Category Archives: Devotional

3 Principles Learned from Nehemiah Today

I love the book of Nehemiah, not just for the leadership applications, but also for the chance to see how transforming God is in almost impossible situations.

During one of my devotions, I came across Nehemiah chapters 9 and 10 and saw some really spectacular things. In it, the people of God had been convicted about the fact that they had not walked according to the Word of God. They repented, and in so doing they emphatically proclaimed a change of heart:

“Those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners, and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. While they stood in their places, they read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day and spent another fourth of the day in confession and worship of the Lord their God” (Neh 9:2-3).

kyle-johnson-417625-unsplash

Basically put, their repentance was passionate, persistent, and on point. So what did Nehemiah have them do next? He made them write it down. They solidified their heart with their head and hands here. Here are some of the things that they agreed to:

  • Not to marry outside of Israel.
  • Not to do business on the Sabbath, even with outsiders.
  • Support the Levites.
  • Support the Temple sacrifices.
  • Give to the work of the Lord.

This is some amazing steps! Of course, we know that the people miss the mark on keeping their obligations, and some eventually get to the point of avid legalism. However, this is without a doubt a turning point for Israel.

So what can we learn from this? I see three things that we don’t want to miss:

  1. In God, your past has passed. While there is often the temptation to dwell in the past and stay focused on the sins which entangled you, the truth is that God is a forgiving, compassionate God. When you truly come to repentance, He has promised to forgive and cleanse, and never to leave nor forsake you.
  2. In God, your present can be a time of worship. Every moment with God is a moment that you can spend in worship to Him. Your new life in Him needs to start and end with an intimacy because of who He is as the amazing, wonderful Savior. Don’t forget that He is with you, even now.
  3. In God, your future is written. He has always known your tendencies, your motives, and your heart. God is the God of second chances, and He is the God who has planned your future. Be in prayer to see how He has impressed your heart, follow His leading, and enjoy a life in Him.

Israel spent generation after generation in disobedience to God’s commands and call to holiness. Yet, when they came to Him, He forgave and healed. It doesn’t matter how long you have rebelled and how bad it was, He can forgive you too! Take some time to seek Him as you commit to live a new life in Christ!

Fran

Advertisements

Worship starts with Obedience

Then Samuel said: Does the Lord take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord ? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22 CSB

Saul fell into a trap. He wanted to pick and choose when he could obey God, mostly based on what was most convenient for him. But Samuel would have none of that. No sacrifice or external accolades could ever cover over the sin of disobedience. Nope, you might be able to fool people, but you can never fool God.

Samuel’s response is a key passage of scripture. God is not mocked, and He does not want false, fake worship and hypocrisy. He does not want our praise, especially public praise, if we are not obedient to Him.

He wants obedience, not sacrifice.

Partial obedience is 100% disobedience. Before you worship, be sure to examine yourself, seeking God in every area of your life.

God delights in this sort of self examination, and a humble heart for Him will result in a deeper, more intimate worship than you have ever experienced before!

Fran

Your Struggle Is Worth It

Are you having a tough time as of late? Join the club! Scripture is pretty clear that we have to struggle in life. And it doesn’t help when someone says something like, “Oh, God is trying to teach you something!” It’s almost like, “God, please teach me less then!” I get it, life can hurt and hurt a whole lot on this side of glory.

But let’s look at the benefits of the struggle. Like a butterfly flapping rapidly to pump blood into its new but shriveled wings once it exits the cocoon, growth can be tough, tiring, and even terrifying. Yet good things can come of it! Even more, when we are in God’s Word and applying God’s Word to our lives, allaof a sudden, our struggles make a bit more sense. It’s a process that God the Holy Spirit uses: We struggle, we pray, we read, we apply, we repent, we worship, we grow.

Here’s another example, the growth of Moses through the time line of the Scripture: Moses was a bumbling, stumbling fool, given to impulsiveness and stupidity which affected him for years. He killed a man and was forced to leave Egypt. He saw a burning bush and went up to see it (and was this a good idea?). When God first gave him the command to save His people, Moses balked and made excuses. But as he matured in the Lord, he went from being a man of “slow lips” (and needing Aaron to speak) to becoming a man who would speak out to Israel with his own God-empowered lips. It was a slow, steady growth in his discipleship, so much that when Aaron performed his own acts of stupidity, Moses was able to rebuke him, too.

