God has perfect rest prepared for you

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And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire–and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands.  (Revelation 15:2)

In several places throughout Scripture, heaven is described and images of God’s throne room are given.  A consistent feature in these descriptions is the sea of glass, an expanse before God’s throne that is clear like crystal and perfectly smooth.  (See Exodus 24:10, Ezekiel 1:22, 26)

It is a picture of peace and tranquility.

Contrast this image with how we might visualize the state of our world today, and so often the state of our hearts.  Far from a sea of glass, these things are better described as muddy streams or turbulent oceans.  Over and under, forward and back, murky and uncertain, these are better descriptions of our life here on earth, so is it any wonder that sometimes we feel emotionally exhausted by all the ups and downs?

But if you’re in Christ, God has something better planned for you.

One of the beauties of our future hope is that it is a hope of rest.  For every believer in Christ, once we finish our time on the uncertain seas of earth, we have a glorious reward waiting for us in the harbor of heaven.

So, no matter how stormy your life is at the moment, hang on and take heart as you embrace the hope that comes from this truth.

God has perfect rest prepared for you.

–Pastor Phillip

Serving and Sitting (Luke 10:38-42)

While they were traveling, [Jesus] entered a village, and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home.  She had a sister named Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what He said.  But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  So tell her to give me a hand.”
The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:38-42)

Working for God without spending time with God is a fast-track to frustration.  Taking time to listen and learn from Jesus is a pathway to peace.

Often we may seek to work for the Kingdom because it produces the immediate gratification of a job well done.  This is not a bad thing, but separated from quality time simply listening to the King, it’s not the best thing.

Don’t just work for Jesus, walk with Him, and in doing so you’ll not only be able to learn; you’ll also be showing your love.

–Pastor Phillip

Jesus wants to set you free from works

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from His.  (Hebrews 4:9-10)

Did God get tired and need a break after His work of creation?  Of course not.  He rested to set an example for us.

We know that we need physical rest after physical work, yet all-too-often we fail to receive the spiritual rest God desires for us.  We run around doing good deeds or feel guilty for not spending more time in prayer, all the while hoping we’ll do enough to please the Father.

But if you’re in Christ, God is already pleased with you!

If you’re striving and straining to earn God’s favor, relax, Jesus took care of that for you!  If you’re working and struggling trying to make God happy with you, relax, Jesus took care of that for you!

Today, let God’s love for you in Christ give rest to your soul and freedom to your mind, and let your heart be encouraged by this truth: Jesus wants to set you free from works.

–Pastor Phillip

God will hold you up

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 63

GOD WILL HOLD YOU UP

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water…
My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.  (Psalm 63:1, 8)

David writes this Psalm while in the wilderness.  He is in a barren place, a lonely place.  He’s in a place where he finds himself weary and worn out from the journey.

Have you been in that place?

Maybe it’s a season of turmoil in a relationship.  You try and try but reconciliation seems out of reach.  Maybe it’s a season of dryness in your spiritual life.  You read and pray but it feels like nothing’s happening.  Maybe it’s a season of pain in your body or your mind, and you don’t know how much longer you can stand.

You’re not alone.

In this moment, your Heavenly Father is close at hand, closer than you know.  He loves you, and wants to meet your needs in the best possible way, in the best possible timing!

Yet, it’s not His answers that will bring you the deepest peace, but God Himself.  The greatest news of all is that when you seek God’s presence not as a means to an end, but as an end in itself, you’ll find that everything else will take its proper place.

No matter your circumstance today, turn your heart towards the One who loves you more deeply than you can imagine.  As you do, you’ll find hope in this truth: God will hold you up.

-Pastor Phillip


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In the Kingdom, your labor is never in vain

God’s Hope for Your Heart from 1 Corinthians 15

IN THE KINGDOM, YOUR LABOR IS NEVER IN VAIN

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.  (1 Corinthians 15:57-58)

Do you ever get tired of sharing God’s love with others, or doing the things Jesus has called you to?  Do you ever grow weary in serving the church or doing the work of the ministry?  If you’ve ever been in that place, here’s some good news…

Your labor is not in vain, because God gives you the victory.

Your labor is not in vain, because Jesus is the guarantee of your success.

Your labor is not in vain, because nothing matters more than the Kingdom of God, and no other enterprise is closer to His heart.

Your labor is not about growing an organization, it’s about building a Kingdom.  It’s not about keeping rules, it’s about resting in relationship with Jesus and sharing that love out of the overflow.

Be encouraged, because if you’re in Christ, you are already victorious!  This means that you can rest in the hope of this simple truth: in the Kingdom, your labor is never in vain.

-Pastor Phillip


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The Holy Spirit works through rest

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Acts 2

THE HOLY SPIRIT WORKS THROUGH REST

And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.  (Acts 2:3-4)

It is interesting how when the Holy Spirit first comes in power upon the followers of Jesus, He doesn’t overpower them.  He comes and rests on them.

In the midst of a crowded scene where the Spirit’s power is being manifested, Peter is able to calmly and rationally stand up and deliver an address to the crowd.  He’s not writhing on the ground or foaming at the mouth, but he’s not being left out, either.  He’s able to operate with both his spirit and his mind because the Holy Spirit is not there to overwhelm with power, but to overflow with peace.

To operate in the Spirit isn’t about having your mind overtaken by an alien force all of the time.  It’s about letting your heart be overjoyed by His presence, and letting that presence overflow into the world around you.

