Cave Experiences

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, November 24, 2017

Psalms 119:65 – 72  Do good to your servant according to your word, O LORD. Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart. Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

As I read this passage today I cannot help but think of Psalm 23. In that most famous of all songs David declares his dependence on the direction of his Shepherd. Within that context there is a submission to the rod and the staff of God. Without them he knew he would stray, as all sheep tend to do. Each application of affliction from the rod and staff were intended to bring the sheep back from danger and into the security of fellowship with the Shepherd. Eventually David was able to thank the LORD for the affliction because he saw the outcome of it as good and coming from a Good Shepherd.

One night years ago God gave me an illustration of this principle as I met with six young men who meet with me weekly for leadership training. We were discussing the value of valleys in our lives – you know, those times when it appears that God has led us into a cave under the mountain rather than through a pass leading over it. Deeper and deeper into the darkness He leads us, and all we can think about is turning and running out of there. Bats swirl around our head. Water drips from the walls and ceiling of the cave leaving us no place to sit and rest. After two turns around corners we can no longer see the light from the entrance behind us. God keeps leading us forward, and we must go with Him because He carries the only light for our path. We finally get up the courage to ask Him why we are in this cave and why we must go deeper. His response is short and simple and tests my trust in Him. “This is where the treasure is.”

As we walk with him deeper into the darkness of the cave of affliction, we begin to think back to all the treasures we have buried for ourselves at the entrances to similar caves so we wouldn’t have to enter them. You know what I mean – all those defense mechanisms against the pains of life. We consider those defenses treasures because they offer some form of temporary relief. We all have such treasures. Some have placed alcohol and drugs at the entrance to the cave of social acceptance. Some have placed sex and pornography at the entrance to the cave of personal worth. Some have placed compromise at the entrance to the cave of success. We all have caves of affliction, and Satan has convinced us all to bury certain treasures there that just might alleviate the pain for a while, and we have believed him so we do it.

But God has taken us today to a cave of affliction where we had no treasure buried. We’re scared, because we’ve never been this deep into a cave before. We can see His light leading us, but that is all. We slow down to get our bearings, but as we do, His light fades in the distance. We hurry to catch up, an action that takes us deeper into the gloom.

When we get back into His light, though surrounded by darkness and tons of rock, we notice words on the wall. They’ve been on the wall from the moment we entered the cave, but we’ve been so focused on fear that we didn’t see them.

As we walk deeper, we begin to hear a voice coming from the direction of the light. God is speaking the words that are written on the walls of the cave. They are His words of promise and comfort. His words assure us that He is with us. His words build trust in His character. His words quiet our fears. The light seems to grow brighter, making more words visible. We are deeper in the cave than ever, yet there is a peace that surrounds us that is unexplainable.


Just as we’re about to ask Him where the treasure is in this cave, we are overwhelmed with the joy that comes from understanding the goodness of God and His faithfulness to never leave us or forsake us. Suddenly we understand – this is the treasure, and it is more precious than thousands of pieces of silver and gold. Now we can say from our heart – It was good for us to be led into the cave of affliction so that we might learn your decrees.

Immediately upon saying it, there is a new light that shines – the light of another entrance to the cave, which will for us become our exit. As we leave the cave, we notice others entering it. We stop for a brief moment to assure them that that there is a treasure worth seeking in this cave. They ask us to go in with them. Of course, we agree. Why wouldn’t we want to help others in need and comfort them with the same comfort we received from the Lord. Maybe we can help them see the words on the walls sooner than we did.

Pastor John

Happy Thanksgiving

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Luke 11:3 Give us each day our daily bread.

Proverbs 30:7 – 9 “Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: 8Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. 9Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’  Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.

As a youngster, and still today, I think I enjoy Thanksgiving more than any holiday. I know, that sounds so secular and unspiritual, when Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our Savior, and Easter the celebration of His resurrection. Yes, the significance of Christmas and Easter are supreme, but the memories of Thanksgiving still stir my heart. Maybe it’s because of my love affair with food. I think it mostly is because of my love affair with family. (Just ask my kids what I say at every family gathering.)

