Illuminate Community Church
About this podcast
Illuminate Community Church Podcast - Pastor Jason Fritz - Scottsdale, AZ
About this podcast
Illuminate Community Church Podcast - Pastor Jason Fritz - Scottsdale, AZ
Illuminate Community Church
2/28/2021 - Now I See It - Hebrews 11
Growing up I took pride in the fact that I did not need glasses. My three siblings, as well as my mom and dad, all wore glasses, and I viewed them as inferior. I didn’t realize any problem with my vision until I started driving. I wondered why it was so difficult to read street signs, but I just assumed that everyone had the same problem. It wasn’t until someone pointed out how timid of a driver I was at night, that I realized other people did not have the same issues I did. Turns out I was more like my family than I thought, I needed glasses. However, once I got glasses the whole world opened up to me. I could drive at night with so much more confidence. Being able to see clearly what was in front of me made all the difference in my driving. In Hebrews 11, we are given the testimonies of men and women from the Old Testament, who were commended by God because of their faith. What the author of Hebrews points out, is that all of these great people of faith, died having greeted the promise of God from afar (Hebrews 11:13). Though they could not see it at the time, the promise they were waiting for, was Jesus. If they could have faith in God while not being able to see the promise, how much more confidence can we have while we are living on this side of the cross? This confidence in God’s faithfulness works itself out through our daily obedience to God. God is constantly calling us to and from things. These could be big things, like career moves, or family decisions, or these may be smaller everyday practices and habits. To mature in Jesus is to respond in obedience with faith to God’s Word.
2/21/2021 - Feeling Better Things to Come - Hebrews 6:1-12
I was spending time the other day with friends who have toddlers. Little kids can be so darn funny and cute. I think it's because of their immaturity. They say and do whatever comes to mind with little regard for the consequences. There are parallels in our spiritual lives. We start our journey with Jesus as spiritual babies. We may not know much, and we may ask simple questions, but we are drinking the milk of foundational things. This is really good. Soon we are ready for a wider diet leading to healthy growth. But what if we decide to stop growing? What's the big deal? Does it really matter?Yes.Immature faith will make you unsure of your salvation. It will make you sluggish and as we read last week, lazy. Those who turn away from the basics of the faith, in response to doubts or disobedience, are beyond any rational arguments. Those who do not move beyond the basics of the faith risk straying from the truth, which is disastrous. The ancient Israelites are an example of what happens when disobedience and doubt replace obedience and trust. The author of Hebrews refers to this as unproductive land that must be burnt in order to be restored.Here's the thing - you have something amazing awaiting you! The promises of God. A future that is unlike what you can imagine. The creator of the universe has prepared a place for you and it is amazing. The best part is not the environment, the best part is being in the presence of the one who died for you to make it all possible. So let's hold fast to Jesus who is described as the "anchor of our souls." Isn't that the perfect description? It tells you that life will have storms and the ship that is your life will be tossed around without a stable hold. So hold on my brothers and sisters, your glorious final destination awaits!
2/14/2021 - How's Your Diet? - Hebrews 5
You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:13-14 I grew up drinking a lot of milk. The good stuff. Whole. Milk is necessary and good - especially for babies. But a constant diet of milk will inhibit growth. The author of Hebrews tells us mature Christians put the word of God into practice constantly and therefore they discern between what is right and wrong. Immature believers have the words go in one ear and out the other. There’s no stopping in the heart and mind. Most of your daily decisions are not spoken to explicitly in the Bible. Should you have chicken or tuna for lunch? Should you wear a jacket or a sweater? There are however many moments in your day when you will be faced with moral decisions. What programming should I watch? What should I say about this person? How should I spend my money? Sometimes people don't understand weightier things because they have a hard time discerning right from wrong. No need to discuss how the sovereignty of God and the free will of man interact until we discuss how your anger is tearing your family apart. We need some self-evaluation. Has your hearing become dull? If we were to put spiritual lenses on, what would be revealed as your spiritual age, your maturity? Once again, the author of Hebrews refuses to leave us where we are.
