LifeLink Devotions

Friday, December 31, 2021

There are two little words that have been spoken to me far more than I can count or care to admit. I’m sure these words have been thought multiplied times more than they have been spoken. If I would just heed the advice in the words then maybe they would stop. It would be nice to not hear them quite so frequently, or even not at all. Maybe the day will come when I have earned the right to not be told, “grow up!“

Yesterday in our devotions we introduced four goals of a Godly life: Grow, Be Strong, Be Wise, and Be Filled With Grace. Let’s dig deeper into what those all mean. Here’s a thought to get you started: immaturity never produces quality fruit. 

Luke 8:11-15 “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.  Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.  Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.  The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

Look at the meaning of the parable of the seed that Jesus told in Luke 8. The purpose of seed is to produce a plant that will grow to maturity and multiply itself, producing a harvest of seed after its own kind. The point of the parable is that we are the seed, and we will only produce a harvest if certain things are true of us:

  1. We will produce a harvest when we do not allow Satan to destroy the work of God in our hearts. We are productive when we continue to believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation.
  2. We will produce a harvest when we do not fall away from God when the going gets tough. We become fruitful when we trust the faithful and powerful and loving hand of God even when the circumstances of life are beating us down.
  3. We will produce a harvest when we do not let our focus become one of self-sufficiency and self-preservation. We become mature by keeping an eternal perspective. The real enemy to maturity is pride – pride in solving life’s worries, pride in gaining life’s riches, and pride in experiencing life’s pleasures.
  4. We will produce a harvest when we make sure we have a noble and a good heart that is determined to obey the Word of truth we have heard and not let anything keep us from our God-appointed task.

At least one of the four statements above defines your current condition. It would be wise for you to consider where you are on the road to maturity and set some goals for the new year that produce more fruit for the King. Every one of us is producing some kind of fruit after our own kind – it is the law of reproduction created in all of nature by God. One aspect of seed planting we mist consider is this – the seeds we plant in the lives of others will produce fruit, and will be an indicator of the nature of our seed. The fruit being produced in the lives of others may be the result of seeds we planted there. If the product of the seed being planted is not Godly righteousness, then we’d better evaluate the seed. Maybe we need to mature in our faith so our seed bears better fruit.

There are eight references to maturity in the New Testament. Each one says something specific about what our lives should be like as fruit-bearers for the King. This will be a great way to start the new year on Monday.  Let’s study maturity, and how we can be used by the Holy Spirit to plant seeds of righteousness in the lives of others and watch the Kingdom of Jesus Christ grow. 

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Thursday, December 30, 2021

How will our lives be described when we are gone from this earth? What kind of a heritage are we leaving? Here is a description I hope will be true of my life – he grew, he was strong, he was wise, and he was filled with grace.

Those are the same characteristics that describe the first twelve years of the life of Jesus. 

Luke 2:40  “And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him.”

As we prepare to enter a new year, with all of the possible resolutions for change we may make, let the following verses from the Bible be your guide. They contain the same words that were used to describe Jesus. I think it’s clear that they are to describe us as well. Let the Word of God dwell richly in you.


1 Peter 2:2-3 “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”

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.”


Ephesians 3:16  “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.”

1 Corinthians 16:13-14  Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.”


James 1:5-6. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

1 Corinthians 2:13  “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.”

Ephesians 1:17  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”

James 3:17 – 18 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” 


2 Peter 1:2  “Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”

Hebrews 4:16   “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” 

2 Timothy 2:1  “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Ephesians 4:7  “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” 

Now, write your New Year’s resolution from those spiritual principles.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

In yesterday’s devotional we discussed how to navigate the stormy waters of rejection and emotional distress by having an eternal perspective on life. Mary had such a perspective through her constant meditation on the things of God and His divine purpose. Her perspective was also enriched and solidified through the ministry of people who encouraged her. The ministry of encouragement is incredibly significant to each one of us.

At the very moment that Mary is being told by Simeon that the life of her Son Jesus would result in the piercing of her soul, a prophetess named Anna comes to her side and gives thanks to God. 

Luke 2:36 – 38  “There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Anna saw the eternal perspective that Jesus would be the Redeemer, and she encouraged Mary to look at everything from the same vantage point.

We all need encouragers like that every now and then; probably more often than we experience them. There is nothing quite so comforting in times of emotional distress than to have a shoulder to cry on and an ear that will listen. We need people who can step back from the negative and pour on the positive – not in a sappy and insincere way, but with words that reflect God’s perspective on things. Anna did that for Mary simply by giving thanks to God.

