TAKE NOTICE

LifeLink Devotions

Friday, October 8, 2021

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I have a question nagging at me that just won’t go away. I believe it is God’s question for all of us. It comes from the very heart of God and His concern for a lost world of people. The question is this: “How many people this week did I see through the eyes of God and recognize their hopeless condition of being led away to death by their sin?”

That question rises from the words of Solomon in our Wisdom verse for today.

Proverbs 24:11-12 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this,’  does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?”

I saw lots of people this week. They seem to be everywhere. I saw happy people. I saw angry people. I saw determined people. I saw distracted people. I saw people I would want to know better. I saw people I tried to avoid. I saw people in all kinds of situations going about their duties and calling it life.

I made judgments about people based on my perceptions of them. I responded to people in different ways because of those judgments. I saw their exterior and determined their worth and value, usually based on the return I would get from contact with them. 

What I did not do very often was to see their heart from God’s perspective and realize that whatever was on the outside could be radically changed by the transforming power of Jesus in their heart. I noticed their physical condition without recognizing the spiritual need that caused it. I need to sit up and take notice of people from God’s perspective.

But then another question nags at me:“What will I do about it when I do see people through the eyes of God?”

It doesn’t do a person any good to sit up and take notice if he keeps on sitting. Taking notice of people’s spiritual condition puts us on the right track, but as Will Rogers once said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”  Once I recognize the spiritual need in every person’s life, I must also recognize that I know the answer to their need, and that I have the Power to share that answer with them.

As you prepare to worship in church this weekend, please consider this: one reason you are there is to be equipped to better represent Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world of people. Between now and the time you go to church, how many people will you pass and meet who are being led away to death? You can choose right now to start seeing them through the eyes of God. So many people will pass into a Christless eternity. We can and must make an impact on them. 

Pastor John

SMALL BUT POWERFUL

LifeLink Devotions

Thursday, October 7, 2021

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Small football players fascinate me. One of the greatest running backs of our era was one of the smallest. By his own admission he didn’t think anyone in the National Football League would give him a chance because he was too small to succeed. But the Dallas Cowboys liked what they saw in his heart, and gave him a chance. For 15 years he was the model of sportsmanship and success. 

Here’s what Emmit Smith accomplished:

  • 3 Super Bowl Rings (XXVII, XXVIII, & XXX) 
  • Super Bowl XXVIII MVP 
  • 1993 NFL MVP 
  • 1991-93, 95 NFL Rushing Champion 
  • 1990 NFL Rookie of the Year 

NFL Records he held or still holds:

  • Most Rushing Yards (career) — 17162 
  • Most Rushing Touchdowns (career) — 153 
  • Most Rushing Attempts (career) — 4052 
  • Most Rushing Touchdowns (Super Bowl) — 5 
  • Most Rushing Yards (postseason) — 1586 
  • Most Rushing Touchdowns (postseason) — 19 
  • Most Games with 100+ Yards Rushing (postseason) — 7 
  • Most Consecutive and Total 1000+ Yard Seasons – 11

What it is that makes a 5’9”, 180-pound running back have any kind of a chance against 6’5”, 275-pound defensive lineman? As Proverbs 24:5-6 teaches, I believe the answer is wisdom and guidance. 

“A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers.”

First of all, this small running back surrounded himself with a bunch of 6’5”, 300-pound offensive lineman to run interference against the huge, headhunting defensive guys. He was made strong and earned victory because of the many advisors that he had – from coaches teaching him what do look for in defensive alignments to other players making a path for him on which to stay safe.

Secondly, he filled himself up with as much knowledge of his opponent as possible, so that when he came into the game situation he was able to adjust his running to what he recognized the defense would try to do. His eyes were always alert to the location of every opponent, and he avoided being hurt by running where they weren’t.

There are some great lessons for us in all of this when it comes to our spiritual lives, and how we run the race that has been marked out for us by God.

1. Fill yourself with the determination to be a spiritual success, which is really a product of the filling of the Holy Spirit. It is an act of our will to surrender to the will of God and be empowered by the Holy Spirit to accomplish that purpose. We must make it our priority to be spiritually successful.