And he was humble, so much that he was called the most humble man that ever was. This Moses, this proud, impulsive, even possibly arrogant Moses, became a man that God could use, a man who loved God’s people and rescued them from their enslavement. He struggled, yet God took him through it and did incredible things that glorified God and prepared the way for the Promised Land.

How about you? Are you struggling? I know it’s hard to hear, but God really might be teaching you something. He wants you to be wise in Him, to glorify His Son, and to serve Him to make His name known to all the earth. Get in His Word, worship Him in a community of believers, and let God work His will in you. ☺️

We struggle, we pray, we read, we apply, we repent, we worship, we grow.

Fran

Family Reunions Are the Best

I got to see some of my family last night. Oh, we might not look the same. And, yes, we grew up in different households at different times, but we’re still related. It was great to see them.

My family has a deep and special bond. It’s a bond that only comes through the blood soaked nails of Christ. It’s a common unity in the suffering of the Savior. It’s a common participation in the sweet sacrifice of a God-Man, made 2,000 years ago. We love Him because He first loved us, and we love each other because of that relationship. We are family and His love compels us.

Family bonds should not be easily broken. We might move on, but that blood bond remains. We might forget or lose touch with some, but one day we’ll remember and be remembered again. We might be apart, but we are still united, some way, some how. We are family, after all, and He will give us a great reunion one day.

The love of Christ brings all ages, all ethnicities, all sinners together as one. Love, the love of Christ, lasts forever as we become a family in Him. And by the way, if you don’t know your family, you need to. It’s not that hard, you just have to be a little uncomfortable and put yourself out there. But I can tell you that it’s worth the risk. 🙂

Thank you, Lord, for a little family reunion, for the reminder, for the taste of heaven, for the glimpse of the Banquet of the Lamb. Thank you, Lord.

Pastor Fran

…SDRAWKCAB

Ez 37:3, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I replied, “Lord God, only You know.” 

The entire scope of the Word of God was written so that you can see God’s story as one big act of grace. Yet we often don’t get that and reduce faith to do’s and don’ts, right and wrongs, and even shrink theological concepts to something that might fit on a bumper sticker (see WWJD). Even worse, when the Ten Commandments are seen and studied, there’s a sense that this is what one must do to be a “good” follower. Is this true?

Well, yes and no. The truth is, most have it backwards. Often, people look at the Ten Commandments (or the Beatitudes, Great Commandment, Great Commission, etc.) as the bar to strive for, when God meant it to be the opposite. Rather than simply raising the bar of the Law so that you and I can strive for and achieve it, God raised the bar so you and I can rest in the One who can. God’s grace is magnified in your failures, His strength is made perfect in your weakness.

boat-2333648_640Look at Peter walking on water. Could he have done this without Jesus? Not at all. But when He was focused on Jesus, even running to Jesus, Jesus made the impossible, possible. This same work of grace happened much later when 3000 came to Christ in Acts 2, or when the beggar was healed in Acts 3, or when Peter was released in prison in the chapters beyond.

The same for your salvation and daily walk. When you rest in the One who calls you, He gives you daily strength to do greater things in Him than you could ever do without Him. Rather than striving to fit some legalistic imperative in Him, then, how about doing all as an act of worship first, then let the work of the Spirit change you from the inside out?

You might have gotten it backwards. Don’t worry, repent and be restored. He’s got this. Your dry bones can live again.

Fran

Blessed.

Psalm 9;1 [widescreen]

Have you ever considered how blessed you really are? I’m not talking about money, or comfort, or the things of life that are gone tomorrow. I mean, how blessed are we to live in an era that has technology at our fingertips, food at our table, and close friends and family around? Even more, how much of a blessing is it to be able to hear about the gift of eternal life through Christ, the Word of God an arm’s length away (and on every phone!), and the chance to connect with a community of believers in a local church?

