Devotions

Author Archives: Pastor Chuck Lindsey

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.”

2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus was Sinless and the Virgin Birth | Devotion #5: 2 Corinthians 5:21
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21NKJV)

From the earliest age, I remember having dominoes. Not the pizza (although that sounds pretty good right now), but the game. I must confess, that in all the years I have had a dominoes’ set, though they got a lot of use, I have never actually played the game of dominoes. How did I use them? Do you already know? That is right; I spent hours carefully standing them up into lines, circles, and paths only to knock the first one over and watch them with expectation as each one fell one after another. Did you know there are domino toppling competitions? It is a thing, and it is mesmerizing to watch. Teams of people spend days (sometimes weeks) carefully setting every domino at just the right distance and angle from each other, so that when the first domino is knocked over each of the thousands of succeeding dominoes fall as expected. The current world record is almost 4.5 million dominoes. Incredible! The “domino effect” is a phrase that was coined from this phenomenon and it describes a “chain reaction” between objects or ideas. Doctrine is like dominoes. One truth builds on another. If you knock one over it causes a chain reaction “down the line” as it were. It has become popular of late for “Christian” leaders/writers to question and dismiss clear and established doctrine. Among those beliefs has been the doctrine of the Virgin Birth.

When we say, “the Virgin Birth” we are talking about the birth of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that Jesus was not conceived through the physical union of a man and a woman. We are told instead, that God “overshadowed” the woman, meaning that He “placed” His Son, the Savior of the world, into the womb of the yet unmarried virgin named Mary. Jesus was conceived by God and born of the woman. This is what the Bible (God) says happened.

Now, this is an essential doctrinal “domino.” Why? Because, if Jesus had been conceived through “human means,” He could have only ever been that, human. He would have been no more than we are. But He is infinitely more than just a human being. He is both man and God at the same time. As the Puritans said it, “He is all of man and all of very God” meaning that Jesus is 100% man and 100% God at the same time. You say, “wait, is that not 200%?” Yes, that is why I said He is more!

You see because Jesus was born both of the woman and of God, He stands alone in all of history. He is the “God-Man.” As such, He stands in the middle, between both God and man. He is, as the Scriptures say, “the Mediator between God and men” (1 Timothy 2:5 NKJV). He alone holds this place because He alone is both God and man at the same time.

Now, if you knock that domino over, and deny His Virgin Birth, then a chain reaction occurs and other dominoes fall. To deny He was virgin born (domino #1) means that He is not God (domino #2) and thus could not be sinless (domino #3). That means that He cannot die as the “sinless substitute” for our sins (domino #4) which then means that we are still in our sins and unsaved (domino #5). Ultimately, Christianity is a false hope (the last domino to fall). 

However, if He really was conceived of God and born of the virgin, then He is both God and man and 2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV is a shout of victory: “For He (the Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin (He was sinless, innocent) to be sin for us (He took our sins on Himself), that we might become the righteousness of God (innocent) in Him.” The sinless One, the innocent One, our Savior, the Lord Jesus, did not need to die for His sins, He had none (domino #1). He took our sin on Himself (domino #2) and died in our place (domino #3) so that we could become innocent through Him (domino #4) and thus we are truly saved. What sweet dominoes fall as we trust the truth of what God has said.

Philippians 2:5-8

Jesus is God | Devotion #3: Philippians 2:5-8
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8 (NKJV)

If you asked 100 people to tell you “who Jesus is” you might get 100 different answers! But I tend to believe that those 100 answers would fall into just four basic categories. It is just four separate “buckets” if you will. The first bucket would hold every answer that suggested that Jesus was (as the saying goes) a “good teacher.” In other words, He was a religious man, perhaps more religious than others, who taught us about God and His ways. The second bucket would hold every answer given that suggested that Jesus was crazy. Every answer in this bucket would be some form of the idea that Jesus was a lunatic. The thought here is that Jesus was nothing special, but that He (and others) thought He was more than others are. The third bucket would contain all the answers that suggested that Jesus was a fake. These answers would all convey the idea that Jesus knew He was nothing, but pretended to be something to deceive people and lead them astray. The fourth bucket would hold every answer that said that Jesus was indeed who He claimed to be. Jesus was God. He, as God, came to live among us. Every word that came from Him was God speaking. Every work done by Him was God’s work. He truly is the Way, the Truth, and the Life as He said. 

