Devotions

Author Archives: Chuck Lindsey

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).

1 Corinthians 15:3-8

Jesus Physically Rose Again & Ascension | Devotion #5: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 NKJV

What if Jesus had never risen from the dead? What I mean is, what if He had come, taught us all that He taught us, showed us all He showed us, even died on the cross, was buried in the tomb, but that was it? What if that was where the story ended? What I am asking is, what if Jesus had not risen from the dead? Would it change anything? Could we just go on as we always have? Does anything change?  

We do not need to guess about this. First Corinthians chapter 15, tells us exactly what it would mean if Jesus did not rise from the dead. It would have been the end of Christianity. It is not an exaggeration to say that Christianity would have been over before it even began! Jesus would have faded into the background of history as any other good man or teacher, and we would not be having this conversation. In short, it would mean that we are not saved, that our sins are not forgiven, and that we have no hope at all!

The denial of the resurrection is nothing new. Following the resurrection, many tried to explain it away or dismiss it altogether. Some suggested that Jesus never actually even died, that He revived (and somehow in His weakened state rolled back a 2-ton stone by Himself and all of His disciples died knowing He was lying). Some suggested that He died, but never actually rose from the dead at all, that the disciples came in the night and stole His body (overpowering the Roman guards and again, each of them dying knowing that the whole thing was a farce). One of the heresies (false doctrine) that was being spread by false teachers in the days of the early church was the idea that Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead physically. These heretics taught that when Christ rose from the dead, He only did so “spiritually.” Most of them also said that He only came “spiritually” teaching that He left no footprints when He walked. The apostle’s (especially Paul) continually fought against these false teachers and their false doctrine. 

In 1 Corinthians chapter 15, Paul dealt with the bodily resurrection of Christ. He said that Jesus Christ not only died and was buried (you can not bury a spirit!) but He also rose from the dead the third day. He said this was all according to the promise of the Scriptures. He does not stop there. What he says next is so important. He says Jesus was seen alive by Peter (Cephas), then by the 12 disciples, and then by over 500 others at one time. Now here is the kicker, Paul says, “They are all still alive! Ask them what they saw! They will tell you.” He goes on and says, “He was seen by His brother James, then by all of the apostles and then, I saw Him myself.” 

Now, it is certainly possible to get a few people to go in together on a lie. But how many are willing to die for what they know is a lie? Christians were being persecuted and killed for saying that Christ was alive. How many would be willing to die knowing it was all a lie? Even if over 500 people were in on the lie, how many of them would have maintained that lie while being persecuted, tortured, and killed for that lie? The answer is very few if any. If it were a lie, it would have eventually been exposed as such and Christianity, and indeed Christ, would have faded into the background of history amid scandal as so many others have.

But we do not have that. We have countless eyewitness Christians with their dying breath proclaiming that He is risen! They are convinced they saw Him alive. They had touched Him. They watched Him as He both rose from the dead and ascended 40 days later into Heaven before their eyes.

Jeremiah 17:9

Jesus Died for Our Sins | Devotion #5: Jeremiah 17:9
Chuck Lindsey | Growth Pastor

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

Have you ever given or been advised to “just follow your heart?” Have you heard the encouragement that “you cannot go wrong if you just listen to your heart?” According to the Bible, that might not be the best idea. While many may believe and teach that the heart is an infallible guide, God says quite the opposite. Listen to His words about the heart.

In Jeremiah 17:9, God says that the human heart (another word for the inward life of a person) “is deceitful.” The word “deceitful” there means that it is tricky, not sure-footed, and polluted. Wow! That is pretty strong language God uses to describe what so many others describe in flowery terms. God does not stop there. He says that the human heart is not only “deceitful” but that it is “trickery” or it can fool us “above all things.” Wait a minute, is God telling us that our heart is more deceitful than anything else in life? Yep! How can this be? Think about it; your heart is inside you. Your “heart” describes your inward life. All your thoughts, emotions, and being are all summed up in the word “heart.” When you consider that, then it makes sense why the “heart” has this ability to so effectively trick us. God says something else, something shocking about the human heart. He says that it is “desperately sick.” These words mean “incurably sick.” He then says, “who can understand it?” This means that even we cannot know our own heart completely.

All of this leads to a couple of conclusions:

The heart is not a trustworthy guide. Right? I mean, if God says it is incurably sick, cannot be known, and tricks us more than anything else does, there can only be one conclusion. It is not a reliable guide. This means that the “way we feel” about something cannot be our guide for what is true and what is not. It also cannot be the “compass” we use for navigating the rough waters of life. 

Man is a sinner. If the “heart” is the word used to describe the entire inward life of a person. Then it describes us. It describes us at our “core.” In short, to say the heart is like this is to say that we are like this (apart from Christ). Consider what God is saying, “the entire inward life of a person (all their thoughts, affections, emotions and will) apart from Me, are deceiving them above all things. They are incurably sick, and they do not even know it.” Yikes!

It is because of this that Jesus came to die. When you consider what God says about the human heart, one thing becomes clear; man was not ever going to fix himself. Man was not ever going to dig himself out of his sinful state. Man was not going to figure it out. We were not getting better throughout the ages with all of our “advancements,” we were only getting worse. So, God came to rescue us. Because we could not rescue ourselves, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” It is only as the Holy Spirit of God convicts a person of their total sinful condition and convinces them of the truth of the Gospel and Jesus’ ability to save, that a person can become a “new creation in Christ Jesus” and sing, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound to save a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I see.”



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