Frank Santora is Lead Pastor of Faith Church, a multi-site church with locations in Connecticut and New York. Pastor Frank hosts a weekly television show, “Destined to Win,” which airs weekly on the Hillsong Channel and TBN. He has authored thirteen books, including the most recent, Modern Day Psalms and Finding Christ in Crisis: Lessons We Learned From Covid. To learn more about Pastor Frank and this ministry, please visit www.franksantora.cc. Photo by Michele Roman.
In short, the fruit of the Spirit is the outward, visible and godly virtues displayed in a believer’s life, that evidences the inward, invisible presence of the Holy Spirit. These virtues or characteristics stand in stark contrast to the fruits, or acts, of the flesh.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).
Every believer's life is a spiritual race of sorts, complete with unseen obstacles and potholes of temptation, restful straight-aways and angelic fans. Sometimes, it seems we really crush it! We run like Olympic champions and win at every turn against a treacherous opponent. We can almost hear those heavenly crowds cheering us onward. Other times, we are running like Forrest Gump – shackled by braces, fearful and falling, being pursued and losing badly. We look behind us, stumble over sin, stall out or worse, simply give up.
Remarkably, whether in the worst of races or in the best of races, we always have one fan who never gives up on us, who continues to cheer us onward toward the finish line – the God of Heaven! Our Father sits in the grandstands of heaven, filled with every Bible great who has run their race called life. They are cheering us on, encouraging us with every promise in the Bible, and with testimony after testimony of those heroes of the faith who overcame and won their races against all odds. He is applauding our steps and shouting our names!
So don't let anyone tell you that God is not on your side. And “if God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
So God shouts run! when we are winning in our race. But also He shouts run! to prevent us from falling on our faces when we are struggling and about to get tripped up by the weights and the sins that so easily entangle us.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/FOTOKITA
Until about 20 years ago, no one really knew who Jabez was. For millennia, his name and story have remained tucked away in the pages of one of the least read chapters of the Bible. But as obscure as Jabez once was, in these last days God has brought him into the mainstream – not because of anything notable that he did, but because of his famous prayer.
It’s amazing what desperation will cause us to do...
Circumstances that are too big for us to handle will encourage us to stop the rat race and instead, run to God in prayer. Or when the pressure of life becomes too great to endure, we remember to seek comfort from the One who has conquered death - our God who can turn all things around for our good, and make things right again.
In that respect, we can thank God for the pressures and problems we encounter in life. Indeed, it’s far better to have a problem and seek closeness with God, than to have a problem-free life and be distant from God. As King David wrote in Psalm 119:67 and 71:
“Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word...It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”
Remember, it's not God's will for you to suffer affliction (John 10:10). Ultimately, however, it's better for you to be afflicted and become more attached to God, than to have it easy and be out of alignment with God.
The instructions of Deuteronomy 28 are clear: all God’s blessings will come on us and overtake us if we listen to and obey the voice of the Lord our God. That means we must align ourselves with the will of God to be blessed by God.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Morten Falch Sortland
“On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, ‘Let us cross over to the other side.’ Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’ Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, ‘Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith? ‘” (Mark 4:35-40).
Does anyone feel they have been snatched out of the fire of the last few years, smelling of smoke but grateful to be alive? Has anyone been saved in the nick of time from impossible circumstances, or braved through in the face of pain, loss, and a world turned upside down?
Does anyone else want to just leave it all behind and never look backward? Anyone else look forward to standing on the shore of safety and shouting back at the sea of medical, social, political and financial storms and say, in the words of that famous song – “Hello, from the other side!”
You thought you’d stop me, but…Hello from the other side! You thought you’d take me out, that I’d lose my faith and give up on Jesus. You thought I’d stop fighting, that you’d stolen my hope and my destiny. You thought you’d crushed my dreams. You thought I’d lose my mind. But I’ve just got one thing to say to you, storm…Hello from the other side!
But making it through the storm is only the first step. To experience God’s best in this next season of our lives, you and I must be able to transition well. Because transition, in and of itself, does not guarantee blessing in the next season.
The children of Israel left Egyptian slavery through the Red Sea to freedom, and then got stuck wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. They didn’t transition well.
People routinely go from being single to being married, but that doesn’t guarantee a happy marriage. They must transition well.
Young adults graduate from college and become full-time employees, but that doesn’t guarantee a successful career. They too must transition well.