2. Surround yourself with spiritual protectors – the Holy Spirit will direct us to people who can encourage us, teach us, train us, and fight for us. Get to know these people intimately. Trust them. Serve them. Develop a common goal and commit to its accomplishment. Study each other’s strengths and weaknesses so you can stand by them no matter what the opposition. Let’s become a team. 

3. Study the opponent. After we develop a game plan through the power of the Holy Spirit and the people that are on our team, we must then seek to understand what the opponent is doing to try to stop God’s plan. We must discover where he is and how he will try to stop us, and then run where he isn’t. Then, as we get stronger and more confident in God’s power to protect us, we can actually start running where the opponent is, and make him run away. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” What a great moment it is in a football game when the offense decides it is time to run at the strength of the defense because the have worn them down and demonstrated an ability to overwhelm them. What a great moment it is in a Christian’s life when they are able do the same.

Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”

It is not popularity, position, prestige, personality, or possessions that make us spiritually powerful, but it is the name of the LORD our God. No matter how small you think you are, you will find all the strength you need for any battle because “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.”

Pastor John

BUILDING PROJECTS

LifeLink Devotions

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

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All my life I have loved tools. I have trouble walking through a home improvement store and not picking up a new tool and trying to justify why I need it. I think my love for tools comes from a couple of childhood memories about my grandfather, Gunnar Gabrielson, who lived in Cleveland, Ohio. I loved to go down to the basement and look at his tools. I don’t ever remember seeing a power tool, just the old-fashioned hand tools. But what beautiful work he would do with those tools. He was a skilled craftsman. In fact, he designed and built one of the first sewing machine cabinets in America. I believe it is still on display in a museum in Cleveland.

The major difference between my love for tools and my grandfather’s love for tools is that he knew how to use them well. He was careful and precise about everything he did. I do not understand those concepts. I am the proverbial bull in a china closet. I have tried to discipline myself to be careful. I have accomplished some nice projects, but they are always flawed in some way. It is usually traceable to my lack of patience and carefulness, and to my pride that says I know just enough to do the job. The fact is that I lack the wisdom to do the job perfectly.

In today’s wisdom, Solomon uses the analogy of building a house to reveal to us the wisdom necessary for building a real life. He takes us through a natural progression of spiritual growth. 

Proverbs 24:3-4 By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”

Today would be a good day for us to evaluate our progress in building the house of our lives. Maybe there’s a project that needs to be completed before the Building Inspector arrives.

The first thing that is necessary in building a life of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. Solomon says that by wisdom a house is built, and he wrote earlier in Proverbs that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

There is a common foundation under every spiritual house – Jesus Christ. That foundation is only available to those who have come face to face with God and recognized their hopeless and worthless condition in light of His awesome perfection and holiness. “Woe is me, I am undone,” says the prophet Isaiah. From that encounter with God comes faith in the mercy and grace of God to forgive. By renouncing our wisdom we can choose to build our house on Jesus Christ. 

The second thing that is necessary in building a house is for it to be established using the building material of understanding. In other words, everything built on top of the foundation must be connected to the foundation so it remains strong and unmovable by the storms of life. Here’s how the Apostle Paul states it in Colossians 2:2-4. Notice how understanding provides security.

“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.”

The more we come to understand our great salvation and the God who provided it, the stronger our house becomes. That is why a daily study of God’s Word is so important to our spiritual vitality. But it cannot stop with just understanding it, we must also do what we understand. James 3:3 says, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” It’s not enough to have all of the building materials delivered to the construction site. Let’s pound some nails!

Finally, after laying the foundation of salvation, and establishing our house firmly on that foundation through understanding of how we were saved, we furnish the inside of the house by growing in our knowledge of God and His purpose. We tend to furnish our house with inferior goods that come from the world, when we have available to us all the riches of God in Christ Jesus to furnish every room. It’s time to remodel and redecorate. Go through all the rooms in your spiritual house. Are they furnished with the eternal riches of God’s grace or the cheap imitations of a failing world system? Your life can be filled with the finest furnishings – God’s grace and God’s love. (See Ephesians 1:7-8; Ephesians 3:16-19, and Philippians 4:19)

So, how is your house construction going? I know I have a couple of rooms that still need work. I’d better get at it.  The Building Inspector could come today.

