trust

Without Trust: My Story of Failure

We all have moments when we fail in our faith. Have you ever felt alone, ashamed, or like you’re the only one who has ever failed in this way? Today, Pastor Frank shares a story of one of his own failures and God’s unwavering faithfulness through it all.


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Without Trust: My Story of Failure

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Most people have a tendency to read things quickly. This is especially true with the Bible; we read the Bible quickly. I have a mantra at Grace Life Fellowship, it’s “Never read the Bible casually.” When we read the Bible casually, we can miss the intensity of what God wants to teach us and place in our hearts so we can know Him better and trust Him more fully. 

Today, I want to focus on a verse from the book of James. Many of you know this verse, but I don't know if we take the time to ponder it. It says, “We all stumble in many ways.” James 3:2a (NIV) 

None of us walk through this life perfectly. We all stumble. We do things we don't want to do; we get seduced by the enemy, we make a choice of the will, we take our eyes off God, we put our eyes on the world, and we act out of character. And when we do these things, we can be prone to walk in guilt and shame and feel very, very lonely, as if we're the only ones who have ever failed. 

Today, I want to share with you one of my worst failures. 

My daughter, Morgan, developed late onset epilepsy. It was progressive and got very, very serious. We eventually had to pull her out of college because she could no longer do the work. She was heavily medicated and still having seizures. She didn’t want to sit and watch life from the sidelines. She decided to attend a Bible school out of the state so that she could continue to try and help her mind while learning more about God as the medicine hopefully balanced out in her body. 

Around late September we received a phone call from the school. They told me that my daughter was having a seizure. I asked them how long it had been going and they replied, “9 minutes.” If you are not familiar with epilepsy and seizures, you need to understand that a seizure longer than 5 minutes can be very serious. It can mean brain damage or even death. 

She has medicine that we can inject to help stop her seizures, so I hurriedly told them, “Give her a shot,” to which they responded, “We've already given her one.” 

I cried out, “Oh no! Give her another shot and call 911.”

While I stayed on my phone, I grabbed someone else's so I could call one of her neurologists - she has three of them. In my fear and anxiety I cried out to the woman who answered, “Quick! Get the doctor out of his room. Morgan is having a seizure and we can't get it to stop! I've given her two shots already and I need to know if I can give her a third shot!” The lady on the other end said, “Well, I'm going to follow protocol. I need the date of birth.” I said, “Ma'am, I don't have time to give you her date of birth! Please get the doctor, I've got to see if I can give her a third shot!” 

All this time, I can hear the people with Morgan saying, “12 minutes, Pastor Frank, 12 minutes!” They were desperate, and I grew desperate too. I said, “Ma'am, I don't have time for this! Please get the doctor out of his office!” She forcefully replied, “I am going to follow protocol! He's going to want to see the chart.”

I gave in. I gave her the date of birth, and as the receptionist typed it in she stated, “Oh, my, my... My computer is so slow today.” While she slowly waited on her computer, all I could hear from my other phone was people screaming at me saying, “14 minutes, Pastor Frank, 14 minutes! … 15 minutes!” 

I began to believe this little girl was going to die and there was nothing I could do.

After about 7 minutes, the lady came back on the phone and said, “Oh, I'm sorry. I don't know what I was thinking! He's not here today.” I hung up the phone which was a good idea, before I said something! I immediately called her second neurologist. I got the nurse who told me that the doctor wasn’t in the office. I hung up again thinking, do these people work? And all the while I can hear voices shouting, “Pastor Frank, it's 20 minutes!... 21 minutes! What are we going to do?” 

Shaking, I called her third neurologist and I quickly told the nurse what had happened. I said, “I've given her two shots. She's at 21 minutes now, what do I do? What do I do?” The nurse responded, “Well, give her a shot and call 911.” I said, “Ma'am, are you listening to me? I've already given her two shots! We've already called 911! I need to find out if I can give her a third shot or if that third shot will kill her!!!” To these words she replied, “Well, I don't know. The doctor's not here today.”

