Category Archives: Devotional

I Am With You

Then Haggai, the Lord’s messenger, delivered the Lord’s message to the people: “I am with you — this is the Lord’s declaration.” Haggai 1:13, CSB

The people were cut to the heart, ready to not only hear the Word of God, but to obey the Word of God. They were moldable, ready to be used by the Lord for a great and eternal purpose: to be a light to the world, a blessing to the nations.

It was at this point of conviction that God responded: “I am with you.” He was always with them in the past, but this declaration was very different. They took a step of faith and responded to God’s invitation to join Him at work. It was this step of obedience that brought a deeper intimacy with God, and so as they started a new, exciting, and yes, even dangerous journey, God reassured them: He would be with them. w

This presence was similar to when their ancient ancestors escaped the Egyptians and crossed the Red Sea. Similar to the battle of Jericho. Similar to the victories in the days of David. Similar to the night in Daniel’s lions den. God was with them then, and He was going to be with them now.

Today, if you are one of His, God is with you now. You may be fighting the spiritual battle of your life, but be reassured that He is with you. You might be overwhelmed with, well everything, but He is with you. Life is tough and difficult and a struggle sometimes, but He never leaves His own (Ps 55:22). Whatever you face and whatever God wants you to do, be encouraged: He is with you.

So dig a little bit deeper in your walk with Him. Listen to His Word, pray in the Spirit, be encouraged in Him. Have a posture to seek God’s will and join Him, no matter what you might face. Because He is for you. He is around you. He is with you.

Fran

All Tied Up?

Though the ropes of the wicked were wrapped around me, I did not forget your instruction. Psalms 119:61 CSB

What happens when people are hateful and attack you? This part of Psalm 119 brings an important point home: when these sort of things happen, we have a choice in how we respond.

Sometimes it’s people who attack, those who the psalmist calls the wicked. These are the arrogant, the proud, those who set themselves up above God, those who are judging Him in their corrupt wisdom. When these kind of people do such things, the natural, human, fleshly reaction is to strike back. Of course, Jesus taught us not to do repay their evil for evil, and instead to place our non-struck part of our face (the other cheek) before the attacker. So rather than attacking back, we are to respond in peace.

Another fleshly reaction, a very opposite one, is to withdraw, to get depressed, to believe their lies. Yet your value is not in what people say, or what the message of the culture might say, or even what you might say to yourself with your negative self talk. Instead, your value is in what God says, what God did, and what God does in you. If you are in Christ, your value is in Christ.

This is why instead of believing them and their fleshly message, it’s important that you listen to the Word of God. Rather than being discouraged, instead receive encouragement from the Scriptures. This is because while the world is chaotic and evil, you can have confidence that God is still in control. He brings order. He brings life. In fact, He is life, as well as hope, peace, and salvation. So rather than listening to the toxic message of the world, listen to God, for in Him is everything that the world will never be able to fulfill. Everything.

May you be encouraged in God and His Word,that you are strengthened by Him as you pour through His Scriptures. May His precepts pour into your heart and soul. Most of all, may you allow God to change you to react in a way that He wills while you live as a foreigner in a foreign world until He comes again.

Pastor Fran

Loving the Unlovable…

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. Luke 6:32 CSB

Love is never meant to be kept in comfortable, familiar places. Love changes hearts, changes lives, pierces the dark, pierces dark hearts. Love conquers all.

When we love each other, there’s no greater blessing. But when we love those who are difficult to love, there’s no greater glory for God. In a disposable, throw away world, it’s our willingness to take chances with loving others that changes the world. It’s when we risk our hearts that we see that love never fails.

How are you doing in this area? Are you just staying “safe” with who you associate with? Instead, love people well, even those hard to love. Love them so they can see God’s love in You.

Pastor Fran

“I Am So Angry!”

It seems like everyone is angry about something these days. Just yesterday, I was angry about rising gas prices. Over the past two years, people have been angry about masks (pro and con). In fact, just spend a few minutes on Twitter and you are bound to find someone angry about something, somewhere.

But what happens when anger gets the best of you? God’s Word gives us many examples, but here’s one:

“Aaron will be gathered to his people; he will not enter the land I have given the Israelites, because you both rebelled against my command at the Waters of Meribah. Numbers 20:24 CSB

In this case, Moses and Aaron both participated in the sins at Meribah. First, was the sin of anger, where the two were tired of the complaining and rebellion of the people—the two brothers had enough, and it showed. Second was the sin of disobedience. The two were given specific instructions (speak to the rock) but they also struck—twice. Eventually, both received their due consequences of their sins, missing out on dwelling in the promised land of the covenant.

