Clean Memory

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, February 28, 2020

May I begin this morning by asking how it went yesterday as you intentionally sought to conquer discouragement by forgetting the past? I trust you started to see some victory and a smile is returning to your soul.

It’s hard to forget, isn’t it? We have been created by God with incredible brains capable of storing countless pieces of information. The human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. The neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain’s memory storage capacity to around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes).

For comparison, if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage. Now just think how long it would take to erase all those discs.

The process of forgetting is difficult. But every process has a starting point. Forgetting starts with a choice to trust God with the outcome of every event that is bothering us. The next step is to begin to act as if we don’t remember what happened, even though we do. Eventually the event will become so insignificant that it will be as if we don’t remember it unless we choose to resurrect it.

The fact that our brains are incapable of erasure is a reminder that we must trust God. We trust Him because He has promised to provide us with sufficient grace for each day’s trouble, and He has promised to one day wipe our memories away in His presence.

The other day I was doing some computer work for someone and they wanted the memory wiped clean. I got to thinking about that – clean memories. Actually, that’s an oxymoron. You cannot have a memory that doesn’t exist. But you can have clean memory capacity.

Have you ever wondered what it was like for Adam when God created him in the Garden of Eden? Did God create him with any memories, or was the storage capacity of his brain completely clean? Or how about this thought: God created the world yesterday with perfectly accurate archaeological records and created the human race with perfect recall memories of all facts. Can anyone prove that couldn’t be true?

Anyway, I wander from the point, which is this: everything that still haunts us in our minds will one day be wiped away when God reboots the entire system. This earth will be destroyed, along with everything in the universe. Once again there will be absolutely nothing apart from the spiritual reality of God and the souls of all human beings.

Then, in a grand and glorious event, God will create new heavens and a new earth. It will be inhabited by all those who were saved by the blood of Jesus Christ while on the old earth, while those who rejected Him will be sent to eternal punishment of conscious death and have nothing to do with life. In the new eternal bodies that we will possess, we will have clean memories. Nothing of the former things will be remembered. They will not pop into our head unexpectedly. There will be absolutely nothing to recall because God will wipe us clean.

Isaiah 65:17Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.”

Sometimes I get asked if we will remember things from this life when the new world is created. The answer is no. For now there may be awareness of things from this life for the people who are already in the presence of the Lord – as is the case for all the martyred saints described in Revelation – but when the current heavens and earth are destroyed in God’s final act of judgment against sin, every single memory of the past will be gone.

What an incredible promise from our Great and Glorious God. In His presence, no earthly thing will matter. No earthly thing will ever be allowed to disrupt our perfect fellowship with Him.

Now here’s the application question for right now. Why are we working so hard to remember all that will someday be wiped clean? And how many of our current memories restrict our access to the fullness of the presence of God? I truly believe that God designed us to more easily forget the things of the past the older we get, so that in our last days of life in this sinful world we can more clearly see Him and enjoy His presence. I know that is true of me, and I’m not that old yet.

Pastor John

Forget the Past

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Discouragement happens. But what causes it? Our first impulse is to blame our circumstances. But our sin nature denies personal responsibility and transfers blame (check out Adam and Eve after they sinned in the Garden of Eden). If we could conquer that nature, we would see that our circumstances have no real power in and of themselves, and should have no power over us. They do not dictate or control our emotional responses – we do. We are responsible for our responses. We made the choice to be discouraged.

One choice that we make that leads to discouragement is to continually focus on our past, especially the failures. D. L. Moody once said, “Some people go back into the past and rake up all the troubles they ever had, and then they look into the future and anticipate that they will have still more trouble, and then they go reeling and staggering all through life.”

It has been said that the past is valuable as a guidepost, but dangerous if used as a hitching post. When God’s vision for the future is darkened by our memories of the past, our minds and our hearts become similarly dark. If we are to once again see the light of God’s grace and glory, we must recognize the truth that “the past cannot be changed, but our response to it can be.”(Erwin Lutzer)

Isaiah 65:16b “For the past troubles will be forgotten and hidden from my eyes.”