I hung up the phone and cried out to God, “What do I do? What do I do?” The thought came to my brain to call the pharmacy. So I called the pharmacist and said, “I've given Morgan two shots, she's now been seizing for 24 minutes. Can I give her a third shot or am I going to kill her?” He said, “I don't know. Let me call the factory and I'll call you right back.” I hung up the phone. 

Here's where I failed. 

I cried out to God, “God, if You take her, You and I are done! I will never preach another sermon for You.” 

I listened to the people who were with Morgan continued to call out to me: 28 minutes, 29 minutes, 30 minutes. I felt so helpless and I so alone. At minute 31 the pharmacist called back, “Frank, I talked to the factory. It's one shot every four hours.” I said, “I've already given her two and I can't stop the seizure. What am I going to do?” And he said, “You're going to have to make a decision.” 

I hung up the phone. I cried out as a father, “What do I do? What do I do? If I give her a third shot, I could kill her; if I don't give her a third shot, she could die!” Through the phone I can hear them screaming, “33 minutes, Pastor Frank! ... 34 minutes, Pastor Frank!” I was indecisive, I didn’t know what to do and then suddenly they called out, “EMS is here!” EMS came in and made the decision to give her a third shot which stopped the seizure. 

She had eight more seizures that night, seven the next morning. 

I booked an immediate flight and was in Colorado in six hours. I had appointments with Mayo Clinic lined up within days. After many, many tests, we were able to finally bring her seizures under control. 

Up until about a year ago, I hadn’t told this story publicly. I did share it privately with a few people but had never spoken about it outside of that. A little over a year ago, I shared it with one person because they were so upset over how they had failed God. As I said earlier, when we fail God we can feel very guilty, very ashamed and very alone; like we're the only ones who have ever failed God in such a way. And so I decided to share my story with her. The story of how I failed God in my faith, of how I didn't trust Him. My friend, I didn’t trust God to get my daughter through that situation, and on that day, I chose that I wasn't going to trust Him if He decided it was time for her to go home to Heaven.

I shared my story with this lady, and I told her, “You're not the only one who fails; I failed in my faith, I failed to trust God in a crisis.” The moment those words left my lips, deep in my spirit I heard these words, “Yes, son, you failed in faith, but you did not fail as a dad. You fought for your daughter the same way I fight for you, My son.” I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, those were not my thoughts. 

The Holy Spirit of God spoke words of comfort and encouragement to my mind and my heart. 

My friends, what I want you to understand is that our God loves us and He fights for us even when we are faithless, even when we fail to believe that He is good, even when we fail to believe that He will fight for us. He IS good, and He IS fighting for us, even if we aren't aware of it. 

I pray the story of my failure encourages you, because the reality is, 

My failure was not the end of my story and neither is your failure the end of your story. 

Our God’s New Covenant tells us that He is bringing us to an appointed end, and beloved, it is a good end. I love you. Even more importantly, He loves you. And I pray that in His richest favor, He will open your eyes and give you revelation to see how good He is, and how much He fights for you. 

God bless you in Jesus' name.


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When You Feel You Can't Go On

Life is unpredictable; it’s full of hurt, rejection and disappointment. In today’s short video, Frank reminds us that the One who holds today and tomorrow is holding you. You have His strength and His Life in you, no matter what circumstances come your way. 


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When You Feel You Can't Go On

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I've been learning a verse for the past forty years - the key word there is “learning.You see, I haven't learned it yet, but I'm in the process. 

The verse is found in Philippians,

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 (NASB)

We’ve heard this verse, we know what the verse says, but what does it mean? 

Well, first you have to keep the verse in its context, otherwise, you'll make it say something it doesn't say. For example, I could say, “I can do all things through Christ.” So, I'm going to claim that and I'm going to “move my mountain!” But, that's not what this verse is saying. Paul gives very clear context to this verse: he says that he knows how to have a lot and how to have a little; he knows how to be healthy and how to be sick; he knows how to be full and how to be empty; he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him. Paul says he can live confidently and assuredly in whatever circumstances he finds himself in. 