Pastor John

LIFESTYLE CHOICES

LifeLink Devotions

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

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As we begin today’s devotions I am compelled to remind you that if we desire to become people of wisdom then we must be seeking God’s wisdom and not man’s. That requires the sacrifice of worldly pursuits, principles, and passions for the sake of moral purity in Christ.  Today’s subject may well reveal more than any other whether or not we are willing to become people who pursue Christ above all else. 

Proverbs 23:19-21 “Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”

One of the most divisive and destructive issues in the local church today is over the use of alcoholic beverages. Is drinking a sin, or is just drunkenness the sin? Should we or shouldn’t we use them? If we believe it’s ok to drink in moderation, what constitutes moderation? Do we have any responsibility to God or to others when we make our decision? These are all questions that are asked and argued by all of us from the young in Christ to the mature.

I pray that as I address this topic that our hearts will be open to hearing the voice of God. My desire is that all our lifestyle choices would not only reflect the wisdom of God by being morally pure, but that they would be motivated by a pure love for Jesus and not love for self.

First, the Bible does not call drinking a sin. I address this issue first because it is the issue that I believe causes the biggest problem in teaching others a true Biblical position on this subject. It is wrong to call something a sin that God has not called sin. When we try to conform another person’s behavior through untruth that we have called truth, we create rebellion in the other person against all truth. When our children grow to an age of understanding truth for themselves, they may reject what we have said because we tried to manipulate them into a certain type of behavior. Let’s just tell them the truth. Jesus performed His first miracle by turning water into wine, and we know it was alcoholic wine because the host of the party said so. (John 2:9-10)

Having said that, there are some very strong statements in Scripture about the use of alcoholic beverages, and several of them are right here in Proverbs. Let’s look at what is said:

1. It is not wise to join with those who drink too much, because it will lead to laziness and poverty.

2. Choosing not to join with them will keep our hearts on the right path. Everything about our relationship with Jesus Christ begins in the heart. When we desire to join with those who drink too much it shows that we are dependent on the world to provide us with value and not on God. Why would we who are joined to Christ have any need or desire to seek acceptance and approval from the world by joining with them? Our lifestyle choices reveal the level of our sincerity and security of our identity in Christ.

3. According to Proverbs 23:29-35, the consequences of drinking too much are severe – woe, sorrow, strife, complaints, bruises, and bloodshot eyes. Who needs any of those things? Just pick up any newspaper and you don’t have to read very far before you come to a story of an accident, a fight, an assault, a divorce, or a death that is the direct result of alcohol. We must consider carefully the consequences, not only for ourselves, but also in the lives of others around us.

4. We each must carefully evaluate our heart by asking some tough questions and then answer them honestly. The Proverbs 23:29-35 passage tells us what those questions should be:

Do I have an increasing curiosity about alcoholic beverages? Do we linger over the beverage, and want to try more and different kinds? Be careful, curiosity killed the cat, and we don’t have 9 lives to give. We have only one life to give, and I choose to give it to the glory of God. 

Do I find myself desiring alcohol because of the temporary benefits it provides? Do I use it to relieve pain or to produce pleasure in any way? Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup. Why should alcohol be the escape from the problems of life, or the producer of pleasure in life? When will I wake up so I can find another drink?” Doesn’t this reveal a heart condition that needs the healing touch of Jesus? The Apostle John says, “Love not the world, neither the things in the world…for these shall all pass away.” On what does your heart truly depend for peace and hope?

Do I find myself enjoying the taste? Proverbs says to be careful when it goes down smoothly! Just because we like it doesn’t make it beneficial or right. If that argument was valid, then let’s use it for other things we like as well, like sex. Sex is right only in the context of marriage, and when that purity is maintained it honors God. Each of us must determine in what context, if any, drinking is right and honoring to God.

There is so much more that could be said from other passages of Scripture concerning our responsibility to honor God in everything – especially in the area of the care of our temple of the Holy Spirit and our privilege to reflect the love and grace of Jesus to others. But I want us to consider carefully the three questions above, and evaluate our choices in regards to this issue. When you make your choice, make it in prayer before the throne of God, and make sure that your choice doesn’t in any way dishonor Him or exalt yourself over Him in any way. He is Lord, and is there any worldly sacrifice too great to make for our King?

GLUTTONY

LifeLink Devotions

Monday, October 4, 2021

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I love to go to restaurants that have a buffet. Oriental-style buffets are my favorite, because I can easily justify eating a lot because the food is better for me – lots of meat and vegetables and I can limit the carbohydrate intake. If a little is good for me, then a lot is better for me. 

