Is it Really Love?

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Love, therefore, is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:10)

Love is a word our culture loves to throw around without definition. We use it in a way that seems to say the essence of love is “always be nice to me and never tell me anything that I don’t want to hear.”

This is why any talk of sin and conviction and repentance is often instantly branded by some as “unloving” and immediately shut down. But is it? If “love does no wrong to a neighbor,” we must know and think clearly about what “wrong” really is.

Is it wrong to not warn a friend about to drink that the milk has already gone bad? Is it wrong to let a teenager drive the freeway without ever learning how? Is it wrong to let a small child play with a firearm?

Is it wrong to let an alcoholic have “just one more” when you know what it will do to them, and what they will do to their family after that? Is it wrong to do nothing about the sexual harassment of a coworker, when you know the pain it is causing them and the problems it is creating for the whole company?

Is it wrong to say nothing while a friend pursues an affair, when you know what it will do to their spouse and their children not just now, but forever? Is it wrong to embrace and condone lifestyles and patterns of behavior that you know are not only unbiblical, but also scientifically proven to lead to problems, pain, and ruin?

Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore, if your goal is simply to never offend, annoy, or cause pain, even at the cost of your neighbor’s well-being, perhaps by being “nice” you’re not really loving them at all.

Fear of Man

Scripture Notes Header

Fear of man is a snare.  (Proverbs 29:25)

The Gospel frees us from the insecurity of needing other people’s opinions to validate our worth.  It frees us, therefore, from needing to manipulate the perceptions and impressions of everyone around us.

This means that when we receive the truth of the Gospel and embrace who God says we are in Christ, we no longer have to use people for their accolades.

Instead, we can love them authentically and serve them for their benefit… rather than using them for ours.

–Pastor Phillip

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

Jesus loved you with His life

By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  (1 John 3:16)

Love is not just a feeling, it is a choice to act.  It is a demonstrated desire to put someone else’s needs above your own.  Love is an action, not just an attitude.

We know this because it’s how Jesus Himself demonstrated what love really is.  He didn’t just speak, He sacrificed.  He didn’t just compliment, He committed himself by what He did.

And He did this for you!

When your heart wavers and you wonder if Jesus really loves you, look to the cross.  It is there that your hope and comfort are found, because it is there that you can discover this powerful truth.

Jesus loved you with His life.

–Pastor Phillip

God gives you discipline to bring you peace

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.  (Hebrews 12:7-8, 11)

Think of the ruin that comes from a flood.  Torrents of water can cause great harm as they rise, undirected and spilling everywhere.  Dams and riverbeds restrict the water, but in doing so they channel it into something useful, something good.

So it is with our lives.

When God disciplines us, it is not intended for our punishment, but for our peace.  It is God using any means necessary to channel our lives and hearts into the good purposes He has for us, purposes that sin will inhibit if not dealt with.

God may allow or even cause pain in your life, but it is always because He loves you, and it is never His first choice.

Listen to His whispers and pay attention to His Word today so that you’ll have no need of stronger discipline.  If and when it comes, though, don’t lose heart, and don’t misunderstand what your Heavenly Father is doing.  Far from showing you His wrath, God is showing you His love, so be encouraged by this truth.

God gives you discipline to bring you peace.

–Pastor Phillip

The Father’s Delight (Luke 3:22b)

You are my beloved Son.  I take delight in you.  (Luke 3:22b)

The steadfast, unchanging posture of God the Father toward God the Son is not dutiful acceptance, but glorious delight.

The scandalous, unbelievable truth of the Gospel is that for those who are united with Jesus by grace through faith, the position He has before the Father is now given to us.

That means if you’re in Christ, God doesn’t just forgive you out of duty.  He deeply loves you out of delight!

He doesn’t just take away your sin.  He takes pleasure in your salvation.

–Pastor Phillip

God’s heart is for the helpless

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 82

GOD’S HEART IS FOR THE HELPLESS

How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?  Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. (Psalm 82:2-3)

All throughout Scripture, God has harsh words and strong judgments for those in authority who use their power to oppress.  The same is true for those who have the ability to help the needy, but refuse.

This is both a convicting and comforting thing.  Convicting, because this means He also wants you to help the hurting in some way.  Comforting because we all go through seasons of hurt.  If not right now, then eventually you will be weak and afflicted, and in that moment take heart.

God is for you, because God’s heart is for the helpless.

-Pastor Phillip

Your father wants you to come home

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 78

YOUR FATHER WANTS YOU TO COME HOME

Their heart was not steadfast toward Him; they were not faithful to His covenant.
Yet He, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them;
He restrained His anger often and did not stir up all His wrath.
He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.

(Psalm 78:37–39)

Your failures are no surprise to God.  When your love for Him grows cold, when serving Him gets old, when following gets wearying and your heart drifts towards other things, God is not caught unaware.

Yet, He still loves you just the same.

God’s mercy is so great that through Christ He has already atoned for your lack of love towards Him, and now He simply wants you to come back to where you belong.  He remembers you are weak and He wants you to remember how He is strong so that instead of continuing to run from Him, you’ll run to Him.

Whatever the state of your heart or your life, be encouraged to respond to this truth today: Your Father wants you to come home.

-Pastor Phillip

God’s love is the source of your holiness

God’s Hope For Your Heart from 1 Thessalonians 3

GOD’S LOVE IS THE SOURCE OF YOUR HOLINESS

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.  (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)

Love comes from God.  This is a basic foundation of the Christian faith, that God is love, therefore the kind of self-sacrificing, others-centered, God-honoring love that truly matters can only come from Him.

So, a prayer for God to help us love others better is really a prayer for Him to simply pour more of His love into us so that it overflows.

Holiness is required by God.  Over and over in Scripture, we see that to be called AS a son or daughter of the King is to be called TO the life of the kingdom, a life that is set apart, a life that honors God.

All too often, though, we make two fundamental mistakes in the arenas of holiness and love.

First, we try to pursue holiness through our own efforts and moral goodness, but this will always fail because our human effort can never be good enough for God.

Second, we feel as if God’s love for us depends on our performance in holiness, so we slip into despair as we realize we just can’t measure up on our own.

If you’ve ever felt either of these things, here’s good news: they’re all wrong and upside down!

God’s love for you doesn’t depend on your character.  It depends on His.  Your holiness doesn’t depend on your effort.  It depends on His!

The road to God’s love isn’t about getting rewarded for your good deeds and the pathway to holiness isn’t about living rightly on your own.  Both of them are about simply receiving God’s love as a gift through Christ.

That means once you receive more of God’s love for you, you will abound in love for others, and the overflow of that love will result in a holy life, because of this hope-inspiring truth: God’s love is the source of your holiness.

-Pastor Phillip

Jesus chose you anyway

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Philippians 3

JESUS CHOSE YOU ANYWAY

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own.  (Philippians 3:12)

You’re not always an all-star Christian, are you?  You sometimes stumble and fall short of God’s call, just like He knew you would.  But Jesus chose you anyway.

You don’t always have unwavering faith, do you?  You sometimes doubt or even second-guess what God has said, just like He knew you would.  But Jesus chose you anyway.

You haven’t always followed Jesus and pursued righteousness, have you?  Once you were opposed to God, choosing sin and living as God’s enemy no matter how well-intentioned you thought you were.  But Jesus chose you anyway.

No matter what your life looks like today, how far down the road of faith you are or how far short you fall, take heart in the hope of this truth: Jesus knew who you would be right now, and Jesus chose you anyway.

-Pastor Phillip