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

How to Make the Right Decisions, by Gregory A. JohnsonPlease 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
Prayer, Faith, and the LORD's Fast, by Gregory A. Johnson
Some 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.

Monday, August 26, 2013

A Glorious Church Service

by Gregory A. Johnson

Church in a renovated carriage house
Instead of the church in Mississippi, God led us to pastor a group of folk in central Kentucky. We were so happy to find the will of God and move from West Virginia to Kentucky to pastor. The church there did not have a lot of people, it didn't have a parsonage, and it was not debt-free like the church in Mississippi, but God called us there, and they were fine people. They had church in an old carriage house on the property of an old southern mansion that sat on a hill overlooking the city. The mansion had burned down, but the church bought the ten acres and renovated the old carriage house to have church in until they could afford to build a sanctuary on the property.

The property had history. The old two-level carriage house still had iron jail bars on the windows of the basement. It was where slaves were housed at night during the terrible days of slavery in America, when African Americans were treated, valued, and traded as animals. The slaves would work long, hard days on the property farming tobacco and taking care of the livestock. At night they would be locked in the dark, damp, and musty smelling basement with the horses and carriages housed comfortably in the nicer level above them.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Focusing on a Bright Future

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

Oftentimes we focus only on what is happening or not happening to us now. Doing so can cause anxiety, discontentment, hopelessness, and depression. What would happen if, instead of focusing on the present, we focused on what our future is in Christ? We would be tremendously encouraged in the midst of it all.

Christ-followers may not have a pleasant present, but they have a marvelous future that is literally out of this world. Christ has prepared the way for them to spend eternity with Him. At the cross, the power of sin was broken. At the resurrection, death was defeated. At the ascension, a promise was given—Jesus will return for His faithful followers, so they can be with Him forever.

Monday, August 12, 2013

What To Do in the Midst of Trials and Afflictions

by Gregory A. Johnson

By Balkhovitin (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsAs we follow Christ, there will be many times when our journey will take us through trials and afflictions that test our faith. During these times, all we need do is cry out with a simple prayer: "Father, help me through this. I don’t know what else to do but simply wait on you and your help."

There have been many times in my walk with the LORD when I have prayed that prayer, I've still been left with worry and anxiety. I've learned to recognize that these fears are the fruit of the sin of unbelief, and so now, I quickly repent and ask the LORD to forgive me, thus renewing my trust in Him.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Where Faith is Tested and Perfected

By Charles Knowles from Meridian Idaho, USA [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commonsby Gregory A. Johnson

It is easy to obey the Lord when we see results, but that is not where our faith is tested and perfected. Our faith is tested when our prayers go unanswered, and we do not see the expected results. Our faith is perfected when we do not give up, and we continue to obey without seeing.

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, passing along between Samaria and Galilee. “And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed” (Luke 17:12-14 ESV).

Please allow me to point out that:
  • The ten lepers cried out to Jesus for mercy in their time of need.
  • The need and the cry for help got the attention of Jesus.
  • Jesus gave the ten lepers something to do, but did not immediately give them what they were asking.
  • The ten lepers obeyed Jesus before seeing any results.
  • The ten lepers were cleansed as they obeyed Jesus.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Victory!

by Gregory A. Johnson

By Dewesh Rauniyar (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThere is one constant theme throughout the entire Bible—VICTORY! Because of His love and grace, God grants victory for His children. Life here on earth can be a battle as we try to live for the LORD, but we are afforded victory, and our victory is in Him.

Beloved, your victory today is found in Jesus. Follow Him with your whole being and victory is yours.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Most Segregated Day of the Week

by Gregory A. Johnson

By John Vachon for U.S. Farm Security Administration (Library of Congress[1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Drinking fountain on the Halifax County Courthouse
(North Carolina) in April 1938
A great display of racial segregation can still be found in America, and it's in an unlikely place—the church on Sunday mornings. Sunday is the most segregated day of the week. Here in America, we have churches for every race—African American, European American, Native American, Latino, Japanese, Korean, Hmong, Chinese, etc. I understand the language and cultural barriers that exist, but should our churches not have representatives from all races within the community that they reside?

In 1996, I received a call from a church board in Mississippi and was invited to come to speak on a Sunday morning as a candidate for a vacant senior pastor position. Becky, our two young children, and I traveled to Mississippi to spend a weekend meeting with the board, speaking to the church, and seeking the will of God. We were put up in the nicely furnished and fairly new parsonage that was adjacent to the large debt-free church, which sat on a nice piece of property.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Best is Yet to Come

by Gregory A. Johnson
Ray of Light on Cap Haitien, Haiti, By Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


God is so good to his children, giving us a foretaste of glory that is to come. Scripture declares: “And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us” (Romans 8:23, NLT).

