LifeLink Devotions

Friday, July 29, 2022

I really don’t like being obvious. Unfortunately, most people who know me tell me I am. I don’t hide things well. My thoughts become spoken words too quickly. My facial expressions are clear windows to my heart. My tears flow easily. There are days I wish I could hide more. Today is not one of them.

If I took a poll of all of the readers, I wonder how many would say that the most obvious “S” word of the faith is “salvation”? Probably most of you. Now, if we took that same poll of people outside the faith, how many would answer with a word that fit into the category of “sin”?

Here’s my simple point to ponder for today. When the people of the world think about Christianity, what word comes to their minds first – sin or salvation? What do we talk about the most when referencing people of the world – sin or salvation? What is the most frequent topic of our conversations with one another – sin or salvation? What is most obvious to people about our theology and doctrine – sin or salvation?

Uh-Oh! Here come the tears…

I’m saved!

God is rejoicing over me!

My sin is GONE!

Zephaniah 3:17   “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

Our God is mighty to save! He takes great delight in us. In the midst of any storm, He quiets us with his love. When He looks at us, He rejoices over us with singing. Let it be obvious in me all day and every day. I am saved!

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Thursday, July 28, 2022

During the viewing of one session of the Truth Project, Dr. Dell Tackett said something that really hit me hard. It was all about our jobs and how labor and work are designed by God for His glory, for our fulfillment, and for the benefit of serving others with a generous spirit. He said, “If work and labor are to reflect the nature of God, then shouldn’t Christians be the most valued of all employees in the workplace? Why are employers not specifically seeking Christians to fill their vacant positions? Why are they not rejoicing when they find out they hired one?”

That got me thinking about what most Christians believe about work. If it’s a necessary evil, we will display attitudes that are less than Christ-like while we are in the workplace. But to God work is an opportunity for us to present the secular world with a vision of God’s grace and love. People who see work as a part of God’s plan to reveal Himself to the world will have very different attitudes and responses to the hardships that we all endure at work and in society. We are in tough times right now. They will get tougher. How will you respond?

1 Peter 3:15   “Always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…”

How do you respond to hardship? What kind of attitudes do you display when things don’t go your way? These are questions that we may tend to avoid answering. They can cut too deeply into our hearts. They force us to face issues we may have kept buried for too long. But we must answer them. If we don’t learn how to respond to difficulties with the grace of God, then we will not be fulfilling our mission of presenting Christ to the world. Whether you are an employer, employee, or customer, your life is to be the constant reflection of the grace, mercy, and compassion of Christ. Unfortunately many Christians don’t look or act any differently than an unsaved person when they are in public. That’s because we may still be motivated by pride.  

When we grumble and complain because things are tough, we are not looking at the finish line of faith, but at our immediate need for gratification and satisfaction. That’s PRIDE. When we speak poorly of other people and withdraw from them because we think they are doing something contrary to our preferences – that’s PRIDE. When we get gloomy and depressed about our finances, we cannot be standing on the promises of God but are standing on our own desires. That’s PRIDE.  When we participate in the negativity of conversations about our government, it’s officials, and the impact their decisions have on our lives, we are placing our hope in this world and not in Jesus Christ. That’s IDOLATRY.

Pride is idolatry. Think about it. We are to worship God alone as the one who provides us with position, purpose, and provision. He alone is the one who qualifies us and gives us value. Anyone or anything else, including self, that we allow to validate our lives is an idol. Pride is idolatry.

I know things are tough in life. But that’s the exact context into which the Holy Spirit inspires Peter to write today’s well-known verse. But to fully appreciate it, you must read what’s before it. Peter is talking about tough times and how we as God’s people are to respond in stark contrast to the way the world responds. Here’s what he says –“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” How much tougher can it get than having to suffer for being right? But when we do, we do not respond as the world does – with fear. Why? Because we have set Christ on the throne of our hearts. We recognize Him as LORD, and we have surrendered to Him in faith. Our suffering becomes the proving grounds of our faith, and our proper response to the suffering is to be hope.

Are you living in Christ’s hope? Or do you react to difficulties with hurtful words and shameful behavior. Pride may be showing when the hope of glory should be. 

