A Godly Heritage

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, May 31, 2019

What will be the legacy of your life? With no intention of sounding morbid, when all your friends and family gather around your casket someday to say goodbye, what will they say to commemorate how you lived? What will the next three to four generations of your family be like because of how you lived your life?

Now wait a minute, preacher – we are not to blame for the personal choices of our children and grandchildren, are we? Maybe we are not to blame, but we certainly are responsible for the influence we have on them.

Deuteronomy 4:36-40  From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire. Because he loved your forefathers and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today. Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other. Keep his decrees and commands, which I am giving you today, so that it may go well with you and your children after you and that you may live long in the land the LORD your God gives you for all time.

God makes it very clear to the Israelites that the heritage of faith they were to cherish as they entered the Promised Land would be responsible for the long-term fulfillment and faithfulness of the next generations. He also made it clear that the loss of faith and turning to self-sufficiency and self-satisfaction would result in the punishment of the next generations. Look at what God says in Exodus 20:5-6, right in the middle of the giving of the Ten Commandments. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

As a parent, and now a grandparent, I have come to realize my incredible privilege and responsibility to be the originator of a Godly heritage for the coming generations of little Gorks. I am blessed to already be the fourth generation of faithful followers of God in my family, and I am blessed to see that the promise of God is extending beyond me to the future.

Maybe you are the first in your family to break the chains of the bondage to sin and begin a heritage of faith to the future generations. Your life is vitally significant in creating either a Godly or a godless legacy for your descendants.

In today’s Scripture reading Moses says there are several things that will be true of parents and grandparents who are passing on a Godly heritage:

  1. They allow God’s voice from heaven to discipline them. They are humble and understand that without the teaching and training and testing of God they are destined to live lives of futility and failure according to the standards of a world’s system that is doomed to failure because of sin.
  2. They have a healthy fear and respect for the holiness and power of God. They have seen His fire of purity and judgment and it is a vital part of every decision they make and action they take.
  3. They recognize their own weakness and the liberating power of God over sin. They understand that they are incapable of conquering the bondages that result from sinful choices. They have surrendered to the power of God to drive out the enemy and to give them the promised inheritance of peace.
  4. They acknowledge that the LORD alone is God and have determined to be obedient to all of God’s commands.

Knowing that there would be human failures of disobedience, Moses challenges the people to “take to heart” the acknowledgement of God. The phrase “take to heart” is the Hebrew word for “turn back”, or repentance. A Godly heritage begins with turning away from sin and self and turning towards God. It’s never too late for that turn. Maybe today is the day you will make that turn, and this will be the beginning of your Godly legacy of faith.

Pastor John

There Is No God Like Jehovah

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The older I get the more I realize that in regard to the earthly portion of my life there is more to look back on then there is to look ahead to. That is a scary thought for me. I have lived more than two-thirds of my life already. I also realize that every backward look takes on a new perspective. Looking back used to involve regret as I looked at the failures and the hardships. It was not pleasant, and it was to be avoided at all cost. Now I look back with respect as I see the hand of God bringing me to this point of my relationship with Him. Looking back at self creates insecurity. Looking back at God builds my faith.

Deuteronomy 4:32-35 Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created man on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by miraculous signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.

God has given each of us a physical and a spiritual history. The people of Israel had the tendency to look at their physical history, and when the present got tough they ignored the spiritual and desired the temporary and inconsistent benefits of the physical. They were willing to sacrifice the future on the altar of the flesh.

We sometimes do the same. We have been guilty of impatience. We have not waited long enough to experience the blessings of our faith and instead have turned back to the seemingly satisfying offerings of the world. Now looking back, we realize that despite our turning back, our selfish ambitions, and our human timetables, God has been faithful to fulfill His promise to us as His children and has brought us to the edge of the Promised Land. There is no other god like our God. The LORD JEHOVAH is His Name!

Spend some time today reflecting on the past, specifically asking God to show you the great and awesome deeds He has done to guide you on your spiritual journey. Has anything ever happened that has been so great as God’s personal invitation to join Him on an incredible adventure with eternal objectives?  Can anything compare with His personal involvement in our lives to guarantee the long-term success of that adventure? I think not! May our minds be transformed from looking at the physical to experiencing the spiritual. In all the history of the world, nothing can compare to what God has done in our lives, and He has more to do.

