LifeLink Devotions (Click here for Apple Podcast)

Thursday, March 31, 2022

While having lunch with a missionary couple from Brazil several years ago, we talked about family, ministry, and life in general. Afterwards, as I drove home, I thought about our conversation, and realized that every part of it had been positive, encouraging, and filled with thanksgiving. There was not one discouraging word. There were no attempts at humor using sarcasm. There were no insults or innuendo. There were no subtle attempts to establish credibility by criticizing others. The entire ninety minutes was spent in speaking to one another in the love of God. It was refreshing.

I’ve been in too many social situations where I have quickly joined the communication style of the crowd. Sarcastic comments fly off the tongue followed by forced laughter to cover the hurt that has been inflicted. Criticisms of people not in the group escalate as each person gains some misguided sense of value by belittling others. The experience of power over people soon becomes the group dynamic that promotes insults and injury to others. To some of us this may sound like a rather radical and extreme analysis of our average conversations in everyday life, but it really isn’t. We have become blinded to the emotional needs we try to meet through communication and to the damage our words do to others. We are destroying the influence of the love of God by allowing our speech to be motivated by the love of self.

Ephesians 5:19-20  “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Apostle Paul provides us with the correct way to communicate with each other – we are to speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. The principle is this – when we talk to anyone, it is to be done under the influence of the Spirit of God so that our speech is filled with the grace of God and praises people. Let me explain. When we worship God, we praise Him. We praise Him for who He is and for what He has done. We are completely focused on His goodness. Paul says we are to speak to one another the same way. Our conversations with people should leave them feeling like they have been commended, not condemned.

Unfortunately, that’s not the norm for most of us. We more often participate in building ourselves up at the expense of others. It’s what Satan wants from us, because it destroys the impact God’s love should be having on others. James Dobson said it this way: “Satan’s most successful maneuver in churches and Christian organizations is to get people angry at one another; to attack and insult our brothers and sisters, thus splitting the body of Christ.” We seem to thrive on strife. We somehow believe that it makes us better to make others worse. We have bought into Satan’s tactic of comparing ourselves to others rather than to God.

There is an old legend that tells of Hercules encountering a strange animal on a narrow road. He struck it with his club and passed. Soon the animal overtook him, now three times as large as before. Hercules struck it fast and furiously, but the more he clubbed the beast, the larger it grew. Then Pallas appeared to Hercules and warned him to stop. “The monster’s name is Strife,” he said. “Let it alone and it will soon become as little as at first.”

This is valuable advice for those of us Christians who engage in criticism and counterblows, somehow thinking that it’s the best way to stop the blows of others against us. A gentle answer turns away the wrath of others. Kind words heal the hurts. Encouragement softens the heart. Praise brings good to the front of everyone’s life. It’s how God created us to live.

So let your speech be seasoned with grace. Let your conversations be positive, encouraging, and filled with thanksgiving. Let others walk away from your time together feeling built up and energized. Speak to one another in a spirit of praise. You’ll make others feel better, and you will too.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions (Click here for Apple Podcast)

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

When I was a freshman in college, I joined an outreach team. We went to various churches and performed musical concerts. Occasionally, when we were visiting a church on a Sunday morning, the pastor would request that we bring some form of message. That was my role in addition to singing. I distinctly remember the first sermon I preached as a part of that group. It was in St. Cloud, Minnesota, the home church of one of our team members. I spoke from Ephesians 5:15-16 and based on the King James Version of the Bible I entitled the sermon “Walking Circumspectly.” I still have that sermon typed out and in my files.

The full verse in the KJV says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise.” I like that word circumspectly. It means “to be diligent, accurate, precise, and aware of everything going on around you to the farthest extent of your experience.” It describes a life lived wisely. In the context of this letter that Paul is writing, it means several things:

  1. to be alert to every possible trap of the enemy that would hinder our spiritual intimacy with Christ
  2. to be diligent in our pursuit of faithful obedience to Christ
  3. to be accurate in the assessment of our personal lives so that they are free from sin
  4. to be aware of every opportunity that presents itself to be a witness for Jesus Christ.