C.S. Lewis once wrote regarding the answers people might give to the question “who is Jesus:”

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”

Jesus is God. He is not “a god” among other “gods.” He is not a “lesser god.” He is not a “god-like” man who taught us about the true God. There is only one God, and He is that God. He is God, who created all things and brought them into their existence. He is God, and as such, rules over all things and has given you and I life. There was never a moment when He came to be. He has always been. Everything came to be by Him and through His power. He was not created. He created all things.

So, what exactly happened 2,000 years ago? God came down. God came as a baby born to a woman. His name was called Immanuel because it was God now dwelling among us. That baby grew up and eventually took all of our sins upon Himself and died in our place on a cross. God died for us, for our sin. God came, God died, and then God rose from the dead. Jesus is God.

Matthew 1:23

Trinity | Devotion #5: Matthew 1:23
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:23 (NKJV)

An egg. An apple. Water. What do they have in common? They have all been used to try to explain the doctrine of the Trinity to children and adults alike. The basic concept of the Trinity seems simple on its surface. It is easy to say that God is “three persons in one.” But when your five-year-old begins to ask questions, you quickly realize the answer is not so simple. Enter the humble egg as an attempted illustration of the Trinity. It is three parts: shell, white, and yolk existing as one egg. A single apple consists of three parts as well: the skin, the flesh, and the core. Water can exist in three forms, a liquid, a solid (ice), and a gas (steam). These illustrations, however helpful they might be, do not perfectly convey the Trinity (because each “thing” is a different “thing”). Like an exercise bicycle, it feels that the harder you push to understand or explain the Trinity, the more difficult it becomes. However, just because the concept of the Trinity is difficult to wrap our minds around, does not mean that we should disregard it. It is vital!

First things first, the word “Trinity” (a tri-unity – three in one) is not in the Bible. However, the concept is. The Trinity, meaning that the one true God exists in three persons, is taught throughout the Scriptures. We see the doctrine of the Trinity taught from Genesis to Revelation. To understand it, we have to keep it simple. The Bible says that there is ONE God. Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “Hear O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” We find that not only is the Father called God, but the Son, Jesus is called God, and the Holy Spirit is called God. God is “one.” 

Jesus is a good starting point. Key passages make it clear that Jesus is God. John 1:1-2 says, “In the beginning was the Word and the word was with God and was GOD. He was in the beginning with God.” Then verse 14 (NKJV) adds, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 10:30 (NKJV) says, “I and the Father are One.” Thomas’ confession of Him when he saw the risen Jesus is very pointed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28 NKJV). Titus 2:13 (NKJV) says that we as His people are “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.”  Colossians 1:15-17 (NKJV) also shows that Jesus is God, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” There are many other passages stating Jesus is God. Jesus is called God throughout the Bible.

The Holy Spirit is also God. In Acts chapter 5, we read that Ananias and his wife Sapphira are said to have lied to the Holy Spirit. However, verse 4 (NKJV) says, “You have not lied to men but to God.”  John 6:63 tells us that it is the Holy Spirit who “gives life.” That is something that only God is said to be able to do. In the Genesis account of Creation, we see the Holy Spirit hovering above the deep (waters) involved in the creation, something that only God is said to have done. The Spirit is said to be all-knowing, everywhere at once, all-powerful, and eternal. These are attributes that only God possesses.

On a technical note, in the opening words of the Bible found in Genesis 1:1, we read, “In the beginning God.” What you may not know is that in Hebrew (the original language of the Old Testament), the word “God” there is the plural form of a singular noun. It is “Gods as one” if you will. Not just “gods” making God “polytheistic” (multiple gods), it is describing right from the opening words a “plurality within the one God.” Just a few chapters later in the Genesis account, we read of God making man using the words, “Let us make man in our image.” It is incredible.

The New Testament shows us the Trinity continually. 1 John 5:7 (NKJV) says it clearly, “For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit and these three are one.” All three persons of the Trinity are seen together in the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19 (NKJV), “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” At the baptism of Jesus, we see all three persons of the Trinity at once: “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” In Revelation 4:8, we see the angels of God crying out the threefold, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.” They use the word “holy” three times for just one God. 

We may not be able to explain how three persons can exist as one God, but that is what the Bible teaches. Perhaps, rather than the picture of an apple or an egg, maybe we should use math? God is not 1+1+1=3, but rather 1x1x1=1.



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