Memorial Day

LIFELINK Devotional
Monday, May 25, 2020

Happy Memorial Day. I grew up in an era of respect and honor for our nation. My parents lived through World War II. My dad was in the military during that war. I was alive during the Korean War. I remember from early childhood being taught to honor and respect our nation because of the courage of those who founded this great nation. I was deeply impressed as a young boy with the price of liberty paid with the sacrifices of people. I cannot say thanks enough for such sacrifices.

Ultimate freedom, comes at the cost of a life. As you enjoy your holiday today, and as you pay tribute to all the men and women who gave their lives in to win your freedom, remember to honor er the One who made the supreme sacrifice for freedom- the freedom from death. Jesus Christ was lifted up on a cross in front of the whole world in an attempt by man to preserve freedom. What they could not see was that in His death He conquered death and provided eternal life for all who believe in Him.

Now that’s a real Memorial Day.

Pastor John

Trustworthy Faith

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, May 22, 2020

I have a tendency that is not necessarily good. I speak without filters far too often. One filter that doesn’t function very well is the one that controls how much personal information I share with people, especially new acquaintances. I tend to share far too much about myself too early in a relationship.

It is appropriate and commendable to have varying levels of relationship. We must learn to be very discerning about who gets to know what, and how much trust we place in them to know those things.

Jesus is our example in this. Read what the Apostle John says about Jesus after people began to follow Him.

John 2:23-25 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

There is an eternal and spiritual principle in place based on the response of Jesus to people saying they believed in Him.

Jesus knows the motive for our belief, and only trusts us with knowledge of Himself to the level that our motives are truly based on faith in Him.

The people who believed in Him were doing so because of the work He did. They were enthralled with the miraculous. Jesus didn’t entrust to them the depth of relationship that is possible if we would believe who He is rather than believe what He can do. Faith is honored by the Lord Jesus Christ if it is sufficient for us to believe in who He is.

Unfortunately for us, Jesus knows the heart of every one of us. He knows if our faith is in Him alone, or if our faith is being sustained by His activity on our behalf. John points out that Jesus did not entrust the riches of relationship with Him to those who were motivated to follow Him based on signs and benefits. He knew that those people would make false testimony about Him to others, thereby multiplying the error of faith based on personal benefits. Faith in Christ is never to be compromised by the demand for a personal benefit. Seeking signs and miraculous works compromises true faith, and Jesus does not reveal the depths of His grace and love to those who are not completely satisfied with who He is.

This may be a hard principle for you. It may be that we have not been willing to expose our faith to such scrutiny of the Holy Spirit. Very simply, are we willing to sacrifice every material and emotional benefit we think we receive from Jesus so that we may truly know the depths of His love and the power of His resurrection life in us?

That is a question worth pondering today.

Pastor John

Home Run

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, May 21, 2020

You have probably never heard of Daniel Norris. He was drafted into Major League Baseball in 2011 by the Toronto Blue jays. A few years later, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers, my boyhood team.  On August 19, 2015, the Tigers were playing the Chicago Cubs. Because the National League Cubs were the home team, the American League Tigers had to abide by the National League rules. There would be no designated hitter for the pitcher.  Norris would pick up a bat and face the opposing pitcher for the first time in his career.

For the first time ever at storied Wrigley Field in Chicago, and American League pitcher would hit a home run during a regular season game. What a moment that must have been for him. First time batting in the Major Leagues and he hits a home run. By the way, in case you think that’s rare, a homerun has been hit by a player in their first at-bat 118 times since 1895.

After John tells us the story of the first miracle of Jesus, which declared His glory to the world, John tells us about the first mission of Jesus. After taking a couple of days rest with his disciples, probably to let things settle down a little bit after His miracle, Jesus heads to Jerusalem for the Passover. His first stop is the Temple – God’s house of worship.

What would Jesus do in His first public appearance after revealing the glory of God? In my opinion, He hit a home run. In John’s narrative of the life of Christ, the mission of Jesus is revealed more than in any other Gospel. His mission was to set us free from the bondage and corruption of sin, and to provide life and light for us through faith alone. Jesus began that mission in the one place where the corruption of sin is the most horrific – the religious establishment of the day.

