Be A Meat-Eater

Connecting Points

Friday, March 15, 2013

Today’s Topic: Baby Food

Today’s Text:  Hebrews 5:14 (ESV)  But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Even though I have not been able to write any devotionals lately, I was challenged to take a couple of minutes this morning and share with you another of Ron Hutchcraft’s devotionals that I listen to on WHEM Radio in the mornings. Today’s was especially appropriate, and here’s why.

I have been struggling all week with the story of Jesus casting demons out of two men and allowing them to enter a herd of pigs resulting in all the pigs being destroyed. I’m having trouble because recently I’ve been told that my Sunday sermons are too long and too deep, and that I need to keep them shorter and simpler. There is validity to that, and last Sunday was a perfect example of how people respond when that happens. But can I do it two weeks in a row when faced with the deep issues of Christ’s revelation of His power over all spiritual authorities?

So today, on A Word With You, Ron spoke this right to my heart, and hopefully to yours also:

If you ever saw my oldest son eat a hamburger, you’d see how quickly it disappears. I’m sure that you would find it hard to believe that there was a time when he was actually too young to eat one. Yes, but we have the movies at home to prove it! We’ve got these old Super 8 movies. Well, not now; we’ve, of course, made them something more current. But there’s this little baby eating this mush that only babies eat. He didn’t have any equipment to chew a hamburger with then. So we’d feed him this smooth, beaten-to-death version of the real thing – no chewing, no effort, it just kind of slides right on down. Now he has to work harder on it these days, like when you’re eating a steak. But he seems to have no desire to go back to the good old days of baby food. The best food will require some effort, but it’s worth it.

I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Lazy Eaters.”

Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Hebrews chapter 5, and it’s about lazy eaters. I’m beginning at verse 11. The writer says, “We have so much to say to you, but it’s hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need somebody to teach you the elementary truth of God’s Word all over again. You need milk, not solid food. Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

Now, the writer of Hebrews is writing to some Christians who insisted on food that didn’t demand much of you. In this case, milk. They were lazy eaters. Well, that kind of laziness is all too common among a lot of North American Christians I’m afraid; the most entertained Christians in history. We’re so spoiled by our radio preachers, our TV shows, our seminars, our Christian celebrities. We want our sermons to be funny, and exciting, and always red-hot challenging. We want our speakers to be entertainers. We expect our teachers to be brief, to the point. How dare they talk too long! And we want our pastor to chop up our food for us and give it to us Gerber-ized. We like melt-in-your-mouth messages that don’t take a lot of effort.

Well, there are a few very gifted pastors or speakers who do 80% of the chewing for you. All you have to do is meet them maybe 20% of the way; you don’t have to put a lot of effort into it. But most of God’s messengers require careful attention from you, a determination to follow along with them, a willingness to make your own applications and connections.

There are some people who have a lot to say from the Lord, but they require you to come maybe 40-50-70% of the way. There are writers like that. You say, “This is hard to read.” But it’s worth sticking with it; it’s worth chewing. See, a spiritual leader doesn’t have to be funny or have a ton of charisma in order to feed you God’s Word. He doesn’t have to be some famous preacher or TV celebrity. God has put you under the teaching care of someone who loves God and cares about you; one of his servants. Don’t expect that leader, that pastor, that teacher, that writer to do all the chewing for you. Give your God-appointed teachers your very best.

When you listen to them, go prepared to chew, to work for your good meal. You’re too big for baby food. Lazy eaters never grow up. So, don’t be too lazy to chew a good piece of meat.

Come prepared for a full course dinner of meat and potatoes on Sunday.

Change of Perspective

Connecting Points

Friday, March 08, 2013

Today’s Topic: Always Wealthy

Today’s Text:  Revelation 2:9a (ESV)  I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich)…

My kids make fun of me for it. As we travel to North Dakota to see family my wife usually makes a slightly sarcastic comment about it every time we get close. You see, I love windmills. If I had my way I would have a tall traditional farm windmill in my front yard. For some reason they have an  aesthetic appeal as my eyes scan the farmlands of the Midwest.

Near my wife’s home town is a huge wind farm, with several miles of huge wind-powered generators reaching high into the sky. I love them. They can be seen from twenty miles away, which is about when the joking starts. As the distance diminishes, an optical illusion begins. It becomes very difficult to discern the rotational direction of the arms on the tower. From one perspective they look like they are travelling clockwise, but as we get closer and the angle of perspective changes they actually are turning in the opposite direction. The fact is they always turn in the same direction, but one’s viewing perspective can make them appear to be turning the other way.