Pastor John

Great Are The Works Of God

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, May 30, 2019

The older I get the more I realize that in regard to the earthly portion of my life there is more to look back on then there is to look ahead to. That is a scary thought for me. I have lived more than two-thirds of my life already. I also realize that every backward look takes on a new perspective. Looking back used to involve regret as I looked at the failures and the hardships. It was not pleasant, and it was to be avoided at all cost. Now I look back with respect as I see the hand of God bringing me to this point of my relationship with Him. Looking back at self creates insecurity. Looking back at God builds my faith.

Deuteronomy 4:32-35 Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created man on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by miraculous signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? You were shown these things so that you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.

God has given each of us a physical and a spiritual history. The people of Israel had the tendency to look at their physical history, and when the present got tough they ignored the spiritual and desired the temporary and inconsistent benefits of the physical. They were willing to sacrifice the future on the altar of the flesh.

We sometimes do the same. We have been guilty of impatience. We have not waited long enough to experience the blessings of our faith and instead have turned back to the seemingly satisfying offerings of the world. Now looking back, we realize that despite our turning back, our selfish ambitions, and our human timetables, God has been faithful to fulfill His promise to us as His children and has brought us to the edge of the Promised Land. There is no other god like our God. The LORD JEHOVAH is His Name!

Spend some time today reflecting on the past, specifically asking God to show you the great and awesome deeds He has done to guide you on your spiritual journey. Has anything ever happened that has been so great as God’s personal invitation to join Him on an incredible adventure with eternal objectives?  Can anything compare with His personal involvement in our lives to guarantee the long-term success of that adventure? I think not! May our minds be transformed from looking at the physical to experiencing the spiritual. In all the history of the world, nothing can compare to what God has done in our lives, and He has more to do.

Pastor John

 

We Are Not God

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

School is almost done for the summer. Students are rejoicing. Parents are preparing for the growth of sibling rivalries lived out in the home.  Then, in less than three months, they will return to school as parents rejoice. Some students will anticipate the joys of renewed friendships and meeting new friends. They have hopes of accomplishment in sports and extra-curricular activities. But how many of them have high expectations of finding fulfillment in learning? So many of them feel that most of what they learn is unusable and inapplicable to their lives and their goals. It is a societal stipulation and a parental prerogative but not a personal passion.

Then, to make matters seemingly worse for the student, the first few days or weeks are spent reviewing what they learned the previous year. Teachers understand the importance of this, but the students are bored with it. Teachers know that all the new lessons will only make sense if they are built on the foundation of the basics taught in previous years.

We as Christians sometimes get bored with the basics. We are always looking for the new and exciting. We want the Pastor to tell more stories or teach new revelation. We want the new land or the new building, so we can have new ministries and new opportunities to experience new activities. The Israelites were the same. They were about to enter the Promised Land and experience the fulfillment of their lives in materialistic measure. Sacrifice would be replaced with success. Suffering would give way to supply. Unfortunately, self-sufficiency would also replace spiritual submission.

In his farewell book to the Israelites, Moses reviews God’s basic building blocks of success for the people and reminds them to never forget them.

Deuteronomy 4:12-14, 23-24 Then the LORD spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. He declared to you his covenant, the Ten Commandments, which he commanded you to follow and then wrote them on two stone tablets. And the LORD directed me at that time to teach you the decrees and laws you are to follow in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess. Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

Moses begins with a warning against idolatry and an encouragement to maintain a proper view of God. Moses emphasizes that when all the people heard the voice of God they saw no form. God is beyond the limitations of space and time. He is beyond our human comprehension. He has chosen to reveal Himself to us in creation, in His Son Jesus, in His Word, and in His activity in the world, but we cannot know His ways or His purpose unless He chooses to reveal them to us specifically. That is a good thing, for if we could understand all of God in our finite mind, then that would make God finite or us infinite. Either way it makes us equal to Him. That is exactly what caused the rebellion in heaven in the first place: Satan attempted to be equal with God.

That is why idolatry is so dangerous. When we minimize God by making Him visible, touchable, and understandable we have made ourselves equal with God. Moses states that the basic building block of our faith is this:  God is a jealous God who will share no glory because there is none that can compare to Him. The consuming fire of His holiness and perfection will be released against any and all who attempt to share His glory.