We have had a family tradition since I was young that before we could eat the turkey and all the other great side dishes, we each had to express a thought of thanksgiving while we sat around the table. One thing I have noticed over the years is that this has become an uncomfortable experience for most. The sentiment is just not there. We say thanks for shallow stuff, and anything deeper and “mushier” draws snickers (giggles, not candy) and moans. Spiritual stuff hardly ever gets mentioned. Why has it become so hard for us to express heartfelt thanks?

I think one of the main causes of an ungrateful heart is independence and self-dependence. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He taught them much more than just words to say: He taught them about the condition of the heart. One of the attributes of a person who prays is to be humbly dependent upon God for all things. When Jesus told the disciples to ask for their daily bread in their prayers, he was emphasizing an attitude of the heart that honors God as the provider of all things.

In the book of Proverbs there is a warning given to all who would be ungrateful and self-dependent: you may end up disowning God or dishonoring His name. Look at this carefully:

  1. If we ask God for more than just our needs and demand that we become rich, we will be tempted to trust in our riches and not in the Lord who gave them to us. Riches are not wrong, but the wise writer of this passage recognized the danger of self-dependence that could result from having too much, and he specifically asked God to not let that happen to him. His faithfulness to God was of far greater significance than the pleasures of riches.
  2. If we don’t ask God to provide for our daily needs, then we will eventually fail at providing for ourselves and turn to illegal means to maintain our lifestyle and thereby dishonor the name of God by our behavior. The author knew that if he was dependent upon God, God would be glorified by all his choices, and honoring God was of far more importance to him than his financial security or status.

So, on this Thanksgiving, no matter what you are able to eat, be thankful that God is your Provider. He knows your every need, and will never fail to provide for those who trust Him. Listen to these words of the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 33:14-16.

14The sinners in Zion are terrified; trembling grips the godless: “Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?” 15He who walks righteously and speaks what is right, who rejects gain from extortion and keeps his hand from accepting bribes, who stops his ears against plots of murder and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil— 16this is the man who will dwell on the heights, whose refuge will be the mountain fortress. His bread will be supplied, and water will not fail him.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pastor John



LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Psalms 119:57 – 64 (NIV) You are my portion, O LORD; I have promised to obey your words. I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes. I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands. Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law. At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws. I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts. The earth is filled with your love, O LORD; teach me your decrees.

Change is hard. We resist it. We like our comfort zones. They feel secure and safe. They help to eliminate stress. However, they also stifle creativity and the experience of vitality.

As I analyze my own heart, which is probably not much different from yours, I discover that resistance to change is intricately connected to pride. Admitting that my way may need to be surrendered to your way causes me to question my value. That’s foolishness, I know, but that’s how we think. Pride convinces us that we need our way or we will lose our way. Somehow, we have become slaves to the sinful deception of pride that tells us our worth is connected to our decisions and our performance. So, we miss out on opportunities for growth and vitality because we associate change with some admission of wrong on our part.

The Psalmist speaks of change in today’s passage of Scripture from the 119th Psalm. He reveals to us that there are two ways to consider changing anything in our lives. The first way is wrong; the second way is correct.

The first way is implied in his description of the second way. When he says, I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes, he is giving us the right way to consider changing. Notice the steps he takes:

  1. He determines his goal – I have sought your face with all my heart.
  2. He humbly and honestly compares his current condition with his goal – I have considered my ways.
  3. He makes the decision to change – I have turned my steps to your statutes.

It’s obvious from this passage that he had an open mind to change. He has dealt with his pride. He will not allow his personal feelings, preferences, or past experiences to stifle change. He knows that within the context of change there must be a humble willingness to consider all of his ways flawed and admit that they are wrong. It doesn’t scare him because he knows that God lifts up the humble. His open mind and humble heart allow him to set aside pride in his own way and look clearly at the face of God and choose His ways as his goal. The choice of goal is always preliminary to the choice to the choice to change. He chose God as his goal.