Photo credit: Pexels/Johannes Plenio
“The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:7-8).
Have you ever felt like life has caused you to lose yourself?
When I say “lose yourself,” I am not using it like the world does, as when people try to “find themselves” by doing whatever makes them happy, find themselves by exploring all of the base desires of the flesh, or find themselves by rejecting all traditional inhibitions.
What I mean is finding your true self, your “child of God” self – your best self. I mean that “self” that God created you to be as your destiny, walking in power and authority, made in the image of God. Your true self.
Have you ever felt like life circumstances have caused your true self to be hidden?
Perhaps it was a divorce that created so much bitterness, frustration, hatred and hurt that it hid the joy-filled Christian you were created to be; or a senseless tragedy rocked your world and crushed your trust and faith in the goodness of God.
Maybe it was a personal betrayal by someone close which caused you to harden your heart and put up protective emotional walls.
Or maybe – like Adam and Eve – a small, seemingly insignificant sin has become a big and chronic issue, stealing your confidence before God, and casting a shadow of shame over your life.
Even if your true self has been hidden behind the fig leaves of pain and shame, lost in a thicket of brokenness and hopelessness, or beaten down by blame, confusion, and addiction, you can find yourself again! But you will have to do some soul-searching and honestly answer three critical questions.
Photo credit: Unsplash/Daniel Jensen
When it comes to "goodness," God is uniquely good. God does good and gets nothing in return. He simply is good; He loves us and enjoys being good. His goodness is unmatched, unparalleled, unprecedented and unequalled! When it comes to goodness, God is in a class all by Himself.
In this digital age, our lives seem to revolve around our mobile devices. We use them to listen to music, stream podcasts, play candy crush, and post pics of our best life (or the life that we want people to think we have). As such, everyone has learned how to swipe right as we scroll through Instagram and other social sites. Swiping right is also a thing when it comes to dating sites. If you like what you see, you swipe right and put that person in a category that lets them know you are interested in them, and potentially want to allow them into your life in a very personal way.
Let’s face it, swiping right has become a thing. However, in life and specifically in relationships, often the most important thing is not swiping right but swiping left. Many times the trajectory of our lives is dramatically affected by our ability to recognize the kinds of people we need to move on from. You see, God sends relationships into our lives to assist us, but the enemy uses them to twist us!
God-sent, God-meant relationships come through divine appointments and propel us, push us, shape us, and make us more like Christ. These Godly relationships keep us on track and speak words of life that correct, empower, and encourage us. Ultimately, they strengthen our relationship with God and secure our safe arrival at our God-given destiny. Indeed, God uses relationships to make us and assist us – for we were created for relationship with God and one another.
Our enemy the devil knows this, and since he is the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy, he also uses relationships to twist us and prevent us from becoming the Christ-like new creations that we are destined to be. In fact, the enemy tries to use the very things that God has intended to bless us, to break us instead.
When it comes to matters of the heart, we are especially vulnerable. Just like God-sent, God-meant relationships can bring us much joy and happiness, devil-sent, devil-meant relationships have the potential to bring intense and lasting pain into our lives. Thankfully, God has given us all the direction we need in His Word to determine in the early stages whether a relationship is God-sent or hell bent.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Antonio_Diaz
Memorial Day is upon us again. It’s the holiday that kicks off summer; we fire up the grill, plant the garden, and pack up the sweaters. But what many people don’t realize is that, in reality, Memorial Day is all about honor. It’s the day where we Americans join in unity to remember and mourn those who have given their lives to serve and protect our country. Instead of feasting and fun, the intent of Memorial Day from the beginning was somber reflection on the cost of freedom for our nation, gratitude toward God, and honor toward the fallen.
Just as other cultural norms have shifted in our country, honor seems to have become a forgotten virtue. It has devolved so much that simply honoring others with words like “sir,” “ma’am” and “thank you,” can make people a bit suspicious of your motives. In fact, dishonor prevails in our entertainment, social media arguments, political discourse, children and parents, even husband and wives.
However, if we are to become all that God has destined for us to become, we need to bring honor back as a lifestyle.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/fizkes
Like all of us, when life dealt him lemons, David stood at the intersection of a “bitter road” and a “better road.” It’s an intersection of decision. What do we do? Bite the lemon and become bitter in spirit, or go to God and make lemonade?