Monday, December 07, 2009

Christmas Greetings 2009

Dear Friends and family….
We want to wish you a wonderful Christmas filled with joy and blessings from the Lord. It has been a year of transition for us and we are not done yet. First of all, we gained two more beautiful grandchildren, Luke Johnson (9 mos)Son of Heath and Theresa Johnson, and Rainey Mae Johnson (6 Mos.)Daughter of Jarred and Jenny Johnson. They fill our lives with joy! Also in May, we transitioned from life in Milwaukee to Waupaca WI, closing The Ministry Center and graduating our final class(see picture of some of the graduates) of ‘ministers’ who are now busy fulfilling their ministries, leading Bible studies, doing prison ministry, running an after school program and ministering to veterans. We rejoice in what God has done through them all. We also transitioned back into the Assemblies of God. Now we are awaiting God’s repositioning of our own ministry. We have already waited for 6 months and we are getting anxious to serve Him more. We love serving the Lord in ministry and we are praying for whatever God has for us.

It has been a wonderful time of refreshing and rest. We took full advantage of it to visit with our families and friends in Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Missouri and just celebrated Thanksgiving at our home, with three of our four sons, one of them surprising us at the last minute….What fun! Our four grandsons got to meet their first girl cousin….our granddaughter . It was almost like Christmas. We will be spending Christmas in Madison with them and loving every minute. David has kept busy with home maintenance that had long been neglected. Joyce has kept busy down sizing our possessions, writing a book, doing the newsletter as well as helping David cut and split our winter wood supply….at least 3 cords of firewood.
We want to wish each of you a wonderful year of blessings in 2010. We do not know what each new years holds, but it is all in God’s hands. Pray that God will help us discover a place of full time service. We pray that you are loving God with all of your heart for there is no other reason to celebrate than to live for Him daily and let Him lead and guide our lives. God bless you and may you have a wonderful Christmas and New Year filled with His love and presence!

Rev. David and Joyce Johnson
PO Box 655
(E2619 Lindee Lane)
Waupaca WI 54981

I Don't Need A Thing!

I have a wonderful little grandson, who, at the age of 3 going on 4 discovered that he could express his wants and desires. When it came time for his birthday, grandpa asked him, “So what do you want for your birthday?” The list began…”Do you know what I want for my birthday...I want a ….and do you know what I want for my birthday? I want a …….And do you know what I want for my birthday? I want a…..” and the list went on and on. Sometimes our wants simply get out of hand when we start acting like a three year old. We focus on ourselves and our desires and our lusts, instead of on the Lord.
When we look at the secular world around us, we are quick to point out the greed in the financial world as bonuses are handed out like candy to children. To them, greed is good—-motivation to make more and climb higher on the ladder of success. It is the ‘American Way’. More is better. But where do we draw the line? Where does blessing and plenty become too much and greed? We are reminded in the Charles Dickens's classic “Ebenezer Scrooge” that when our desire for more becomes strictly selfish, we loose touch with the real world around us and fail to see the needs.
Christmas is a perfect time to examine our problem of greed and want. Even if we don’t verbally list our desires, we still have them. We go shopping and we see this new electronic gadget or that new style, or a handy tool. Soon we start adding to our mental list of wants. We drop hints, and point out how nice that is to someone who might catch the hint and we hope they will give it to us otherwise we plan to get it for ourselves one day...perhaps in the clearance sales.
I recall the children of Israel, wandering in the Sinai desert longing for all the things they used to enjoy in Egypt...onions and leeks, fish and garlic. So soon they began to complain to their leader, Moses. They wanted more. (Numbers 11:4-6) 4 The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! 5 We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. 6 But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!" When we are not satisfied with the provisions that God gives us, we tend to get grumpy and complain. God hears us. And he will sometimes give us what we want rather than what we need. Selfish ‘wants’ can get us all into trouble. The story is told of a little boy cared for by a nanny in a wealthy home. The boy was spoiled, demanded everything he wanted and when he failed to get it, he cried. Soon the mother was disturbed from her rest by the child’s constant crying. She yelled out to the nanny…. “Give him what he wants!” The nanny did….and soon the child shrieked in pain. He had wanted to touch a wasp and the nanny had kept him from the danger for his own good until the Mother interfered and ignorantly gave bad advice. Sometimes our wants sting us!
Sometimes we desire things we do not need, and should not have. Our desires must be shaped by God’s desires for us. I am always taken back to the well known 23rd Psalm. GOD, my shepherd!
I don't need a thing.
   You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.
   True to your word,
      you let me catch my breath
      and send me in the right direction.
When the Lord is our shepherd, we don’t need anything but what He provides for us. All sheep need is green grass, water, and safety. It is the job of the shepherd to see to it that the basic sheep’s needs are met in full. The Lord is my shepherd. He knows my needs. He knows my wants. He knows the dangers around me. Just as a mother anticipates the needs of a child, God does the same for His children. He allows us to go our own way at times so that we will learn that we need Him more than we think we do.
As we move into the Christmas season, our ears are tuned to the blaring ads on the TV, the lure of the jingle that plays over and over in our heads, reminding us to spend, spend, spend. We tell ourselves we are not good parents if we don’t give our kids more each year. Yet, if we look in the closets of America, we will see them stuffed to overflowing. I challenge you to search around you for a need. We have a choice. We can feed the greed, or feed the need. Give as the Lord directs you to give. Ask Him… “What should I do about this need Lord?” Then walk in obedience and do what He tells you to do. Balance comes into our lives when we do things God’s way. Put the shepherd in charge. Let Him show you needs around you...a family out of work….a family with sickness and medical bills—overwhelmed by needs….a neighbor who doesn‘t know your name or that you even care…a veteran who suffers as he remembers the past…a senior who just needs a listening ear...a teen who thinks nobody cares…. Look around you! Needs are everywhere! . Look for a family out of work. Bless them this year. Is there someone who has no family to spend the holidays with? Invite them into your celebrations. Remember the lonely folk in senior centers, and spend some extra time with them. Ask your kids about their friends and the families they come from. Visit a food pantry and see how you can help. Do you know someone in jail, or hospital….plan a visit. Tired of eating alone? Invite someone over for dinner. Teach your children to be givers instead of getters. Give them some coins or bills to drop into the red kettle this year. Teach them to make a sacrifice to give to someone else. Teach them to watch for needs around them. Children will do what is modeled before them by their parents. Let your children catch you in the act of giving without restraint. Christmas is not the only time of year you should be giving. Make a habit each month to go out of your way to give above and beyond the call to someone in need. Perhaps a serviceman or woman needs a card in the mail, or perhaps an elderly neighbor needs a helping hand with snow shoveling or raking leaves, or running an errand. Giving has no season. God designed tithing to meet the needs of the priesthood and the tabernacle. But offerings go beyond that. Even more than offerings, there are tasks that need to be done that God wants each of us to do. When we do them, we practice being servants like Christ was to His disciples...washing their feet, meeting their need.
Giving restores balance in our lives. There is a new series called “Hoarders” that shows a kind of compulsive sickness that a few folks suffer from in our culture. They collect all kinds of stuff and just can’t bear to part with it because somebody might need it. However, in every case, the stuff never finds its way to needs, but instead accumulates until the interior of what once was a home becomes a garbage can filled with wall to wall trash. Their life is out of balance. When we take in and fail to take out, we trash our dwelling place. But when we learn to get rid of the kind of stuff that is no longer usable, when we learn to distinguish between valuables and trash, we can evaluate and organize our stuff and get rid of the garbage in our lives. Sometimes we let our hearts get trashed with all the stuff our greedy hearts have demanded. The shepherd has given us all we need, but we, in our childish demanding ways have chosen to want more and more. We spend all our days wading through the trash when we could be relaxing in the lush green meadows of His divine provision.
There is a unique blessing for those who learn to give without reserve, expecting nothing in return...God opens the windows of heaven and pours out a blessing so that you cannot contain it.( Malachi 3:10) Of course He does that, not so that we can keep it all, but so we can have more fun giving it away. Have you discovered the joy of giving?
Remember the children of Israel who wanted more than manna? God satisfied their lusts with all the quail they could eat...bushels of them….and while they satisfied their lusts, God stuck them with a plague and they died with the meat in their teeth. There is a price for greed….for desiring stuff more than God. We must guard our attitudes, our desires, our wants and be cautious lest we become hoarders in the desert. Their price was death. The price is the same today. We die spiritually, the moment we place things and wants ahead of what God wants for us. The thing I have determined that I want is more of God….more of his presence, more of his will, more of his plans for me. When I become satisfied with nothing but Him in my life, I will discover that I am where He wants me to be, in green pastures, by still waters, with a table of blessing prepared before me, protected from my enemies, and I shall not be in want, for I will have everything I need.
Perhaps this year, you are the one in need, and you think you have nothing left to give. Your cupboards are empty. When you get to that place, attitude is everything! Learn to give what you have….a smile! Let the joy of the Lord shine through you to a hurting world around you. Give someone a word of encouragement...a kind word of thanks….a pat on the back, a little note of appreciation. This costs you nothing and means everything to a world who sadly lack kindness and love. Be Jesus to someone! You can pray for their needs. You can share His love! Everyone has something to give! And when God opens the windows of heaven for you, don’t forget to say thanks….to God….and to the vessel God used to bless you. Appreciation is the seed for future blessing. God loves a thankful heart because it acknowledges the source. Those who neglect little things like saying “Thanks” reflect their lack of appreciation, and the divine source from which it came. All we have comes from God, who shares it with those who know how to give and say thanks.
When you get heavenly blessings this year...thank God….and His servants who delivered it. And remember, you can give because you don’t need a thing….you shall not be in want! J. Johnson