Not only do we need people like that, we need to be people like that. The world is a depressing place to live for those who have no hope, and there are billions of those people trying to make sense of life. We who have God’s eternal perspective need to come along side of them at the very moment of their distress and give them a reason to be thankful. We need to be like Anna, constantly living in the presence of God, walking through life in an attitude of prayer and relationship with Jesus Christ, so that at any moment we will be prepared to give thanks to God, showing others the hope of redemption. We do not live for this world, but we are looking forward to the total redemption of this world when Jesus returns. Paul says in First Thessalonians that we are to encourage one another with this hope. 

Be on the lookout today for people who need hope, and then come along side them and be thankful. They need an encourager, and you are just the one to do it.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

One of the most enjoyable experiences of my life is to purchase a car. It’s been a long time since I bought a brand new one (1976 to be exact), but getting a nice used car is still a thrill. I used to do it fairly often, and got quite a reputation as a negotiator. If I were to go looking for a different vehicle right now I would go to a couple of places that I trust and start to check over their used car selection. I would find the one that I wanted in the price range I could afford, and after bargaining for the best possible price I would sign the papers and drive it home. One thing I would not expect from the car dealer is to have the salesman pull me aside as I head for my “new” vehicle and tell me that I can expect it to cause me all kinds of problems and cost me a lot of money to maintain. Why would he wait until after the sale to tell me this, and why would he sell a car like that in the first place?

I wonder if Mary felt a little bit like that when Simeon told her that Jesus would cause a lot of heartache for her?

Luke 2:34-35  Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against,  so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

I know how I felt when the doctor told me that my daughter would need heart surgery when she was 2 years old. I’m sure you have experienced similar emotions in response to difficult and sometimes tragic news in your family. Here was Mary, just eight days after the birth of the Son of God, being told that there was a time coming when the tide of public opinion would be against Him and her heart would be broken by that. The very people that Jesus had come to save would reject Him and she would not be able to do anything about it.

She got her first taste of that rejection when Jesus was about 2 years old. The reigning king of Israel tried to have Jesus killed, and the family had to flee to Egypt. Imagine what it must have been like for Mary to know and understand the truth about her Son and yet have everyone else reject that truth. Imagine the nights of loneliness and hopelessness that must have come upon her. Maybe you don’t have to imagine them because you are experiencing them. You find yourself asking the question, “What can be done?”

It is our human nature to want to fix what’s wrong and fulfill what’s right. Jump ahead in the life of Christ to a wedding Jesus was attending when He was 30 years old. The host of the wedding did not plan for enough wine and has run out. Mary seizes this opportunity to introduce the truth about her Son to the world and suggests to Him that He can fix the problem. It was not the responsibility of Jesus to get more wine, but mom was looking for a way to show off her Son. For 30 years she has remained faithful to the truth about who He was and His purpose in coming to the earth. Whether she was right or wrong to suggest His involvement in this wine problem is not the issue: the real issue is that the things she treasured in her heart about Jesus had not only sustained her for all of those years but had equipped her to take a step that would result in the piercing of her soul and the breaking of her heart. She told the servants to do whatever Jesus said, not what she wanted. She had learned the wisdom of living by an eternal perspective and not an earthly one.

My friends, the world will reject us when we live holy lives in gratitude to a redeeming God. Our hearts will be broken by the  rejection of our spouses and children and those we love. But remember the words of Simeon – there will be those who will rise because of Jesus just as there will be those who will fall. That was obviously Mary’s focus. That is to be our focus as well. Our defense against the sword of the world piercing our hearts with rejection and tragedy is the Sword of the Word of Truth that gives us an eternal perspective. Then we can say with Mary, “Do whatever He tells you.”

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Monday, December 27, 2021

For many people, like my wife, the thrill of Christmas continues this because the After Christmas Sales have begun. Stores have opened early in an attempt to close out all of their seasonal merchandise. People are getting up early to head to the stores and get a head start on what they will need for next Christmas. They will find their treasures at greatly reduced prices and store them up in their closets and basements so when the time comes for the next holiday they will be prepared. Just knowing what they bought and how great a bargain they got will sustain them through the shopping lulls caused by regular prices in the days ahead.

For me, the lull of being regular has already started. I awoke early this morning thinking “Now what?” Now that Christmas has come and gone for another year, it’s time to get back to normal. But routine sounds so boring. What treasures do I have to sustain me through the long winter months still ahead?

Then I thought of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her Baby has been born, the trip home has been completed, and routine has been established. People have stopped coming over to visit and to see the Baby. Relatives are finally settled down and are acting like they accept this “miraculous” birth. Joseph is back in his carpentry shop, and Mary struggles to fight off the depressing prospect of life in the regular lane.