When I consider what it means to walk circumspectly, I think about it in relationship to deer hunting. That’s a stretch for some of you, I’m sure, but bear with me (excuse the mixed metaphor). One of the things I like to do when deer hunting with a bow is called still hunting. That’s the process of quietly stalking the deer on the ground rather than sitting in a stand and waiting for the deer to come to me. Both methods require me to be circumspect, but still hunting requires more alertness to every detail around me and more camouflage to keep me from alerting the deer to my presence. When I still hunt, I use binoculars, so that I can be aware of everything happening to the farthest extent of my experience. The deer can see and hear me from a greater distance than I can see or hear them, so I use every advantage I can. I concentrate every sense I have on the task of sneaking through the woods quietly and alertly so that I will be aware of every opportunity to tag a deer. While still hunting last year I snuck up to within 12 yards of a tom turkey before he was aware of my presence. The first deer I ever shot in my life was shot from a distance of 15 yards with the deer standing directly in front of me staring at me, not sure of what he was seeing.

Walking circumspectly in this world requires the same kind of alertness and diligence. Every spiritual sense we have must be tuned to the environment around us. We must be alert to every trap of the enemy. We must be diligent to make every choice we are provided with in faithful obedience to Jesus Christ. We must be accurate in assessing our personal lives so that we can remain untouched by the sin around us. We must be aware of every opportunity to be a witness for Jesus Christ as we walk through this life.

Witnessing about Jesus can be done in a multitude of ways. I meet so many people who are discouraged because they don’t feel they witness correctly, or at all. Yet when I see their lives and watch their interactions with people, their whole life is a witness to the love of Jesus. The gift of love we give someone today may not have had any gospel reference in it, but it was the living example of the gospel, and the Holy Spirit can use that to draw them to Himself. By faith we must trust that the Holy Spirit will use whatever input we give at any time in a cumulative way to bring that person to their point of decision. Let me illustrate.

I was at the store picking up some landscaping supplies for a home project. As I stood in line, a young man came up behind me carrying only a bottle of Mountain Dew. I asked him if he wanted to go ahead of me. He said no, and his reason was that he was too tired to do anything other than just stand and wait his turn. I asked him why he was so tired. He told me he’s a new dad and they have their first baby at home. I extended my hand to congratulate him, and he shook it. As we talked, he told me he was taking his turns getting up at night and it was wearing him out. I told him how proud I was of him and that he was going to be a great dad. Never once did I tell him who I was or use any reference to Jesus Christ. I simply spoke words of encouragement to him. Then when I paid for my stuff, I told the cashier to add his soda to my bill. At first, he refused, but I insisted. It was such a small thing, but it touched him deeply, and he said he didn’t know how to thank me. It was obvious that he had not seen love like that before. I pray that God will use that one simple event to draw him to salvation as others influence his life at other times. I thanked God that He had made me sensitive to an opportunity, and that I had made the most of it.

Live wisely and make the most of every opportunity!

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions (Click here for Apple Podcast)

March 29, 2022

Let’s talk today about how we sometimes misapply Scripture to justify our personal practice of fault-finding.  I heard a quote one time that stimulated my thinking on this problem. The speaker, whom I can’t identify, said simply, “Criticism and fault-finding are not spiritual gifts.” Some people must think they are because they are so good at them. They believe it is their life’s calling to point out the sin in others. They find some form of self-worth enhancement in the tearing down of others. Then, when the ego-high is no longer achieved, they move from personal accusations to social activism. Soon whole churches are involved in a nationwide movement of spiritual terrorism that destroys the testimony of God’s grace. They defend their position by misunderstanding what Ephesians 5:8-10 says.  

“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

The context of exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness is personal, not public. We are not called to wake up others, but to wake ourselves up so that the light of Christ can shine on us. We are called to expose the deeds of darkness that exist in us, not in others. It seems that some people believe that the evidence of spiritual maturity is the ability to be bold in the work of exposing sin publicly, both in people and in our society. It is usually not done with grace, and certainly not done with an eye towards the reconciliation of the sinner to God. It is done to tear people down to improve their own position. These people are not allowing the true Light of Jesus to shine on, in, or through them.

