Bitterness will kill your soul

The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water.  The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water, because it had been made bitter. (Revelation 8:10-11)

The imagery of Revelation is powerful and complex, and also multi-layered in its application.  Is this a passage about a cataclysmic event that will take place at the time of the end?  Yes.  But can we also find in it a principal for how we live our lives now?  Absolutely.

Jesus said that all who come and receive His life will find within them “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  (John 4:14)  So, what happens when that spring becomes sour?  What happens when our inner life becomes poisoned with bitterness, unforgiveness, and all their friends?

We die inside.

If Jesus wants to give us water of life, then the enemy of our souls wants to deceive us into letting that source grow bitter.  Don’t give in to him!  Don’t give ground to it!

No matter what steps you need to take or how hard it seems to be, look to Christ and draw on His strength to help you forgive.  Let go of your bitterness and give it to Jesus.  Let go of your hurt and give it to God.  Release them today and receive the fresh water of life instead, because if you don’t, you can be sure of this truth.

Bitterness will kill your soul.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus turns death into deliverance

“You were slain, and by Your blood You ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”  (Revelation 5:9b)

Nobody watching Jesus bleed out on the cross had a chipper outlook for the future.

To be sure, Jesus had told His disciples He would rise again, but their astonishment when He showed up again reveals they hadn’t bought in 100%.

But Jesus has a way of changing insurmountable obstacles into unexpected blessings.

His life was a demonstration, but His death was the true deliverance.  Many people were helped by His words, but the real power was in His blood.

When your circumstances look like death, remember that Jesus changes everything, and let yourself be comforted by this truth.

Jesus turns death into deliverance.

–Pastor Phillip

God has prepared a homeland for you

But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a city.  (Hebrews 11:16)

For every Christian, there are those times when we see the world as it is and realize that this is not our home.  We see our lives as they are and realize this is not our final form.

No, if you’re in Christ, God is making all things new, and much better things await you in eternity!

This is not to say you shouldn’t work for good here and now.  Indeed you should do your best to bring blessing to all those around you, in Jesus’ name.

However, when you come face-to-face with the inevitable imperfection and persecution of a fallen world, you don’t have to be discouraged.  Instead, you can take heart in this truth.

God has prepared a homeland for you.

–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

Jesus will welcome you home

God’s Hope For Your Heart from 1 Thessalonians 4

JESUS WILL WELCOME YOU HOME

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.  And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

No matter how dark, painful or just plain frustrating your life is, in Christ there is a future hope for you.

No matter whether you live long or die young, in Christ there is a perfect hope for you.

Jesus died to give you life abundantly right here, right now, but there are still times that the life He gives us doesn’t look the way we’d like.  Even so, in Christ there is always hope for you.

No matter how good or bad you feel about this life, it is ending day by day.  Yet, this doesn’t have to be a source of sadness.

In Christ, you are not getting closer to death; you are getting closer to true life.  In Christ, each day of your life, whether filled with pleasure or pain, brings you closer to where you truly belong.

One day, when you fill your lungs for the last time with the stale air of a broken world, your eyes will finally be opened either through death or rapture.  Then, as you breathe in the air of eternity for the first time, at last you’ll be greeted with the source of your hope: Jesus will welcome you home.

-Pastor Phillip

Jesus is your righteousness

God’s Hope for Your Heart from 2 Corinthians 5

JESUS IS YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS

For our sake [God] made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.  (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Only the righteous are accepted by God.  Over and over in Scripture we see this, that righteousness brings love and life from God and sin brings wrath and death.

That’s why it’s such bad news that all people are born sinful, and such good news to hear what God has done “for our sake.”

If you’re in Christ, Jesus took all of your sins on Himself at the cross.  Because He had no sin of His own, He was perfectly qualified to take yours.  Think of it.  Every bad deed, cruel word or wrong motive: gone, done away with, totally atoned for.

But there’s more.

