LifeLink Devotions (Click link for audio version)

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Forgiveness is a multi-faceted gem. It is indescribably beautiful and of unappraisable value. It is the single most significant aspect of the grace of God. It sets Christianity apart from all other attempts at faith. It is to be the greatest distinction between followers of Christ and followers of all other religious philosophies. We have been forgiven! We forgive others!

Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

But simply saying we forgive and sincerely living forgiveness are unfortunately two separate things for far too many people. We have all been guilty of claiming to forgive someone without following through with a loving plan to restore them to the position they had with us prior to their guilt. Let me share some of the missing facets in our practice of forgiveness:

  1. Forgiving someone involves the healing of the wound in our heart by the Holy Spirit. How can we say we forgive if our attitude toward the offender has not been healed? We are to forgive as the Lord forgave us, and when He forgave He wiped the slate clean, washed all the sin away, removed it as far as the east is from the west, buried it in the deepest sea, and put up a no fishing sign because He chooses to remember the sin no more. The Holy Spirit will bring the same type of forgiveness to us if we let Him. When we forgive someone, we must choose to remember it no more and act as if it never happened. The Holy Spirit will honor that choice and heal the wound completely. I know that in our flesh our emotions need time to heal and be restored, and trust takes time to be earned. But forgiveness is not of the flesh, it is of the Spirit. I hope I don’t offend you, but I think we use our emotions and the trust issue as a justification for holding a grudge. I think we have really missed the wonder and awe and joy of true forgiveness by not allowing the Holy Spirit to bring the miraculous power of Christ’s forgiveness to our hearts. We somehow feel good about holding the offense over the head of the offender, reminding them of their failure, because we believe it is our responsibility to make sure they change. Oh how we interfere with the work of Holy Spirit. What arrogance we display to believe that we are the instruments of changing another person’s life. I challenge you to read carefully 1 Corinthians 1:23 – 2:11 and see how Paul both forgave and told the church to forgive.
  2. Forgiveness involves restoration. How severely Jesus was criticized for His practice of forgiveness. Imagine allowing a demonically possessed prostitute to eat with Him and wash his feet with expensive oil. She had not been to any counseling. She had not been given the time to prove that her repentance was real by submitting her life to the public scrutiny of other Christians who outwardly hoped she would succeed but inwardly believed she could not.  She was inspected by people who looked for every possible point of failure, ready to announce to the world that she was a fake. Do I sound a little cynical? I am, because I have been the one scrutinized, I have done the scrutinizing, and most likely so have you. But Jesus modeled true forgiveness, because it involved immediate restoration. Yes, Jesus knew the true condition of her heart and we may not, but the Holy Spirit does, and forgiveness is His work, not ours. When we qualify restoration based on human requirements, is it not just an attempt to eliminate the possibility of future pain? Are we not simply seeking the protected road for ourselves? Is there any value to those requirements for the offender? Did Jesus ever require a restoration process, or did He simply restore the person completely at the point of repentance?

There is more to be said but I think we have enough to chew on for today. Forgiveness is an incredible gift we have received and we are empowered to give. Let’s do it according to the love of Christ, not according to the law of the flesh. I am convinced that the world will beat a path to our door and then beat our door down to become a part of a church that truly lives the forgiveness of Jesus.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions (Click on link for audio version)

Monday, November 29, 2021

I hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving. Let’s pick up where we left off last Wednesday with our study of the nine characteristic behaviors of a mature Christian as described by Paul in Ephesians 4. Today we focus on kindness and compassion. Here are a couple of verses to get us started.

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

There are two words for kindness in the New Testament: one speaks of philanthropy, or having a giving heart toward mankind. The other, used here, speaks of moral integrity that provides whatever is needed. Philanthropy can become self-serving, but true kindness never does. In fact, the word “kind” in Ephesians 4 means “employed”, so as mature Christians we are to be of such moral integrity that we are always usefully employed in the meeting of the needs of others.