Thad Noyes, a blogger on a Christian website, says, “…It seems that some people are really good at tearing down, at exposing sin, at pointing out all that’s wrong. But they are lacking in grace and the ability to bring the healing power of the gospel into people’s lives. They can cut you open, but they can’t get the cancer out, let alone see that you heal. It is easier to tear down and destroy than to build back up. It is far easier to expose all that’s wrong than to constructively and winsomely model in our teaching and our lives how to live in a manner pleasing to the Lord. It is easier to play the part of the convicting prophet than to point people to the great high priest who can cleanse the conscience and forgive sin.”

In his book called Temple Builders, John R. Lucas writes, “As we progress towards truth, towards maturity, towards spiritual discernment – there will lay ahead a trap.  As we see error and immaturity in OTHERS, there will be an opportunity to respond to the error and immaturity in a way that does not please God.  We will be tempted to point out this error and immaturity to other mature believers or whoever will listen to us, thus becoming a BUSYBODY.  We must mind our own affairs before God.”

My friends, be careful. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness” is not a call to social separatism. The statement “but rather expose them” is not a command to social activism. It is a call for the disciples of Jesus Christ to let the full intensity of His light shine in our own hearts and expose any form of darkness that exists there to the light’s healing power. Wake up, you who are sleeping and living in conformity to death. Let Christ shine on every part of your life.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions (Click here for Apple podcast)

Monday, March 28, 2022

One year during the archery season for deer, I got caught in the dark. I had arrived at the woods well before sunrise and started to unpack my hunting gear. I was ready to shut the car door, so I reached into my pack to retrieve my flashlight. However, on this morning, there was no light. The switch had been left on and the batteries were dead. I was mad at myself. I didn’t want to wait until daylight to get to my tree stand, but the trek up that hill in the dark was dangerous. Besides, we knew there had been wolves in the area. Then I remembered two things. I always carried a spare set of batteries in my pack, and I also carry one of those wind-up LED flashlights for just such an emergency. I wouldn’t have to walk in the dark after all.

Being in the dark can be scary. But why is it that being in the darkness of sin isn’t? So many people who claim to have come to the Light still live as if there isn’t any light in them. There are two significant truths in today’s Scripture.

Ephesians 5:8-10  “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.”

The first is that when we come to Jesus for salvation we have been transformed into flashlights.  I think this is one of the most incredible motivations for the expression of joy in all the Bible. We were once darkness, but now we are light in the Lord.

The second truth is that as flashlights, we control whether the light is on or off. There are a couple of reasons that the light may be off. It may be out of power. The power can only be restored to the light when we spend time with God in personal devotions and prayer. It is the only way that we can find out what pleases the Lord so we can let the light shine. It’s not our light that shines – it’s God’s light, and if we’re not powered by Him, we will have no light.

The light may also be off because we’ve chosen to turn it off. We have been led to believe by our spiritual enemy that there is some natural light out there in the world, so additional light is not needed. It is a lie. The whole world is darkness! There is no light in it at all. Until God declared the existence of light in Genesis 1, the world was totally dark. Prior to coming to Christ for salvation, we are all declared to be in darkness. (see Col. 1:13; 1 Thess. 5:4-5; 1 Peter 2:9) We have no light at all apart from God, for God alone is the Light. Man-made light is no light at all, but simply an enticement to the darkness. However, we are deceived into believing that certain parts of our human existence have enough light of their own and don’t need the light of God, so we shut Him off.  

Wonderful things will happen when the light is on. Fear is dispelled. Luci Swindoll, writing in an article called “Heart to Heart,” in Today’s Christian Woman, says, “A friend of mine was caught in an elevator during a power failure. At first, there was momentary panic as all seven strangers talked at once. Then my friend remembered the tiny flashlight he had in his pocket. When he turned it on, the fear dissipated. During the 45 minutes they were stuck together they told jokes, laughed, and even sang. Ephesians 5:8 says we are that flashlight. Just as the flashlight draws power from its batteries, we draw power from Jesus. As light, we dissipate fear, bring relief, and lift spirits. We don’t even have to be big to be effective. We just have to be “on.”

