God still commands the chaos

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And the [first] beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months…  Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them…and by the signs that [the second beast] is allowed to work in the presence of the [first] beast, it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived.  And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.  (Revelation 13:5, 7a, 14-15)

Ungodly authority, violence and conflict, deception and false miracles, persecution, state-sanctioned murder: this is chaos.

As the book of Revelation continues to unfold the unraveling of human society in the end times, it seems like things are getting darker and darker, worse and worse, and it seems like for the people of God, everything is falling apart.

Does your life ever feel like that?

Take note, then, that even in the midst of such hardship and trial, there is a common thread running through this entire chapter: “it was allowed.”

We may never understand in this life just why God allows certain things.  We may feel we would do differently, or wish there would have been an easier way.  As we try to process the hard circumstances of our lives, this is a normal reaction and a natural place to start.  However, it doesn’t have to be the place we finish.

Christian, know this.  No matter how crazy things look down here, God is still in control, watching over your destiny from above!  No matter how dark things appear from your perspective, God is still overseeing and working all things together for your good in Christ.

So, in the midst of whatever turmoil you may be facing, this is God’s word of hope to you today, sent by the Holy Spirit through the prophetic pen of John.

God still commands the chaos.

–Pastor Phillip

God is working in the background

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 10

GOD IS WORKING IN THE BACKGROUND

Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there.  And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you.  Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.”  (Acts 10:17-20)

Peter had no idea that at the very moment he was having a vision, the very people about whom it was given were on their way.

The men coming to find Peter had no idea that at the very moment they were on the road to meet him, Peter’s heart was being prepared to receive them.

None of them could have known that at the very moment they were following strange instructions, God was working out a supernatural intervention.

So it is with you and me.

No matter how much we think we know, we never truly have ALL the information about a given situation.  Yet, God never asks us for full understanding, only full obedience, because especially when we don’t get the whole picture, God is taking care of the details we can’t see!

If you’re following strange instructions right now, keep going.  If you’re confused about what God’s doing, hang in there.  You can have confidence in the hand of Providence, and if you’re in Christ, you can have hope in this truth: God is working in the background.

-Pastor Phillip


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God delights in your well-being

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 35

GOD DELIGHTS IN YOUR WELL-BEING

“Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!”  Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.  (Psalm 35:27b-28)

Do you know that God loves to take care of you?

Sometimes He is portrayed as an angry task-master, enforcing a harsh set of commands on helpless people and waiting to punish them when they do wrong…but that is not the God of the Bible.

Sometimes He is painted as a distant deity, detached and disinterested in the daily lives of people so that we’re left to fend for ourselves…but that is not the God of the Bible.

The God of the Bible “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  He paid an enormous price to redeem a people for Himself, and that means that if you’re in Christ, He paid that price for you!

The God of the Bible loves to demonstrate His righteousness by taking care of His children, so if you’re in Christ, you can be confident of this.  Though He may allow trials and tribulations in your life for a season, your Father is faithful to deliver, and He will never give up on you or abandon you in your hour of need.

May you rest in these things today, and as you do, may you discover fresh hope as you remember this fantastic truth: God delights in your well-being.

-Pastor Phillip


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Sometimes Jesus works in secret

God’s Hope for Your Heart from John 7

SOMETIMES JESUS WORKS IN SECRET

[Jesus said] “You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.”  After saying this, He remained in Galilee. But after His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He also went up, not publicly but in private. The Jews were looking for Him at the feast, and saying, “Where is He?”  (John 7:8-11)

Have you ever found yourself asking, “Where is God?”

To His brothers and sisters, Jesus had been behaving rather oddly for someone who was supposed to be a public speaker.  They told Him that He should go make Himself known to the crowd, start building a name for Himself, get some good publicity, but Jesus had refused.

Now, however, He goes up to the feast without telling anyone!  Here He is, being sneaky, showing up quietly then standing up publicly in the middle of the occasion later on (verse 14).  Why?

Because Jesus knows details that we don’t.

He had told His siblings flat-out, “My time has not yet fully come,” basically letting them know that there is a proper order to things that depends on lots of factors that they don’t know about, but that He does.  He refused to follow their timetable because His timetable is always the better option in the big picture, and He’s the only one who can see the big picture.  Then, when the time was right, He took action at last.

He does the same thing in our lives as well.

Maybe you’re wondering “Where is God?” in your situation.  Maybe you look back at a time of pain and question where He was then.  Maybe you look ahead to something that brings anxiousness and wonder if He’ll be there for you in your hour of need.

Don’t let your senses take priority over your spirit.  Don’t let your feelings take over your faith.

God is not absent or uninterested.  He has not abandoned you.  He has not left you to fend for yourself.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.  He is working out the details that you don’t know about, smoothing out the situations you can’t see, and when the time is right, He will take action at last.

