Devotions

Author Archives: Chuck Lindsey

1 John 1:9 

Joseph Forgives Brothers • Devotion #2: 1 John 1:9
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

Have you ever been so thirsty, that all you can think about is a drink of water? Have you ever been so tired, that all you can see is your bed? Maybe you have been so hungry, that everywhere you looked you saw cheeseburgers. A few years back, my wife and I tried dieting through Weight Watchers. I remember being so hungry one day that as I drove down the road, I found myself looking at road kill with longing. Yikes!

What a refreshing thing a drink of water is to a person who is dying of thirst. What a satisfying thing it is to sit down when exhausted. Food tastes so good when you feel like you are starving.

This is what forgiveness is like. It is like a cool drink of water when you are dying of thirst. It is like the finest of meals to a man who is starving. Forgiveness is like trying to hold the weight of the world above your head for as long as possible, and finally being allowed to let go. 

This is what it must have felt like for Joseph’s brothers. For years they carried the weight of what they had done to their brother. For years they tried to carry the weight of their guilt, deception, wrongdoing, and shame. No amount of sleep gave them rest from it. No drink or food helped to alleviate the load. Their sin crushed them. Such is the nature of sin.

How refreshing it must have been to confess their sin, to finally admit their wrongdoing. A few months back, my youngest son (at the time of this writing 5 years old) asked to talk to me “alone.” We went into the bedroom, and he broke down sobbing. As I tried to console him, I asked what had happened. It took a few minutes for him to get out the words, “a few weeks ago, I took some candy from the candy drawer, snuck it into my room and ate it all after you put me in bed. I am so sorry daddy!” I told him I forgave him and we both cried. He cried because of the weight of his guilt. I cried because of the beauty of forgiveness. 

Put yourself in the brothers’ sandals for a moment. What was it like to finally admit what they had done, to finally put that great weight down? They were exhausted. Come what may, they had finally put it down. How it must have felt for them to hear then Joseph speak in kindness to them, forgiving them for all that they had done and offering them all of the blessings that were his to give. They change from being almost completely crushed under the weight of their sin to the elation of true forgiveness and mercy. What a moment that must have been.

1 John 1:9 demonstrates how simple forgiveness really is. Notice the words, “If we confess our sins.” That is our part, and that is a big “if” is it not? That “if” implies that we see that we have sin. That “if” implies that we see our need to not only confess our sin, but it confesses our need for forgiveness. But do not miss the simplicity of it. “If we will confess our sin,” emphasizes that if we will just admit it. If we will finally just say the same thing about our sins as God says about it (that is what “confess” means) then, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It is so simple. If we will see our need, call sin what it is, and admit to God that we are sinners who need to be forgiven and saved, He will forgive us and cleanse us from all of our sin! This will be more refreshing than any drink of water or bite of bread. Jesus said it will be like a “fountain of water” springing up within us always satisfying.

John 7:37-38 (NKJV) says, “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

Abrahamic Covenant 

Abraham, Sarah, & Isaac • Devotion #1: Abrahamic Covenant
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.’ But Abram said, ‘Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?’ Then Abram said, ‘Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!’ And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.’ Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. Then He said to him, ‘I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.’ And he said, ‘Lord God, how shall I know that I will inherit it?’ So He said to him, ‘Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.’ Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away. Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. Then He said to Abram: ‘Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.’ And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces. On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.’” Genesis 15:1-21 NKJV

Abraham is the father of the Hebrew people. But the story of how he became a father is nothing short of a miracle from God. Their story begins in the city of Haran where Abraham and Sarah are married. Like any newly married young couple, they (and everyone else) expected children to come along soon after. A year went by, and they have no children. “No problem, we will just be patient, it is God’s timing.” Two years pass, still no children. “Well, the Lord is in control, maybe we will have the doctor take a look.” Three years come and go, still nothing. “This is getting serious.” Soon five years had passed. “We have tried everything.” Five years stretched into ten, ten languished into twenty, twenty years painfully became thirty, until finally, all hope had diminished. 

