Devotions

Author Archives: Chuck Lindsey

John 1:12

Salvation by Faith Alone & Grace of God | Devotion #1: John 1:12
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12 NKJV) 

My sister and brother-in-law are foster care parents. In seven years’ time, they have provided a home for and cared for over 30 children. Most of these children come from absolutely devastating situations. Many are born addicted to drugs. Others are the only surviving child in a violent home. They come from physical abuse and neglect to sexual abuse and more. Each story is crushing. It is often painful work. It is thankless work. It is late nights, exhausting, tears, fear, frustration, and it can be overwhelming. It is especially painful when that child you love and have cared for, is put back into unacceptable situations. Some have a chance, and some will not make it. It is more than just “hard.” With each phone call that comes to take another child, my brother-in-law and sister ask Jesus what He wants them to do. Very often, they say, “Yes, we will take them.” We watch them make those children their own until their season together is done. It is thankless work. It is Jesus’ work.

Now imagine if the richest man in history began to be burdened for abused children and decided to start doing foster care. Not just foster care, but his goal was the adoption of as many needy kids as possible. What if the richest man in the world began to adopt every child who wanted him? His mission was to make them his children. They would live in his home with him. They would eat from his table. They would bear his name. Each child would, from one day to the next, move from the devastation they had only ever known to the immeasurable blessing they would now only ever know. All that he has was now theirs. They were his children. 

This is what the Bible says has happened to us. It is what God has done for us. From one moment to the next, everything is different. We were lost in our sin and guilt, wandering around in the darkness, without hope, without purpose, and without joy. We were broken people. We were blind people, staggering around in a broken world. We were trying to find anything that seemed like life, anything that resembled purpose, anything that would make us happy even temporarily, and life failed. In every real way, life would fail. The key is “But God.” But God stepped into our lives. God stepped in with a mission, a goal, a plan, and a desire to adopt as many as were willing. He went to each lost, broken, and hurting child and offered them life. Therefore, “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God.” We became His own. We bear His name; we are Christians. We will eat at His table and live in His home with Him forever, and all that He has is ours. For, we are His.

And this all happened because we “received Him” when He came to us inviting us. We believed in His ability to do what He offered to do. Rejoice you “children of God” for He has received you!

2 Timothy 3:16-17

Inerrancy of Scripture | Devotion #1: 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NKJV)

Three cheers for any of you who are reading this with an actual Bible sitting next to you. I am not including any of these sissy digital “Bibles” on phones, tablets, and computers! I am talking about one that has pages you have to turn by hand, pages so thin that your highlighter is going to mark some obscure passage on the backside of that page! The thing is a work of art, complete with ribbons, gold edges, and an embossed cross on the cover. It is a real Bible. It is a Bible that requires a commitment to carry it, both for its visibility and its weight! I am talking about a Bible that can be broken in and worn out through continual use. It is a real Bible. It is the kind that smells the way any proper Bible should, like a dead cow! Are any of my people still out there?

I am of course only joking. I sit every morning and read my Bible on my tablet. I take down notes and highlight passages just as I once did with a physical Bible. I search the Bible on my phone and compare passages while on the go from place to place. I use a computer religiously (pun intended) to study for the various sermons I preach each week. I do all that, with my real Bible sitting next to me as I write this. The truth is, the paper, ribbons, embossing, and leather (that glorious leather) do not make the Bible what it is. That is just one way of delivering its content. It is the content, the actual words on those pages, whether physical or digital, audio or visual, that is the show stopper. 

There is nothing like the Bible. It has no equal. It is like no other book in history. Though the world is filled with books, the Bible stands alone. It stands alone for one primary reason. One thing sets it apart forever. It comes from God Himself. He wrote it. Oh sure, He used people to physically put pen to paper, but God wrote it. Therefore, it is not the disjointed ramblings of 40 different authors through 66 books. It is one unified message written through thousands of years of human history by God Himself through His people. That changes everything. 

2 Timothy 3:16 makes this truth undeniably clear when it says that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (NKJV). The content of the Bible is called “Scripture” because it is more than just advice, conjecture, or opinion. It is bedrock truth because it comes from God Himself. The passage goes on to say, “all scripture is given.” This means that the writers did not sit down to think about what they would like to write or address. They were “given” what was written. It was given by God. They wrote down, what God gave them to write. It goes on and says, “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God.” The word translated “inspiration” means “to fill, to breathe.” It referred to the filling of the sails of a boat or someone simply breathing. The point is clear. God breathed out His Word, the Bible, giving it to those who loved Him and wrote it down for us. 