Today, God speaks to us through His Word, prayer, circumstances, and the church, but primarily through His Word. This is why we should pay attention to what He have us and listen to Him carefully. Even more, we should listen to Him obediently. He warns us against the folly of anger and how destructive it can be for the soul.

Why? Because God calls us to love and obey in love. He has a mission for every believer. In fact, He calls us to both the Great Commandment (loving Him and people) and bearing fruit through the Great Commission (making disciples). His desire is that we both share fruit and bear fruit, seen both through our conduct the fruit of the Spirit (like love, joy, patience, etc.) and our commitment to the ministry of the gospel. Through both, God advances His Kingdom. Through both, God is glorified.

Are you angry? Maybe it’s time to really focus back on His Word and prayer. We all struggle in our walk from time to time, but as you turn to Him, He will give you strength and power to overcome even the things that anger you the most.

Fran

A word on worship…

Just a random thought this morning as I read some scripture passages about worship (Leviticus 5 and Romans 9:30-33):

First, let’s remember that the actions of worship are not about what is perfect but about the One who is perfect. In other words, the sacrifices mean nothing if the faith isn’t there. We can do everything right technically, but still miss out completely on a worship that is rich in spirit and truth.

This impacts us today. The worship in the New Testament church should be more about purpose than the pursuit of the perfect. The music might be dated, or loud, or off beat, or the preaching might go long, or the reader might stumble on a word or two, but none of that matters. What does matter is the audience, the true audience, the audience of One. The focus of all worship is to be on God Himself and the declaration that He is sovereign and His people trust in Him by faith.

My prayer this morning: God, do not let me stray in my focus on You, whether in my personal, private time of worship or in a corporate setting. Focus me on You. Keep me set on the beauty and the sacrifice of Christ, His resurrection, His return one day, all for His glory. Amen.

A Reflection…

We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit. —2 Corinthians 3:18, CSB


A simple truth: Jesus changes people. And when a believer comes to Jesus, he begins a journey in becoming more and more like Jesus, being slowly sanctified through the Spirit. Of course, this journey is not easy or fast, because it is a daily process. And it’s not a matter of self help or self improvement, because this is a supernatural work in the believer. Even more, the goal is to be less and less like the former self and more and more like Jesus Christ, so that the believer does not merely look like a better reflection of himself in the mirror, but instead something much, much better and permanent: the believer becomes a God-shaped reflection of Christ.

The point is this: stop trying to do it alone. You can’t do it without the Spirit’s work within your soul. This means that instead of trying to be a better version of yourself, focus on the One who is perfect already. In other words, instead of trying to make the imperfect, perfect, let the Perfect One, the Sinless One, the Savior, God-man, Jesus, do His work in you.

Is that impossible? Yep. In natural terms, it is. But with God, all things are possible, and when we mess up and blow it and sin and sin again, we can have confidence to ask for forgiveness and press forward after that. God is like that, both disciplining and forgiving those He loves and pressing them to conforming to His image more and more. He is in the restoration business, a business we all need every day.

So let the Spirit speak and work in you. Be changed in Christ. Come to Jesus for your salvation and forgiveness for your sins. Grow by reading His Word, by worshipping with other believers, by praying to the One who created all things. And look forward to the future in Christ, the day when we will all see Him as He is, the day when the mirror is no longer cloudy and the full knowledge is no longer veiled.

May your journey go well and your focus remain on your Savior, Jesus.

Fran

An encouragement: Keeping the Word

He said, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” Luke 11:28, CSB

Jesus did not want hearers only, those who sat and listened without ever taking action. Nor did He want people to work without listening to Him, as the Jews blindly did in His day. Instead, He called for faith followed by fruit, or faith with works as James wrote in his epistle.

Believers are called to faith in Jesus Christ, and called to serve Him out of that faith. Those who come to faith in Jesus have a new life, a life that has purpose, and meaning, and excitement as they share their joy with people around them. A life in Christ, a true relationship with Jesus, is contagious.

Don’t be one who merely wants to hear from the Lord and never do anything with it. Serve and share Jesus daily out of your faith in Christ. Be contagious with your spirit, your joy, and your biblical wisdom. Be ready to explain the truth about who Jesus is and what He has done for others.