Perspective matters. Jesus told His church in Smyrna to look at life from the right perspective. From the human perspective they appeared to be in trouble and in poverty; but from God’s perspective they were rich.

This morning in my devotions, Charles Spurgeon wrote this:

God’s people have their trials. It was never designed by God, when He chose His people, that they should be an untried people. They were chosen in the furnace of affliction; they were never chosen to worldly peace and earthly joy. Freedom from sickness and the pains of mortality was never promised them; but when their Lord drew up the charter of privileges, He included chastisements amongst the things to which they should inevitably be heirs.

Trials are a part of our lot; they were predestinated for us in Christ’s last legacy. So surely as the stars are fashioned by his hands, and their orbits fixed by Him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: He has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us. Good men must never expect to escape troubles; if they do, they will be disappointed, for none of their predecessors have been without them.

Mark the patience of Job; remember Abraham, for he had his trials, and by his faith under them, he became the “Father of the faithful.” Note well the biographies of all the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and you shall discover none of those whom God made vessels of mercy, who were not made to pass through the fire of affliction. It is ordained of old that the cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the King’s vessels of honor are distinguished.

But although tribulation is thus the path of God’s children, they have the comfort of knowing that their Master has traversed it before them; they have His presence and sympathy to cheer them, His grace to support them, and His example to teach them how to endure; and when they reach “the kingdom,” it will more than make amends for the “much tribulation” through which they passed to enter it.

We are so rich in Christ. Our troubles do not define us as poor. Our lifestyles do not increase or decrease our value. Our earthly treasures will all be lost, but our eternal inheritance is secured and kept by the power of God, ready to be revealed in Christ’s presence. If you are struggling with that truth, maybe a change of perspective is necessary.

How Important is Love?

Connecting Points

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Today’s Topic: The Importance of Love

Today’s Text:  Revelation 2:4 (ESV)  But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

There is a name I love to hear; I love to sing its worth;

It sounds like music in mine ear; the sweetest name on earth.

It tells me of a Savior’s love, Who died to set me free;

It tells me of His precious blood, the sinner’s perfect plea.

Oh, how I love Jesus; Oh, how I love Jesus; Oh, how I love Jesus; Because He first loved me.

That song popped into my head the moment I plopped into my office chair. It will be my constant companion the whole day. I wondered what the Lord was trying to say to me, and where His thoughts would take me. I invite you to come along with me on this journey.

As I thought about the words Oh, how I love Jesus, I was immediately convicted by the Holy Spirit. Do you really love Jesus all that much? Is Jesus the one true love of your life?

No. At first I attached a qualifying statement to that answer –At least not as much as I should or could – but quickly realized I was only attempting to validate the love I do have. We tend to do that when we answer questions: we defend ourselves rather than humble ourselves.

So the answer is simply NO! I do not love Jesus adequately as defined by Jesus in Matthew 22:37 – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” As a result, I also do not love others adequately either, for how can love flow from me when the Source of love is being ignored? I have promoted things of the world to a higher priority than my love for Jesus. Projects have become more important than prayer. Relaxation and recreation have replaced relationship. Personal success often becomes my agenda rather than the mission of Jesus Christ. Oh how I love myself.

At this point I needed to know how it is possible to be in the work of the Lord and yet not deeply in love with Jesus. So I read the context of Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7.  

1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. 2 “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

Here’s what I discovered:

  • The people of this church were doing the work of God – vs. 2
  • They were enduring persecution and hardship and remaining faithful – vs. 2-3
  • They were taking a public stand against evil in their day – vs. 2
  • They were carefully holding to the truth of the Gospel – vs. 2
  • They hated the false teaching of Nicolas (Acts 6) that promoted sensual and materialistic living – vs. 6

Yet in contrast to all of that Jesus said, But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. He actually says they have fallen from a previous position of honor and needed to repent (vs. 5). And then Jesus says that all of the other work they were doing would become meaningless unless they repented, for He would come and remove their lampstand from them.

OUCH! Not loving Jesus has dire consequences. The day is coming, and in fact may already be here for some, when those who have lost their first love of the Savior who loved them first and saved them from their sin will become ineffective in the work they are trying to do for the Lord. It all hinges on love.

Love for self and love for the world are opposed to love for Jesus, and serve as barriers to the expression of His power in our lives.