The effect of the Christian life shining light in the darkness has dramatic impact on non-Christians. It becomes a witness to the power of Jesus Christ. Some of the situations of life can be pretty dark. Cancer, birth defects, accidents, permanent disabilities, financial ruin, and any other form of suffering that is experienced by us all are a real test of the power of our Light. The Light of God can and will shine brightly even when times seem hopelessly dark.

A former Russian criminal named Kozlov, who later became a church leader, wrote of life in a Soviet prison: “Among the general despair, while prisoners like myself were cursing ourselves, the camp, and the authorities; while we opened up our veins or our stomachs, or hanged ourselves; the Christians did not despair. One could see Christ reflected in their faces. Their pure, upright life, deep faith and devotion to God, their gentleness and their wonderful manliness became a shining example of real life for thousands.”

Kozlov was once in darkness, but became light in the Lord because other lights chose to shine in the darkness. Maybe you will never know today, or in this life, how many people were transformed from darkness to light because your light was shining. Someday in the presence of God you will know. But I do know this – if your light isn’t on, no one is being affected. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” Let your light shine!

Pastor John


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Friday, March 25, 2022

In 1972 I experienced my first earthquake. It was really nothing more than a little jiggle, but it surprised me. There was no damage, and over the course of the next three months I learned that those little tremors were quite normal in Fairbanks, Alaska. I still noticed every one of them. Scientists tell us that earthquakes happen when the geological plates beneath the surface of the earth shift and rub against each other. Sometimes they can be deadly. In 1995 a violent earthquake occurred in Kobe, Japan, when two plates on a fault line fifteen miles offshore suddenly shifted against each other, violently lurching six to ten feet in opposite directions. The result was the worst Japanese earthquake since 1923. Thousands died. More than 46,000 buildings lay in ruins. One-fifth of the city’s population was left instantly homeless.

The destruction unleashed by those two tectonic plates depicts what happens when a Christian partners unequally with a non-Christian. Two people committed to each other but going in different directions can only lead to trouble.

When I was a little boy my mother would sometimes say to me, “John, I know just who you’ve been playing with today.” She knew because I had become something like the other boy, whichever one it was. She could identify my playing partner because I had become like him in speech, mannerisms, and actions. There were always telltale changes in me that gave away who I had been hanging with. Children often copy other children quite unconsciously. So do adults. We are affected by the people we spend time with, in one way or another.

Ephesians 5:6b-7  “God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.”

It seems to be so easy for us to rationalize and justify our connections with people who have no interest in obeying God. We even go to the extreme of lying about it. We choose a very valid and biblical reason for “reaching out” to them, like wanting to influence them for Christ, when in reality we are connected to them so that we receive some personal benefit. There is only one valid reason for being in relationship with an unsaved person – to connect them to God. It must be our true motive. It cannot be about connecting us to them, or them connecting us to someone we think we need. It’s about total commitment to Jesus Christ and His commission to connect people to Him.

Dale Hays, writing in Leadership magazine, tells this story. “On a recent trip to Haiti, I heard a Haitian pastor illustrate to his congregation the need for total commitment to Christ. His parable went like this:

“A certain man wanted to sell his house for $2,000. Another man wanted very badly to buy it, but because he was poor, he couldn’t afford the full price. After much bargaining, the owner agreed to sell the house for half the original price with just one stipulation: he would retain ownership of one nail protruding from the wall inside the main. After several years, the original owner wanted the house back, but the new owner was unwilling to sell. So first the owner went out and found the carcass of a dead dog, and hung it from the nail which he still owned. Soon the house became unlivable, and the family was forced to sell the house to the owner of the nail. The Haitian pastor’s conclusion: “If we leave the Devil with even one small peg in our life, he will return to hang his rotting garbage on it, making it unfit for Christ’s habitation.”

Therefore, do not be partners with those who are disobedient to God. Relate to them only enough to share with them the love of God but be very careful not to let the pendulum of influence swing in their favor. Be alert – you can be influenced. Be strong and be the influencer for Christ!

