Faith Is Honest

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

When I was 6 years old I went along with my mom to the local pharmacy in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. They had a toy section and I knew there had to be something there that would make my life more fun and fulfilling. While mom was getting her things, I got mine. It was a red ball, about the size of a golf ball, and it fit perfectly into my pocket. We walked out of the store and it was mine…for a while.

I couldn’t contain my excitement so on the way home I took the ball out and started tossing it in the air. Of course, mom noticed, and asked me where I got it. I lied. I said I had found it. Unfortunately for me, the price sticker was still on the ball, so my deception fell apart quickly. She turned the car around and marched me right back into that store where I had to confess what I had done to the owner of the store. I was humiliated.

At the time I thought about all the lessons I could learn from this, but every one of them was an extension of the underlying problem. I thought about how to get away with it the next time: take off the price tag…scuff up the ball so it looks used…leave it in my pocket longer…and so on. But every one of those thoughts was a temptation by Satan to hide the sin and avoid the consequences. The real lesson I should have learned that day is this – I must take personal responsibility for my choices, and when I do there is forgiveness and restoration.

The real motivation behind lying is not to avoid consequences, but rather to protect personal value and worth. When we really think about it, the consequences of our choices are not nearly so frightening as the thought of having a diminished value in the eyes of another person. That’s what really hurts, and that’s what causes our lying. Lying is an attempt to please people, and the primary person we are trying to please is self.

In our study of faith from the life of Moses, we learn an important lesson from Aaron today.

Exodus 32:21-24  Moses said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?” “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’  So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”

Aaron told a  stupid lie when he claimed that the golden calf created itself. Did he think that because Moses had just been in the presence of God that he would easily believe any miracle? When self-protection mode is engaged in our lives we can easily be convinced to do and say anything that appears to benefit us. Aaron may have feared that Moses’ opinion of his leadership qualities and spiritual maturity would be diminished, so he tried to protect his reputation with a lie. So blindingly powerful is this need for self-protection that logic is thrown out the window. It was so very easy for Moses to disprove Aaron’s statement simply by asking other witnesses what happened. But Aaron’s lie was so rooted in pride that he believed that his word was more influential and trustworthy than anyone else’s word. Moses would have no reason to doubt him even though the preponderance of evidence was against him.

We have all been in this situation, and we have all been at the crossroads where the paths of humility and pride meet and bring us to a moment of decision.  Moses brought the people to that crossroad when he declared to them, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me.”  He gave the guilty people a chance for forgiveness and restoration. Those who responded received both.

You may be at that crossroad today and must choose between faithfulness to God and faithfulness to self. Be careful. The choice of pride will end in destruction. The choice of humble personal responsibility will honor God and bring life. Choose wisely.

Pastor John

Faith Perseveres

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, April 15, 2019

Friday, we left Moses in Exodus 19 preparing to tell the people of Israel about their incredible deliverance from Egypt and that it was God who bore them up on eagles’ wings and carried them to Himself. When they heard this, the people made a promise to Moses that they would obey everything God would tell them to do. Moses went up on the mountain to find out the details of how God wanted the people to live in relationship with Him. The people all witnessed the incredible and awesome presence of God on the mountain, and watched as Moses entered God’s presence. But would they persist in their faith?

Exodus 32:1-4 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.”  So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

That’s NOT the answer we were hoping for. Moses has been gone for forty days and during that time the glory of God was visible on the mountain to all the people. But the thrill and excitement of the initial event had worn off. The people were tired of sitting still, and they needed tangible results to their faith. Because they weren’t moving forward and were seeing no supernatural activity of personal benefit, they decided to look elsewhere for leadership. Imagine that – in full view of God’s glorious presence like a consuming fire on top of the mountain, they declared their distrust in the ability of God to lead them. Instead they declared that their real God was an inanimate calf cast out of gold. Apis, the Egyptian bull-god, had kept them safe in Egypt, and maybe now this god would guide them to safety once again.

Why is it that we so quickly return to our sinful bondages? I see from the example of the Israelites a couple of reasons.