Today’s Scripture reading has something to say about my food attitude. 

Proverbs 23:1-3 “When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive.”

As we continue our pursuit of becoming people of wisdom, this week’s subject is moral integrity. But why should the quantity of food I eat be a subject of moral importance?

First of all, I think gluttony applies to a much broader base of indulgences than just food. In fact, gluttony is a heart condition that requires the constant pursuit of more and better in any area of our worldly life: more food, more money, more recreation, better house, better car, etc., etc. You have probably heard the term used this way in the statement, “He is a glutton for punishment.” Gluttony is an attitude that seeks self-satisfaction. That makes it a moral issue.

Secondly, because we are susceptible to self-satisfaction, we are in danger of being manipulated and deceived by those whom we give the power to influence our lives. Notice in the Scripture passage what is happening:

  1. He is having dinner with a person of influence and renown. Don’t be a name-dropper. Don’t take pride in whom you know or whom you have met. All such behavior is an attempt to increase our own status in someone’s eyes, and is motivated by self-satisfaction.
  2. The food that has been prepared has an ulterior motive other than just nourishment – it is meant to deceive and influence. We become easily influenced by the status and value we allow to be placed on our lives by people and things. “Note well,” it says, “what is before you.” Look deeply into your heart and determine if there is any motive of self-satisfaction or self-advancement in what you are doing. If there is, put it to death.

People of moral integrity are people who cannot be influenced to change their position on issues of truth. We must not give people or possessions the power to influence our position in Christ. No person or possession can ultimately provide us with anything of eternal value in God’s Kingdom. All they can give us is a momentary and fleeting reward to a need for self-satisfaction. Only what comes from God is good and perfect (James 1).The challenge for us is to live each day loving God above all else, especially self. Only then will we be stable, strong, unshakable and unmovable. Only then will we resist the selfish need to sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate. Only then will we be living with moral integrity.

Pastor John

BOUNDARY STONES

LifeLink Devotions

Friday, October 1, 2021

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This week we have been seeking God’s wisdom for financial integrity. To wrap up this subject we must be aware of the greatest enemy to financial integrity – GREED. Here is what King Solomon has to say about the fleshly desire to always have more.

Proverbs 22:28 – “Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.”

Proverbs 23:10-11 – “Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; he will take up their case against you.”

Here’s the wisdom principle: Don’t keep trying to get more for yourself at the expense of others. These verses speak of the intentional use of one’s power and authority, or the deceptive manipulation of the law, to advance one’s own cause at the expense of another. This is GREED.

In the days before plat maps and survey crews, boundaries were established by the use of large stones on the corners of property. Crude maps were kept based on the best measuring devices of the day, originating with the average length of a man’s step. It was not too difficult a task to move a boundary stone to one’ advantage and encroach on another person’s land.

Today we use steel posts driven in the ground, detectable by electronic device, and accuracy is maintained through global positioning satellites. Even though it would seem to be more difficult to illegally move a marker and get away with it, our greedy imaginations are hard at work. I know of one instance in which a man was so intent on building a new home on a piece of property with a great view, that he forgot to check how much room he had for a driveway to get to that location. After getting the house done, he built his driveway on the neighbors land without permission. Now he refuses to fix the problem and legal action will be necessary. Greed can drive us to illegal actions.

There is another point I would like to make today about boundary stones, especially those that have been placed there by our forefathers. There are serious spiritual implications to moving moral boundary stones. 

We live in a world that is degenerating. The human race is not evolving into something more god-like, except that the god it increasingly resembles is the god of this age Satan. Boundary stones are constantly being moved and shifted. We demand it because we seek self-gratification. We seek to be more like culture. We have allowed the media to move the boundary stones of sin and righteousness. We have become enamored with what the world offers, and we will move whatever boundary stone that limits our personal gain. The moral foundation of our nation and world is quickly eroding, and the building called society is about to tumble. 

God’s Word has established absolute moral boundaries. Society can do all it wants to move them for its own personal benefit, but someday the Chief Surveyor will arrive on the property, and using the Bible as His Transom, His Throne as the Global Positioning Satellite, and His cross as the chief cornerstone from which all other boundaries extend, He will reestablish the boundaries once and for all. Anyone found outside those boundaries will be punished for all eternity. All of us who have chosen by faith to surrender to the Chief Surveyor’s boundaries will live forever within them.

