About Pastor John van Gorkom

Pastor John is the lead pastor of the Calvary Ministry Center in Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Grace and Truth

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, February 24, 2020

Is it possible that there is a time limit on God’s grace?

Before you try to answer that, be advised that the question is fundamentally flawed. When we attempt to put any sort of human limitations like time and space on God then we have asked the wrong question. God is God because He never ceases to be perfect. He does not set aside justice to be merciful – He is both always. He doesn’t set aside love to judge sin and sinners – He is both always.

I know, pretty deep for a Monday morning, but stick with me. Beyond our understanding, God is eternally perfect, not limited as we are to time and space, and certainly not limited to single expressions of the heart. He is always fully God in every way all the time.

But when God became incarnate in human existence in the life of Jesus, He took on time and space. The human race was able to see, for the first time, the full glory of God. It’s described for us in John 1:14 when the disciple Jesus loved wrote under the power of the Holy Spirit of God these words: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Grace and Truth – the glory of God. Both always. In human time, He showed love to those who were lost, while showing truth to those who claimed to already know it. He spoke words of grace and compassion to the needy and spoke words of anger and judgment to those who were self-righteous. Different times – same Jesus who was God in human flesh. He was Truth when He showed Grace, and He was Grace when He spoke Truth.

Why have I spent time on this? Because God reveals to us today through the prophet Isaiah that from a human perspective there is a time coming for many people when God’s grace will come to an end.

Isaiah 65:1 “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’

For now, though they reject Him, He is still making Himself available to them. Even though they do not ask for Him, He is still responding to them. When they are not looking for Him, He keeps showing up in their lives. He is offering His grace to them.

Read these words of grace from verses 2-5.

All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations— a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick;  who sit among the graves and spend their nights keeping secret vigil; who eat the flesh of pigs, and whose pots hold broth of unclean meat;  who say, ‘Keep away; don’t come near me, for I am too sacred for you!’ Such people are smoke in my nostrils, a fire that keeps burning all day.

God’s grace is being extended even to those who are in constant rebellion against Him. But the time is coming when He will manifest His judgment on them. Look at what else Isaiah says:

“See, it stands written before me: I will not keep silent but will pay back in full; I will pay it back into their laps— both your sins and the sins of your fathers,” says the LORD. “Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains and defied me on the hills, I will measure into their laps the full payment for their former deeds.”

Do you see the truth that God is both gracious and just always? While He is extending grace, He is also just, and will impose judgment on all those who have rejected Him.

Here’s your life link – the time of His judgment has not yet arrived. We are living in the age of grace. Yet we tend to seek justice before its time. We tend to be judgmental and critical rather than be the expressions of grace and love. We, who cannot be all things at all times as God is, have chosen to be the wrong thing.

We are called to a mission to make disciples, expressing the love of God to a lost world that rejects Him. It is by our love for God and for one another that the world will know we are the followers of Jesus. Over and over we are both commanded and encouraged to grow in love and grace, but never in judgment. It is time for us to rise up as the people of God and be the expression of God’s nature to the world around us. Let us boldly and courageously live according to the heart of our Lord so that it may be said of us –

To those who have not asked; to those who have not sought; to those who have rejected and rebelled; WE SHOWED THEM GOD’S GRACE AND LOVE.

Maybe then they will finally hear Him.

Pastor John

Have It Your Way

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, February 21, 2020

Isaiah 64:8  Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Have it your way!

Now be honest, when you read that did you instantly think of Burger King? Did you think that it was a statement directed at you, and for you, so that you can have your own way?

There is a huge difference in meaning when instead of being said to us this statement is said by us. Our pride demands that the statement be said to us. Yet the heart of Christ in us compels us to say it – first to the Father, and then to others.

That’s all I’m gonna say today. Yep, shortest devotional ever – but I guarantee you that if you re-read Isaiah 64:8 and think about how you use the phrase have it your way, it will have a huge impact on your life.

Pastor John

False Gods

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Isaiah 64:4  Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.

It’s still true today – since ancient times no one has heard about, heard from, nor have they seen any God besides YHWH – Jehovah – the One and Only God. He is good. He is compassionate. He is faithful. He always acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.

Every humanly proposed option for God is the fabrication of man’s imagination and is designed to ultimately promote man as his own god.

Need proof? Isaiah 64:4 offers it. God acts! He acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. No imaginary god can. The fact is that those who have imaginary gods are the ones doing all the acting on behalf of themselves. Unfortunately, all such activity of man has no enduring benefit.

Our gods of resources, responsibilities, relationships, recreation, and religion produce only temporary satisfaction that never fulfills us. But we are such creatures of the immediate that we are content with those temporary feelings. We embrace the false belief that we are avoiding the pain and loss that are experienced by everyone else.

However, there is eternal fulfillment for every soul that surrenders to the One True God for salvation. Yet even those of us who have done that still struggle with the need for immediate gratification. We have acceptance issues. We have value doubts. We have personal ambitions that we believe will compliment what God has given and supplement what He hasn’t.