But she is prepared to fight that battle, and how she fights it is a lesson for all of us. You see, she went After Christmas Shopping also; only she did it in her heart.

Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 

She found lots of treasures, filling the shopping cart of her heart with eternally enduring truths and memories. There were treasures like Gabriel’s announcement to her that she was highly favored by God; his explanation of the power of the Holy Spirit that would come upon her; the visit with Elizabeth and the sharing of a miraculous birth experience with her; the statement of the angel that “nothing is impossible with God;” the description by the shepherds of the glory of God in the sky and the announcement of good news for all the people; and the first time she held the Son of God in her arms and experienced the fullness of God’s grace and truth. Mary filled her heart with all of these things and more, and they were able to sustain her for the next 12 years of regular life until another “holiday” occurred. Jesus was teaching in the temple, and once again Mary found some more treasures to store up in the closet of her heart.

She would need all of these treasures because life would be regular for thirty years. But when life stopped being routine when Jesus was presented by His heavenly Father to the world as the people’s Savior, she was ready. She was ready because she had done more than just put the treasures in a closet: she put them in a prominent place in the house of her heart where she could look at them every day and be reminded that life with Jesus is not regular. She was sustained because she had polished the art of meditation on God’s truth. The truths she experienced and treasured became her weapons with which she fought the battle of routine.

 We have the same opportunity. We too must polish up the art of meditation: not meditation like the world teaches for the purpose of escaping life; but rather meditation on the truths of God for the purpose of fulfilling life. When Joshua was preparing to lead the people of Israel into the battle for the Promised Land, God gave him these instructions – Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. King David says it this way in Psalm 1 – Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. 

It’s time to go spiritual shopping for treasures which are found in God’s Word – and they’re FREE! What a bargain – life-sustaining truth at no cost.

Fill your cart today.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Friday, December 24, 2021

As I was leaving one of our larger department stores in Eau Claire I passed by a couple of teenage girls who were ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. I dropped some money in their collection bucket and one of the girls said, “Thank you, and happy holidays.” I responded with a loud and emphatic, “Merry Christmas to you.” As I turned to walk away I heard her say to her friend, “Oh man! That’s another one I could have said ‘Merry Christmas’ to.”

My heart is gripped with sadness when I stop to realize that the sharing of the Good News of great joy is no longer for all people, but only for those who will not be offended by it. We have caved to the public notion of political correctness. We pre-qualify our audience and pre-determine our words, and the consequence is that the world doesn’t know in whom to believe. They do not call on Jesus because they have not heard of Jesus – at least not in the way they should hear about Him. They have not heard of Jesus as Savior because those who know Him have stopped preaching to those who don’t. Maybe we have stopped preaching the good news because we don’t believe we have been sent.

I know that we know that Jesus sent us when He gave us the great commission, but do we truly understand the authority behind the sending? Not authority as in the power to enforce a command, but rather the authority to be involved in the eternal purpose of God. God did not use His authority to issue a decree and then demand obedience: He used His authority to completely satisfy our need so that we need nothing from the world. He did not leave us to fend for ourselves and suffer the consequences alone. He did not under-equip us for the task. He did not demand our obedience but rather inspired our cooperation.

Luke 2:10 – 12  10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Romans 10:14 – 15 14How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  15And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

We need to understand that when God sent us to preach the good news of great joy He did not intend for that to be a joyless experience for us. How convincing is our message of joy when delivered with voices of fear coming from faces of obligation? Yet that is how many of us respond to the opportunities to share the good news: we fear the consequences of people’s responses more than we rejoice in the promises of God’s authority. The telling of the good news is an outpouring of the love and joy we have personally experienced from God through our Savior Jesus Christ. His authority has fully equipped us with security and strength so that the people of the world can have no affect on our status before God. His authority has already conquered the enemy, so we need not fear. Death has been conquered. Fear has been destroyed. We have been set free by the authority of Jesus so that we need not fear the responses and reactions of the world.

The angels announced good news of great joy, and they did it with authority. The shepherds spread the word about what they had seen and heard, and they did it with enthusiasm and authority. Anna, the prophetess, told everyone she could about the arrival of the Messiah. Everyone who has a personal encounter with Jesus receives the joy, power, and authority of the Holy Spirit to share the good news.

Start sharing.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Life can become routine and even mundane. There are occasional high points of energy and enthusiasm, and low points of pain and disappointment, but overall, as time passes, life levels off. We want our lives to be level because we find security in the predictable and the known. We don’t like the fear of the unknown, and we certainly don’t like anything that threatens the status quo. We have come to accept the reality that mountaintop experiences don’t last, and we have worked hard to get life back in order after we’ve been in the deep valley of desperation. We protect everything that makes life normal by our own definition. We have adopted the philosophy that saneness is achieved through sameness, so we resist change. Change will invalidate our past and force us to redefine who we are and what we believe. Please Lord, just for today, can everything stay the same so I can feel safe?