The wrong way to consider change is to choose self as the goal. I guarantee you that when you do, you will not change. If we decide to use our ways as the standard of measure and compare God’s ways to ours, our ways will always win. That’s because we have already determined that our goal is self-preservation, self-fulfillment, self-enhancement, or any other self-centered outcome. Within those parameters we will not change.

But if, as the Psalmist did, we consider our ways as flawed, and compare them to God’s ways, we will be open to change. Change will not and cannot occur if we have already decided that our way is best or that our value is somehow connected to our way being done. The Psalmist clearly says that he has decided to seek God’s way, and that means every one of his own ways needs to be reconsidered. And when he does that, he changes.

We are all guilty of considering God’s ways in light of our comfort zones. That’s why we resist change. But when we consider our ways in the light of God’s face, we change. The Apostle Paul said it this way – whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away…and we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory. The veil of pride needs to be taken away by the Spirit of God so we can see the face of God. When that happens, we will be changed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory.

Don’t let change scare you, especially when change results in our lives becoming better mirrors of God’s glory. Get out of your comfort zone. Conquer your pride. God wants to change you, and that kind of change is always good.

Pastor John


The Promise-Keeper

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Psalms 119:49 – 56  Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. The arrogant mock me without restraint, but I do not turn from your law. I remember your ancient laws, O LORD, and I find comfort in them. Indignation grips me because of the wicked, who have forsaken your law. Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge. In the night I remember your name, O LORD, and I will keep your law. This has been my practice: I obey your precepts.

In exactly one month, I will celebrate the 43rd anniversary of the day a woman named Denise accepted an engagement offer from me and promised to love me for the rest of our lives together. In a dark corner of an off-limits supper club in North Dakota (you’ll have to ask her about that story) with left over supper spilled all over my suit, I took her hand and asked her to be my wife. It wasn’t a fancy proposal, or super creative like so many are today, but it wasn’t intended to be about the circumstances or the surroundings – it was about the promise.

Promises are made to be kept. No matter how old the promise, the promise-maker must be able to be trusted to keep it. Otherwise it was never really a promise. Promises are the foundation of relationships. Promises give us hope. Promises provide strength. Promises give comfort.

We have a Promise-Giver who can be trusted to fulfill every word He has ever spoken. No promise ever spoken by God during the 6,000-year history of mankind has ever been broken. God has never spoken an idle or insignificant word. History has proven God’s promises to be true.

The Psalmist understood the promissory nature of God when he wrote today’s passage from Psalm 119. He found hope in God’s word. He found comfort in God’s promises. He was made strong enough to endure indignation and suffering by the application and practice of God’s promises. Wherever life took him he was able to sing with joy because of the promises of God.

It is interesting to note that the Psalmist found that God’s promises brought him comfort in his sufferings, not deliverance from them. Maybe today you are experiencing some form of suffering from which you long to be delivered. But God has not promised life without pain. He has promised strength to endure the pain. God has not promised life without hardship or hurt. He has promised unending love from above. God has not promised life free from suffering. He has promised faith that alleviates all fear. That reminds me of a great old Gospel song…

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

No matter what the problem or pain in your life, this would be the time to go to your Bible and read the promises of God again. In fact, right now, the Holy Spirit is bringing some of them to your mind – the ones He knows need to be applied to your life for this circumstance.

For me it’s Isaiah 41:10 and 13 which say, So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

God will lead you to the promises you need right now if you will quiet your heart and listen to Him.

Pastor John

Spiritual Survivor

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, November 20, 2017

Psalms 119:41 – 48  May your unfailing love come to me, O LORD, your salvation according to your promise; then I will answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in your word. Do not snatch the word of truth from my mouth, for I have put my hope in your laws. I will always obey your law, for ever and ever. I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. I will speak of your statutes before kings and will not be put to shame, for I delight in your commands because I love them. I lift up my hands to your commands, which I love, and I meditate on your decrees.

In the second season of the TV show “Survivor”, one of the castaways was a 24-year-old youth ministries major from Seattle Pacific University. With 15 others marooned on a deserted island in Malaysia, Dirk Been wanted to be the lone survivor and winner of one million dollars. The “lone” part was the problem.

