Prepare the Way (Luke 3:4b)

Prepare the way for the Lord; make His paths straight.  (Luke 3:4b)

John’s job was to ready the masses to receive the Messiah.  His task was to “make His paths straight,” not because Jesus wasn’t able to find His own way into people’s hearts, but because people always have barriers that prevent a clear view of who Jesus really is.

John’s job was to clear away any obstacles that might have kept people from seeing and responding to Jesus.

Now, that job belongs to you and me.

–Pastor Phillip

God made you an eternal heir

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Titus 3

GOD MADE YOU AN ETERNAL HEIR

He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.  (Titus 3:5-7)

When God saved you, it was not so that you would become an employee, but so that you could be part of the family.

When God saved you, it wasn’t so that He could give you the “minimum required grace” to get to heaven, but so that He could show His lavish love through your life.

When God saved you, it wasn’t just so you could live a better life now, but so you could be part of His Kingdom forever and ever.

Here’s more good news… You didn’t earn this blessing, so you have no need to fear losing it!

Not only that, but you also have no right to feel entitled to it.  Just receive it with joy and thanksgiving and let this truth fill your heart with grateful confidence: God made you an eternal heir.

-Pastor Phillip

Jesus saved you to a life of purpose

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Titus 2

JESUS SAVED YOU TO A LIFE OF PURPOSE

Our great God and Savior Jesus Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works.  (Titus 2:13a-14)

Part of the message of the Gospel is that Jesus saves us from sin, but that’s not all there is.  Many people may realize what Jesus rescued them from but forget that He also rescued them TO something special.

Jesus doesn’t just save and send you on your way.  He doesn’t redeem, you from sin and then abandon you to your own devices.  No, Jesus calls you from a life of sin to a life of powerful, purposeful living for the glory of God and good of others!

Are you in Christ?  Then rejoice!  You have been chosen as His ambassador for a mission of mighty good works.  Embrace this truth, and let it fill you with hope today: Jesus saved you to a life of purpose.

-Pastor Phillip

Jesus is your power for the purposes of God

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Colossians 1

JESUS IS YOUR POWER FOR THE PURPOSES OF GOD

Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.  For this I toil, struggling with all His energy that He powerfully works within me.  (Colossians 1:28-29)

There is no greater purpose in all of life than to bring glory to God by proclaiming Jesus through our words and our lives.

Jesus matters more than your personal growth.

Jesus matters more than your family.

Jesus matters more than your money or material things.

Jesus matters more than your individual legacy or any program to make the world a better place.

The Bible describes Him with the word “preeminent,” meaning that He is in first place above everyone and everything else.

However, in a world that tries to focus our passion and priorities on anything but Jesus, this perspective can be hard to maintain.  In a life filled with so many demands on our time, such devotion can be difficult to sustain.  In light of the fact that hell itself wants to keep you from committing all things to Jesus, such a life may seem to require more energy than you can muster.

That’s why Jesus gives you power!

When you devote yourself to the cause of Christ, God Himself will empower you to stay faithful.  When you give yourself to being His worker and witness, Jesus Himself will provide the labor and fill you with His strength!

Don’t let Satan tell you that you don’t have what it takes for Jesus to do great things through you.  If you’re in Christ, let this hopeful truth inspire you to move forward to His call: Jesus is your power for the purposes of God.

-Pastor Phillip

In Christ, your pain has a purpose

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Galatians 4

IN CHRIST, YOUR PAIN HAS A PURPOSE

You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.  (Galatians 4:13-14)

Paul was not well in Galatia.

Certainly he must have prayed for healing, but the healing didn’t come right away.  Surely he must have tried to rest and recover quickly, but the recovery was not immediate.

Did Jesus fail His servant?  Did Paul–this mighty man of God who healed countless others–simply not have enough faith for his own healing?

This same Paul would later be bitten by a poisonous snake but not be harmed.  He would even raise a young man from the dead, yet whatever sickness or ailment he had in Galatia, it was so bad that he had to cancel his travel plans.

Was he just having an off day, or did God have a far greater blessing in store for His beloved child?

Read again what Paul writes to the churches in the province of Galatia.  “It was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you first.”  Not in spite of, because.

Paul realized something that we sometimes miss.  Sometimes God has a greater gift for you than the immediate answer to your prayer.  Think of how many hundreds, if not thousands of people were saved because of Paul’s ailment.  Think of how many blessings were released to them, and how many heavenly rewards were gained by him because of his unexpected time of recovery.

When you’re hurting in the midst of a trial and you can’t figure out why God doesn’t move to answer you right away, take heart!  God is working out a deeper blessing for you; you just need eyes to see it.

Keep praying and believing God for your deliverance and healing, and as you wait for His perfect timing, may you be encouraged by this hope-filled truth: in Christ, your pain has a purpose.

-Pastor Phillip


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God is the protector of your purpose

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 57

GOD IS THE PROTECTOR OF YOUR PURPOSE

I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me; He will put to shame him who tramples on me.  (Psalm 57:2-3a)

When David writes these lines, he has been anointed King, but he is living as a fugitive in a cave.  On the run from the jealous King Saul, David’s life is in jeopardy, his home is far away, and to an outside observer, his chances of future kingship are shaky at best.

But David knows differently.

David knows that if God has called it, then God will complete it.  If God has promised it, then God will provide it.  David knows that when God ordains a destiny, He never fails to deliver!

And David was right.

The people who sought David’s life eventually lost their own.  David’s adversaries became his subjects.  The people who tried to put David down ended up watching as God lifted him up to fulfill the purpose that God had given him to accomplish.

And God wants to do the same for you!