Pastor John


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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Several years ago I was on a trout fishing adventure with my sons. We had hiked about a mile downstream to a place called Michigan Rapids on the Peshtigo River. Earlier in the day we had talked to a group of guys who were going canoeing, and they had asked us if we knew the river. We had warned them about the rapids downstream where the river narrows around a tiny island. It formed a real white-knuckle whitewater. Maybe an experienced kayaker could get through but it was certainly no place for a canoe.

Well, down the river came the three canoes, each with two guys and all of their camping equipment. We were several hundred yards below the rapids when we heard the first yell for help. We saw bags of potato chips float by, followed by hotdog buns. Then came a red canoe on its side, with two guys hanging on. Huge duffel bags and a cooler were lashed to the canoe. The lid of the cooler was open and the contents were floating down the river. The former passengers of the canoe were now at the mercy of the river. A huge rock in front of them caught the front end of the canoe and slowed it down enough for one of the guys to steady it and turn it towards shore. I grabbed the front end and pulled them in. Meanwhile, the second canoe floated by with two more guys hanging on. The man in the back let go and got to shore where the first canoe had landed, but the other guy kept going, and he wasn’t wearing a life jacket. Later reports by another witness in our group said that the man had almost drowned when the canoe landed on top of him and knocked him under the water. He was able to maneuver the canoe into a fallen tree and stop it, and from there they were able to get onto shore. We knew there had been three canoes and asked where the third one was. The drenched, cold, and shaken men of the first two canoes said they thought they had gone ashore before they hit the rapids and were portaging. They were right. At least two of the guys had decided that we had not spoken empty words to them.

These canoeists believed that they could navigate those rapids. One of the guys said that they had looked at several maps and none had any warnings about what to expect at that point on the river. We chose not to argue with them, but every map and web site labels all the rapids on the river by a classification from I to IV, with IV being the most difficult to navigate. Here’s what the official National Parks Service web site says about that section of river – “The rapids begin shortly after the mouth of Armstrong Creek and continue for 3/4 mile. While rated a Class II rapids in summer and Grade III in high water, this is a long challenging run at any water level. A short Grade II boulder field is followed by 200 yards of relatively calm water. Take out on the right before a sharp right turn in the river. The steep drop following the take-out rates as Class III-IV rapids. Open canoes are not advised during the spring due to high waves. The large haystacks in this area can cause an open canoe to fill with water, and the continuing Class II-III rapids below the haystacks make immediate rescue difficult. There is a Forest Service trail along the right bank that can be used for scouting or portaging.” 

Some people just don’t listen. They have it in their mind what they want and no matter what kind of warnings they hear, they choose to do it their own way. These canoeists lost supplies and equipment, and almost lost their lives. They had ignored the truth and lost. That’s what happens every time we ignore the truth – we lose. And a lot of people are losing. That’s because a lot of people are speaking empty words. Words that deceive even those who claim to know the truth.

Ephesians 5:6  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” 

My friends, we are approaching a white-knuckle class VI rapids on the river of human existence. We are in open canoes. All our supplies are lashed to the seats and thwarts. We have our paddles in hand, and our life jackets on. But once we are on the river, enjoying the thrill of the ride, we forget the truth we have learned about the dangers of the river. We just keep paddling, thinking the people on shore who are waving their hands and yelling are simply encouraging us to keep going. We can’t really hear them because of the noise of the river, but even if we could we are so enamored with our experience that we would choose to keep going anyway. Soon, there will be a serious capsizing of our lives.

As Christians – the people who are called out by God to be His true and faithful followers – we have an obligation to stick to the truth, and to proclaim it boldly and loudly.  But three things are happening that will end in catastrophe. First, we who know the truth have stopped telling the truth. We see suffering in the lives of those who do speak out and choose to be silent so se can avoid such suffering. Second, we have started listening to the empty words of the world, offering seemingly enjoyable rides down the river of life. And third, we have chosen in many areas of our lives to get in their canoes.

My friends, don’t be deceived by the empty words of the world. There is no truth in them. That’s what empty means. Stick to the truth – in EVERY area of your life. The rapids are coming, and you will not survive in the world’s canoes. You will only survive when you listen to the truth and portage around the dangers.

