LifeLink Devotions

Monday, October 31, 2022

Do not take this as cynicism. I’m thinking of myself first. I just wonder how many of you are in the same predicament. After reading yesterday’s devotional we went back to our normal routines of life and, whether consciously or sub-consciously, we did everything we could to avoid suffering and enhance our lives according to the world’s standards. We went right back to the lives we have established in the flesh, and by the end of the day we were already wondering why we aren’t done with sin. My mind has been working non-stop all night trying to figure this out. I’m getting close. Let me share with you what I’ve learned so far.

To start with, we have defined suffering incorrectly. When we think of the suffering of Christ and our willingness to do the same, we think of death. Most of us, if a gun were pointed at our head, would not deny that Jesus is Lord. As a result, we believe we are really willing to suffer for Christ. Trouble is, not many of us are actually suffering in any way. So we thank God that we live in a free country, and then we exploit the opportunities we have in this country to satisfy the desires of our flesh. We are not free from sin because we don’t really understand suffering.

Let’s look at the life of Jesus, our model of suffering and freedom from sin. Maybe we can learn something about an aspect of suffering we have denied – the concept of sacrifice.

  • As God in the flesh, He was willing to be born in a manger to poor people who couldn’t even afford a lamb for a sacrifice.
  • While being fully God in human flesh, he was willing to live an obscure life for 30 years, demanding no recognition or affirmation from the world.
  • When told by a wannabe disciple that he would follow Him, Jesus asked the man if he was sure because Jesus had no place to call home and no bed to crawl into at night.
  • When instructing His followers about the priorities of life, Jesus said that the tendency for all of us would be to worry about how we were going to feed and clothe ourselves and the family. Then He told them not to worry but to trust the Father in Heaven. If their priority was right – to serve the King in righteousness and advance the Kingdom of God – then God would provide everything they needed to accomplish His will, not their own.
  • As a result of doing the will of the Father and speaking the words of the Father, Jesus was rejected by the people He came to save. Yet He did not live for the approval of people. In fact, He told His disciples that it was hypocritical to try to serve God and please people at the same time.

I cannot begin to list all the ways emotionally and materially that Jesus must have suffered because of what He was willing to sacrifice to honor His Father. I also cannot begin to list all the ways we continue to pursue emotional and material stability rather than suffering the loss of those things for Christ’s sake. I am overwhelmed with the thought of how much time is invested and how many resources we spend on satisfying the desires of our flesh, whether it’s through our possessions, our position in life, or through personal relationships. Let me say clearly that Jesus is not opposed to success or wealth. Nor am I. What Christ is opposed to is the idea that we think we need that stuff to validate our lives. He is opposed to anything from which we gain value that should be coming from Him alone. And friends, we try to gain a lot of value for ourselves through our possessions, our success, and our relationships.

We have fallen prey to materialism, and we don’t even know it. We claim that we would suffer death for Christ, but don’t want to be asked to sacrifice the life we now have. Yet Jesus said, “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” If only we would discover that the key to being done with sin is to deny the flesh and walk according to the Spirit of God. Yet the desires of the flesh still dominate our decision-making.

It’s time for change. It’s time for sacrifice. It’s time to truly prove we are people of faith in the Father by renouncing the dreams we have for this life and reclaiming the mission Jesus gave us to be the living representatives of His resurrection and victory over sin. Please don’t brush this off. This is the transformational message of the Gospel, and we should be living it.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Friday, October 28, 2022

I love the word therefore. It perks up my mind to make a connection between what has previously been said and what is about to be said. It is the one word which more than any other helps me to keep things in context. It is the one word that helps me fulfill my insatiable need to understand cause and effect.

Cause and effect is the relationship between two things when one thing makes something else happen. For example, if we eat too much food and do not exercise, we gain weight. Eating food without exercising is the “cause;” weight gain is the “effect.” I just wish that my understanding of that would start to change me. Which brings up another cause and effect – my choice to ignore the eventual effect for the immediate enjoyment of the food is the real problem.