  1. Their faith was still focused on the activity of God and not on the nature of God. They could see the splendor of His nature in front of them, but because there was no activity they looked for another object of faith to generate action. This is a hard lesson for us to learn. Suffice it to say that even when the activity around us seems to be moving against us, God is still carrying us to Himself on the wings of eagles.
  2. They did not persist in their faith because they were not experiencing any movement. How often are we tempted to rush out of the still moments of God’s timeline and force movement? Probably often. None of us enjoys the times when God seems inactive. We pray for answers and none seem to come. We want an immediate answer of yes or a no but are unwilling to accept the answer of wait. Wait is a weight we don’t like to bear. “Maybe God needs our help to motivate some activity,” we say. Do we realize the serious implications of such a statement? If we believe that God needs our help in any way, then we cannot believe that He is truly God, and we place ourselves above Him. It is no wonder that the Lord’s anger burned against the people because of their impudence.

Tomorrow we will look at the rest of this story, but for today I leave you with this thought. Do not fight the quiet times of God’s apparent inactivity. His glory can still be seen all around you. His promises are still valid and will not fail. He promised the Israelites in Exodus 19:5-6 that they would be His treasured possession. He has affirmed that promise to us as well in 1 Peter 2:9 which says, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

God does not need our help to keep the plan moving: it is moving just fine and according to His timeline. So, in those quiet times of inactivity, do what God told the people of Israel to do – wait, and live in consecrated, holy expectation of God’s work becoming visible. Be persistent to live by faith according to what you now know, and God will give you more understanding as He determines you need it.

Pastor John

Faith Delivers

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, April 12, 2019

I am having one of those moments when words are inadequate to express the overwhelming joy and gratitude that has come over my heart as I consider what God says to Moses in today’s Scripture reading. The Holy Spirit is using it to reveal the grace of God in a refreshing new way.

Exodus 19:3-5  Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”

I am almost speechless with awe at the voice of God to Moses when he says “I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself”.

The story of the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage is to be for us a picture of our deliverance from the bondage of sin. There are several important lessons for us to remember. These lessons may seem simple, and you have heard them before, but my prayer is that the impact of God’s grace will overwhelm you as it did me and you too will be refreshed in your spirit.

  1. All the glory for deliverance goes to God. Man receives no credit for playing any role in his freedom from bondage. We are unable to change our sinful situation. We may try to change our situation by thinking we can earn our way into a state of spiritual freedom through knowledge or good works, but this leaves us more desperate than before. We may try to alleviate the pain of the situation with the worldly aspirin of drugs, alcohol, sex, money, possessions, and relationships, but these all fail in the end and leave us more destitute than ever. It is only in complete surrender to Jesus Christ that we are carried into the eternal rest of God’s arms.
  2. This eternal rest involves the destruction of all that held us in bondage in the past. God chooses to use the analogy of being carried on eagles’ wings.
    1. First, notice the placement of the apostrophe after the letter “s”, signifying the plurality of the eagles. There was not just one eagle to carry them all, but there were enough eagles to carry everyone. God’s grace is sufficient for all who will come to Him for deliverance.
    2. Second, the eagle was considered in biblical times a scavenger bird that fed on death. The Hebrew word means “to lacerate”, and is the same word translated “vulture” in other Hebrew literature. When Israel was delivered from Egypt, the enemy was destroyed, and the people were carried to safety by the same power that fed on the death of the enemy. When Jesus died on the cross, His offer of salvation to mankind includes a guarantee of death to those who reject it. The same power that carries me into the forgiving arms of the Heavenly Father will destroy all those who oppose Him.
  3. Now the point that emotionally overwhelms me – God brought me to Himself. He did not simply deliver the people of Israel from Egypt and start them on a new direction, leaving them to fend for themselves. He did not turn over their well-being to their own ability to provide for it. He did not leave them with insecure hope in their own wisdom to make decisions and complete the course. No, He brought them to Himself. He brought them into a permanent relationship that is defined by the picture of a perfect Father and His love and care for His children. His love sought me when I was lost because He bought me by His death on the cross. He picked me up and carried me into the security of His everlasting arms. His hand has folded around me and He will never let me go. HALLELUJAH! I AM HIS FOREVER!

I have only scratched the surface of what this wonderful verse of Scripture means to me. I pray that the Holy Spirit impresses on your heart today the incredible depths of God’s love and His deliverance from sin for all who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior. He has carried us to Himself.