There is a necessary connection between kindness and compassion. Compassion is the English translation of the Greek words meaning “bowels of mercy.” In other words, to have compassion is to have your gut wrenched by the needs of another person – to feel it deep in the pit of your stomach because you so sympathize with their condition. As a result of that connection with a person in need, your moral integrity employs you to meet that need. That’s the teamwork of compassion and kindness in the life of a mature Christian.

I must confess that my compassion for the needy has become qualified by the abusers of my kindness. Too many times I have experienced professional needers whom I have helped, only to discover that they are doing nothing to help themselves. The serious consequence of these experiences has been that my ability to be compassionate has been deadened to a degree. I qualify my emotional response to their condition by judging their personal responsibility for that condition. “They will just have to live with those consequences” becomes the rationalization of non-involvement. Of course wisdom from God is essential in making decisions of what kind of help to give in every situation, but the acts of kindness are not my main concern here. What I’m troubled by is the loss of compassion in my heart, and maybe in yours.

When was the last time we were moved in the pit of our stomach by a news story about starving children? How driven to action are we by the obvious needs of a sin-sick society of people living around us every day? How many of us are simply glad that we are sufficiently removed from those people that they do not influence our lives? How many of us are tempted to live by the philosophy of self-preservation and personal contentment?

My friends, may the Holy Spirit of God remind us of our condition according to Colossians 3:12 – “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved” – we who were sinners are now holy, and we who were unlovely are now loved. As children of God and mature followers of Jesus Christ our Savior, show the same tender compassion and kindness to others that has been shown to you by God. Just as God feels and responds intimately to every need of our lives because His very nature employs Him to do so, so should we feel and respond intimately to the needs of others because His nature in us employs us to do so.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions (Click link for audio version)

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

I have been in denial for a long time. I used to think I didn’t have a problem controlling my emotions. I have since discovered the honest truth that I simply bury them underneath a false pretense of emotional stability. I was taught as a child that there were good emotions and bad emotions, and to become like Christ we had to bury the bad emotions and cover ourselves only in the good ones. I can smile at someone I’m mad at with the best of you.

Emotions are never evil. They are part of the created image of God in us. They have been corrupted by sin so they may produce sinful actions, but the emotion itself is not evil. In Ephesians 4:26 the Apostle Paul says, “In your anger do not sin.” Anger is not sin, but it can produce sinful behavior.  

The reason I tell you all of this is to help us open up and evaluate our emotional responses to circumstances and people’s actions. We have minimized and sometimes overlooked the unrighteousness of our actions that spring from uncontrolled emotions. We sometimes even defend our emotional reactions as righteous indignation, comparing ourselves to Jesus when He cleared the temple of the moneychangers. But let’s be very careful – Jesus had no selfishness in Him and did nothing for personal benefit. Before we begin to defend our emotional outbursts and responses, let’s make sure we are that pure.

James challenges us with this thought – for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 4:20)Mature members of the Body of Christ have an honest sense of their emotional state, and are growing to become emotionally stable.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself today as you consider the emotional aspect of being a mature Christian:

  1. Do my emotions reflect the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
  2. Do I tend to justify my emotional responses because of the benefit they are to me or because of the righteous life they model to others?
  3. How does an angry outburst like yelling or hitting model the righteous character of Christ who remained silent when reviled and did not strike back when struck?
  4. How does a sarcastic or hurtful comment model the righteous responses of Christ who spoke words of love and forgiveness to those who nailed Him to the cross?
  5. How does worry and frustration model the peace of God that passes all understanding?

Think about these things as you open up your emotional life to the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit. Emotional stability is a part of the righteous life God desires.

Pastor John

Have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING. LifeLink Devotions will return on Monday.


LifeLink Devotions (click link for audio version)

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

If we are going to have REAL church, and the church is made up people who live in eternal relationship with Jesus, then those people should have some distinguishing characteristics. As the Apostle Paul defines the people of the church in Ephesians 4:17-5:2 he lists nine specific behaviors that will be visible in the lives of God’s people.

The first characteristic of mature behavior is to BE HONEST.

Ephesians 4:25  “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”

The context here is how we behave in our conversations with others. I think we can also apply this principle to other forms of honesty as well. Honesty must go deeper than just telling the truth – it must go to the heart and the motives for all that is spoken or done. We must be willing to look at our intentions for what we say and do to determine if we are truly being honest. Let me illustrate.

