The Object of Faith

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, March 29, 2019

Yesterday Moses was left in a state of fear that he had caused more problems for the people of Israel than he could solve. He complained to God that things weren’t going well, and he even boldly told God, “you have not rescued your people at all.” But God wanted Moses and all the people to learn one inescapable truth – He alone gets all the glory for everything.

Just think, if Pharaoh had responded to the words of Moses at their first meeting, whom would the people have trusted as their deliverer? Moses, right? Of course, and they would have placed their faith in the wrong person. God made it very clear to Moses that He alone would be the Deliverer and that He alone would be worshiped, and He wanted all the people to understand that.

I said yesterday that this is a beautiful picture of our salvation. Let’s see how.

Exodus 6:6-8Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.’”

God alone is responsible to deliver us and He alone receives all the glory as our Deliverer. We, like the Israelites, were in slavery: slavery to our sin. It controlled every aspect of our existence and we were powerless to change our condition. We heard that there is the possibility of freedom, and we emotionally responded to that message because of the benefit that it would bring to us. We could be released from the slavery and enjoy the promised land of eternal life. Our hearts were convinced to place our hope in the benefit, and we think we are saved.

But the enemy still has us in his control because our faith has not yet been placed in the Deliverer but rather in the deliverance. Our status does not improve, and in fact gets more difficult as the enemy imposes heavier burdens to keep us in bondage. We must reach a point of hopelessness about our condition so that all of our faith is in God and not in our own ability (or someone else’s ability) to deliver us.

Discipleship Journal once ran an article that contains the story of a man named Carlos. In 1979, when the rebels were seeking to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, Carlos had been an activist that was being pursued by the government. At home was his mother, who every Monday got up at 4:00 AM to pray for several hours, and one of her requests was for the salvation of her son. One day Carlos was passing out rebel literature on a college campus when the army showed up to break up the demonstration. Fearing for his life, he quickly stuffed all the literature into his shirt. As the soldier frisked everyone, he thought for sure he was caught, but when they got to him they found nothing. The literature had literally disappeared.

On another occasion the soldiers trapped him and they began executing everyone that was captured. When the soldier held his rifle to Carlos’ head and pulled the trigger, it jammed, and his life was spared.

Years later, after coming to Christ, he proclaimed that God alone was able to deliver him, and that he was brought to a point of understanding his own hopelessness.

This is what God was doing to Israel, and this is what God needs to do in everyone who wants to be saved. We have nothing to offer God that can purchase our salvation. We have no ability to save ourselves by our actions. He has done it all, and to Him alone be all the glory. When we reach that point of faith where we trust the Deliverer and not the benefits of the deliverance, then God destroys the power of the oppressor and we are set free.

My friends, make sure that your faith is truly in the Deliverer – Jesus Christ. Faith in anything or anyone else will fail you.

Pastor John

The Patience of Faith

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, March 28, 2019

After yesterday’s review of some practical principles of faith, let’s move forward in the life of Moses and see what God has in store to teach us.

Exodus 5:1-2, 22-23  Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.’” Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go.” Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me?  Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”

After finally accepting all of God’s provisions and choosing to participate in God’s plan for the deliverance of Israel from slavery in Egypt, Moses and Aaron met with the elders of Israel to tell them what God had said. After hearing God’s plan and seeing God’s miraculous signs confirming His presence, the elders fell down and worshiped God. But we will see later in the story that their worship was a response to the results they saw rather than being worship centered on God alone. They worshiped God because of the benefit it would bring to them rather than because of who God is. This is always a mistake.

After the worship service, everyone was pretty pumped up. That’s what worship services should do for us – they bring us together in the presence of God and equip us to go out and accomplish God’s purpose. Moses and Aaron immediately set up a meeting with Pharaoh. They went to the meeting with every anticipation that they would get immediate results.

