Devotions

Author Archives: Chuck Lindsey

The Forging Process

Grow | Devotion #1: The Forging Process
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

“Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11 (NKJV)

A few years ago, on Christmas morning, my wife accomplished something pretty amazing. She finally, for the first time in our nearly 20 years of married life, gave me a gift I never expected to get. She was so excited that morning to set in front of me a heavy and oddly shaped package to open. Each tear of the brightly colored paper revealed more and more of a small anvil and a blacksmith’s hammer. She knew that, for many years, I had a desire to learn the lost craft of blacksmithing and so she apparently filed that away in her mind and waited for her moment to surprise me.

It may sound strange to hear it, but I have learned many spiritual lessons from the art of blacksmithing. Most principles are specifically related to the biblical concepts of growth, correction, and discipleship. Each piece in the blacksmith’s shop paints a significant spiritual picture. Consider the mighty anvil; for instance, it is a great picture of God’s Word, the Bible. The bedrock promises and the instruction of the Word of God cannot change or be moved. The same is true of an anvil; it does not move. It is so strong, so stable, so sure, that it forces all other metal to conform to it. The Bible is like this. It does not change; it cannot be broken or moved. It is sure, stable, and strong. As our lives come into contact with it, we are changed more and more into the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Of course, the blacksmith’s hammer is the primary tool a smith will use to shape any metal. Each blow of the hammer changes that steel into what the artist sees. He has a goal in mind, and he knows how to get it there. He sees in that raw metal what no one else sees. He sees what that steel can be, and it is something that steel will never become on its own. It will never get there apart from his hand. So, he uses his hammer to get it there. The blacksmith’s hammer is a beautiful picture of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord uses His Spirit as the hammer in our lives, against the anvil of His Word to lead, teach, correct, guide, encourage, and comfort. In short, the Holy Spirit shapes us into what He sees and wants us to be.

The next spiritual picture is that of the furnace. When I want to change that metal, I must heat it up. This is where the furnace is essential. It is an intense process! The furnace often exceeds temperatures of 3,000 degrees! However, without the heat of the furnace, the metal simply does not move. It dents and dings and if I continue to hit it with the hammer, it actually begins to develop microscopic cracks in its structure until it finally breaks. But, when I use the furnace to heat the steel, every hammer blow moves the steel like soft clay. It is truly amazing to watch something so hard be softened by the heat of the furnace and move into the shape you desire. The furnace is essential to the shaping process of the steel. The same is true of God’s discipline. It is essential in our lives. The furnace of God’s correction, teaching, and discipline is used in our lives to shape us. Through the furnace of His discipline, He softens the hardest of hearts and makes them moldable in His hands, and we need it to move, grow, and become what our Lord wants us to be. We need the furnace of God’s discipline.

There are many other tools a blacksmith employs to accomplish his task. We could talk about each one, but at the end of the day, the goal is always simply to shape that metal into what he sees. That is our Lord’s purpose, too. He is the Master Blacksmith. He already sees what He wants to do in you and He knows how to do that in your life. His goal will always be to shape us into the image of our Lord Jesus and so He uses the furnace of discipline to soften us, the hammer of His Spirit to shape us, and the anvil of His Word to make us.

Reach

Reach | Devotion #6: Reach
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

We say the word “reach,” but what does that actually mean? For me, a picture is helpful. When I hear the word “reach” my mind immediately sees the Olympic runner stretching forward with everything he has as he crosses the finish line. On the heels of that, I see the picture of someone who has dropped something just out of reach, who leans and stretches to try to get that item. This is Reach. It means that we use whatever methods we can, to go beyond the walls of our churches, to share the Gospel with lost people. We want to reach them. Reach is “leaning forward” (if you will); it is a collective “stretching out” to do what Jesus told us to do, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15 NKJV).

If I were to try to condense a “how to” on reaching lost people, it would come down to two main things: Knowing the Gospel and loving people. 

Know the Gospel – Do you know the Gospel? In short, the Gospel is the message of what God has done to save lost people. Do you know it? Can you explain it? Can you walk through it from memory? If not, I would encourage you to practice this! It might be an obvious statement, but how can we expect God to use us to share a message we do not know and cannot explain? 

A good place to start is by memorizing what is perhaps the best-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16. The whole of the Gospel is encapsulated in this single verse. There we see the love of God for sinful humanity, a love that caused Him to send His Son to a cross for our sins so that we could be with Him forever. The best part, it is simply by belief (not by works!). Do this, grab a sheet of paper (or your phone notes app) and write the verse down at the top of a piece of paper, read it, read it out loud, and then read it phrase by phrase. Next, write down each phrase in the verse (“For God,” “so loved,” “the world”) and what it means (Who loved? God did. Who did He love? The world/people. What did He do? “He sent His Son”). Next, ask a friend or loved one to let you talk through it a few times with them. This will really help to cement it in your mind. Have your friend “quiz” you, ask them to throw one of the phrases at you (i.e. “that whosoever”) and explain it. Peter said it this way, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15 NKJV). Once you are able to walk through it confidently, you are equipped. 