Friday, November 06, 2009

God Calls It.....SIN!

I recently read an article by comedian Bill Cosby in which he, without apology, addressed the shortcomings of the Americans who share his same cultural background. He minced no words. He chose to tell it just like it was….refusing to soft-soap his peers. You can find it on the internet here:
In the media, another person who often says it like he sees it is the senior commentator, Andy Rooney. While I may not always agree with his viewpoints, I appreciate his honest candor. In our internet/media generation, we hear, see and read all kinds of information. Some of it is valid, and some of it is not. It is so important that we be discerning. It is even more important that Christians be spiritually discerning and learn to face the world in honest terms. We need a firm guide by which we can measure truth from error and deception from reality. We have that guide with us but how often do we choose to use Him? He will not soft-soap the truth. He will tell it to us just as it is.
The Promise
Jesus taught His disciples that after He was gone, He would send to them One who would guide them into all truth. (John 14:16-17) He would remind them of all that Jesus had taught them. He would not bring glory to Himself, but to Christ. Who is this? It is the person of the Holy Spirit. Read the whole chapter of John 14. It is the work of the Spirit to do so many valuable things for us as believers. Yet how often do we stumble along trying to figure it all out our own way. We read what this one and that one says. We listen to our friends and voices that seem confident on the TV or radio. Yet many of those voices do not speak the truth but instead promote their own ideas for their own agendas. Some seek financial gain. (That’s an automatic red flag.) Others seek fame and recognition. Others just like to gain followers. We are to only follow others as they follow Christ. What is worst of all, is a failure, even in the church, to call sin— “SIN.”
But how do we determine whether or not they are really following Christ? The Bible tells us we are to be fruit inspectors. If they fail to bear the fruit of the Spirit of God, they are not what they appear to be. What do they value most? Money, or lost souls? While many ministries do require finances in order to do the work of the Lord, it is important that finances don’t overshadow the ultimate goal...winning the lost. Personal comforts should be secondary to the divine directive to win the lost. So often it seems to come down to a problem of sin. It is sin that separates us from God. It is sin that causes spiritual leaders and Christians to fall.
The Sin
In today’s world, sin is a word no one wants to talk about. We call it everything except what it is. We call it a lapse in judgment, a mistake, a moral failure, a problem, a weakness, but we do not call it sin. In the Bible, the Lord does talk about it. Look again at John 14:15 “If you love me keep my commandments” These are the words of Jesus. He instructs his disciples to obey the law. In the Old Testament, those who disobeyed the law were considered ‘sinners’, and in rebellion against God. God warned Cain in Genesis 4:7 about sin waiting at his door, wanting to control him. "If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.'' Sin is a problem we must face and deal with.
Today, the law is written on our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who convicts us of our sin. It is the Spirit who draws us to Christ and as we are confronted by His awesome holiness, we see such a stark contrast that we are compelled to do something about it…. repent. Yet how many who have renamed sin by other terms, think they are not sinners, just people that make mistakes. We are all sinners. The Bible tells us this...If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.1 John 1:8 (KJV) But there is One who Jesus sent to help us with the sin problem. “for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:” John 16:7-8 So you may feel the weight of that sin in your everyday life. You are continually attacked by the enemy of your soul, Satan, to give in to the power of sin. What is sin? It is anything that displeases and comes between you and a holy God. The Holy Spirit is continually prodding you to not do certain things. In your heart you know the difference between right and wrong and when you sin, you choose to deliberately disobey and do what you know is wrong. It may be as small as an unkind word, or thought. It may be watching something on TV or a DVD that you know God hates….but you do it anyhow. It may be a problem with sex—adultery or fornication. It may be using chemicals to help you forget the sin in the past….alcohol, drugs, etc. But the moment their affect wears off, the problem is still there.
There is only one way to be free. We are slaves to sin. But Jesus came to set us free. You don’t have to continually live a guilt filled life. If God chooses to forgive you when you come to Him and repent, then you can also forgive yourself. Jesus came to change the sin problem forever. “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20-21 In other words...where there was lots of sin, God’s favor and blessings were even more abundant, all because of the holiness that comes to us through Jesus Christ when we make Him Lord—in charge of it all. It does not just happen because Jesus died. It is up to each individual to accept the blessing for himself or herself. It means we must first repent of our sin, then put Christ in charge of our lives in everything we do. If we love Him, we will do what He says. A key chapter to read in the Bible is Romans 6. Here we learn to be slaves to a new taskmaster. Once we were slaves to sin and death. Now we can be love slaves to God who frees us from the sin that bound us. I love the way the Message Bible puts it here. That means you must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don't give it the time of day. Don't even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time—remember, you've been raised from the dead!—into God's way of doing things. Sin can't tell you how to live. After all, you're not living under that old tyranny any longer. You're living in the freedom of God. (Rom 6:12-14) This gives us something to be truly thankful for. It means you can do whatever GOD wants...instead of what YOU want. You may be thinking, “well, I’m a nice person, and I don’t have a huge sin problem. I’m not addicted to drugs and I don’t steal or hurt people.” Yet the Bible tells us we are all born in sin and the wages sin earns us is death, not just physical death, but spiritual death. Unless we all tell God we are sorry, we will die! “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:4 Sin looks enticing for a moment, but sin has consequences. We must not die in our sin. God provided a way for every person to escape eternal death. “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