According to a Campus Life article in January of 2001, Dirk began to feel like an outsider early on in the auditions to be a contestant. “When I was in LA being interviewed for the show, I didn’t hide the fact that I was a Christian,” Dirk says. “When I added that I was still a virgin, they gave me some funny looks.” Dirk’s confidence and sexual innocence were intriguing to the show’s producers.

When advised that each contestant could bring one “luxury” item to the remote island in the South China Sea, Dirk took his Bible. “I couldn’t imagine not having my quiet time with the Lord for a single day, let alone 39,” he said. When Dirk explained to his tribe why he’d chosen his particular “luxury item,” he was made fun of on national television. In fact, the retired Navy Seal said the pages of the Bible would make good toilet paper—he could think of no other reason for bringing a Bible on a deserted island.

Dirk couldn’t help but wonder if his Bible readings would get him voted off the island. He faced the temptation to put the Word aside—at least until after the Survivor experience. But as a committed Christian, Dirk knew faith didn’t work that way. He couldn’t just stop doing what he’d always done, even for just a few days, and then pick it up again later. So he continued to read his Bible, and he made it a regular habit to pray for his fellow “survivors.” He also looked for opportunities to talk with others in his tribe about his beliefs. And he knew he needed to show his faith by simply pulling his own weight, by doing his best in competitions, and by just being a decent guy.

According to Dirk, the hardest aspect of being stranded was having no one around who shared his beliefs. “The other members of the Tagi and Pagong tribes couldn’t understand where I was coming from.” Confronted by the rising tensions of tribal politics, and insufficient food and sleep, he said, “I didn’t have someone I could really open up to and pray with. The spiritual isolation was tortuous.”

Dirk didn’t win the million. He wasn’t even portrayed very positively on the show. He admits to making some mistakes that he’s ashamed of because they contradicted his faith. But since being voted off the island, the other castaways have admitted that Dirk reminds them of the guy everyone wanted to be friends with in high school. Dirk’s infectious and positive attitude has overshadowed that which was depicted on the television program. Today Dirk lives here in Wisconsin and continues to travel and speak to today’s youth about his faith in Jesus Christ.

What a powerful example of today’s passage from Psalm 119. Here was a man who answered with the love of God those who taunted Him. He put his hope in God’s Word and God’s outcomes, and did not succumb to the temptation to fit into the group by conforming to their behaviors. He walked about in true freedom because he delighted in the commands of God. He loved the Word of God more than he loved the feeling of acceptance he could have temporarily experienced by denying it. He may have been voted off the island and banned from their presence, but he knew he would never be voted out of God’s presence. He was and still is a true spiritual survivor.

When we reach the end of our survivor experience as a castaway on the island we call “earth”, we will stand before God’s tribal council and give an account of how we lived. May we each be able to declare that we loved God’s Word more than life itself, and we were bold and courageous enough to share it with others, even those who taunted us.

Pastor John

Nothing but Leaves

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, November 17, 2017

Psalms 119:33 – 40 (NIV) Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law and obey it with all my heart. Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Fulfill your promise to your servant, so that you may be feared. Take away the disgrace I dread, for your laws are good. How I long for your precepts! Preserve my life in your righteousness.

It’s an old story, I know, but it must be told to introduce the subject matter for today. Once there was a man who loved wealth. Everything he did was intentionally designed to increase his wealth. His wealth was used to create more wealth and to provide himself with every luxury and pleasure he desired. In his will, he specifically stated that upon his death all of his wealth was to be buried with him in the form of gold. His request was granted. When judgment day arrived and his turn came to stand before the great throne of God in heaven, he marched in proudly carrying his gold as a display of his worth. In one single statement God puts his entire life into perspective when He asks, “Why have you brought me pavement?”

Each day when I read the passage of Scripture that we will study together, I ask the Lord to direct my eyes to the one key word or phrase that He wants me to see. Today my eyes were drawn directly to the words “selfish gain”. I stopped and thought for several agonizing moments about the things in my life that I do for selfish gain. Then the Holy Spirit directed my attention to the very next phrase, “turn my eyes away from worthless things”, and I was slammed. Everything that I pursue on this earth for my own gain according to my own desires is worthless from an eternal perspective. As one poet put it – “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Immediately my thoughts were directed to an old song that my mom and dad used to sing. It’s called Nothing But Leaves, and its words remind me that there are two worthy pursuits for my life that are of eternal value – glorifying Christ by bearing the fruit of the Spirit in my life and serving God in His redemptive purpose in the harvest field of souls.