But Pharaoh doesn’t respond as Moses expected. Pharaoh makes some bold and arrogant statements and decisions. He first sets himself up above God by saying that he doesn’t need to obey anyone other than himself. Then he tries to prove his power by taking it out on the slaves. He made the work more difficult for them. This isn’t looking anything like deliverance, and Moses takes it up with God.

Moses complains to God because the plan isn’t working out the way he wanted it to. Moses forgot that God had told him earlier (see Ex. 3:19-20) that Pharaoh would not be an easy sell, and that there would have to be a mighty move of God’s miraculous power in Egypt with signs and wonders. Only then would the people would be released. Moses needed to be patient and wait for God to do it His way.

That is so hard for us to do, isn’t it? I can relate to Moses in this one – I want it done now! But God’s purpose is always more multi-faceted than the one outcome that benefits us. God was setting up a power struggle between Himself and the powers of evil represented by Pharaoh. In that struggle, God was going to win and bring glory to Himself for all time. It would have been awesome enough from our perspective for Pharaoh’s heart to be softened immediately and to release the slaves. But God knows that no victory is real victory unless it is total victory, and total victory is the total destruction of evil. Pharaoh not only needed to be brought to his knees in surrender to a higher power, but he also needed to be judged for his rebellion against that power.

This is a beautiful picture of our salvation. More on that tomorrow. For today, let’s apply the patience lesson. Here are four steps:

  1. Let God develop the plan.
  2. Let God oversee the process.
  3. Let God accomplish His conclusion.
  4. Guard your heart against looking for the quick solution that produces an immediate benefit.

Participating in the purpose of God is not about us and what we gain, but rather it is about God and His glory. Be patient – in the end His glory becomes ours!

Pastor John

Faith Review

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Let’s do a little review of the faith lessons we have learned from the life of Moses so that they are firmly planted in our spirits where they will grow and bring forth a harvest of righteousness. One of them is just what you may need today.

  1. No wrong is unforgivable by God. Moses thought he was disqualified because people rejected him for his murder of an Egyptian. But people don’t decide qualification for God’s service – God does. Colossians 1:12 says, “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.”  
  2. No weakness is too big for God. Are we so blinded by our pride that we would dare measure our inadequacies against the adequacy of God? Whatever it is that we think keeps us from being ready for the task is exactly where God will demonstrate His incredible power to make us adequate. Paul had this problem, and came to this conclusion in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
  3. No worries are to become barriers to serving God. Moses was insecure, and he worried that he would be able to bring about the desired outcome. Worry is a product of insecurity and the need to control the outcome. Worry hinders faith and breeds fear. God answers our insecurities with His qualifications and eliminates our worry with His Word. When our lives are secure in the unfailing arms of God and the outcomes are guaranteed to be glorifying to God, there is no barrier left to serving God.
  4. No work is too hard for God. God can and will change us. God can and will change others. God will accomplish all that He has purposed. Do not settle for a discounted life. You were bought with the full price of Christ’s redemption. Let the full value of His life be applied to you and let Him completely change you. Anything else is to live beneath the privilege of your inheritance.

As you consider these vital principles of faith, rejoice in the promise of God’s unfailing love as you meditate on this passage of God’s Word.

Romans 8:31-39 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all-how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Pastor John

Faith Overcomes Selfishness

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Moses has another faith lesson to learn. He has run out of excuses for his fears, so now he begs for God to send someone else to do the job to which he has been called.

Exodus 4:13-17 But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Then the LORD’S anger burned against Moses and he said, ”What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it.”

After all his excuses are answered and the needs met, Moses finally decides he’s just not interested in the task. It’s probable that he wasn’t interested from the very beginning, but like most of us he chose to seek a justifiable reason for turning it down, rather than admitting the truth right up front. I’ll bet Moses even justified his dishonest behavior by thinking he would let God down easy. I’ve done that. Maybe you have too.

It’s amazing how often our need for self-protection influences our choices. We have this incredible need to save face and protect our image. But God forced Moses to reach the point where he had to admit the truth. Moses finally had to say, “I don’t care enough to go.”