The Choice
It is easy to follow the crowd, and do as they do. But inevitably, we all will come personally face to face with eternity. One hundred percent of us will die. What will you do? Is sin in control of your life? You and you alone can change things. You must choose life! Don’t wait until you cannot choose. Choose now to make it right with your Creator. You may say…” Well, I don’t know for sure if there is a God...or I don’t care about God…” But all the while, there is One who cares about YOU! He sent His only Son to die to free you from sin. You could struggle all your life trying to be good and never be good enough. Only God can make you truly ‘good’! But you must choose Him. Life is filled with choices. This is one choice that will truly transform your life and your eternity.
Many are living fear filled lives today, not knowing if they will get the H1N1 flu, or some other pandemic down the road. Some are facing death daily, as they serve their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Others do not know if they will meet their Maker on the highways of life. We do not know what our tomorrow holds. That is why we must make plans now for the future. How many plan for their life here and now—a wedding, a baby, a home, a job—but fail to plan for their life eternal? We get the best education, save our money, try to make good decisions and plan for a happy retirement, but all we do does nothing to prepare us for our eternity. It’s not the nice things we do that will get us into heaven. Its only by His love and grace, and our acceptance of it, that will defeat death and open life eternal to us all.
The thing God calls sin can keep you from heaven! But God has made a way...and you can take full advantage of His free gift! It is available to all! With it comes guilt free living, peace of mine, a certainty about tomorrow and a happiness that overflows into everyday living. You don’t have to be a sinner. Forgiven sinners are saints!
As we face our eternity, let’s get serious about life! Pray this prayer and mean it from your heart today: “God, I know that I have sinned and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me. I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.”
J. Johnson

Monday, October 05, 2009

I meet people everywhere I go who are in a battle. They face every imaginable kind of struggle. Some face a mountain of debt that they don’t know how to destroy. Others have a physical battle with sickness that not only robs them of their health but also their finances and their spiritual stamina. Some are facing the battle of living with an aging body. Others are trying to raise a family for God. It’s not easy, whatever mountain you are facing today.
When I read in Revelations of the different churches and how John received a message for each of the seven churches, I always notice the phrase, ‘He who overcomes...” Each is given a special reward for being an ‘overcomer.’ One gets to eat from the tree of life, while another gets hidden manna, and still another gets power over the nations. One gets a white robe, while another gets to sit with Christ on His throne. There is obviously rewards to those who strive to overcome the difficulties in life and the attacks of the enemy. The question is, how do we accomplish it? Where do we begin?
I like to think of life as a progression, the kind of role that a mountain climber must face in order to reach the top of the mountain. He may begin life as a baby, not even thinking he will ever climb that far distant mountain, yet, in time, it will happen. As we mature, we begin to notice those mountains in our life and as we approach them, we realize that if we are to overcome them we must make some necessary preparations. A climber will gather his climbing gear together, tools necessary for the arduous climb. The believer has tools too. There is the Word of God, your rope, lifeline and guide map. There are fellow climbers who have climbed before us, that “cloud of witnesses” who will cheer us onward and upward. Then there are times of preparation for our physical ascent. We must workout, exercise those weak muscles and prepare for a long tiring trip. In your journey through ministry and life, we need to establish some healthy habits to make the journey a success.

1. Prayer
Nothing happens if we don’t pray. Psalm 127:1 tells us “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” When you face a mountain, you need to pray. There is no other means of communication with God that will guide you safely to the top but prayer. Without talking to God, there is nothing of lasting value that will ever happen. Thinking and working can never replace prayer. Prayer is our battle mode! It continually reminds us that God is in control, not us. He is the one who is guiding and directing each of our steps up the steep grade. It is in the place of prayer that we get our guidance, receive divine encouragement, and keep our focus. In Ephesians, we read about the armor for the believer, but it is the activity of prayer that wins the battle. The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing...and that means prayer should be a constant activity—a way of life. Never, never stop praying!

2. Vision
Where are you going? If you see the mountain as a problem, rather than as an opportunity, you will find yourself bogged down. God allows difficulties in our life to make us stronger and to teach us lessons we can teach to others along the way. Is your vision only of yourself and your problem, or do you see it as a way to help others grow too? Sharing your vision of how to conquer your mountain will inspire faith in others to climb beside you. Get your mountain climbing goggles on! Pull out your binoculars so you can see the goal ahead. Focus on where you are going, not on where you have been. If life seems out of focus for you, let the ‘Doctor’ (Jesus) refocus your sight so that you see as He sees. If your eyes are on the ‘stuff’ of this world around you...look up and see Jesus!