Over the years, I have met many Abraham’s and Sarah’s. They are couples who begin with great hope and expectation but have watched the years tick by them. The hope they once had, has disappointed and has finally been abandoned. By the time we see them in Genesis chapter 15, they are nearly 90 years old. Abraham and Sarah had given up hope of having children long before this age. It is realistic to say that the dream had been dead for 40 years!

So then God came to Abraham and said, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Is it any wonder that in pain we heard Abraham cry out, “I know I have You, but I do not have children!” The dream may have died, but the pain had not.

Abraham goes on to say in verse 3, “Look YOU have given me no offspring.” Then came the promise from God. Verse 4 says, “…one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.” Understand what is happening here. God is promising Abraham that he and Sarah are going to have a child. Not only that but in verse 5, God tells Abraham that an entire nation and race of people are going to come from him. Abraham, with one promise from God, went from being both childless and having no heir, to have a son and an entire nation of people as his posterity. One promise from God changed everything.

The importance of what happens next cannot be overstated. Verse 6 simply says, “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” Abraham believed, not just in what God was promising to do, Abraham believed in the God who was making the promise. The promises of God always require a decision. It is to believe or disbelieve. But that decision is always a decision about God Himself. Abraham at that moment, was faced with a choice. Is God, GOD? Is He true? Is He good? Is He able? All of this was decided in a moment until we read, “and he believed in the Lord.” He trusted the God who was making the promise and the result was Abraham’s eternal salvation. The way verse 6 is written in the Hebrew language (original language of the Old Testament), it literally says, “and God put righteousness/sinlessness into Abraham’s account.” To illustrate exactly what happened here, think about it this way: Abraham’s “spiritual” credit cards were completely maxed out, he was drowning in the debt of his own “righteousness” (or lack thereof), he was losing everything, and was headed to prison for all that he owed. But God made a deposit into Abraham’s spiritual bank account. In one moment of belief, God deposited billions and billions of dollars, here called “righteousness” into Abraham’s eternal account. Not only was his debt paid, but he had been gifted the righteousness of God. Abraham was saved simply because he believed. He believed in the God who made the promise and salvation was given to him.

From that moment forward God spoke about Abraham’s future as though it had already happened and treated Abraham like a son. Every promise from God came to pass. The Jewish nation is the result. Amazing! 

What God did for Abraham, He will do for you. Abraham’s story is the prototype story of how God saves men and women; by merely believing. We are saved when we believe the God who makes these promises. Abraham was not saved by his righteousness, his “goodness,” or his efforts. We will not be either. Like you and I, because of sin, Abraham owed an incredible debt that would have sent him to a debtor’s prison (Hell) forever. But he believed God. Do you? The Lord says, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” There is your choice. Believe or disbelieve. Do you need to be saved? Will God save? Is He good? Is He able? If you will admit your need, confess your sin to God, and believe, then you, like Abraham will have salvation deposited into your eternal account.

The GOSPEL

The Fall • Devotion #6: The GOSPEL
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”  Genesis 3:15 NKJV

Though it was 20 years ago, I remember the day like it was yesterday. That day I purchased my wife’s engagement ring. It was the largest sum of money, until that point, that I had ever spent on anything in my life. As I type this, I can see it. I was up early that morning with excitement. Six months work was coming to its culmination with this purchase. I could not wait! I was at the bank when it opened that morning withdrawing the cash needed for my purchase. I carefully chose the jewelry store where I was certain I would find “the one.” As I walked into the store, I was met by a salesperson who directed me to the engagement rings. I scanned the rows and surveyed the options, scrutinized each piece until I found what I knew was the right one for my bride-to-be. Then the salesperson did something that I will never forget. He did not just pull that ring out and set it on the glass for me to see. He did not just pull it out and hand it to me. No, he first reached into the drawer below him and took out a deep black suede pad that he set in front of me. He carefully took the ring from the case, turned to a machine that quickly cleaned the ring, dried it, polished it, and turned back to me. He did all of this until, at last, he set that sparkling ring onto that dark black suede pad. He knew what he was doing. Here was this beautiful, shining, sparkling heirloom set against the deepest black, void of the suede pad in front of me. The contrast was stark. It was as though I was looking at a star in the night sky.