Because the Bible is the “breathing out” of the actual source of all life, truth, and purpose, the Bible is powerful. The rest of verses 16-17 show us this as we read, “and is profitable for doctrine (teaching), for reproof (error correcting), for correction (showing the right way), for instruction in righteousness (growth!) that the man of God may be complete (grown up), thoroughly equipped for every good work (ready for everything God sends us to do).” 

So grab a Bible, dig in, and have the confidence that every word you are reading comes from God Himself!

Jeremiah

Lesson Eleven | Devotion #1: Jeremiah
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

Faithful, Frustrated, and “Fruitless.”

Imagine serving God your whole life and never seeing anything good come from it. There you are, faithfully sharing what God gives you to share, going where God tells you to go, and doing what God wants you to do. But no one heeds your message. No one repents, no one turns, no one accepts what you are saying, and in the end, they come after you to make your life miserable! That is the life and ministry of the prophet Jeremiah. To say that it was a rough go for Jeremiah is putting it lightly.

But his story is an important reminder to us. It is the reminder that it is faithfulness to God that matters, not the results.

God told Jeremiah very early on that he would be His prophet. The Lord told him that this was His calling for Jeremiah from before he was even born. Jeremiah’s response was not heroic and did not inspire confidence. He said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth” (Jeremiah 1:6 NKJV). He said, “I cannot do that. I am too young. I cannot speak to anyone.” God steadied him by telling him that He would be with him and always put His words in Jeremiah’s mouth.

From that point forward, Jeremiah’s ministry was a continual announcement of coming judgment and a call to repentance for the nation of Israel. As you read it, it is immediately clear that every aspect of the Hebrew nation in Jeremiah’s day was a spiritual mess. Israel, once faithful, had now slipped back into idolatry, rebellion against God, and spiritual lethargy. Israel’s leaders are leading the people astray. Jeremiah is a lone voice crying in the wilderness all that God is telling him to say.

Think about it; he is just doing what God wants him to do. But no one is listening. No one wants to hear it. His message is not just ignored; it is rejected and even mocked. Jeremiah becomes despised by both the common people and all of Israel’s religious and political leaders. He feels alone, he is frustrated and at one point even decides to throw in the towel.

We cannot miss the point. He is doing what God wants him to do. So, what gives? Why is there not any “blessing?” Why no “fruit” from his labors? Why no “success?” We have got to learn something here. Just because God tells us to do something, it does not mean that it is going to be easy or that it is going to work out. I have met many Christians who think that if it is “of God” it is going to be easy. If it is God, then it is going to be successful. If it is God, then it is going to be simple and smooth sailing. But that just is not the case. There are many times we are called by God to do things that are not at all easy, not smooth, not simple, and not fun. There are times where we will be ignored, rejected, mocked, and even persecuted for doing what God wants us to do. There may be times we will not see the “fruit” of what we did.

So what then? What are we to do? Jeremiah’s life reminds us to faithfully carry out God’s will even when there does not appear to be the success or favorable results. It reminds us that we must trust Him for the reasons He is telling us to do what He is telling us to do. We must make pleasing Him our chief goal rather than ease, success, the approval of people, or the blessings of it all. If we do, then we too will hear what Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, without doubt, heard when he stepped into eternity, “well done good and faithful servant.”

Samson

Lesson Six | Devotion #4: Samson
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

Separated, Strong, and Stupid.

My great-grandmother lived in a double wide mobile home at the edge of a mobile home park in southern California just a few miles from where I was born and raised. She loved Jesus. She loved my sister and me and she wanted us to love Jesus. We loved to spend the night at her house because there were always donuts and she would read us stories from the Bible. I can still see my sister and I sitting on the floor at her feet as she opened the large print KJV Bible and began to read. We would each choose a story for her to read. Mine was always the story of Samson.

I loved that Samson was strong. I was mesmerized as she read aloud the incredible things that Samson did. He tore a lion in half with his bare hands! He killed a thousand enemies with the jaw bone of a donkey. He picked up the massive gates of a city and carried them in each arm nearly 20 miles! Even at the end of his story, he pushed the pillars of a building apart and brought the entire thing down killing all the leaders of the Philistines. In my six-year-old mind, he was the biblical version of the Incredible Hulk!

As an adult, however, I am less impressed with Samson. I pity him. As a pastor, I have met many people like him. For Samson is an example of someone whose gifting took him further than his character could sustain. His incredible gifting gave him incredible opportunity, but his lack of godly character caused him to squander all that God gave him. He lived a thoroughly sinful and selfish life. He was gifted, but he was no great man.