We live in a most opportune day. It is a day in which the world is falling apart on many levels. It is a day in which we ourselves are suffering. It is a day in which our hope should shine because by grace we stand in the presence of Almighty God. When times get tough, we rejoice in the hope of glory which will never disappoint us. So always be ready to be asked to explain the hope that you have, and people will get to hear good news instead of grumbling.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

There is yet a deeper meaning to the idea of being still before God that we may know Him. As we learned yesterday, being still is to be our priority – to let down our guards so we may hear Him. But hearing Him is not enough. We must be doers of what we hear. That is the idea behind King David’s statement that he not only stilled His soul, but he also quieted his soul.

Psalm 131:2  “I have stilled and quieted my soul.” 

What’s the difference between being still and being quiet? I already alluded to part of the answer. To be still means to be able to listen. But the Hebrew word for quiet goes deeper. It means to not only be silent, but to make it permanent. It is used in a couple of places in Scripture to refer to the silence of the grave. In this case in Psalm 131, David refers to the silence of the soul. By that he means this – when I am still before the Lord so that I may hear Him, I also need to quiet my own desires, wants, and needs (my soul) so that I may respond in obedience to what I hear.

It is the nature of our soul to be self-sufficient because of sin. Our natural tendency is to weigh all information on the scales of personal benefit and then make our decision. We even do that with what we hear from God. We are proud people, and pride is the enemy of quietness. Before David makes his statement about being still and quiet, he says, “My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty.” He knows that pride is not the companion of obedience. It is not sufficient to be still and listen – that can be done in pride. Listening may be nothing more than courtesy without commitment.  We may already have made our minds up about what we will do with what we hear. At the least, we tend to reserve the right to obey until after we have heard all the information. We have been still, but we have not quieted our soul.

This brings a whole new level of understanding for me to the book of James in the New Testament. James says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.”

James continues later by saying, “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” There’s more. “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” Our pride causes us to claim faith but not act upon it. We have not quieted our souls. We have not died to self so that we might live for Him who saved us. We continue to struggle with sin because we have not surrendered to doing what we hear. James says it really boils down to surrender to God – to quiet our souls before Him. He says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

Do you struggle with obedience? With sin? It may be because you have not quieted those desires and declared them to be worthless and meaningless to your life compared to what God wants for you. You have chosen to believe the lie of Satan that says those things have some value. You have chosen to believe that sin will benefit you in some way. You have heard God’s word, but you have chosen to weigh those words on a scale that lies. Satan has his thumb on the scales of your soul, and he will not release his grip until you submit to God by quieting your soul. Put to death whatever it is of the flesh and choose now to obey whatever God says. Be still and be quiet. “Put your hope in the LORD, both now and forever.” (Psalm 131:3)

Pastor John 


LifeLink Devotions

July 26, 2022

I feel overwhelmed. I’m sure I’m not the only one who does. Life just doesn’t let up. Even breaks from the routine turn into energy-sapping, brain-draining events. When we do something to relax, we aren’t really relaxing because we are doing something. We end up just as tired after recreation as we do after work. And if we just sit and do nothing, the guilt of inactivity wears out our emotions. I’m exhausted just writing about exhaustion, and that’s no exaggeration. Where’s my coffee? I need caffeine. I must keep going.

Even the Bible convinces me that I must keep going. Over and over I read in Proverbs about the consequences of being slothful. My very character is brought into question when I read verses like “One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.”  It is easy for me to jump to the conclusion that anything that isn’t work is ultimately destructive when the opposite is true.  In fact, the word slack in that verse is the exact same Hebrew word as “still” in today’s Scripture verse. Seems contradictory, doesn’t it. We’re wrong if we’re slackers but we can’t know God unless we take time to be still.

Psalm 46:10  “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 

I want to challenge you to do something. It’s going to be hard for some of you. I’ll give you some information that will help you get started. I want you to read the first chapter of Ezekiel. Here’s what you will discover. Ezekiel has a vision of the glorious Presence of God. As you read it consider that the four living creatures may represent you and me.  At first they appear to be all-powerful and self-sufficient. They are imposing beings, just as we try to be. They have the faces of men, but also have the faces of a lion, an ox, and an eagle, representing authority, power, and vision. That’s pretty revealing of our own prideful nature, isn’t it? We claim to have all the authority, power, and vision we need to make life work. At the end of that paragraph you’ll find a verse that perfectly describes most of our lives – “The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.” Work hard. Play hard. Die hard. That’s us.

