The Bird on the Ledge

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, October 12, 2015

Psalm 54:4  Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.

Yesterday as I was preaching, something absolutely amazing happened. It can only be accounted for by declaring that God did it. I was bringing out the truth of First Thessalonians 5:4, which states, “But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.” As I explained that people who are looking to the world for their identity and their security are actually living in darkness, I made a statement similar to this – “Any attempt to find value, worth, identity, or security from the things of this world is darkness.” At the very instant that I said the word darkness, all of the lights in the building went out. The light technician immediately raised her arms to say, “I didn’t do it!” At that very moment the lighting control panel decided to reboot and reset. The dramatic effect was absolutely perfect. God spoke!

I thought of that this morning when God spoke in another way. I was sitting at my desk with my head in my hands, meditating on Psalm 54:4 – Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life. I was considering how I was going to express to you the deep significance of this verse to my personal life. As I struggled to come up with a way to start the devotional, I heard a thump on my office window. I recognized the thump as that of a bird hitting the glass. I looked over, and there, sitting on the window ledge was a sparrow. He sat there for about ten seconds, and then flew off. It was just long enough for me to hear the Holy Spirit speak to my heart and say, “It needs no more explanation, just application.”

I immediately remembered saying that same line several times in my sermon yesterday. You see, we do not lack for knowledge of what God has said: what we lack is the application of what God has said. God used a sparrow to remind me of that. As I sat and looked at that bird outside my window, the words of Jesus scrolled across the marquis of my mind.

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:26

Jesus tells us about God’s love for birds. God is their helper. He feeds them. He protects them. He watches over them. According to Psalm 84:3,  Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.

Then Jesus says this – Are you not of more value than they? That little bird sitting on my ledge is NOT created in the image of God – but I am! So if God cares so much for birds, why do I live with such anxiety? Yet I do not need more explanation of what God meant; I just need more application of what I have already heard God say.

BEHOLD!

GOD IS MY HELPER!

THE LORD IS THE UPHOLDER OF MY LIFE!

I will not soon forget the bird on my window. May I also not soon forget how God sent that bird to me at the exact time I needed a reminder that no matter what life brings my way, He is my helper. He is the upholder of my life.

“It needs no more explanation, just application.”

Pastor John

Turn On The Light

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, October 5, 2015

Psalms 53:5  There they are, in great terror, where there is no terror!

The fifty-third Psalm begins with a familiar verse – The fool says in his heart “There is no God.”

Man’s heart does not have the natural capacity to believe in God – it has been corrupted by sin and separated eternally from relationship with God. In his natural state, man can know that God exists, and can see the majesty of His being in the splendor of His creation, but he has no ability to restore the broken relationship with God that sin caused.

Yet this reality does not make a person a fool. He is a fool when the grace of God enlightens the darkness of his heart and reveals to him the love of God and he rejects it. The fool refuses faith. The fool chooses the flesh and its gratification while rejecting faith and its glorification.

The fool goes so far as to deny the very existence of God in an attempt to justify his choices. Man believes that the exclusion of God from all aspects of human existence validates all human endeavor. The fool believes this is progress and the natural evolution of mankind. The fool believes this eliminates fear. The reality is that fear increases without God.

King David says that the fool begins to fear even when there is nothing to fear, because without God there is no security or hope. (Psalm 53:5) Man’s wisdom is soon proved foolish. Man’s plans soon fail. Hope is overwhelmed by worry.

Oswald Chambers said it this way – The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God, you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God, you fear everything else.

Many of our fears are the product of ignorance, and the choice to be ignorant of God is the worst ignorance of all. Jesus said it this way, This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

Choosing darkness over light results in fear. Jesus also said, If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

It’s one thing to be in the dark and not know that there is light available. What is worse is to be in the dark, know where the light is, but refuse to turn it on. But what is absurdly foolish and unforgivable is to stay in the dark when light is available and then call the darkness light.

Faith turns on the light and eliminates fear. We master fear through faith—faith in the trustworthiness of God and the worthwhileness of life; faith in the meaning of our pain and our striving, and confidence that God will not cast us aside but will use each one of us as a piece of priceless mosaic in the design of his universe. Fear imprisons, faith liberates; fear paralyzes, faith empowers; fear disheartens, faith encourages; fear sickens, faith heals; fear makes useless, faith makes serviceable—and, most of all, fear puts hopelessness at the heart of life, while faith rejoices in its God. (Harry Emerson Fosdick)

If you are suffering from fear where others are saying there is nothing to fear, then look to your faith as the answer. Salvation is coming! God will restore the fortunes of His people. He is faithful and good. He cannot and will not fail.

You have nothing to fear if your life is in His hands. Have faith. Turn on the light.

Pastor John

Two Men. Two choices. Two Outcomes.

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Psalms 52:7 – 8  “Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others! But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever.”

There’s quite a contrast between the lives of the two men described in today’s Psalm. David was a shepherd boy whom God chose to be the King of Israel. By the power and authority of God he slew Goliath, yet demanded no recognition or reward. His humble spirit was the soil in which the fruit of greatness grew. He flourished because his hope and trust were in the unfailing love of God.

Doeg was also a shepherd, a servant of King Saul. He trusted in his own ability to rise to a position of importance and power. He lied to the King about David in order to improve his own position with the King. As a result Saul ordered Doeg to kill 85 innocent priests he thought were conspiring with David to overthrow his kingdom. Doeg, motivated by pride and a desire to better himself, obeyed. When David got the news of what had happened, he wrote this Psalm. (You can read the whole story in 1 Samuel 21-22).

David uses some pretty harsh words to describe Doeg in this Psalm. David questions Doeg’s wisdom of boasting about evil, and says that he is a disgrace in the eyes of God. He calls him a liar and a man who would rather do evil than good. Then David tells Doeg what the consequences will be of his pride and deceit – God will bring him to everlasting ruin. Everything that he had worked so hard to gain for himself will be taken from him, including the prestige he wanted when the righteous end up laughing at him. The end result of man’s pursuits of wealth, power, and prestige at the expense of others is the destruction of all that was gained and life itself. This lowly shepherd who pursued greatness ended up with nothing because he was a man motivated by a sinful heart.

But the other shepherd, David, a man after God’s heart, was granted a throne, a kingdom, and a heritage because he trusted in God alone. He flourished like an olive tree growing in the house of God. All his hope was in God because he knew that God was good. He was not perfect – far from it – yet God honored his humble heart that submitted to God’s purpose in all things. He knew that the only things worth living for in life were the things that God granted.

If God granted power, David would praise him.

If God granted prosperity, then David would praise him.

If God granted prestige, then David would praise Him.

If God had not granted any of those things David would still have praised Him, because David was surrendered to whatever God wanted to do with his life.

That’s why David was called a man after God’s own heart. He was not pursuing man’s desires, but God’s.

Doeg sought to praise himself and have others praise him as well.

David sought to praise God and have his life be used to motivate others to praise God.

Doeg sought personal gratification in everything he did.

David sought God’s honor in everything he did.

Doeg was not content with his position and sought to change it at the expense of others.

David was content with whatever God chose for him and when God appointed David to replace Saul as King he sought to avoid doing anything that would dishonor Saul and his family.

Two men, from identical backgrounds, experiencing totally opposite results. The reason is obvious – one willingly surrendered to God and one pridefully pursued the flesh. The one who surrendered to God flourished and his fame is remembered forever. The one who pursued the flesh failed and is forgotten.

Which one are you?

Pastor John