Every time the lyrics or melody to that song flash across my mind today, may my heart be humbled to realize that it is at that very moment that the Lord Jesus wants me to love Him more than whatever else I am doing. Let the journey continue.

Pastor John


God’s Promises

Connecting Points

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Today’s Topic: God’s Promises

Today’s Text:  2 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV) 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature…

Where do promises come from?

What is the source or motivation of a promise?

Those really are good questions to ask and answer. We make promises out of selfish motives many times. Some promises are made because of the benefit they will produce for us. Some of our promises are made to simply meet what we believe are other people’s expectations of us so we can please them. But the promises of God are not so.

A careful reading of today’s Scripture passage reveals an important truth – the promises of God are precious and great because they originate in and are motivated by His glory and excellence.

This truth is not to be skimmed over quickly. Every promise of God comes from His glory and is motivated by His excellence, which can be translated as goodness as the NIV does. Every word that He has spoken to us has its origins in His perfect nature. The promises come from His loving heart. Every promise is perfect and has no flaw in it or possibility of failure.

Every promise of God also has a purpose – so that we might become partakers of the divine nature of God. Faith in Jesus Christ and the application of His promises to our lives produces the very nature of Jesus Christ in us. Just look at what Peter says next:

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2 Peter 1:5-7)

As we believe and apply the great and precious promises of God to our lives, the growth of the divine nature of God begins. Just look at the qualities of the life of Christ that are developed in us:

  • To our faith God adds virtue, which is goodness.
  • To His goodness God adds more knowledge of who He is and His will for our lives.
  • To His knowledge God adds self-control – the ability to overcome impulsive desires.
  • To His self-control God adds steadfastness – the ability to persevere through hardship and trial.
  • To His perseverance, God adds godliness, or the capacity to reflect His life in our lifestyle choices.
  • To His godliness God adds brotherly affection – the desire and ability to love others in God’s family the church.
  • To His brotherly affection God adds love – the unconditional love of others with no expectation or demand of reward. This is the Divine nature of God to its fullest.

All of this is made possible through the promises of God flowing out of His glory and excellence. What flows from His divine nature can do nothing less than produce His divine nature when received and believed.

So let’s accept a challenge together to read at least one promise of God every day for the next 18 years, because that’s how many promises God has spoken. But let’s do more than read them – let’s believe them and live them. Imagine what it will be like with all of us walking around this earth with God’s divine nature showing rather than our own.

Equal Standing

Connecting Points

Monday, March 04, 2013

Today’s Topic: Equal Standing

Today’s Text:  2 Peter 1:1 (ESV)  Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

Last week, as I prepared for my Thursday night Bible study group on the letters of Peter in the New Testament, I was overwhelmed with a truth that God gives us in the very first verse of Second Peter. After introducing himself, Peter’s first statement blows me away – To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Wait a minute! Isn’t this the same Peter who walked on water? Isn’t this the guy whom the resurrected Jesus told to take charge of the sheep? Yes it is! Sure he had his problems. He had to be rescued from the water as his faith grew weak. He denied the LORD three times. He made brash statements about his superior faith and commitment but had no follow through – at least not prior to the resurrection. And even in the early church age he had to be corrected by the Apostle Paul for his segregation from the Gentiles. Yet this was Peter, the one whom Jesus transformed from an arrogant self-exalting fisherman to a humble, Christ-exalting servant-leader of the church.

I am amazed that this man of God, a hero of the faith, can say to all of us that we have obtained a faith of equal standing with him. Think about that for a moment…or a lifetime. The same faith that God granted Peter to be His servant is the faith that we have to be servants of the LORD. WOW!

How is this possible? Because our standing before God is not based on anything in us, but on the righteousness of God that has been granted to us through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul said it this way in Second Corinthians 5:21 – For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God gives every follower of Jesus Christ equal standing before God.

I’m not sure I really believe that. At times I have envisioned my place before the throne of God being somewhere near the back of the crowd. Literally millions of people are much more “qualified” to be closer to the throne than I am. Their lives of perseverance under severe persecution, even to the point of death, gives them a huge advantage on throne room placement. Their consistency of faith in the face of financial loss, family crisis, and fear puts them way up the list of invited guests to be honored. Who am I to think that I would ever be able to stand next to Peter in the presence of Christ?

But wait – I am qualified! I have an equal standing with all the saints in glory. There is no single Bible hero or Christian who has ever lived that has more righteousness than I do. The same righteousness of God has been imputed to us ALL in Jesus Christ!