All other pursuits of life are worthless compared to these two God-given purposes. These two things alone have been granted eternal value by God. Every pursuit of my life must come under one or both of these headings or it is to be called selfish gain and worthless. Even relaxation or recreation are to be intentional times of refreshment to gain strength to accomplish God’s purpose and not my own. As the Psalmist says, it is only according to God’s Word that life will be preserved.

May the Holy Spirit speak to you through the words of the song as He spoke to my heart.

The Master is seeking a harvest
In lives He’s redeemed by His blood;
He seeks for the fruit of the Spirit,
And works that will glorify God.

He looks for His likeness reflected
In lives that are yielded and true;
He’s looking for zeal in the winning
Of souls He’s entrusted to you.

He’s yearning for someone to carry
The life-giving word far and near;
He’s waiting for hearts that are willing,
For ears that are open to hear.


Nothing but leaves for the Master,
Oh, how His loving heart grieves,
When instead of the fruit He is seeking,
We offer Him nothing but leaves.

–Mrs. H. S. Lehman, 1924

Pastor John

Defined By Lies

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Psalms 119:25 – 32  I am laid low in the dust; preserve my life according to your word. I recounted my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees. Let me understand the teaching of your precepts; then I will meditate on your wonders. My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Keep me from deceitful ways; be gracious to me through your law. I have chosen the way of truth; I have set my heart on your laws. I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD; do not let me be put to shame. I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.

Every day we are bombarded with truth alternatives. That’s the politically correct term for LIES. We don’t use that word very much anymore. We certainly don’t recognize them when they come to us disguised as fun, philosophy, or fantasy. Most significant are the lies we believe about who we are, or who we are not. “You’re not good enough. You’re not pretty enough. You’re not smart enough. You’re not talented enough. You’re not…” All Lies! Those declarations of the Enemy are all designed to deceive us and distract us from the truth of what God has declared about us. Satan’s success rate is staggering.

I remember one morning when I received a call from someone who was staggering under the weight of lies. There was no hope in her voice – only despair. Without minimizing the reality of physiological conditions, this was primarily a spiritual issue. It was the multiplied effect of believing lies.

Knowing that this will potentially cause some of you to doubt my compassion and understanding, which would be a lie, I will state this – psychological illness is the result of believing a lie. Somewhere in everyone’s past we chose to believe something about ourselves that was contrary to the truth of God’s Word. Today we are the product of those lies.

In today’s portion of Psalm 119, the author recognized the dangers of deceit during a time of despair. He was laid low in the dust. His only hope was the truth of God’s Word. His soul was weary with sorrow, and his only strength could be found in God’s Word. He recognized that his condition was caused by being deceived and he prayed to God to be made aware of those lies and to be delivered from them. His freedom was guaranteed when he chose the path of truth.

What a powerful section of verses this is. It is so appropriate for so many of us today who are suffering under the weight of sadness, sorrow, depression and despair. Our deliverance is as close as admitting the lies that have caused the condition, which ironically places our deliverance as far from us as possible. Why? Because we deny that what we believe about ourselves is a lie. We are afraid to call them lies, aren’t we? Satan’s deceit is delusional. Our pride does not permit us to believe that we have been duped. We do everything we can to protect our self-image, including calling lies truth. We will not admit that who we are and how we have lived is based on a lie. That would make us out to be liars. Our pride is too strong for that to happen.

But our pride is not stronger than the grace of God. Hallelujah! God’s grace accepts liars and transforms them into people created in the true image of His Son Jesus. God’s truth brings freedom from lies. God’s truth removes all guilt and shame. God’s truth strengthens the weary and gives hope to the hopeless. But it is your choice what you decide to call truth. Just remember – labeling a lie as truth doesn’t make it true, just as calling a dog a cat doesn’t change it into a cat. It’s still a dog, and lies labeled as truth will dog you all of your life.

