About that sinking feeling…

You have not been left out.

You have not been left behind.

You have not wasted your life.

You have not failed your calling.

–––

You still matter to God.

You still have much to offer.

You are still valuable to the world around you.

The best is yet to come.

–––

Now get to it!

–Phillip


Image creditunsplash-logoPaul Bulai

You are the beloved of God

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for [and by] Jesus Christ; may mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.  (Jude 1:1b-2)

Are you in Christ?  Then God wants multiply His peace in your heart and His mercy in your life.

Are you in Christ?  Then He is keeping you secure in His love, holding on to you as His precious treasure that nothing can ever snatch out of His hand.

Are you in Christ?  Then remember this.  No matter what you’ve done, no matter where or who you’ve been, Jesus has made a way for you to find hope in this truth…

If you’re in Christ, you are the beloved of God.

–Pastor Phillip

Praise will revive your heart

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 69

PRAISE WILL REVIVE YOUR HEART

But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your salvation, O God, set me on high!

I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.

This will please the Lord more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs.

When the humble see it they will be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.

For the Lord hears the needy
and does not despise His own people who are prisoners.

(Psalm 69:29-33)

Pain is no respecter of persons.  There is no “free pass” to forever avoid sorrow and suffering, and sometimes the night can seem so long that it simply drags you down.

That’s when praise is most powerful.

Whether for encouragement or forgiveness, for healing of old wounds or soothing of fresh ones, praise is the answer.  Whether your spirit has been brought low by the reality of hard circumstances or the deception of your enemy, praise is the answer.

You can choose to dwell on your sorrow, or you can choose to praise God for His salvation.

You can choose to focus on your hurt, or you can choose to praise God for your hope in Christ!

You can choose to listen to the voices of despair, or you can choose to speak and sing the truth of God’s deliverance, and when you do, you’ll discover incredible hope as you walk in this truth: praise will revive your heart.

-Pastor Phillip

p.s…

It is when our hearts are broken that God’s healing lifts us up.
It is when our souls feel empty that His presence fills our cup.
It is when the night seems longest that we most need day to start.
Oh, but our God hears the needy, so let praise revive your heart.
-Phillip Gonzales

God is the protector of your purpose

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 57

GOD IS THE PROTECTOR OF YOUR PURPOSE

I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me; He will put to shame him who tramples on me.  (Psalm 57:2-3a)

When David writes these lines, he has been anointed King, but he is living as a fugitive in a cave.  On the run from the jealous King Saul, David’s life is in jeopardy, his home is far away, and to an outside observer, his chances of future kingship are shaky at best.

But David knows differently.

David knows that if God has called it, then God will complete it.  If God has promised it, then God will provide it.  David knows that when God ordains a destiny, He never fails to deliver!

And David was right.

The people who sought David’s life eventually lost their own.  David’s adversaries became his subjects.  The people who tried to put David down ended up watching as God lifted him up to fulfill the purpose that God had given him to accomplish.

And God wants to do the same for you!

Maybe you know what God’s calling is on your life, or maybe you’re still waiting for clarity.  Maybe you’re confident in God’s purposes for you, or maybe you could use a little boost.

However you’re feeling, and whatever your life is looking like right now, don’t stop believing in God’s faithfulness!  Stay on the path, stick to the plan, and don’t let anyone else trample the dreams God has given you.  As you do, may you be filled with hope through this truth: God is the protector of your purpose.

-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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God is With You in the Work

An Encouraging Word

GOD IS WITH YOU IN THE WORK

I found it amusing that my nose was running like a faucet, because it felt like my sinuses were stuffed with cotton.

It was a Monday, and it was one of those days where the space around my eyes felt compressed, my nostrils were raw from constant Kleenex use, and I was worn out from feeling like I’d been battling to breathe since I woke up.

Gotta love seasonal allergies!

Like I always do, I loaded up a regiment of green tea, local honey, Kleenex, warm salt water for gargling and my trusty neti pot to clear out my nose, and I got to work.  I knew that these treatments would help prevent the allergies from settling in to an infection.  I knew that these treatments would help me cleanse my system more quickly and get me back on my feet.  I knew that these treatments were exactly what I needed to do to ensure the best outcome for my situation, but that didn’t stop this one nagging thought from dogging me all day…

“I’m tired of this.”

Can I make another confession, a spiritual one?

Sometimes I get weary of the work.