Little Johnnie and his brother Billy are playing in the yard. Johnnie has always felt a little inferior to Billy, and looks for every opportunity to build himself up and feel better about himself, especially if it can be at the expense of Billy. Both the boys have been clearly informed of the rules and boundaries of the yard, but on this day Billy gets adventurous and wanders outside the perimeter into an ornery neighbor’s yard. Rather than go after Billy and try to coax him back, Johnnie seizes the opportunity for increased standing with mom by going in the house and telling her, “Mom, Billy’s in the neighbor’s yard, and because I didn’t want to break the rules too I didn’t go after him but I came and got you. I love you, Mom.”

Now Johnnie told the truth, but he was not being honest about who he was as a person while doing it. He purposefully got someone else in trouble because of his own need for approval, rather than demonstrating a true heart of concern for his brother’s needs.

I wonder how many of our behaviors and words are designed for personal benefit rather than for the benefit of others. Our Scripture verse says that honesty is important because “we are all members of one body.” No one purposefully uses one part of their body to hurt another part just because the first part needs to feel better. If my right hand is lonely and needs attention it does not reach out and pinch the left arm thinking that somehow the rest of the body will respond with approval. Quite the opposite – all the attention will go to the hurting part and the efficiency of the whole body is minimized. The body becomes introspective and ingrown because it is always having to deal with the pains of hurting and hurtful parts. Dishonesty causes disharmony, which causes disunity, which causes disdain, which causes disapproval. The church ceases to function effectively as a witness to the love of God in Christ Jesus. And it all started with a word or action motivated by selfish gain.

Let’s be honest with our words, our motives, and our actions, so that the body is built up to full-functioning status accomplishing the glorious purpose of God – to be a place where the hurting can come for healing not more hurting.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions (Click on link for audio version)

Monday, November 22, 2021

 The fifth and final quality control test for the church is found in Ephesians 4:16.

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

The comparison Paul has made here is to a living body – a skeletal system held together by all of the muscles and ligaments – that is growing and becoming stronger because each part of the body is doing its part.

It is tragic when the function of a vital organ is either diminished or ceases in a person’s life. In some instances it can cause immediate death. It is also tragic when a part of the body does not respond to the output of the vital organs and ceases to grow. We call such bodies “disabled,” and their usefulness is limited in varying degrees.

Every born again believer in Jesus Christ has been given a gift from the Holy Spirit to be an active working part of the body of Christ.  Paul writes a clear description of this in 1 Corinthians 12 where he describes the interdependent nature of all the parts of the body.

There are three very import principles from that passage of Scripture. I hope you take the time to look it up.

  1. Everyone in the body has a unique and specific purpose and function. Some of you already know how God has equipped you to serve and you are doing it. Some of you know what it is you’re equipped to do but you’re not doing it. Why not? Some of you don’t know yet how God has equipped you to serve Him and you’re asking, “Where do I fit?” We can help you find your fit.
  2. No one’s function is dispensable. Just as our physical bodies suffer when one part isn’t working correctly, so the church suffers when each part is not working at its spiritual capacity. Indulge me in a golf example. I had some problems this past summer with my physical condition that greatly affected my ability to perform the way I usually do. Arthritis in my thumbs and a torn meniscus in my right knee bothered me quite a bit. I had to make adjustments that reduced the effectiveness of my swing. To function up to par (get it?) every part has to be working efficiently. So it is in the church. Your work is essential. Do not measure your value by your function. (“Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,”)  Every function is necessary.
  3. No one’s function is indispensable. Let no one say or believe about themselves that the church cannot function without them, and let no one say or believe that someone else is indispensable. (The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”)  In fact, those parts of the body that seem dispensable and unnecessary are given special honor by the Lord so that there is unity in the body and each part works in harmony and peace with the others. As Jesus Christ, the Head of the church, looks down on your church, He sees equality of value and purpose in everyone’s gifts. Do not confuse influence with importance.

