Now I Get It!

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

“Now I get it.”

Have you ever made that statement before you really got it? I have. In fact, sometimes it’s a deflection intended to end the conversation.

The disciples told Jesus that they got it before they really did. Just hours before His arrest, Jesus spoke plainly to His disciples about what His sacrifice on the cross would accomplish on their behalf. He said, “ In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.” (John 16:26-27)

Let’s pause for a moment. Look deeply into what Jesus said here. When the sacrifice for sin was complete, and eternal life was guaranteed by the resurrection, Jesus guaranteed us personal connection to the Father. His sacrifice reconciled our relationship that had been broken by sin. In Christ, we can come boldly and directly to God the Father. God the Father loves us, and through belief in Jesus we are lavished in His love as His eternal children. HALLELUJAH!

The disciples respond to this news with “Now we get it!” Look at verses 29-30. His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.”

Jesus is not convinced they really get it. He points out something they may not have considered. “Do you now believe? Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone.” Jesus wants them to understand that believing on Him will be tough. Relationships will change. Comfort zones will explode. It will be hard to follow Jesus in a world that doesn’t.

After warning us of the dangers, Jesus gives us all an incredible promise to counteract our fears. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

So today, no matter the circumstances of life, Jesus has already overcome them. No matter the level of unrest, Jesus offers peace. Confidence and rest are available at the cross of Jesus Christ, where our relationship to the Father was healed.

“Now I get it.”

Pastor John

He’s Still Here

LifeLink Devotional

March 30, 2020

Really? I hear that a lot in people’s conversations today. It’s a one word statement of disbelief in what has just been said. It’s intended to make the other person reconsider what they just said and why they said it.

From what I can discern Jesus originated that question. Without ever using the word itself, He definitely questioned what the disciples were concerned about after He has just told them the reason He would be temporarily leaving them. We read about it in the Gospel of John chapter 16.

John 16:16-19 16  “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17  So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18  So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19  Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’?

Here’s a brief background. In the Upper Room, celebrating the Passover, Jesus has revealed to the disciples the redemptive plan of God. Jesus would offer Himself as the Passover Lamb for the forgiveness of sins.

Then Jesus told them that this would require Him to leave them for a short period of time, and that they would experience great sorrow. He informs them that the sorrow is only temporary because He would see them again. He had explained to them that during His time away He would send the Holy Spirit to dwell in them and be His ever-abiding presence with them.

The disciples immediately began to discuss what Jesus meant by saying He was leaving, and what He meant by “a little while.” Their focus was on what they would be missing.

Then Jesus says to them, “Really?”. Well, not really, but that’s exactly what He meant when He said, “Is this what you are asking yourselves…” Really? After everything I just told you about my sacrifice for sin? After the news I gave you that I would come and dwell in you through the Holy Spirit? This is what you are focused on? You care more about how long I will be gone rather than embracing the promise that I’m not gone at all? Really?

I wonder how many times we care more about how long Jesus has been gone, rather than the fact the He’s not gone at all? Do we not understand that His Presence is in us, and He is our constant guide and companion? I wonder how many of us suffer from a lack of joy because we think it’s only possible when we get to heaven?

Jesus addressed the disciples’ wrong focus with these words. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:22) Just think, Jesus promises us that when the Holy Spirit comes, His joy can NEVER be removed from us.

Then He says this, in my words. “Don’t just sit there, start asking me for anything you need to accomplish my glory and the Father’s redemptive purpose. I will give it to you, and fill you with joy to the point of overflowing.”

Really? Overflowing joy? Sounds unlikely. But only if our focus is on what’s missing, rather than who’s already Present. If anyone is going to say “Really?” to me, let it be because I am overflowing with joy in spite of what’s going on in the world.

