Who gets what? (Luke 6:19-20a)

The whole crowd was trying to touch Him because power was coming out from Him and healing them all.  Then, looking up at His disciples, He said…  (Luke 6:19-20a)

Jesus offers His healing power to all the people.  He uses miracles to draw them in, but look how He doesn’t expect every person healed to actually give Him a hearing.

He doesn’t make listening to His teaching a prerequisite for His touch.  Rather, He shows the lavish grace of God by healing all who come, and He shows the strategic wisdom of God by teaching only those who care.

Perhaps we would be wise to do the same.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus’ second ministry: the WORD (Luke 5:1)

As the crowd was pressing in on Jesus to hear God’s word, He was standing by Lake Gennesaret.  (Luke 5:1)

People came for the miracles, but they stayed for the message.  They were drawn in by the wonders, but they were hungry for the word.

Credibility and interest can be built by the supernatural power and love of God.  This is why we must make space in our church gatherings and our relationships with others to let the Holy Spirit show up and show off.

Yet, it is just as vital that after the display, we have something deeper to give.

The people were hungry for an authentic word from God that was bigger than their personal experiences and traditional religion.

Maybe they still are.

What do you think?

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus’ first ministry: the WONDERS (Luke 4:42)

When it was day, [Jesus] went out and made His way to a deserted place.  But the crowds were searching for Him.  They came to Him and tried to keep Him from leaving them.  (Luke 4:42)

The people were astounded at the miracles Jesus did.  When He healed, it was authentic.  When He cast out demons, it was dramatic.  The people simply couldn’t get enough of it.

Those same people would feel very differently later on when Jesus began to call them to repent of their sins and selfishness and follow Him instead, but for now, they were transfixed and hungry for more.

Perhaps one reason we don’t see more people flocking to church gatherings is because we’ve emphasized the second part of Jesus’ ministry but nearly forgotten the first.

What do you think?

–Pastor Phillip

God gives you power to strengthen His Church

God’s Hope for Your Heart from 1 Corinthians 14

GOD GIVES YOU POWER TO STRENGTHEN HIS CHURCH

So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the Church.  (1 Corinthians 14:12)

Jesus never intended His Church to be a people who only pursue Him with their minds.  He did not send the Holy Spirit simply to help us live moral lives.  No, Jesus gives power to His people so that He would be glorified by building His Church.

The Church is a people among whom God wants to reveal Himself in deep and glorious ways.  He wants to display His love to the world by the way we love each other.  He wants to show His generosity to the world by the way we give.  He wants to show His compassion to the world by the way we serve those in need. And, He wants to show His power to the world by the way we walk in the supernatural.

This means God is ready and willing to give you more power to the degree that you’re ready to steward it well.  It means He wants to pour out His Spirit on you with as much abundance as you’re able to handle!

God’s power is awaiting a people who will direct it to the place He wants it to go, to the people who are the passion of His heart.

Open your eyes and your hands today.  Receive this gift and seek to use it for the goal God intended.  As you do, you’ll discover the hope found in this truth: God gives you power to strengthen His Church.

-Pastor Phillip


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God has Kingdom power just for you

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 6

GOD HAS KINGDOM POWER JUST FOR YOU

And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.  Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty… And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people.  (Acts 6:2-3, 8)

There is no such thing as a “professional Christian.”

To be sure, there are callings to Christian vocation, but while there are distinctions in role and responsibility, in the Kingdom there is no hierarchy of importance.

Stephen was not an elder or Apostle; he was a disciple.  He was not a senior leader; he was a servant leader.  Stephen was chosen for what some might consider an “ordinary” task, serving tables, yet the fruit of Stephen’s life was profound.

This “table server” was doing ministry and demonstrating miracles just like the twelve Apostles.  When brought on trial before the Jewish religious leaders, he gave just as strong and powerful a defense of the Gospel as Peter and John.