Pastor John



LifeLink Devotions

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Ever since I was a boy, I have had a deep love of nature. It is the place I go to let God touch my heart and refresh me. That’s what sets me apart from others who go there to let nature refresh them. Nature is their god of choice. Other moments demand other gods. Emotional, physical, and relational needs stimulate the formation of false gods. A god is defined as anyone or anything from which we seek to gain human value. Our attempt to satisfy self through relationships, possessions, position, and power, is idolatry. We resist calling it idolatry, yet our attempts to use people, activities, or things to enhance our worth substitutes a false god for the real One.

Ephesians 5:5  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

There is another important passage of Scripture in Romans 1, where the Apostle Paul says, But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.”

That’s why Paul can say that no idolater “has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” If sexual immorality is our means of producing a sense of worth and value as a person, then we are an idolater. If we allow impurity in any form to be our means of earning acceptance with people, then we are guilty of idolatry. If we attempt to improve our status with people or our opinion of ourselves in our own mind through possessions or position or power, then we are worshipping an idol. Once aware of that idolatry, anyone who continues in it is proving that their worship of creation is more important than the worship of the Creator, and they are without hope for eternity.

I am so thankful for my times in the woods. I see the invisible power and divine nature of God in all of creation. But creation is not God. I do not worship a non-existent mother earth. God’s creation is a means of knowing Him. So don’t hug trees – honor the God who created trees. Don’t bury the pain of emotions in immoral or impure thoughts and actions – but embrace that pain as a means of experiencing the Presence of Jesus Christ. Don’t seek your identity in things but find your true identity in the Creator of all things. Your worth can only be truly determined by the One who made you. Worship Him and Him alone. Don’t settle for less. If you do, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

 A basic principle of Bible interpretation is this: “When the plain sense makes good sense, seek no other sense.” Today’s verse is a great example of that.

Ephesians 5:4  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 

The plain sense makes perfect sense. As imitators of God, our speech is to honor Him. We can easily see three types of communication that do not honor God and one type of communication that does. Even though the words obscenity, foolish talk, and coarse joking are not used anywhere else in the New Testament, the principle of honoring God with your speech is talked about frequently in the Bible. Rather than me sharing my thoughts on this subject, let the plain sense of the following Bible verses make good sense to you, and then let’s all put them into practice by guarding our tongues.

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be cut out. The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word! Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Your tongue cuts like a sharp razor; you’re an expert at telling lies. You love evil more than good and lies more than truth. You love to destroy others with your words. But God will strike you down once and for all. He will pull you from your home and uproot you from the land of the living. For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” The tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

(Psalm 19:14; Colossians 4:6; Ephesians 4:29; Proverbs 10:31-32; Proverbs 15:2,4, 23; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Psalm 52:2-5; Matthew 12:34-37; James 3:6-10; Hebrews 13:15; Ephesians 5:19-20; Colossians 3:16-17)

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions (Click here for Apple podcast)

Monday, March 21, 2022

Jacob, age 85, and Rebecca, age 83, were getting really excited about their upcoming wedding. Both widowed, they were looking forward to spending their remaining years together. One day while on a stroll they entered the local drug store. They began to question one of the clerks. They asked about heart medication, pain medication, vitamins, sleeping pills, antacids, blood sugar test equipment, and so much more. After getting a favorable response from the clerk to all their inquiries, they looked at each other and smiled. They knew they had found the place to register for their wedding gifts.

The older we get, the more we focus on our real needs rather than our dreams. I would like to think that it’s because we are more mature. Maybe it’s because we already bought everything we thought we would ever want. When the Apostle Paul tells us to imitate God, he lists some obvious characteristics of our life. One of them is that there will not even be a hint of greed in us. This is really tough. How do we distinguish between needs and wants – between basic provisions and greedy desires? For me it all boils down to the difference between serving and satisfying. If I want it because I can’t serve God faithfully without it, then it’s a need. If I want it because I can’t satisfy myself without it, then it’s greed.

Ephesians 5:3  “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.” 