But God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. We are not good at waiting. We want what we want when we want it. Yet God says some things are worth waiting for. The apostle John, whom Jesus loved, was directed by the Holy Spirit to write these words:

It does not yet appear to us what we shall be, but we know this, that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

We work so hard at our appearance in this world. Physical appearance, reputation, and perceived value dominate our priorities.  Yet all such appearances are temporary. Our permanent appearance will be realized when Jesus returns and we become like Him.  That is the appearance we should desire right now. Becoming the reflection of Jesus Christ is our greatest fulfillment and our greatest joy.

We all have other gods we have chosen because we believe it will meet some need we have.  Yet those pursuits are all a product of our imagination based on what we believe is best for us. We are our own gods, and it will end badly. Today, get rid of the idols you have chosen to bring value to your life. Trust the One True God to totally satisfy and fulfill you. He is acting on your behalf if you choose to wait for the eternal good He has in store. Let the world see that your appearance is nothing but a reflection of Jesus.

Pastor John

Join the Remnant

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

My wife is a wonderful seamstress. When our kids were little, she made them a lot of clothing. She did it for the grandchildren. She even makes clothing for the granddaughter’s dolls.

Years ago, when the kids were small and I was in business, I was the manager of a retail department store while the Lord was training me for ministry. There was a fabric department in the store. Bolts of fabric would come in on the truck, and it seemed like all the seamstresses in town knew our shipping schedule. No sooner did we have the material on display than the department would be filled with women searching for just the right fabric to sew into a new garment for their kids or even themselves.

One table in the department was reserved for remnants. Whenever a bolt of fabric would be sold off to the point where less than two yards were left, we would mark down the price and put it on the remnant table. The fabric left on the bolt was just as good as the previously sold yardage, but the limited quantity also limited the available applications. The remnant was a small reminder of a previous abundance.

That’s the picture we have in the sixty-third chapter of Isaiah. If you read the whole chapter, you would see reference made to the remnant of Israel. The nation is in shambles. (vs. 18-19) They have rebelled against the Lord God. (vs. 10) Throughout their history God has revealed His glory to them. (vs. 11-14) But during the dark days there arose a remnant that recognized their Redeemer. (vs. 16) Their hearts cried out to God for His return and His deliverance. (64:1)

Isaiah 64:1 Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains would tremble before you!

I believe that we are living in a world that is on the precipice of prophetic fulfillment. Soon the remnant of those who truly believe that Jesus is the Messiah will begin to grow.

Two things are certain from the prophecies of God’s Word: Jesus is coming back to restore the nation of Israel as the political, spiritual, and economic capital of the world; and before He does return, we will see a great falling away from the Gospel by the people of the world. During this falling away, the true followers of Jesus will be identified and persecuted for their faith because it stands opposed to the cultural consensus of humanism.

I thank God that I live in this day, and that the Lord has chosen to pour out His Spirit on our church so that the Gospel is having a profound and eternal effect on people’s lives. I am humbled that He has chosen to use our weaknesses to magnify His strength. I am honored to be surrounded by so many who have also chosen to set aside all their earthly pursuits for the sake of the Gospel of salvation by grace through faith in the resurrected Lord.

May I implore you to consider the call of Jesus Christ to true discipleship? With the love of Christ compelling us and the Holy Spirit empowering us, let us consider our connection to the kingdom of this world and repent. Let us place our total faith and confidence in Jesus Christ alone that He can and will provide every one of our needs. Let us choose to love God above all.   Let us reflect on our family life, and the priorities we are teaching our children by the priority we place on the secular over the spiritual. I charge you, as Paul charged Timothy, to not have a form of godliness without the power of it to transform your life.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

Let us be identified with the remnant of those who will stand apart from culture and point to the coming of Jesus!

Pastor John

He Is Your Savior

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, February 18,2020

Isaiah 63:8 He said, “They are my very own people. Surely they will not be false again.” And he became their Savior.

“And He became their Savior.”

Excuse me while I look for my socks, because they have just been blown off. It’s a little hard to walk around because my world has been rocked.  I’m floppin’ around like a scared bird whose cage has been rattled.

I am overwhelmed with that statement. “And He became their Savior.”

Think about it. The people of God had rebelled. They had committed spiritual adultery by embracing idolatry. They had become completely self-centered and self-serving. They manipulated the laws of God to serve their own purposes. To remove guilt and shame they indulged in every form of pain relief known to man. They were drunkards, drug addicts, sex addicts, rapists, and murderers. They offered their children as human sacrifices to false gods. They were corrupt to the core.

Yet God said, “They are my very own people. Surely they will not be false again.” And he became their Savior.

Let me tell you about two people who were saved by Jesus Christ. The first is an ex-con, recently released from jail. She was totally opposed to anything spiritual. She hooked up with the second after he got out of jail. They now have beautiful twin daughters. They were not married when I met them. After investing time and love into them, a young married couple from our church invited them to come see the movie Courageous. The next day they were in church. At the conclusion of the service, I couldn’t give an invitation to salvation fast enough, and both responded in faith to the offer of God’s grace. He became their Savior.