Be on mission. It will make an eternal difference to others around you.

I was once stuck on a Rollercoaster.

I was once stuck on a rollercoaster. Backwards. In an almost vertical position. And what I thought was fun was not. Nope, not at all.

The people around me on the coaster car started to groan, first in a reaction to the delay, but then quickly groaned impatient ones as the minutes ticked by. We waited, hopeful that the unexpected expected drop would begin, but instead there we were, stuck, with blood beginning to rush to each of our heads. More impatient groaning. Now some cursing ensued (no, not me, from others). We can hear the clicking of the coaster resetting itself, but still nothing. So we waited. And waited. And waited some more. Backwards, at a steep angle, hoping that a change in our circumstances won’t take too long.

Suddenly, after what seemed like hours (it was only a few minutes), the coaster let off a loud click and it finally started up again. The potential energy of our hanging backwards in the almost vertical position was finally released (as designed). We dropped quickly down the track, still backwards, going down each slope and around each curve, not knowing what each next turn will bring. The groans became screams of joy, a happy terror, and after a thrilling rest of the ride, the journey on the coaster was soon over.

It was fun and at times, not fun, but either way, it was an experience!

Life sometimes has delays, slopes, curves, and unexpected surprises. There’s groans, screams, laughter, tears, thrills, and plenty of memories. We might be able to predict to a certain extent of what’s next but we definitely can’t predict the far-off future with a level of certainty. Only God knows the future, controls the future, and plans the future.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven.” We have a finite amount of time and a whole life of experiences, and we don’t ever know what the future will bring. I mean, who would have been believed if they were to say a year ago that a worldwide pandemic would shut down nations, drive people indoors, and cause so much destruction? No one. And no, not even Bill Gates.

Our future is in God’s hands. David wrote that all of our days were written in God’s book, “planned before a single one of them began” (Ps 139:16). We don’t know the roller coaster that we are on, but we know the God who knows every twist and turn. And ultimately, when we devote our lives, our time, our gifts, and our passions to Him, we can be guaranteed that we will not be lost, but will be right where He wants us.

Fran

Keep on Pedaling…

Philippians 3:13b–14 (CSB), “…but one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.”

It was a muggy, hot summer day in South Florida. I can feel the sweat dripping off of my forehead and my legs felt like rubber. I was pedaling on my 10-speed bike up the Old Cutler road bike trail, going from my neighborhood to my destination almost 25 miles away. My best friend was riding with me, and there we were traveling up the trail, side by side.

To get where we needed to go, we had to get off of the trail at some point and make our way around town. A few things amaze me about that: 1) we had no GPS and 2) we had no cell phones, and 3) we had no clue! All we had was the desire to get to our destination, the energy to keep pedaling, and the happiness of our journey. Yet somehow, we got there!

In the Christian Life, we have very few goals other than to live a life completely and fully dedicated to Christ, making disciples along the way and glorifying God through our words, actions, and deeds. We do these things out of love, a love we have for both God and people.

Why? Because of God’s example of love. He created the world and the people in it, and His heart is for His creation. And despite our fall, He sought to redeem it. He sent His Son, knowing what price He would pay on the cross, and yet did it. Out of love. He did it.

And God’s heart should be our heart. His desires, our desires. His goal, our goal. We love what He loves and we pursue what He pursues.

That said, pursue Him daily. Follow His calling. Seek an intimacy with Him that you’ve never had before: a close, personal, prayerful, focused journey with Him. Not dwelling on the past, but joyfully pedaling in the present and excited for tomorrow.

Fran

Making the Imperfect, Perfect

Life is messy, at least it is this side of glory. We as sinful humans are really good at making a mess of ourselves. We blow it. We screw it up. We step in it. Well, you know what I mean…

And while life isn’t perfect, it’s perfectly imperfect. Nobody is perfect. We’re full of imperfections. We are broken, and we as broken people in a broken world need that perfect, merciful Savior who can take us just as we are and make us new in Him. It’s all grace, and it’s wonderful, and it’s offered to us freely.

This is why I’m so grateful. I mess things up and Jesus forgives me when I repent. I deserve nothing, but God offers me everything. And it cost Him everything, because it was on the cross that Jesus died, all to make the imperfect, perfect in Him. It’s all Jesus, all the time.

How about you? Have you received that gift Jesus has bought for you? If not, it’s never too late: “for all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom 10:13).

Fran