His story reads like some best-selling novel. Samson was dedicated to the Lord by his parents at his birth. He was called by God to be a judge in Israel. However, trouble soon arises. From marrying the Philistine (an enemy of Israel) woman, to the touching of dead things (and thus ceremonially defiling himself and his parents), to the blatant disregard of the laws of God to which he was supposed to be calling the people of God, he was a mess! On one such occasion after losing a bet, he killed 30 men to pay his debt! Then, in anger and retaliation, we see him burning down the wheat fields (food source) of the Philistines, who then come after him and in turn, he kills a thousand of them with the jawbone of a donkey! We see him sleep with a prostitute and then eventually “shack up” with the infamous Delilah. This woman would eventually be his demise. Oh, and as a side note, he is beyond arrogant, he does not talk to God, and he does not appear to have any actual relationship with God at all.

The end of Samson’s story begins in Judges chapter 16 where we read of Delilah “pestering and nagging” Samson relentlessly. She is using her beauty to try to trick him into revealing the “source” of his strength. This was a secret he had kept from everyone. Make no mistake; this is not a love story. It is a lust story. She uses Samson’s desire to please himself as the way to eventually ruin him. As you read it, you might think that Samson was just too stupid to realize what is going on, but I doubt that is the case. He is stupid, but not because he did not understand what was happening. He knew what she was doing. He just did not think he was ever in any danger at all. He thought he could handle whatever came his way! He believed he was strong! Each time he answered her, his answer got a little closer to the truth. Until finally, when he could not endure her nagging any longer, Samson gave in and told her that the source of his great strength was his long hair, a symbol of his being dedicated to God.

What happens next is perhaps the saddest verse found in the Scriptures. Judges 16:20 says, “So he awoke from his sleep, and said, ‘I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free!’ But he did not know the Lord had left him.” There it is. God left him, and he did not even know it! It is sad. Samson’s great mistake was that he thought his gifting was his. He thought that it belonged to him and that he could use it how he wanted. But it was given to him for the glory of God. The same thing is true of you and I. We have each been gifted and called by God. Those gifts have been given to us to bring God glory and to accomplish God’s purposes.

Samson’s story is tragically sad. It is the story of someone who is incredibly gifted, who is even called, but who throws it all away to please himself. May it never be true of us.

Balaam

Lesson Five | Devotion #5: Balaam
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

Diviner, Deceiver, Destroyer.

Everything could have been different for Balaam. He is regarded as one of the six Gentile (non-Israelite) “prophets” in the Old Testament scriptures. He is regarded as such because he speaks to God, God speaks to him, and he tells others what God said. This is the ministry of a prophet. However, while many regard him as a prophet, God never does. That is right; God never refers to Balaam as a prophet. Instead, Balaam is called a magician, a soothsayer, and a diviner. God says all of these are an abomination to Him.

What we need to learn in the story of Balaam is simple. Ready? He could have been a prophet of God. He could have. He was gifted and probably called by God for His purposes. God’s summary of him is that he is nothing more than a “soothsayer,” not a “prophet of the Most High God.” Balaam’s story is one of tragic waste. Without question, Balaam, like Samson, wasted what God gave to him.

In truth, he traded it. Like so many in our world today (especially in the area of entertainment), Balaam used his gifting for himself and traded everything for wealth. The Bible says that he “loved” money. Money is what drove him. Money is why he did what he did. The New Testament warns us of the danger of loving money. 1 Tim 6:10 (NKJV) says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” He is the proverbial example of someone trying to “gain the whole world while losing his soul.”

What is incredible to me about Balaam’s story is that the Lord still uses him. Though he is a disaster spiritually, called a soothsayer, a diviner and even called a “madman” (2 Peter 2:15-16), incredibly God still uses him to bless the people He loves! But hear this, God uses him in spite of him. What do I mean? God used Balaam’s gifting and calling to bless the people of Israel, even though God was not happy with Balaam. God says that Balaam’s “way is perverse before Me” (Numbers 22:32 NKJV).

There is an important lesson here. God using a person does not mean that God automatically approves of everything going on in their lives. I have seen many gifted and called people, who are wrapped up in sin in their own lives, make the mistake of thinking that because God used them to reach someone or help someone that He is approving of or ignoring the sin in their own lives. This is not the truth! If this describes you, let Balaam’s story set you straight!

Though God used Balaam to bless the people of Israel, Balaam’s life comes to a horrific end. Joshua 13:22 (NKJV) says, “The children of Israel also killed with the sword Balaam the son of Beor, the soothsayer, among those who were killed by them.” He was put to death, but not before his sinfulness could infect others. You see, the book of Revelation tells us that Balaam figured out a way to make his money. He taught the wicked king, Balak, how to defeat the Hebrew people. He showed that king how to entice the Hebrew people into idol worship and sexual immorality, which led to the judgment of God against them.

Balaam now lives in infamy within the scriptures, as an abominable diviner, who, for money, used what he had been given to stumble others. His example is a warning to us, to never assume that God’s blessing is God’s approval. May we with David say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24 NKJV).



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