May you trust Him today, and as you remember that His ways are higher than yours, may you find hope in this truth: sometimes Jesus works in secret.

-Pastor Phillip


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God works miracles through ordinary things

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Luke 2

GOD WORKS MIRACLES THROUGH ORDINARY THINGS

In those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered…And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David.  (Luke 2:1, 3-4)

Joseph was probably not happy about the census.

Here it was, another example of some bigshot bureaucrat making life difficult for the common people, not caring about the expense or the inconvenience.

But God was preparing a miracle.

Caesar Augustus was just doing what government leaders do, but God was preparing a miracle.

Joseph and Mary were just doing what the law requires —like you’re supposed to— but God was preparing a miracle.

Centuries of prophecies were about to be fulfilled and all of human history was about to be forever changed, and God was putting all the pieces into place, but the pieces weren’t spectacular.

They were ordinary.

Maybe your life feels like that, just ordinary.  Nothing really changes.  Nothing spectacular really happens.  Maybe God doesn’t have a great plan for your life after all…but maybe He does.

As you go about the ordinary details of your life, may you take heart and find hope in this simple truth:  God works miracles through ordinary things.

-Pastor Phillip


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God turns your pain into possibility

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Matthew 27

GOD TURNS YOUR PAIN INTO POSSIBILITY

Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.” (Matthew 27:9-10)

If you spend more than fifteen minutes around Christian folk, you’re going to hear somebody, somewhere quote some form of Romans 8:28, about how “all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”

But really, now… all things?

When that relationship ended?

When that person died?

When the money ran out?

When your spouse did?

Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just a hard pill to swallow, that God works all things together for good for His children… Maybe most things, but all things, really?

When people murdered His only begotten Son?

Look again at Matthew 27:9, at those first seven words, “then was fulfilled what had been spoken…”  You see, God knew the leaders would conspire against Jesus.  He knew the betrayal would come from Judas.  He knew that the betrayer’s heart would betray him in return, and in his remorse he would try to give back the meager sum he got for Jesus’ life.

God knew all about the wicked plans of imperfect people, and He wove them in to His perfect plan to bless all of humanity.

Don’t you think He can do the same for you?

When your day of difficulty comes and doubt threatens your soul’s peace, remember this.  If God took the greatest tragedy of all eternity–the crucifixion of Christ–and transformed it into a triumph, then you can have hope in this truth for your life: God turns your pain into possibility.

-Pastor Phillip


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“Are You Sure” – Aretha Franklin [Music Monday]

Who knew prayer could be so soulful?

Quite a while ago some friends made me a mix CD with some songs they thought I’d like.

I put it in the other day and found myself filled with both gratefulness and groove as Aretha Franklin’s “Are You Sure” reminded me of this…  Sometimes when I think God’s holding back on answering my prayer, it’s because He already has, just more creatively than I expected.

If you’ve been asking God why He hasn’t answered your prayer, maybe it’s time to ask yourself the same…

http://youtu.be/6zwWcZNVmEc

God still commands the chaos

Scripture Notes on Revelation 13

And the [first] beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months… Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them… and by the signs that [the second beast] is allowed to work in the presence of the [first] beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain.  (Revelation 13:5, 7a, 14-15)

Ungodly authority, violence and conflict, deception and false miracles, persecution, state-sanctioned murder: this is chaos.

As the book of Revelation continues to unfold the unraveling of human society in the end times, it seems like things get darker and darker, worse and worse, and it seems like for the people of God, everything is falling apart.

Does your life ever feel like that?

Yet, even in the midst of such hardship and trial, note the common thread that runs through this entire chapter: “it was allowed.”

We may never understand in this life just why God allows certain things.  We may feel we would do it differently, or wish there would have been an easier way.  As we try to process the hard circumstances of our lives, this is a normal reaction and a natural place to start.  However, it doesn’t have to be the place we finish.

Know this.  No matter how crazy things look down here, God is still in control, watching over your destiny from above.  No matter how dark things appear from your perspective, God is still overseeing and working all things together for your good in Christ.  In the midst of whatever turmoil you may be facing, this is God’s word of hope to you, sent by the Holy Spirit through the prophetic pen of John.

God still commands the chaos.

-Pastor Phillip

God Has Called You

Ever wonder why your life looks the way it does?

“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” -1 Corinthians 7:17a

God does not get taken by surprise.

He does not get distracted, look up and see one of His children in some circumstance and exclaim, “Oh no! How did THIS happen?!”

There is always a strong sense in Scripture that we are indeed responsible for our own choices, but at the same time, Paul reminds us that there is a reason we are in the place we are today.

That job or family or location or state of wandering may not be our preference, but God has a purpose in it for His glory and our good.

Our task is to be faithful today, and let Him take care of tomorrow.

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