This has always been a picture, for me, of the Gospel.

The word Gospel in the Greek language means “good news.” In Jewish culture, if you had good news to share with someone you would say, “I have ‘Gospel’ to share with you, we have become engaged!” Or someone might say, “Gospel! You do not owe any taxes this year!” But for good news to appear to be as good of news as it is, it must be accompanied by the bad news. So, for instance, if someone just comes up to you and says, “I am not sick!” you might think, “Well, ok, thank you for that information (I did not ask for it!).” But then you learn that they had gone to the doctor a year prior, and a blood test determined that there was cancer. Now, when they say, “I am not sick!” it means something does it not?

The same is true with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is truly Good News. It is the best news. But it is only good news for a person who understands the bad news. It is not enough to say, “God loves you” if the person does not know why God should not love them. It is not enough to tell a person that they should “trust Jesus, follow Him, and give their lives to Him” if they do not know what will happen if they do not. If they do not know the bad news, the good news does not seem like good news. It just seems like one option among many.

So the Gospel is what that salesperson did that day. It is a presentation of the good against the bad. It is the dark black backdrop of our sinful condition before a Holy God. The bad news is that we are all sinners. The bad news is that God demands us to be sinless to enter Heaven (yes, you read that correctly), the bad news is that there is not one person who can make themselves sinless and not a sinner. The bad news gets even worse when you consider that this sin has separated us from God and it will continue to separate us from Him forever unless somehow it is removed. However, since man cannot remove his sins or to make himself sinless and not a sinner, we are stuck. We will be judged as sinners, condemned to eternity in Hell apart from God because of the wrong we have done. That is the bad news. That is the deep black cloth that shadows our lives.

But here comes “the ring” if you will. Though man could not do anything, God did. Man could do nothing to pay for sin. Man could do nothing to make himself sinless. Though man could do nothing at all, God did by coming and dying in our place. He took our sin upon Himself, as though He was the sinner. Then He was judged as a sinner in our place. Then He was condemned. He was separated from God the Father, and then He died. It was all for us. He served my sentence so that I do not have to. He paid my debt so that I now owe nothing. He was separated so that I never have to be. That is good news!

See today the black cloth of sin that shadowed our lives, and that would have separated us from Him forever in Hell. Now see the jewel of God’s amazing grace. It is the sparkling ring that is His Gospel, given to us. This is the Good News of what God has done. 

Romans 2:6-8

Hell and Heaven | Devotion #5: Romans 2:6-8
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

“Who will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil…” Romans 2:6-9 NKJV

On July 8, 1741, American preacher Jonathan Edwards stood before the Enfield Connecticut congregation and read the words of what is now one of the most famous sermons in history. The sermon was entitled, “Sinners in the hands of an angry God.” In it, Edwards vividly describes the severity of Hell, the immediate danger every mortal, sinful person is in, and the reality of eternity. This sermon found its mark and had a tremendous effect on the congregation that morning. Those present that day reported shrieks and screams from the unconverted as they realized their lost condition and the seriousness that they could at any moment enter eternity. The reality of an eternal Hell shook both the church there and the church across America for many years to come.

One of the most shocking pictures Edwards paints is that of eternity being unending. He said,

“It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite, horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see along forever a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul. And you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages in wrestling with this almighty, merciless vengeance. And then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point (moment) to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite.”

Without question, this is why Jesus warned us so often against Hell. He spoke of it continually. Indeed, He came to rescue us from that dreadful place, to snatch us from those merciless and eternal flames. It is also why every apostle throughout the New Testament pleads with us to trust Christ, lest we send ourselves there.

