CHOOSE THE RIGHT HAT

https://anchor.fm/pastor-john-van-gorkom/episodes/CHOOSE-THE-RIGHT-HAT-euhvm9

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, April 9, 2021

I have a variety of hats. Each one has an assigned context.  My red Wisconsin Badgers hat matches my golf bag. My beige hat with the words “I’d rather be fishing” is my work-around-the-yard hat. I have two floppy brimmed hats for the boat when I’m fishing. I also have two hats I never wear. One is a navy blue Detroit Tigers hat with an autograph of Al Kaline in it. The other is a Green Bay Packer Super Bowl champion hat I won. The reason for not wearing that hat is obvious if you know me.

I have lots of other hats also, with a variety of logos or words on them, but I use those for work hats because they don’t necessarily represent me. Most of the time, we choose to wear hats that identify us in some way, either as a fan of a team or a customer of a company.

Just like hats, Jesus told us that there would be characteristics of our lives that we would wear to publicly identify us as His followers. The most obvious one is love. Jesus said that the world will know we are Christians by our love.

However, in the context of John chapter fourteen which we have been studying this week, Jesus reveals another “hat” we wear.

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Let’s review the context. Jesus told the disciples He was leaving. He assured them they were not being abandoned. He revealed the Helper to them, whom the Father would send to abide in them as a constant encourager and teacher. The Holy Spirit would manifest the life of Jesus to them. Then, in a profound statement that is backed up by His own example, Jesus says that His life in them would provide them the same level of peace that He was experiencing as He prepared to be crucified. All I can say is, WOW!”

Yesterday I saw a post of Facebook that bothered me. Christian people complaining about the outcome of the Tuesday election. One even said that they didn’t know what to do anymore. I posted a comment. “Read the end of THE BOOK and then trust God.”

My friends, what if we wore the hat of peace every day to identify us as followers of Jesus. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, suffered at the hands of human government and religious tyranny. Yet He was at peace knowing that He was accomplishing the Father’s purpose. And in preparation for His suffering, He gave peace to His disciples. He promised His presence in each of our lives so we could know and experience His peace.

Why do we wear hats that identify us as discouraged, grumpy, critical, controlling, or hopeless, when we could be wearing the hat of peace? As a follower of Christ, you own that hat. Put it on.

Pastor John

ABANDONED

https://anchor.fm/pastor-john-van-gorkom/episodes/NEVER-ABANDONED-eufk6q

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Yesterday morning a news story caught my attention. Video captured by a Border Patrol officer shows a young boy, tears streaming down his face, who had apparently been abandoned alone in the desert in Texas along the U.S.-Mexico border. The boy was seen in the video walking down an empty dirt road. 

“I came with a group, they dumped me, and I don’t know where they are,” the minor said between sobs to a motorist who was in the area. The boy told an off-duty Border Patrol officer, “They can rob me, kidnap me. I am afraid.”

The world is filled with the tragedy of human abandonment. Fathers and mothers abandon their children to pursue their own dreams. Husbands abandon their wives in search of a better life with someone else. Wives do it too. Employees abandon their posts to follow their impulses and seek immediate gratification. Even in the church there is abandonment, as shepherds leave their sheep for a presumed better flock, and sheep leave their shepherds for possible greener pastures.

Jesus understood abandonment through experience. He was abandoned by the people He came to save. He was abandoned by those who had one time followed Him. He was preparing to be abandoned by the Father to the point of death so He would cry out, “Why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus knew what it meant to be abandoned, so He compassionately reached out to those who would soon feel the same abandonment. He has told the disciples that He is leaving them, so now He assures them that it is not abandonment.

John 14:18-19   “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.”

This statement of Jesus is packed with truth. When we choose to believe in Jesus, we are never left alone. His promise to us is that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He has come to us as He promised by sending His Spirit to permanently dwell in us. We are not orphans. The love of God is being constantly lavished upon us because we are His eternal children.

Yet the world does not see Him or know Him. Those who do not believe in Jesus are orphans by choice. We who believe are promised life because He who dwells in us is alive. Not so for unbelievers. How sad. If only their spiritual eyes were opened so they could see Jesus, then they too could live. If we who are alive would abandon our worldly pursuits and give them a view of life as a child of God, maybe they would abandon their unbelief and turn to Jesus.