If that had been true of the wise men from the east they would never have come searching for Jesus the King. These scientists, probably astrologers, had done pretty well for themselves in their professions. They were obviously wealthy and very intelligent. They had obviously studied a wide variety of writings, including the prophets of Israel, because they knew that when the star appeared in the sky it meant that Jesus was born. But unlike so many people who would seek to protect the security of their positions and possessions, these men were willing to sacrifice it all to find the One True King.

Matthew 2:1 – 3 1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem  2and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” 3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 

What a contrast to King Herod and the citizens of Jerusalem who were disturbed by the news announced by the wise men. Why? Because it threatened the status quo of their lives. King Herod’s position was being threatened. All he had worked so hard to accomplish for himself could be lost. I can imagine his thoughts. “All of my power will be stripped away. Everything I own will be given to someone else. I will become a person of no value. I must destroy this threat.” And what about the people of Jerusalem? Maybe they were disturbed because they feared Herod’s response to the news. Maybe they feared the changes that a new King would bring to their lives. Would a new King change their economic condition? What about the political ramifications with Rome? The fears were real, and they forced action – actions to eliminate what they perceived to be the source of their fears.

So on the one hand we have a king and his followers who seek Jesus to destroy Him because they think that will eliminate their fear, while on the other hand we have a group of wise men who seek Jesus to worship Him and thereby have all of their fears eliminated. We still fall into one of those two categories. The fear of change drives people to eliminate Jesus from their lives. Sinners in the bondage of fear don’t want their motives questioned, their pursuits invalidated, their possessions devalued, or their position threatened. They may claim to want to worship Jesus, but they are really motivated by worship of self.

On the other hand, saints acting in faith leave the security of all they have in the world to seek the true King and worship Him.

In which group are you?

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

It is an unfortunate tendency of human nature to become self-sufficient. The accomplishment of goals leads to pride in our own abilities. The accrual of resources leads to dependence upon those resources. The pursuit of social status becomes the means of measuring success and personal value. We are never quite satisfied with the essentials and we tend to live by faith in self rather than faith in God.

In the Christmas story, the shepherds were different than that. Their profession was religiously despised in their culture. Because of their constant contact with the animals they were not allowed to participate in any religious activities and were certainly never allowed inside the temple to worship. They were forced to live in the fields with their flocks, never owning their own homes or achieving an acceptable level of social status. Such conditions would cause most of us to develop a new life plan or hire a new life coach. We would look intently and lustfully at the greener grass on the next pasture, and it would not be for the benefit of the sheep.

But these shepherds were different than that. They had not only accepted their position in society, but they worshiped God where they were. They had some good examples from their culture’s past to follow: Moses spent 40 years tending sheep before he was called by God in a burning bush to lead Israel out of Egypt. David was a shepherd boy who had a heart for God and accepted his position, yet Psalms 78:70 – 72 says,God chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens;from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them. These shepherds lived the greatest faith anyone can ever live – God-sufficiency. God saw their humble state and He honored them with the first and only public announcement of the birth of Jesus. Humility is the prerequisite of honor.

Luke 2:8 – 12  8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

But we must be careful, because honor can destroy humility. Honor can become the means we use to set new goals and seek new status. But these shepherds were different than that. After they had gone and seen the King and worshipped Him in person, the Scriptures say that they returned to their flocks and carried on where they were. We never hear of them again. There was no attempt to use their personal experience to advance their personal status in any way.

That will be true of all who are sincerely humble, no matter how they have been honored. Why? Because the truly humble understand that it’s all about Jesus and His glory, and not about us. Jesus honored the humility of the shepherds 32 years later when He spoke these words: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

One day Jesus will honor all of us. Be careful of trying to honor self. Jesus also said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  The shepherds were humble. They did nothing to get noticed. God found them and honored their humility.

He will find you!

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions 

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Luke 2:1 – 7 “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

It was the busiest travel day of the year. Everyone was returning to his or her hometown. People were clamoring for a place to stay and something to eat. The hotels were filled to capacity. People were camped out in the streets. They had come to fulfill a government requirement. If only they had known what was about to happen. Would it have made a difference? Would they have stepped aside and sacrificed a motel room for the soon to be born King? Would they have stopped complaining about the inconvenience of the trip and started praising God as they saw the glory of God shining in the sky as His birth is announced? Would they have stopped pushing and shoving in line as they waited for a chance to get the last piece of bread? Might they have been more concerned about the Lamb of God than a slice of leg of lamb?

