LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

What would it take for you to renounce your heritage, your upbringing, your value system, and your loyalties? For example, imagine being born into a Wisconsin family that for generations has supported the Packers. What would it take for you to become a Chicago Bears fan?


Now you can relate to the Apostle Paul. Yet something motivated him to renounce his national heritage, his values, and his loyalties. That something is actually a someone named Jesus.

Prior to meeting Jesus, Paul was convinced that obedience to and defending the Jewish law and traditions was the way to become right before God. But everything changed when he met Jesus and discovered an Old Testament truth found in Habakkuk 2:4.

“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.”

When the Apostle Paul met Jesus, his life was transformed by the truth that our religion, our heritage, or our works cannot earn us a right standing with God. Only faith in Jesus can justify us before the Father. Only the standing Jesus has before the Father is valid, so only those who are in Jesus can have the same standing.

This truth was so important the Old Testament passage is quoted in three New Testament books that teach the truth of justification by faith and not by works. Look them up: Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38.

Here’s how Paul declared the truth to us in Galatians 2:16.

“…yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”

Look carefully at Paul’s words. “So we also have believed in Christ Jesus.” When Paul was confronted with the truth of being made right by grace and not by works, he immediately renounced his past, switched his loyalty, and became a believer in Jesus.

What would it take for you to renounce your national and religious heritage? What would drive you to abandon your value system? What could possibly make you drop your loyalties to people, politics, possessions, or purpose? There’s only one answer – JESUS. He is the truth and the only truth, and when we believe Him, everything changes.

Pastor John



LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

I was an outsider. Yet despite the incredible grace shown to me to accept me as one of their own, I messed it up. My insecurities led me to believe that I could not be accepted for who I was. Unfortunately, the façade I wore put my acceptance in real danger. In fact, for many years, I believed the appearance of acceptance was their façade. 

My wife and I just returned from a trip to North Dakota.  We were there for three reasons. First, to see Denise’s ninety year old mother. She’s doing great. Second, to celebrate the 125th plus 1 anniversary of the only remaining city band in the entire state of North Dakota.  They are phenomenal.  The concerts they held were amazing. The whole town of 300 probably doubled in size as we celebrated. I even got to see my High School band director.  Third, I was there for my 50th High School class reunion.  After the initial shock of my age wore off, we had a fabulous time reminiscing.

As we sat around in a circle after the banquet, we read our senior class wills and prophecies.  We wondered who wrote them. When I saw mine, I was embarrassed. I decided before I read it out loud, as everyone else was doing, I would address the gathering.  I told them I had waited fifty years to share this with all of them. I expressed how much I appreciated the grace they had extended to me when they accepted me as a friend when I moved to their town in October of my senior year. Most of them had been classmates since Kindergarten. I was the outsider, but they gave me a chance to be one of them.

Then I apologized for not accepting their grace. I explained how my insecurities had created a façade based on my perceptions of what it would take to earn their acceptance. I didn’t believe I could ever fit in if I didn’t earn my way in, and all the things I did misrepresented who I really was. I confessed to them how wrong I had been.  

Whether it meant anything to them or not after all these years, it was liberating for me. I was finally able to express what I had learned about grace and acceptance from Jesus Christ.  He does not require anything from us, but freely grants acceptance based on our faith in who He is.  My insecurities were actually a distrust in the character of my classmates in the same way that our belief that we must earn our acceptance by Jesus is a distrust of His grace. I was so very glad I could tell my classmates the truth that I have died to that belief, and the life I now live I live for Christ who gave His life for me.

That’s what the Apostle Paul told the Galatian believers “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”  Galatians 2:20-21 

We are accepted by Christ because of who He is and what He did, not because of who we try to be and what we are able to do to earn acceptance. I was an outsider to Jesus too, but by grace He has accepted me.

If only I had known that in October of 1971.

But I know it now. I hope all my classmates do to.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotional

Friday, June 18, 2021

I am thrilled to be a pastor, serving my Lord and Savior by boldly proclaiming and living out the Gospel in my life. I am thankful that His grace covers me in all the times when I falter and my choices are tainted with personal ambition and preference. I am thankful for the conviction of the Holy Spirit who trains me to deny myself and take up the cross of Jesus Christ daily. I am thankful for His call on my life, the enabling of His Holy Spirit to answer the call, and the provision of persevering faith to finish the race.