Pastor John

Courage to Stand

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, March 27, 2020

Here are some facts to consider:

  • The farther down the road of human government we get the further we get from the knowledge of God.
  • The more we depend upon human wisdom for answers to life, the further we get from the wisdom of Jesus Christ who created life and sustains it by His powerful word.
  • The more enamored we become with the treasures of this world, the emptier we become of eternal treasure.
  • The further we get from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the more filled we become with worldly treasures, the more likely we are to find a way to justify our choices and activities as pleasing to God.
  • The day has arrived when, in the name of pleasing God, selfishness will dictate the destruction of what actually pleases God.

Prior to His death on the cross, Jesus warned His disciples of such a day.

John 16:1-4 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.

Today, and every day, no matter the risk or consequences, I, John van Gorkom, will stand courageously in the face of the world’s opposition and declare that Jesus Christ is Lord. Filled with the Holy Spirit, and equipped with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, I will proclaim the grace of God through the Cross of Jesus Christ, and invite people to trust Jesus with their eternal soul.

Will you take such a stand?

Pastor John

In Denial

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, March 26, 2020

I tend to be a lot like the Apostle Peter. Here’s one example.

When I was in my third year of college, I joined with three other guys and rented an apartment not far from campus. The apartment complex had a swimming pool. One day, while swimming, a girl came to the pool. I started a conversation with her. She asked me if I was a student. After saying I was, she asked where I went to college. My brain quickly flashed through a variety of scenarios based on the answer I would give her. I assumed that if I said I went to a Christian College, that my chances to get to know her would be eliminated. So I lied. Not a good start, and the guilt caused me to walk away and go back to my apartment.

During dinner with His disciples, Jesus began speaking about going somewhere they would not be able to join Him. He was referring to the place of death on the cross. Peter argued with the Lord, and boldly declared that no matter what happened he was willing to lay down his life for Jesus. He lied.

John 13:36-38 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” 37Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

Jesus predicted that Peter would fail. He told Peter to his face that within 12 hours he would deny that he even knew Jesus, let alone followed Him. Peter chose self-preservation and self-benefit over faithfulness to Christ.

I wonder how many times every day I do the same thing. I did it at the swimming pool. Do I continue to do it when I am in the company of people whom I believe will reject me if I am faithful to Jesus? Am I guilty of self-preservation or self-benefit?

Good questions to consider.

Pastor John

 

Serve Others

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Many years ago, while in the Philippines, I spoke to one of the most memorable gatherings of people ever – for me. There were 400 ECOFI (Evangelical Christian Outreach Foundation Incorporated) pastors and wives present, along with many other Christian workers and students from the Bible Colleges. I spoke on the servant heart of Jesus from the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet in John 13.

Imagine this. Jesus has invited His closest followers to celebrate the Passover Supper with Him. They all arrive in the upper room of a home, where dinner has been prepared. No household servant is there to wash their feet as they enter, so they all recline at the table with dirty feet.

Jesus rises, and proceeds to wash all of their feet. Only one refuses at first, but He is quickly convinced that this is an important principle of Christ’s Kingdom. We need to understand that what Jesus does and says in this action is to be forever our motivating principle of faith. We are to serve one another.

John 13:12-16 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

At the conclusion of my message that evening, I had twelve college students prepared to bring out twelve basins of water with towels, and twelve chairs. I invited to the stage the twelve District Supervisors who guided the 300 churches in ECOFI. As tears of joy and repentance spilled from my eyes, I washed each of their feet. Tears streamed down their faces as well. Together we recognized that we had become proud of our ministries, and were asking others to serve us.

Each District Supervisor then went and washed the feet of the pastors for their district. Then pastors started washing the feet of other pastors with whom they had been in competition. Then pastors started washing the feet of their people. College professors were washing the feet of the students. Husbands washed the feet of their wives and children. For three hours the model of Christ’s servant heart was evidenced in this gathering of disciples.

That was over 10 years ago. Two weeks ago I received this message from one of the Filipino people who was present at that meeting.

i dont really forgotten wen yu speak washing the feet i was remember wen yu wash my feet i m so blessed

The greatest impact we can have on the lives of others is to serve them like Jesus served us. He gave His life for us. There is no greater love to be seen by the world.

