Tag Archives: devotion

Four Ways You Can Connect with God

Jesus, in answering a lawyer’s question, affirmed in Luke 10:27 that you are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and will all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” These two great commandments, He would also say in Matthew 22:40, “depend all of the Law and the prophets.”

bible-2167776_640This is huge, to say the least! I see so many different dimensions to these commands. First, we interact with God on the four levels of heart, soul, mind, and strength. In the same way, we interact with people on these four levels. For example, when one of these four levels in a marriage relationship is broken, the relationship suffers like a four-cylinder car running on three. This is why every relationship should be healthy emotionally, spiritually, physically, and even cognitively (the mind).

For my next few posts, I am going to spend time on how you can love God and people more in each of these areas on a daily basis. Keep in mind that no one is going to perfectly love God and people, but if you sincerely desire to put on love, you can do this greater today than you did yesterday, and tomorrow more than you did today!

Next: Love with All Your Heart

Fran

 

Your King Awaits…

Romans 16:20 (NASB95), “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

Ever since the curse was pronounced by God to those awaiting his sentence in the Garden, all eternity was waiting for the time when the head of the serpent was to be crushed by the seed of the woman. Decades of waiting turned to hundreds of years, hundreds turned to thousands, and soon man’s hope in the great battle to come would fade away in favor of the many worldly pleasures offered instead. Sin had run its course.

God’s people would even miss the point of the Exodus and the Law that was given. No one would be righteous to stand, no, not one, and it was clear that all were transgressors of the Ten Commandments and all the rest of the commands. Isaiah would proclaim “woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips,” and Jeremiah would preach with tears in his eyes as he saw the lostness around him. Yet no one listened, no one seemed to care, and the arrival of the Great snake crusher finally came, but without the fanfare afforded a King.

Jesus came to give us life. Your salvation was purchased by a snake crushing, cross bearing, nail wearing, man of all men. His gracious offer to you came with a price. Our debt was paid on the cross in full, where this sinless, God-man Savior died for our sins, and not for our sins only, but that of the whole world (1 Jn 2:2). His disciples were chosen to share with everyone and anyone. His Commission was for the church to do the same. What Christ has started in His all-out assault on the forces of evil, His Bride is to continue until He returns. As you are going, make disciples of all men.

Go crush that snake with an all-out gospel-powered assault on the gates of Hell. Your King awaits.

5 Ways to Seek God’s Wisdom

Over the 22+ years of ministry, I have had many opportunities to minister to people while they’ve gone through various issues and difficulties of life. I’ve had people ask me for spiritual, marital, parental, and even financial advice (yikes!), and in every case, I have taken them to seek a bigger picture from God through His Word. You see, it doesn’t matter what I or any other person thinks, but what truly matters is what God thinks.

But how do you know what God thinks? Here are a few ways to seek God’s Wisdom by running to His Word:

  1. Read His Word. Daily. Take part of your day to read through the Bible. I read through it at least once per year, trying for more than once this year. Wisdom doesn’t come in spurts- it comes from a daily, regular commitment to being in His Word.
  2. Study his Word. Frequently. Like gold in a deep mine, so is the wisdom of God for those who take the time to truly seek and study it. Get into a study with other believers who take the truths of God seriously.
  3. Apply His Word. Uncomfortably. Don’t fall into the “check-box” mindset for your time in the Word. Everything you read and study needs to be focused on a life application, even though it may be uncomfortable for you at the present time.
  4. Pray His Word. Fervently. Check out Dr. Don Whitney’s post on praying through the Bible and do it. You won’t regret this.
  5. Share His Word. Generously. Be sure to be a part of making disciples by sharing the love of Christ with others. It can mean giving away pocket New Testaments, sharing the gospel in a personal witnessing opportunity, or even offering an in-home Bible study. The point is that you have a terrific chance to change lives with the power of the Word of God.

These are some thoughts. Do you have anything else to add?

Devotion: When God Seems Silent. . . 