It is that same attitude of choosing the immediate enjoyment of sin regardless of the long-term effect that is being addressed by Peter as he begins chapter four.

1 Peter 4:1  “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.”

He starts with the word therefore, so he is connecting an effect with a previous cause. The previous cause is that Jesus Christ suffered in the flesh and was raised in the Spirit in victory over the flesh. The effect is to be that we can experience the same thing and endure suffering while experiencing victory over sin.

The question that comes to my mind is this – “If I can be done with sin, then why do I still sin?  Other questions also arise. “If victory over sin is the result of suffering, then why have I not suffered enough to have victory over sin? What kind of suffering is he referring to?” These are all legitimate questions, and they can be answered, with one contingency – that we understand that our personal choice is the real issue. None of what I’m about to teach will be of any value to anyone who hasn’t already or is willing  now to take responsibility for their own choices. It is not anyone else’s fault for the effects of sin you are experiencing. Your choices are the cause.

Let’s look at some facts we already know. Unlike Paul, when Peter talks about sin it is never in the abstract, but always in reference to concrete, identifiable actions of sin. Peter knows that the power and penalty of sin have been removed from the Christian’s life at the moment of his salvation, but he is talking about the presence of sin in our lives in specific forms.

We also know that Peter is not talking in his letter about martyrdom as the only means of deliverance from the presence of sin. The suffering to which he refers is social in nature, not legal.

As a result of His victory over sin on the cross, confirmed by God in Christ’s resurrection, He is done with sin forever. That same resurrection power that was exerted in Christ to conquer death now lives in us to conquer sin as well. What is missing in our lives is our willingness and choice to suffer for Christ so that we might experience the victory of Christ.

The law of cause and effect is at play here. According to God, whatever a man sows is what he reaps. Plant corn; harvest corn. Scatter seeds of selfishness; harvest loneliness. Choose sin; harvest discipline, correction, and judgment. But the flip side of the cause and effect coin is also true. Choose suffering for Christ; harvest victory over sin. God’s law of cause and effect for the Christian is this – choose to set aside all immediate gratification of the flesh and suffer the loss of the pleasures of this world, and He will give you victory over all sin.

Peter Davids writes, “if Christ is really the one they are following, their great example, then suffering will separate them more and more from sinful acts, making them increasingly invested in heaven, until they come to that point when they die like Christ, and, like him, are totally finished with sin and all its effects in this world.”

“We may in fact still be sinning because we have not chosen to suffer and thereby are not done with sin. Perhaps when we come to the point of choice, we choose compromise and then wonder why we cannot overcome temptation.”

The choice is yours. Do you believe that the resurrected life of Jesus lives in you, and that the power of His resurrection to conquer sin is yours today? Or have you become convinced in your mind that we must suffer with sin in this life until we are finally taken to glory? I do not proclaim sinless perfection in this life. We will still sin. But why are we satisfied with that? It’s because we have chosen to enjoy the pleasures of sin, claiming that the grace of God will cover us. What a cheap grace that is! The grace of God brings us the life of Christ in all His glorious victory. Let us not cheapen what He has done by choosing to gratify the desires of the flesh while claiming the victory He offers.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Today we come to a phrase in this difficult passage in First Peter 3 that has caused much confusion in the ranks of the religious. Peter says about Noah’s ark, “In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God.” The controversy is this – Does baptism save anyone?

Whenever we study Scripture, we must interpret it in its proper context. The context of Peter’s teaching here is still the encouragement he is giving to the saints to endure suffering for the cause of Christ. That context will carry well into the next chapter. The reference to baptism, therefore, must have something to do with encouraging Christians to endure suffering. The reference to baptism, then, becomes an analogy, just like the Apostle Paul’s reference to Moses in First Corinthians 10 when he writes, “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” These are historical analogies of another reality, and they are not the reality in and of themselves.