Though Stephen’s role in the church was one that some might call “ordinary,” that didn’t make him second class.  In fact, by operating within scope of his practical gifting, he was enabled to walk in the power of the Spirit.

Why?

Because Kingdom power is for everyone!  The Holy Spirit doesn’t only flow through preachers and poets and players of music.  He lives in all of us who have been born again through Christ, and loves for all of us to follow His leading and demonstrate His life in powerful ways.

So, as you go about the regular routine of your life, remember this.  No matter what role or gifting you have in the body of Christ, you can have hope in this truth: God has Kingdom power just for you!

-Pastor Phillip


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The weight of performance isn’t yours to bear

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 3

THE WEIGHT OF PERFORMANCE ISN’T YOURS TO BEAR

And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? … [Jesus’] name—by faith in His name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.  (Acts 3:12, 16)

When people saw a lame man healed right in front of them, they were astonished.  Naturally, they looked at Peter and John as “miracle workers” because they had, in fact, just demonstrated a miracle.

Yet, Peter was quick to deflect the praise and redirect the credit to the one to whom it really belonged–Jesus.

The more God uses us to bless people, the easier it is to slip into the snare of believing our own publicity.  In our celebrity-obsessed culture, it can be tempting to start taking the credit for good things we’ve done, rather than remembering and reminding others it’s the power of Christ within us.

The problem is, credit always brings with it the weight of future expectations.

If you are the one doing wonderful things, then you’re on the hook to keep it up.  If you are the miracle worker, then the world will keep looking to you to produce more and more, until the day when you don’t come through for them, and they turn on you.

Jesus doesn’t want that for you.

When you cultivate a proper perspective, you’ll be able to receive praise graciously but still make sure the credit goes to God.  It’s not that you downplay your role, but rather that you lift up Jesus.  The great thing is that as people are continually reminded that any great thing you do is because of Christ, it means that you’re off the hook because Jesus is on the job.

As you receive compliments, let people know that any good in you is because of Jesus.  When you do, you’ll find out just how much hope can come from this truth: the weight of performance isn’t yours to bear.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus is your vision

God’s Hope for Your Heart from John 9

JESUS IS YOUR VISION

The man answered, “Whether He is a sinner I do not know.  One thing I do know, that though I was born blind, now I see.”  (John 9:25)

It’s one thing to be educated about Jesus.  It’s another to have an experience of Him in your life.

Here was a man who knew almost nothing about who Jesus was, but what he did know, he trusted and clung to.  He may not have known all of the facts about Jesus, but he had faith in Him because of what Jesus had done in his life, and that made all the difference.

How about you?

Maybe you find yourself lacking understanding in some area.  Maybe you don’t have all the answers even about your faith.

Here’s good news.  No matter how well or poorly you’re holding on to your faith in Christ, He is holding on to you!  The same One who opened the eyes of a man born blind wants to open your eyes today so that you can see just how much He loves you.

Seeking answers is vital and good, but don’t let learning about God take precedence over living with Him.  You may not have great knowledge about Jesus, but if you’ve had any personal experience with Him at all, hold on to that for dear life.

As you do, you’ll discover the hope that comes from this truth: Jesus is your vision.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus brings answers in unexpected ways

God’s Hope for Your Heart from John 5

JESUS BRINGS ANSWERS IN UNEXPECTED WAYS

One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be healed?”  The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.”  Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”  And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.  (John 5:5-9)

This was not what the paralyzed man had prayed for.

For thirty-eight years, he had hoped, had tried, had failed to find an answer to his plight.  He had seen other people have their prayers answered and their efforts rewarded, but not him.  He had seen other people receive their miracle and walk away healed, but not him.

For thirty-eight years.

Then Jesus came along.  Jesus, with His love and compassion and His reputation for helping those who were down and out.  “Surely,” the man must have thought when Jesus approached him, “surely this man will help me into the pool so I may be healed.”

But Jesus didn’t help him into the pool at all.

