Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Cross and the Empty Tomb

by Gregory A. Johnson

By Rennett Stowe from USA (Easter Lilly  Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Easter Lilly
Not just during the Easter season, but each day, we are confronted with the cross of Christ and the empty tomb. What do they mean? Why are they so significant?

In the 1800's Ralph E. Hudson wrote the chorus to the sacred hymn, At the Cross: "At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, and the burden of my heart rolled away. It was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day!"
  • At the cross, we realize how much God loves us (Romans 5:8).  
  • At the cross, we are justified and saved from God’s wrath (Romans 5:9).  
  • At the cross, we are reconciled to God (Romans 5:10). 
  • At the cross, we experience forgiveness of sins (Luke 23:34). 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Lent is a Blessed Time of Year

By Lolcatss (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
by Gregory A. Johnson

Every year, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and continues until Easter. Spanning approximately six weeks, it is a wonderful season on the Christian calendar, being observed by Christ’s followers, Protestants and Catholics alike, who desire to fast something in recognition of our Lord's sacrifice for us.

It is good to give the cost of what is given-up during Lent to the work of the ministry, and the time associated with what you give up to works of faith and justice (Isaiah 58:6-11 ESV).

What are you giving up for Lent? The Spirit within you will help you decide as you pray and ask the Lord.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Jesus Christ Will Return

by Gregory A. Johnson

By Adam Smith (originally posted to Flickr as .) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsI am thankful that we are one day closer to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Media has utilized the date-setting false prophets of our day to desensitize society to the reality of the return of Christ, but that does not negate its truth. I feel the Holy Spirit compelling me, more and more, to remind people that Christ is returning as he promised, and we are to always be ready.

So many in our day, both inside and outside the walls of the church building, base what is right from wrong on what feels good, what is socially acceptable, what media and Hollywood suggests, instead of on Scripture. They are not hearing much different coming from behind the pulpits, and they are not reading the Bible on their own. Many go to church and only hear about receiving God's blessings. This bless-me-and-all-that-I-do message mimics many of the books written today by popular television preachers.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Trust God Even if You Feel Forsaken

By Wilfredor [CC0], via Wikimedia Commonsby Gregory A. Johnson

Have you ever felt forsaken, finding yourself isolated, desolated, and deserted? You surround your life with people, even church people, yet it’s as if everyone has left you—even God. You pray, but your prayers go unanswered. The heavens are like solid brass, bouncing your words back to you as you cry out for help in your desperation.

Please know that it is not wrong to have these feelings. You can have a heart for God, seeking to serve him with everything you have, and still have these feelings. The Bible tells us that King David was a man after God's own heart. He delighted in the LORD, but there were times when he felt forsaken.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Top Ten Posts of 2013

By Rajwinder Singh from Sydney, Australia (Happy New Year !!  Uploaded by berichard) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commonsby Gregory A. Johnson

Reflecting on 2013, looking forward to 2014, I am thankful for you. I am humbled by the number of people who take time to read what I write.

Writing is not something I do by choice, but something that I believe God calls me to do. He has opened up an audience that spans the globe. I pray for his Spirit to inspire and speak to each reader, finding that he often allows me to be transparent, writing from a life that has experienced pain, hardship, hurt, trials, and tribulations on my journey as I follow Christ. I write what he gives me, realizing he brings me through difficulty, allowing me to help others through the same.

In gratitude to those who read my posts and my books, please allow me to share with you the top ten posts that have been read this year. I pray that one, two, or many of the posts below will draw you to click and read or re-read, allowing the Spirit of God to speak encouragement, pouring upon you waves of joy, covering you with abundant grace, and shielding you with tender mercy.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How to Make the Right Decisions

by Gregory A. Johnson

Joseph and the Christ Child by Guido Reni [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsPlease know that whatever God is speaking and through whatever avenue He chooses to speak it, it will always line up with His written word. The angel that came to Joseph in a dream lined up God’s plan with God’s Word. He lined up what was happening with the Word of God spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

Throughout our life, we will continually have to make decisions in difficult situations and circumstances. To make the right choices, we must seek God’s plan. How do we know when we have found God’s plan? There will always be two indicators that will let us know when we have found God’s plan. Number one, God’s plan will always line up with His Word (click to tweet). Number two, we will have a peace that God gives us about the plan.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fountains of Endless Life

By Averette (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
by Gregory A. Johnson

The Spirit of the Living God brings us fountains of endless life (Click to tweet). Take a moment and allow those words to sink into the deep regions of your intellect, flooding your being with peace and joy, flowing through you like a spring gushing forth with fresh, cool, clear, sparkling water.