This morning, I had the privilege to read and pray through part of Psalm 9. This psalm reminded me of how blessed I’ve been over the years. And even when I had difficult times (which is no comparison to other people who have suffered) God was still with me- I see how much of a blessing He was, blessings too numerous to count!

As a child of Christ, you have a special opportunity. Today, as you go through your day, take the time to stop and praise the one who made you, saved you, and kept you. He is with you, a God who loves you and holds you, His precious one, in His hand.

Fran

 

Only God!

Sitting on a plane waiting for people to load, I can’t help but be amazed at how incredibly creative God is in creating all the variety of people, the lighter features or darker ones, the tall ones and the short, the ones who seem to have a permanent smile on their faces and yes, even the apparently grumpy ones. He is a God of variety.

And yet, our creative God of a diverse people still has one message of love. It’s one story, a story if grace and eternal peace, of beauty beyond the pain and daylight after the night. We are a pained people who wallow in sin and yet, in spite of ourselves, our creative God of a diverse people shows His ultimate mark of kindness: forgiveness and life forever.

How incredible is that! While we rebel and get self centered and try to revolve the world around us, He patiently waits, giving us His message of love and acceptance. 1 Jn 4:19 says, “We love, because He first loved us.” Thank you, God, for loving me first!

Pastor Fran

Signed, Sealed and Delivered

Eph 1:13 (CSB), “In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed.”

Years ago, I came to Christ in a not too dramatic way. Simply put, I heard the gospel, I responded to the gospel, and I was changed by the gospel…slowly. What I mean is that it took time for me to grow and live in Christ, but He was patient with me! He brought godly people and even some circumstances to help me grow. But most of all, God brought me to the Word.

We are all called to the gospel to walk in Christ as an example to others (see Mt 5:16), but we all know that this is hard! Life, work, distractions, sin, flesh, etc. pull us away, but let me encourage you: don’t give up. As what Paul wrote, that you were called to Him, you were sealed in Him and you are already redeemed in Him. The Spirit is with you whenever you go, so trust Him to help you to walk in Him. Signed, sealed, and delivered, you are His! He who has called you is faithful to complete you until the Day of Christ.

Let that sink in as you struggle through whatever you are going through.

In Christ,

Pastor Fran

Should you work hard? 

​”Don’t wear yourself out to get rich; because you know better, stop! As soon as your eyes fly to it, it disappears, for it makes wings for itself and flies like an eagle to the sky.” Proverbs 23:4

Far too many people wear themselves out on the rat race for the almighty dollar. They think that they are doing something good, but the opposite is often true. They work, eat, sleep, work, and maybe, just maybe get rest on a weekend or a vacation here or there. But is this what God wants? 

We are called to work and work hard, yet there needs to be joy along the way. When God created the universe, it was a six day workweek with a one day rest, yet you get the sense that it was a joy for Him. Each day He looked at His work and declared it to be good (the last day very good). 

So is it biblical for us to work hard? Absolutely! But work must be a joy, and this is done when you see the purpose of what you do as compared to the overall picture. Working for money as an end is fruitless, it flies away anyway. Working for the Lord, however, is a blessing, and when we do anything for God and His glory, we will be more satisfied on his daily basis. 1 Cor 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all for the glory of God.” 

Pastor Fran 

A thought to help your day… 

Imagine the greatest distance that you can see as you look up into the sky. You can see miles away, ten, twenty, hundreds, even (with your imagination) thousands or more. As you look up, now imagine how much bigger God is.

He is big enough to create everything you see, all you hear, the sense of warmth from the sun- He created it all. And what you see is a microscopic fraction of the world you live on.


Even more, He created the entire world, a microscopic fraction of the galaxy, which is a microscopic fraction of the cluster of galaxies, which is a microscopic fraction of the universe. This is how big God is.

Yet, amazingly, He is personally interested in you and your relationship with Him. You are not only invited to be part of His creation, you are invited to be a co-heir of His creation. All He has is yours and you are invited to love Him and enjoy Him forever.

This is love, undeserved and unearned! Let that sink in as you go through your day. I pray that it changes you as it has for me!

Pastor Fran