God’s justice is a pathway to His mercy

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So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image…  They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues.  They did not repent and give him glory… and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores.  They did not repent of their deeds. (Revelation 16:2, 9, 11)

The escalating judgments of Revelation are pictures of the perfect justice of God and the total depravity of those who refuse to worship Him.

Like swimmers in a flood who refuse to accept life jackets and boats, these people refuse to repent, to turn away from their wickedness and thus be saved from the rising tide.  Like a person who provoked another to violence by repeated assault, then got angry at being hit back in return, these people curse God for allowing them to receive the consequences of their actions, and blame Him for the suffering they brought upon themselves.

Have you ever done the same?

Be very careful not to blame God for the pain caused by your own sinful and foolish choices.  Jesus is full of mercy and love and forgiveness for you, but it makes no difference if you don’t accept responsibility and come to Him humbly to receive.

God does not delight in your suffering, but in your salvation!  (Ezekiel 18:23; 1 Timothy 2:3-4)  Don’t push Him away when you think He’s being unfair.  Draw close to Him in humility, accept the fruit of your actions, and receive His forgiveness and restoration.

It is only when we grasp and accept the rightness of God’s justice that we can truly appreciate the beauty of His mercy.  So, be honest with yourself and let this truth lead you to peace.

God’s justice is a pathway to His mercy.

–Pastor Phillip

The King and His Kingdom are coming

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Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”   (Revelation 11:15)

As we look around at our world, we see brokenness and pain.  We see evil and injustice.  We see suffering and sin.

But all these things will soon pass away.

We live in “the time between the times,” when the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated, but not consummated.  The kingdom of this world, of darkness and death, that kingdom is still very much alive and strong… but not forever.

The deepest hope of God’s people is not that somehow humanity will all finally wake up and be nice to each other, but that someday soon Jesus will come and complete His Kingdom on earth.

We look to a day that is not yet here, but is nevertheless certain to arrive.  We look to a coming reality that is sure to happen because it has been promised by the only One who has never, ever broken a promise.

So, no matter how strong the darkness may appear, take heart!  No matter how bad the world seems to get, stand strong!  If you’re in Christ, then you can live boldly and confidently today because of this hope-inspiring truth.

The King and His Kingdom are coming.

–Pastor Phillip

God wants you to have peace with others

God’s Hope for Your Heart from 2 Corinthians 13

GOD WANTS YOU TO HAVE PEACE WITH OTHERS

Finally, brothers, rejoice.  Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.  (2 Corinthians 13:11)

A life of constant conflict is a taxing one, indeed.  To always be at odds with people takes a terrible toll on the soul.

God wants more for you than that.

To be sure, disagreements will always happen as long as we are this side of heaven, but you don’t have to live there.

God wants His children to be devoted to loving and serving one another, not for His benefit, but for ours.  He wants us to work for peace and restoration with one another because He knows that’s the best place for us to be, the best conditions for us to flourish.

Devote yourself to living in harmony with as many people as you can, and as you do, you’ll find hope as you live out this truth: God wants you to have peace with others.

-Pastor Phillip


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God’s discipline is for your deliverance

God’s Hope for Your Heart from 1 Corinthians 5

GOD’S DISCIPLINE IS FOR YOUR DELIVERANCE

You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.  (1 Corinthians 5:5)

It sounds so harsh.  It sounds so unloving.

“What about grace?” some might ask.  “You’re kicking someone out of your church because they made a mistake?”

Absolutely not!

What this passage is talking about is not someone who made a mistake, but a person who is continually and flagrantly violating some of God’s clearest and most basic instructions.  This isn’t a person who stumbled off the path.  This is someone who took a jackhammer to the path and is gleefully dancing in the rubble.

Here’s the thing.  The fact that someone would live like that is crystal clear evidence that either A) they have abandoned the life of Christ completely, or B) they never had it to begin with.  The frightening thing is that both scenarios lead to devastating results.

So, to simply allow someone to go on living like this without drastically intervening is not a gesture of love at all; it is a sign of indifference to their destruction, and indifference is the deepest form of hate.

This is why Paul is instructing the church at Corinth to send this person away, to “deliver him to Satan,” so that even though it will be painful for him, that pain will hopefully lead to repentance and the healing of his soul.

This action is not because the church doesn’t love this person, but because they do.  You see, church discipline is an example of God’s discipline, and God’s discipline on His children is always about restoration, not retribution.

So, when you find yourself in a place of pain or consequence because of your sin, may you turn to Jesus and take comfort in the hope of this truth: God’s discipline is for your deliverance.

-Pastor Phillip


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God builds brokenness into praise

God’s Hope for Your Heart from Psalm 51

GOD BUILDS BROKENNESS INTO PRAISE

For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
Do good to Zion in Your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem;
Then will You delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Your altar.  (Psalm 51:16-19)

God isn’t looking for showy sacrifices; He’s looking for humble hearts.

The outward forms of religion do nothing to purge the inner stain of sin.  Only repentance does that, and true repentance always includes brokenness.  It may not be the weeping repentance of a downcast heart, but those who are truly seeking God’s forgiveness must always know the brokenness of their life without Him.

However, God doesn’t want His children to STAY broken!

Yes, brokenness is the doorway to healing, but God loves to restore through the process of repentance because He loves His children.  Our Father is the Master Builder.  He creates new life out of dead hearts and restores broken things to better than they were before.

