TRUST

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LifeLink Devotions

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Yesterday we learned about wisdom transposing our speech. As we evaluate that principle we soon discover that its success is rooted in trust. The object of our trust determines the choices we make to apply wisdom to our life. When we trust self, wisdom is covered with foolishness. When we transfer our trust from self to God we gain wisdom.

In Proverbs 22:19 we read,  So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you.”

The fifth principle of wisdom from Proverbs 22 is this: Let wisdom transfer your trust.

The Hebrew word for trust in this passage means security and confidence, to have a place of refuge. The relationship between wisdom and trust produces a very simple pattern for life – know God and be secure.

However, when I say the words “know God” I am referring to much more than just the intellect. There must be a heart knowledge that involves an act of the will to accept what we know as truth and surrender our life to it. When we do, we are empowered to transfer our trust to that truth. The promise of God is that the truth will never fail nor will it fail us.

Read these examples of trust from the Proverbs, each one using the same root word for trust that we find in today’s key verse:

3:5-6 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

14:26 – He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.

 16:20 – Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

 28:1 – The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.

 28:25-26 – A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper. He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.

29:25 – Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.

I deeply appreciate the significance of these words – words like secure fortress, refuge, kept safe, and bold. But there are too many times in my life when these words don’t describe me. Other words like scared, worried, insecure, fearful seem to fit my behavior better. What are we to do in those situations? There is a simple answer, and it combines all the principles of wisdom we have learned so far.

Let wisdom transcend all else and be transmitted to us so that it transforms our thinking and transposes our speech.

For us to be able to transfer our trust from whatever the world offers to everything God offers, we must have first decided that His Word is trustworthy, and that it will transcend all else in trustworthiness – it transcends my understanding, the world’s understanding, and anything the world’s knowledge has ever been able to accomplish. This kind of trust only comes through a study of God’s Word and an acceptance of its truth.

The teaching of the Word of God and its wisdom is all the light we need for life, and it is totally trustworthy. Transfer your dependence to Jesus Christ from whatever it is in the world you now trust. He alone is trustworthy, and able to make your life secure, confident, and safe.

Pastor John

TRANSPOSING

LifeLink Devotions

Monday, September 13, 2021

I love to sing. As I have gotten older my voice has become deeper. Some of the songs I used to sing as a young person I can no longer sing well because they are out of my range. I have to ask the person playing the keyboard to put the song into a lower musical key so I can hit all the high notes without sounding like I did when I was 14 and my voice was changing. This process of putting the music into a different key so it is matched to the needs of the singer is called transposing. In the dictionary, transpose is defined as: 

1. to change the position or order of;

2. musically, to put in a different key;

3. algebraically, to move from one side of the equation to the other.

Let’s look at those three definitions in light of Proverbs 22:18b, which says, “have all of them ready on your lips”.

Solomon tells us to have wisdom always ready on our lips. In other words, “Let wisdom transpose your speech.”

In the context of the definitions of transpose, here’s what I have learned:

1. Words of wisdom need to change position with the normal responses we make to people in conversation. Our first response is not usually one of wisdom and encouragement. Our first response is usually planned to bring attention to self through humor and personal stories, or to protect self through defensive, argumentative, and antagonistic statements. What would our relationships be like if the first words on our lips in every conversation were filled with the wisdom of God for the other person? Imagine the depth of love we would begin to experience. Our speech needs to be transposed.

2. Words of wisdom need to be put into a different key. In music, when a song is transposed, it remains the same song. Everything about the song remains the same except the tone. When we speak to others, we may have all the right things to say, but we may not be considered wise because of the tone in which we say them. The Apostle Paul says to “speak the truth in love.” Putting the words of wisdom into the right range to meet the need of the hearer is essential.

3. Words of wisdom also need to be applied to the correct side of the equation if the problem is going to be solved. Those of you who love math as much as I do will understand that if you are going to solve an equation, assuming “x” is the unknown, you must attempt to move all of the known values to one side so that “x” stands alone. Here is an example: x – 4 = 5. To solve for x, you move the 4 to the other side of the equation by adding it to the five, so that x = 5 + 4, or 9. When we apply this principle to our relationships, we discover something very valuable in helping people solve problems and come to decisions. We help them to move all of the known factors to one side of the equation, consider their value, see how they relate to each other, and when each has been properly considered and applied, the problem, “x”, is solved. 