Life can be difficult at times, but God does not leave us to navigate our journey alone. He has given each Christ-follower the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Spirit living within assures us of God’s constant and unconditional love for us and our future glory with him. The Spirit gives us tiny tastes of glory now, giving needed comfort, strength, and joy, reminding us that we are God’s children.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The End of the Age

by Gregory A. Johnson
By Peter van der Sluijs (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Armageddon in Megiddo Israel

Many today are wondering how much longer this world can go on like it is. The disciples questioned Jesus: “As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?’” (Matthew 24:3 ESV).

Jesus responds: “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come “ (Matthew 24:11-14 ESV).

Allow me to quickly point out some things about the close of this age, according to Jesus:
  • Many will be led astray.
  • Lawlessness will increase, resulting in the love of many growing cold.
  • The one who endures to the end will be saved.
  • The gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed to all nations, and then the end of this age will come.

Monday, June 24, 2013

In loving memory of my dad, Elmer L. Johnson


Elmer L. Johnson
Elmer L. Johnson
January 7, 1931 - June 17, 2013

Besides Jesus Christ, my dad made more of an impact on my life than any other man I have ever known. I could never list all the ways that dad influenced my life, but please allow me to share some with you here.

Dad influenced me to:
  • love the Lord and faithfully serve him with my time, talent, and finances.
  • make the Bible the authoritative guide for all of my beliefs and actions.
  • love my wife as Christ loves the church.
  • always be available for my children, caring for and loving them.
  • point people to Jesus on this journey from earth to glory.
  • love God’s creation.
I owe a lot to my dad’s influence, and I thank God for giving me the honor to be his son.

gaj

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Desolate Places: Where Our Strength is Renewed

Snug Falls, Snug, Tasmania, Australia. By JJ Harrison (jjharrison89@facebook.com) (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
by Gregory A. Johnson

In the wilderness, we experience spiritual growth as God prepares us (The Wilderness: A Time of Spiritual Growth). Desolate places are where our strength is renewed so that we can continue the journey and complete our mission.

The crowds pressed in all around him to hear his anointed and life-giving words. He revealed the kingdom through both his words and actions, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, breaking through manmade religious, gender, economic, and racial barriers with peaceful love and grace (The Kingdom According to Jesus). He was driven by the Holy Spirit and on a mission from his father. The pressures of ministry and time constraints were great, but yet as Jesus walked this earth as our example, he withdrew to desolate places.
“But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:15-16 ESV).
Notice a couple of points:
  • Jesus did not allow the demands of people to take away from his prayer time.
  • Jesus withdrew himself from ministry and people for seasons of prayer. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Wilderness: A Time of Spiritual Growth

by Gregory A. Johnson

Cedar Mnt Wilderness By BLM [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsThe longer I live, the more convinced I become that there are God designed and defined periods of our life that are carved out with the specific purpose of preparing us. These periods of time can be considered wilderness experiences.

In these wilderness experiences, we encounter spiritual drought, loneliness, and temptation as we learn to deal with our faults and our doubts. We confront our weaknesses in the wilderness, and they eventually make way to strength as more of our flesh is crucified, facilitating growth in our dependence upon the Lord.

In the wilderness, our faith is stretched and, as a result, it is enlarged. We come out of the wilderness better people with more faith, ready to accomplish the task at hand, until we come to the next wilderness experience, where we will, once again, be fine-tuned to traverse another level on our journey, as we live in service to the Lord.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Answer to Hardships

by Gregory A. Johnson
By Public Domain Images [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

There is one thing that I’m certain of today—life is full of the unexpected. Difficulty often comes in hours
when we are least prepared, taking us entirely by surprise.

Some respond to these hardships saying, “This is an attack of Satan. The devil is out to get me.” Some question saying, “Where did I go wrong? Is there sin in my life? Is God mad at me?” Some ask, “Why me? I’m doing everything God has asked me to do. I’m obedient to the Bible. Why is this happening to me?”

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Trust in the Lord and Be Blessed

By Wing-Chi Poon [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This is what the LORD told Jeremiah the prophet:
Thus says the LORD:
"Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places
of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit"  (Jeremiah 17:5-8 ESV).