No matter the cost, go and serve others.

Pastor John

At the Cross

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

It is possible that we are distracted from things of eternal value. Things of earthly value are becoming increasingly important to us as our security and health are being threatened. We must not allow the circumstances of life or the tenuous nature of things to dismay us. Discouragement is the product of placing faith in things that are not guaranteed.

However, the resurrection power of Jesus Christ to give us eternal life is guaranteed. As we approach Easter, it will benefit us to study the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is His love for us that makes relationship with God possible. For the next two weeks we will study the things Jesus said leading up to the cross, and the seven things Jesus said while on the cross. My prayer is that you will be encouraged as you refocus your thoughts and attitudes on the future glory of our eternal life with Jesus.

As Jesus prepared to show us the nature of God’s love by becoming the sacrifice necessary to satisfy the wrath of God against sin, He spoke these words:

 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28  Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29  The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30  Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31  Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32  And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33  He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.  John 12:27-33

Two points to encourage us today:

  1. Jesus asked that everything he did would be for the glory of the Father. The Father’s response was that it already has been, and He would be glorified in everything that was to take place. God the Father is glorified by the sacrifice of His own Son Jesus for our sin. God’s grace is on display at the cross. The Father’s love is fully expressed at the cross. God’s redemptive purpose is accomplished at the cross.
  2. Jesus declares that there is victory at the cross. Victory over every spiritual enemy. Victory over the judgment due sinners. Victory over death by defeating death. Jesus endured the full wrath of God against sin, and died. His death on the cross makes it possible for us to be drawn to Him for salvation.

As we prepare to celebrate Easter in a unique way this year, let us remember that the source of our praise is still the same. God’s glory has been revealed in the work of Jesus on the cross, and God’s redemptive purpose to draw people to Himself is accomplished when Jesus is lifted up.

Let us proclaim more boldly and loudly than ever before that Jesus is the only hope for the world.

Pastor John

The True Vine

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, March 23, 2020

One day, during the time of the year when the branches of the grape vines produce blossoms, the Master of the vineyard went about inspecting the vineyard. He came upon a branch that had no blossoms. He asked the branch why it had no blossoms. The branch replied, “I am not fully attached to the main vine. There is enough connection to provide nourishment for leaf growth, but not sufficient flow of nutrients to produce blossoms. I will bear no fruit for you, even though I have every appearance of health.”

The Master removed the branch from the vine.

As the Master of the vineyard proceeded, he noticed another branch with no blossoms. Once again, the Master asked the branch why it had no blossoms. The branch replied, “I cannot understand why I don’t have blossoms. I am fully connected to the main vine, but I don’t seem to be getting the correct nutrients required to produce the fruit of my choosing. It is my preference to produce apples for you, because they are more important to me than grapes. Please help me understand why the main vine will not provide me with what I need to satisfy my own desires.”  

The Master removed the branch from the vine.

Once more the Master made his way along the long rows of grapevines, until he noticed a branch with only a few leaves, and a small cluster of blossoms. He asked the branch why he was producing so little. The branch replied, “I am fully connected to the main vine, and I am receiving all the nutrients I need to bear fruit. However, between my blossoms and the vine are other branches that have sprung out of me which are draining my energy so I cannot bear much fruit. Can you help me?” The Master spoke gently and lovingly. “I am so thankful for your desire to bear much fruit. I will help you, but it will require that you be pruned. We must remove those branches that are not producing and stealing all of the vine’s resources. I will cut you back so you will grow new leaves and next year, you will produce much fruit.” Even though he knew it would hurt, and that for a time he would not produce any fruit, he trusted the Master’s love. He knew he would remain attached to the vine. He knew the Master would do what was best so he could fulfill His purpose of bearing much fruit.

The Master pruned the branch so that all the vine’s resources went into fruit production.

The branch smiled.

John 15:1-2 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

Pastor John