2/7/2021 - Life is a Journey from Weariness to Rest - Hebrews 4
I feel so much better if I get eight hours of sleep. The thing is, it just doesn't happen. We can forsake our rest because of packed schedules or worries about our families, jobs, finances, ministries and just about everything else. These are areas in which God desires to lead us to rest, rather than leave us to trust in futile works of the flesh. You see, God's rest is more than physical. It gives rest to the soul. The promise that still stands is the promise of salvation through God’s provision—Jesus Christ. He alone can provide the eternal rest of salvation through His blood shed on the cross for the remission of sins. God’s rest is special. It is in the spiritual realm, the rest of salvation. Faith, the author of Hebrews goes on to assert, is the key to entering God’s rest. The Hebrews had the gospel preached to them. However, just as the Israelites knew the truth about God the messages were of “no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith” (Hebrews 4:2). Some had heard the good news of Christ, but they rejected it for lack of faith. So let us learn from their error. Let us rest in Him, who has done all the work for our salvation and sanctification, and who promises to lead us to eternal rest!
1/31/2021 - Look To Jesus - Hebrews 2
"Look to Jesus," "fix your eyes on Jesus," "see Jesus." The author of Hebrews is attempting to emphasize something. The only way to thrive in this life is to focus on Jesus. The second chapter of his sermon contains a vision that will change the way you live - See Jesus as your "merciful and sympathetic high priest." Back in the day, a Jewish priest was someone you went to for help. So let me explain this to you by virtue of what Jesus experienced as the Son of God - He faced temptation directly from Satan. Therefore no one can say to him, “Jesus you just don’t understand what it’s like to live in a fallen world and to be tempted by sin.” Jesus' response: “No, actually I do know what it’s like to be tempted by Satan himself.” Jesus got hungry, tired, fatigued and wearied. This is why the gospel writers tell us that Jesus would often go to a solitary place and pray. He knows what it’s like to lose a loved one. He wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. When most Jewish men his age were married with a family a home and a career; Jesus knew what it was to be single, a virgin and homeless. He experienced betrayal and rejection by his closest friends. He knows what it’s like to be stabbed in the back by someone he loved. He had close personal relationships disrupted and left unresolved. He knew discouragement in ministry when the disciples just wouldn’t get it. When you go through pain and you want to talk to someone who went through it all, talk to Jesus. He understands.
1/24/2021 - Jesus Explains God - Hebrews 1:1-4
The book of Hebrews is a Christological masterpiece. There might be no higher view of Jesus found in the Bible. And that's exactly what early Christians needed. You see, like us at times, they were asking the question – If God loves us why is our life so hard? The answer – the Christian life is a journey from weariness to rest, it’s a journey that started with being alienated from God to being in the presence of God. And here’s how you make it; you’ve got to fix your eyes on Jesus. Through Jesus’ words and actions we hear and see what matters most to every human being—that God the Father loves us unconditionally. "God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 Even at our worst, God loves us... John continues, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (verse 17). The Father sent Jesus out of his love and his commitment to save us. And when Jesus completed this act of love, he sat down in a place of prominence, at the right hand of God. There's another big question in the world today. What is God like? The author of Hebrews tells us the answer: Jesus reveals who God is because he is the exact imprint and reflection of the character of God. The reason why Jesus is the exact reflection of God is because they share the exact same nature. I hope you see how personal God has become. By taking on flesh and blood he's telling you this, "I really want to be in your life."
1/17/2021 - Some Things Never Change - God's Word!
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8 The Bible is unique. No other book has been attacked like it, scrutinized like it or criticized like it. Neither has there ever been another book that has stood its ground like the Bible. The critics have passed on through the centuries, but the Bible stands as strong today as ever. It is an amazing book. When we say the Bible is authoritative what we're really saying is that God is authoritative because it contains His words. So why is there so much hatred against the Bible? Perhaps we can see part of the reason in a statement Jesus made: "And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil" (John 3:19). Jesus was referring to Himself as the light coming into the world. The Bible represents the words of Christ. If people hated Him, they also hate His words. This is because His word exposes evil and shines light upon the sinful activities of mankind. People who love their sin will despise the Bible. The Bible still stands. Regardless of all the hatred manifested toward it through the ages, it is still here to be reckoned with. This fact alone ought to make us think about the importance of the Bible. Have you ever thought about the Bible in this way: If a book were to be given to us by God, then we should expect that it endures. And this is exactly what God promises. 700 years later Peter preached the same words...for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you!
1/10/2021 - Some Things Never Change - God Himself!