I struggle with depression from time to time, but this past week, aglass-582689_640 wave hit me pretty hard and I felt as if my world was turned upside down. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that it was very, very rough. When it hit me, I cleared my schedule, turned to the Word, and spent a ton of time in prayer. But still, it felt like God was silent and my prayers weren’t even going past the ceiling. I felt like David when he asked God, 

“How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” (Ps 13:1)

I felt defeated, down, and even disgusted because I had no real reason to feel that way. I wasn’t sure why it was this bad, but I was hurting.

But I pressed on. And as I have worked through this (and still am, TBH), I realized a few truths:

  1. I may feel alone mentally and emotionally, but I’m never truly alone when I am in Christ.
  2. I may struggle now, but my future is His.
  3. God is never going to leave me or forsake me.
  4. I may weep and even stay anxious, but His joy is my strength.

Of course, I knew these truths, but at the time I didn’t feel them. Thankfully, God is gracious, and as I prayed, talked, and sought the Lord, these truths became more real in my heart. I am fighting the fight for joy, and God is revealing this more and more to me, even as I write tonight. Praise God!

So that said, let me share my encouragement to you who might go through from time to time: draw near to Christ, read His Word, pray, talk to a friend, and even change your routine. Most of all, be patient and let His Spirit work in you as you fight for joy.

May the Lord take you through this season, because I am confident that He will. 🙂

Pastor Fran

From My Utmost for His Highest

“Jesus says ‘Come unto Me and I will give you rest,’ i.e., Christ-consciousness will take the place of self-consciousness.”

Oswald Chambers makes a great point in his August 20th devotion. If you feel attacked, misunderstood, or eaten up by negative, critical people, there is no need to defend yourself. Trust Christ, seek Christ, and pray to  Christ and He will give you the rest you need.  

Praying that you worship Jesus on Sunday in a powerful way! 

Pastor Fran 

Devotion: (the) Father Knows Best

Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”

bible-1388427_640No one knows the true heart of men but God, and He knows it thoroughly. What His eyes see, we have tried to hide and what His mind knows, we’ve tried to block it out. No one knows us like God knows us.

But if you are known by God, understand this: God doesn’t just know you and then lets you stay still, He wants you to be sanctified, to grow in His grace. Because of this desire, He will push and press you farther so you can grow from the difficulty. Your stretching is just a part of His process, because it’s hard to grow fully unless you press beyond what you can naturally handle.

He will, therefore, try you and test you and let you fail, only to be there for you when you need His grace and mercy. when you are anxious, He will console you (Ps 94:19), when you are angry, He will challenge you (Ps 37:8), and wherever you walk, He will be with you (Ps 23:4). The One who knows you so well inside will take you outside to greater things for Him.

The Psalmist’s prayer should be our own: “lead me in the everlasting way.” Wherever you are, God knows better. He knows what’s best for you. He has a better way for you. You just need to trust Him and let Him lead. What do you need to let God do today?

Pastor Fran

How God Changes You…

There is no doubt that a true change in Christ happens when a heart is transformed by the work of the Spirit. In fact, change really can’t happen without the work of the gospel in a new believer’s heart. From this life change, a desire for producing spiritual fruit almost immediately comes to a person’s life. This is an exciting time!

But what about the long term changes in maturity that a believer shampoogoes through? How does this sanctifying change happen? Often, people give simple instructions (like on a shampoo bottle) and simply tell new believers to read, study, and pray every morning. Sure, this makes sense, but it’s also easy to just read, study, and pray, and then get on with your day, never to think on what you read. You read, study, and pray, and move on, then wake up the next day, and it’s read, study, pray, and again move on, etc. Just like on a shampoo bottle: wash, rinse, repeat!

But is this what God intends? Of course not! God uses devotionals, bible reading, prayer, and other quiet moments with Him, but He really wants more than what is on the surface. He wants your full attention with Him in order to truly stretch and grow you in Him. Psalm 40:6 says, “Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired; My ears You have opened;” You are not devoting time to God as a ritual, a sacrifice, or even a habit as much as to see God make real change within your heart. He has in mind a greater mission than a daily blank routine, He wants you to be conformed to the image of Christ!