What an amazing thought. What a bondage-breaking truth that sets the prisoner free from the chains of approval and affirmation. We have obtained through our Savior Jesus Christ the same faith that brings the righteousness of God and grants us equal standing before the Father in heaven.

Let that truth sink in and set you free from the comparison game you’ve been playing. Let it release you from the chains of seeking affirmation and approval from people. Let it liberate you from the bondage of earning anything from God. You and I are completely and eternally accepted by the Father, and we will ALL stand right next to Jesus in the throne room, for we are all equal in His sight.


Pastor John

He Will Come

Connecting Points

Friday, March 01, 2013

Today’s Topic: He Will Come To Us

Today’s Text:  Hosea 6:3 (ESV)  Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”

Has the sun ever not risen in the eastern sky? Since the days of Noah, have the rains that water the earth ever not fallen anywhere in the world? As surely as the sunrise and the spring rains can be expected, so can we expect the LORD to come to us.

The LORD’s coming will eventually affect us all. Working backwards from the end of all things, His final coming will bring ultimate and eternal judgment to all who reject Him. Prior to that He will come to rule the earth in His glorious Kingdom in which we His people will serve Him. Before that He will come to remove His Bride – the True Church – from the earth so He can prepare the world for His Kingdom reign. And prior to that – even now – He will come as the sunrise and the rain to those who press on to know Him.

No matter where you are or what you have done, if today you choose to turn your back on it all and press on to know the Lord, He will come to you. He will come as the sunrise at dawn, spreading light and warmth across your cold dark heart. He will come as the spring showers to water the dry and hardened soil of your heart so that the seeds of truth can be planted and grow to produce a harvest of righteousness. Because of the LORD’s great love and mercy, He will come to you.

The LORD will come to you if you break up the unproductive soil of your sinful heart and seek Him. Break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD,  that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. (Hosea 10:12)

The LORD will come to you with healing and refreshment to restore life to you. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. (Malachi 4:2)  He dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth. (2 Samuel 23:4)

If you ask Him to come, He will. Ask rain from the LORD in the season of the spring rain, from the LORD who makes the storm clouds, and he will give you showers of rain, to everyone the vegetation in the field. (Zech. 10:1)

The promise of the LORD Jesus is that He will not leave you alone as if you were fatherless. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Right now the LORD will come to you. Even the smallest step of turning towards Him is rewarded with His coming. His eyes are watching for the repentant prodigal to return to Him, and when the LORD sees you turn from your sin and press on towards Him, He runs to you. He runs! He comes with arms of forgiveness extended to embrace you with acceptance. He will come to you. He died on the cross so that He could come to you. The debt of your sin has been paid so there is no longer any barrier to His coming. Turn to Him, and He will come to you. He will run to you!

Watch this           (The lyrics are below)
Almighty God, The Great I Am, Immovable Rock, Omnipotent, Powerful, Awesome Lord. Victorious Warrior, Commanding King of Kings, Mighty Conqueror and the only time,

The only time I ever saw him run,

Was when He ran to me, He took me in His arms, Held my head to His chest, Said “My son’s come home again!” Lifted my face, Wiped the tears from my eyes, With forgiveness in His voice He said
“Son, do you know I still love You?”

He caught me By surprise, When God ran…

The day I left home, I knew I’d broken His heart. And I wondered then, if things could ever be the same.
Then one night, I remembered His love for me. And down that dusty road, ahead I could see, It was the only time, It was the only time I ever saw Him run.
And then…

He ran to me, He took me in His arms, Held my head to His chest, Said “My son’s come home again!” Lifted my face, Wiped the tears from my eyes, With forgiveness in His voice He said “Son, do you know I still love You?”

He caught me by surprise. And He brought me to my knees. When God ran… I saw Him run to me.

I was so ashamed, all alone, and so far away. But now I know, that He’s been waiting for this day…

I saw Him run to me, He took me in His arms, Held my head to his chest, Said “My son’s come home again!” Lifted my face, Wiped the tears from my eyes, With forgiveness in His voice  I felt his love for me again. He ran to me, He took me in His arms, Held my head to his chest, Said “My son’s come home again!” Lifted my face,  Wiped the tears from my eyes, With forgiveness in His voice  He said “Son”

He called me Son.

He said “Son, do you know I still love You?”

He ran to me

And then I ran to Him

(Phillips, Craig, & Dean)