Christ.

This is astounding news!

This means that if you are in Christ, you have no more debt to God for your failures and flaws.  Your sins have been forgiven, both now and forever more, and your wicked heart has been replaced with a clean heart that is spotless and new.

Nothing remains to be done, because Jesus paid it all.  So, be at peace.  When you see your imperfections, or Satan reminds you of your past, you can rest in the hope of this truth from God’s Word: Jesus cleared your debt completely.

-Pastor Phillip

Instead of Himself, Jesus saved you

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Luke 23

INSTEAD OF HIMSELF, JESUS SAVED YOU

And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at Him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!”  The soldiers also mocked Him, coming up and offering Him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”  There was also an inscription over Him, “This is the King of the Jews.”  One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!”  (Luke 23:35-40)

It would have been easily within His power and well within His rights for Jesus to save Himself.

No other was so ill-deserving of the shame, the sorrow, and the suffering that Jesus experienced than the One who not only created the world, but entered it of His own accord to redeem its people.

No hands were less deserving of the nails than the hands of the Healer.  No feet were less deserving than the feet of the One who brought the Good News of peace to mankind.

It would have been such a simple thing for the maker of heaven and earth to simply say, “ENOUGH” and be done with the whole ordeal.  It would have been so easy for Him to vindicate His claims and bring vengeance on His tormentors.  Yet, Jesus ignored the taunts and temptation to save Himself because He knew that if He did, He would be giving up a greater prize…

Saving you.

Don’t let repetition or tradition rob you of the wonder of this simple fact that has such profound implications for all who trust in Him.  Rather, let your heart be filled anew with wonder at the incredible depth of God’s love for you in Christ, and may you discover fresh hope as you meditate on this truth: instead of Himself, Jesus saved you.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus paid the price for your place at the table

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Luke 22

JESUS PAID THE PRICE FOR YOUR PLACE AT THE TABLE

“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  (Luke 22:28-30)

Jesus is surrounded by His close friends, those He called by name to follow Him, those who have walked with Him through the good times and bad, and He makes them an incredible promise.  He promises them a place “at my table in my kingdom.

Here’s why this is special.  To the Jewish mind, the idea of heaven was not some floating existence on a cloud with a harp.  When they thought of paradise and eternity with God, they thought of the prophetic words of Isaiah 25:6-9, which tell of “a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.

For them, heaven isn’t about floating.  It’s about feasting.

So here is Jesus, making a promise to those who are about to watch Him die.  He promises that while it may look like He is leaving them, abandoning them in the hour of darkness, He’s really doing something quite different.

He’s securing their place at the table.

The Bible is clear that paradise is a gift to those who are perfectly righteous, but that no one can be righteous on their own.  So, Jesus came, lived a perfect life on our behalf, died a substitutionary death in our place for our sins, and rose from death to secure the promise of redemption for all who would believe in Him.

Not only that, but just like He called people then, He’s calling you to follow Him now, and just like His promise to those disciples, He’s made a great promise to you as well: a seat in His Kingdom.

So, if you’re in Christ, may you walk in hope by resting in this simple truth: Jesus paid the price for your place at the table.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus was forsaken so you could be accepted

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 22

JESUS WAS FORSAKEN SO YOU COULD BE ACCEPTED

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  (Psalm 22:1a)

For centuries, these opening words of Psalm 22 were spoken or sung by the people of Israel in times of suffering.  This Psalm was used as a prayer of lament and petition, asking God to deliver and praising Him for the deliverance that was sure to come.

That’s how Jesus, used it, too.

Imagine these words echoing through His mind as He was laid on the wood of the cross and the metal spikes were prepared for Him:  “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet.” (v. 16)

Imagine Him looking down in anguish at the mocking crowd before Him, seeing Roman soldiers playing games as these words must have come to mind, fulfilled before His eyes: “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” (v. 18)

Imagine His heartache and suffering, the feeling of being utterly alone as God the Father was forced to turn away from His Son because Jesus had taken on Himself the sins of the world.  That’s when Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  (Matthew 27:46, Mark 15:34)

Jesus knew all along that He would be forsaken in that moment, but He did it anyway.  The writer of Hebrews reminds us why as he, too, quotes from Psalm 22.