My prayer is for every one of you to discover your unique and wonderful purpose in the body of Christ, and to discover the fulfillment of your life by accomplishing that purpose for God’s glory in the local church. You are wonderfully created, uniquely gifted, fully equipped, and spiritually empowered to accomplish a specific purpose for God. Now get to it!

 Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions (Click Link for Audio Blog)

Friday, November 19, 2021

Today we come to the fourth quality control test for a real church – love. To write a single devotional on the subject of love overwhelms me. If I were to write a daily devotional on every passage of Scripture that uses the word love, I would have material for the next 138 weeks. Obviously this is an important and vital subject from the heart of God, for God is love.

Our purpose in this study this week has been to evaluate the spiritual condition of the church that we attend in light of Paul’s words in Ephesians about what the church is.  In today’s Scripture we discover that the church, the whole body of Christ, is growing, and as it grows its distinguishing characteristic is to be love.

Ephesians 4:15-16  “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

What I would like us to do today is to consider the following passages of Scripture that speak about love within the fellowship of believers and its expression outward to the world. I pray that they will minister to our spirits.  

1 Peter 1:22  “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.”

1 Peter 2:17  “Show proper respect to everyone: love the brotherhood of believers…”

1 Peter 3:8  “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”

1 Peter 4:8  “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”

1 John 3:14-18  “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers…This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers…Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 

1 John 4:7-12  “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

I don’t know about you, but I am both convicted and blessed. Convicted that I do not love enough. Blessed to know that I can love to this extent because of God’s love in me.  So here are two action points:

  1. Seek out those we already love and love them more. Do something unrequested and unreturnable.
  2. Seek out those we don’t yet love and love them. Do something undeserved.

Have a great weekend showing God’s love to everyone.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions (Click link for audio blog)

Thursday, November 18, 2021

So far this week we have looked at two of the 5 characteristics of a quality church as found in the book of Ephesians.  On Monday we discussed holiness. On Tuesday and Wednesday we looked at unity. Today, we look at characteristic #3 – maturity.

In Ephesians 4:13, Paul says this – “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” The Greek word for mature used here means “to be brought to its end and need nothing more for completion.”

The conclusion to be drawn from this word’s usage in this verse is that it is entirely possible for the church today to be so complete in Christ that we lack nothing and attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Has anyone out there ever been to a church like that? Anyone want to be a part of a church like that?

Well I do! If it’s possible, then I want to see it happen and be a part of it. It’s my personality to be that way. I want the fullness of every experience. I want the best of what life offers. I want a hole in one on every par three. I want a record-breaking fish on every cast. Of course these things are possible, but not necessarily fulfilling. What I really want is someone saved with every sermon. I want lives changed and empowered by the Holy Spirit in every ministry of the church. I want people on their knees in repentance seeking the forgiveness of God. I want people focused on Jesus Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit. I want a church of mature people who are experiencing the fullness of Jesus Christ in their lives so that He powerfully impacts every part of their being. I want these things not because I’m selfish or seeking personal glory or fame or recognition. Let that never be the case. I want them because it’s possible and it is God’s desire and provision for us. It is not immature to want the fullness of what is available; it is actually mature to do so – at least in the spiritual realm.

There are many aspects of the fullness of Christ which we could discuss, but let me focus on just one today, and I will trust that you will do a continuing study using your concordance on the other passages in the New Testament that talk about fullness and maturity. The passage I want to share with you is again found in Ephesians, chapter 3, verses 14-21. Read them carefully. They are my prayer for all of you and for our church.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Notice 3 powerful points:

  1. Building our lives on the love of God gives us God’s power to spiritually understand the fullness of God’s love which is not humanly knowable.
  2. The understanding of God’s love produces the fullness of God’s being in us.
  3. The fullness of God in us gives us the power to do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine.

All of this is made possible because it will result in God’s glory in the church. I want that! I want the powerful presence of God’s love to fill every part of our church and its ministries. That means it has to start with me, and with you. So whatever you do today, do it all in the name of Jesus and for God’s glory. Be mature!