Two weeks later the husband of the couple who brought them to the Lord for salvation had the honor of baptizing them. Our congregation shouted and praised the Lord. We rejoiced, because once again we saw the power of Jesus Christ to save. No matter how bad the past, there is a Living Hope for the future.

Maybe it’s time for you to finally see the love that God has for you. Maybe it’s time to realize that the affirmation for which you have been searching is found in the words of the Lord – “Surely they will not be false again.” Maybe now is the time to trust the One who gave His life in exchange for you when He died on the cross as the ultimate expression of God’s love. That’s how much He loves you.

There is hope for you, no matter where you are or what you have done. God is not counting the number of failures; He’s planting the seed of faith in your heart right now so He can guarantee your future.

Isn’t it time to trust Him to be your Savior?

Pastor John

Memory Loss

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, February 17, 2020

My memory is changing.  I feel like an obsolete computer that’s in need of a major upgrade. My hard drive has become fragmented, and access to the filing system is substantially slower than it used to be. When I finally do locate the file, it is often corrupted and unreadable.

Yet some parts of this change are very good. I have discovered that the first files to become corrupted are the ones containing all the bad memories of life. I had a specific password-protected folder named “Hurts and Hard Feelings” and I’m having a terrible time remembering the password. It used to be the first folder to be opened every day. Now it’s hard to get into it at all.

One day, as my wife was going through a bunch of old paperwork in our office, she showed me a letter I had written to a church that had deeply hurt me in the past. As I read the letter, I tried to access the H&HF folder and couldn’t. Instead, I saw the glory of God’s work to refine me and mature me into the Pastor I am today.

Several years ago I ran a diagnostic check on my filing system. I discovered that the corrupted files were not being repaired or deleted. I checked my Virus Protection Software and discovered a setting I never knew was there before. There’s an option in the Program that allows It to automatically repair and/or delete corrupted files.

When I first set the computer up with the new Operating System I remember hearing about this feature, but never turned it on. I was afraid that it would delete things in those files that I might need to access later. I really believed the information might be able to be used to my advantage in the future. Little did I know that the viruses in those files would slowly infect all the other files in my system as well.

So I turned on the Automatically Repair or Delete feature in my Virus Protection Software. My H&HF folder is almost empty. The Virus Protector is working. There are days when I want to put a file in there, but the VP has changed the password and I cannot even save the file. And when I try to save it to a different location, the VP brings up a dialogue box and asks me if I really want to save this corrupted file to my computer. Then, even on the days when I really want to save it and click “Yes”, the Operating System shuts down until I authorize the VP to scan and clean my computer.

I am amazed at how well my computer is running these days since I downloaded and accepted all these manufacturer’s recommended updates. Now when I wake up every morning, my mind is filled with memories of the steadfast love of the Lord rather than the events filed in the H&HF folder. The Virus Protector is constantly scanning my computer for any downloads or inputs that will harm the Operating System.

Isaiah 63:7  I will recount the steadfast love of the Lord, the praises of the Lord, according to all that the Lord has granted us…

So you see, loss of memory can be a good thing. However, don’t wait for the memory system to start to deteriorate to experience the benefits of lost files. Let go of the control of your filing system, and turn on the automatic features in your Virus Protection Software. Then you can start experiencing the full benefits of your upgraded Operating System.

Pastor John

Panoramic Love

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, February 14, 2020

I love panoramic views. Standing on the top of a high hill and looking out over miles of wonderland is exhilarating. I know that if I looked closely with a critical eye, I could find something in that scene that would bug me. But I choose to ignore the mosquitoes buzzing around my head or the ants crawling over my toes because the overall scene is so breathtaking. Never mind the few pieces of litter strewn along the fence line, or the buffalo pies scattered across the prairie next to the flowing river. The beauty of the sun glistening on the dew at the base of the snowcapped mountain across the valley far exceeds any imperfection my mind tempts me to observe.

On this Valentine’s Day, I ask you to join me in taking a panoramic view of those we love.

Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

I dedicate myself to seeing only the splendor of love’s big picture rather than the imperfections seen through the binoculars of a critical spirit. I choose to live according to the policy of love established by this woman years ago, from a story related by Carl D. Windsor in his book entitled On This Day.

“Even the most devoted couple will experience a ‘stormy’ bout once in a while. A grandmother, celebrating her golden wedding anniversary, once told the secret of her long and happy marriage. ‘On my wedding day, I decided to make a list of ten of my husband’s faults which, for the sake of our marriage, I would overlook,’ she said.

“A guest asked the woman what some of the faults she had chosen to overlook were. The grandmother replied, ‘To tell you the truth, my dear, I never did get around to listing them. But whenever my husband did something that made me hopping mad, I would say to myself, Lucky for him that’s one of the ten!’ “

That’s love’s scenic overlook. That’s how I choose to live not just today, but every day.

Happy Valentine’s Day

Pastor John