When the people of Israel stood at the Red Sea with the Egyptian army bearing down on them, they had a choice – have faith in God and identify with Moses or turn and retreat into the world from which they came. They chose to identify with Moses. They were “baptized” into Moses when they went through the sea on dry ground and when they followed the pillar of cloud and fire wherever it went. Baptism, therefore, is an act of identification.

Peter uses a different analogy to enhance the meaning. When Noah built the ark, he suffered constant insults and rejection from the world. For 120 years he was made out a fool for his faith in the Father. Then it started to rain, and only those who by faith identified with the Father were saved. The suffering they had to go through to experience the fulfillment of their salvation was extreme, but they were saved the moment they entered the ark and the Lord shut them in. They were in the ark with hundreds of stinky animals for over a year. No toilets. No lower-level ventilation. No outdoor recreational activities. No friends except immediate family. There was just suffering for their faith. Yet they were considered saved the whole time. The water didn’t save them. Their faith took them through the water.

That’s the analogy of baptism. The water doesn’t save anyone. It is the identifying act of a person of faith who has already been saved by the resurrection of the life of Jesus in them. It does not remove sin. That can only be done by faith in Christ’s work on the cross. Baptism is a Christian’s pledge to God of a good conscience that has been cleansed by the Holy Spirit through His work of regeneration.

For this reason, according to the truth of Scripture, only those who have made a personal commitment to Christ through the repentance of sin by faith in Christ’s work on the cross can be baptized. Infants don’t qualify. No offense intended, but we must be Biblically accurate. A baby cannot identify with Christ, and the Scriptures give no evidence or support to the idea that the identification of the parents can be applied to the child. Every person must make an individuaL decision to repent of their sin and be forgiven by faith in Christ individually.

Baptism is the act of identification with Christ’s death and resurrection. (See Romans 6:1-6) That’s why the Scriptural method was immersion, so the representation of death and resurrection is experienced. Baptism is also, according to the analogies of Noah and Moses, the beginning of suffering for Christ. It is the commitment of an individual to take a public stand for Jesus regardless of the cost. That’s what it was for Jesus, who was not baptized for the forgiveness of sins, but rather to identify himself publicly with the Father and His mission for life and death.

Your salvation will take you through the water. It will be hard walking through life by faith alone, but on the other side of the water you will be delivered. You will suffer along the way, but because you have publicly identified with Christ, He will lead you and empower you to follow. Such a walk of faith and victory starts in the water of Baptism. Take that step of faith and identify yourself publicly with Jesus Christ. Let it be the pledge of your good conscience that Jesus has saved you by His resurrection power. 

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Jesus is alive!

He is risen from the dead!

And because He lives, I too am alive and will live forever.

Keep all of that in mind as we go through the next passage in First Peter. It is a difficult one, but if we take our time you will grow in your understanding of it.

1 Peter 3:19-22  “…through whom also he[Christ] went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.”

Jesus Christ was crucified in the flesh, but when He was raised from the dead by the power of God, He was raised a spiritual being. Yes, He still had a body, but it was a glorified one. Peter uses the death and resurrection of Christ as an example for us to follow when we suffer. Christ was unjustly persecuted and killed, yet in His resurrection He proclaimed His victory and His accuser’s condemnation. Now He abides at the right hand of the Father with all authority over them.

Let’s break down each part of the passage and give a short explanation so it doesn’t confuse us.

  • “Through whom…” The Holy Spirit was the giver of Christ’s resurrected life at the command of the Father.
  •  “also he went and preached…” He did not preach to these spirits while He was in the grave, but rather after He had been given life from above.
  • “to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built…” Who were these spirits? Of all the explanations, I think the best one is that they were the demonic spirits that influenced the people of Noah’s day to remain in rebellion against God despite Noah’s preaching of judgment. I do not believe that these are the spirits of dead people, righteous or unrighteous, because nowhere in Scripture does the term spirit refer to dead humans. These demonic spirits are being held captive by the power of God until the final Day of Judgment. In the victory of His resurrection, Christ proclaimed to them that their final doom was sealed and that He is Lord!