In fact, when Jesus asked the man a question about the result he longed for, the man didn’t really answer.  Instead, he described the ritual he had tried and how it had failed again and again.  It’s as if over the long years of waiting, the man had gotten so focused on his disappointment over the failed process that he had completely forgotten the point.

Have you been there?  Have you felt the long wait for an answer turn into a longing that feels like it will be forever unfulfilled?  Have you prayed and asked for something, but felt like all you got was silence?

Jesus wants more for you than your expectations!

Don’t miss this important detail folded in to the story.  The man wanted someone to help him into the pool, because that’s the only paradigm he knew.  However, Jesus didn’t do that at all.  In fact, He told the man to go in the totally opposite direction from what he was expecting, not down into the pool, but up into the promise of a new life.  Jesus didn’t give the man what he wanted or what he asked for; He gave him what he had forgotten he really needed all along.

Maybe He wants to do the same for you.

As you pray and seek God for answers in your life, you may find the waiting long.  You may find the answers strange.  But, whatever your journey looks like, may you have the wisdom and courage to trust God for the best result in response to your prayer, not just the one you’re expecting.  When you cultivate this mindset of faith, you’ll discover the hope that comes from this important truth: Jesus brings answers in unexpected ways.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus has a purpose for His power

God’s Hope for Your Heart from John 2

JESUS HAS A PURPOSE FOR HIS POWER

Jesus performed this first sign in Cana of Galilee.  He displayed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him…
So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this.  And they believed the Scripture and the statement Jesus had made.  While He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many trusted in His name when they saw the signs He was doing.  (John 2:11, 22-23)

Jesus doesn’t do parlor tricks.

He doesn’t show off to get attention.  He doesn’t do miracles only for the sake of love and compassion, either,  though that’s part of it.

Jesus has a purpose for His power.

It’s not to impress His disciples or to delight the crowd.  It’s not to prove Himself as a powerful person.

Jesus shows His power to push away doubt and prepare the way for faith in Him.  Jesus does miracles to muscle out our skepticism and help us believe in Him.  And, when He does this, it’s not just so that we will believe Him in our minds.

Jesus shows His power so we’ll trust Him in our hearts.

Here’s why this is good news.  As you pray for miracles, you can have confidence that whatever result comes your way, Jesus is going to use it for God’s glory and your good.  Not only that, but the more at peace you are with whichever answer you receive, the more likely it is that you’ll discover the miracle God wants for you, because it’s not about you; it’s about Jesus!

That means that however God answers your prayer, you can have hope because of this truth: Jesus has a purpose for His power.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus meets you where you are

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Mark 9

JESUS MEETS YOU WHERE YOU ARE

Someone from the crowd answered [Jesus], “Teacher, I bought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute.  And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid.  So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able… And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him.  But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’!  All things are possible for one who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:17-18, 22-24)

Notice what Jesus doesn’t do in this situation.

He doesn’t criticize the man for his lack of belief, He simply highlights it to create an opportunity for growth.  He doesn’t tell the man, “If you don’t do your part, I can’t do mine,” and leave him stranded in his condition because he had unbelief in his life.

In fact, Jesus doesn’t even tell the man that first he must muster up more belief and then Jesus will heal his son; Jesus simply heals the boy and lets them go on their way.

Yes, this man struggled with unbelief, but don’t we all do the same sometimes?  Yes, Jesus told this man “all things are possible for one who believes,” but He didn’t say that nothing is possible for the one who tries but just isn’t quite there yet.

That’s good news.

If you find yourself wrestling with unbelief and wishing you had just a little more faith, relax.  Yes, Jesus wants you to believe in His power, but He also wants you to rest in His peace.

When you come to God in prayer, don’t fret if you’re full of mixed emotions.  Bring them all to Jesus and trust Him to heal your heart and grow your faith.  As you do, you’ll discover the hope that’s found in this life-changing truth: Jesus meets you where you are.

-Pastor Phillip


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