Monday, April 8, 2013

How to Focus on What You Know

by Gregory A. Johnson

By Vaido Otsar (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsLife is full of the unknown. What we know tends to bring comfort; what we don’t know can bring much anxiety if we allow it to mess with our thinking. I’m convinced that we will be better off emotionally,
physically, mentally, and spiritually if we focus on what we know instead of concentrating on the unknowns of life.

If you make the unknowns of life your focus, it will get the best of you, bringing you down into the gloomy loneliness found in the dark prison of despair, paralyzing your life, and destroying your future. What would happen if you focused on what you know instead of the uncertainty that robs you of your sleep, joy, and peace, threatening to rattle your sanity beyond what is repairable?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Living in the Joy of the Resurrection

by Gregory A. Johnson
By William Murphy [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Becky was pregnant with our second child, and the doctor calculated that her due date would be April 1—April Fools' Day. Becky was adamant that our baby would not be born on April Fools' Day and throughout the pregnancy she stood firm, prayed and probably even tried to will herself out of that due date.

The closer we got to the due date, the more Becky proclaimed that our baby would not be born on April Fools’ Day. Well, it was the morning of March 30, and guess what? Nope, there was still no baby. Then that evening, Becky felt the first contraction. Was it a false contraction or was our baby coming? We waited a couple of hours and guess what? Yep, our baby was coming. I took Becky to the hospital later that night. She was in hard labor all night long and the next morning she gave birth to our precious little baby, Kelsey Ann. It wasn’t April Fools’ Day. It was March 31. And you know what fell on March 31 that year? It was Easter Sunday morning! I told everyone who would listen that Kelsey Ann was our little resurrection baby. Becky and I rejoiced!

Kelsey has grown to be a beautiful and intelligent young woman, and on every Easter morning, I remember the joy I felt the Easter morning she was born. She was not an April Fools’ baby. She was a resurrection baby!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Females Preach the First Easter Sunday Message

by Gregory A. Johnson

By Alexander Ivanov (1806 - 1858) (Russian) (Painter, (Google Art Project:  Home - pic) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The most important day on the Christian calendar is Easter. The most important day of the Christian week is Sunday. Jesus died on Friday evening, and He was buried in a borrowed tomb before the start of the Jewish Sabbath at sunset. On that Sunday morning, Jesus arose triumphant over death, hell, and the grave. Easter Sunday is celebrated once per year, but on every Sunday Christian churches meet around the world to celebrate an empty tomb. He has risen!

All day Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, the women mourned the loss of Jesus. They went to bed that night in sorrow, not realizing that the next morning joy would replace it.

At dawn on Sunday morning, the women went to the tomb to minister to the body of Jesus. After seeing Jesus die a horrible and violent death, they were still fearful, but their loyalty to Jesus got them up that morning. They were determined to go to the tomb where they had seen Jesus' body placed. Their main concern that morning was how they were going to move the heavy stone, so that they could spread spices on the body; they would have no help from the men. The men were hiding while being full of fear and sorrow.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

There is Hope in a Prison of Despair

by Gregory A. Johnson

Evelyn De Morgan [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsThere are two words that, when used together, form an imperative that is easier said than done. It seems to be automatic when times are good, and all is going well in one’s life. It’s more difficult when the walls of security and well-being are crumbling around you, despair setting in like a cold-damp fog on a pitch-dark night, holding you captive in its harrowing prison. The two words: Trust God.

He was a giant in the faith, planting churches in cities where the Gospel of Christ was fresh and new. His relationship with Christ was intense, strong, and personal. He walked with Christ, followed Christ, and continued the point-of-need ministry of Christ. His prayers were both fervent and effectual. He preached with power and anointing; miracles oftentimes confirming the message of Christ.

Victoriously, he came through physical and spiritual attacks alongside hunger, abandonment, illness, imprisonment, and poverty. Nevertheless, while on a missionary trip in Asia, discouragement and depression led him to despair life itself. He was mentally weakened and fragile, welcoming dying instead of living. With all desire and ambition gone, death seemed to be the remedy.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Cure for Troubled Hearts

Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
by Gregory A. Johnson

We are living in troubling times, but Jesus warned us that it would get this way, and it can get a lot worse before it gets any better. Beloved, Scripture says, “But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!" (Revelation 12:12 ESV).