There’s more to the passage, and we’ll take that up tomorrow.  I would like to make a point of application so you have something to live by today. The Apostle Paul said, “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…” There is an undeniable correlation between our willingness to suffer as Christ did and the experience of the victory and power of Christ’s resurrected life in us. We must reach the point of death to self. We must surrender the complete and total control of the outcome of our life to God. When we do, we will experience the same power over the suffering that Jesus did.

Look at Paul’s words in Ephesians chapter one – “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know…his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

Here’s the application point – the power of God to stand in victory over all enemies is ours because we have been raised from death to life in Christ. That doesn’t mean that all the enemies are presently defeated. But in the final Day of Judgment, we will stand with Christ in the power and authority of His Name, and we will be exalted over them. It was that hope that allowed Jesus to endure the cross (Hebrews 12:2). It is that same hope that gives us endurance today. Hebrews 12:3 – “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

My friend, times are tough. They are going to get tougher. It is not God’s objective to make life easy. It is His objective to empower us to look beyond whatever suffering happens to us and to see the finish line of victory. Stop spending so much time trying to change your physical condition now. Your spiritual life in Christ is the guarantee of future exaltation. Live in the hope of your faith.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

1 Peter 3:18b  “He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.”

“For the watching world, we ourselves serve proof that God is alive. We form the visible shape of what he is like.” (Philip Yancey)

For some that statement sends a shiver of fear up their spine. They know that they are not presenting the world with an accurate or positive picture of who God really is. Their lives are a testimony to the strength and determination of the human will rather than the power of the Holy Spirit.

In his book A Father for All Seasons, Bob Welch writes:

Last summer, my son Jason was a seventh-grader playing in a seventh/eighth-grade league. A fire-armed pitcher—more than a foot taller than my 4-foot-9 son—blazed a fastball right down the pike. Strike one. The second pitch scorched across the plate for a called strike two. The third pitch, unintentionally I’m sure, came right at Jason. He turned to avoid being hit and fell to the ground. His bat went flying. His helmet bounced off. The ball seemed to have skimmed his shoulder.

“Take your base,” said the umpire.

Standing in the third-base coach’s box, I was happy just seeing Jason alive, much less getting a free base.

“It didn’t hit me,” Jason said to the ump.

“Take your base, son,” said the ump.

Our fans were most likely thinking the same thing I was thinking: Take your base, son. You’ve been wounded, soldier; your war’s over. You’re going home …

“But honest, it didn’t hit me,” Jason pleaded.

The umpire looked at Jason and out to the infield ump, who just shrugged. “Okay,” said the ump, “the count is one-and-two.”

Should I intervene? Make him take his base? Jason was already digging in his cleats in the batter’s box. I mentally shrugged and headed back to the coach’s box.

The towering pitcher rocked and fired. A bullet right down the middle—the kind of pitch that would send the kid to the dugout. Instead, Jason ripped the ball into left-center for a stand-up double. Our crowd roared. The manager of the team in the field was standing a few feet behind me. He had no idea that the kid on second base was my son. He spit out his sunflower seeds and slowly shook his head. “Man,” he said, “you gotta love that.”

If you have any competitive bones in your body, you were begging the boy to take his base. It didn’t matter very much to you that his life would be one of integrity and truth. You simply wanted the advantage of a base runner. If you had been in the same situation, you would have gone to first base.

Author and pastor Maxie Dunnam made an interesting observation. He said, “We must be careful what we bury in our heart. To bury something does not mean it is dead. It may simply mean we have buried something alive that will devour and destroy us from within.”

Your behavior will reveal whether or not that’s true for you. Has the flesh truly died, or have you just buried it somewhere in a back corner of your life, in a room with ventilation so it can be “resurrected” when you feel the need to satisfy your own desires?

“For the watching world, we ourselves serve proof that God is alive. We form the visible shape of what he is like.” So the question of the day is – What does the world think God is like when they look at you?