For it was fitting that He, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.  For He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.  That is why He is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”  (Hebrews 2:10-12)

Brothers.  Family.  Bringing many to glory.

Jesus knew He would be forsaken, but He did it anyway because He knew that only through His perfect sacrifice could sinners be made righteous and welcomed home to the praise of the glory of God.

Sinners like me.

Sinners like you.

In whatever situation you find yourself today, take time to ponder that.  As you do, may you have hope and confidence in this simple truth: Jesus was forsaken so you could be accepted.

-Pastor Phillip


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God’s wrath reveals your refuge

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 2

GOD’S WRATH REVEALS YOUR REFUGE

Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.  (Psalm 2:11-12)

Not many people talk about the wrath of God these days. Most folks are comfortable with the image of Jesus as a gentle servant, not an angry master.

Yet, we cannot ignore what the Bible says. God is gentle and kind, to be sure, but He is also holy and just and has a rightful anger towards sin and sinners themselves.

But, here’s the Good News: God’s love is even greater than His wrath!

How do we know this? Because even though God’s anger towards sin is righteous and fierce, He poured it out on Jesus, who willingly died on your behalf.   By His death on the cross, Jesus stepped in to absorb the full weight of God’s wrath for all who put their faith in Him, so that we “would not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16b)

That’s why if you’re in Christ, you can actually take comfort in God’s wrath, because it makes the refuge of His love for you all the more compelling.

Just like stars shine most brightly against the black of night, so the beauty of the Gospel shines most clearly in contrast to the reality of God’s wrath. Nobody wants to surrender to a Savior if they feel no need of saving, but in the face of certain judgment, how sweet and lovely is the message of the cross!

So, may you walk in the joy of His love as you declare with the people of God, “Blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” And, if you’re in Christ, may you never lose sight of the hope you have in this truth: God’s wrath reveals your refuge.

-Pastor Phillip


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How “Foolishness” Can Set You Free [An Encouraging Word]

An Encouraging Word

HOW “FOOLISHNESS” CAN SET YOU FREE

“This is never going to work.”

Have you ever noticed how in story after story, in movies and books and television shows, it’s the crazy, even foolish characters that save the day?

A little hobbit and a rag-tag band of others take a journey into the heart of darkness to save the world…and succeeds.

A bored farm boy from a desert planet leads a freedom uprising against an evil galactic empire…and wins.

What if God’s plan for your life was just like that?

You may feel like your life is too insignificant to be used in a big way, like it’s been a waste so far and doesn’t hold much prospect for the future, but think about this for a moment… In human terms, the cross of Christ was a total waste.  Think of what the people of His day might have said of His life and death:

“What a good teacher Jesus was!  He could have done so much more.”
“What an inspiring man He was! He could have risen so much higher.”
“What a powerful prophet He was! He could have gone so much farther.”
“Why did He have to go and throw it all away and get Himself killed?  So foolish.”

Maybe people could say things about you like they did about Him.  Maybe they are even true to some degree, but look at what God says… “the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God… for the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”  (1 Corinthians 1:18, 25)

In human terms, for Jesus to go to the cross was total foolishness.  In human terms, when Jesus went to the cross, it was an end.

But God doesn’t operate on human terms.

In God’s way, the cross is not an end, but a beginning  It is a triumphant announcement to you and to me and to any who hear it:

“Come, you who are weary, and find rest for your souls.
Come, you who are failures, and find another chance.
Come, you who are broken, and find healing and strength.
I make old things new, and dead things LIVE again.”

Maybe in human terms you aren’t qualified to make an impact in the world, but God doesn’t operate on human terms.

Maybe in human terms it would be foolish for Jesus to use you to do anything significant for His Kingdom, but God doesn’t operate on human terms.

In the Kingdom of God, it’s not about how capable or competent you are that matters.  What matters is how captivated you are by the grace of God, and how available you will choose to be for His power to flow through your life.

