Tag Archives: Encouragement

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

“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 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.

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

The Day Between the Days

“Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Sanhedrin who was himself looking forward to the kingdom of God, came and boldly went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’s body.”
Mark 15:43

It was a toiling day and a grueling night. The Savior had died, confirmed by the Roman centurion. Jesus’ followers, distraught and scattered, had no plan, no focus, no unity, and little hope.

congerdesign / 2682 images

Yet one unlikely man would be bold enough to lead out. Joseph of Arimathea, a man who Mark called “a prominent member of the Sanhedrin,” courageously asked for the body of Jesus for His burial. Pilate granted his request.

The place where Jesus was buried, a tomb cut in a rock, had never been used before. The clothing, linen freshly bought and carefully wrapped around Jesus, was His attire. Roman soldiers sealed the entrance and then guarded it against intruders. There was no doubt that Jesus was dead and there in the tomb He was buried.

This was the day between the days. It was a day of silence, a day of waiting between the first and the third days. For the disciples, it was likely the longest day of their lives as they waited and wondered about what was to come next in their lives. But God was still in control, His power ready to be miraculously displayed the next day. As we now know, the best was yet to come!

Fire From Heaven

“When the disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ Luke 9:54 CSB

What would cause these followers of Jesus to want to call down fire from heaven? Was it anger? Hatred? Pride? Yes, to all of the above. Add in the fleshly, prideful racism that existed at the time, and such a request was certainly possible, even likely.

They probably thought that those Samaritans, those “half breed” “semi-Jews,” well, they had no right to refuse to give a place to Jesus in their town. This ultimate insult, a violation of the courtesies of the day, was the worst possible slap in the face. Someone had to learn that this was unthinkable! Someone had to be taught a lesson!

Photo by Marcus Löfvenberg on Unsplash

Yet while the Sons of Thunder (that is, James and John) wanted fire from heaven to burn the Samaritans into submission, Jesus did something even more unthinkable: He turned the other cheek! He was not worried about the squabbles over protocol and custom, the blow to the ego, or the mean spiritedness of clueless people. No way! Jesus was more concerned about the work He was doing for the Father. He came to serve, after all, not to be served. And yes, to give a ransom for many, including those “pesky” Samaritans.

Today, let me encourage you to imitate Jesus in this way. Forget those petty, ego crushing words of poison from others or a perceived lack of respect from a person without a clue. After all, does all that REALLY matter in the big picture??

How Dare He?

“They laughed at him, because they knew she was dead. So he took her by the hand and called out, ‘Child, get up!’” Luke 8:53‭-‬54 CSB

This child was dead. They knew dead. They were well aware that the 12 year old girl in front of Jesus had passed away. So when Jesus proclaimed that she was only asleep, they laughed in mockery. How dare He say such a ridiculous thing?

Yet as they were chuckling and talking among themselves, Jesus focused on the girl. “Get up!” Jesus commanded. What came next was, well, miraculous: this girl, this dead girl in which all had been mourning over, this cold, ashen faced girl arose from the dead!

Luke, a doctor, knew full well that this type of work did not happen naturally. Dead is dead. Yet Jesus has the power over life and death, sickness and health, heaven and hell. He is God, and His power overcomes anything we see as an obstacle. We are not, and we need to trust Him for everything, from the seemingly impossible to the tiny things we think we can handle ourselves. It all belongs to Him!

How are you trusting Jesus with all things in your life? What do you hold back on?

7 Reasons Why You Need a Pathway for Discipleship

Although some churches do a wonderful job of discipling, I continue to be amazed at the number of churches that have no pathway for growth for their members to follow. Yet, we all know that spiritual growth is essential! And while we know that growth is a work of the Spirit, it is also healthy to have a plan to follow as you let Him do His work in you. I’ll share another time on how you can set this up, but for now, here are 7 reasons why you need a pathway for discipleship, both individually and collectively as a church:

  1. You are tempted to sin. Sin has been here for a long time, and temptation is not going to stop.
  2. You need a far off view. A big picture view is an important part of objectively tracking areas where you are growing and where you need to grow in.
  3. You are tempted to be passive. There are more tools for spiritual development than ever before, but there is a great irony that biblical illiteracy is so high. It is very easy for you to sit back and not get intentional with your spiritual growth.
  4. Accountability is needed. The rugged individualism of the American culture tends to shy away from accountability, but there are many passages in Scripture that call us to submitting to each other in Christ.
  5. You can avoid an unbalanced diet. Having a strategy for study will help you develop a healthy, balanced diet for discipleship and avoid doctrinal “hobby horses.”
  6. You’ll study topics and books that you might not normally study. It’s natural that we tend to avoid the areas we are unfamiliar with, but a properly implemented pathway will stretch you a bit.
  7. You can be humbled and challenged. You might see growth in some areas and a lack of growth in other areas of your life. This is a great opportunity for you to be further challenged!

Hope this helps. Next time, I will write on the “how” of creating a discipleship pathway.

Fran