Have we taken any credit for what we have and what we have accomplished? We must be careful to heed the warning of Moses in Deuteronomy 8:17 where he says, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.”

If God does not receive all the glory for our lives, then we are guilty of idolatry. This is a foundational building block of faith.

Pastor John

The War of Silence

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The last few devotionals have been good for me. I needed an oasis in which to rest and let the things I have observed on my journey with Moses sink in and make a difference in how I live. The hypocrisy of learning and not doing is offensive to God. I want to make sure I apply what I learn so that I please the One that I love.

It has not been without opposition from the enemy. Satan made it clear in his attacks that he hates the damage born again Christians will do to his kingdom when they start living out their spiritual DNA. He opposes a world filled with people who have the overall qualities of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and forgiveness. He cannot stand by and let people truly love one another as Christ loves them. He vehemently fights against those people who then overcome their emotional responses to circumstances and develop Christ-like attitudes, knowing that when they do they will thrive in relationship with one another. Marriages will be restored and revitalized. Parents will pass on a heritage of love and faith and be both present and participating in their child’s development. Children will grow in the Lord, respecting and obeying their parents, being nurtured and disciplined by the truth. Employees will respect their employers and give them an honest and full day’s work. Employers will be fair to their employees and look beyond the bottom line of profit to the production line of people.

But Satan’s most vicious war is being waged against the final stage of maturity as our spiritual DNA transforms our lives. There is a serious problem in Christian circles today with people who talk a good talk but don’t walk a corresponding walk. Their actions don’t match their testimony.

But there is another serious issue that is on the flip side of this coin, and that is when people whose lives have been transformed into the character and activities of Christ refuse to tell people why. The world has gotten rather adept at imitating the characteristics of Christ. We all know people who are compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient, forbearing, forgiving, and loving. They are good husbands and wives, good parents, good employees or employers, and have no visible issues that should disqualify them from being called a Christian – except one: they have never by faith received Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord because no one told them they needed to.

This is where Satan is winning a huge albeit temporary victory against the Kingdom of God and His people. We have somehow become convinced that our good neighbors are good enough and that the good life we are living will not soon end. We think somehow that there is plenty of time to continue to enjoy benefits of this world before we must deal with the consequences of eternity. Satan has done a superior job of stopping the spread of the Gospel in far too many of our communities and churches.

Colossians 4:2-6  Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Paul tells us that the final stage of our spiritual transformation occurs when our character and our words come together to witness to the lost world of the saving power of Jesus Christ. He calls us to prayer, and says that we are to be praying for open doors of ministry so the Gospel message of Jesus can be clearly proclaimed. But not just by others. He specifically tells us to be wise in the way we interact with those who are unsaved so that our speech is always filled with grace and we are prepared to answer anyone who wonders why our lives are so consistently uncharacteristic of this world’s value system. The influence of Christ’s DNA in us is most obvious when we seek to reproduce it in the lives of others.

We are in a spiritual war. Our enemy wants us to be silent. The Holy Spirit has come upon us to be witnesses. Win the war of silence. Demolish the strongholds of Satan in your life. Liberate your tongue to speak the praises and provisions of God to a lost world. Let’s get people saved!

Pastor John

Attitude Adjustment

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, May 27, 2019

So far in our study of Spiritual DNA we have primarily focused on the personal characteristics that identify a born-again person and the resulting activities that will define their life. In the next section of Colossians 3, Paul moves from discussing aptitudes to defining attitudes. It is time for an attitude adjustment.

Colossians 3:15-17 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

All the teaching Paul is going to do in the rest of Colossians 3 and 4 hinges on these verses. He will teach us that without a Christ-like attitude we will not be able to model the spiritual humility and submissiveness that is necessary for a fulfilling marriage. Instead we will pridefully seek our own way at the expense of our spouse. We will learn that without an attitude of gratitude, we will not be able to maintain a servant heart toward those in authority over us. Instead, we will grumble and complain against them and seek to rebel. Paul will show us that without an attitude of praise, we will not be able to manage our households well. Instead, the everyday pressures of life and children will bring bitterness to our spirit.

The attitudes of our heart determine the aptitudes of our lives. Chuck Swindoll has said it this way:

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.

Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.

Attitudes are our choice. That’s why the Holy Spirit led Paul to begin this paragraph with the word “let.” We are to be in constant control of our attitudes. Why is it that we have turned over the control of our attitudes to our emotions? Why are so many people so crabby all the time? Why is there so much discouragement? Why are people so disheartened and disillusioned?  It’s primarily because they have empowered their emotions to be the ruler of their attitudes. Emotions were never designed by God to be the motivator of activity. I believe this is the main reason so many people who decide to be a follower of Jesus Christ fall away and never grow in their faith: they were motivated to decide by emotion.

The choice of attitude is to be the product of our spiritual DNA. The life of Christ in us determines which attitudes we will “let” be in control of our lives each day. Those attitudes include:

  1. Peace, so that we seek to minimize differences and maximize unity.
  2. Thankfulness, so that we give God the praise for being sovereign. An ungrateful heart reveals an untrusting spirit and a self-centered outlook.
  3. Humility, so that we serve one another by encouraging each other with the Word of God which dwells richly in us. Even when correction is necessary, we do it in love seeking the best for the other person.
  4. Grace. The Greek word for gratitude is the word grace. Grace is that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness. Whatever we do in word or deed is to be done so that it gives God joy and pleasure and delight because we did it for His glory.

I know I have some work to do on my attitudes. Let’s help each other by modeling peace, thankfulness, humility, and grace, and by being willing to be reminded when we’re not.

Pastor John

The Skin of Love

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, May 24, 2019

My body is a wonderful thing. It’s not any more wonderful than yours, but it is wonderful. It doesn’t always look wonderful, feel wonderful, or work wonderfully, but it is a wonder. There are 206 bones protected by cartilage and connected with over 600 muscles and ligaments to form a functioning skeleton. Over the top of this incredible living machine is the body’s largest organ called skin. It holds everything together and has some incredible functions. Let’s use skin as a metaphor for the spiritual characteristic of love.

Colossians 3:14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Love holds together all the virtues we have been studying in Colossians 3:12-13, much like skin does on our body.

The outer layer of skin is called the epidermis, and holds everything together while protecting everything inside from damage. It resists water and dirt and is equipped with a UV protection system that is designed to keep us from getting burned. It is constantly being renewed. Every day we lose 30,000 – 40,000 skin cells that are replaced by new ones that are constantly growing. Every 2-4 weeks we have a completely renewed layer of skin cells to protect us.

When we allow God’s love to cover all the characteristics of our wonderful spiritual body, it holds them all together so that they can function properly in perfect unity. Love protects us from the dirt of the sinful world, and keeps us from getting burned by people’s actions. Love guards our entire being so that compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, endurance, and forgiveness are all able to work together to accomplish God’s purpose.

The middle layer of skin is called the dermis, and contains the nerve endings so we can touch and feel, the blood vessels which bring nutrients and oxygen to the growing cells, the oil glands which produce sebum so that your skin is waterproof, and the sweat glands which help regulate body temperature. When the oil and the sweat mix on the surface of the skin they make the skin tacky so that we can actually pick things up and accomplish work. Without both working together our skin would be very slippery and we wouldn’t accomplish much.

When love is the covering of our spiritual characteristics we fully empower compassion to work so that we can truly feel the hurts and the joys of people and reach out and touch them in kindness. Love brings us all the food we need to grow so we are constantly being renewed against the toughness of people’s actions and we are able to bear with them. When love anoints us with the oil of the Holy Spirit we are resilient to the attacks of sin. Our emotions are regulated by the water of God’s Word as it brings holy consistency to our responses. When the oil of the Holy Spirit mixes with the water of God’s Word it produces the ability to accomplish work for God’s glory.

The third layer of skin is the subcutaneous layer, made up mostly of fat, of which I have too much. It primarily functions as a shock absorber and a heating blanket.

When we get fat on love, the rest of our spiritual characteristics stay warmer and ready for action, and they are protected from the shocks of other people’s attacks on us.

As I said, our bodies are wonderful, and our spiritual bodies are equally magnificent. Love is what holds all the spiritual characteristics together in perfect unity. What is this love like? Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 for a description.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Now, let’s put that kind of love on as the skin of our lives, and let the world see the wonder of a spiritual body.

Pastor John