3. Atmosphere
Some live in a fog bank, and can’t see the mountain ahead. They are satisfied with lowland living. Their attitude is often one of criticism and complaining, yet rarely doing anything to lift their vision above the fog around them. Our attitude is reflected in everything we do. Let the wind of the Holy Spirit blow away the fog in your life and lift your spirit so you can see clearly. An atmosphere that glows with the joy of the Lord, builds faith in your heart and in the lives of others around you. Your personal loving warmth will attract others to you who can help you on your climb. Put a smile on your face and give the glory to God and watch how the fog clears.

How do you know where you are going if you don’t know the goal? Heaven is my ultimate goal...and Jesus! But there are other lesser goals along the way. Sometimes when we are weak, we need to choose short range goals we can handle. Other times we can see a lot further down the road, and can see the mountain peak ahead of us and determine to make it all the way to the top. Making a goal gives you something to shoot for. As you work to achieve a goal, you will begin to see progress that you can measure and it will encourage you to keep going. Some people like to write their goal down so they can look back at it later and see the progress and achievements they have made. When you reach your goal, whether it is just through the valley or just to the foot of the mountain, or all the way to the top, give God the glory for helping you all along the way. God dwells in our praises. When something special happens along the way, celebrate it! We keep a miracle file in which we put little markers that testify of what God has done. When our faith is down, we take a look in the file and our faith is lifted to take one more step. Don’t hide the miracles. Tell someone what God is doing!

5. Praise
When is the last time you praised the Lord out loud? Praise to the Lord should naturally fall from your lips. The world thinks nothing of swearing—-believers should think nothing of praising! There is great power in praising. When we daily live a life that is continually praising God, we find that there is a supernatural energy to forge on ahead through whatever comes our way. Praise is the power behind our faith. God loves to hear us praise Him. We were created for that very purpose. God’s power is always readily available to the believer, but when the believer praises God, it is a step of faith the brings the power of God into the midst of our problems. How often do we find ourselves grumbling when we should be praising? Just as your children are encouraged when you praise them as they accomplish a task, so God is encouraged when we deliberately take the time and forethought to praise Him—even before the answer comes. Don’t praise just because you get an answer….praise because you love Him!
D.L. Moody once said: “We don’t thank and praise God half enough! That is one reason why so many of our churches are so dull and gloomy. When churches get into a backslidden state, they hire singers to stand away up in some organ loft and praise God for them. How can we expect God to give us further blessings if we don’t thank Him for what He has given us?? There ought to be more of thanksgiving in our prayers, and there ought to be more of thanksgiving from the heart in our singing. One of the best ways to wake a church up and start a revival is to hold a praise meeting.” Jesus spent time climbing to His mountains….when he faced Satan in the wilderness...when he went up into the mountains alone to pray, on the Mount of Olives as He prayed in agony, and when he climbed that lonely road to Golgotha. If Jesus climbed mountains, we can expect a few as well. There is nothing like a mountain to give us a mountain-peak experience! All of life is not at the top of the mountain. Most of it is climbing one step at a time, keeping our eyes on the Master.
Like the apostle Paul, though we are not perfect, we need to run for the prize...keep our eyes on the goal, remembering that eternity is our home, not this world.
12I have not yet reached my goal, and I am not perfect. But Christ has taken hold of me. So I keep on running and struggling to take hold of the prize. 13My friends, I don't feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. 14I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done. 15All of us who are mature should think in this same way. And if any of you think differently, God will make it clear to you. 16But we must keep going in the direction that we are now headed. …..we are citizens of heaven and are eagerly waiting for our Savior to come from there. Our Lord Jesus Christ 21has power over everything, and he will make these poor bodies of ours like his own glorious body. (Philippians 3:12-16,20-21CEV) So be encourage today as you climb your mountain. You may not have reached your goal yet, but He is with you all along the way. Be an overcomer and climb that mountain! J. Johnson

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

What's In Your Hands?

Have you looked around lately and wondered where you got all this ‘stuff’? I have been doing that this summer. It motivated me to get rid of a lot of my ‘stuff’, and simplify my life. Sometimes we just let the ‘stuff’ of life accumulate in our lives until it overwhelms us and starts to take over all our waking and leisure moments. One look at the basement or the garage, or the storage locker and we should realize something needs to be done. The government wants us to spend, spend, spend….but we have no where to put all the stuff they want us to spend our money on. Thrift stores are over flowing. Our closets are jammed full. So what’s in your hands today? Are they full of the stuff of life’s accumulation? Or are they busy at work for God? Are they hands that give or hands that take?

Family Hands
Families have their hands full! They are holding on to little hands, trying to guide them in the right direction. These can be the busiest years of their life. But sad to say, while they are busy with a flurry of activities, all too often they get so busy, they forget to put their hands to spiritual things. Money is often tight, so they stop tithing, and focus on the needs of the family. Time is of such a short measure that some families begin to neglect church attendance, just to sleep in or to spend time with the kids. While families do these things, they often fail to notice the gradual spiritual decline in their lives while raising the kids. Before they know it, the kids are teenagers, struggling with life’s values, and the impressions we have left on them now take on great importance. Kids will learn the most from what they see their parents do. If spiritual values were your highest priority, then it is more likely that your children will also have high spiritual values and priorities. If you tithe, they are more likely to tithe. If you value church, prayer, Bible reading and God, it is more likely that they will too. But those who let the cares of life deteriorate their values will discover that their children will also let slide those very same values. The lesson here is to start when they are little, and maintain those values. Take the hands of those little ones and guide them to God.
I remember looking at my parents hands when I was little. I often noticed the calluses, the muscles, the evidence of hard work. I also noticed the wedding rings that spoke of their commitment to each other. I watched those hands work hard for our family, and discipline us as children. I watched them give to others and I watched them give praise to God. I loved holding my daddy’s hand. There I knew I was safe and secure. As you hold on to your Heavenly Father, and learn to follow His lead, you will do well in leading your own family to God.

Needy Hands
Are you empty handed? In a down economy, there are a lot of needy hands, even more than usual. Those hands are looking for help. Some need a little extra cash to make it through the month. Some need groceries. Some need a job. Some hands are old and feeble, unable to do the things they used to do. Some hands are young and strong. Need has no age barrier. As we see needy hands around us, we have an obligation to help. Jesus noticed the needy in His world. “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. Luke 12:29-31 If you are needy, you need to seek the ‘kingdom of God’ instead of the normal things you usually worry about, for when you do, God is obligated to keep his promise… “all these ‘things’ shall be added to you. When our priorities are right, we will not ‘need’ in the usual sense. He will meet our needs. He wants us to seek Him, not stuff. This is a profound solution to meet the needs in our world today. Too often we spend so much time anxiously worrying how we will do this or that….when all the time, God is waiting of us to let Him do it. But until we turn it over to Him, He can do nothing. When we do it...we get the glory. When God does it...God is glorified. Jesus also noted that the ‘poor’ will always be with us. There will be some who will never learn those divine principles. They develop a way of life that learns to just take, and they become totally dependent on the givers of the world around them. They need to become ‘new creations’ in Christ Jesus. They need to learn they are children of God. God’s children are well cared for and do not need to beg. But God does discipline His children. He teaches them a work ethic. He expects them to earn so they can give to others.