The Greek word for greed means “the desire to have more, especially because others have it.”  Greed is the fuel that powers the engine of self-fulfillment. That engine drives us to use possessions to establish our identity and our worth. It takes us to the store to buy something when we are feeling depressed or rejected. It drives us along the streets of the community of Comparison. It transports our thoughts to images of greater success based on our ability to own more things. It is an engine that is easily started and not easily shut off. The ignition key is pride, and pride tells us it’s ok to drive around every now and then just to see what’s out there. We justify the drive because we claim to be in control of the steering and the brakes. But we are not in control. Once pride has ignited the fuel and put greed in motion we find it difficult to put on any brakes. We are being driven by desires for improved image, status, social standing, and success, and we are convinced that all of those things are possible through possessions.

As imitators of God, this is sin. When self is honored through the acquisition of things it does dishonor to God. When we seek to earn value through performance it is in direct opposition to the love of God. God’s love is not earned. Our position is Christ is not achieved by human effort. God’s love conquers the greed of self-gratification.   

Paul says greed is improper for us. The original Greek literally says, “As imitators of God, be conspicuous by the absence of greed.” It is improper for Christians to be greedy because they cease to be conspicuous as Christians. When we turn from serving God to satisfying self, we identify with the world, and we are seen as one of them. That is not God’s call on our lives. We are to be conspicuous for Christ, identified by the life of Christ in us and not the effects of the world on us. Greed camouflages Christ. 

Every day we are bombarded with messages from the world that seek to convince us that our lives will be better, more fulfilling, and more successful if we will just buy their products and live their lifestyle. It’s a lie! Don’t believe it. Satisfying self ends in greater heartache, pain, and disillusionment. Serving God is what truly satisfies. Be conspicuous by your rejection of self. Be conspicuous for Christ.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions (Click here for Apple podcast)

Friday, March 18, 2022

Remember the target talk from yesterday? It’s time to talk specifics. The Scriptures describe the True Target. However, when we read it, we may tend to rationalize what it says so we can justify our preferred choices. We tend to justify missing the Target with rationalizations like “I was close,” or “One miss won’t really matter.” By such excuses we reveal our choice to value self over the holiness of God.

This is serious business. The Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, writes that we are to be imitators of God. He then proceeds to describe specific areas where that imitation is most quickly lost. He begins in the arena of sex.

Ephesians 5:3a  “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality…

The abuse of God’s splendid gift of sex is a serious issue – especially among Christians. The followers of Jesus Christ are becoming more indistinct from the pagan world in their attitudes towards sex. According to the Barna Research Group, the percentage of Christian teens involved in premarital sex is the same as for non-Christians. Born-again Christian adults showed no difference from their unsaved counterparts when it comes to viewing adult-only content on the Internet. 36% of born-again Christians said co-habitation is morally acceptable. It is so bad that Barna titled one of his research papers “Practical Outcomes Replace Biblical Principles As the Moral Standard.”

I want to believe that most of you reading this devotional are as shocked as I am. I want to believe that the percentage of people who still hold to Biblical morality is much higher than the national average. But I do not know what goes on behind the closed doors of your lives. I do not know what you are justifying as acceptable behavior to satisfy your personal desires and needs. I do know that we have collectively left out a very important word from Paul’s description of the True Target – the word “hint”. The original Greek says, “Don’t let it be mentioned among you even once.” Unfortunately, we have moved beyond hinting to allowing our conversation and our lifestyle choices to be influenced by immorality. There is only one proper format for the expression of the sexual experience, and that is between a man and a woman – a husband and a wife – within the context of marriage. When we talk about, read about, view, or participate in anything else, we have chosen sexual immorality rather than the holiness of God.

There are some behaviors we have allowed to exist that are small and subtle steps away from the holiness of God. We are allowing a hint of sexual immorality in our lives and in our churches. For example, what happened to modesty? Do we use our physical appearance to get others to notice us and build our self-worth?  Are we justifying behavior that falls short of the glory of God’s holiness? 

Every word of Scripture is important. Is there even a hint of sexual immorality in your life. Then address it. We who are filled with the Holy Spirit must not place our personal pleasure ahead of the holiness of God. Not even one little hint of it. We are to be imitators of God, empowered by the Holy Spirit to have victory over the world. Maybe then the world will take notice that God is real and that Jesus truly transforms lives.

Pastor John