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions (Click Link for Audio Blog)

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Yesterday we began a discussion on unity in the Body of Christ. One additional thought from yesterday is this – unity is not something we accomplish or create – it is something we experience as a gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.” Notice that he does not tell us to create unity, or to develop unity, or to strive for unity, but rather he says to keep the unity of the Spirit. We are caretakers of what the Holy Spirit produces when our hearts are focused on the person and work of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!

For today you were asked to read and study First Corinthians chapter 3. In that passage we see the ways in which people tend to divide churches rather than unite them. It’s easy then to see how churches fail to keep this wonderful gift from God called unity.

1 Corinthians 3:3-9, 21-23 “You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.”

Paul admonishes the church at Corinth to consider why there were divisions between groups of people.

  1. People were acting according to the world’s standards of behavior and not according to the Spirit’s transforming power. The worldly characteristics of social and economic advancement had become the norm of the church. People were seeking their own agendas and aligning themselves with support groups that would help them defend their positions. They even went so far as to become name-droppers, hoping that the influence of a famous and influential person would add credibility to their position. Some even claimed that they were the most committed to Christ. What arrogance it is to try and win an argument by playing the “I’m the most spiritually minded” card.
  2. People were suffering from worldly insecurity, which manifested itself in selfishness. You see, insecure people desire and demand value to be added to their lives, and in most cases that value is added by making comparisons to others. When an insecure person can judge their lives to be more successful or spiritual than someone else, they feel good. When their lives are not so successful or spiritual as another person, jealousy results. Then quarrelling begins as people try to prove their positions for the sake of defending their personal value.
  3. People were giving the credit to men for spiritual accomplishments when God alone is worthy of all glory and praise. “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” Anytime people take credit for what God alone can accomplish the Holy Spirit’s ministry is quenched and the spirit of unity is destroyed.

As you can see, when the focus of our lives turns from Christ to men, huge problems result. Paul says it this way – “So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.”

Do not be a follower of a mere man or woman. Do not model your life after a mortal person. Do not attempt to add value and credibility to your life by aligning yourself with a particular preacher or movement that claims some superior knowledge or spiritual experience. Do not even call your particular theological position by a man’s name. Man has no business standing in the place of God. His only business is being a servant of God.

Please look carefully at every area of your spiritual life, and make sure that no claim to fame is being made because of what you believe or claim to know. If there is any pride in us, any attempt to draw attention to ourselves, any jealousy, or any need to cover our insecurities by adding value found in affiliations with famous people, then we must humble ourselves before God and repent, asking for His forgiveness so that we might exalt Jesus Christ in all things. Then and only then will we be able to keep the unity of the Spirit.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

One day several years ago as I was typing a devotional, I made an error. My dear friend Cindy caught it and called me. In an attempt to define the people of the church being UNITED I accidently typed that the people were UNTIED. Simple typing dyslexia, but how powerful a point it made because it is often true.

Unity is one of the characteristics of a spiritually healthy church. However, many people don’t understand what it is. To help us, let’s first talk about what it is not.

First, unity is not sameness in the sense that everyone must look the same, feel the same,  act the same, or even think the same. There are certain non-negotiables of Scripture that regulate our thoughts and actions to produce holiness, as we discussed yesterday. However, when we begin to require robotic responses and behaviors that stifle the uniqueness of an individual and minimize the expression of their personality, we hinder the work of God’s Spirit.

Second, unity is not conformity to methods. Here’s what I mean by that: not everyone will do the same task in the same way. Some people demand that programs, ministries, and worship services be conducted in the same way they were always done regardless of the new people involved or new goals that have been set. Some churches are still doing things the same way they did them in the 60’s, because the people in charge are still living in the successes of those days. It’s like a pastor friend of mine said to me, “It’s tough to bring a church into the 80’s.” People resist change, but God provides new perspectives and personalities to invigorate a ministry. Let’s encourage newness and uniqueness.

So what is unity? It’s described for us in Ephesians 4:11-13.