So, whatever pain or problem you’re experiencing right now, may you take heart and find hope in this truth: God builds brokenness into praise.

-Pastor Phillip


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Jesus is your total restoration

God’s Hope for Your Heart from John 21

JESUS IS YOUR TOTAL RESTORATION

When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”
“Feed My lambs,” He told him.
A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”
“Shepherd My sheep,” He told him.
He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”
Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?”
He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.”
“Feed My sheep,” Jesus said.
(John 21:15-17)

Peter was hurt because Jesus kept pressing the issue, but that’s exactly what Peter needed.

He had denied Jesus three times.  Three times he had demonstrated by his actions that he loved himself and his own safety more than he loved his Savior.  Three times he had put his own needs above the needs of anyone else, and when the rooster crowed like Jesus said it would, Peter’s heart had broken and he had run away in shame.

Peter didn’t need just a surface-level, “Don’t worry about it” from Jesus.  He needed complete restoration.

When Jesus engaged Peter after breakfast, it wasn’t because He needed to know that Peter loved Him.  He did it because Peter needed to know that he loved Him.  Peter needed to know that Jesus had forgiven Him, and he needed the confidence to forgive himself.

Three denials needed three restorations.  Three failures needed three expressions of forgiveness.  Jesus didn’t just give Peter a one-size-fits-all encounter to help him feel better and go on his way.  As Peter responded with humility and faith, Jesus gave him the specific things he needed to be fully restored right where he was.

Will you let Him do the same for you?

May you look to Jesus in your moment of shame and failure.  May you trust Him, and confess and repent of your sin not in fear, but in confident hope that God is willing and able to restore you totally and welcome you right back no matter how far you’ve wandered.

Walk in this today, and as you do, may you take heart and find hope in this glorious truth: Jesus is your total restoration.

-Pastor Phillip


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The King and His Kingdom are coming

Scripture Notes on Revelation 11

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”  (Revelation 11:15)

As we look around at our world, we see brokenness and pain.  We see evil and injustice.  We see suffering and sin.

But all these things will soon pass away.

We live in “the time between the times,” when the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated, but not consummated.  The kingdom of this world, of darkness and death, that kingdom is still very much alive and strong… but not forever.

The deepest hope of God’s people is not that somehow humanity will all finally wake up and be nice to each other, but that Jesus will come and complete His Kingdom on earth.

We look to a day that is not yet here, but that is certain.  We look to a coming reality, and it is one that is sure to happen because it has been promised by the only One who has never, ever broken a promise.

No matter how strong the darkness may appear, take heart.  No matter how bad the world seems to get, stand strong!  If you’re in Christ, then you can live boldly and confidently because of this hope-inspiring truth.

The King and His Kingdom are coming.

-Pastor Phillip

God can turn your failure into fruitfulness

Scripture Notes on Psalm 107

He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there He lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in; they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield. (Psalm 107:35-37)

Not much grows in the desert, but God can change that.

The desert is often a symbol of death, but God can change that.

The desert can be seen as a wasteland, a dry place, a symbol of failure and uselessness… But God can change that.

God can turn wastelands into wonderful things. He can change something useless into something useful for His glory. He can take the thing in your life that you’re most ashamed of and turn it into the most awesome story of His redemption, if you’ll trust Him.

Don’t let what was keep you from seeing what is, and don’t let what is steal your hope for what can be. God is a redeemer, and if you trust Him and follow where He leads, watch how He will work in the broken places of your life.

You see, God can turn your failure into fruitfulness.

-Pastor Phillip

God’s remembrance is your restoration

Scripture Notes on Psalm 106

Many times He delivered them, but they were rebellious in their purposes and were brought low through their iniquity. Nevertheless, He looked upon their distress, when He heard their cry.
For their sake He remembered His covenant, and relented according to the abundance of His steadfast love.
 (Psalm 106:43-45)

The people of Israel turned away from God and paid the price. Not once or twice, but again and again they failed to keep their covenant with God, and lost the blessings He had promised them.

But God remembered His covenant.

The people didn’t hold up their end of the relationship, but God held up His. The people were not faithful to Him but He was perfectly faithful to them, because that’s who He is!

Maybe you find yourself in a place of loss because you haven’t followed where you were supposed to. Maybe you are paying the price for your own disobedience or someone else’s.

Here’s good news. God will still be faithful to you!

God can still redeem your circumstances. God still looks on you with love, no matter what has been lost in your life.

If you’re in Christ, be encouraged by this truth.

God’s remembrance is your restoration.

-Pastor Phillip

God wants you to have peace with others

God’s Hope for Your Heart from 2 Corinthians 13

GOD WANTS YOU TO HAVE PEACE WITH OTHERS

Finally, brothers, rejoice.  Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.  (2 Corinthians 13:11)

A life of constant conflict is a taxing one, indeed.  To always be at odds with people takes a terrible toll on the soul.

God wants more for you than that.

To be sure, disagreements will always happen as long as we are this side of heaven, but you don’t have to live there.

God wants His children to be devoted to loving and serving one another, not for His benefit, but for ours.  He wants us to work for peace and restoration with one another because He knows that’s the best place for us to be, the best conditions for us to flourish.

Devote yourself to living in harmony with as many people as you can, because God wants you to have peace with others.

-Pastor Phillip

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