There are several choices we have when it comes to the past:

  • We can dwell on it and hope to change it by the power of our imagination, leading ultimately to discouragement, despondency, and death.
  • We can hold it in our memory ready to be used at a moment’s notice to manipulate, suppress, or attack another person.
  • OR, we can learn from its mistakes, accept God’s forgiveness for it and look to the future as if it never happened.

In Isaiah 65:13-16, the LORD offers forgiveness of the past and change for the future. Here’s the hope He offers each of us.

  • My servants will eat
  • My servants will drink
  • My servants will rejoice
  • My servants will sing out of the joy of their hearts  
  • To His servants He will give another name.

Contrast that with what happens if we stay focused on the past:

  • You will go hungry
  • You will go thirsty
  • You will be put to shame
  • You will cry out from anguish of heart and wail in brokenness of spirit
  • You will leave your name to my chosen ones as a curse
  • The Sovereign LORD will put you to death

The Apostle Paul said it well when He wrote, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

I pray that today you will allow the Holy Spirit to have access to your heart. As the writer Oswald Chambers said, “If you. . . begin to find that the Holy Spirit is scrutinizing you, let his searchlight go straight down, and he will not only search you, he will put everything right that is wrong; he will make the past as though it had never been.”

Pastor John

Lucky 7

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

 “Good luck.”

“Have a good day.”

“Live long and prosper.”

“It’s Karma.”

“It’s my destiny.”

“My horoscope says…”

All the above statements are contradictory to faith in God.

Now before you close this blog down and spend the rest of the day fuming about what I just wrote, think about it. God is sovereign. He is always in control of all things. He has a specific purpose for our lives, and that purpose is centered on the command of Jesus to go into all the world and make disciples. He has already determined our destiny based on our acceptance of or rejection of His Son Jesus Christ. He has condemned the practice of seeking guidance from the stars because it is the worship of the creation rather than the Creator.

Pay attention to the warning of God in Isaiah 65:11-12. It is entirely possible and most probable that we have forsaken the Lord for the worldly worship of Fortune and Destiny.

Isaiah 65:11-12 “But as for you who forsake the LORD and forget my holy mountain, who spread a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny, I will destine you for the sword, and you will all bend down for the slaughter; for I called but you did not answer, I spoke but you did not listen. You did evil in my sight and chose what displeases me.”

Both terms used by God in this passage refer to pagan gods. According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia,  “the two names Gadh (the Hyades) and Mē (the Pleiades) taken together give the meaning of the “Fortunate Number,” i.e. seven. The spreading of the table and mingling the wine to Gadh and Mē̌ at the beginning of the year to secure good fortune throughout its course, were therefore held about the time of the Passover, as if in parody, if indeed they were not a desecration of it: heathen rites added to one of the most solemn services of Yahweh.”

People were perverting the Passover, God’s ordained feast to reveal His plan of salvation for people through the shed blood of a Lamb. They were seeking the favor and good fortune of false gods. They were throwing the dice, hoping to hit seven all the time. They sought the counsel of the stars when they should have sought the Creator of the stars.

It was the propagation of the problem of Eden, when Eve was convinced by Satan that God’s purpose and provision were not sufficient to fully satisfy the human heart. How could the people of Israel, after all God had done for them, in delivering them from the bondage of slavery to sin and directing them to the Promised Land, turn their backs on Him and declare that He alone was not sufficient for them? How could they turn instead to the gods that are not gods to seek their fortunes and destinies?

However, I cannot condemn in others, past or present, what I do myself. There are things in my life that I trust to add fulfillment, joy, peace, and prosperity that stand in direct contradiction to absolute trust in God. I’m sure you have them too. Bank accounts, retirement plans, recreational activities, vacations, possessions, sports, Facebook, and the list could go on and on. If even one aspect of this list is allowed to become a means of providing personal value and worth to our lives, we are guilty of forsaking the LORD. We spread a table for Fortune and fill bowls of mixed wine for Destiny every time we use the creation to attempt to fulfill what only the Creator can provide. We are guilty of false worship. We even forsake the worship of God with God’s people to pursue these other gods.

My friends, as we think ahead to spring and summer, we are all excited about the opportunities we will have to finally go have some fun and pursue gratification and fulfillment through vacations, recreation, and family sporting activities. Be very careful that all of it is done in the context of worship to the Creator. It is possible we are motivated by a belief that God alone is not sufficient and we need these other things to satisfy us. Our choices truly do reveal what we love and worship. Do not forsake the LORD.