However, I am troubled by an apparent contradiction I see between the people in the churches described in the New Testament and the people in church today. Here’s what bothers me. It all stems from these verses in Galatians 1:22-24.

“And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ.  They only were hearing it said, ‘He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’  And they glorified God because of me.”

In those New Testament churches, the people glorified God because the Gospel was being preached. They were completely united in a common mission, with no strings attached.

In today’s church I see people attaching strings to the Gospel. Worship music is a string. Leadership style is a string. Even friendships and fellowship are strings. People move from one church to another, many times for the wrong reasons. God is not glorified by such activity. When our personal preferences or past hurts become the determining factor in selection of a place to worship God, then we are not really worshiping God. Instead, we are worshiping the gratification of self. God is not glorified by this.

The glory of God is in the Gospel. Whether preached by a life-long follower of Jesus or a converted convict, the Gospel alone is to be honored. When our preferences for musical worship, for Bible translations, for lifestyle choices, or for relationships carry equal weight with the Gospel in determining our place to serve Jesus Christ, then we are not glorifying God.

I am troubled by what I see and experience in today’s church. I can only imagine what Jesus feels when we claim to worship Him alone, but with strings attached.

Pastor John



LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, June 17, 2021

When the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Galatian people, he was under attack. There were false teachers who were attempting to discredit him of teaching a made-up gospel. They were accusing him of being misled by other teachers who were unfaithful to the traditions of the Jewish faith. They did not believe that he was qualified to be an Apostle.

Paul does several things to declare his credibility as an Apostle:

  1. He tells them that what he is teaching did not come from other teachers,  He testifies that the truth he teaches was not made up by man, nor did he learn it from men. What he is preaching is of divine origin.
  2. Paul reminds them that his past was one of complete devotion to the Jewish traditions, but when He met Jesus his loyalties were immediately changed. The transforming power of Jesus Christ in his life resulted in a determination to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the rest of his life.
  3. He declares that he received the Gospel directly from Jesus Christ, in the same way all the other Apostles did. This means that after his conversion to Christ, Paul spent three years in the wilderness being taught the truths and principles of the kingdom of God by Jesus directly. His qualifications as an Apostle were equal to all the others.
  4. Then he renounces any idea that he was trained for the Gospel ministry by any person. No one could accuse Paul of being influenced by anyone other than Christ.

Here how Paul states it in Galatians 1:16b-17. 

…I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.

Here’s my application point for today:

Are we being trained for Gospel ministry by the Holy Spirit of God, or do we take pride in how people and their methods of Bible Study have influenced us?

It is so easy to become enamored with the way certain people teach and preach. We are better known as a follower of our favorite author than we are of Jesus. We post and quote human teachers before we quote Scripture. We even have Facebook pages and small groups devoted to teachers and preachers. But what if all those resources were gone except for the Bible? Do we not understand that the teaching of the Holy Spirit through the Word of God is absolutely sufficient to train you for Gospel ministry?

We must stop honoring people. Granted, there are great Gospel authors and commentaries. But the Holy spirit alone is the revealer of truth to us. All others are simply seasoning. Don’t focus on what’s on the meat or on who cooked the meat. Focus on the meat!

Pastor John



LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

How many conversions to Christ must we witness to be convinced that Jesus Christ can transform anyone from a terrorist to an evangelist?

I ask that question because I think there is a level of doubt in our hearts about the saving power of Jesus. The evidence for such a statement is found in the contrast between the level of fear and the intensity of prayer I see in people’s lives. We are more prone to protect ourselves from threats to our faith than we are to pray for those who threaten us.

Even though we say we believe in the transforming power of Jesus to rescue anyone from sin and make them His servant, we do not necessarily allow that belief to influence our attitudes and actions towards those who would persecute us. The Apostle Paul tells us his own story to remind us that it’s possible to go from a terrorist to an evangelist.

Galatians 1:13-14   “For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.”

The reason we do not grasp the full value of Paul’s conversion and apply it to those who oppose Christianity today may well be in our misunderstanding of grace. When we believe that man’s methods are responsible for man’s transformation, then we have ever right to be afraid. But when we believe that God’s grace is responsible for man’s transformation, then we trust the power of God to save anyone in the same way He saved us. If we believe we assisted God in saving us, then we will doubt the ability of others to save themselves. But when we fully trust the blood of Jesus Christ to save us apart from any work we do, then we will believe that anyone can be saved.