We who know we will never be abandoned must choose to abandon everything that contradicts the life of Christ in us. When we do, we become the living evidence of the resurrected life of Christ. We are surrounded by people who are ready to meet Jesus. Show them that they can.

Pastor John

Eternity

https://anchor.fm/pastor-john-van-gorkom/episodes/ETERNAL-LIFE-eudcu3

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/lifelink-devotions/id1559931973

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Forever is a long time.

We have probably heard and used that statement many times, but it is not a true statement. In fact, a long time is the exact opposite of forever. Forever is the absence of time. Eternity is not measured in time. Forever will never feel like a long time, because the past and the future are all wrapped up in the present. My mind cannot comprehend that because I am confined to a space/time continuum.

God is eternal. He is not limited by time or space. When we enter eternity, and everyone does in either heaven or hell, our existence will no longer be measured by time. We will not have a past to remember or a future to anticipate. Everything about us will be realized in the immediate, and it will never end.

Jesus gave us a glimpse of what eternity will be like in His discussion with the disciples in John 14. Here’s what He said.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…”

Those who have received the forgiveness of God through faith in Jesus Christ are immediately given a Helper, the Holy Spirit. The Eternal God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, comes to us in the Spirit of Christ and dwells in us. Not just for this life, but forever in eternity. It is the Holy Spirit who brings to us the life of Christ, and when these mortal bodies are transformed into immortality, the Holy Spirit will fully glorify the life of Christ in us. It is because we have the eternal presence of Jesus in us today that we can look forward with certainty to the time when time shall be no more, and we experience the eternal glory of God.

Those who are not in Christ have no such hope. They are without the present life of Jesus in them. By their own unbelief they have chosen to not participate in the eternal glory of God. Every unbeliever, with no exceptions, will also become an eternal being, but without the life of Jesus it will be eternal suffering. Today’s rejection of God results in eternal death and separation from God.

Those of us who have eternal life in Christ should be grieving the hopeless state of unbelievers. Yet we are empowered by the life of Jesus in us to be His witnesses to the lost and dying. We have been commissioned by Jesus Christ to go to the lost, make disciples of the lost, baptize them in the Name of Jesus Christ, teach them to obey the commands of Jesus, and then send them out to make even more disciples.

The world is overflowing with death. Our lives are to be overflowing with life so those in death can see the hope we have and turn from death to life. The question of the hour then is this – “Do those in death see the living presence of Jesus Christ in me so that they can find life?”

Pastor John

Love Activates Obedience

https://anchor.fm/pastor-john-van-gorkom/episodes/LOVE-ACTIVATES-OBEDIENCE-eub2pp

LifeLink Devotions

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

On Sunday, as I considered the sacrifice of Jesus on my behalf, I was reminded of some basic truths about love.

Love is a verb.

Love is an action.

Love produces activity.

When we love someone, we act on their behalf and for their benefit.

When we experience love we respond with activity that pleases the one who loves us.

All these statements are true of God’s love for us. However, they may not be true of us. Jesus reminded His disciples of this when He said,  “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”(John 14:15)

Love for Jesus can be recognized by the level of obedience to what Jesus has commanded.

Love for Jesus will produce the activity of obedience.

Love’s activity of obedience pleases Jesus.

Because I love Him, I will obey Him.

I love Him because He loves me.

My love for Jesus is defined by my obedience to Him.

There is no longer any “If” about my love for Jesus. Rather, I follow Him, obey Him, and serve Him BECAUSE I love Him.

How about you?

Pastor John

IT’S NOT MONDAY

https://anchor.fm/pastor-john-van-gorkom/episodes/ITS-NOT-MONDAY-eu8mc2

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/lifelink-devotions/id1559931973

LifeLink Devotional

Monday, April 5, 2021

It’s another Monday morning. The weekend memories of relaxation and fun are quickly drowned in the waterfall of work that lies ahead. But for me, this Monday is different. While it’s true that this day is more overloaded with work than most, carrying well into the evening, I am energized by the ongoing vitality that is mine through the resurrection power of Jesus Christ that lives in me.

The daily presence of Jesus Christ, made possible by His sacrifice for sin on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, does more than just sustain me. His life defines me. His life energizes me. Christ’s life enables me to do far more than I could ever imagine.

