Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Thirsty Thursday: Why the Gospel was never about you

What I read: Chronological Reading for the week (selections from Jeremiah and Ezekiel) has been completed early, so I am reading various devotionals from Spurgeon, Calvin, and praying through the Psalms. This is my reaction to some of my reading. 

I’ve been a Christian for over thirty years and have been in ministry in churches for almost twenty two years. In my short time, I’ve seen my share of victories, praises, and mountain top experiences. I’ve also seen my share of discouragement, sadness, and apparent defeats. I’ve seen churches do amazing, wonderful things in the unity of the Spirit of Christ and yet I’ve seen churches act like the wandering people of Israel while they blindly followed a false god of their own desires.

However, one obvious but often forgotten truth that I have seen and read over the years is abundantly clear: the gospel, lived and expressed in His people, is always to be about God and His glory. Just think: we as believers in Christ look forward to the day when we will see Christ face to face, when we as every tribe and tongue will bring praise and glory to His name. We know that the One whom we do not see now will be seen, and we will experience the joy of joyous praises as we enjoy God forever. At that time, the gospel will be fully fulfilled and fully Christ focused, as the heavens and the earth will willingly and eternally declaring the glory of God. It will be a wonderful, amazing time!

Of course, while here in our flesh, we all have a whole lot to go in truly capturing a clear, Christ-focused man-888591_1280expression of the gospel. For example, the gospel was never meant to be about people in a self-serving, self-centered proposition. Christ didn’t die on the cross so people can lackadaisically just “get in” the gates of Heaven. He didn’t offer eternal life so some can just say the right words or pray the right prayer or even speak the language of Zion, or so churchgoers can be what is culturally defined as a “good Christian.”And the gospel is definitely not about extending institutional hypocrisy, or getting wrapped up in the complex, disgusting world of internal church politics, with ungodly preferences as justified by traditions and legalism. No, Jesus did not die on the cross for the things of earth to continue, because Jesus’ gospel is a call to a new life, a life free of wicked deed of the flesh, a life lived for Christ and only Christ.

And maybe this is harsh, but sooner or later each of us must come to realize that we are not the center of the universe: the planets are not circling over each of our heads and the sun does not constantly and dramatically shine on your face in a radiant, angelic like beam. The gospel has never been and never will be about you or me. Instead, we are vile, sinful, and depraved beings who throw mud on and trample on the cross daily, often willingly. And while we draw ourselves into some grand story where we are somehow the main characters in it, the reality is that the true gospel story has always been about Christ, and we should be forever thankful to be able to be a small part of it. With this same idea, Psalm 84:10 says, “I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.”

This is why God’s grace is so awe inspiring. Because of His grace, you and I are created in the imago dei, loved by the Creator and are able to hear, see, and respond to the gospel. Our response, then, needs to be nothing less than a life of complete adoration for Christ and His Kingdom. Money, power, comfort, and even our own lives comes second to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, compared to Jesus, these things shouldn’t even come close.

Let me encourage you to check your own walk while I check mine. No longer should we claim to receive a gracious gift for eternity yet live like it is all about us. No longer should we follow Christ with our mouths and yet willingly place our possessions, comfort, self-centeredness, and our egos above Him. Fellow Christian, it’s time to repent, time to recommit and time to change this thinking. Let’s make this change: as a coheir in Christ, ours is the Kingdom forever, so let me challenge you to live as a citizen of Heaven while traveling this journey on earth!

In Christ Alone,

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

Ten Things a Pastor Should Do- #1: Pray

The other day, I put together a top ten list of things a pastor should and could do to stay healthy and effective, listed in no particular order. The first one on the list is to Pray fervently.

Jesus demonstrated and taught on prayer multiple times in the gospels. Even though He was inundated with the sick, the poor, the curious, and those who would oppose Him, Jesus would often go off to pray. He prayed before choosing the twelve. He prayed and enjoyed intimacy with the Father. He even prayed to affirm and submit to the Father’s will.

So why don’t we pray like we should? Why is the prayer life of the Christian and even the church leader so sparse and spotty? We know we should pray, and we want to pray, yet we don’t do what we want or know to do.