Jesus didn’t just take something bad from you; He gave something good to you in its place.  He didn’t just make a sin withdrawal from your eternal account; He made a deposit of righteousness on your behalf!

This means that when God looks at your ledger, instead of seeing your sin, He sees Jesus’ righteousness!  He doesn’t see your past; He sees Jesus’ perfection!  When God the Father looks at you, He sees His Son, Jesus, in all of His glory, covering your life and giving His glory to you.

Friend, the righteous are always accepted and loved by God, so if you’re in Christ, you can rejoice in this hope-inspiring truth: Jesus is your righteousness.

-Pastor Phillip


AUDIO VERSION
[click here for today’s. | click here to subscribe via iTunes.]


 

Jesus is your living guarantee

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Romans 6

JESUS IS YOUR LIVING GUARANTEE

We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His.  (Romans 6:4-5)

You cannot “turn over a new leaf” in your life and expect everything to get better.  No amount of trying, no collection of self-help materials, no great set of new habits can truly change your life for the better.

But Jesus can.

To come to Christ is not to sign up for a program, but to surrender to a Person.  It’s not about accepting a new set of duties, but about embracing the death of yourself so that Christ might live through you.

This is incredible news for all who struggle (and all of us do struggle) because it means we don’t bear the burden of having to work out a resolution to all of our problems.  Instead, we hold out for a resurrection that we know is coming to set us free one way or another.

How can you be sure of this in your own life?  How can you know that this resurrection is coming for you?  Because Jesus was raised from the dead, and that is the sign that He can keep His word to you!  That means if you’re in Christ, you can have unshakeable hope because of this truth: Jesus is your living guarantee.

-Pastor Phillip


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


 

Eternal perspective can set you free right now

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 39

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE CAN SET YOU FREE RIGHT NOW

I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse.
My heart became hot within me.  As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:
“O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!”
(Psalm 39:2-4)

Sometimes we try so hard to be at peace with situations, but it just doesn’t work.  We try to have a good attitude, a right heart, but the more we try to respond rightly, the more frustrated we become.

Have you ever been there?

David finds himself trying so hard not to let the people and problems around him produce distress within him, and it’s just not working.  So, what does he ask for when he goes to God for help?

Perspective.

Ask anyone who has survived a terrible accident or been diagnosed with a terminal illness and they will tell you the same thing.  They will tell you that when you really grasp the truth of your own mortality, when you really know how fragile and fleeting your life is, it changes how you see the world.  When seen in the light of eternity, petty disagreements don’t seem to matter as much, and even major differences turn out to be not quite as earth-shattering as you thought.

That’s why David asks to be reminded of just how short his time is, so that his heart will have the proper perspective to use that time well.

May you be blessed today with that same reminder, because when you take it to heart, it will bring hope because of this truth: eternal perspective can set you free right now.

-Pastor Phillip


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


 

Because Jesus lives, you will, too

God’s Hope for Your Heart from John 14

BECAUSE JESUS LIVES, YOU WILL, TOO

“Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me.  Because I live, you also will live.”  (John 14:19)

The world can look so dark sometimes, so broken, and it’s easy to lose sight of Jesus if we’re not careful.  Even our own lives may go through seasons of darkness where it’s hard to see Jesus in our circumstances.

Yet, Jesus tells His disciples they will see Him.  Not only that, but He tells them that with that vision will come an even greater blessing: life.

Now, if you’re in Christ, He’s telling you, too.

Let your faith win out over your natural eyes today.  Let the Spirit show you the truth that no matter how alone you may feel, Jesus is there!

No matter how strong the power of death seems to be right now, may you stand firm in faith as you remember this reality.  You can have hope today because of this truth about tomorrow: because Jesus lives, you will, too.
-Pastor Phillip


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


 

GET YOUR LAUNCH LIST BONUSES NOW!

Let's do this together.

WHAT TYPE OF ORGANIZATION IS THIS FOR? (Primarily)