A classic example of this is found in Acts 16 with Paul and Silas. They preach a sermon, there was great conversion, people are doing wonderful and Paul in his heart of hearts says, “I can do this!” He was later arrested, falsely accused, beaten, and thrown into jail. The fascinating thing is what he does while in jail - he and Silas sing praises - “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” 

I don't know what you're going through today, my friend, but I know this world we live in so you're likely experiencing some hurt, sorrow, frustration, rejection or disappointment. Hear me, beloved, I don't know what today holds for you, but I know who holds today, and I know who holds tomorrow. And the One who holds today and tomorrow is holding you and offering you His strength and His very own Life, in whatever circumstance you find yourself in. 

Walk in the faith that He will be all that He is, to whatever you need, and you will experience Him. 

You’ll look back in your life and remember what He brought you through and you’ll think, “I didn't think I was going to make it, but I did.” Trust Him, He's up to the demand!


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How to Trust When God Gives No Explanation

Have you ever wished that God was a little more concerned with His reputation? His ways can leave us confused and questioning His goodness. In today’s short video, Frank reveals how we can trust that God is good, even when things don't look good.


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How to Trust When God Gives No Explanation

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The chairman of my board, John Russin, once said to me, “I wish God was more concerned about His reputation.” Let's think about that for a minute as we look back in Scripture to see the sometimes confusing ways that God works in our lives.

Take Habakkuk for example - God used the more wicked Chaldeans to punish wicked Israel. Or how about the account of the birth of Christ, where we see Herod being allowed to slaughter all those babies? What about in Job, where we find Job questioning God’s actions and how God replies by asking Job if he was there when He hung the stars in the sky, or hung the earth with nothing suspending it? God continues, asking if He sought Job’s wisdom when He had the ostrich lay its eggs on the ground? 

Fascinating thought, isn’t it? I mean, let’s be honest, laying your eggs on the ground is a foolish idea, isn’t it? Eggs laid on the ground can be taken by enemies or destroyed very easily, and yet the ostrich continues to proliferate. I think what God was saying to Job in those verses was, I am in the things that don't even make sense. 

I too, wish sometimes that God was more concerned about His reputation and would offer some explanations! I think these stories were placed in the Scriptures so we would recognize how big He is. He is far beyond our minds! We may be teachers, but we were first students, and we need to remain students or we'll never be teachers of other men. We must allow God to be big and, in the process, allow God to be good. 

“You are good and do good.” Psalm 119:68a (NASB)

All He does is good, beloved, even when it doesn't look good. 

You know, if He's not worried about his reputation, I don't think we should be worried about it either.

He allowed His Son to be crucified for the sin of man. If you think about it, that doesn't make sense either. All it does is magnify His goodness and His love. 

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” 

1 John 3:16a (NIV)

He is good, and He is big, and we're going to spend an eternity learning how good and big He really is. Beloved, I hope this encourages you. 

When dark things come your way, realize that He's bigger than those dark things. 

Trust that He is good and all that He does is good, even when things don't look good. 


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How to Confidently Discern Truth

In today’s short video, Frank challenges us not to take everything we are taught about the Word of God at face value and reveals how we can confidently discern truth.


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How to Confidently Discern Truth

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I have to share something with you today, my friend - 

I am very concerned... 

You see, as a pastor, people call me for advice, they write to me, and they often send me books they’ve read that they’re very excited about. Unfortunately, many times I have to write back to them and tell them that I'm not as excited about the book as they are. 

Back in the 1980’s and 90’s, when the movement of the Grace of God was just gaining steam, many of us were called heretics and false teachers for teaching the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. I believe what’s happening is that we're riding a wave of momentum where people are coming to understand their identity in Christ and the economy of Grace. This can be dangerous because I believe the enemy’s strategy is to blind the minds of the unbelieving.

“In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NASB)

When he can’t do that, his next best ploy, if you will, is to join the movement and then seek to pervert it. There are a lot of books today, being written about Grace by people who don’t really understand Grace. 

That is why we must always be “a Berean.” 

Do you remember what Paul said about the Bereans in the book of Acts?

“Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” Acts 17:11 (NASB)

Why did Paul see them as noble-minded? Because they would not accept what Paul said at face value. They went home to search the Scriptures and see if what he was saying was actually true. 