I know I have a lot of work to do in these three areas. I will be spending time today contemplating the transposing of my speech so that wisdom is always ready on my lips. Will you join me in that pursuit? 

Pastor John

TRANSFORMED BY WISDOM

LifeLink Devotions

Friday, September 10, 2021

So far this week we have discovered that the pursuit of wisdom must transcend all other pursuits in life, and that we must embrace wisdom being transmitted to us by becoming good listeners.

For today, let’s look at Proverbs 22:18, which says, “for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart.”  The “them” of this verse are the truths of wisdom, and the principle we want to look at today is this – Let wisdom transform your heart.

There is an eternally significant difference between listening with your head and listening with your heart. Listening with your head is to simply have knowledge of a subject, but listening with your heart allows the knowledge to transform your will which manifests itself in a change of nature, attitude, and action. The difference between those two types of listening is the difference between eternal death and eternal life. We are not saved by our knowledge, we are saved by our faith, and faith is an act of the will – the heart – not the head.

Solomon refers to the heart sixty-nine times in Proverbs, and challenges us to listen to wisdom with our hearts so that we are transformed from the inside out. Here are a couple of examples:

Proverbs 2:1-5   My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and  search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.

Notice the transcending value of wisdom in this passage, and the desire for the transmission of wisdom. Also notice that understanding and knowledge are the product of a transformed heart. Faith facilitates the transformation of our heart as wisdom takes effect.

Proverbs 3:1-6  My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you prosperity. Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

In addition to stating the benefits of letting wisdom transform your heart, this passage gives us 3 things with which to measure the progress of the transformation that is to be taking place in our lives. They are:

  1. Trust in the Lord with all your heart
  2. Lean not on your own understanding
  3. In all your ways acknowledge Him

Think about those three things today and evaluate the progress of your spiritual transformation. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is my trust in God sufficient for every area of my life, or are there parts of my life where I must have God plus something else? God plus money? God plus possessions? God plus family and friends? God plus position and power? You get the point.
  2. Is my faith in God’s wisdom sufficient for every decision I must make, or do I need to see the end before I can take the first step? Am I limiting God’s work in my life by needing to see the results and figure out the process in my limited understanding?
  3. Is it my desire to see the glory of God in all areas of my life, or are there areas where I need to be acknowledged? Is my motivation for any area of my life to bring honor to myself?

Friends, evaluate these things carefully and prayerfully, and let wisdom transform your heart.

Pastor John

LISTEN TO WISDOM

LifeLink Devotions

Thursday, September 9, 2021

We are beginning an adventure that will help us become people of wisdom. How did you do with yesterday’s assignment? I hope you were disciplined and diligent to get it done. If not, go there now and start. It’s really important. We should strive to reach the point in our spiritual lives that the pursuit of wisdom transcends the pursuit of all else.

If you are ready to move forward, let’s focus on one passage of Scripture in Proverbs 22:17-21.

“ Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, 18   for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. 19   So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you. 20   Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge, 21   teaching you true and reliable words, so that you can give sound answers to him who sent you?”

If the pursuit of wisdom is going to transcend all other pursuits in life, then we need to let wisdom be transmitted to us. Proverbs 22:17 says Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach.  

Sixteen times in the book of Proverbs we are told by Solomon to “listen”. I think you will agree with me that not listening is a problem in our lives. It is such a problem that it is destroying relationships and dividing churches. Consider these various levels of listening:

  1. We simply don’t hear what another person has said so we have to ask them to repeat it.
  2. We don’t hear what another person is saying and we don’t care to hear it so we don’t ask them to repeat it.
  3. We hear with our ears what another person is saying, and we may even give assent to it, but only to be polite. It does not really mean anything to us.
  4. We hear with our ears what another person is saying, but because we did not invite their input we ignore it.
  5. We ask for input from another person, we hear what they have to say, but we weigh its value by what we have predetermined to be our preferred outcome.
  6. We ask for input from another person, hear what they have to say, and agree to its value, but that agreement is simply to avoid hurting their feelings, and we do not intend to apply what they said to our lives.
  7. We ask for input from another person, but filter what they are saying through our misperceptions of the person or circumstances, leading us to misinterpret what was said and then blame that person for the outcome.
  8. We ask for input from another person, but don’t listen to the whole context of what they are saying, leading us to apply it out of context, and then blame that person for the outcome.
  9. We ask for input from another person, listen to it carefully, but break the confidence in which it was shared by telling it to someone else, and then blame the giver of the advice for the consequences.
  10. We ask for input from another person, listen carefully to what they are saying, then seek to apply any and all elements of wisdom to our lives so that it changes us.

As you can see, and have maybe experienced, listening strategies # 2 – 9 cause serious, sometimes irreparable damage to relationships and churches.  

Friends, let wisdom be transmitted to you. Learn to listen with your heart, and let it modify your will. Otherwise, Satan will diminish the glory of God in you, in your relationships, and in Christ’s church.

Pastor John

THE PURSUIT OF WISDOM

LifeLink Devotions

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The world is an unstable place. Wisdom is in short supply. The reason is because most people are focused on the wisdom that comes from mankind. What we need is a super dose of God’s wisdom. For the next forty days, let’s seek the Lord for the Wisdom that He promises in James 1:5-8.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;  he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

 Here are some foundational truths upon which we will base this study.

  1. Wisdom is the application of knowledge so that it affects our actions.
  2. Wisdom begins with the knowledge of God – Prov. 9:10 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
  3. The knowledge of God goes much deeper than just a knowledge of His actions, but to an understanding of His heart. We do not simply change our behavior so that it matches what we think God would do, but rather we allow God’s nature and character to change our heart so our actions are a loving response to God’s power in us.
  4. For this to happen, wisdom must be more important than anything else to our hearts – it must transcend all else.

I suggest that as we begin this study, that you read the first four chapters of Proverbs. As you read, have two different colored highlighters available. With one color, highlight all the verses that describe the consequences of not pursuing wisdom. With the other color highlight all the verses that describe the benefits of pursuing wisdom. Then consider which way you want to live. Don’t just assume you know the answer right now – do the exercise to gain the growth. This will touch deeply into your heart, so that more than your mind is involved. Your decision will be an act of your will, and it will transform your heart so that Godly action results. Then you will have gained wisdom.

Nothing in your life is more important than this development of character because it is the only part of our personal being that will stand in the presence of God someday.

Pastor John

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT?

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LifeLink Devotions

Thursday, September 2, 2021

As I sit in my living room this morning I cannot see anything outside.  It is dark. Inside I have lights on and I can see all the things in the room.  Each item functions to either provide convenience, personal comfort, or visual gratification. Some, like the recliner I’m sitting in, do all three. But in the end, everything in this room, except for the Bible on my lap, is worthless. As I type I am constantly turning my head to the left to look out the window, waiting for the first glimpse of the contrast between the trees and the sky, which will be followed by soft tones of pink, purple, or orange. The sun will soon rise, and even though I am surrounded by things that have earthly value, my heart is fixed on seeing signs of the eternal. That’s where my real treasure is.

“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.”  Psalm 119:36-37

Where is your heart focused? What are you inclined to pursue? Will it really bring you life? Fix your heart and your eyes on Jesus.  The Son will soon rise.

Pastor John

STRENGTH AND HOPE

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LifeLink Devotions

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

For the past eight days I have been able to spend some time being refreshed in my spirit. I played some golf, went camping with my family, went fishing, and spent many quiet hours reflecting on what the Lord Jesus Christ has planned for me in the time left before His return. Through it all, the Holy Spirit used one passage of Scripture to encourage and strengthen me. In all the transitions of this current season of my life, the words of Psalm 16 have provided hope and stability. May the Holy Spirit do the same for you.

“Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Psalm 16:1-11

HE IS COMING

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LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, August 19, 2021

I’ve tried lots of techniques, but none of them work. I’ve read dozens of articles and applied the principles they teach, but none of them alleviate the problems. I’ve spent countless hours in self-training to overcome the mental anguish caused by the circumstances of life, but it has been a waste of time because the circumstances of life don’t change. I am like the sons of Korah who wrote, “My soul is cast down within me. Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy? As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” 

There are days when we can all relate to these feelings of oppression and hopelessness. Yet the sons of Korah knew the answer.  “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:5.

I confess that seems trite.  Try telling a hopeless person to hope again and see how they respond. Hope is meaningless unless it is based on a guarantee. God is our guarantee. His promises never fail.  This morning I came across one of those promises that helped me to refocus. It encouraged me to endure. It’s found in Psalm 119, verse 123.

“My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise.”

My very first thought as I read that verse was this…I want Jesus to return. My heart longs for the day when King Jesus puts everything under His feet. My soul cries out for every knee to bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord. But until that day comes, I will bow and I will confess that He is my salvation. No matter how the circumstances of life stack up against me, I will keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. No matter how my emotions try to convince me to respond to what people say and do, I will put my hope in God rather than in people. Instead of wallowing in pity I will worship and praise.

Jesus is coming. Circumstances and people cannot stop it, but the contrast they create enhances the splendor of His arrival.

Pastor John

GIVE THANKS

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LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

I was encouraged this morning with news of a person for whom I have prayed for years who has decided to become a follower of Jesus.  I am excited to meet and hear the story of her move from sin and self to salvation. My heart overflowed with joy as I read the message. I opened the Bible and read Psalm 138 as an expression of my thanks to God.

Thank you! Everything in me says “Thank you!” Angels listen as I sing my thanks. I kneel in worship facing your holy temple and say it again: “Thank you!” Thank you for your love, thank you for your faithfulness; Most holy is your name, most holy is your Word. The moment I called out, you stepped in; you made my life large with strength. When they hear what you have to say, God, all earth’s kings will say “Thank you.” They’ll sing of what you’ve done: “How great the glory of God!” And here’s why: God, high above, sees far below; no matter the distance, he knows everything about us. When I walk into the thick of trouble, keep me alive in the angry turmoil. With one hand strike my foes, With your other hand save me. Finish what you started in me, God. Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.”

Psalm 138:1-8 From The Message

Give thanks to the Lord. Great is His faithfulness and unfailing love.

Pastor John

BEARING BURDENS

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LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  Galatians 6:2

My heart is burdened for people who are hurting and need encouragement.  The failures have piled up in a heap so large it blocks the view of the future. Hope has been erased. 

This may describe you today, and you’re wondering if anyone cares. Will someone please say something encouraging?

Recently I found something that was written by a man to a friend who was in need of encouragement. I share it with you because it was just what that person needed.  Maybe it will help you also.

“I thought I would write to try to provide more encouragement and let you know that I am praying specially for you tonight and tomorrow to be filled with the Spirit and full of encouragement.  I know you are weighed down by the things we discussed tonight.  You may not know what to pray, but the Spirit is interceding on your behalf and the Lord will give you strength.  Take comfort in the words of Paul from 2 Corinthians 4 which says, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”  In our weakness, God’s glory shines through. 

Spurgeon put it like this, “Our infirmities become the black velvet on which the diamond of God’s love glitters all the more brightly. Thank God I can suffer, thank God I can be made the object of shame and contempt; for, in this way, God shall be glorified.”  

We all fail and have weaknesses which cause us to fall short of God, but praise be to God that He has Providentially ordained for our failings to still bring Him glory and He still uses us in spite of our shortcomings/humanness.  Jesus, too, was misunderstood and rejected by many, and we as disciples are not greater than our master, so we can patiently endure criticism knowing our Lord endured worse and that when rightly criticized, He paid our wages already.  

Finish your race strong brother.  Keep looking to Christ.  We, as fellow runners of the race, will try to be there to keep pointing you to Christ and help you along the way (hopefully in the same way Hopeful was there to remind Christian of the truth when they were captured by the Giant Despair).  Love you dearly and praying for you.”

That’s what bearing another person’s burdens looks like. Love is the fulfilling of the law of Christ.

Pastor John