God’s Hand
What’s in your hand? Is it God’s hand? How often do we walk in fear, forgetting we are part of a vital family...we are God’s children. Our heavenly Father knows our deepest needs, our greatest concern and our unknown future. As a part of His family, I can know for certain that He is holding my hand. The Bible tells us…..Do not fear for I am with you; be not dismayed for I AM your God; I will strengthen and help you as I up-hold you with My righteous right hand ! Isaiah 41:10
There should be nothing in this life we cannot face with the God of all eternity holding us in His righteous right hand. The right hand signifies the position of power. The power that created the universe is now holding the believer who places his trust in God. When God is pleased with us, as we follow Him and love Him, we can rest assured that God is looking out for us, for the Bible again tells us…. If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. Psalm 37:23-24 How often do we think that at the moment we feel like we are falling, stumbling through life, God is watching and acting to keep us from falling. When my children used to hold my hand, I often remember them stumbling over something in the path, but my firm grip on their hand helped them to re-establish their footing, and continue walking without falling down. When we place our hands in His, we can walk with confidence. It is when we get out on our own, taking our hand from His, that we stumble and often fall. It is our pride that causes us to fall. We think “I can handle this…” and the next thing we know we are down….and the Lord reminds us once again….Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 Then we foolishly pray… “Lord, humble me” when in reality, the only one who can humble us is ourselves… for He tells us...Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. James 4:10 The moment we make that choice to humble ourselves before God, God steps in and picks us up. When we realize how helpless we are on our own, that we need Him, everything changes. The shepherd often cared for wayward sheep this way. When they got away from the group, broke a leg, and fell, that’s when the shepherd would step in, pick up the injured lamb and hold it until the leg healed properly. Little lambs cared for in this loving way rarely ever again strayed from the shepherd’s side. That intimate bond of love kept it close.
Are you straying from the shepherd of your soul? Are you doing things your way? Expect a fall! Do you remember times in your life when someone reached out for your hand and you withdrew instead of reaching out to grasp that hand. That kind of action puts a wall of disagreement between individuals. All the while, God has his hand extended out to you. Are you withdrawing or reaching out to grasp it?
There are benefits to holding His hand. His hands can heal us. (Job 5:18) His hands can restore us, when we doubt. Remember Thomas? Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and BEHOLD MY HANDS; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. John 20:27 Thomas got to reach out to the hand that was pierced for you and me. Somehow, I think he never again was a doubter. When I think of all the things that Jesus hands did in His short ministry, breaking the bread to the thousands, touching the leper, beckoning Zacheus from his perch in the tree, taking the hand of the dead damsel and commanding her to rise (Matt. 9:25), lifting Peter from the sinking water (Matt:14:31) laying his hands on the little children to bless them (Matt 19:13)….the list goes on and on. He used His hands for our good. What are we doing with the hands he gave us to use? We are do to with our hands what He did...heal the sick, reach out to the hurting, bless the children and keep our hands busy serving the Lord.

Your Hands
So what’s in your hands, the stuff of this world, or the work of the ministry? When you stand before Him on that final day to give an accounting of your life, what will you hold in your hands? The only thing you can take with you into eternity is the souls you lead to the Savior. If your hands are so filled with the carnal stuff of this world, it’s time you set that stuff down, and reached out once again for His hand. Let Him lead you. Let Him fill your hands with good fruit of righteousness. Let Him show you needy souls around you that need to be fed. You are not too old to serve Him still. You are never to young to take His hand. Unclench that fist and reach out once again, one hand to God and one hand to those around you who need His love. We are His hands and feet. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences. Eph 4:1 TMB
J. Johnson