No matter who the teacher, my friend, be careful. Test the spirits as 1 John 4 instructs. Are they naming, exalting, and lifting up the name of the risen Lord, Jesus Christ, as God? Are they teaching the economy of Grace with no added legalism? 

Be a Berean, make sure what you’re being taught is true.


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How To Give Thanks When Life Is A Mess

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In the Bible (1 Thessalonians 5:18) we’re told, “In everything, give thanks.” Now stop right there. Let’s be honest and let’s not read that casually. That is a startling statement! We live in a world where a lot of nasty things happen. And God didn’t say “in all the good things give thanks,” He said “in everything give thanks.” Let’s notice what else He did not say. He did not say “for everything, give thanks.” There are a lot of things that come into my life that are not good. They come in a fallen world with devastation as their goal and it’s so wonderful that God does not call me to thank Him for the pain that comes into my life. He didn’t say “for everything,” He said “in everything.”

Now what does that mean? It means that I am going to choose to believe that God is going to fulfill His promise. I choose to believe that He is so powerful that all things will work together for good in my life as I trust Him. So what comes into my life as pain I can fight against it. It’s going to cause me emotional turmoil but I can bring it into harmony with what God says He will do and who God is. And when my life is hard I can say, “In this, I’m going to give thanks because this is not the end of the story.” Remember what the Bible says, “God will restore the years that the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). God will take the ashes and He’ll bring beauty out of them. He’s going to take the sorrow and the suffering and put it around your neck as a garland of praise.

I love what He says to the widow in the book of Isaiah, “You will not remember the bitterness of your widowhood” (54:4). Now, that’s so cool because it’s so honest. He doesn’t say “You’re going to forget your widowhood.” He says, “You won’t remember the bitterness of it. I’m going to bring good out of it.” So we don’t live in a fairytale world where bad things don’t happen. We don’t have to say “Oh, I’m doing great. My mother just died.” That’s stupidity! No, we can say “My mother just died and it broke my heart and the tears are streaming down my cheeks, but that’s not the end of the story.” That’s the key. It’s not the end of the story. We are the people of the good ending. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, said the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). It’s good! That’s why in everything we can give thanks and we can live a thankful life today.

Bring to God whatever comes into your life by faith and trust Him that even if it’s bad, it’s going to end good because of who He is. In the Psalms it says “He is good and does only good” (Psalm 119:68).That’s a God I can trust. That’s a God you can trust.

Walk in faith today, my friend, in Jesus’ name.


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When God Says Wait

When life is at its hardest, and we desperately need answers, it is hard to hear God say, “Wait.” In this short clip, Frank reveals the promise of God that every one of His children need to know as they wait. May you hold on tightly to Father today, knowing that He IS at work on your behalf.


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When God Says “Wait”

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Wait. Did you hear that word? I really don’t like that word. To me it’s kind of a four letter word in the Bible. When my heart gets set on something I’m going to bring into my life or maybe there’s news of a bad thing coming “wait” is a very difficult word. And that’s not only true for us, it was a difficult word for Ruth in the Bible too. In Ruth 3:18 she has expressed her desire to marry Prince Boaz and he has affirmed his desire to marry her. Romance is in the air. There’s only one problem, as so often happens with fairy tale romances, there’s somebody in the way. With Cinderella it was the wicked stepsisters and in the Princess Bride it was that deceitful Prince Humperdinck. Well here there is a kinsman redeemer who’s closer to Ruth than Boaz is and he has the right in the law of God to redeem her first.

So Naomi tells Ruth, “Wait, my daughter, until you know how the matter turns out; for the man will not rest until he has settled it today” (Ruth 3:18). But here’s the other thing I want you to notice. She tells Ruth to wait because another is working to bring about an appointed end. Boaz, as you remember, was a mighty man of valor, a mighty man of influence. My friends, do you see where we’re going with this? I don’t know what you’re having to wait for—maybe it’s a job, maybe it’s a decision to move, maybe you’re single and you’re waiting for a spouse, or you’ve got a sick child and you’re waiting for a diagnosis. Waiting can be very, very difficult. But remember, there is One who is greater than we are who is not going to rest. He is going to settle this matter and as Jeremiah says, “bring us to an expected end” (Jeremiah 29:11). While you wait, my friends, rest in the knowledge that there’s a greater One who is working on your behalf.