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Monday, October 24, 2022

1 Peter 3:18b  “He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.”

We are at once both alive and dead. We have in our flesh the raging process of death, while in our Spirit, redeemed in Christ, we possess the eternal gift of life. The war between the two within us has been well documented in Scripture.  It is well-proven by our current condition.

In the late 1800’s, Africa was torn by tribal war as kings and rulers attempted to eliminate enemies who were declared such simply because of ethnicity. One such ruler, King Lewanika of Barotsi, was so cruel that he was named the “human tiger.” His greatest delight was to put to death through torture any who offended or opposed him.

During the height of his reign, the Rev. Francois Coillard came to the Barotsi people under the authority of the French Evangelical Mission. He knew he was putting his own life at risk to bring the Gospel to this unreached tribe. God began to work. He did a miraculous work. By 1896, things in Middle Africa were completely different when Captain Alfred Bertrand of the Swiss Federal Army arrived on the scene. He had been travelling through Africa, and had just previously been in the company of Mr. M.J.S. Moffat, the son of missionary Robert Moffat, who was the brother-in-law of Dr. Livingstone. Yet, with all the contact he had with missionaries during his expedition, Bertrand himself was without faith in God.

When Sunday came at Rev. Coillard’s mission, Captain Bertrand attended church at the request of the missionary. When the service was over, Bertrand asked, “Monsieur Coillard, who was that remarkable looking man sitting next to me, who listened so carefully?”  Rev. Coillard responded, “That was King Lewanika, the ‘human tiger.’”  Bertrand was broken, and said, “Then if that is what Christ can do, I mean to be His.”

In the chronicles of his expedition, Captain Bertrand writes, “From the accounts of previous travelers as to the treachery, rapacity, cruelty, and degradation of the Barotsi, we expected to take our lives in our own hands. All the greater, therefore, was my astonishment when I saw with my own eyes the transformation, both in the moral and the material domain, effected during the ten years that the missionaries had been at work…The king, in whom we had expected to find a bloodthirsty tyrant, I first met in church, seriously and intelligently joining in the service. Every month the king and his chiefs used to celebrate the new moon with drunken orgies of strong native beer-drinking. By the time of my visit, the king had forbidden the making and consumption of intoxicants throughout the country, and had himself set the example by becoming an abstainer for the past seven years.”

WOW! The power of God through Christ brings life where there had been death. The life of Christ in us through the Holy Spirit overcomes the power of sin and death in our flesh. The Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8: 13-14)

Why then, when the Life-giving Spirit of God dwells within us, do we continue to resurrect what is to be dead to us? Why do we choose sin and death over life? That is a question only you can answer, and one for which you will be accountable to the Savior. He was put to death in the body and made alive by the Spirit. He offers you the same victory over sin. Choose life, not death.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Friday, October 21, 2022

The minister of a church in Wyckoff, NJ told the sexton to put on the church sign his sermon topic for the following Sunday: “Are Ministers Cracking Up?” The sexton looked puzzled but did as he was told and put up the letters to announce: “Our Minister’s Cracking Up.”

I love bloopers. I have to, because I make so many of them. Some of these are pretty old, but here are a few funny ones I’ve read over the years. Most of them come from church bulletins.

“Don’t let worry kill you—let the church help.”

“Thursday night: Potluck supper. Prayer and medication to follow.”

“The Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.”

“The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.”

“Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.”

“The eighth graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM. The Congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.”

“At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What Is Hell?” Come early and listen to our choir practice.”

And my favorite one of all:

“This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.”

Bloopers are hilarious, even though they can be very embarrassing. I don’t think I know of anyone who died from one unless they laughed themselves to death. What is not hilarious is that we tend to call sin a blooper. We laugh it off. We may get a little embarrassed for a while, but soon the flushed face is gone with a flush of the memory.  

We seem to have forgotten that our bloopers were the cause of Someone’s death.