Moses cared a little – he wanted someone to go. He just didn’t care enough to sacrifice his own life and conquer his own fears to answer the call. His own personal struggles were far more important to him than the struggles of his own people suffering in slavery in Egypt. His mother and father might still be alive. His whole family is still there. But all he can do is choose an outcome that benefits himself most. If this were not so frighteningly true for me, I would be mad at Moses. But I make choices like that every day for the same reasons. I need to grow in my faith too.

God does not let us get away with such choices. When He has called us to a task, there is no escape. Somehow, someday, He will bring to completion the plan and purpose He has for us. He provided Moses with Aaron so that Moses had no escape from his calling. He is already at work to bring each one of us to a point of positive response to his purpose. The only consequence of our rejection today is the loss of blessing we could be experiencing.

Imagine how much more Moses would have been blessed if he had said yes right away and experienced the transforming power of God in his life to do what was humanly impossible. Moses got to see God’s power displayed in external activity, but he missed the blessing of God’s internal activity. God will accomplish his purpose, and that will bless us; but when by faith we join Him in the adventure we experience an even greater blessing – the blessing of a prosperous and content spirit.

After all the excuses have been expressed, the bottom line is that they were all a cover-up for a selfish heart. Let’s learn to admit that problem right up front. God will meet our need, conquer our fears, and empower us for the task. Then we will be complete, knowing that we have participated in something not humanly possible and not dependent upon human recognition, but something of eternal value. There is no greater joy than that experience.

Pastor John

Faith Overcomes Inability

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, March 25, 2019

As we continue our study on faith, specifically looking at the life of Moses, we see him giving all kinds of excuses to the Lord because he was afraid to do what God had asked him to do. Moses has tried to declare himself a nobody, to claim theological ignorance, to claim to have no authority, and now today he claims to be a poor public speaker.

Exodus 4:10-12 Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

 In other words, Moses is saying, “Even if I did have the theological knowledge and the authority to speak it, I still can’t do it because I speak so poorly.” Moses tells God, “I got no grammar and people are bored when I talk.”

I am overjoyed at how much I learn from people who claim to not be able to teach. I am blessed by the things people say when those same people claim they don’t know enough to be a blessing to others. Why are we so afraid to speak up when our hearts are overflowing with God’s truth and blessings?

Here’s the lesson of faith for today: God gives us what we need to say, and also teaches us how to say it so that it is understood. I think this happens in two ways, both of which are totally the work of God.

  1. God’s Spirit empowers our thoughts and our tongues and brings clarity of thought and speech
  2. God’s Spirit prepares the heart of the hearer to be touched by what He says through us.

Moses needed to understand that when God calls someone to a specific task, He has already made provision for every detail of that task to be accomplished according to His purpose. Nothing is left to chance, and nothing is dependent upon our ability. All God asks for is our availability. He simply wants us to go. He will handle all the details.

There are many of you reading this today who have missed out on some tremendous blessings by not becoming teachers and preachers. There have been many opportunities for you to do it, but you have always responded with a “No!” because you have based your decision on your own analysis of your abilities rather than on God’s ability to equip you.

Isn’t it time to let God stretch you? Get out of your comfort zone. Stop asking all the “Who, why, where, and how?” questions. The only valid question for us to ask is “What?” “What do you want me to do?” God is the Who. He knows the where and the why. He is responsible for the how. Mature faith only asks the what. So, beginning today, when God tells us what He wants us to do, just go, believing He will provide all the rest.

Pastor John

Faith Overcomes Insecurity

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, March 22, 2019

Faith overcomes fear. Faith overcomes ignorance. I wonder what faith lesson is next from the life of Moses?

Exodus 4:1-5  Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you?’” Then the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” A staff,” he replied. The LORD said, “Throw it on the ground.” Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the LORD said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. “This,” said the LORD, “is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob-has appeared to you.”