Pastor John

Faith Delegates Authority

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, April 11, 2019

There is something very addictive about authority and power, especially to a person with insecurities. Moses was a man with insecurities. He had run away from his people once because his actions were misunderstood and rejected, and he had fought God’s call to return to his people as their deliverer because of the fear of additional rejection.

When God empowered him to accomplish the nation’s deliverance from Egypt, and when God empowered him to meet all of their needs during the exodus, Moses probably started to feel pretty good about himself. This authority and power that he had was gratifying, and it certainly felt a lot better than rejection. The people actually needed him, and he was really enjoying the attention and sense of security it brought.

But just like any addiction, there was a serious price to pay. Read the whole story in Exodus 18:13-26. Here’s the key verse:

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you.

Moses’ price of feeding on the addiction of authority was burnout. His father-in-law saw it, and helped him to learn the lesson that all attempts to cover our insecurities and fears with human resources end in destruction. Moses needed the wise input of a veteran leader to help him see the error of his thinking. This wise man gave him some incredible leadership advice – delegate! The advice was broken down into the following elements, and gives each of us some insights into how we can become better leaders of the people God has brought into our circle of relationships:

  1. Make sure everyone knows that God is the final authority and you are just serving Him. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. It is very dangerous to take personal credit for decisions and actions when God alone is responsible.
  2. Use every meeting with a person seeking God’s advice to teach them how to personally apply God’s law so they become more dependant upon God, not you. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live… It is easy for us to enjoy the attention and ego stroking we get when people depend on us, but it is our privilege and duty to lead them into dependence upon God.
  3. Give people a sense of purpose and responsibility. And show them … the duties they are to perform. Everyone needs to know they are needed and appreciated and that their life is accomplishing some purpose. One of the most important aspects of leadership is the encouraging of people to dream and the empowering of people to pursue the dream.
  4. Set up a workable system of accountability and authority. But select capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain -and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. Organize the people into small groups and delegate responsibility to qualified people to oversee the groups.

What was the guaranteed result of such leadership? Stress reduction and satisfied people. You will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied. As a pastor, that’s what I want. That’s what I have. I thank God daily for the qualified people around me who carry the load and for the servant-hearted people like you who have accepted the wisdom of Godly leadership. Maybe some of these principles will help you in the leadership issues you experience at your work or in your family.

Pastor John


Faith Partners with Others

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Far too many people are trying to make it on their own in this life. For reasons of insecurity, fear or pride, they take on the responsibility, burden, and outcome of everything and share none of the load with others, except in the cases where there is personal benefit and advancement. Moses was one such man, and in the process of growing his faith, God was about to change him.

Exodus 17:8-13 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill.  As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

I can relate to Moses. I naturally move to the authoritarian style of leadership and try to handle everything on my own. I did that for many years and discovered that after the honeymoon period that is granted to every new leader by the group being led, things begin to fall apart. People become discontented because they feel unneeded, unnecessary, and unfulfilled.  They respond to such feelings by either withdrawing or attacking, and I have experienced both. The pain that results on both sides does not easily heal.

I am so very blessed to have been granted the grace to change, and to learn the life-changing principle that great leaders surround themselves with people who are better than themselves. When I return from a vacation I realize how relaxing it was to not have to be concerned about anything at the church because of the gifted and qualified people who are in charge of their specific areas of ministry. I have been blessed with great partners who see what needs to be done and then get it done.

That’s the lesson Moses had to learn, and the doorway to change was opened a crack in today’s story about the Amalekite attack on the Israelites.

Moses started out by proclaiming that he alone would stand on the top of the hill and direct the battle with the staff of God in his hands. But Moses allows two other men to go with him, and when he grows tired he allows these men to partner with him in the action. We see no indication that Moses asked for the help, but he humbled himself to accept the help when it was offered. His partners saw a need, they developed a plan to meet the need, and they carried out the plan to completion. They put their faith into action. Moses took the first step of change when he allowed himself to be served.

There are two main challenges for us from this lesson today:

  1. Don’t let pride, insecurity, or fear cause you to be a control freak. I see so many people who are compulsive controllers, and they kill relationships and ministries. Remember one of the foundational statements of a church’s existence – “It’s not about me, and it’s not about now: it’s about God and His glory.”
  2. Become a faith partner of action. Don’t wait to be told what to do – take the initiative to get involved. When you see a need, develop a plan, put it into action, and stick with it until it’s done.