Last Sunday we talked about the massive changes that have occurred as a result of 2020. One thing is for sure, things will continue to change and that change is going to come faster and faster and some of these changes are going to shock us and some will encourage us but if you know the unchanging God you are ready for whatever happens. The story is told of Lloyd Douglas, author of, "The Robe". When he was a university student, he lived in a boarding house. Downstairs on the first floor of that boarding house was an elderly retired music teacher. He was very infirm and could not leave his apartment. Douglas took a liking to this man and every morning they had a ritual they would go through together. Lloyd Douglas would come downstairs and he would open the man's door and ask him, "Well, sir, what's the good news today"? And the old man would pick up his tuning fork and tap it on the side of his wheelchair and hold it up and say, "That's middle C. It was middle C yesterday, it will be middle C tomorrow, and it will be middle C 1000 years from now. The tenor upstairs sings flat, the piano across the hall is out of tune but, my friend, this is middle C and that's the good news for today". Christian, Jesus Christ is your middle C. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The world in which we live is out of tune. The prognosticators got it all wrong. Everything we look at seems messed up but we take our tuning fork and we thrust it against a hard surface and we remind ourselves, "God is our middle C". We serve and love an unchanging God.
1/3/2021 - Some Things Never Change - God's Love For You!
2020 has taken a lot from us. Suddenly, we realized how quickly things can change. Some have lost freedoms, jobs, family interaction and even personal relationships. You need to be reminded that some things never change. For example, God's love for you never comes to an end. And yet, many don't live in this love. Instead they continue loving that which can so easily be taken away and are therefore discouraged. So why would we anyone ignore God's love? I’ll tell you why. Because we are very adept and misplacing our affections in this world. The pursuit of “hook ups” has become normative. For many, social media is little more than a love affair with attention. What’s fueling this? People trying desperately to have these questions answered: Am I lovable? Will someone find me attractive? What will cure my loneliness? "If I can just find the answer to that then I’ll be ok." There’s a story in the Old Testament that illustrates this well. It has as much drama as any "reality show" today. A man named Jacob falls in love with a beautiful woman named Rachel. The Bible describes her as being beautiful in both form and face. In other words, she was very attractive. Jacob falls hard for her. He asks her father Laban for her hand in marriage. He agrees but only after working for him for seven years. But Jacob is so smitten he says, "No problem, she’s worth every minute of the wait." Finally, the day comes and Jacob ends up getting a taste of his own medicine. This plot twist is one for the ages. You see Rachel's father duped Jacob' in the exact same way Jacob cheated his own father Isaac. Jacob loved the place of prominence. He loved a woman for her attractiveness. Misplaced love caused Jacob a lot of heartache in life. It also disrupted the lives of those around him. His life is a testimony to the difference between misplaced love lost and true love found.
12/20/2020 - Advent Hope
As human beings, we need things in our future that give us excitement and optimism. I actually believe God implanted within each one of us this innate need. Of course the ultimate fulfillment of this is the hope of heaven. The Christmas story reminds us that heaven is attainable through faith in Jesus. Therefore hope and faith are inseparable. The author of Hebrews explains. "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1 Additionally, we have hope in this life here and now. The Scriptures invite us to come to Jesus and confidently ask for help in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16 tells us, “to come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Things that leave us feeling powerless and hopeless come in many forms. With Christ’s strength you can overcome life's biggest obstacles, and faith in Jesus gives hope and help to overcome: “and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). Have you ever faced a giant in life only to think it's too big and you can't handle it? We do not need some kind of "God supplement" to our own strength, rather, we need His strength in us to do what we need to do. And he always gives it. 2 Corithians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Seeing our weakness as the entry point of God’s strength gives access to His power! When we put our faith and hope in Jesus, it not only gives us help, strength, and power for today, but it also gives us hope for life after death. It is a confident expectation of the ultimate “tomorrow.” Have you been feeling hopeless? All you need to do is ask God for what he has already made possible. “May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
12/13/2020 - Advent Love
What's the most important thing? This question was put to Jesus. His answer seems rather simple - Love God and love people. And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37-39 Loving God and loving others are intertwined. In other words, you can't love God without loving those around you - especially your brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus explains the importance of this... "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 Christmas gives you the motivation because the birth of Jesus reveals God's love for you. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 Illuminate, you have a done an amazing job of loving others. As your pastor, I am so very proud of you. This Sunday we celebrate all the love you've shown through your generosity and faithfulness in 2020!