Moses is still not satisfied that he is the man for the job that God has called him to, so in an attempt to avoid service he gives the Lord another excuse. In addition to claiming that he is a nobody and that he is not a theologian, he now claims that he is simply unconvincing and without any authority to prove a point to anyone. He says, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me?” He is afraid that people will not take him seriously. Moses has serious insecurity issues.

I’m sure we all have these same fears at times. We know what the truth is, but we don’t feel qualified to speak it. And when we do finally muster up the courage to speak, people don’t listen. We fall into a familiar trap that we are somehow responsible for other people’s decisions. We have been convinced in our hearts that sharing the truth is only profitable when it produces a positive response. Where did we get this idea that speaking the truth is only appropriate if it produces acceptance with the hearer?

I think that philosophy is the product of fear – the fear of rejection, which feeds our insecurities. Insecurity is the flip side of pride, but made of the same material. Pride keeps us from doing or saying anything that might make relational waves. This is what Moses was dealing with. These people had rejected him once. Why would he risk that rejection again? Why would any of us?

Here’s why – because we have faith in God. We cannot say that we live by faith in God and then choose not to speak it and act upon it regardless of the consequences. If we are allowing outcomes to determine our actions, then we are not truly committed to God but rather to outcomes, and that’s prideful.

God answered Moses’ concerns by teaching him 2 incredible lessons:

  1. God’s power makes the insignificant great. He turned Moses’ staff into a snake and then back into a staff again. God can take what we deem insignificant and unconvincing and make it into something alive and powerful. If he can do that with a stick, he can do that with our lives.
  2. God’s Word, when obeyed, conquers our fears. Moses ran in fear from the snake, but he obeyed God’s command to face his fears and pick up the snake by the tail. God’s Word is powerful, as 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 states, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” When we are obeying God’s Word, we are more powerful than anything we previously feared.

God has answered another excuse for not immediately participating in His plan. You are not insignificant, and you are not unworthy for my use. Insecurity leaves when we take a leap of faith. Have you used the excuse of insignificance and insecurity to avoid doing something God has called you to do? I pray that God will use the answer he gave Moses to answer your fears and give you the faith to step out in obedience and experience His authority and power.

Pastor John

 

Faith Overcomes Ignorance

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, March 21, 2019

In our current study of FAITH we are looking at the life of Moses. God was building the faith of Moses so he could overcome his fears and failures. Moses was at first not a very willing student in the school of faith. In fact, he made a lot of excuses to not do the required assignments. But with each excuse God answered graciously and provided continued opportunities for Moses to pass the class.

Yesterday we learned that the first excuse Moses gave was that he feared his previous failure had disqualified him. The second excuse Moses gives is found in today’s Scripture:

Exodus 3:13-14  Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

In other words, Moses was saying, “I can’t do it because I’m not a theologian and don’t have enough knowledge of who God is.”

Have you ever backed down from doing something God has asked you to do because you don’t feel theologically qualified? We don’t witness or teach or lead a Bible study because we are afraid we don’t have all the answers. Well, I have news for you – none of us will ever have all the answers and none of us will ever know all there is to know about any theological subject. We are all limited, so we have two options:

  1. Give up and never try, or
  2. Use what we have and let God give us more.

Unfortunately, far too many people choose option #1. They forget the promises of John 14:26 where Jesus says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. And in Luke 12:11-12 where Jesus again says, “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

You see, the Holy Spirit is responsible to give us the answers at the time that we need them. We have nothing to fear. Faith overcomes our insecurities.

God gave Moses the direct answer he was supposed to give if the people questioned him: tell them, “I AM” has sent you. That answer qualifies all of us to the questions people will ask about what we believe. We believe in the Eternal, Almighty, Sovereign God.  That’s all the theology we need to go anywhere God sends us.

So if you’ve been using ignorance or insecurity as an excuse for not obeying God’s direction, confess it today and take a step of faith that says “YES!”

Just tell people what you know about Jesus.

Pastor John