Faith initiates activity in partnership with others. There’s no need to do it alone. There’s no benefit either.

Pastor John

The Direct Route

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, May 10, 2019

When I travel anywhere I really enjoy taking the scenic route. If I’m going someplace I’ve been before I will usually take the direct Interstate route. But if it’s a new destination I will take the scenic route, which may not be the fastest route. In fact, when the kids were younger, and we went on a family trip or vacation, they used to harass me about going on another one of dad’s “adventures.” We did wind up in some pretty remote places sometimes – just ask them about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

As the final leg of the 40-year journey to the Promised Land begins, the Israelites are faced with a trip-planning decision: do we take the freeway or the scenic route. The freeway led them through the territory of the Edomites, the descendants of Esau. The scenic route led them a long way around to the east of Edom and Moab. Moses thought it would be nice to go the direct route and save time, but God wanted them to take the scenic route for safety.

Numbers 20:14-17 Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, saying: “This is what your brother Israel say: You know about all the hardships that have come upon us. Our forefathers went down into Egypt, and we lived there many years. The Egyptians mistreated us and our fathers, but when we cried out to the LORD, he heard our cry and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt. Now we are here at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory. Please let us pass through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the king’s highway and not turn to the right or to the left until we have passed through your territory.”

Moses sent out a message to the Edomites and asked permission to go through their land on the king’s highway, and made certain guarantees about the trip. He promised that the people would not use any of the rest areas, and would not stop at any of the McDonald’s for food, and would not stop at any of the convenience stores for water. Most of all, the people would not stop at any of the scenic overlooks or take time to visit any of the points of interest along the way, thus avoiding all contact with the people of the land.

Why would Moses make such promises? If you read the instructions of the Lord given to Moses in Deuteronomy 2:4-6 you will find the answer.

Then the LORD said to me, “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north. Give the people these orders: ‘You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on. I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his own. You are to pay them in silver for the food you eat and the water you drink.”

God told Moses to avoid the people that were contradictory to God’s purpose. God knew that any point of contact would give the enemy a foothold from which to thwart His divine plan. Moses implemented a potential plan of disobedience. Fortunately, God intervened and used the Edomites to stop them.

There is a deep spiritual lesson in this for us today. God has called us to come out and be separate from all that is evil in the eyes of the Lord (2 Cor. 6:17). We have been commanded to be pure, even as He is pure because of the higher hope of heaven that we have (1 John 3:2-3). We are urged to not let our emotions give Satan a foothold in our lives (Eph. 4:27). There is a consistent theme in Scripture that the people of God are not to turn to the right or the left in their temporary journey through this evil land on their way to the permanent residence of God’s presence.

We must take the time to evaluate our life’s trip planning. Are we taking the scenic route, turning off the main road at any location that looks appealing to our flesh, so we can indulge our appetites? Or are we staying on the Interstate, taking the most direct route to God’s presence? I am not talking about avoiding all contact with unsaved people along the way. That would be disobedience to God’s purpose for us until we reach glory. I am referring to the sinful attractions of the world’s activities that distract and disqualify us from accomplishing God’s purpose.

We must not take these side roads. We must not turn to the left or to the right. We must stay on the King’s highway and keep our eyes fixed on the Promised Land of God’s Presence. Be strong and be pure, for the Lord your God is with you.

Pastor John

Faith Brings Rest

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Today’s faith lesson comes from God’s lessons on the Sabbath Day as He provides for the nutritional needs of His people.

Exodus 16:22-26 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much – two omers for each person – and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. He said to them, “This is what the LORD commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’” So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. “Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a Sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”

This is the first time in Scripture that we read about a Sabbath day. At creation we were told that on the seventh day God rested, but until now there has been nothing said about the people doing the same. God has not yet given Moses the Ten Commandments, which included a command to honor the Sabbath day. This is the introduction of the principle of Sabbath rest to the Israelites and to all of us.

God makes it possible for the people to be nourished and supplied with all of their physical needs for a period of two days so that on the second day they do not need to labor. The manna of one day would be sufficient in supply to cover the needs of the second day.