We don’t pray like we should because even as Christians, we are fighting the battle of the flesh. Galatians 5:17 says, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” The truth is that our sinful flesh wants to be independent of God, while God wants us to be dependent. Though we might want to be self sufficient and self reliant and self indulgent, we need to constantly remind ourselves that God’s grace is sufficient, autonomous, and glorifying of God.

So let me encourage you: recognize that the lack of prayer is a battle of the flesh, and go directly to the heart of the matter: repent and submit. Prayer is submission, plain and simple, It’s a submission to God and a recognition of His sovereignty. It’s a intimacy in the Spirit and a growth of one’s faith. It’s a passion for God who had a passion for you.

You are locked in a spiritual battle that will be resolved only after Christ’s return. Just as a soldier wouldn’t go into battle without being equipped, you need to be equipped spiritually. In fact, without being equipped, it’s just plain scary. Put on that full armor, “Pray at all times in the Spirit” (Eph 6:18) and increase your dependence and intimacy with the One who loved you and gave His Son for you.

Pray fervently.

Putting on the Full Armor of God

Eph 6:18 (NASB), “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints…”

This week has honestly been one of the hardest weeks of my life. Without getting into the details, my wife and I have been shedding tears in praying for a solution to a crisis. We ceased to eat at times, cried spontaneously at others, dreamed dreams about it, got angry, got numb, even tried to put it out of our minds, and nothing has seemed to work. It feels like our life has completely changed since last weekend, and in many ways, it has felt like a death has occurred in our family.

Yet, in God’s great love and provision, He has given us a gift: a wonderful church family. Last night, my church gathered to pray for me, my wife and our family. I began the night by saying that this was not about me, but it was all about Christ and His Kingdom, and my wife and I felt like we should pray for other families as well. However, my church recognized the trials that we were undergoing were spiritual trials, and that the enemy is the source of this spiritual warfare. Satan and his demons will attack God’s people with fiery darts wherever he can, and the collateral damage that we have been feeling in this crisis is only a taste of how evil the devil is. Satan, after all, seeks to kill and destroy (John 10:10a).

Yet, God is greater! What we experienced last night was one of the most amazing, incredible outpourings of love that we have ever felt from a church. For an hour and a half, we had person after person laying hands on us, praying for us, crying for us, and interceding for us. In the middle of a month in which many churches celebrate “Pastor Appreciation Month,” there was no greater way that I have felt appreciated than last night. We experienced love in action by our church family, our blessed family, forever bonded to us by the blood of Jesus!

We feel that we have fully put on the full armor of God and are ready for battle against Satan and his minions. If God is for us, who can be against us? The gates of Hell cannot and will not prevail, and the trials of today will only mean more glory for God tomorrow. I pray that this lesson that I learned from my church will apply to you: be honest about your battles with one another, care for one another, and most of all, love one another with a fervent heart. And know this: whatever your trial, God is always going to provide His Word, His way, His people, but most of all (and without fail), His presence.

Be blessed,

Pastor Fran

Devotion: Comfort in the Midst of Crisis

2 Corinthians 1:3-5, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.  For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.”

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When tragedy strikes, people need comfort. Sometimes people need hugs, words of kindness, a smile, a tear, or just a sympathetic ear. There’s something to be said about the power of encouragement, as the loving presence of a loved one can change another’s overall outlook for hours, days, or even years.

Yet there is a greater comfort that is available for Christians: the comfort of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that if you are a believer and are hurting, He groans, He prays, He brings peace to you. Comfort, true permanent comfort, is found through the healing touch, the cool refreshing water of the Holy Spirit. It is an internal joy that comes from Him, knowing that although the situation seems impossible and the hurt seems limitless, the presence of God is still with you.

King David wrote in Psalm 30:5 that “weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” There is a joy promised, a hope before you, and a love around you. It may not feel like that right now, but God is surely with you, never to leave nor forsake you, never to forget your pain. Remember this as you suffer through the pain found in this fallen world.

May the power of God’s love surround you, and may the comfort of the Holy Spirit be with you in this time!

Pastor Fran