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Silent Killer

The Silent Killer

We listen to the advise of experts to protect our home and families from things that can harm them, even kill them. One of those deadly silent killers is radon while another is carbon monoxide. Radon, an invisible radioactive gas that seeps into homes through foundation cracks, causes 100 times more deaths than carbon monoxide poisoning, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We learn that there are ways to deal with these two deadly problems. We place detectors in our homes that will alert us to the impending danger. Those detectors have saved many lives while homes without them, have sometimes had fatal consequences. As families have slept, the gases have filled the homes gradually eliminating healthy life giving oxygen with deadly odorless gases, causing the human body to begin to shut down, go into coma and sometimes die from lack of good clean air.
There is a silent killer lurking in many homes and churches across America. Daily it does its task of destroying the plans and purposes of God in the lives of God’s people. Like the deadly gases, radon and carbon monoxide, it seeps into our lives when we least expect it, and begins gradually doing its deadly work. This silent killer begins with a casual remark, a careless word, an undeserved jab or even a thoughtless deed. It results in cracks in our clay vessels that cause our love to leak out and the painful killer to seep in. What is it? Unforgiveness! You may lightly say…”Oh, but that’s not my problem!” Unfortunately, it’s everyone’s problem. In our own personal lives, it colors our view of life. In the church, it affects everyone with whom we rub shoulders. It has been known to destroy marriages and families, as well as dividing churches and ruining ministries. Most pastors have at one time or another heard someone say, “I’ll NEVER forgiven them!” They say they are Christians, but the pain of the deadly silent killer has already tainted their soul. They forget everything they ever learned from the Bible and make the pain of the past more relevant, more significant. They unconsciously choose to never forget, and in doing so, they also never put it behind them.
How To Clear the Air.
Forgiveness clears the air in our spiritual lives. Refusing to forgive invites poison that pollutes our souls. But how can we forgive those who have hurt us in such awful ways. How does a child forgive the incest? How does a woman forgive the date-rape? How does a mother forgive an abusive husband who damages not only her but her children? How does a wounded Christian forgive abuse of another Christian? It is not impossible. Just as you choose to love and trust, you can choose to forgive.
1. Recognize that the anger and frustration you feel comes from a moment of hurt that needs attention. Sometimes we tend to sweep it under the rug and ignore it, hoping it will just all go away in time. Yet the wound continues to fester.
2. Remember that others who may have hurt you are also vulnerable to hurts and may have been hurt in the past. Abusers often were abused themselves. When you see them as victims, it creates compassion rather than hate.
3. Forgive yourself. Perhaps you did something for which you blame yourself, resulting in the problem. We all make choices, some good and some bad. We learn from our mistakes. A baby learns to walk by falling down and getting up again and again.
4. When you can, restore relationships. Some have a habit of ‘snipping’ others out of their lives. Each person who wounds them in any way gets ‘snipped’ from their list. A story was told of a woman who did this all of her life. She began with many friends, but on the day she died, her family expected a large crowd at her funeral, only to be surprised when only the immediate family came to pay their respects. All the old friends of the past knew they had been snipped out of her favor years before. How sad! When we ostracize family and friends, we are expressing our lack of forgiveness. How sad it is to see families where parents and children no longer speak to each other, or churches where whole groups leave because of a lack of forgiveness. Practice reconciliation.
5. Take the Initiative. Be the bigger person and look beyond the faults of others. Don’t let the past keep you in the past. See the future God sees. Let your forgiveness build a bridge over troubled waters. Launch your lifeboat and watch what God will do. Tell your abuser sincerely… “I forgive you….” and watch them bend over backwards to make things right. Guilt will do that. Use your experience to help others be free from the past and the pain.
6. Remember what the Bible teaches! Forgiveness is Biblical. Jesus always practiced forgiveness instead of condemnation. He told the adulteress, “Go and sin no more.” He told the Father “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” One key verse we must lock onto is found in Matthew 6:14-15 14For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. According to this verse, we cannot expect God to forgive us if we fail to forgive others who sin against us. Our eternal destiny depends on our willingness to forgive. Even Paul taught the principal of forgiveness. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Col 3:13) Jesus sets the example for us all. Just imagine how many of us would not make heaven our eternal home if we failed to forgive.
I love the Message Bible version of Psalm 130:3 If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and that's why you're worshiped. Our God chooses deliberately to forgive...and forget. Unlike God, it is difficult for us to forget. While me may not forget, we CAN forgive!
7. Forgive with eternity in view. Life here is not all there is. We are planted on this small blue planet for just a few brief years. In those years, we are given opportunities and choices. We can become better or bitter. We can cut and snip, or glue and paste. We can give Satan a foothold or allow Christ to be the center of it all. Ask yourself these questions: “In eternity, when I stand before the Lord, what will matter the most? Will it be my anger or my forgiveness? How will it affect my eternity?” One person who learned to forgive put it this way: When you haven't forgiven those who've hurt you, you turn your back against your future. When you do forgive, you start walking forward. (T. Perry) Have you stopped in your tracks, paralyzed by the past? Your attitude will affect everything around you. It will cause you to be angry….and your children will be just like you. But the moment you forgive, you break the chains that bind you to the past, and set your steps moving forward again into freedom. God cannot use your potential when it is bound in unforgiveness.
Joseph in the Egyptian jail had every right humanly speaking to be a hateful bitter man. His own brothers had sold him into slavery and deceived his father into thinking he was dead. His employer had him thrown in jail on false charges of rape. His own cell mates forgot all about him after he had helped them. But GOD...had a plan bigger than anything Joseph could have imagined! God’s plan was based in Josephs attitude. He never allowed bitterness to take root. He let God take the lead and God used Joseph for the saving of his family and the nation.
8. Forgive with a Helper. There are many things that the Christian often discovers he cannot do on his own. He needs help. Jesus sent us a Helper. It is the Holy Spirit. He comes along side to speak into our lives, to guide us, to give us boldness, to make us more like Christ. He comes into our lives at salvation, and the moment we receive God’s forgiveness, He is there to help us forgive others. He is the ‘wind’ that blows away the poisonous gases in our spiritual lives. He fills us with His Presence. He points out to us all of our failures so we can let Him help us each day. He convicts us of our sin so we can see His forgiveness. He prods us to reconciliation with God and others. He is the potter who mends our broken vessels, then fills us to overflowing with Himself.. He lifts us above the circumstance, above the past, and gives us a hope and a future. (Jer 29:11)
What about you? Have you forgiven? Are you forgiven? Will you choose to forgive? I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Phil 4:13: . Remember these words...Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Cor 5:17 Put the old ways of unforgiveness and vengeance behind you. God wants to give you a new day. Let it begin right now. Let the Holy Spirit be your ‘unforgiveness detector’. When His warning sounds, take immediate action. Forgive completely and immediately. Make forgiveness your habit and change your world! Let the wind of the Spirit blow away the silent killer of unforgiveness in your life today. J. Johnson

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Pentecostal Power

There are all kinds of power in the world. Some folks are power hungry. They want to be in control. They want others to look up to them. Then there are those who love the power that money gives them. They climb the ladder of success hoping that at the top of the ladder they will find the financial wealth that will position them for life. Some love the power that a title or position brings to them. They want and crave respect. Sometimes the power folks seek after, is knowledge. The more education and knowledge they can attain, the more powerful they feel. For some, sexual achievement is power. For others, dominance and control is power. But for the believer, power originates with God, and unless the believer is 100% yielded to the source of ultimate power that originates in God, he does not know what power is all about.

Power is an awesome thing.
Not everyone can handle the position of power. Many are intimidated by those around them who appear more powerful. They feel weak, without authority, uncertain, indecisive, and anxious. But Christ Jesus never intended that any follower of his feel that way. Too often we forget what we have been given—an awesome gift. It was promised by Jesus long before he ever died and the promise was fulfilled shortly after his resurrection. Gifts can be wonderful things if we know what they are for, how they are to be used and when they are to be put to work on our behalf. If you gave Christopher Columbus a piece of paper that was printed, detailing his flight from England to American on a American Airlines jet, he would have no understanding of what it was or how is was to be used. Yet such a piece of paper could have provided him with a quick flight across the ocean instead of a journey of months. He did not know the power of air flight. All he knew was sailing ships. Knowledge had increased over time. Today, we look back through the pages of history and the Bible to the days of Christ and the disciples, and the gift God gave on the Feast of Pentecost. We have seen the power of Pentecost at work in our world and in days gone by. Yet like Christopher Columbus, many are just as ignorant about the gift given on that momentous day in history. We often tell ourselves that the power of Pentecost is mostly for preachers and evangelists and missionaries. They are the ones who get to experience the miracles, the power, the dynamics of this gift. Let’s look back for a moment to the Bible and see what it tells us.

