God is delighted when you delight in Him

For the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He adorns the humble with salvation.  Let the godly exult in glory, let them sing for joy on their beds.  (Psalm 149:4-5)

God doesn’t get the most glory out of the submission of slaves, but from the celebration of sons and daughters.  His greatest desire isn’t that people would obey Him out of the fear of punishment, but that they would worship Him out of delight at the reward of His pleasure.

He is a loving Father who wants the greatest good and the deepest joy for His children, and He knows that these things only come when we walk in fellowship with Him.

So, let God Himself be your treasure today, and as you do, you can have confidence that you’re pleasing Him because of this truth.

God is delighted when you delight in Him.

–Pastor Phillip

All of creation brings praise to the Lord

Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling His word.
Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars!  Beasts and all livestock, creeping things and flying birds!  Kings of the earth and all people, princes and all rulers of the earth!  Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted, His majesty is above earth and heaven.
(Psalm 148:7-13)

When you sing praise to God, you aren’t the only one bringing Him worship.

Right now, at this very moment, all of heaven and earth are giving glory to Him.  This means that when you sing praise to God, you are joining in the chorus of all the universe that has been flowing since time itself began!

Take time today to lift your head up out of the details of your little life, and be motivated by this truth…

All of creation bring praise to the Lord.

–Pastor Phillip

Walking in truth leads to multiplied joy

For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth.  I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.  (3 John 1:3-4)

Sometimes it’s easy to start thinking that our walk with God is just between us and Him…but it’s bigger than that.

Sometimes, if we’re not careful, we can slip into believing that our beliefs are only a private matter…but they’re not.

Your life has an impact on more people than you know, and so your relationship with God is a profoundly important thing!  Since what you believe drives how you behave, you have the potential to help or harm the people around you, simply by how committed you are to the truth of God’s Word and the life of Christ.

Here’s some good news.  When you walk faithfully with Jesus, you are not just blessing yourself, and you’re not just blessing God.  You are blessing the world around you because your life is affecting it with the transforming love of Christ!

Let this reality encourage and strengthen you to keep moving forward on the narrow road of faith.

Walking in truth leads to multiplied joy.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus is your eternal reward

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.  (1 John 2:16-17)

The world promises great rewards for those who will follow its ways.  Money, power, fame, love, success, honor—all these and more it promises you if you bow down and worship.

But all of these things are passing away.

Bank accounts bleed, power wanes, and fame is fleeting.  Love grows cold, success gets old, and honor from others comes and goes with the changing of seasons.

How comforting, then, to know that for those who follow Jesus, there is a reward that endures forever—Jesus himself!

When you are abiding in Christ, you are connected to the source of all good things, of all joy and peace, of all meaning and fulfillment.  When you are in Christ, you can let the world do what it will to you, because you are eternally secure in Him.

Christian, don’t let the trinkets of earth distract you from the treasure you already have.  In Christ, you can find satisfaction in this glorious truth.

Jesus is your eternal reward.

–Pastor Phillip

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

(Or, “How I Found Perspective Because My Son Really Had to Pee”)

My son really had to pee.

We’d been driving for an hour through a display of brilliant Christmas lights in a neighborhood miles from our home. The Christmas music was turned up, the windows were rolled down, the atmosphere was festive… and my 7-year-old had had enough.

I’ll be honest, I was a little annoyed, not that he had to use the bathroom and that traffic was slow –God knows we can all relate to that– but that he was making such a big deal about it! I mean, come on, kid, I get it. One too many juice pouches can take its toll on any of us, but you don’t need to broadcast it every 12 seconds.

Then, somewhere between the festive music and the fidgety moans, something dawned on me that changed my attitude completely.

As we were making our way out of the menagerie of cars and carols, I noticed a detail about the Christmas lights that I’d never thought of before… the lights looked more beautiful because of the darkness between them. It was the blackness that made the lights seem brighter, the space that made them sparkle.

There was goodness in the gaps.

In that moment, I realized something. Just like there were gaps between the beauty of the Christmas lights and the blackness of the night, there were gaps between the kind of family moments I wanted that evening and the kind of moments I got.

But there’s goodness in the gaps.

I would have preferred for my son to have been less vocal about his discomfort, but that same little voice also filled our car with laughter that night. I would have preferred for us to not have to end the night before we’d seen every house, but that made the time we did have seem all the more special for its brevity.

There’s goodness in the gaps.

Maybe that’s what the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes meant when he commented on the ebbs and flows of life: [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11a) Maybe he knew something about the gaps between what we want and what we get. Maybe he knew that sometimes the moments we’d gladly wish away actually sweeten the ones we’d like to savor forever.

Have you experienced any “gaps” this season?

Maybe family gatherings brought more complication than celebration this year. Maybe gifts weren’t given or received the way you would have wished. Maybe a certain person went away, or a certain problem came around.