My friends, we must not live in fear of those who stand opposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must pray for their conversion to Christ. And if we have even the slightest doubt that they can be saved, then we must doubt that we are, for in God’s eyes we were all equally condemned by our sin and the cost of salvation was the same for all of us.

Start praying for the enemies of Jesus, especially those who claim to have religion.

Pastor John

First Choice


LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

When I was a boy, I didn’t like standing in a line while two appointed captains looked us over and chose those who were good enough to be on their teams. First, the captains were chosen because everyone agreed they were the best players. Already I am feeling inferior. Then, one by one, players were chosen based on their ability to bring victory to the team. As each was chosen, my confidence sank. The closer I got to being the last one chosen the more I felt like a necessary addition to the team that would only subtract from the team’s chances.

I remember the first time I was chosen to be the captain. My first selection was a friend who was consistently chosen last. Everyone laughed at me. It didn’t matter. Everyone deserves a chance to be first.

Life can feel like we were chosen last. Daily routines and circumstances sink our confidence into the murk of mundane mediocrity. People’s actions and reactions drain our energy and damage our endurance. Quitting the team seems like a viable option.

But then the marvel of our Maker shines through the darkness with eternal Light. Here’s how Paul describes it.

Galatians 1:15-16a  But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me…”

Almighty, Eternal, Sovereign God saw me before I was ever in line and set me apart to be His.

He called my name, even though others seemed more qualified to be called. His call was not based on my qualifications, but was a response to His love and grace.

He revealed Jesus to me. He gave me His qualifications. He gave me His life. He gave me everything I needed to be a member of His victorious team.

WOW! My energy is restored. I am determined to endure to the end. I have been chosen first.

So have you.

Pastor John



LifeLink Devotional

Monday, June 14, 2021

“Speak for yourself.”

This phrase is often used to tell someone that we do not share their viewpoint on a particular subject. But it is also used to validate one’s own viewpoint. In fact, speaking for yourself is one of the guiding principles of living for self. When we choose to determine truth based solely on our personal experiences and preferences, the right to speak for ourselves is essential. 

The Apostle Paul was transformed from a man who spoke for himself to a man who let Someone else speak for him. He wrote about it in his letter to the churches of Galatia, which we are studying this summer. In Galatians chapter one, starting in verse 11, Paul declares that he never speaks for himself. I encourage you to read verses 11-24. 

We are tempted to let many things speak for us. Good works. Good looks. Our intellect. Our experience. Our talents. Our strengths. And while these things may suffice to speak for us to other people, they fall far short of achieving any recognition with God.

Yesterday in our worship service we sang a song that deeply moved me. It’s words resounded in my heart all day. It reminded me that I do not speak for myself. I cannot. I have nothing to offer to God that is able to rescue me from the condemnation of sin. I have only one hope. This is my declaration of what speaks for me.

Be still my soul, redeeming love out of the dust of Calvary is rising to the throne above. There is no vengeance in His cry while “it is finished, fills the sky. Forgiveness is the final plea. The blood of Jesus speaks for me.

My heart can barely take it in, He pardons all my guilty stains. Surrender all my shame to Him, He breaks the curse of every chain. My sin is great, but greater still the boundless grace His heart reveals. A mercy deeper than the sea, the blood of Jesus speaks for me.

When my accuser makes the claim that I should die for my offense, I point him to that rugged frame where I found life at Christ’s expense. See from His hands, His feet, His side, the fountain flowing deep and wide. Oh hear it shout the victory, the blood of Jesus speaks for me.

Worthy is the Lamb, Lamb for sinners’ slain. Jesus, Lord of all, glory to His name. Heaven crying out, let the earth proclaim, power in the blood, glory to His name. Jesus!

Oh let my soul arise and sing. My confidence is not in vain. The One who fights for me is King. His oath, His covenant remain. No condemnation now I dread, eternal hope is mine instead. His Word will stand, I stand redeemed. The blood of Jesus speaks for me.

Amazing love, how can it be? The blood of Jesus speaks for me.