Not the 9 to 5 day job work, but the work of walking the path of the disciple, the work of building the Kingdom.  Sometimes, even though I know it’s the right thing to do, it’s hard to take the high road and keep walking, keep believing.

You see, before I’m a Pastor, I’m a person.  I’m a person with hopes and fears, wins and losses, strengths and struggles just like everyone else, and in my more reflective moments I have to admit the deep, dark truth.  Sometimes I just get sick of it all.

Have you ever felt that way?

Have you ever felt that even though you know following Jesus is worth it, it’s also a lot of work?

Have you ever felt tired of doing the right thing, of walking the narrow path, of being a “good Christian” day after day after day?

If you have, I have good news.  You’re not alone!

Everybody gets weary from time to time.  Jesus Himself had to take time to withdraw and rest, and even with that, in the Garden of Gethsemane He still found Himself being honest with His Father that He really didn’t want to go through with crucifixion.  (Matthew 26:36-44)

If you’re not always chipper about doing God’s will, you’re in good company.

That’s not the only thing, though.  You see, God’s call to us always comes with a promise for us, and the greatest promise of all is found in this: “I AM WITH YOU.”

If He is with you, you can know your faithfulness matters.

If He is with you, you can know your journey of discipleship has meaning.

If He is with you, you can know He will bring a harvest at the proper time, and until then His presence will be with you all the way.

Yes, following Jesus is hard work and can sometimes leave you weary.  But, it’s a weariness that doesn’t have to remain forever, and that you don’t have to go through alone.

If you need strength and hope today, may you find it by meditating on these words from God.  As you do, remember that He is speaking them not just to “people,” but to you…

“Be strong, all you people of the Land,” declares the Lord.  “Work, for I am with you,” declares the Lord of hosts.  (Haggai 2:4b)

“Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:20b, NLT)

Walk on, my friend, because God is with you in the work.

-Pastor Phillip

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?

God will never abandon you

Scripture Notes on Psalm 94

For the Lord will not forsake His people; He will not abandon His heritage.  (Psalm 94:14)

Have you sinned and felt the sting of consequences and the weight of guilt?  Be at peace, God will never abandon you.

Have you failed to live up to expectations, yours or God’s or someone else’s?  Be at peace, God will never abandon you.

Have people you trusted let you down, and people you relied on left you hanging?  Be at peace, God will never abandon you.

It may feel sometimes as if God is not there.  It may seem sometimes that heaven is closed to you and your prayers return unanswered.  Even so, be at peace.

It is only a season.

It is only for a time.

It will not last forever.

You see, if you’re in Christ, you belong to Jesus as His treasured possession, no matter what!  That means you can have peace in this simple truth.

God will never abandon you.

-Pastor Phillip

Let praise revive your heart

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 69

LET PRAISE REVIVE YOUR HEART

But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your salvation, O God, set me on high!

I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.

This will please the Lord more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs.

When the humble see it they will be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.

For the Lord hears the needy
and does not despise His own people who are prisoners.

(Psalm 69:29-33)

Pain is no respecter of persons.  There is no “free pass” to forever avoid sorrow and suffering, and sometimes the night can seem so long that it simply drags us down.

That’s when praise is most powerful.

Whether for encouragement or forgiveness, the healing of old wounds or soothing of fresh ones, praise is the answer.  Whether our spirit has been brought low by the reality of hard circumstances or the deception of our enemy, praise is the answer.

We can choose to dwell on our sorrow, or we can choose to praise God for His salvation.  We can choose to focus on our hurt, or we can choose to praise God for our hope in Christ.  We can choose to listen to the voices of despair, or we can choose to speak and sing the truth of God’s deliverance, and when we do, we will discover something incredible.

It is when our hearts are broken that God’s healing lifts us up.
It is when our souls feel empty that His presence fills our cup.
It is when the night seems longest that we most need day to start.
Oh, but our God hears the needy, so let praise revive your heart.

-Pastor Phillip

______________________________________________________________________________________________________

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How to Stay Constantly Close to God

Do you ever wish you were “closer to God?”

“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort [encourage, remind] one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”  -Hebrews 3:12-13

Sometimes the line between an open and closed heart isn’t understanding, but encouragement.

Sometimes we may drift from God not because we don’t believe, but because we don’t remember.

In a hyper-connected age of constant communication, we as the Church have great opportunity for constant encouragement and remembrance.

Do you want to stay constantly close to God?  Surround yourself with people who will remind you of His goodness and His Gospel.

Let’s remind each other of the Gospel through every channel we can…today.

–Pastor Phillip

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