Today, check your boundary stones. Are they where God placed them, or have we moved them for personal benefit?

Pastor John

FINANCIAL INTEGRITY

LifeLink Devotions

Thursday, September 30, 2021

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The Bible has much to say about the wisdom that is needed for financial integrity. The following verses from Proverbs deal with the issue of honesty, both in our personal and in our business dealings. They give us several principles that require us to evaluate the way we pursue and manage money.

Proverbs10:2-5  “Ill-gotten treasures are of no value, but righteousness delivers from death. The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry but he thwarts the craving of the wicked.”

Proverbs13:11  “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”

Proverbs 21:6  “A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.”

Proverbs 20:14  “It’s no good, it’s no good!” says the buyer; then off he goes and boasts about his purchase.”

Proverbs 11:1   “The LORD abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.”

Proverbs 20:10  “Differing weights and differing measures- the LORD detests them both.”

Proverbs 16:11  “Honest scales and balances are from the LORD ; all the weights in the bag are of his making.”

Proverbs11:18  “The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.”

First of all, we are told that we are not to pursue wealth that comes from dishonest means. There’s nothing wrong with making extra money, but how we do it can be wrong. We have all been tempted by those “get-rich-quick” schemes that appeal to the greed of our materialistic nature. They can be so attractive to us that we fail to investigate their legality or even try to determine if they are ethical.

I remember the pyramid money schemes of the 70’s and early 80’s, when we were told to send $20 to each of five people, and then add our name and the names of 20 more people to a list. We were promised that in 10 days we would receive thousands of dollars in the mail. It worked for the first few people in the pyramid, but then the law caught up with those who originated it and a bunch of people got in deep trouble. We chose not to be involved. Praise God! We listened to this wisdom from Proverbs 13:11 – he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”

Secondly, our verses give us wisdom about how we spend money. One example given is of the person who loves to negotiate for a better price, but carries it to the extreme of actually finding fault with the product or service for which he is paying. Then, after making the deal, he brags about how great the product or service is and what a deal he got. I must confess to having that tendency in my own life. I observed people close to me in my formative years who would actually get angry about not getting a better deal than someone else, or who would use their profession or their position to demand a discount. As a man of financial integrity, I have learned to respect the right of the merchant to sell his product for a fair price. If he chooses to make known through his business practices that discounts are available, I will wisely take advantage of those discounts. But never should we belittle a product or service or manipulate the merchant into giving us a better deal. That only proves that we are selfish.

Thirdly, and connected to the last point, we are told to be honest in our business dealings as merchants. Have you ever wondered how you can trust the pump at the gas station to dispense the correct amount of gas for the correct price? One of the divisions of our state government is the division of weights and scales.  I have a friend who works for the state and is the district weights and measures guy. He goes around and verifies all the pumps and scales at all businesses in Western Wisconsin. Because he is doing his job, we can trust the accuracy of our grocery store’s meat department scale so they are selling us the correct weight for the correct price. 

I worked in a meat department in High school and college, back in the days when there was no self-serve, pre-packaged meat. Everything was sold over the counter, and it had to be weighed and priced. I remember one of the managers of the meat department being fired from his position because he was caught using his thumb on the scale as he weighed the meat to increase the profit margin. He was cheating people for his own commissions and bonuses. This kind of dishonesty – the kind that is for personal benefit at the expense of another person – abhors the Lord. He detests it. 

Finally, there is wisdom in the Bible that can make us honest wage earners. It seems like a no-brainer to most of us: don’t steal what belongs to someone else. But let’s define what it is that belongs to someone else. The obvious things are tangible- clothing, cars, boats, household goods, etc. Where it gets tough is when we think about the intangible things, i.e. TIME.  Consider this scenario.