LifeLink Devotional

Friday, June 11, 2021

We are nearing the end of a universal war that has been in progress since before the creation of the world. It is the battle between God, the Sovereign Creator and Ruler of all things, and all His created beings that are capable of rational thought. The war is being fought over the souls of people on the battleground of belief. The conflict is between two belief systems. The first is that God is God and that He is loving and good. The second is that we are our own gods, and that we are better at managing our own lives to produce good.

The primary combatants are God and Satan. The battle is not over the knowledge of God’s existence; Satan and all his demons believe that God exists. The fight is about whether God is True and Good, and able to be trusted to rule in such a way that we are fully loved and accepted and fulfilled in life. Atheists and agnostics are not really striving to prove there isn’t a God, but they are seeking to prove that they themselves are god.

One of the tactics used by the enemies of God is to renounce the truth of the Gospel by discrediting all spirituality. Jean Meslier (1664-1729) served as a Catholic priest for 40 years, but after his death was discovered to have written the very first book-length philosophical essay promoting atheism.

Meslier says all religions are human inventions:

“All the laws and orders that are issued in the name and authority of God or the gods are really only human inventions… invented by shrewd and crafty politicians, afterward cultivated and multiplied by the false seducers and charlatans, then accepted blindly by the ignorant, and finally supported and authorized by the laws of the princes and rulers of the earth who used these human inventions to keep a tight rein on the community of men and do with them what they wanted.”

In contrast to that statement, the Apostle Paul states in his God-inspired letter to the churches of Galatia,  “For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.”(Galatians 1:11)

Paul did not invent the Gospel, nor did he receive it from men; but he personally received the Gospel from Jesus Christ. Both his message and his apostolic ministry were divinely given. Therefore, anybody who added anything to or took anything away from Paul’s Gospel was in danger of divine judgment, because that Gospel was given by Jesus Christ from heaven.

The war for truth is being fought on many battlefields in the church today. Is Jesus God? Did Jesus rise from the dead into an eternal body? Is the Bible the inspired revelation of God without error? And the list goes on. But one thing is common in all the debates and deconstruction of Biblical truth: they are all an attempt to validate man as his own god and conform God to our imaginations. The single motivation behind man’s attempt to rediscover truth is to agree with Satan that we should be gods of our own lives.

Every one of us has a choice to believe in a god – either one of our own making or the One who made us. It is a decision with eternal consequences. Choose wisely.

Pastor John  

Don’t Negotiate


LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, June 10, 2021

From early childhood we learn how to negotiate. Unless we put a bridle on it and reign it in, negotiation will soon gallop into manipulation. I have watched this far too often in children who are given permission at an early age to debate the decisions of a parent. By the time they are teenagers they are experts at getting their way.

When it comes to the truth of the Gospel, the Apostle Paul leaves no room for negotiation. When anyone brings false teaching into the local church they are to be immediately disciplined by removing them. There is to be no leaven in the pure bread of life.

Galatians 1:8  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

Unfortunately, the church today seems to be embracing the reconstruction of the Gospel. I am currently reading a book written by a former member of the contemporary Christian band ZOEgirl, Alisa Childers. She describes her involvement in the movement called Progressive Christianity, and how by grace she was rescued from it. The book is entitled Another Gospel?. I recommend it to you.

The progressive movement’s agenda is not new. It starts with the deconstruction of all Gospel truth under the guise of removing any bias we have. Then the Gospel is reconstructed under the false pretense that it must fit into the parameters of our individual experiences and preferences. It is a deadly game of conforming the Gospel to man rather than conforming man to the Gospel.

Just as Alisa Childers was drawn into this movement by the persuasive words of a talented pastor, we too can be tempted to deconstruct our faith by the engaging eloquence of false teachers. They promise prosperity. They promise personal gratification. They promise a savior who separates spiritual life from the pursuit of pleasure. It is a modern revision of the ancient Gnostic philosophy which was so prevalent in the days of Christ and the Apostles.

Recently I was asked how we can learn more about these threats to the truth of the Gospel. My answer was simple. Study the truth so thoroughly that any deviation from it is immediately obvious. With our eyes fixed on Jesus with His unchangeable nature, and our minds transformed by the unchangeable truth of the Gospel,  we will not be conformed to the pattern of thinking so prevalent in the world today.


Pastor John