Let’s look at another scene in another time. It was the busiest travel weekend of the year. Everyone was returning to his or her hometown. They had come to fulfill a cultural tradition of turkey and stuffing, football and pumpkin pie. They were willing to camp out on the floor of the home so that everyone could be together. They spent the evening with all of the flyers from the department stores, planning a strategy to purchase all of the gifts being offered at incredible prices but at ridiculous times. They arise early the next morning to see the stores well lighted with the colors and glitter of the season. They shove their way into a line hoping that the item they want to buy is not sold out before they get to it. People’s smiles quickly turn to sneers as they complain that they didn’t get what they wanted, as if life depended on that item. There is no more recognition of the pretty decorations or the shining lights. There is only the frustrated attempt to get to the next store and the next line to get a gift that the hope bring greater meaning to life for someone.

After 2000 years, nothing has changed: there still seems to be no room for Jesus. He is given the place of lowest regard and seen as an intruder into the holiday originally instituted to be a holy day celebrating His birth. Any reference to Christ or depiction of His birth is eliminated from public display. Politically correct terms have to be used so as not to offend the non-believers. Even those who truly worship Him have pushed Him aside for a moment by canceling worship services when Christmas falls on a Sunday. Regardless of the arguments that they are honoring families or scheduling additional services on Christmas Eve, the real point is that personal pursuits, family traditions, social pressure and inconvenience have relegated Jesus to another manger because the rooms of our lives are filled. 

If only we would stop and look outside of our boxes: if we could just catch a glimpse of the sky again. We haven’t been able to see it for a while because of the cities and skyscrapers we have built – cities of social and cultural acceptance designed with skyscrapers of possessions, prestige, relationships, recreation, and more. Every time we look up we see what we have done. But there, in the sky, outside the city, where there is only what God has built, the angel still announces good news of great joy for all people. The glory of God is still appearing and proclaiming to all who will listen, “Peace on Earth.” We may not be able to see it because we’ve not been willing to get outside of our self-constructed cities. But when we do, we will discover that there is a place of humility. We must step outside of the comfort of our homes, businesses and relationships and discover that in the lowly place of personal sacrifice a King has been born, and He will change our lives.

Maybe it’s time to make room for Jesus in your skyscrapers. 

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Monday, December 20, 2021

There were those in ancient Israel who were still anticipating the coming of the Messiah. Though they had not heard from a prophet for over 400 years, the prophecies of Isaiah and others of his time still stood as the shining hope of national rescue and renewal. 400 years is a long time to maintain hope in the fulfillment of a promise, and most had forgotten the tiny details that would validate His coming, like the fact that He would be born to a virgin.

Matthew 1:18 – 23 18This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.  19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.“ 22All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  23”The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”,which means, “God with us.“

 Try to put yourself in the position of the average citizen of rural Israel. You have heard of the promised Messiah, and you have heard the writings of faithful men who proclaimed the promise read to you in the synagogue. You have never had a reason to doubt the reality of the ancient prophets and the validity of what they wrote, and you have looked for His coming. But doubt certainly rises in your mind when someone from Nazareth tells you a rumor that a young girl is pregnant without ever being intimate with a man. You immediately conclude that this must be a deeply troubled young girl who is seeking attention. She most certainly has lied to protect some man’s reputation. Who could believe that she is really carrying the Messiah?

Yet that was the sign that God proclaimed would validate the birth of His Son – it would be a virgin who would give birth. How else would it be possible for God to dwell with men as man and still be God? An earthly father would have sealed His fate as a sinner, having inherited Adam’s nature from Joseph’s seed. But this baby was a child of the heavenly Father, created by the power of the Holy Spirit who overshadowed Mary’s sinful flesh. What an incredible miracle – God born as a man. Because I know the rest of the story of His life I believe it all to be true. But what would I have believed if I were there? Would I have left my sheep in the field to go see Him in the manger? Would I have traveled for two years from the farthest reaches of the known world to worship Him? 

Here’s how I know whether I would have or not: Did I get up today and prepare myself for His next coming? I have never had any reason to doubt the reality of the ancient prophets and the validity of what they wrote. I have not doubted the truth of what Jesus has said. But did I arise today in anticipation that this might be the day the Messiah returns? Do the tiny details of world events cause me to consider the closeness of His appearing? Do I live each day as I did the last or as the last day?

At His first appearing, it was “God with us.” At His next appearing it will be us with God. 


Look up.

It may be today.

Pastor John