What an incredible picture of our salvation, and the permanence of it. As we discovered previously, manna is a symbol of the covering of sin God provides for us every day in the Person of Jesus Christ. But God wanted it to be clear to us that we do not need to pick up the manna of salvation every day. It is not necessary to be saved from our sin repeatedly. He showed us this in the creation of the Sabbath. Look carefully at Hebrews 4:9-10, which says, “There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.”

The teaching of Hebrews 4 can be summarized this way: once we realize that it is not by works that we are saved, and we, by faith, receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are covered by His blood. We enter the permanent rest of eternal security. In the provision of manna for the sabbath, God was illustrating to the Israelites that one day His mercy and grace would cover permanently all sin and there would be no need to work for it any longer. Once the gift of grace was given on the day before the Sabbath it was sufficient for all the needs of the next day. Once the sacrifice of Jesus was given it was sufficient for the spiritual needs of the whole world, and anyone who collects that gift enters into the permanent rest of salvation.

I know this is a little more theological than most devotionals, but it is important for us to understand that the Old Testament gives us the pictures of New Testament salvation. The institution of the Sabbath day was not intended to be a legalistic demand on our lives, but rather to be a picture of the completeness of our salvation by faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Sabbath was instituted to show the people they can totally depend upon God for their lives. When we totally depend upon the gift of God in Jesus Christ for our salvation, separate from any work of our own, we enter the permanent rest of eternal life. We do not need to obey the legal demands of the Old Testament Sabbath to be a recipient of the blessings of salvation. In fact, the blessings of salvation allow us the freedom to celebrate every day as a Sabbath, for we are at permanent spiritual rest with our God.

I challenge you to study Hebrews 4 today, and let its truths touch you. You will discover true salvation by faith and not by works. Spend some time today celebrating the permanence of your salvation!

Pastor John

Daily Dependence

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, April 8, 2019

When you woke up this morning did you do what we learned in the devotional on Friday? Did you spend some time enjoying the manna of your forgiveness and salvation? Did you rejoice that today you have been shown mercy by God in that you have been given life despite the failures and sin of yesterday? If not, do it now, and then make a commitment to start every day that way.

God teaches us another lesson of faith from the provision of daily manna.

Exodus 16:17-19 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little.  And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed. Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”

Simply put the faith lesson is this – Don’t demand more than what God is willing to give. God promised that the daily provision of sweet bread would be sufficient to nourish each individual for that day. No one was to try to carry over one day’s provision to the next, except where God made that possible to honor a Sabbath day. If the manna from today was saved for tomorrow, it would be useless. God wanted people to trust Him for every daily need.

But some of the people didn’t listen. I can imagine their thought process. It would go like this:

“Let’s pick up just a little bit extra, and not eat quite so much today, and we’ll save the rest for tomorrow so we don’t have to get up so early and go out to gather more. It’s going to be a hard day today and I want to be able to sleep in a little tomorrow. Besides. Isn’t it wise to plan ahead.”

Imagine a little further that tomorrow has arrived.

“Boy that felt good to get that extra hour of sleep. Look at all those people coming back from the fields with their manna. What poor planners they are. Let’s eat!”

They open their jar and discover that their manna is ruined: filled with maggots. When they rush out to the field to get more, it is all gone, and for that day they go hungry. They learn a hard lesson – man’s plans never work when they are contrary to God’s direction.

So many people we meet today are living a hustle. I have helped many people grow in their faith who came out of tragic backgrounds, and this is the most difficult area to address. It is a huge issue for them because they have been taught to get all they can from any source for the least possible investment or commitment, and when that runs out, just move on to the next place. We see this all the time in the church and in our government’s welfare system. Hustle, hustle, hustle. “Get a handout,” they say, “but don’t let anyone give you a hand-up to a better way.”

My concern is that this philosophy has permeated our walks of faith as well. We follow God for the benefits and use him to pad our comforts, but this daily dependence thing gets old fast. Then we wonder why our life is full of maggots. Why does the joy of the immediate benefit wear out so quickly? Do we realize the addiction we have to self-satisfaction? Why has God been relegated to the role of our personal trust-fund manager who has to answer to our every whim and wish?