The next thing you’ll see in the vision are the wheels. The wheels could represent our work and our culture. The wheels moved in conjunction with the creatures. In fact, it tells us that the spirit of the creatures was in the wheels. How true is that? We pour our entire being into what we do. When we move, everything moves with us. Our lives are wrapped up in our activity. We must keep the wheels turning. Moving wheels make lots of noise. Noise proves function. Function proves value. Movement proves worth. These are the lies we have been led to believe.  

Then the truth is revealed. Read this carefully, starting in verse 24. “When they stood still, they lowered their wings.” (The Hebrew word for still and lowered is the same word used in Psalm 46:10.) “Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.”

WOW! I don’t know about you but that truth has powerfully affected me today. It’s time for me to let down my wings and quit flapping. When I do, I will hear the voice of God. I will realize that behind everything I do is His power. Behind everything I think I am, is His Presence. Behind every turn of the wheels of life is His authority. Every direction I move is controlled by His vision. Oh Lord, let my priority be to be still, and know that You are God.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Monday, July 25, 2022

Opinions have always been dangerous. Yet today we live in a world where they are respected as truth. It’s a problem that has existed in the hearts of man since the beginning.

It was an opinion that caused the first sin. Eve was asked to make a judgment about the consequences of eating the fruit of a specific tree. She made her judgment based on misinformation. That is the basis for the definition of opinion. According to dictionary.com, an opinion is “a belief or judgment that rest on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty. It is a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.” Another dictionary I have says that an opinion is “a belief not so strong as knowledge.” In other words, opinions are not necessarily truth.

Eve got into trouble when she moved from standing on the truth to forming an opinion about the truth. That’s what makes opinions so dangerous – they are usually based on something other than absolute truth.

We form opinions because we have the capacity to think and reason. That thought process is tainted by our sin nature which forces us, apart from Christ, to seek self-fulfillment. When not formed and based in truth, opinions are nothing more than our attempt to promote and enhance self. We form opinions based on what we think we need or on what makes us feel most comfortable. Our opinions can be motivated by the need for acceptance. Our opinions are powerful and can be used to influence people for good or evil. But the bottom line is that unless they are continually regulated by God’s truth, they become dangerously selfish.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really tired of public opinion polls. I understand their usefulness in determining some political policies so that our representative form of government is maintained. Where I have my problem is when public opinion is elevated to the place of truth in denial of God’s truth. In politics, the majority rules. Not so in the Kingdom of God. And not so in the church.

Personal opinions and preferences have long been the deadliest weapon of Satan against the body of Christ and the accomplishment of His mission. We now live in a church culture that is the product of allowing personal opinions to be validated as truth. It seems that the basic truths of God’s Word have been supplanted by the need to be accepted. Opinions have become the message that tickles the ears of hearers who are offended by the truth. We teach and preach what is politically correct. Even when we do present truth, we sugar coat it so it comes across as opinion, because opinions are not offensive. We’ve been taught to tolerate opinions. Unfortunately, we no longer tolerate truth.

My friends, we must guard our hearts from allowing opinions and preferences to dictate our actions. When we allow that to happen, we become inward focused, and we cease to be effective at reaching others for Christ. I think we would be shocked if we would seriously reflect on the number of personal opinions we have allowed to govern our lives. We must return to building our lives, our attitudes, and our actions on truth rather than opinion. 

So take some time today and reflect on your life. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the areas in your walk with Jesus that you have surrendered to personal preference rather than truth. Let Christ show you how His church is being hurt by the promotion of personal opinion rather than truth. Let Him show you how you are a part of that. Let us get out of ourselves, and into the truth. Let us proclaim the truth to others, and not let personal opinions pass themselves off as truth in our lives.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Friday, July 22,2022

This is going to sound very weird, but it is the truth. When I woke up this morning and began to contemplate my devotional, I knew I was looking for a word that started with the letter “n”. The very first word that instantaneously popped into my head was “nachos”. I chuckled under my breath so I wouldn’t wake Denise. Why in the world would the Lord put that word into my head. I got an immediate answer. In the official American Urban Dictionary, “nachos” means “not yours.” God seemed to be saying to me, “Just think about all the things that are not yours.” 

