What Defines Me?

LifeLink Devotional

March 15, 2016

Psalm 77:10  Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

(Before I begin, a reminder of what I am currently trying to accomplish in these devotionals. I am working my way through the Psalms one-by-one, and picking out one highlight that the Holy Spirit uses to continue the process of producing the character of Christ in me. We are just past the half-way point.)

Birthdays carry the potential of discouragement. They also carry the possibility of celebration. It is quite probable that both are experienced. The outward celebration could be only a mask for the inner realities of fear, doubt, and depression. Aging can be scary. Getting old brings the doubt of worth based on the reality of reduced function. And what makes it even worse is when the memories of the productive years are gone. It is such a shame that we spend so much of our lives convinced that our value is based upon our abilities. Then we reach an age where we lose both the abilities and the memories of what we did. The result is we have nothing upon which to base our personal worth.

Now in case you are concerned, that is not what my birthday did to me yesterday. The assumption might be that I live in a state of denial about my age, and I will do everything possible to prove my abilities. That is also not true. Well, at least partly not true. I still think I can do many things that I did when I was younger, so that could be considered denial. However, I do not gain or lose personal value based on my ability or inability to continue to do those things. My performance does not dictate my worth!

In the 77th Psalm, written by Asaph, there is a verse that in the last week has become very significant in my life. It comes after Asaph has confessed that he is trying to restore the good old days. He is trying to remember how it used to be, and it’s messing up his mind. He gets so discouraged that he even blames God for not caring anymore and for withholding His love.

Have you ever really thought about what causes us to get discouraged when things can’t be the way they used to be? I have, and I have reached the conclusion that it boils down to one simple thing – I still consider the best times of my life to be the times when I was in control and things worked out for my benefit. You too, right?

When things go bad today, our default is to remember the times when things were great. We then assign ourselves the credit for them being great. This in turn reinforces our desire to take control again because we believe that since we made things great once before we can do it again.

But look at what Asaph concluded. After trying to remember the days of old (verse 5) he reaches this conclusion in verse 7 – Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”

Every one of us must come to the point when we realize that the best times of our life were not defined by the good or bad circumstances we enjoyed or endured, but rather they were defined by the reality of God working in and through every one of those circumstances to produce the character of Christ in us.

Listen, there is no possible hope for the present in trying to remember what we did in the past. But, as Asaph says, I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember YOUR wonders of old. (Verse 11 – emphasis mine)

Asaph also declares that the key to understanding the past and the present is this – Your way, O God, is holy. (Verse 13) You see, through the good and the bad of the past and the present, God is at work according to His holy nature to produce the character of Christ in us. What that means is this: the circumstances of life do not define God any more than they define me. Instead, and this is a powerful truth that will transform our lives –

God designs the circumstances of life to reveal His definition of me.

So when things get tough – even unbearable – remember this: we can appeal to the years of the right hand of the Most High. His right hand upholds us, sustains us, shapes us, carries us, nurtures us, and provides for us.

But maybe most of all, His right hand assures us that we are His – not defined by life, but declared possessors of eternal life. It has to be true, for God could not hold in His hand anything that does not measure up to His holiness – a holiness we have in Christ Jesus His Son.

Pastor John

Evaluating Significance

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Psalm 76:11 Make your vows to the LORD your God and perform them;

Question: What is the most significant contribution you make to your family, your place of work, or your church?  Take some time to really think about this. I will wait…

(insert imaginary jeopardy music here)

Now, let me ask you another question? How many of the options you considered as an answer to the first questions were in the category of actions, functions, or accomplishments? And if so, why? Why is it that we consider our most significant contributions to life to be the things we do?

We are so stuck in a performance-based value system. We tend to measure our significance by what we do, which opens up can after can of worms; worms that eat away at the reality of our worth rather than truly express our worth. We put our faith in the worms to define our value, which only leads to us feeling like dirt.

There is the worm of expectations. We become motivated by what we believe others expect from us, and if we don’t measure up then we minimize our significance.

There is the worm of excellence. We are driven by the need to do things so well that no fault can be found in how we performed. Performance becomes the standard by which our worth is measured.

May I suggest, at the risk of it sounding arrogant, that the most significant contribution you make to any social or spiritual relationship to just be you?


You are significant. Not because of what you have done, but because of what God has done and is doing in you. You do not earn significance. Significance is a gift of grace that declares your eternal worth in Jesus Christ.

Significance does not need to develop. The first declaration of significance God makes over your life when you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is the final declaration you will ever need.

Significance does not fade with unfulfilled expectations or lack of excellence, for that would mean that God’s love is capable of fading.

From the moment this truth is realized and believed, expectations and excellence cease to be the means by which we gain significance and they become the means by which we express significance.

Because we are significant, we can consider others better than ourselves (Phil. 2:3) and love them by seeking to fulfill their expectations.

When we understand our significance, we will do all things with excellence as an expression of the worth of Jesus Christ in us. (1 Peter 2:9)

When we truly accept that the glory and excellence of Jesus Christ has been granted to us by God the Father (2 Peter 1:3), then we will cease from making promises to people and seeking to fulfill them to earn our worth. Instead, we will make our vows to the LORD your God and perform them as an expression of His great worth in us.