Who is it for?
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. (John 16:13) Jesus was speaking to the future leaders of the early church. He wanted them to know that the purpose of this Spirit was to teach and guide, and that He would lead them to grasp divine authority. Since the fall of man, in the garden of Eden, authority had been stripped away. But now, this new authority would lead these fledgling Christians into an new walk of spiritual authority, the kind that Jesus used every day. It was not just for those early disciples… but as Joel the prophet said hundred of years before...this gift was for everyone, young and old. 28 “ And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.( Joel 2:28-29)
He gave his followers some very clear instructions. There were to wait for a ‘gift.’ and when that gift arrived, it would change them all, giving them ‘power’....“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised...For John baptized in water, but in a few days you will be BAPTIZED with the HOLY SPIRIT”... you will receive POWER WHEN the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses...” (Acts 1:4-5, 8) And of course like every promise God makes, it came to pass. They knew something outstanding had happened because of the strange thing that happened to them all… When the day of PENTECOST came, they were all together in one place.... All of them were FILLED with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4) Then they remembered what Jesus had told them all just before he ascended to heaven….“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) And so we know that this power is for all believers, young and old, for all nations. Jesus does not have an exclusive company. It is not reserved for the few rich and famous. It is for everyone. The gift is for all.

Where did the power go?
Many churches today seem to be lacking in the power that these early disciples experienced. We often ask ourselves why? As I study the Word of God, I see several key things that the church of today is sadly lacking. While we often seek the power….we fail to seek the power giver. It is a misplaced affection. We want shortcuts. We want instant results. We want numbers, and ministry and respect. But we are lacking in modeling our lives after Jesus. Jesus did not come to promote His will or ideas. He came only to speak the will of the Father who sent Him. He was a humble obedient servant. He had no personal agenda. He only wanted what God wanted. God wanted a sacrifice. We don’t like that word very much. We don’t want to make sacrifices let alone be one. I wrote an article some years ago that spoke of the sacrifice God expects of us. For there to be a fire, there must be wood or fuel. And that fuel must give its all to produce the fire. It has no will of its own. It is just fuel in the hand of the fire tender. If the church is to experience holy fire once again, it needs to re-learn the role of sacrifice. It’s not what the pastor wants, or what the family demands, or what the President decrees that matters. It is where your own heart is in relationship to God. Daily, He wants to find it on the altar. We will never know what could have been if we continue to do things our way….
So often it is a struggle in authority.
We allow ourselves to be intimidated. We let Satan take the lead. We walk in fear. We tremble at His voice. And we have forgotten he is an ‘already defeated’ foe. We have been given the authority he once had. Remember the words you just read a moment ago??? “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore …” We also forget how He gave that authority to his followers….”Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.”( Luke 9:1) If we have that same authority today, why does it not seem to be working? Has God changed? No! We have! We have failed to walk in humility before God. We have failed to know His heart. We are intimate with everything around us that is earthly, but we are not intimate with Him. We listen to all the voices around us, but we fail to listen to His voice alone. When we pursue power, position or results we are out of line. John Bevere describes it this way…. “How would you describe a marriage relationship of a woman whose only ambition was to produce children for her husband? She would only be intimate when it would produce the offspring she wanted; she would have no interest in knowing her husband personally. I know it sounds absurd, yet how different is it from our cry for God to ‘use us to get people saved’ when we ourselves don’t enjoy relationship and fellowship with Him. When we are intimate with God, we will reproduce the way He intends.” God never wanted to be ‘used’ but he does want to be loved. Yes, there is a secret we must learn and that is that integrity and power are linked to a holy intimacy with God. How many have ‘used’ God...called Him Lord, did miracles in His name, even cast out devils, but because they lacked intimacy and integrity, he will tell them, “Depart from me you who practice lawlessness.” (Matt 7:23)

Pentecostal Power...
The power is still there. It is waiting for us. As we first prepare our hearts for humble service, then listen to his voice and move in His direction, we too shall see a demonstration of the power of Pentecost. We can walk in divine expectation of miracles, healings, deliverances. That power will change our services from performances and entertainment to the pursuit of God. It will change our music from carnal rhythmic repetitions to heavenly inspired melodies from the heart. But there are some things we must do. We must recognize the attacks of the enemy and not be intimidated by them. We must stand our ground in the power and authority Christ has given to us by the power of the Holy Spirit. As the disciples experienced Pentecostal Power, they change from timid men, afraid of worldly authorities—to powerhouses for God. As they were filled to overflowing, the boldness oozed from them. They took their stand in God. They knew His authority was greater….for greater things they would do. We also can step forward into that place of intimacy with God, being filled with the Spirit daily, walking in His guidance, moving at His direction, flowing in the gifts, overcoming the attacks of the enemy and putting satan under our feet. You can fear man or devils and walk in defeat or you can stand tall, focused on the One who is your Deliverer. Remember…."God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don't ever quit." ( Tim 4:2 TMB).
J. Johnson

Saturday, June 06, 2009

His Presence...

Do you remember what it was like when you were young and foolish, and dating the person you wanted to marry? You could hardly wait for them to call you and if they did not, you called them, just to hear the sound of their voice...just to talk about the littlest things...just to be near them even when you were on the phone! Love does that to a person. You can’t wait to spend time with them. You sit together. You walk together. You hold hands. You plan all your activities with them in mind. You tend to consider them even before yourself. Your every waking moment, you find yourself thinking about them, wondering what they are thinking about. While some would call it romantic, others would label it pure love.
Just as lovers enjoy each other’s presence, we need to enjoy the awesome presence of the Lord. But so many today are confused as to what His presence is like. Some confuse it with a vibrant worship service with lots of rhythm and tempo. Others think that you can’t have His presence without dim lighting, or the quietness of a mausoleum. Today, many churches try to do ‘makeovers’ of their churches in an attempt to make it more conducive to a feeling of ‘holiness’….or a contemporary feeling. Yet it is not the atmosphere, the building, the surroundings, that brings the presence of God into our midst. We can paint the walls in the most popular colors, or decorate the entryway with flowers and plants. We can provide comfortable seating and beverages for guests. But none of that will attract a person to the house of God like the awesome presence of God.
I have been in churches where they had young girls dancing in flowing skirts, while other women waved shimmering flags, or shook tambourines with streamers. Yet none of that brought the presence of God. If anything, it distracted from Him. People paid more attention to the ‘entertainment around them, than to preparing their own sinful hearts for His presence in their midst. I have been in churches where people shouted until they were hoarse. Others quietly whispered. It is not the volume that makes Him come.
So the question remains, ‘How do we enter His presence?’