So I did. I started thinking about the things that are no longer mine because I am in Christ. I know my list is going to fall far short of being complete, but it will be a starting point of a day of praise and further contemplation. Here’s my list:

  • Punishment for sin is not yours anymore – Romans 5:9 says, Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! Then again in 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10 we read, For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 
  • Your body is not yours anymore – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
  • Your life is not yours anymore – Galatians 2:20 says, I have been crucified with Christ. I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 
  • The hardships of life are not yours anymore – 2 Chronicles 20:15 “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’”

I want to stop there and spend a moment on that last point. Several years ago I was driving to Marshfield to spend the day at the hospital with the parents of a 3-year-old boy who was having major surgery, I was thinking about how to help this couple understand the sufferings of this life. Once again Jesus was right there to give me direction. I started thinking about the passages in Scripture that talk about suffering, and the Holy Spirit directed my thoughts to Philippians 3:10, which says, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…” Immediately two words jumped out at me as I quoted the verse in my mind. Those words are His sufferings. WOW! None of the hardships and sufferings of this life are exclusively or uniquely mine. They are His sufferings. They are not mine. As I am going through any tough time, He is experiencing it with me. 

But not only is He experiencing it, but His unending love for me also causes Him to comfort me during the hardship, and to give me peace that He is conquering it. There is no battle that we fight that is ours. Come on, say it with me – It’s nachos. What a relief it is to know that any trial that comes our way is nachos. And what do we do with nachos? Well, if you like them, you eat them up and grow fat. That’s what God wants us to do with our trials – eat them up and use them to grow fat in our faith. That’s why God permits the trial in the first place according to James – “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

If you don’t like nachos, you discard them as insignificant and meaningless to you. Some of our trials are self-imposed. We have made mountains out of molehills. This is what the author of Hebrews meant when he said, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles,(they’re nachos) and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  

Your trials are nachos. They are God’s, and He’s using them to grow you and complete you. Don’t be afraid or discouraged. The battle is not yours, but God’s. Surrender to the work He is doing in your life.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Thursday, July 21, 2022

During a recent study on reconciliation I was overwhelmed with a new and powerful understanding of the spectacular gift of salvation. I felt like every day I was on a treasure hunt, and that daily I would uncover another chest full of gold coins and jewels. The deeper I dug, the more I discovered. The simple truths took on greater significance with every discovery. The biggest problem I had was deciding which gem to share first. Imagine being up to your knees in a cave of treasure and then having to choose which piece to show first to an onlooker. That’s how I felt.

One starting place for me has always been the book of Nehemiah in the Bible. It’s the story of the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem by a remnant of people while most of the nation of Israel is being held in captivity in Persia. For me it is the spiritual allegory of rebuilding lives that are being held in captivity of sin. In the story we find all the elements of personal salvation depicted by national restoration. There’s confession of sin and repentance from sin. There’s forgiveness. There’s reconciliation. There’s restoration. But for me the most powerful and meaningful elements of the book show up after the walls are completed and the celebration of their salvation begins. The history of God’s people is reviewed, and in that time of reflection there is a huge emphasis placed on the mercy and grace of God. These two intertwined gifts of God to us are spectacular.

Titus 3:4-5   “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”

Hebrews 4:16  “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Very simply stated, mercy is “not enforcing deserved justice.”  Grace is “giving undeserved favor.” In other words, God’s mercy is expressed to us by not giving us the punishment that we deserve for our sins, and God’s grace grants us the underserved gift of eternal life. Mercy forgives. Grace fills.

When Nehemiah gathered the people to celebrate the completion of the walls of the city, they had quite a worship service. We’re told in chapter 9 that they read from God’s Word for a fourth of the day. That’s three hours of Scripture reading. Then they spent three more hours in confession of sin and in worship. It was a six-hour worship service. The celebration of God’s mercy and grace is to be the basis for our worship. Then, as the history of the people is reviewed, there came to them a sudden and fearful realization of their guilt before a holy and righteous God. They became deeply aware of their hopeless condition of sin. They even remembered the judgments God had brought down upon them in the past because of their sin. Then we read these words of mercy –

“But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them…”

Four times in this chapter the mercy and grace of God are celebrated, culminating with this statement –

“You are a gracious and merciful God.”