We have been overcome with fear that the price we would have to pay to confess our bloopers would be too great. We are afraid that our bloopers will bring us enduring shame. So we try to hide them if we can, and when they are discovered, we laugh them off as insignificant. When that fails, our last resort is to transfer the guilt to others for not being willing to overlook what we did.

But we have also forgotten that the price for the bloopers has already been paid by the death of Christ.

1 Peter 3:18  “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit…” 

Christ has already taken all the guilt and punishment for our sin. He became our sin so that we might have the righteousness of God. And His death was no blooper. It was the predetermined will of the Father so that our relationship with Him might be restored. Praise be to God, who in His mercy has given us new life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ His Son.

Even those who know these truths tend to live under the power of past bloopers. They all guilt to make them silent partners of Jesus, when the truth of their forgiveness should make them explode with words of witness.

One Sunday years ago there was a blooper that I missed. Someone told me about it after the service. It happened during the singing of a song. One letter was omitted from a word in the lyrics on the screen. That letter made all the difference. Unfortunately, it made the song truer than it should be about some of us. We sang, “Jesus is our closet friend.”

Oops! Is that too true of you? Or are you thrilled daily with the thought that He who had never committed a sin became your sin for you, that you might be forgiven and never again have to be reminded of them? That makes Jesus our closest friend, not a closet one. Tell someone about Him today.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Thursday, October 20, 2022

A man starting a fish business put out his sign that read, “Fresh Fish For Sale Today” and invited all to visit his place of business on opening day. Many came and congratulated him on his new business. After several days of operation, one already faithful customer suggested that he change his sign. “Why the ‘Today’? It is today.” So he removed the word “Today”.

Someone else said, “Why, ‘For Sale’? Everybody knows you have fish for sale—or else why the store?” The words “For Sale” came off the sign.

Another said, “Why the word ‘Fresh’? You are a man of integrity, which guarantees your fish to be fresh.” “Fresh” came off the sign.

Only one word was left, “Fish” and one complained about it. “I smelled your fish two blocks away.” The sign was removed from the store. People stopped coming, thinking it was closed. The man’s business went under. If only he had stood firm on the foundational principles of his business, it might still be thriving.

The individual or congregation that tries to satisfy everybody ends up by pleasing nobody. If we start compromising, we will end up serving the devil. The man should have put up his sign and then stood by it. This is what we are to do in life. Accept God’s will for our lives and stand on His promises.

Colossians 4:12  “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.

The Christianity of modern culture is in trouble because we have forgotten the foundational principles of God’s will. We have decided to take what we consider to be the easy road of acceptance by listening to the voices of the world around us. We seem to prefer comfort in the world, even though it is accomplished only by conformity to the world. To avoid conflict with the world we have chosen conflict with the Holy Spirit. We believe the inner turmoil and distress that produces is a small price to pay for the peace we think we have achieved with the world. We have ignored the warnings of Wisdom that tell us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

As the Apostle Paul comes to the end of his letter to the church at Colossae, he begins sending greetings from other servants of God who are with him in prison. Be honest, most of the time when you read Scripture you skim over these parts thinking there’s nothing of real value in them, right? How wrong you are. Paul tells us about Epaphras the prayer warrior. Take a close look at what he prayed for. Take a closer look at how big of a burden it was to him because he knew from personal experience how hard it was to do. He prayed that the Christians of Colossae would stand firm in the will of God. I find that very interesting because I think most of us believe it is easy to stand in the will of God. Why? Well, it’s because we have chosen acceptance by the world as the will of God. We’ve chosen the security of possessions and financial stability as the will of God. We’ve chosen to witness less and talk more about the weather and sports so we will fit into our circle of friends. We’ve decided that the will of God for us is to enjoy this life and be successful according to its standards.