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

The Greek word means agreement, and is used only twice in the entire New Testament, both times here in Ephesians 4 (verse 3 and 13). When combining the use of the term from both verses we come to a definition of unity that involves the following elements:

  1. Unity is built on the foundation of faith in the Person of Jesus Christ and His Lordship. (Unity in the knowledge of the Son of God)
  2. Unity is based on our agreement that everyone needs salvation and the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross provides for that salvation. (Unity in the faith)
  3. Unity is a product of the ministry of the Holy Spirit as He produces the character of Jesus Christ is each of us as individuals, manifesting itself in humility, gentleness, patience, and love. (Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.)
  4. Unity is strengthened when we agree that spiritual growth is progressive, and requires all of us to be servants for it to be realized in its fullness. (to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity…)
  5. Unity is achieved when the first four elements are accomplished and we experience the fullness of Christ in us as a church body. (attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.)

The church’s highest calling is to be the dwelling place of God through the Holy Spirit, because that produces unity. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 that we as individuals in the church are responsible to guard that unity, and anyone found destroying it will be held accountable. So how do people destroy the unity of the church? Well, simply put, by not focusing on the five characteristics of unity we just listed. But to be more specific, read First Corinthians chapter 3, and we’ll discuss it tomorrow.

For today, make sure you are correctly defining unity and all of the elements of unity are at work in your heart. As a church we need you to be focused on the saving power of Jesus Christ, on the work of the Holy Spirit to produce the character of Christ in us. That is best seen when we serve others in love. Humble hearts are required for unity to exist. How’s that going for you?

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions (click link for audio blog)

Monday, November 15, 2021

A church and a nightclub were situated on the same block in an average size city. The nightclub owned a parrot that was part of one of the acts, and the parrot lived in the rafters of the club. One Saturday night there was a fire at the club and the bird flew outside to seek other shelter. Finding an opening in the attic vent of the church, he flew in and roosted on a beam over the sanctuary. He was awakened on Sunday morning by a crowd of people entering the church, and as the service began he chirped, “New MC.” Spotting the choir he chimed, “New chorus girls.” Then looking over the congregation he loudly squawked, “Same old crowd!“

For the past few weeks we have been doing a devotional study of the REAL church in the book of Acts. In the building of a spiritually healthy church there must be some quality control. One area that needs attention is that of personal holiness. There is a huge contrast between the church of the New Testament and the church of modern society in the area of personal holiness.  Let’s look at how a spiritually healthy church is defined in Ephesians 2:19-22. 

Ephesians 2:19-22 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

There are four characteristics of a spiritually healthy church listed here by the Apostle Paul:

1.      Equality with no discrimination (fellow citizens)

2.      Unity based on equal need of salvation and equal faith in the Savior (Jesus is the chief cornerstone)

3.      Holiness as a product of being united in Christ (rises to become a holy temple in the Lord)

4.      Purpose – to become a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit (a dwelling in which God lives)

Compare that to many churches today and you immediately see some discrepancies. People are not treated equally, but divisions based on social, political, or financial status are commonplace. Unity is based on common goals rather than on a common past. The people have lost a desire for holiness because the church is not viewed as the dwelling place of God but rather the means to a desirable end. Church for the average person has become a justifier of sinful behavior and a protector of a social image. My heart cries when I think of the number of lost people being deceived by Satan into believing that they have met the requirements for eternal life when in fact they are in the bondage of eternal death. 

The Word of God is very clear – the church is to be the temple of the Holy Spirit where God’s holy presence can dwell in glory, and we as individual parts of the church are responsible to be a growing part of that holiness. In fact, as you read today’s verses, you will see that holiness is a proof of a real relationship with Christ. The Holy Spirit says, “In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.” Because we are joined together with Christ, we will rise to become a holy temple. This is not optional: this is the actual response of anyone who is connected to Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit. 

The first test of spiritual health in a church and in a person’s life is this: How do we react and respond to sin in our life? Is it tolerated or terminated? Is it rationalized or removed? We must ask ourselves these tough questions and let the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit bring us to a point of repentance. We are joined together in Christ, and we are to be rising together as a holy temple in Christ. May it not be said of any one of us that we are responsible for quenching the glory of God in our church because we choose to continue in sin. 

Pastor John