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The Only Thing to do When You're Feeling Overwhelmed

When our eyes are on our circumstances we quickly lose sight of God. We become overwhelmed as we try to make sense of things, forgetting that there is only one thing God has called us to do. In today’s short video, Frank reminds us that it is our Father who will be our strength as He leads us through the darkness.  


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The Only Thing To Do When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

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Adversity. I don’t like that word, nor any of its synonyms—distress, hardship, struggle, conflict. All those kinds of things can loom very large in our lives. Let’s be honest, when they do, it’s so easy for you and I to fix our eyes on them and not see God. Then God becomes very small in our lives. Sometimes I feel like the disciples when Jesus said to them “Oh you of little faith!” I’m not sharing with you something that I don’t struggle with. Those looming things that pop into our lives can seem so big. What can we do?

Well, I’m always looking for stories of how other people have trusted God. I think of Asaph in Psalm 73. He went horizontal in life and life seemed so harsh. He went vertical and he saw the true reality of life. He saw the world through heaven’s eyes.

Recently I came across the story of the Boxer Rebellion in China. Hudson Taylor was the founder of the China Inland Mission during the Boxer Rebellion and the saints were suffering very badly at this time. So Hudson Taylor, who was now in his late seventies, gathered them together and this is what he said,I cannot see. I cannot think, I cannot even pray.” Have you ever been there? When life seems so overwhelming, you can’t think straight. You can’t see the light in the midst of the darkness and you’re so overwhelmed that you cannot pray. But Hudson Taylor wasn’t done. Listen to all of what he said. “I cannot see. I cannot think, I cannot even pray, but I can trust.” My heart was warmed by those words.

You see, God doesn’t call us to understand why things are happening. God doesn’t call us to muster up our strength and tread through the darkness. He calls us to trust Him that He will be our strength and He will be our guide and He will lead us through the path of darkness into the light of His glorious grace and love.

I hope that encourages your day and bless you in Jesus’ name.


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Connecting the dots: How to trust God in this dark world

The book of Psalms tells us that we will dwell in Him, and He will be our home. Using incredible imagery from a recent movie, Frank reveals the breathtaking words of our Father who tells us “I will be your host, I will protect you, and am so much for you that I will lay down my life for you.” In all that you face today Beloved, may you find shelter in your God who loves you and gave Himself up for you.


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Connecting the Dots: How to Trust God in This Dark World

Are you struggling? Becoming overwhelmed? Connect the dots in your own life of how God has been faithful to you. Connect the dots and let your heart be encouraged, let your faith be strengthened. Let your walk be dramatically empowered as you look at His faithfulness. This is what Habakkuk did. 

Habakkuk looked upon the nation of Israel, and Israel was in trouble. He cried out to God and God said, “I see, and I'm going to wipe them out.” Habakkuk was thinking more along the lines of revival but God said no. He was going to wipe them out and use the wicked Chaldeans to do it. 

Habakkuk continued to ask God questions, but there was silence. He decided to go up into his prayer tower, and he told God that he wouldn’t come down until He answered him. Two weeks went by and God said, “Trust Me.” That's it, that was all Habakkuk got. The just shall live by faith. 

So, he comes down from his prayer tower and he begins connecting the dots: God, you parted the Red Sea, you made the sun stand still, you knocked down the walls of Jericho—Bring on the Chaldeans. Though the fig tree doesn't blossom, though there's not going to be any fruit on the vine, yet I will trust you. 

Father, Your Word is great, because it's the truth about You and all that You want to be to us. May every one of us put our faith in You, may our hearts be encouraged today, our faith strengthened, and our walk transformed, because of who You are. In the midst of this very dark world, we cling to you Father because we know You're going to cling back to us. In Jesus name. Amen.

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The Truth About What Faith Actually Looks Like

Has feeling sad or afraid while facing a difficult time ever caused others to question your faith? Has it ever made you ask yourself if you were really trusting God? In this freeing video, Frank shares the truth about what faith actually looks like.