12/6/2020 - Advent Rest - Matthew 11:28-30
Do you sometimes find it hard to fall asleep at night because of the things racing through your mind? Thoughts that are angry, fearful and anxious often accompany our last and first moments when our heads are on the pillow. Perhaps personal resentment is the biggest taker of mind space. What do you do with all this? Jesus reminds believers to make an exchange. "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 A yoke is an instrument used to attach two working animals together. Where one goes, so goes the other. Notice Jesus doesn't simply say, "Take off all your yokes." As if to say, "Be free!" Instead, he says, "Take off whatever it is that is currently leading you and exchange it for my leadership." In other words, we are all led by something that isn't giving us what we truly desire. Is this true for you Christian? Are you still wearing the yoke of social media's opinion of you? What about the yoke of the culture's demands? How about the yoke of salvation by works? Give up your desire to live life on your terms and let Jesus lead you and you’ll find the rest you’ve been looking for. I know this sounds crazy in this modern world. Because we’re constantly being told, “Don’t give away your authority! Let no one control you!” Jesus says, if you want inner freedom then give up your freedom. If you want to find your life, lose it. Take my yoke, I will lead you. You don’t have to prove yourself, you don’t have to carry the burden of guilt, or pain alone.
11/29/2020 - Advent Peace - Luke 2:1-14
I was thinking about this Christmas season and its potential for greater impact than many others. The reason is simple - we are a world and a country that continues to be filled with anxiety. What is the cure? The cure came 2000 years ago but not in the way anyone anticipated. A world changer would be expected to come from behind palace walls and certainly from a family of great influence. Instead, Jesus was born in a lowly stable and placed in a manger and his parents were unwed and poor teenagers. The baby would grow to be a man and that man had the most significant impact of anyone who has ever walked the earth. Lest we forget - Christmas holds the word “Christ.” Jesus came to bring what we want in this world and what we need right now. Soon you will be receiving Christmas cards and letters that have a peaceful theme and we will sing songs that speak of "peace on earth." But you know I’ve found that the concept of peace means different things to different people. We find ancient distractions to relieve ourselves of our modern pain. Spend money, have a few more drinks, go all out and indulge in something you know you'll really regret. Meanwhile, there is a peace that lasts... And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:13-14 The word 'multitude' describes a huge number...like hundreds of thousands. It seems each angel in heaven could not contain his enthusiasm. So as we enter this season, let's remind ourselves of where lasting peace is found. Look inside that lowly stable and stare into the worn-out manger in the little town of Bethlehem. Doesn't the simplicity of it all tell you something? Your peace has arrived.
11/22/2020 - Thankful for Harmony - 1 Peter 3:8-12
No other faith crosses more social, racial, ethnic, and geographic borders than Christianity. In all of our diversity there is a powerful thread of unity. Do you know what the word “university” means? It's a compound word meaning unity in diversity. The same idea is printed on American currency, E Pluribus Unum "out of the many, one." Now, let me ask you, what is the one thing that brings unity in the midst of diversity? The Truth. Ironically, this is the one thing secular universities tend to deny. Peter says there ought to be harmony amongst believers because we have the truth. Jesus himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” His truth has us in the same band and his truth has us all marching in the same direction. How good is that? We have the main ingredient upon which harmony is built! Having the truth is the foundation. But unity can be difficult to maintain. You've probably noticed that over the last six months. Peter gives us four action points to maintain the witness Jesus wants for his followers...and they are good ones. Sympathy, love, compassion and humility keep the unity flames burning. In so doing, we prove ourselves to be the people of God.
11/15/2020 - Thankful for Unity - Philippians 2:12-17
I think we all understand that obey is not a welcomed concept today. This four-letter word is rejected by most unless it’s the idea that one would obey only himself. Let’s face it – it’s cool to be rebellious. This is why many of us as teenagers disagreed with authority. I seriously doubt if anyone woke up this morning and said, “God teach me to obey. I pray that my boss would give me lots of things to obey.” Kids don’t wake up in the morning and say, “I can’t wait to be obedient to mom and dad!” You know what kind of conversation never happens? The one that goes like this – “What do you love?" "I love to obey! I’m such an obedient person and I just can’t wait to be told what to do. I study all the verses on obedience because they are my favorites!” Now those who have taken a Bible class or two may be thinking – “I wonder what the word obey means in the Greek? It can’t simply mean do what you’re told!” They are right. It actually means to keep your mouth shut and do what you’re told…sorry about that. Pretty sure that's not what most want to hear. Indeed, this is a bitter pill for us all to swallow and here’s why – we think we are smarter than everyone else. We think we are better than everyone and we think we see ourselves more clearly than they see themselves. Social psychologists call this the “self-serving bias" and it states that we all walk around thinking that we are better than we really are. There are a number of humorous studies that expose this. For example, when asked, 85% of Americans think they are better looking than average. Now statistically speaking this is problematic. It gets better. When Americans are told about the self-serving bias, over 90% say that it’s true for other people, but not them. This is the reason we need to listen to those who care for us in love. It starts with God's voice. His instruction gives direction. It’s also important to surround yourself with people who will tell you what’s happening in your life as they observe it. One of the negative impacts of quarantine is that some folks are no longer in community. When you’re not in community there’s no accountability in your life. We complain, argue and grumble because we lose sight of the things that are most important. Isn't it great that we always have a guide to get us where we need to be? The path forward is through obedience to God's Word.