We need to learn the lesson of faith that Jesus taught in Matthew 6, where He says,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”… “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Let the truth of daily dependence on God sink in and enrich your life of faith!

Pastor John

Faith Rejoices in Salvation

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, April 5, 2019

Before we get to today’s faith lesson, I want to caution you to not draw the wrong conclusion from yesterday’s story. It may appear to validate grumbling. The Israelites complained to God, and he gave them what they wanted. Remember?

Exodus 16:11-12 The LORD said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’”

A closer look at the context reveals that God heard the grumbling of the Israelites just like a mother hears the immature and self-centered complaining of a child. She responds to the need with love, but then works to correct the method of expression used by the child. God saw the need of the Israelites, but he also worked to correct their immature faith in the process. Grumbling is immature and selfish. We can express needs to God, but it must be in a way that honors His authority.

Back to today’s faith lesson. The story of the feeding of the Israelites with manna and meat is a great lesson in daily dependence on God. In the next few devotionals we will learn some of the lessons God wants us to live. Here’s the first one.

Every morning the ground was covered with dew, and when it dried, thin flakes like frost appeared, and it was sweet like honey. The Hebrew word for “frost” means “to cover”, and is the word used in the Old Testament to describe the covering of sin accomplished by the sacrifice of atonement. In fact, in Psalm 78, after describing the history of the exodus from Egypt and the faithless choices of a rebellious and stubborn people, we find this incredible verse –

Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them. Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath (verse 38).

The word forgave in this verse is the same word for frost – a covering for the sins of the people. The giving of the manna each day was to be for the people a testimony to the forgiveness of their sins by God. They did nothing to earn it or deserve it. Yet God was merciful.  That’s what kind of God we serve: a God who covers our weaknesses and our sin and gives us sufficient grace for each day.

It would be worth your while to read the 78th Psalm. It’s long, but it will be a good investment of your time into your growing faith. I have printed it below for you. As you read, let the mercy and grace of God overwhelm you as you see how He has covered our sin. Rejoice in the daily provision of your salvation.

Pastor John


Psalm 78:1-72

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! 2  I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3  things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. 4  We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. 5  He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, 6  that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, 7  so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; 8  and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God. 9  The Ephraimites, armed with the bow, turned back on the day of battle. 10  They did not keep God’s covenant, but refused to walk according to his law. 11  They forgot his works and the wonders that he had shown them. 12  In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan. 13  He divided the sea and let them pass through it, and made the waters stand like a heap. 14  In the daytime he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a fiery light. 15  He split rocks in the wilderness and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep. 16  He made streams come out of the rock and caused waters to flow down like rivers. 17  Yet they sinned still more against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert. 18  They tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved. 19  They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the wilderness? 20  He struck the rock so that water gushed out and streams overflowed. Can he also give bread or provide meat for his people?” 21  Therefore, when the LORD heard, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel, 22  because they did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power. 23  Yet he commanded the skies above and opened the doors of heaven, 24  and he rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven. 25  Man ate of the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance. 26  He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens, and by his power he led out the south wind; 27  he rained meat on them like dust, winged birds like the sand of the seas; 28  he let them fall in the midst of their camp, all around their dwellings. 29  And they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved. 30  But before they had satisfied their craving, while the food was still in their mouths, 31  the anger of God rose against them, and he killed the strongest of them and laid low the young men of Israel. 32  In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite his wonders, they did not believe. 33  So he made their days vanish like a breath, and their years in terror. 34  When he killed them, they sought him; they repented and sought God earnestly. 35  They remembered that God was their rock, the Most High God their redeemer. 36  But they flattered him with their mouths; they lied to him with their tongues. 37  Their heart was not steadfast toward him; they were not faithful to his covenant. 38  Yet he, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; he restrained his anger often and did not stir up all his wrath. 39  He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again. 40  How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert! 41  They tested God again and again and provoked the Holy One of Israel. 42  They did not remember his power or the day when he redeemed them from the foe, 43  when he performed his signs in Egypt and his marvels in the fields of Zoan. 44  He turned their rivers to blood, so that they could not drink of their streams. 45  He sent among them swarms of flies, which devoured them, and frogs, which destroyed them. 46  He gave their crops to the destroying locust and the fruit of their labor to the locust. 47  He destroyed their vines with hail and their sycamores with frost. 48  He gave over their cattle to the hail and their flocks to thunderbolts. 49  He let loose on them his burning anger, wrath, indignation, and distress, a company of destroying angels. 50  He made a path for his anger; he did not spare them from death, but gave their lives over to the plague. 51  He struck down every firstborn in Egypt, the firstfruits of their strength in the tents of Ham. 52  Then he led out his people like sheep and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. 53  He led them in safety, so that they were not afraid, but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. 54  And he brought them to his holy land, to the mountain which his right hand had won. 55  He drove out nations before them; he apportioned them for a possession and settled the tribes of Israel in their tents. 56  Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God and did not keep his testimonies, 57  but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers; they twisted like a deceitful bow. 58  For they provoked him to anger with their high places; they moved him to jealousy with their idols. 59  When God heard, he was full of wrath, and he utterly rejected Israel. 60  He forsook his dwelling at Shiloh, the tent where he dwelt among mankind, 61  and delivered his power to captivity, his glory to the hand of the foe. 62  He gave his people over to the sword and vented his wrath on his heritage. 63  Fire devoured their young men, and their young women had no marriage song. 64  Their priests fell by the sword, and their widows made no lamentation. 65  Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, like a strong man shouting because of wine. 66  And he put his adversaries to rout; he put them to everlasting shame. 67  He rejected the tent of Joseph; he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, 68  but he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loves. 69  He built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever. 70  He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds; 71  from following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his inheritance. 72  With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.