In Romans 2:6-8, the Apostle Paul describes the difference between Heaven and Hell. He says that eternal life, blessing, and honor will be given to those who are born again. Eternal life is promised to those who have trusted in the work of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. But to those who have not, to those who have (every single day of their lives) refused to trust Christ, rejected the truth and spent a lifetime serving themselves, they will suffer an eternity of the indignation and wrath of God. This will mean unending, unyielding tribulation and anguish. There will not be a moment of release from this. There will not be a moment of rest. There will not be a moment of relief. Hell is described as a worm that devours and never stops, and fires that are never extinguished.

Someone at this point might say, “How could God allow this?” But that is the wrong question. For God has done everything possible to keep a person from this. What more could He have done? He came; He died for our sins in our place on our cross. He went through the horrors of Hell and was raised from the dead to give us life. No, the question must never be, “How can God allow this?” The question can only be, “Why would anyone refuse Him?” “Why would anyone refuse His offer to rescue them?”

God does not send people to Hell. God sent His Son to keep us from Hell. People send themselves to Hell by refusing the Son and His sacrifice. This is something they must do every single day of their lives until they finally confirm it with their last breath. 

For at the end of the day, eternity is where we get forever what we proved in our lives what we wanted most. Heaven belongs to those who love Him and have run to Him to be saved. It is those who want to spend eternity with the One who has rescued them, for He is their treasure. 

Hell belongs to all those who all their lifetime refused and rejected Him. They will get forever what they proved by their lives they wanted most, existence apart from God.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

The Return of Christ | Devotion #5: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor 

“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NKJV)

“When will Christ return?” is a question I have been asked numerous times through the years, and it is a question that has sparked much debate throughout the church age. But we are going to settle it right here and right now. Are you ready? No, I am asking you, “Are you ready?” That is the answer; be ready! The answer to “when is Jesus coming back?” is to be ready for Him to come back at any time.

Jesus said, “Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13 NKJV). 

He also said, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44 NKJV).

Pre-trib, mid-trib, post-trib, Mc-Rib (lol), are all (except for that last one) ways of talking about when exactly Christ will come. The “pre-trib” view (which also happens to be the right view, haha) says that Jesus Christ will appear before the tribulation period (described in detail in Revelation chapters 6-19) to take all believers out of the world and into Heaven to be with Him forever. The “mid-trib” view says that Jesus will appear during the tribulation, taking all believers out of the world and into Heaven before the wrath of God being poured out on the whole world during the last 3 1/2 years of the 7-year tribulation period. The “post-trib” view says that there is no taking of believers to Heaven, but that Christ will come back to Earth at the end of the tribulation period and rule and reign forever. 

Now, we can debate these views, we can argue our points, but the truth is, no one knows when He will come. That is what He said. He said He would come at an hour we do not expect Him. But hear this, “He is coming.” We can be sure about that. 

In 1 Thessalonians 4:13 we have an interesting situation. It seems that the Thessalonian believers were very troubled concerning the return of Christ. It is clear from this passage and many others that the early Christians lived their lives expecting that Jesus would return at any moment. They understood that when He returned, they would be “changed.” They would immediately put on a “new heavenly body” if you will, to enter Heaven. But then the question, what about their loved ones who died long ago? What would happen to them? Will they be “changed” or are they just tough out of luck? Paul’s words to them assure them that Christ has no problem raising their deceased (“sleeping”) loved ones at His coming. We will all be together when He comes. It was meant to comfort them, and it did.

There are two things we must understand and agree on regardless of where you land on eschatological (end times) debates. First, Christ is coming. Do not forget that or lose sight of it. Second, He can come at any moment. It will be at an hour we do not expect. 

These were the realities that the early Christians understood. Day by day they looked for His coming. The Bible tells us that this is right and good for us as His people. 1 John 3:3 (NKJV) says, “Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Jesus said, “Surely I am coming quickly.” and so we say with Apostle John “Even so, come Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20 NKJV).



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