Jesus promised me this in His words to His disciples in John 14. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”

In my own strength, I am tired. Alone, I am discouraged. But I am not alone, and I do not live in my own strength. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. He has gone to the Father. He sent His Spirit to dwell in me.  The resurrection power of Jesus Christ is mine. And since I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

All the things that lie ahead of you do not and cannot undo the resurrection of Jesus. All the burdens you will pick up today do not have to be carried alone, or at all. Jesus is alive, and if you have believed in Him, His life is in you. His power to do great works is working in you.

It’s not Monday. Every day is Resurrection Day for those who are in Christ jesus.

Pastor John

WHO, NOT WHAT

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, April 2, 2021

If you want to have some fun today, ask the next person you see to define truth. Okay, maybe that isn’t what you call fun, but it certainly would be eye-opening. I predict that you will find multiple people who believe that truth is determined and defined by one’s individual experiences. Truth has become relative to most people, which serves the purpose of validating one’s own choices.

Things haven’t changed all that much since the days when Pilate asked Jesus about truth. We read about it in John 18.

John 18:33-38  So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.

Pilate had the same problem as people today: they ask the wrong question. Asking “What is truth?” may serve our immediate need to validate our current choices, but it does not reveal truth. The correct question we must ask is “WHO is Truth?”

It appears that Pilate only asked his question about truth to end his conversation with Jesus because he immediately goes outside to talk to the Jewish contingent.  Pilate had no real interest in knowing the truth. He seems satisfied to define truth only within the context of his own experiences and for his own benefit. If he genuinely wanted to know the truth, he would have waited for Jesus to answer, and Jesus would have revealed Himself to Pilate because Jesus is the Truth.

In John 14:6 Jesus told His disciples that He is the Truth. He went even further in his conversation with Pilate by revealing that the only way to define the truth is by being in the truth. Jesus said,  “For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” The only way to answer the what is truth question is to first be in the truth, and Pilate was not. Neither were the Jews. Neither are most people today who are trying to define truth. The determination of truth can only be made once we are in the truth, and that means being in Jesus.

It is futile to engage in debate about truth with those who have rejected the truth that truth is a Person not a position.  Praise God that we know the truth because we are in the Truth. Go and proclaim Jesus to others who want to know the truth. He is the only answer to their search.

Pastor John

THE PASSOVER LAMB

https://anchor.fm/pastor-john-van-gorkom/episodes/THE-PASSOVER-LAMB-eu0u1j

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/lifelink-devotions/id1559931973

LifeLink Devotions

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Personally, I do not believe there is anything more heartbreakingly sad than to watch someone performing spiritual duties which they think will improve their standing with God, but in fact are destroying it. I grieve for the masses of people who believe that adherence to the law will save them.

That is how I feel when I read the next section of John’s Gospel describing the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. My heart breaks for religious people who are deceived by what they believe will save them.

John 18:28-32   “Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”

Those who rejected Jesus had a two-fold agenda. They wanted to eliminate Jesus as a threat to their way of life. But while doing so, they also wanted to keep the appearance of religious piety.  They did not recognize that their focus on keeping religious laws blinded them to the spiritual truth that was right in front of them. They believed that obedience to religious duty would produce the validation of God. The darkness in them was great. They wanted to kill the Passover LAMB but not be defiled so they could kill the Passover lamb.

For fifteen-hundred years the people had celebrated the Passover to commemorate the LORD’s deliverance from bondage. The Old Testament prophets, which the people read and studied, declared that the Messiah would be like a lamb led to slaughter. The people were described by Isaiah as sheep which had strayed into the bondage of sin. They had every opportunity to understand that the Lamb of God would die for the sheep and save them from their sin. No more sacrifices of lambs would be necessary.

Yet the people were determined to uphold the laws and traditions as their means of earning the approval of God. They were so blinded by their desire to validate themselves that they planned to kill the very One who could save them. They refused to even enter the home of a Roman official because it would disqualify them from eating the Passover and thereby earning their status before God.

My heart breaks for the multitudes of people in the world today who are blinded by the same deception. Every day they carry out their religious duties, hoping that it will earn them the favor of God. Every day their darkness gets darker. The deception of religious duty binds them more tightly.

But Jesus is the Light that shines in the darkness. His death satisfies all the demands of the law. His resurrection guarantees eternal life. We who know the truth must share the truth. Jesus has once-and-for-all paid the price of sin by dying on the cross. Jesus has once-and-for-all gained access to the Father on behalf of all who believe on Him for salvation. Not by works which we have done, but by His mercy and grace He has saved us.