Maybe you know what God’s calling is on your life, or maybe you’re still waiting for clarity.  Maybe you’re confident in God’s purposes for you, or maybe you could use a little boost.

However you’re feeling, and whatever your life is looking like right now, don’t stop believing in God’s faithfulness!  Stay on the path, stick to the plan, and don’t let anyone else trample the dreams God has given you.  As you do, may you be filled with hope through this truth: God is the protector of your purpose.

-Pastor Phillip


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God gave you a greater calling

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Romans 1

GOD GAVE YOU A GREATER CALLING

Paul, a bondservant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the Gospel of God. (Romans 1:1)

The issue of calling is one we deal with throughout our life.  As we grow up, we try to find our calling, that thing that will be our specific niche in the world.  We’re searching for that thing we were born to do, the person we were born to be.

As we age, sometimes we look back and wonder if we fulfilled our calling well, or maybe we wonder if we missed it completely.  We’re wondering if we did what we were really supposed to do.

Paul had no question as to what his calling was.  It was this that brought power, focus, and clarity to his life.  Paul had been well-educated, but academics were not his calling.  He was a skilled tradesman who made fine tents, but his job was not his calling.  No, Paul’s calling was to be a servant of Jesus and an apostle of the Good News about Christ.

Simply put, Paul was sent by Jesus to serve.

Everywhere he went, with everyone he spoke, Paul had a mission to share and to serve by telling them about Jesus.  His training was secondary because Jesus called him.  His gifting was secondary because Jesus called him.

And, if you’re in Christ, Jesus has called you to share and serve, too.

Your purpose in life is not defined by other people or by any earthly pursuit, but by something higher.  More than your job, more than even your family, Jesus has sent you to share the good news wherever you go, and this is your greatest calling!

That means when the things and people of this world inevitably let you down, you can still have hope as you remember this truth: God gave you a greater calling.

-Pastor Phillip


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God made you a life preserver

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 27

GOD MADE YOU A LIFE PRESERVER

“Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.  For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, and He said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar.  And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.'”  (Acts 27:22-24)

The situation was a bad one, indeed.  Tossed about for days in a sea of uncertainty, the people on the ship were in grave danger, and certainly in great despair.

However, because of Paul’s presence, their lives were spared.  Because of Paul’s relationship with Jesus, the people around him got to share in the overflow of God’s grace.  Because of Paul’s faithfulness, the people around him were blessed.

You can bring the same blessing to those around you.

When you are walking with Jesus, your life can be a conduit of God’s grace.  You can be a carrier of His love.  You can be a bringer of God’s favor to those around you as you listen to what Jesus tells you and then are faithful to carry it out.

Your life was made to matter, so don’t miss the incredible opportunity you have to make an impact on the world around you!

In Christ, you can have hope in this truth: God made you a life preserver.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus trusts you to be His witness

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 26

JESUS TRUSTS YOU TO BE HIS WITNESS

“I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen Me and to those in which I will appear to you.”  (Acts 26:16)

Paul’s conversion was rather unique.  Most people don’t get a blinding light, a booming voice from heaven and a personal appearance from Jesus.  Yet, in some ways, the call Paul received to follow Christ was exactly the same as God’s call to you and me.

Be a witness.

Jesus wanted Paul to tell as many people as possible about Him.  It was even more specific, though.  Paul’s call wasn’t to testify to mere intellectual belief.  It wasn’t to argue for the merits of a religious system or moral code.  Paul’s call was first to see Jesus, and then to share Him.

Jesus told Paul to give testimony about, “the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you.”  Before Paul could let the world know about Jesus, he had to look for himself.

How about you?

The call of God is the same for each of us, to see Jesus for who He is, and then share Him with others.  This means one of our greatest needs is not greater discipline or self-control, nor greater understanding or commitment.  Those things are important, but what we need even more is greater vision; open eyes to see Jesus in our everyday life.

Here’s good news, then.  If you are looking for Jesus, you will find Him, because Jesus wants to show Himself to you!  He wants you to experience Him in your life, not just because He loves you, but because that’s the only way you’ll have anything to share with others.

Not only that, but whether or not you believe you’re qualified or able to share Jesus with others, He believes in you!  He never asks you to do anything He won’t also equip you to accomplish, and if you’re in Christ, then you already have everything you need.

Look for “Jesus moments” today, and look for opportunities to share them with others.  As you do, may you find hope in this truth: Jesus trusts you to be His witness.

-Pastor Phillip


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God has given you a story to share

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 22

GOD HAS GIVEN YOU A STORY TO SHARE

And [Ananias] said [to Paul], “The God of our fathers appointed you to know His will, to see the Righteous One and to hear a voice from His mouth; for you will be a witness for Him to everyone of what you have seen and heard.  (Acts 22:14-15)

God saves people for a purpose.  Yes, He saves because He loves, but one of the greatest evidences of His love is that He doesn’t just save you FROM your sin.  He saves you TO a mission so that you have a purpose for your life!

Not only that, but the mission is a simple one that anyone can do.

All Jesus wants you to do is tell others who He is and what He’s done for you.  You don’t have to be an orator or theologian, a preacher or professional evangelist.  Just be the person God made you, and tell others how God saved you.

Do you want to know the will of God?  It’s simple.  God wants you to share your story.

You may not feel your story is anything special.  You may not feel very qualified to share.  Yet, the reality is no one is more qualified to tell your story than you!

And that’s all God asks of you.

Open your eyes today to the opportunities God has given you to show His love and truth to those around you.  As you respond with faith-driven action, you’ll discover the hope found in this truth: God has given you a story to share.

-Pastor Phillip


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