Let’s assume your boss has hired you for an 8-hour day, with two 15 minute paid breaks and a 1-hour non-paid lunch. You will be paid $15.00 per hour. You arrive for work at 8:00 AM, and during the next two hours you work hard, then leave for your 15-minute break. At 10:25, after getting involved in a Facebook debate about politics, you finally arrive back at your desk to work until noon, when you will break for lunch. During that time you take 10 minutes to go to the bathroom, which you didn’t do on your break. You leave for lunch at noon and return to your desk at 1:10 PM, and you put in two solid hours of work. At 3:10 you leave for a break and arrive back at your desk at 3:30 PM. During the next 90 minutes you again take 5 minutes to go to the bathroom, plus spend 10 minutes on your cell phone checking updates on  twitter and Facebook. You then check out at 5:00 PM to go home.

Question – How much should you be paid?  If you said $120.00, you are guilty of stealing. You did not work 8 hours: you actually only worked 7 hours and 10 minutes. Now, that may sound picky and insignificant, but that $12.50 adds up to $62.50 per week, or $3,250.00 per year in lost productivity for your employer.

How much integrity in our finances is enough? Of all the people in the world, Christians should be the best to deal with when it comes to business and financial transactions. Unfortunately, that is not the case most of the time. For some reason Christians can be the most demanding and obnoxious of all people when it comes to money. Maybe it’s because we have put our trust in the deal or the money with which we make the deal rather than in the God who will provide for us richly when we are honest. Let’s consider all of this carefully today.

Pastor John

FINANCIAL SECURITY

LifeLink Devotions 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

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Maybe you have heard the adage, “Give a person a fish, and feed him for a day: teach a person to fish, and feed him for a lifetime.” That bit of wisdom has one unstated implication that is very important – the person who is taught to fish needs to take action and catch fish to be fed. Teaching doesn’t feed him. Fishing doesn’t even feed him. Catching feeds him. People starve on good intentions. What we need is production. We need fish in the fry pan.

Compare the following two passages of Scripture. Both people described in them have the same opportunity for success. Both have been provided a means of making a living. One has sheep and the other has grapevines. One will make it, one will not. What are the principles from this Wisdom of Solomon that determine who does and who does not have some degree of financial security?

Proverbs 27:23-27  “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations. When the hay is removed and new growth appears and the grass from the hills is gathered in, the lambs will provide you with clothing, and the goats with the price of a field. You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed you and your family and to nourish your servant girls.”

Proverbs 24:30-34  “I went past the field of the sluggard, past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest- and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.”

From the first passage, here are some Principles for Financial Security.

1.      Be diligent to take care of what you already have: make the most of what you have been given. Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds;”

2.      Recognize the temporary nature of wealth: without discipline and proper management it will not last. for riches do not endure forever,”

3.      Do not assume that past successes guarantee future success without increased knowledge and effort.  “a crown is not secure for all generations.

4.      Do your work in a timely and energetic way, applying yourself wholeheartedly until the task is completed. Solomon reminds us to make hay while the sun shines. “When the hay is removed and new growth appears and the grass from the hills is gathered in…”

5.      Use your income to provide for your basic needs first. “The lambs will provide you with clothing, and you will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed you and your family and to nourish your servant girls.”

6.      Use your increase to improve your financial security. Selling the goats provided him with the price of a field.

From the second passage, here are the Characteristics of a Financial Failure

1.      Laziness – “I went past the field of the sluggard”

2.      Poor decision-making ability – past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment;”

3.      No discipline to do a job when it needs to be done – “thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins.”

4.      A progressive downward spiral into pleasing self by resting whenever it is convenient  – “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest”

5.      Is oblivious to the consequences and takes no personal responsibility for causing them – “and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.”

Let’s all take some quality time today to reflect on our attitudes towards work, and let the Holy Spirit teach us. But don’t stop there. Put it into action! You’ll feed yourself for a lifetime.

Pastor John

GENEROSITY

LifeLink Devotions

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

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Solomon understood a dynamic principle of God’s kingdom – life is experienced to the fullest when it is given away.

Proverbs 11:24-28 “One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. People curse the man who hoards grain, but blessing crowns him who is willing to sell. Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.”

This principle applies to every area of our lives, and yes, even to life itself. Just think of the truths presented in Scripture to support the principle of giving:

Acts 20:24   “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me; the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.”

Philippians 3:7  “But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

Mark 10:28  “Peter said to him, We have left everything to follow you!”