Standing firm in the will of God is hard. We must not choose to avoid the suffering but rather stand firm in it and experience the fullness of the resurrection power of God in our lives. (Philippians 3:10)

Read carefully these words from R.A. Torrey. “There are many, very many Christians who are afraid of making an unreserved surrender to God. They are afraid that God will ask some hard thing of them, or some absurd thing. They fear sometimes that it will upset all their life-plans. In a word, they are afraid to surrender unreservedly to the will of God, for Him to do all He wished to for them and whatsoever He wills with them. Friends, the will of God concerning us is not only the wisest and best thing in the world; it is also the tenderest and sweetest. God’s will for us is not only more loving than a father’s; it is more tender than a mother’s. It is true that God does oftentimes revolutionize utterly our life plans when we surrender ourselves to His will. It is true that He does require of us things that to others seem hard. But when the will is once surrendered, the revolutionized life plans become just the plans that are most pleasant, and the things that to others seem hard are just the things that are easiest and most delightful. Do not let Satan deceive you into being afraid of God’s plans for your life.”

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The priority of God’s will is not the gratification of our desires, but rather the glorification of Himself.  Yet the average Christian chooses to think about God’s will in the context of personal decision-making.  As a result, their lives are lived in constant tension. The Holy Spirit is drawing them to consistent surrender to the Father’s will, while their definition of His will is nothing more than a spiritualized practice of pride. Let me illustrate:

Several years ago, in July, a college graduate signed a contract to teach. In August she received another offer from a school closer to where she wanted to live. So she broke the original contract, claiming that she had prayed about it and felt it was God’s will. However, her decision broke the biblical principle found in Psalms 15:4, where God answers the question of who may dwell in His presence by stating, “The one who keeps his oath even when it hurts.” God’s will for her decision had already been revealed in Scripture, but she defined God’s will in the context of what was best for her, not God. The department chairman of the school said that her justification was “I have a peace about it,” to which he commented rather sardonically, “Isn’t that lovely? She’s got the peace and I’ve got the pieces.”

I believe that girl missed the will of God. She violated a principle which, if she had been alert and had applied it to her situation, would have given her clear guidance in this specific detail of her life. But she’s not alone. We all do the same. And the reason is because we have missed the whole meaning of God’s will. God’s will is not about which color car you should buy, or what house to live in. God’s will is about living a life that is completely and sacrificially surrendered to Him in every way so that the Holy Spirit is in absolute control of every decision. To know God’s will is to deny our own will.

There are sixty-four references to the will of God in the New Testament, and not a single one of them refers to decision-making. Every one of them is expressed in the context of living a surrendered life to the purpose of God, and that purpose is defined as bringing glory to the Father by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word, deed, and lifestyle.

Just look at the example of today’s Scripture passage in 2 Corinthians 8:5  “And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.

Paul is commending the people of Macedonia for their financial support. He says they did the will of God. But they were only capable of making that financial decision after they had first given themselves to God. What a confirmation of what Paul says in Romans 12:1-2 about offering our bodies to God as living sacrifices, and having our thinking transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may know and do the will of God.

My friends, this may hurt, but it is necessary. We have allowed Satan to quench the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and in our churches because we are trying to know God’s will for decision-making before we have crucified our own wills and surrendered to the absolute and complete control of the Father’s will. We pray to know God’s will about financial issues before we surrender our finances to God. We ask to know God’s will about relationships before we know anything about being content with Jesus as our only necessary relationship. We get bogged down in all the management of life because we have not yet surrendered to the Manager of our lives.

The priority of God’s will is not the gratification of our desires, but rather the glorification of Himself.  Yet we tend to think that God’s will is about us adding a spiritual dimension to getting what we want. Any inclination of our hearts towards getting what we want is the will of our pride, not the will of God. We must deal with this issue individually by going to the place of prayer. Remember the example of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane? It was there that He dealt with the issue of His fleshly will verses God’s perfect will. He asked for a way to gratify the flesh, but surrendered to the glory of the Father. Dennis Corrigan in Bridge Builder states it this way – “Gethsemane teaches us that the kingdom of God is entered only through the denial of one’s own will and the affirmation of the will of God. Therefore, the cross must stand central to an understanding of the kingdom. Since the essence of the kingdom is our obedience to the absolute will of God, we understand it only as we bring our own will to the foot of the cross. No self-will can live unchallenged in God’s kingdom.”