Pastor John

Squeezing Raisins

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Have you ever had raisin juice? Me either. Raisin juice may be an oxymoron. Can juice be squeezed from something that is dried?

Isaiah 65:8-9 This is what the LORD says: “As when juice is still found in a cluster of grapes and men say, ‘Don’t destroy it, there is yet some good in it,’ so will I do in behalf of my servants; I will not destroy them all.  I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, and from Judah those who will possess my mountains; my chosen people will inherit them, and there will my servants live.

The nation of Israel had dried up spiritually. Not only were they no longer ripe for a harvest of righteousness, but they were also juice-less – the Living Water of God was no longer in them.

But not all of them were spiritually shriveled. There was a remnant of people who had remained juicy with the joy of the Lord. They were justified by their faith in Jesus, the coming Messiah. They were plump with promise. They were fat with faithfulness. They were sweet with servant hearts.

The LORD spoke to Isaiah and said, “At first glance it looks like the grapes are becoming raisins, which are useless to me. But if you squeeze them you will discover there is still juice in them. That juice is good, so I will not destroy those grapes, but will instead use them for their intended purpose of possessing a new Kingdom.”

There are at least two lessons here for us:

  • We are surrounded by people who are shriveling up spiritually. Maybe you are one of them. By your own evaluation or the scrutiny of others, you have determined that there is nothing good left in you. Many people around you have the same belief about themselves. But there’s Good News! God sees good juice in you yet. You are not a raisin. You are a grape plump with promise. God is calling you to an inheritance on His holy mountain. You! Wrinkles and all. You are still valuable to the Savior.
  • We must be squeezed a little for the good to come out. This may hurt a little, but the squeezing of grapes produces wine. Wine is very symbolic in the Bible. Wine is the symbol of redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ squeezed out on Calvary for the forgiveness of sins. Wine is the symbol of judgment, as God squeezes sinners in the winepress of His wrath in mankind’s last days on earth. Wine is the symbol of rejoicing, when Jesus again drinks it with all His faithful followers when the new Kingdom is established. Wine is the symbol of the adultery of mankind in false religions and self-serving spiritualism. So here is the point: when you feel squeezed by the circumstances and hardships of life, what is coming out of you? Is it good, God-honoring juice that will become new wine for the celebration of the King, or is it raisin juice that needs to be destroyed?

Your response to the squeeze is your responsibility. Your response reveals your real character. When God’s people are squeezed, good juice of righteousness comes out.

Pastor John

Grace and Truth

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, February 24, 2020

Is it possible that there is a time limit on God’s grace?

Before you try to answer that, be advised that the question is fundamentally flawed. When we attempt to put any sort of human limitations like time and space on God then we have asked the wrong question. God is God because He never ceases to be perfect. He does not set aside justice to be merciful – He is both always. He doesn’t set aside love to judge sin and sinners – He is both always.

I know, pretty deep for a Monday morning, but stick with me. Beyond our understanding, God is eternally perfect, not limited as we are to time and space, and certainly not limited to single expressions of the heart. He is always fully God in every way all the time.

But when God became incarnate in human existence in the life of Jesus, He took on time and space. The human race was able to see, for the first time, the full glory of God. It’s described for us in John 1:14 when the disciple Jesus loved wrote under the power of the Holy Spirit of God these words: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Grace and Truth – the glory of God. Both always. In human time, He showed love to those who were lost, while showing truth to those who claimed to already know it. He spoke words of grace and compassion to the needy and spoke words of anger and judgment to those who were self-righteous. Different times – same Jesus who was God in human flesh. He was Truth when He showed Grace, and He was Grace when He spoke Truth.

Why have I spent time on this? Because God reveals to us today through the prophet Isaiah that from a human perspective there is a time coming for many people when God’s grace will come to an end.

Isaiah 65:1 “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’

For now, though they reject Him, He is still making Himself available to them. Even though they do not ask for Him, He is still responding to them. When they are not looking for Him, He keeps showing up in their lives. He is offering His grace to them.

Read these words of grace from verses 2-5.