This is good news, because it means that true spiritual power isn’t measured by the ecstatic experiences of a moment, but by the enduring results of a godly life, and those results are available to any and everyone who will put their faith in Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit in their heart.

As you go about your everyday business, may you pay attention to how the Spirit works in your life.  And, may you learn to trust and surrender to Him without fear, because as you do, you’ll discover the hope that comes from this truth: the Holy Spirit works through rest.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus finished your work so you could rest in His

God’s Hope for Your Heart from John 19

JESUS FINISHED YOUR WORK SO YOU COULD REST IN HIS

When Jesus had received the sour wine He said, “It is finished,” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.  (John 19:30)

Some ancient sources report that sponges dipped in sour wine were used to clean public toilet facilities.  Being offered a drink from one was the last in a series of humiliations Jesus endured in the process of crucifixion.

Again and again, Jesus endured shame and suffering, but all these paled in comparison with the weight of His true burden–your sin and mine.  It was not the pain or public ridicule that caused Jesus to suffer the most.  It was the sin of the world.

But then, the work was complete.

The job was finished, the deed done, payment for sin was delivered.  Then at last, with His final breath, Jesus signed the receipt with these last words: “It is finished.”

Do you know why He said “It is finished?”  Because it is!

There is no more atonement to be made for sin, only grace to receive through faith in Christ!  There is no more work to be done for God’s acceptance, only favor to receive through faith in Christ!

This means that to the degree you freely trust and fully surrender to Jesus, you can walk in freedom because there’s nothing for you to earn anymore.  Yes, you owed a debt to God that was well-deserving of death (Romans 6:23).  But, Jesus died for you so you wouldn’t have to!

Christian, relax.  Let this good news set you free to obey God out of joy, not obligation, and may you be filled with hope as you trust in this truth: Jesus finished your work so you could rest in His.

-Pastor Phillip

p.s. For more encouragement about resting in the finished work of Christ, click here to listen to a message called “It is finished,” part of  the “Sufficient” teaching series from outpostChurch.


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Jesus rested, so you can, too

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Luke 5

JESUS RESTED, SO YOU CAN, TOO

But now even more the report about Him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear Him and to be healed of their infirmities.  But He would withdraw to desolate places and pray.  (Luke 5:15-16)

In Luke chapter 5, Jesus calls His first disciples, heals a man with leprosy, heals a paralytic, calls a notorious tax collector to follow Him, invests time in the tax collector’s crazy friends and gets into a showdown discussion with the religious leaders of His day.

Jesus is a busy guy.

Yet, in the middle of all this activity, we see Jesus do something that He would repeat often throughout His ministry.

He takes a break.

There is no shortage of need and the crowds don’t stop looking for Him.  There is no “right time” for Jesus to withdraw without inconveniencing the people around Him… but He does it anyway.  He knows He needs to.  He knows He must take time not just to rest, but to reconnect with the Father in prayer and solitude.  So, He takes the time.  He makes the time.

How about you?

There will probably never be a “perfect” time for you to withdraw and recharge.  It’s likely there will never be a season where you have absolutely nothing on your to-do list.  Yet, to rest and recharge spiritually isn’t just practical, it’s biblical.

May you make the time to rest and connect with God this week, because after all, if even Jesus needed a break, don’t you think you could use one, too?  As you’re willing to walk in faith by getting off the treadmill of your life, may you discover the hope found in this life-restoring truth: Jesus rested, so you can, too.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus wants to give you rest

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Mark 6

JESUS WANTS TO GIVE YOU REST

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught.  And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”  For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.  And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. (Mark 6:30-32)

The Christian community applauds hard work.

Those people who do the most, who accomplish great things for God, who work diligently for good results in the Kingdom–they are the ones that we naturally look at and seek to be.

But Jesus wants you to rest, too.

To be sure, working hard for the Kingdom is a great thing, a glorious thing, but even the Apostles themselves needed to take a break.  The hand-picked, personally-chosen disciples of Jesus were first commissioned to go work, then commanded to come rest.

Maybe Jesus is calling you to do the same.

May you never be lazy in your commitment to building the Kingdom, serving others out of love and sharing Jesus wherever you can.  At the same time, though, may you be blessed by the hope that will come as you remember and apply this simple truth: Jesus wants to give you rest.

-Pastor Phillip


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God loves to exalt the lowly

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Matthew 23

GOD LOVES TO EXALT THE LOWLY

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.  (Matthew 23:12)

Religious competition is alive and well today.  Bible knowledge, moral living, even service to those in need can easily be twisted into something we do simply to make ourselves look or feel better compared to someone else.

Have you ever seen that happen?  Have you ever done it yourself?

That’s what was going on with the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, but the Good News is greater than that!

Trying to make yourself look awesome is exhausting.  Trying to perform at the top all the time not only takes away your joy, but it risks taking away God’s glory, and He loves you too much to let either of those go on forever.

Don’t try to exalt yourself by your Christian performance.  It will only wear you out.  Instead, receive the acceptance of the Father though the work of the Son, and let Him lift you up instead.

Do your best to follow Jesus, but don’t fret about whether it looks good enough to the people around you.  Admit your failures.  Embrace your shortcomings.  Accept that God alone is truly awesome, not you, and as you do, God will lift up your heart to the hope found in this truth: God loves to exalt the lowly.

-Pastor Phillip


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