We’re wasting our time trying to find the will of God for decision-making if we haven’t first surrendered our hearts to the reign of God. So here’s a quick test my wife and I discovered years ago to know if we are at that point or not. We ask ourselves, “Are we completely neutral about the outcome?” Surrender will be manifested by neutrality. It’s not that we can’t have a preference, but our preferences don’t matter and certainly don’t motivate us to manipulate the outcome. Knowing and doing the will of God requires the surrender of our will to His. Let’s work on that together.

Pastor John


LifeLink Devotions

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

As promised yesterday, I want to share with you six principles that can be helpful in determining our surrender to the will of God. I want to thank one of my elders for his assistance in clarifying that these six principles are not necessarily proofs of God’s will so much as they are tests of our maturity and character in response to God’s will. How true this is, as you will see in a moment. Yet they also serve as tests of my position in relation to God’s will. That, in turn, proves what God’s will is. I guess you had to be there for our discussion. I deeply appreciate the elders of Calvary for their commitment to truth.

In Genesis 12, Abram, who would soon have his name changed to Abraham, has been called by God to establish a new nation in a new land. His response to God’s call was an act of faith, for God had not told him where he was going. He just told him to pack up everything and go west. Abram obeyed.

When he arrived in God’s chosen place, he set up temporary camps, for it is God’s will that we never become dependent upon this world but live here as pilgrims looking ahead to our final home in glory. But then things got rough. Here’s the story:

“Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe.  As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that she was a very beautiful woman. And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels. But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!” Then Pharaoh gave orders about Abram to his men, and they sent him on his way, with his wife and everything he had. So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him.”

Abram and a lapse in faith in God’s promise and he stepped out of God’s will. In this story I find six principles that help me evaluate my position in relationship to God’s will. I hope they help you as well.

  1. We won’t run when things get tough. God’s promise of provision was not negated by the famine, yet Abram looked for a human solution to the problem, rather than trusting God. When we are living in the will of God, while we may be tempted to run, the Holy Spirit will testify with our Spirit that we are in the place of God’s calling and give us the strength to stand firm in the face of trouble.
  2. We won’t manipulate any outcomes. Abram devised a scheme with his wife to protect himself and achieve his own desired outcome. Those who are in the will of God have surrendered their rights to determine outcomes and trust God with every detail.
  3. We won’t be experiencing fear. Abram was afraid for his life. Fear is the reality for those outside of the will of God. Fear is not of God. According to the Apostle Paul, “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”
  4. We won’t put our needs ahead of others. Abram’s fear drove him to make a decision that didn’t consider his wife’s needs and put her in a compromising situation. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit and walking in the will of God, we will have the mind of Christ, which always puts others ahead of self.
  5. We won’t use others for personal benefit. Sometimes it may appear on the surface that what we are doing is for everyone’s good, when we are actually manipulating others for personal benefit. Notice Abram’s words – “I will be treated well for your sake.” He was using her for personal gain. That’s never the will of God.
  6. We won’t bring harm to others. Abram’s decisions brought judgment on Pharaoh and his household. We are not responsible for the decisions others make in response to God’s will, but when we are in God’s will, and people are trusting us to be in God’s will, then it will not bring harm to them. God’s judgment on Pharaoh was the result of Abram being outside of God’s will. When our actions or words begin to bring harm to others, we must see that as a test of our position in relation to God’s will.

There’s so much more to be learned about the will of God. Tomorrow we will address some additional things concerning the revealed will of God in Scripture and the daily decisions we make. But for today, test your position in life and let the Holy Spirit reveal to you where you may be out of step with His will for you. Then take hope in this – God brought Abram back up to the land again. He will do the same for you.

Pastor John