All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations— a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick;  who sit among the graves and spend their nights keeping secret vigil; who eat the flesh of pigs, and whose pots hold broth of unclean meat;  who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me, for I am too sacred for you!’ Such people are smoke in my nostrils, a fire that keeps burning all day.

God’s grace is being extended even to those who are in constant rebellion against Him. But the time is coming when He will manifest His judgment on them. Look at what else Isaiah says:

“See, it stands written before me: I will not keep silent but will pay back in full; I will pay it back into their laps— both your sins and the sins of your fathers,” says the LORD. “Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains and defied me on the hills, I will measure into their laps the full payment for their former deeds.”

Do you see the truth that God is both gracious and just always? While He is extending grace, He is also just, and will impose judgment on all those who have rejected Him.

Here’s your life link – the time of His judgment has not yet arrived. We are living in the age of grace. Yet we tend to seek justice before its time. We tend to be judgmental and critical rather than be the expressions of grace and love. We, who cannot be all things at all times as God is, have chosen to be the wrong thing.

We are called to a mission to make disciples, expressing the love of God to a lost world that rejects Him. It is by our love for God and for one another that the world will know we are the followers of Jesus. Over and over we are both commanded and encouraged to grow in love and grace, but never in judgment. It is time for us to rise up as the people of God and be the expression of God’s nature to the world around us. Let us boldly and courageously live according to the heart of our Lord so that it may be said of us –

To those who have not asked; to those who have not sought; to those who have rejected and rebelled; WE SHOWED THEM GOD’S GRACE AND LOVE.

Maybe then they will finally hear Him.

Pastor John

Have It Your Way

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, February 21, 2020

Isaiah 64:8  Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Have it your way!

Now be honest, when you read that did you instantly think of Burger King? Did you think that it was a statement directed at you, and for you, so that you can have your own way?

There is a huge difference in meaning when instead of being said to us this statement is said by us. Our pride demands that the statement be said to us. Yet the heart of Christ in us compels us to say it – first to the Father, and then to others.

That’s all I’m gonna say today. Yep, shortest devotional ever – but I guarantee you that if you re-read Isaiah 64:8 and think about how you use the phrase have it your way, it will have a huge impact on your life.

Pastor John

False Gods

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Isaiah 64:4  Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

It’s still true today – since ancient times no one has heard about, heard from, nor have they seen any God besides YHWH – Jehovah – the One and Only God. He is good. He is compassionate. He is faithful. He always acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

Every humanly proposed option for God is the fabrication of man’s imagination and is designed to ultimately promote man as his own god.

Need proof? Isaiah 64:4 offers it. God acts! He acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. No imaginary god can. The fact is that those who have imaginary gods are the ones doing all the acting on behalf of themselves. Unfortunately, all such activity of man has no enduring benefit.

Our gods of resources, responsibilities, relationships, recreation, and religion produce only temporary satisfaction that never fulfills us. But we are such creatures of the immediate that we are content with those temporary feelings. We embrace the false belief that we are avoiding the pain and loss that are experienced by everyone else.

However, there is eternal fulfillment for every soul that surrenders to the One True God for salvation. Yet even those of us who have done that still struggle with the need for immediate gratification. We have acceptance issues. We have value doubts. We have personal ambitions that we believe will compliment what God has given and supplement what He hasn’t.

But God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. We are not good at waiting. We want what we want when we want it. Yet God says some things are worth waiting for. The apostle John, whom Jesus loved, was directed by the Holy Spirit to write these words:

It does not yet appear to us what we shall be, but we know this, that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

We work so hard at our appearance in this world. Physical appearance, reputation, and perceived value dominate our priorities.  Yet all such appearances are temporary. Our permanent appearance will be realized when Jesus returns and we become like Him.  That is the appearance we should desire right now. Becoming the reflection of Jesus Christ is our greatest fulfillment and our greatest joy.

We all have other gods we have chosen because we believe it will meet some need we have.  Yet those pursuits are all a product of our imagination based on what we believe is best for us. We are our own gods, and it will end badly. Today, get rid of the idols you have chosen to bring value to your life. Trust the One True God to totally satisfy and fulfill you. He is acting on your behalf if you choose to wait for the eternal good He has in store. Let the world see that your appearance is nothing but a reflection of Jesus.

Pastor John