That said, spend time with God in devotion, but make it count. Your time with the Creator is a time for real change, a change which affects everything you do- work, family, home, entertainment, and yes, your internal, private thoughts of your heart. I pray that this encourages you to grow in Him and for His glory!

What devotionals and time do you spend with the Lord?
How has God used this time to change you?

Pastor Fran

A Devotion: What to Do…

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. – Romans 7:15, 19

adam-and-eve-798376_960_720No one is immune from the peril of sin. Satan, that father of lies, the thief who came to kill and destroy, continues to attack every human being. Ever since the temptation and Fall in the Garden, the addiction to sin has continued, and all humanity has been held captive by the evil one. All have sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard (Rom 3:23), all have been led astray (Isaiah 53:6), all have walked in this transgression and sin in rebellion against God (Eph 2:1-3). The wickedness of sin wages war in the soul to rebel against the Creator God. Just like in Paul’s example here, we desire to do the right things yet we do the opposite. How horrific and cruel sin has been!

But praise God for His grace! Praise God for His mercy! Praise God for His salvation! The forces of Hell have already been defeated by the King of kings and Lord of lords. This freedom from sin, born through the cross, has transformed the victim into the victor, the rebel into the redeemed, and the lost into the liberated!

Fellow sinner, take heart: if you are in Christ, you are no longer condemned. This is why Paul just a few verses later wrote the ultimate truth of our condition in Romans 8:1, “there is therefore no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” Be comforted: the Bible is full of promises that the Holy Spirit will protect, guide, and even open a way out of the temptations that come. You don’t need to surrender to the temptation. Instead, His grace is sufficient, so rely on His strength, look to His Spirit, and live for His glory!

Pastor Fran

Why Fast?

This weekend, our church on the hill here in Cincinnati is going to pray and fast for 48 hours. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for our church to do this, as we are at a major crossroads in the 60 year history of our church.

You see, our community has been changing for quite some time. Families have moved north and east of our area. Poverty has been on the rise. Single parents have become the largest demographic in our area. Add in the state of our postmodern nation and it’s easy to see the challenges that our church has faced.

logochurchBut, wow, how God has blessed us! He’s led our church to adapt and become a multiethnic, multi-generational church. He’s connected our church family with the community through many of our outreach efforts and events. He’s opened doors for the gospel through a revitalized Passion Play, through our new Food Pantry, and through the faithful sharing of the Good News at every opportunity. And the worship services have been nothing short of inspiring and life changing as new believers have come to Christ and several have recommitted their lives to serve Christ more fully in our response time to the Word!

So why fast and pray? We do this to seek the Lord to do something beyond what we can do naturally. You see, if we only operate within the confines of what we can do naturally, there’s no faith in that! After all, how does God get the glory when we make plans that we can do and do work that we can do, when we have all the power and strength of what God can do?!? For this reason, I am eager and excited to have us enter in this time of fasting and prayer.

That said, here are some things to pray for:

  • Our vision and our vision team- we are awaiting a report from a consultant and going through a process of evaluating and innovating our church ministries. Nothing is off the table, and most importantly, everything needs to be before the Lord!
  • Our staff and our search team- in our need to fully staff our church, we have a search team looking to fill a position related to the children and family ministry. We need to have Spirit led wisdom and direction for the team.
  • Our love for the gospel and community- our community is desperate for the love and truth of Jesus Christ! Please pray and seek how God might shape our hearts to share the life changing gospel with all we see.

I hope and pray that you will be a participant in this emphasis. We will be starting the fast at 9:15 am Friday and finishing at our Sunday 9:15 am Bible Study, where EVERYONE (men, women, and children) will be eating, fellowshipping, and participating in a Bible study together. I am expecting that God will continue to do spectacular things at our church, so let’s see what else He has in store that will magnify His name!

Pastor Fran