I am at a loss to explain this any further. My heart is captivated by the glory of God’s mercy and grace. Because of His mercy He has saved me. Because of His grace He has filled me with life. Eternal life. I am His child forever. I can come to Him boldly, and when I do I find constant mercy that overwhelms my sin with forgiveness. From Him I receive unending grace to carry me through all times of need.  Mercy withholds God’s judgment that I deserve. Grace grants God’s gift of eternal life that I cannot earn. My dear friends, please don’t pass this over lightly. Let the marvel of mercy and the grandeur of grace overwhelm you with worship. Let us celebrate the splendor of our salvation. There is no greater treasure.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

But for the love of God, we would be lost forever in the consequences of our sin. But for the love of God, His justice would demand our separation from Him for all eternity. But for the love of God expressed in the giving of His Son as the sacrifice for our sin, we would suffer the wrath of God against who and what we are in our sin nature. For me, it is the fearful realization of my sin in light of God’s holiness that makes His love most glorious.

Romans 5:8   “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

We tend to not trust true love. We doubt that anyone’s love can bring us back from the depths of our depravity and restore us to intimacy. We question the ability of people to truly forgive us if we are seen by them at our worst. We claim a level of humility, but it is measured carefully based on our expectations of acceptance. Because of that we refuse to take full responsibility for our actions of sin, and if that is true, then we certainly have not taken full responsibility for our nature of sin. The result is a shallow understanding of the love of God.

We miss out on two huge blessings of faith when we fail to try to fully comprehend the holiness of God, His hatred of sin, and the love He has for those deserving of His wrath. First, we miss the blessing of unconditional forgiveness which allows us to experience the fullness of His love for us. If we place acceptance limits on confession, only admitting sin to the level of our perceived acceptance, then we miss the incredible gift of unconditional forgiveness and the full expression of God’s love to us. We will only know the fullness of God’s love if we first experience the awesomeness of His holiness and the fullness of our own sin.

Second, we miss out on the blessing of fully loving Him. Jesus taught this principle to a Pharisee named Simon. Here’s the story:

Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

 “Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said. Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

As I consider the love of God, it helps me to begin to understand its fullness when I start with a proper view of God’s holiness and my sinfulness. I praise God for the faith He gave me to trust that at my very worst He would forgive me, accept me, and save me. Nothing needs to be hidden from Him. No measure of self-worth needs to be protected. My nature of sin has already qualified me to be the object of His wrath. The activities of sin are only the product of the nature that was mine from conception in my mother’s womb. Yet we attempt to defend our activities to maintain some level of self-respect and self-worth, striving for acceptance. Let it be known by all of us that the acceptance we are looking for is found only in absolute abject abasement before an awesome God who forgives completely because He loves unconditionally. Once we reach that level of brokenness before Him, we will not only experience His great love for us, but we will be overwhelmed with overflowing love for Him.

Don’t be the one who seeks to be forgiven only a little, for you will be the one who loves only a little. Let us grow to be filled with the love of God that surpasses knowledge, filled with love to the measure of the fullness of the Father. Let’s get loaded with love.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

As I drove home from South Dakota several years ago, I was listening to a Christian radio station out of the Twin cities. In between two of the songs the voice of a phone caller to the station was heard. She told a story of kindness. She had been praying for days that God would reveal Himself to her in a meaningful and undeniable way. That day, on her way to work, she noticed a tire on her car going flat. She stopped by the auto shop to have it repaired. When the mechanic came back with her keys, he told her that there would be no charge. He said that he had gotten in her car to drive it into the shop and noticed that she was listening to a Christian radio station. He felt the Lord saying to him to pay for the tire repair himself, which he did. She was overwhelmed. God had revealed Himself to her at a time when she was starting to doubt Him even more. Just when she thought things were getting worse, God showed up.

In Titus 3 Paul writes to his pastoral trainee and tells him how bad things are for all of us. He says, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.” In another place, writing to the people at Colossae he says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of  your evil behavior.” Can it get any worse than that? Our sin made us the enemy of God and completely alienated us from Him. Our sin put us in a position of deserving the wrath of God. But instead of revealing Himself to us in wrath, God chose to reveal Himself to us through kindness.

Here is the central theme of Christianity. When we were in a place of hopelessness because we were unable to do anything to change our condition, God determined to change our condition for us. When who we are stands opposed to the holy nature of God, and we are by nature the objects of His wrath (Eph. 2:3), His mercy took over. He poured out His love on us through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ and has given us eternal life. We could do nothing to earn it. It was totally His kindness that conquered our condition. It is the kindness and love of God that provides us with the opportunity for salvation. It is His mercy that saves us.