There are two courses of action you can pursue. Modern psychology says to go back in your life and discover the lie, then deal with it. This is not necessarily God’s course. God says to discover the truth from His word, and He will reveal the lies and conquer them. Satan is lying to you again if you believe you must go back and relive the lies. That only keeps the lie alive and provides the opportunity to falsely identify all or part of it as truth. Jesus wants you to know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

So grab your Bibles today, sit down in a quiet spot, and read the book of Ephesians. If possible, use the NIV. As you read, circle every occurrence of the word “BE”. Then carefully read the truth of what God intends you to be. Choose to accept God’s definition of who you are, and you will be set free.

Pastor John

Good Soldiers

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, November 14, 2017

Psalms 119:17 – 24 Do good to your servant, and I will live; I will obey your word. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me. My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times. You rebuke the arrogant, who are cursed and who stray from your commands. Remove from me scorn and contempt, for I keep your statutes. Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees. Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.

Three old soldiers were reminiscing down at the VA hospital. They ran out of tales about themselves, so they began bragging about their ancestors.

“When my great-grandfather was 13 he was the drummer boy at Shiloh,” one of them proudly declared.

“That’s nothin’,” said the next. “Mine was with Custer at Little Big Horn.”

The 3rd vet humbly admitted that he was the only soldier in his family, but said, “If my great-grandfather were alive today he’d be the most famous person in the world.”

“Why? What did he do?” asked his friends.

“Nothin’. But he’d be 165 years old.”

For what will you be remembered? I thought about that question as I read this section of the 119th Psalm. God’s Spirit immediately directed me to think about the characteristics of a Godly soldier that are evidenced by the author.

  1. Confidence in God’s complete control of lifeDo good to your servant, and I will live. The outcomes of life are totally in the hands of God, and we can either choose to trust Him and find good or follow our own path and suffer.
  2. Commitment to God’s commandsOpen my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. I am a stranger on earth; do not hide your commands from me. My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times. There is a deep desire to know all that we can know about God and His purpose, and then to participate with Him obediently.
  3. Contentment during conflictThough rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees. Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors. In the midst of any battle, the joy of the Lord is our strength.

Years ago, I met such a soldier of Christ. He lived in complete confidence of God’s control of His life and he experienced God’s goodness. He was committed to God’s commands and was consumed with knowing His Savior completely so he could live for him continually. But most of all, he was content! From his early days of ministry as a missionary on the Native American reservations to his last days of suffering with cancer, he was content! His relationship with his Lord brought Him peace. His love for the Lord brought him joy. His knowledge of the Lord gave him comfort.

Even though I couldn’t tell him those things before he died, he has already heard them from the lips of his Savior. He was the kind of man I want to be. The way I remember Wally is the way I want to be remembered. I have a long way to go, but I press on towards that prize that is mine in Christ Jesus.

How will you be remembered?

Pastor John

Memorize and Model

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Psalms 119:9 – 16 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.

Children’s minds are amazing. Their capacity to memorize is incredible. I see it continually in my grandchildren. After just one or two readings of a book they can recite whole sections of it. I love to test their memories. From the time they were old enough to talk I would sit them on my lap with a familiar book, and while reading I would intentionally leave out a word – any word. They would immediately correct me. Children have a marvelous capacity for memorization.

Because of that we must consider what we are feeding into their minds. Just as they memorize the words of a book and their context for usage, so they are memorizing the scripts of television shows and movies and forming contextual philosophies for usage. Their behavior is being shaped by what they are learning. As their parents and grandparents, we have the incredible privilege as God’s stewards of their young lives to mold them into people of moral purity. We have the right and more importantly the responsibility to regulate the input into their minds.