John 2:14-16 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”

The first miracle of Jesus was to fill empty religious ritual with heavenly power and blessing. The first message of Jesus declares His mission to restore true worship to the church, and true worship is not found in ritual but in relationship.

When the disciples see what Jesus does, things begin to click for them. An Old Testament Scripture comes to their mind from Psalm 69:9 – “For zeal for your house has consumed me…” Suddenly the disciples are connecting their understanding of Scripture to the Living Word of God. And in that first connection, they see the passion of Jesus for the purity of His people and His church.

When someone hits a home run in baseball, it is said that they touched all the bases. Jesus certainly touched all the bases. Religious ritual is empty and unfulfilling.  Religious ritual leads to corruption. Jesus has come to restore right relationship with God through faith alone.

What does Jesus need to drive out of our lives so we can truly worship Him? Do you have any bases Jesus is not allowed to touch?

Pastor John

Water Into Wine

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

My first trip to India three years ago was quite an experience, especially at mealtime. I fell in love with the food, but I’m still not a fan of how you have to eat it. Indian people use their fingers to mix the rice with the meat and vegetables, forming them into a small ball that they would then place in their mouth. I have two problems with that. First, I can’t eat rice because of the excessive carbohydrates that cause blood sugar levels to rise.  Without rice, there was no way to control the flowage of meat sauce through my fingers. Second, My OCD level doesn’t allow my fingers to feel dirty long enough to eat more than one mouthful at a time. I had to ask the people serving me for utensils. I just couldn’t eat that kind of food with my fingers.

At the end of the meal, the server would bring out small bowls of lemon water and a clean towel for each person. Each guest would wash their fingers so they would be clean again. It was not until the purification was done that the meal was over and we could leave to do more ministry.

The Jews had similar rules for purification. I was actually in several ancient cities in Israel where homes had built in purification baths. The Jews made sure nothing ever defiled them and disqualified them from serving God. They had designated jars and basins that only carried clean water for washing and purification.

There were six such jars at the home where Jesus attended a wedding. We read the story in John 2.

John 2:6-7 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim.

Each jar held twenty to thirty gallons of water. They were empty because they had been used for washing everyone’s hands and feet prior to the wedding beginning. Jesus told the servants to fill them with water. Then He instructed them to dip some of the water out and present it to the wedding host. When the host tasted it, He was amazed at the quality of wine that was now in the jars. Jesus had performed His first miracle.

The symbolism is significant. Man’s means of self-purification will now be replaced with God’s richest blessings. Wine is worth far more than water. Wine symbolizes the wealth of heaven. Wine represents the abundance of God’s blessing. Jesus, in this one miraculous act, pleads with us to leave the rituals of religion and receive the righteousness of God.

Religion cannot purify from sin. Rituals require more rituals. Jesus will fill the empty vessel of your life with the riches of eternal life. Religion cannot do that. Only Jesus can.

Renounce the rituals you have trusted to provide righteousness for your life. Receive the righteousness of God by trusting Jesus Christ for your forgiveness and eternal life. Your jar will be filled with wine.

Pastor John

Principles of Crisis Management

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

When something goes wrong, what’s your first option for fixing it? My normal thought pattern goes like this:

  • Do I have any experience in this area?
  • Do I know anyone else with experience in this area?
  • Google it. There’s probably a YouTube video.
  • Pray for other ideas of how I can fix it.
  • If I must, I will sit back and let God handle it.

Let’s see how the mother of Jesus handled a problem that developed at a wedding.

John 2:3-5 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Notice three principles of crisis management:

  1. Go to Jesus first. This requires our faith in Him to be greater than our faith in self.
  2. Make sure our request fits into His will. Think about what Mary was asking. “Jesus, I have complete confidence that you are able to do the miraculous and solve this problem. I believe you are here to bless people by meeting their needs. Please accomplish your purpose.” However, she had a limited view of Christ’s purpose. She asked in faith, but not according to God’s ultimate will. He replied to her, “My main purpose is not the temporal needs of mankind, but their spiritual needs, and this is not the time for me to resolve that problem.”
  3. Make sure we become obedient to His will. Mary immediately understood the admonition of Jesus, and told the servants to trust whatever Jesus would tell them. She made sure that Jesus was in complete control of this situation and it’s outcome.