You are the most significant contribution to any social or spiritual relationship you have. Not because of what you do, but because you bring Christ to that place.

Motivated to Give Thanks

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Psalm 75:1  We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks, for your name is near.

I find that one of the hardest commands of Scripture to obey is this – “give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Many times it seems unreasonable to be thankful. Tragedy doesn’t stimulate thanksgiving. News that rocks our confidence in the future does not generate gratitude. Circumstances that disappoint our expectations do not arouse an attitude of appreciation. How are we supposed to be thankful when the things happening to us really stink?

We have the answer to the issue of thankfulness in Psalm 75. Thanksgiving is not motivated by circumstances; it is motivated by the nearness of God.

The simple truths of thankfulness are these:

  • God never changes
  • God is always faithful
  • God has a plan
  • The closer I am to God the more I trust Him
  • The more I trust Him the more thankful I am in all circumstances

Very quickly, Asaph, the author of this Psalm, teaches us that giving thanks depends on understanding the following things:

  • God is near – vs. 1
  • We remember the great things God has done in the past – vs. 1
  • We remember the declaration of God that He will bring a just end to all things – vs. 2
  • We remember the guarantee of God that He is in absolute control of all things – vs. 3

There is one huge lesson I learned from this Psalm. It is in verses 6 and 7.

For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another.

Our natural tendency is to look around us for the solutions to the circumstances that grieve us. We desire to be lifted up from the pain and fear generated by our circumstances. So we begin a search for a new doctor, a new diet, a new direction, or a new deliverer. We believe that the only way to be able to give thanks is for us to resolve the problem.

But Asaph tells us the truth that we will not be lifted out of the quicksand of our circumstances by any human hand or human wisdom. We are guaranteed, however, that God will lift us up in His appointed time. In that truth lies the motivation for giving thanks. Deliverance is coming. God will accomplish it in His time. His name is near. He has done it before, and He has assured me that He is working with the same power and authority in this case as well.

We give thanks to you O God. Not for what is around us, but for the fact that you are in us and your love never fails!

Pastor John


Implicit Trust

LifeLink Devotions

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Psalms 74:12 But you, O God, are my king from of old; you bring salvation upon the earth.

There’s a special relationship between the flyer and the catcher during a circus trapeze act. In case it’s not obvious, the flyer is the one that lets go, and the catcher is the one that catches. As the flyer swings high above the crowd on the trapeze, the moment comes when he must let go. He arcs out into the air. His job is to remain as still as possible and wait for the strong hands of the catcher to pluck him from the air. The flyer must never try to catch the catcher. The flyer must wait in absolute trust. The catcher will catch him, but he must wait.

I remember playing with my boys when they were little, throwing them in the air and catching them just before they hit the ground. They would giggle with delight and say, “Again! Do it again!” They were totally relaxed and trusted me to catch them. As I would do this, my thoughts were, “If I were the one being thrown in the air, I‘d be stiff as a board. I wonder why my son is so relaxed and trusting?”

Then it dawned on me – we had a history together. We had done this before, and I had never failed to catch him.

Trust is earned. We live within that template. Any confidence we place in a person or thing is based on previous experience. Blind trust is difficult at least and impossible for most. God created us that way, and he has created a history with us so that we can trust Him.

Psalm 74 is the historical template of Israel’s trust. While the enemies of God march against the nation and have defiled and decimated the temple, the Psalmist reminds the people of their history with God. Look at the symbolism of verses 13-17.

  • It was you who split open the sea by your power… Here is a reference to the parting of the Red Sea as Israel escaped from Egypt.
  • You broke the heads of the monster in the waters. The monster is the Egyptian army, and they were destroyed in the Red Sea.
  • It was you who crushed the heads of Leviathan and gave him as food to the creatures of the desert. As the bodies of the dead Egyptians washed up on shore they became food for the creatures of the land.
  • It was you who opened up springs and streams; God provided water from a rock for the people as they traveled through the wilderness. You dried up the ever flowing rivers. The Jordan River was dried up so they could enter the Promised Land. The day is yours, and yours also the night; God led them with a pillar of smoke by day and fire by night.
  • It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; God gave them their inheritance in the Promised Land even though it was already occupied by others.
  • You made both summer and winter. They had never lived anywhere except where it was summer all the time. Now they were occupying and dwelling in a land that had summer and winter. It was their new and permanent home.

When times got tough in their new land, their trust wavered. They felt like they had been dropped. They stiffened up and wanted the game to be over. They needed a reminder from history that God would not fail them.

We need the same reminders. When we read God’s Word we discover God’s template of trust. His nature and character are revealed, and because He is unchanging and constant, what He did for others He will do for us as well. His methods may change from generation to generation and from person to person, but His faithfulness can never change. 2 Timothy 2:13 says, if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

In addition to the Biblical record of God’s trustworthiness, you have a personal history with God as well. He has worked on you and in you since you received His Son Jesus as your Savior. He has done great things in your life, and has filled you with the hope of glory that surpasses any and all trials and troubles of this life.

Take some time today to recall God’s awesome works in your life. It is your template of trust.

Remember it.

Review it.

Reflect on it.

Repeat it to your family and friends.

Then, no matter what your circumstances, you will be able to say – But you, O God, are my king from of old; you bring salvation upon the earth.

Pastor John