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The Truth About What Faith Actually Looks Like

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Have you ever been there with God, the place where nothing in life makes sense? Where you just cry out, “This makes no sense!”

Oh, how hard it can be to remember that He is God, and His mind is bigger than ours. He knows what He's doing.

Habakkuk just couldn’t come to grips with that, have you been there? When you just can't come to grips with what God is allowing? So, he gets tenacious, and he goes up in his prayer tower and he tells God, “I'm not coming down until you answer me!” Two weeks go by, and God finally answers. Hallelujah, God answers! Now, are you ready for what God said? He told Habakkuk to trust Him. Wait, that's it? Now he has a whole new problem; he's cried out to God, and God has said, “No.”

I don't like it when God says no, do you? So what does Habakkuk do? He starts recalling to his mind, all that God is, and all that God has done. He remembers how God parted the Red Sea and made the sun stand still for Joshua, and he says, “Bring on the Chaldeans.” He makes the choice to rejoice, a choice we all have.

In chapter 3, he makes this famous statement, “There was trembling on my lips and decay in my bones.” I love that statement because faith isn’t always a huge smile on our faces, faith is trembling, faith is decay, faith is “I'm dying and I don't understand, but I believe you because you are good and all that you do is good. This doesn't look good, but somehow by faith, it's going to be good, and I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”

David says, “Though the fig tree does not blossom and there be no fruit on the vine, my soul is going to cling to you.” And what tense does David use there? He uses the present tense. You see friends, you can cling all you want in the past, it's not going to deliver you in the present. You can say that you will cling in the future, it's not going to deliver you in the present. His name is I AM, and your faith must be present tense to connect to the I AM. Take a look at what David adds, “Your right hand is going to uphold me.” That's what God does beloved, our part is to believe and trust, and God's part is to deliver or sustain.


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The Encouragement You Need to Run the Race

The race can be long, and the heartaches we face cause us to cry out for Christ's return. In this short video, Frank tells us to get excited! The Lamb who laid down His life is coming back as a Lion with a mighty roar, to slay His enemies and make this place right.

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God Commends the Weak

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Did you know that in the book of Revelation, the church in Philadelphia was commended because it had “little strength"?

In our modern world that is a very strange basis for being commended. Modern society values strength. Our media driven culture beckons us to be men of steel and women of iron. The city in which I live heralds, for example, that we are “Baton Rouge Strong” and “Baton Rouge Proud.” God, however, says that it is the weak, those that have recognized their minimal strength who are to be commended. Why is that?

Let’s ponder Moses for example; he was a man of great strength. Raised in the court of Pharaoh to be a leader in the nation, he was trained to be a warrior. When he thought the time had come for him to deliver his people, he mustered all the strength he could and killed an Egyptian, but failed to rally the people around him and ran like a scared rabbit into the desert.

There, he spent the next 40 years tending sheep and growing weak. How do we know that? Because when God appeared to Him, to call Him to lead Israel into freedom, he bemoaned that he was not the kind of man God was looking for. Early in his life, Moses thought he was that man because he was strong, but now that he was weak he could not dream of being a leader. He thought himself a nothing and informed God that he could not speak very well. Ironically, the book of Acts tells us that Moses was the most eloquent man in all the earth!

So how are we to explain that? Some say that after spending 40 years with a bunch of sheep, any of us would speak b-a-a-a-a-d too! I don’t buy that. I believe that after his failure, Moses no longer trusted in his natural resources, he recognized that he was not up to the demand, which forced him to depend on God in a way he would never have without his failure. His failure opened his eyes to his true state of weakness so that he could then see the greatness of God that would be exercised by God on his behalf; transforming him into a man who received the strength of God!

Though this is a hard lesson for most of us to learn, it is one that we desperately need to understand. The Holy Spirit told Paul that when he was weak, then he would truly be strong because he would no longer be trusting in himself, but in God. This is why God would offer that “not so strange” commendation for those who have little strength. I want to hear that commendation, and I hope you do too, for it is the true path to the strength we desperately need to secure to live victoriously in this fallen world.

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Each week, Pastor Frank sends several short, encouraging videos to his circle of friends.
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