Most, if not all of us, deeply desire that our offspring grow up to be committed followers of Jesus Christ. It would be the highlight of being a grandparent for me to have each of those grandkids come to me at some point and ask, “Grandpa, how can I keep myself pure and live for Jesus alone?” It brings tears to my eyes now as I think about that. But for that to happen, there must be from within them a deep desire to want to be pure before the Lord. Where will that desire come from if not from the mentoring and modeling of their parents and grandparents? It is our primary responsibility. The desires of their heart are naturally wicked as declared by Jeremiah when he says, The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Every tendency they have will be to fulfill the desires of their flesh. What we allow them to see and learn from us is what they will imitate. It is not sufficient to hand them over to the Children’s Ministries of your church and hope they will be able to show them the way. It is not wise to simply read them a Bible story or hand them a Bible story book so they can read it before they go to bed each night. It is imperative that they see those truths being lived out each day in our own lives.

When I was a little boy, Scripture memorization was highly regarded in our church. It was not just an exercise, but it was enthusiastically pursued by parents and teachers alike. I can still remember large passages of God’s Word that were required memory verses in every class we attended. One of them was this portion of Psalm 119. You probably learned it too. If you’re over 40 the chances are you learned it in the King James Version, so repeat with me – “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.”

Now ask yourself this – “Is that happening?” Does the Word of God still hold such a treasured place in your heart that it keeps you from sinning against God? Are you the mentor and model of moral purity that your children and grandchildren want to see and imitate? Maybe it’s time for each of us to evaluate our deep desire to keep our way pure before God. This is the day we should re-commit to living our lives according to God’s Word and to seek Him with all our heart. Today is the day to begin hiding God’s Word in our heart so that we might not sin against Him. Then tomorrow might be the day that your child or grandchild approaches you and asks how they can live for God like you do.

Pastor John

Trust Produces Obedience

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, November 13, 2017

Psalms 119:1 – 8 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws. I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.

NOTE: Today we come to the longest of the Psalms – the 119th. It is an acrostic, with each section of verses starting with the next letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Each section will be the basis for one devotional. The primary focus of the entire Psalm is the Word of God. Its truths are timeless and trustworthy. May the next few weeks of study bring you into a deeper understanding of the authority of Scripture and its practical applications to our lives. Please read each day’s selection carefully. I will make a short comment on just one highlight that I find, so take the time to let the Holy Spirit direct your thoughts to others key points He wants to show you.

The world of sports has been rocked over the last few years by the release of information that many of the stars of the game are guilty of using performance enhancing drugs. This minimizes the athlete’s accomplishments and their reputations have been destroyed. As a member of a professional team, their lives are judged by the rules of the game. The fame they had achieved has become infamy because they pursued personal glory at the expense of respect for the rules. They have been brought to shame rather than fame.

The foundation of all blessing in life is moral integrity, and the basis for moral integrity is the law of God. It is the only truth. God does not bless those who do not live their lives according to His law. So many of the things we call blessings are simply temporary deceptions of Satan that lull us into a false sense of personal security and pride because they were achieved by our own means and according to our own rules. They are not truly blessings of God. Only the things received through obedience to God’s laws can be counted as true blessings. Time will tell which is which in your life, just as it has in sports.

The key thought for me in this first section of Psalm 119 is this – Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!

It is imperative that we understand that the intent of our heart determines the validity of our obedience. Integrity is decided not developed. It is our tendency to want to review the rules before agreeing to them. How many of us have put a check in the box on our computer that states we have read and agree with the user’s policy without actually reading it?  We trust the character of the company that produced the software. We make a commitment to obey before we even know what we are being told to do. It is the intent of our heart to obey.

That is the kind of faith God demands of us. His laws are based in His character, and His character is trustworthy. Unfortunately for many of us we feign commitment. We say we trust God and will follow His commands, until we discover one that conflicts with our personal goals and lifestyle choices. We must admit that we have strings attached to our commitment to God, and the main string is that His laws must conform to our own view of life. If they don’t, then we reserve the right to reject God’s laws and write our own. We have never fully decided to follow God.

We must ask ourselves, “Am I steadfast in obeying God’s decrees? Have I fully surrendered my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the authority of His Word? Am I a person of moral integrity, and will it be proven by my choices to obey God’s laws as I learn them?”

May the answer to all those questions be a resounding YES!

Pastor John