I won’t pretend that it hasn’t been difficult, or that I understand your situation. I can’t promise that solutions will be quick to appear or easy to apply. I learned something, though, on that noise-filled night, in between the creative displays of lights and the clamoring of the son I love.

I found out that if you’re willing to look hard enough and trust God long enough, you’ll discover for yourself:

There’s goodness in the gaps.

–Pastor Phillip

P.S. We made it to a restroom… just in time.

God created good things for you

God’s Hope for Your Heart from 1 Timothy 4

GOD CREATED GOOD THINGS FOR YOU

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving…  (1 Timothy 4:4)

Some see God as a cranky old man who likes to spoil their fun, but this is not the God of the Bible.

Some see God as a stern rule-giver more concerned with moral enforcement of law than with maximum enjoyment of life, but this is not the God of the Bible.

When the God of the Bible created the world, He said it was good.  Now, even though sin has fractured all of creation, God’s desire for His creatures is still the same: to bring Him glory by enjoying Him and the world that He made.

Don’t let tradition or religion hold you back from relishing the life that God gave you.  He doesn’t want you to sin, but neither does He want you to suffocate under the burden of man-made restrictions.

As you pursue a life that honors God, let your mind be filled with His Word and your heart be filled with His love, and let this truth set you free to enjoy the journey: God created good things for you.

-Pastor Phillip

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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Your life is all about Jesus

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Romans 11

YOUR LIFE IS ALL ABOUT JESUS

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be glory forever.  Amen.  (Romans 11:36)

Over and over in the Bible, we see that salvation and grace come from God.  They are gifts that He offers out of the overflow of His love, not wages we earn through the abundance of our good deeds.  It’s from Jesus.

We see, too, especially in the book of Romans, that the power to live in Christ also comes not through our own strength and ability, but His.  We are enabled by His Spirit, not our effort.  It’s through Jesus.

Don’t miss the point of it all, though.  Our salvation and strength, redemption and resurrection are great gifts from our loving Father, but there is a purpose in them beyond ourselves and our happiness.  The reason for all of this?

It’s to Jesus.

This means that your performance at work isn’t about you, it’s about Jesus.

It means that your interactions with your neighbors aren’t about you, they’re about Jesus.

This means that your studies and your children and your marriage and your hobbies certainly involve you and hopefully benefit you, but they aren’t really about you in the end.  They’re about Jesus.

So, when your life isn’t living up to the goals you set, you can still be at peace if you are living for Jesus.  When your plans turn out differently than you expected, it’s not a failure, just a new opportunity to give Him glory.

Remembering that He is the point of it all will relieve a lot of pressure.  So, as you meditate on the true purpose of your life, may you be filled with hope as you dwell on this truth: Your life is all about Jesus.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus is bringing you everlasting joy

God’s Hope for Your Heart John 16

JESUS IS BRINGING YOU EVERLASTING JOY

“When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.  So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”  (John 16:21-22)

Those who have experienced it say there is no pain quite like the agony of childbirth, yet there is also no joy like seeing and holding your newborn in your arms.

They say the joy is always greater than the agony.

In the same way, Jesus promises His disciples that life in this world will not be free of pain, a statement quickly confirmed by a look at the lives of His first followers.  However, both His word and their lives also bear witness to a powerful truth and a great hope for the people of God.

For every sorrow, there is a greater joy waiting.

For every pain, there is a greater reward.

For every dark, lonely night there is a bright morning of reunion for all those in Christ.

Your situation may not feel very hopeful right now, but no matter what you’re going through, remember this: after the sorrow, the joy of His presence and power in you will be far greater!  It will be so deep that the pain you feel right now will fade into the dusty archives of forgetfulness, and in its place will not be some cheap happiness that can slip away with circumstances.

It may not come today.  It may not come tomorrow.  But, no matter how long it takes, it will come, as surely as morning follows night.

Today, may you rest in the hope of this truth: Jesus is bringing you everlasting joy.

-Pastor Phillip


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God wants to turn your weeping into worship

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 30

GOD WANTS TO TURN YOUR WEEPING INTO WORSHIP

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, 
that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. 
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
(Psalm 30:11-12)

Every family has their problems.  Every person has their pain.

Every lifetime has its struggle.  Every season has its tears.

In the middle of these difficult times, it’s easy to lose hope.  It’s easy to lose heart and resign ourselves to the thought that maybe this is as good as it gets.  Maybe our days in the sun have passed, and all we have now is night.

But God wants something better for you.

It is true that “weeping may tarry for the night,” but it is just as true that “joy comes with the morning,” and if you’re in Christ, here’s good news: morning ALWAYS comes!

Not only that, but you can have confidence that God will bring better things into your life because of two things.  First, He loves you more than you could ever imagine!  Second, He knows that the hearts that praise the greatest, are the ones that have felt His deliverance the deepest.

Whatever season you’re in right now, may you look past it to discover the hope of this truth: God wants to turn your weeping into worship.

-Pastor Phillip


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