If you will be foolish enough to surrender to Jesus, to “come and die”, He will give you deeper life than you could ever imagine, purpose like you’ve never dreamed of, and freedom like never before.

The question is, then: how “foolish” are you willing to be?

Your accuser has no power over you

Scripture Notes on Revelation 12

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.  And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.  (Revelation 12:10-11)

War in heaven, the angels of God against the demons of the dragon: different scholars believe different things about when these events will take place and what exactly the images mean.  Yet, nestled in the midst of these descriptions of battle is a word of hope for every believer in Christ.

When Jesus died, His blood was shed on your behalf.  Like a sacrificial Lamb, His death was offered as payment to God the Father for all of your sin.  When Jesus rose, His victory was validated, His triumph secured and His Kingdom authority confirmed.

Now, look at the result of Jesus’ triumphant work on the cross…

“The accuser…has been thrown down…and they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives unto death.”

This means that if you’re in Christ, your sin can no longer be used against you because the prosecutor has been kicked out of court!

If you’re in Christ, your failures have no impact on your membership in God’s family, because your accuser has been thrown down!

If you’re in Christ, then you have no need to wallow or worry, because your guilt and shame now have no effect on your standing before God!

So, stand strong and free today as you trust the finished work of Christ on your behalf.  Don’t let your past sins or present struggles have any power over you, because they have no legal claim to you anymore.

Christian, if you feel the weight of failure and condemnation today, push it aside and be released as you walk in this powerful truth.

Your accuser has no power over you.

-Pastor Phillip

Jesus cleared your debt completely

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Colossians 2

JESUS CLEARED YOUR DEBT COMPLETELY

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)

Creditors do not simply give up on collecting debts that are owed to them. Judges do not simply toss aside convictions because they feel like it. No, consistency and justice in finance and the law are vital components to an ordered society.

This reality is a reflection of the character of God, because He is a God of order. He is a God of justice. He is a God who rightfully and righteously demands that all debts must be paid, and all sins must be punished.

Yet, God is also a God of compassion. He is a God of mercy, the Lord of love who takes no pleasure in suffering and pain.

So, Jesus paid the price to reconcile all these things together.

Jesus endured the full wrath of God the Father, suffering the full penalty for sin. He paid the debt that you and I owed for our own sin, so that our record could be made clean in Christ.

This is astounding news!

This means that if you are in Christ, you have no more debt to God for your failures and flaws. Your sins have been forgiven, both now and forever more, and your wicked heart has been replaced with a clean heart that is spotless and new.

Nothing remains to be done, because Jesus paid it all. So, be at peace. When you see your imperfections, or Satan reminds you of your past, you can rest in this truth from God’s Word.

Jesus cleared your debt completely.

-Pastor Phillip

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God is in complete control

Scripture Notes on Psalm 115

Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases. (Psalm 115:2-3)

Do you ever look at a situation and ask “Where is God in this?” Do you ever look at hard things in your life and wonder, “Couldn’t God have stopped that tragedy or prevented that pain?”

It is natural to feel these things, and to experience the frustration of our limited point of view. Yet, there is hope to be had once we have the right perspective.

“Our God is in the heavens” doesn’t mean that He stands far off, aloof and uninterested in human affairs. It means that He is there, watching over you, taking care of you in even the smallest details. It means that God knows.

Not only is He aware, but God is able to do whatever He pleases. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all good, and there is no circumstance in your life that He is not able to enter into and transform for the good.

So why do we still have pain? Why doesn’t God just fix things for us instead of allowing us to hurt?

Any number of theological answers can be offered, but underneath them all is this simple truth. Your heavenly Father is far greater in wisdom and goodness than any of us could hope to be. His ways are not our ways, so we may never fully understand this side of heaven. What we can do, though, is look to the cross.

In Christ, God has demonstrated His perfect love for you and for me. When our hearts are filled with that reminder, our minds can be at peace as we rest in this simple truth about our loving God.

God is in complete control.

-Pastor Phillip