Faith Isn’t Loony

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Consider for a moment how many of our negative reactions and responses to people and circumstances are really directed at God and offend Him deeply. To help our understanding of this issue, read the following story from the life of Moses.

Exodus 16:1-8  The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD’S hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” Moses also said, “You will know that it was the LORD when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the LORD.”

Here’s a practical modern-day illustration. A loving mother takes a somewhat rebellious child to the grocery store. Little Johnny sees the Froot Loops in the cereal aisle and has expressed a strong desire to have some. Mommy explains to Johnny that she already has cereal at home for him. An argument begins because Johnny wants this cereal and he wants it now. He stomps his feet and refuses to move along. He may even scream a little and say things about how he never gets anything that he wants. He closes with a statement about how he is going to starve because there’s nothing to eat at home.

I apologize if that sounds too familiar. But let’s analyze what is really happening. Johnny has become so self-absorbed with the Froot Loops that it causes him to stop and refuse to move on in his life until he gets what he wants. His focus is so distorted that he irrationally evaluates his condition and the historical faithfulness of the food supply at home. He has chosen to not see beyond the immediate.

What we have here is a perfect definition of the word “grumble”. In the original Hebrew language, it is the word loon, and it literally means to stop; to stay permanently; to be obstinate. We could honestly and truthfully say that stubborn people are loony.

But the real issue with Johnny is this – he has declared his mother to be unfaithful and irresponsible. No matter how much she explains to him that she will feed him and provide for him, he chooses not to honor her but rather attempts to manipulate her into giving him what he wants. He manipulates through stopping, stomping, screaming, and scaring. He literally places himself above his mother in authority and in his ability to determine what is best for him.

This is serious: not just for Johnny, but because it is so true of our own lives in relationship with God. Complaining about our current situation and the people who are influencing and affecting our lives is a direct rebellion against the faithfulness and responsibility of God to determine what is best for our lives. This attitude stinks with the smell of a dead and decaying body being placed back on the throne of our life.

Quite a word picture, isn’t it? But that is exactly my intention. Our old nature and the flesh were to have died and been buried with Christ at the time of our salvation. Jesus was given full access to the throne of our lives and He was declared Lord and sovereign of all. But how many times have we replaced Jesus on the throne with the corruption and compost of our dead self by complaining and manipulating to get our own way? This certainly is not the life of focused faith that pleases God.

So next time we’re tempted to stop and stay at a place where we think we should have received something for ourselves, remember Johnny.  Remember the Israelites. Make a choice to focus on the Lordship of Jesus Christ is faithful and responsible to bless us with every spiritual blessing from on high so that we can fulfill His divine purpose. Choose not to be loony. Choose to rejoice in the unfailing love of God.

Pastor John