She had been searching for something in life that she could never find. She sought fulfillment in relationship after relationship, only to find that they often led to and ended in hurt. Married five times and currently living with another, she was wearied and worn, emotionally and mentally spent. Her life had become as empty as the dry and waterless vessel that she carried that morning to draw water from the well.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Transforming Grace

by Gregory A. Johnson

By Rennett Stowe from USA (God's Grace  Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThose who willingly receive God’s grace are forever transformed. They cease to do whatever they want to do and begin to do what Jesus Christ has for them to do. They no longer live for self; they deny self and follow Christ.

There is no better example of this transformation than the one recorded in Acts 9:1-9 of God’s word. A dramatic, definable, and undeniable change takes place in Saul, who would later be named the Apostle Paul.

Saul was living for self, believing in his interpretation of Old Testament Scripture and the prophets. Jesus did not fit Saul’s understanding of what the Scripture said of the Messiah. Saul and his religious buddies believed that the teachings and claims of Jesus were radical and threatened changes to the Law and the Temple. Saul was at the trial of Stephen where the frustrations of the religionists with the early Christ-followers came to a violent climax and ended in the stoning death of Stephen (Acts 6:8-7:60).

Friday, September 27, 2013

Prayer, Faith, and the LORD's Fast

by Gregory A. Johnson

By Jennifer Gensch [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsSome people think that faith is believing that God will do what you want him to do—if you pray and believe, God will act in the way you want him to act on behalf of your situation or circumstance. They have been taught that if you mix some fasting with praying and believing, you can really get God’s attention, and he will do more of what you want him to do. With this type of thinking, glory is given to the individual who can supposedly move God into action. A true move of God will be in such a way that only God receives the glory.

Faith is believing that God will keep his word, doing what is right because he is in control and loves his children. It is in prayer where we receive more of his grace and mercy in our time of need as we release all of our worries and anxieties to him. Our human nature tries to hold on to them, but his nature is to bear them all if we just release them to him.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Greatest Characteristic of a Christ-follower

by Gregory A. Johnson
By Wingchi Poon (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Christ-follower walks in faith, hope, and love.

Christ-followers have faith in the One they follow. They trust Jesus with their present and their future. They even trust Jesus with their finances, realizing that they are blessed so that they can bless others.

The hope of the Christ-follower is different from the hope of those who don’t follow Christ. The hope of a Christ-follower is surrounded in expectation, while the hope of others is surrounded in wishful thinking. Christ’s followers fully expect the LORD to keep His promises because they serve Him with total abandonment.

The love of Christ’s followers is a supernatural gift that is given to them by the Holy Spirit. With this supernatural gift, they are able to love not only the lovable, but also the unlovable. They love as Christ has loved them.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Retaliation is not a part of the Kingdom

by Gregory A. Johnson

By DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Wayne W. Edwards, U.S. Navy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Although the people of Jesus' day were looking for a messiah to come and relieve them from Roman oppression, Jesus did not come and bring the war they anticipated their messiah to bring; He brought peace. The people were not looking for peace; they were looking for retaliation against the oppressors and occupying forces of their day, but retaliation is not a part of the Kingdom—peace is. Because of this, they rejected Jesus as the Messiah.

There is peace in the Kingdom that is established in Jesus, and there is no one better to reveal the peace of the Kingdom than Jesus Himself. The prophet Isaiah told of Jesus coming into our world as Sar-Shalom—the Hebrew word for Prince of Peace: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

At His birth the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!" (Luke 2:14).

As He entered Jerusalem one last time heading to a cross to suffer and die, the multitudes of people that lined the dusty road sang, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Luke 19:38).

The angels sang of peace on earth pointing to Kingdom now; the people sang of peace in heaven pointing to Kingdom future.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Taken Out of this World

by Gregory A. Johnson

By illustrators of the 1728 Figures de la Bible, Gerard Hoet (1648–1733) and others, published by P. de Hondt in The Hague in 1728 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
God took Enoch
For many years, it has been popular to trace a family’s ancestry back as far as one can go. There are many resources available now, including the Internet, which makes information for genealogical research more readily available.

The genealogy of Noah is given in Genesis 5:1-32 of the Bible and traces all the way back to Adam. It is interesting to note that after stating the name of each ancestor and years of his life, it is always stated that the individual died, except in one instance—Enoch. It does not state that Enoch died, but instead it says “God took him.”

Enoch was close to God, and God enjoyed his company very much. They would walk with each other every day. I imagine God waited for Enoch to awaken each day so they could spend time together. One day, God just took Enoch into His presence to be with Him for all eternity. Enoch bypassed death.

God has made a way for us to have eternal life through Jesus Christ. We can walk with Him every day, and one day He will take us to be with Him forever. God taking Enoch typifies the great gathering in the sky with the LORD that is to come for Christ-followers.