Review those principles every time a crisis develops in your life. They should be your first option before you seek any of your own solutions.

Pastor John

Get Ready for Your Wedding

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, May 18, 2020

As we continue our study of the Gospel of John, we come this week to chapter two. Jesus is prepared to introduce Himself to the world. He chooses to do it at a wedding.

John 2:1-2 “On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.”

Weddings are fun. I love them. I was supposed to officiate two weddings this month, but plans changed because of our world’s health crisis. One wedding was held early, and the other has been postponed until September. Neither will be exactly what the bride wanted, except that she will still be married to the man she wanted.

One thing I’ve learned about weddings over the 40 years I have been officiating them is that you never upstage the bride. It was different in Jesus’ day, where weddings focused on the groom. I wonder when the change happened?

Biblically, the focus of a wedding is always on the groom. You and I, the Church, are the Bride of Christ. All of the attention is on the Groom – Jesus. He invited us to be His bride, just like in a modern day engagement. But that seems to be where the similarity ends. Today the bride takes on the role of planning the wedding and planning the reception. The groom gets to plan a rehearsal dinner.

The Bible has different ideas about the final wedding you and I will ever attend – our wedding to Jesus. Jesus has invited us to be His Bride. He has left to prepare our home where we will live together with Him forever. He will return one day to get us and escort us to the marriage ceremony. There will be a huge wedding feast to celebrate our marriage. We read about it in Revelation 19.

6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; 8 it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”

Notice how the Bride is to get ready for the wedding – by putting on the right wedding garments. What are those garments? They are the fine white linen of righteous deeds.

Jesus died on the cross to conquer sin, yet so many of us refuse to wear the clothing of righteousness. Instead, we continue to wear the clothing of unrighteousness. We seek to gratify our own desires and live according to the standards of the world. We continue to please self and others. Yet, if asked, we tell people we are excited to be the bride of Christ and can’t wait for the wedding celebration in heaven.

Something is terribly wrong with this scenario. It is no different than an engaged person having an affair with another person up until the wedding day, and hoping it won’t affect the marriage.

Can it be said of you, that as the Bride of Christ, you are making yourself ready for the wedding by putting on the garments of righteousness and keeping them clean? I hope so. The Groom is about to arrive.

Pastor John

The Door to Heaven

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, May 15,2020

Open the doors! We have heard that shouted loudly in our state. Maybe it is happening.

Doors have several functions, of which I believe two stand out as primary – keep things in or keep things out. The doors of our house are locked at night to keep people out so we feel safe. The doors are unlocked during the day to allow us to exit for our daily activities.

In the Gospel of John, when Jesus meets Nathanael, He calls him a true Israelite. The name Israel was given to a man named Jacob in the Old Testament, and it was through Jacob that the twelve tribes of Israel were born. One night, when Jacob was pondering the things of God, a vision appeared to him. A ladder extended from the earth to heaven, and angels were ascending and descending the steps. Jacob saw this as a sign that the place where he was sleeping was the gateway – the door – to heaven.

When Jesus declared to Nathanael that he was a true son of Israel, He saw him seeking access to God in the same way as his forefather Jacob. Then Jesus said this:

John 1:51 “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

WOW! Jesus announces to Nathanael that He is the door to heaven. Access to the Father comes only through Christ.

Maybe the reason the door always seems shut on your spiritual pursuits is that you are knocking on the wrong door. Jesus is the door, and He will open Himself to whomever knocks, and bring you the abundance of life you are seeking.

John 10:7-  “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep…I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Today is the day the door will be opened to let you into eternal relationship with Jesus. All you need do is repent of trying all the other doors, and turn to belief in Jesus Christ as your Savior. Then, in an amazing act of power and grace, Jesus will close the door with you inside, and you will never be lost. The Door let’s you in. The Door keeps you in.

Trust Jesus to save you today.

Pastor John