Go and bring the deliverance of Jesus to people who are walking in darkness.

Pastor John

A NEW DAY

https://anchor.fm/pastor-john-van-gorkom/episodes/A-NEW-DAY-etuq0b/a-a540dch

https://open.spotify.com/show/2NFSZUZmIXnX8jixp8rp9r

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/lifelink-devotions/id1559931973

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Last week I was asked why my connection to people in the Philippines is so important to me. After I explained my history with the mission work there, they understood. Well, almost. I finished my conversation by telling them about roosters. I will never forget the very first night I spent at the Bible College outside of Davao City. It was thirty years ago this month. It was so hot, and I had a difficult time sleeping. Then, at around five in the morning, the first rooster crowed. It touched me deeply in my soul. I was not angry for being awakened. In fact, it was just the opposite. I fell in love with the morning greeting because it reminded me of the story of Peter.

John 18:25-27   “Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. So they said to him, “You also are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26  One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27  Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.

When that first rooster crowed, I was overwhelmed with the joy of the Holy Spirit. I realized in that moment that I had not denied Jesus. Every morning when the rooster crowed I was reminded of the previous day’s faithful service to the Lord. I would pray for the Holy Spirit’s presence and power to be faithful in this new day. Now, thirty years later, I still consider that to be one of my favorite connections to the Philippines.

I prefer my memory of a rooster crowing to that of Peter’s. Roosters mean faithfulness to me. Roosters meant denial of Jesus to Peter. However, I am convinced that the forgiveness of Jesus that Peter experienced on the shores of the sea erased the shame and guilt of a rooster crow. I am certain that from the moment Jesus told Peter to feed the sheep, a rooster crow was a reminder of God’s faithfulness not his failure.

We have reminders of our failures right along side of reminders of God’s faithfulness. Sometimes, like a rooster crow, they are the same reminder. However, the choice of memories is yours. We can choose to respond to the reminder by fixing our eyes on Jesus or by focusing on self. One choice brings joy; the other produces shame. I choose joy. I choose to let the reminders of past darkness be absorbed into the daylight of God’s grace. Don’t let the rooster remind you it is still dark. Every rooster crow is a reminder of a new day beginning.

Pastor John

LEAD ME TO THE CROSS

Summary

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://lifelinkdevo.com/2021/03/29/lead-me-to-the-cross/ — Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/pastor-john-van-gorkom/support

Transcription

LYING TO FIT IN

LifeLink Devotions

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

I wanted to be accepted. I was fearful that as the new kid I would be rejected. I wanted to impress my new friends. My desire to fit into this new group was so powerful that I lied about who I was in front of witnesses who knew the real me. It was a disaster.

Peter found himself in the same situation in today’s Scripture passage from the Gospel of John.

John 18:12-17   So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. 13  First they led him to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14  It was Caiaphas who had advised the Jews that it would be expedient that one man should die for the people. 15  Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, 16  but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. 17  The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”

Have you ever lied about who you were in front of someone who knew the truth?

Jesus has been arrested. He has been taken to the high priest. Peter and another disciple follow Jesus. The other disciple, John, who never uses his own name in his Gospel, was allowed to go inside because he was known to the high priest. Peter stayed outside. But John wanted Peter inside. He went to the door and asked the servant girl to bring him in. As Peter enters, with John present, he denies that he is a disciple of Jesus. He lied right in front of a witness.

Of course, Jesus knew he had lied even though He may not have heard it. But John certainly heard it. Peter was living in such fear that he believed it was more beneficial to be accepted by a servant girl than tell the truth. He stood right next to another disciple and lied.

Fear of not fitting in is a powerful motivator. Fear of personal consequences based on reputation is another force that drives our decision-making.  Peter succumbed to both. He chose to lie hoping it would gain him entrance into the house. Yet right beside him was another disciple who was known as the disciple of Jesus and was already inside. Fear causes irrational thinking and illogical choices.

Are there fears driving your choices in life? Are you lying about who you are because you think you know how others will respond to the truth? Are you in any way denying relationship to Jesus because you think it benefits you in some way?

More people than you think know the truth about you, yet they still accept you and love you. In fact, when you admit the truth of who you are, they will love you even more. It’s time to start being real.

Pastor John