Luke 9:23  “Jesus said, If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

All of these examples, and many more like them from Scripture, give us a clear statement that in God’s eternal plan for the fulfillment of man’s existence, there must be death for real life to occur. In John 12:23-25, Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

When we admit that the life we are trying to attain is unattainable in our own strength and by our own efforts, and we choose to die to that pursuit of what the world calls life, we will cry out to the God who created all life and who is able to provide true life abundantly, and He will give it to us through His Son Jesus Christ!

Once we have received God’s generous gift of forgiveness and eternal life, we will be filled with the Holy Spirit’s power and motivation to apply the “give it away” principle to every area of our lives. If we are looking for joy, then we must give joy away. If we are looking for peace, then be a peacemaker. If we are looking for security, then we must give away our trust in the world’s offer of security and trust God alone. I challenge you to live by this principle in all areas of your life and discover the fullness that God brings. It goes beyond my explanation. I have never felt better about life and who I am than when I am giving myself away for the sake of another person. That is Christ in me, and you will feel the same fulfillment.

But what if we are looking for material blessing? Some would like us to believe that we can use this principle to make ourselves wealthier. Well, in God’s system, principles are only valid when proper motives are in place. If we attempt to use God’s principles for personal gain, we will lose. We must re-evaluate our primary motives and life principles, because the pursuit of wealth should never be what we are seeking from this life. When our motive for giving away resources is totally an act of thanksgiving and humble service to the King, God is honored and God’s kingdom receives all of the benefit. Then we will experience God’s blessings. Go back and read today’s Scripture passage and discover this dynamic principle – life is experienced to the fullest when it is given away. 

So when we talk about generosity, we are talking about more than just money. We who have been loved by God with the grace of salvation, and who in turn love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, have an uncontrollable desire to give life away, just as Jesus gave His away for us. Generosity is not an action; it is an attitude that results in action. Test your spirit today and see if the dynamic principle of generosity is active. If it is, act on it! If it isn’t, what needs to be given away so you can experience it?

Pastor John

POTHOLES

LifeLink Devotions

Monday, September 27, 2021

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Our study of wisdom from Proverbs brings us to a touchy subject. We tend to get emotional, defensive, and argumentative when we discuss it. We probably need wisdom in this area of our lives more than any other because Scripture tells us it is one of the biggest indicators of the spiritual condition of our heart.  The subject at hand is money. 

Proverbs 23:4-5 “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint. Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.”

Whenever the church of Jesus Christ takes up a discussion on money and finances there is the potential for great disagreement and conflict. If the church were to be compared to a car, then finances would be the potholes in the road waiting to throw the car’s steering out of alignment. Simple conversations between Christians can quickly become overheated when either the giving or the spending of money is the topic. It should not be so, but there are reasons why it is, and we need to honestly reflect on those reasons.

  1. Money has captured our affections. Let’s be realistic – we love money. We love the status it brings us when we have it. We have determined that the value of who we are as a person is directly related to the amount of money we have and are able to spend. We have given money the power to determine our personal worth. We also love the things money can provide for us, because we have given possessions the power to also determine our personal worth. We have bought into the secular standards of success by believing that the more we have and are able to manage the more successful we are. Money has captured our affections because we tend to minimize the truth that God alone will fulfill our lives and give us a total sense of worth and purpose. That’s a big pothole we hit, and we need an alignment!

2.    Our Biblical understanding of giving and our obedience to it has become a pride issue for us. We try to convince others in the church to give the way we give. We even use the guidelines we believe in to justify the personal use of our funds. We engage in arguments about the validity of tithing, or proportional giving, or generous giving, or sacrificial giving, or cheerful giving. But the real issue is not the method of giving. What matters most is that we believe that all that we have is God’s and is available for His use for His glory at any time. There should never be a discussion in our minds about what is God’s and what is mine. It is all God’s, and we are simply the stewards, or managers, of His resources. Whatever we believe about the Biblical guidelines for purposeful, planned giving to the church, there should be an underlying philosophy that guides the management of our money, and it is this: I will honor the owner with every decision that involves the use of His resources. Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.”

I think we will stop there for today, because hitting two potholes may have already caused a major steering problem for you and I’m afraid that you won’t be able to safely drive until you get an alignment. So, as soon as you’re done, make a call to the owner of Priority Alignment and let the head mechanic, the Holy Spirit, make any necessary adjustments. If God’s wisdom for finances isn’t properly aligned, your whole life may be hard to steer.

Pastor John