11/8/2020 - Thankful for Eternity - 1 Peter 4:7-11
As I was preparing the message this Sunday, I was reminded of a meeting I had several years ago. I was asked to visit someone in the hospital. It was a friend of a friend and someone I did not know; a man in his mid-forties who had terminal cancer. As I entered the room I introduced myself and you know how you get the sense that people don’t want you around? That was me. The atmosphere turned cold. He did not want to talk about God or heaven or eternal things even though he was in the last few days of his life on earth. My heart really broke for this man. It's not uncommon to find this response in people simply because our entire lives are spent trying to avoid death and some never come to embrace its reality. It ought not to be this way for the believer in Jesus Christ. In fact, it should be the opposite. Life should be one concentrated effort to prepare for what awaits us. For this reason, I am thankful for eternity but until that day Christian, you and I have purpose and meaning here and now. The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:7-11 Peter does not want us to be caught unaware having wasted our time, resources, and gifts. So because we are living on the edge of eternity we must be sober-minded and think and act according to God’s Word. This means that we persevere in our love for each other and one of the ways we demonstrate our love for each other is in showing hospitality. This involves giving ourselves away so that others can be blessed. And finally, in these last days, we are to use our gifts in serving one another. This is what it means to live today in light of eternity!
11/1/2020 - Thankful For Salvation - 1 Peter 1:1-12
In 1620, after a treacherous trip, the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower from England and dropped anchor near Cape Cod. Not long after their arrival they were greeted by Native Americans who taught them how to grow corn. Their first growing season was a success and in appreciation they invited the Native Americans to join them in a three-day long festival we now know as Thanksgiving. This marks our current season of gratitude and of all people, Christians have the most to be thankful for. One of Jesus’ early disciples explains why... Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5 Wow! There's a lot here to unpack... We have received God's mercy! We have been born again! We have hope through the resurrection of Jesus! We have an eternal inheritance! We are guarded by God! Will you pray this with me? "Father, what can we say? You are the giver of all good things and it begins with the gift of your Son. We live and breathe in your goodness now even as we look forward to all that awaits us in the life to come. THANK YOU!"
10/25/2020 - I Pledge Allegiance to the Kingdom of God
I grew up saying the pledge of allegiance in elementary school. The word allegiance refers to one’s loyalty. Of course, a Christian’s ultimate loyalty is to Jesus and his example. Jesus inaugurated the kingdom of God through his life, death and resurrection, and God’s people are to be a picture and a taste of that heavenly kingdom. God’s kingdom has not been fully and finally established and won’t be until the return of Christ. So for now we wait for something more. Until then, God’s kingdom isn’t simply American or western. His kingdom is composed of people from all tribes, tongues and nations. One of the sweetest Christian experiences you can have is worshiping God alongside brothers and sisters who speak a different language than you. You are reminded that Jesus came to make all people everywhere foreigners in their own land and ambassadors of his kingdom. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 1 Peter 2:11 While God dwells with His people now by power and the presence of the Holy Spirit, we are still waiting for the kingdom to be consummated when Jesus returns. Until then, we live as strangers in a foreign land. While we are certainly called to honor, obey and influence the laws of the land, America is not our home. It is not “the Promised Land,” but in more and more ways actually resembles the famed Babylon of old. Yet we do have many blessings in these United States. I read about a poor man from India who said that his dream was to live in America. When asked why, he said, “I want to live in a country where even the poorest people are overweight.” We have abundance but we are still living in exile. We are very much “east of Eden" and at the same time, we have a very direct mandate from the place to which we call our true home. Let’s read Peter’s words again and add the next verse... Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:11-12 No matter who wins or loses in any election season, we have an allegiance to one who is far greater. We are the people of God. As your pastor, I'm going to ask you to commit to the ethics of God's kingdom. In this way, we will be presenting our good deeds for those who haven't yet been transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light.