Yes, the world is troubled, but I feel led to talk to you about something more personal. As Christ’s followers, we are troubled by what is taking place in the world, but many are also dealing with troubled hearts concerning finances, loved ones, relationships, poor health, aging, and uncertainty.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Experiencing Victory in the Midst of Trouble

by Gregory A. Johnson

Experiencing Victory in the Midst of Trouble, by Gregory A. JohnsonThe news of this world is troubling. If you watch the evening news or read the daily newspaper, you know what I mean. There are wars, rumors of wars, terrorism, civil unrest, genocides, droughts, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, shootings, kidnappings, robberies, assaults—the list goes on and on. This world is troubled.

Christ-followers live in this troubled world, struggling at times, but they are not part of this world. They are here on temporary assignment to follow Christ, making His Kingdom known. Their citizenship is out of this world. They live here in the midst of trouble, but their victory is secure! The One they follow has overcome the world, and because He did, they will.

Beloved, our victory is in Jesus. We find trouble in the world, but we find victory in Him. Jesus secured our victory. There is no trouble that can keep us down. Death cannot stop us. The grave cannot hold us. Jesus is coming back riding a white horse of victory. The first time He came to be our example and our savior. The next time He comes as the King of kings and the Lord of lords! We can shout today in total VICTORY! Hallelujah! Maranatha! Our Lord, come.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How Far God Separates You from Your Sins

by Gregory A. Johnson

How Far God Separates You from Your Sins, by Gregory A. Johnson
I have had the privilege of watching the sun rise from a sandy beach on the East Coast of America, and I have watched the sun set from a sandy beach on the West Coast. Both shorelines are beautiful yet they are completely different, with flat topography on the East Coast and a mountain range hugging the West Coast. Both experiences are breathtaking, causing an awareness of a Creator who inspires awe in all that He has created and in all that He does.

One of the most incredible things any of us can experience is the forgiveness of our sins. The forgiveness of our sins by the Creator is truly wonderful and amazing. If we confess our sins to God, and we run to Him in repentance, He not only forgives us, but He also removes those sins from us. We are guilty, but owe no penalty. Why? Christ took the penalty for our sins when He died on the cross for them.

Just how far does God remove our sins from us?

Monday, January 21, 2013

We need a faith and justice revival in our day!

by Gregory A. Johnson

"After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'" (Revelation 7:9-10 ESV).

By New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsOn January 15, 1929, Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He was born in a day when those with dark skin did not have equality with those with white skin. The African American was not allowed to ride in the front of the bus with the European American. African Americans could not use the same restrooms. They could not eat in the same sections of the restaurants. The children could not play in the same playgrounds nor go to the same schools. They could not drink from the same water fountain. They could not even go to the same church. Slavery, a great sin of the nation, was over, but segregation and all of its inequalities remained in America. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, not everyone was free; many were bound by the injustices of racism. It is with that backdrop that a dream was birthed in an individual. Although that dream has not fully reached reality, it is burning intensely in the hearts of many in our day.

Dr. King lived his life in the belief of God’s rule that all people are created equal, and all people should be treated equal. This is the dream of justice driven by faith. It is the dream that God gave to Dr. King. It is the dream that God plants deep into the heart of citizens of the Kingdom.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Close your church office on Martin Luther King Day!

by Gregory A. Johnson

By Mjswisher79 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThe senior pastor walks into the room to conduct yet another weekly staff meeting that amounts to the same questions being asked week after week; they were just worded in different ways. The basis of the questions is this: What can we do to get more people to attend our weekly service.

Many of the staff grow tired of these questions and the staff meetings. Dreading to attend, and trying to find ways to avoid them, the staff often made light of the meetings in private. It is very obvious to those close to him that the only thing driving the senior pastor is numbers; he doesn't have a heart for people. It is all about the attendance numbers he reports to the denomination's headquarters. This is how he measures the success of himself, his staff, and the church.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Dad's Toolbox


Be Encouraged: A Daily Devotional, Volume 3 by Gregory A. Johnson
The day in which we live is full of uncertainty and change. We don’t know when our Lord will return, but we watch with anticipation as we move along on our journey of following Him from earth to glory. With each passing day, we realize how fragile life can be; we realize that we need help on our journey. Each of us needs encouragement and people in our life who will encourage us.

As I was growing up, I always helped my dad when he worked on things around the house or on the cars. I would get his toolbox and be quick to hand him each tool that he asked for. To this day, when I see dad’s toolbox, I remember all the great times I had as I spent time with him working on things. They are memories that uplift and stir me to this day.

As a pastor and an author, I look at myself as one who helps others by handing them the tools they need for their journey as they follow Christ. The Be Encouraged series is a set of encouraging tools that will be of great value in the Christ-follower’s toolbox.