Jesus is your faithful forgiver

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9)

If you betray someone you love, you will discover that a barrier begins to grow between you.  There may be no retribution on their part, but the closeness of the relationship will suffer.

Christian, so it is between you and God.

Make no mistake, the cross of Jesus Christ provides the full payment for the penalty of your sin.  There is no more punishment for you, only loving discipline.  God has no more wrath for you, only grace!  However, though God will not bring retribution on you now if you sin, you can still bring barriers into the relationship.

God wants more for you than that!

When you stumble off the path of righteousness, remember this.  In Christ, your legal standing before God is totally righteous and completely loved.  So, don’t let fear keep you from coming back into loving fellowship with your Heavenly Father.

He is waiting for you with open arms, longing for you to return with a repentant heart so that He can restore your closeness with Him.

Open your mouth and confess where you’ve strayed, and open your heart to be encouraged by this truth.

Jesus is your faithful forgiver.

–Pastor Phillip

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

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’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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Jesus brings you close to God

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 24

JESUS BRINGS YOU CLOSE TO GOD

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.  (Psalm 24:3-4)

Do you ever feel far away from God?

Maybe you’ve done something you’re not proud of.  Maybe you’ve done something right, but with motives that make you ashamed.  Maybe you’ve tried to do the right thing or have the right attitude, but you keep slipping and tripping over your own attempts.

Clean hands and a pure heart?  You’re grateful to just avoid catastrophe.

The reality is that in your own strength, you can never truly have clean hands–right actions–and a pure heart–Godly attitudes–all of the time.  If it were all up to you, then you would never be able to draw close to God, to stand before Him with confidence and peace.

But Jesus changes everything.

If you’re in Christ, then His perfectly clean hands and totally pure heart have been accounted to you!  That means that when God the Father checks the entrance requirements of those who would draw near to Him, He doesn’t see you as a failure, but as family.  He doesn’t see you as imperfect, but as immaculately clean because of the blood of Jesus shed for you.

You may feel like what you’ve done and desired have pushed you away from God, but if you’re in Christ, here’s good news: restoration is waiting for you, and all you have to do is receive it.

Friend, don’t let the enemy load you down with guilt and shame for your human lack of perfection.  Instead, let the Holy Spirit remind you of your divine destiny as a child of God.  Rest in this, and come back home to fellowship with your Heavenly Father.  As you do, let your hope be found in this life-changing truth: Jesus brings you close to God.

-Pastor Phillip


AUDIO VERSION (Click here to subscribe to the daily podcast on iTunes.)


 

Jesus is your faithful forgiver

Scripture Notes on 1 John 1

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  (1 John 1:9)

If you betray someone you love, you will discover that a barrier begins to grow between you. There may be no retribution on their part, but the closeness of the relationship will suffer.

Christian, so it is between you and God.

Make no mistake, the cross of Jesus Christ provides the full payment for the penalty of your sin. There is no more punishment for you, only loving discipline. God has no more wrath for you, only grace! However, though God will not bring retribution on you now if you sin, you can still bring barriers into the relationship.

God wants more for you than that!

When you stumble off the path of righteousness, remember this. In Christ, your legal standing before God is totally righteous and completely loved. So, don’t let fear keep you from coming back into loving fellowship with your Heavenly Father.

He is waiting for you with open arms, longing for you to return with a repentant heart so that He can restore your closeness with Him.

Open your mouth and confess where you’ve strayed, and open your heart to be encouraged by this truth.

Jesus is your faithful forgiver.

-Pastor Phillip

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

Fellowship and “Followship”

In Christ, FELLOWSHIP and “FOLLOWSHIP” are two sides of the same coin.

If you would have fellowship with Christ, follow His teaching and commands.

Once you have been in fellowship with Him, following Him will be the “new natural” desire of your heart.  In Christ, we must always “follow our heart” because He now IS our heart, the seat and center of our desires and dreams.  Anything leading us away from Christ is also leading us away from the deepest, truest part of ourselves.