The next step is to love people – I am not talking about a “yeah, I love people” kind of thing. I am talking about a deep, broken-hearted, cry from your heart to reach the lost. This is an absolute game changer. John Hyde demonstrated what I am talking about when he famously prayed, “Give me souls God or I die!” The person that genuinely prays this is going to find God using them to do what they are asking Him to do. How do we come to love people more than we love ourselves, our comfort, or our priorities? It happens, first and foremost, by a humble, repentant confession to God that we do not do these things. It is an admission to our Lord that I do not love people the way I should and asking for His forgiveness for this. That is step one. Nothing happens until that does. Next, we must ask Him to fill us with His Spirit, for the Scriptures tell us that the “fruit of the Holy Spirit is love.” Ask Him to fill you with a supernatural love for those who are lost in your life. Next, very practically (do not tune out here) begin praying for the people He brings to mind. Pray that their eyes will be opened, their heart will be softened, and that they will turn to Jesus. Pray daily, specifically, and faithfully. As you do this, you will see “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5 NKJV).

Lastly, we must actually take a step! I have heard a saying for many years now, and it goes like this: “Share the Gospel, and if necessary use words.” I hate that saying! It is annoying because it is used as an excuse to only “live out the Gospel” rather than actually sharing the Gospel. How about both? There comes a moment when we must open our mouths, trust God for the words, and walk someone through what Jesus Christ has done for them. The person who has taken the time to equip themselves with the Gospel and is passionately praying that God will use them, will find that He still uses people to rescue people. Just consider for a moment what it will mean to you to be in Heaven and have our Lord Jesus point to one person, two people, a family member, or a crowd, and say, “They are here because you asked Me to use you. They are here because you prayed. They are here because you shared My message with them.” It will be joy eternal! 

Christopher

The Gift of Grace | Devotion #3: Christopher
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

He was 26 years old, tall, thin, had sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, and was wearing standard issue prison “blues.” His name was Christopher. He looked more “normal” (whatever that means) than the inmates I had spoken to already that day. When I shook his hand, he smiled warmly and said, “Thank you for coming today.”

We were there to share the love of Jesus through the message of the Gospel, and I had no idea how long I had before the prison yard would be closed. I got straight to the point and said, “Christopher, do you know about the forgiveness that Jesus offers?” The next five minutes changed my life. That is how long it took him to tell me his story. He began, “Yes sir, I do know about forgiveness.” I simply asked, “How?” He answered, “Six years ago, I went to a party, drank too much, and got in my car to go home. On the way, I hit and killed two young kids. I got fifteen years.” He continued, “I served four years at Ross Correctional, and while I was there I got a letter from the 16-year-old sister of one of the kids that I killed. In that letter, she told me that she forgives me for what I did and that her family forgives me. Then she asked if she could come and visit me.” I was stunned and said nothing. He went on, “It took me a while to write back to her, but I finally did knowing that I deserved whatever she needed to say to me. A few days later I got a note from her telling me when she would be visiting.” 

“Wow” is all I could say. Then he said, “I was really nervous that day, did not sleep, and could not eat. When I walked in and saw her, we both began to cry, and she hugged me. She told me again that they forgive me. She told me that her parents want to come to visit, but could not do it yet. Then she told me about what Jesus had done for me.” I could not speak. He went on, “I accepted Jesus with her that day in the visiting room.” Then he looked me in the eyes and said, “So, yes sir, I do know what forgiveness is.” I quietly said, “That is amazing.” He said, “I know. For a 16-year-old girl to come to a place like that, to visit someone like me, I could not believe it.” He then told me how the sister and father had visited him every other week for the last two years and that just a few days ago the mother came for the first time.

I was stunned when he told me what this dear mother said. He said, “She hugged me. She told me she forgave me. Then she held my hand and said, ‘When this first happened, we wanted you to pay. We never wanted you to get out. But now, we have been praying for you, and we do not want you to serve your whole sentence. So we are trying to talk to anyone we can to ask for an early release for you. When you get out, we want you to know that we will be your family.’” At this point, I must have been visibly overwhelmed because he looked at me, gave me a moment to digest, and then continued by saying, “It is not fair! But I know the Lord loves me like that. So, because of this, I will spend whatever years I have left in here trying to tell all these other guys about His forgiveness.” 

At that, the whistles blew, and the yard was closed. We hugged, and I walked away rejoicing in the amazing grace and love of our God. To this day, I am still in awe at the love of God that compelled a 16-year-old girl to not only forgive but to go into a level three prison visiting room to share the Gospel with the young man who took her brother’s life. I am amazed at the power of the Gospel to reach and to rescue the lost. I am so thankful for that family and for what they have allowed Jesus to do in and through them. Though I have never seen him since (trust me I have looked), I am thankful he, I, and his “new” family will rejoice together in Heaven one day. What a gift we have in the Gospel!

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Ephesians 1:7 (NKJV)

“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NKJV)

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.



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