The way God treats His enemies is the foundation for our treatment of people. The wisest man ever to live – King Solomon – knew well how to win people, especially enemies. He said, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.” Centuries later, in his letter to the church at Rome, after quoting this saying of Solomon, Paul said, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” In these words, and in the example of Christ, we find the foundation for the sharing of our faith – kindness. Acts of kindness to people will open their hearts to Christ. Our enemies need to see the love and kindness of God. It is His kindness that draws people to Himself, and His kindness has only one dispenser – YOU!

We have a strong tendency to be judgmental. We seem to take pleasure or find personal fulfillment in condemning the activities, behaviors, and even appearances of others. If God, who alone is holy and has every right to condemn, chooses to be kind, then shouldn’t we? Read carefully these words from Paul in Romans 2. “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”

Do you see it? It’s right there at the end. God’s kindness leads us to repentance. That is to be the basis for our ministry to others who need Christ. We are to be kind. I can’t wait to hear some of your stories of how that has worked for you. I can’t wait to hear how this truth changes some of your lives. Let the kindness and love of God show up in your life. People will get saved.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Monday, July 18, 2022

1 Peter 1:6-9  “So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him, you trust him; and even now you are filled with a glorious, inexpressible joy. Your reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.”

Fourteen years ago my life was deeply affected by the birth of a little girl. This girl has had a huge impact on literally hundreds or even thousands of people around the world. Her birth defect was the instrument God used to touch many people’s lives with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She taught us many lessons about faith. Her life has been used to show us all the reality of what Peter says in today’s Scripture passage. I wonder if her dad knew the significance of the middle name he chose for her, and how the truth of that word would be revealed in his life? Her middle name is Joy.

If the only source of joy was the cultural and circumstantial reality of happiness, we would all be extremely depressed. Happiness is not joy. Happiness is an emotion that responds to positive input. When things go right, we are happy. When things go bad, we are sad. But joy isn’t an emotion. Joy is capable of producing emotion, but joy is not emotion. Joy is the product of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ our Savior. Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Our relationship with Christ is eternal, being kept secure by the power of God.  Therefore, joy is permanent, not contingent upon circumstances. But I wonder how many times we have really experienced the inexpressible joy spoken of in Scripture?

It actually happens to me quite often. You can tell when I’m experiencing it by the uncontrollable tears streaming down my face. It happens most often when I’m thinking about, speaking on, or looking at the subject of salvation. Several weeks ago I broke down during a worship service while we were singing the song, “My Jesus, I love Thee.” I was overwhelmed with an inexpressible joy that caused my mouth to stop working and my eyes to start pumping. I was filled with the joy of my salvation.

I remember when the miracle girl’s dad graduated from the leadership training program we have at our church. He sat in that weekly class for two-and-a-half years. I watched him grow in his faith through the last year of the class as we processed his daughter’s life and circumstances. We shed tears. But those tears came from a different motivation as the year went by. I watched her dad cry when the discussion turned to the wonder of God’s grace. I cried with him as we considered the people who had come to salvation – people who had seen his faith as he went through seemingly insurmountable circumstances with the joy of the Lord as his strength. I watched as the inexpressible joy of salvation overwhelmed his heartache. He was not always happy, but the joy of the Lord was evident.

Life is tough. Most of the time it just plain stinks. The economy is going down the tubes. Our jobs are threatened. Our families are stressed. Friends have forsaken us. Words we have said have been used against us. Our cars and boats break down. Our retirement funds are being wiped out. Where do we turn to find any relief from the heartache?

Let me remind you that your relief is not found in happiness. If you are unhappy, it is probably because your focus is on the condition of your circumstances and not the condition of your heart. It’s necessary to go through these trials, so that God can test and strengthen our faith. The trials are tests of trust. The tough times are portals to praise. And the joy that you will experience when you begin to praise Him for your salvation is not even the fullness of joy. Peter says there is more wonderful joy ahead. Every trial brings greater joy, until one day all trials will be gone, and we will experience the fullness of joy in the presence of our Lord.

So the next time a circumstance robs you of happiness, remember that in Christ nothing can steal your joy. It just takes a change of perspective. Rise above your clouds and be thrilled with the glory of the Son. He has saved you, and you are His forever. Culture and circumstances can change but they can’t diminish the glory of Jesus who is our joy. Christ is unchangeable, and you can’t change that. Christ is your constant. Rejoice – and let the joy of your salvation become inexpressible.

Pastor John