Recognize that God is real and desires to be with His people.
God has always enjoyed fellowship with His creation. He loved to walk with Adam in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day….until the day that Adam and Eve chose to sin. Even after man sinned, God still made a way via the system of sacrifices for man to come into His presence. He gave the plan to Moses and designed the tabernacle in the wilderness as the ‘tent of meeting’, where God could meet with man. Later Solomon built a permanent temple for God to dwell in the midst of His people, and on the day of dedication, the glory of God was so great that the priests could not stand in the holy place. Yes, God wants to be with us….but we must prepare our hearts to be in His presence.

Recognize it is the Presence of Sin that Separates us.
Just as sin separated Adam from God in Eden, so today, sin and our refusing to deal with it in an appropriate manner, separates us from Him. The moment man has always acknowledged his sin, God steps into man’s life. All too often we want God on our terms. We want God to bend to our will. We want God to overlook the little ‘mistakes’ the little ‘white lies’ the little compromises that we continually and consistently make a part of our everyday lives. We expect God to change. But we forget what the Bible has always taught us…  “I am the LORD, and I do not change. (Malachi 3:6) It is mankind that must change. It is mankind that must give in and yield those areas that are displeasing to a holy God. Just as the high priest could not enter into the holy of holies with sin in his life, we cannot cohabitate with a holy God today. Yet churches rarely deal with the topic of sin. In fact, in many churches today, you will find people who call themselves devout believers, yet they participate in adultery and fornication, (sex with another person to whom you are not married), they tell lies, they get drunk, they break the laws of the land, they steal from employers, they fight and abuse others, all the while pretending to be ‘good Christians.’ Sinfulness cannot enter the presence of a holy God.

It is repentance that brings us into His presence!
The one prayer God is waiting to hear from all mankind is “Lord, forgive me. I am a sinner in need of a Savior.” Every great revival than has been significant in history has been marked by a sweeping spirit of repentance. Have we conveniently forgotten what God required of sinners in the past? "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14 Yes, revival always begins in a changed heart, a heart that humbly admits it’s sin and it’s desire to change. Repentance is changing direction...a full 180 degrees...and refusing to go back to the old ways. Just as God’s presence came to the tabernacle in the wilderness when the people obeyed God,...God will do the same today. But we must also remember that when sin remains, God also chooses to remove His presence as he did during the days of the prophets. What sin do we need to repent of personally…..corporately….as a church and as a nation? The list is long…… The early church in Ephesus was also warned about it’s need for repentance. "But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; REPENT, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent." Revelation 2:4-5

Holiness is God’s Standard.
God is holy by his nature. He has always been holy. He never changes. His desire for man is that man also be holy. It is unfortunate that today we have such a ‘social gospel’ being preached. Christians tend to follow like sheep those who lead them and if the leadership is unholy, we can’t expect much more for the sheep. We read in the Bible, "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.' " (1 Peter 1:15-16) People today think it is impossible to be holy. But God would never have told us to be holy if it were not possible. When we rest in Him, when we obey Him, when we dwell in His Word, we can become holy. It is often said of couples who are wed for many years, that they begin to mirror each other. They develop the same habits, tastes, and even looks. It is due to the time spent together. When we spend time with God, we will develop his nature and reflect His image and likeness. When the enemy of your soul whispers in your ear….”You can’t do it….” you need to shout back in his ear… “Yes I can and I already did...I am a new creation in Christ...old things are gone and the new has come.” When we dwell daily in Christ, we develop those new habits, like praying at all hours of the day to our wonderful friend, and choosing and longing to be with Him, in the Word (His love letter to us) and in prayer (His intimate fellowship with us). Like young lovers, nothing should be able to draw us from His presence….not a sensual movie...not the smell of alcohol….not the enticement of carnal pleasure...nothing should take us away from our intimate relationship with Him. Jesus prayed for us in the garden in John 14. He prayed that we be one with the Father as He was one with the Father. This speaks of a beautiful unity, a harmony, a fellowship that man lost the moment sin entered the world. Jesus wanted to restore it. We can be restored. We can know what intimacy with God means. We can walk in holiness. We must repent. We must change direction. We must want to be different than the world around us.
This Sunday as you go to church, prepare your heart for His presence. Begin your day with repentance. Enter the house of God with expectancy in your heart. Look to God for the answers, not to the pastor. Don’t allow a bit of criticalness to rob you of His presence. Turn your heart heavenward. Get to church early and spend time in prayer. Surprise your pastor! Surprise God! A church that knows how to pray can turn a city upside down for God. Ask someone else to join you at church an hour early to pray. Let your pastor know you are coming early so the church will be open and waiting for praying saints. You will encourage your pastor more than you know. You will be encouraged yourself as you spend quality time with God. Get used to His presence….but never take it for granted.
God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I'm an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I'm never out of your sight. You know everything I'm going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you're there, then up ahead and you're there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful— I can't take it all in! Psalm 139:1 (TMB)
Take a moment today to come before the Lord, and experience His presence. You will never be the same again!
J. Johnson

Prayer Request: Please keep the Johnson's in prayer as they move on to new challenges in ministry, and seek God's direction. Your continued support and prayer is needed more than ever. God bless you all.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Pleasing God

It doesn’t seem to come naturally to human beings...we all want to do what we want to do. We don’t like to consult first with others. We make excuses that ‘it’s the American way….!’ I remember the old TV commercial that said…”Mother...I’d rather do it myself.” We pride ourselves in our accomplishments and our self sufficiency. And all too often, we find ourselves trying to do things our way, only to end up in frustration and failure. We want to please God, but too often we want to please ourselves and others first.
The Apostle Paul struggled with this too. It is an age old problem. 15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. (Romans 7:15) We all want to do it right! But we often fail….yielding to the carnal and sinful flesh. We want to be pleasing to God, but we continually struggle, day after day. It sometimes seems like everyone around us is doing just fine...but we falter. What is it that makes the difference?

1. Recognize that you sin. You are not alone in this. Sin is a problem common to the entire human race. We were born in sin. Sin is not unique to just you. It is a problem that each person must confront and deal with in the way God prescribes. Too often we don’t talk about sin. Pastors today in ‘sensitive’ churches, tend to paint a rosy picture of life, filled with people who just make ‘mistakes’. God calls it sin! Sin is a big problem that will hinder your spiritual life and prevent you from entering the presence of a holy God. Each man, woman, boy or girl must come to grips with the sin habit. Those who fail to deal with their sin will never enter His holy presence.

2. Overcomers are rewarded. God provides incentives. He rewards us with so much when we decide to please Him instead of ourselves. “What rewards?” you may ask. The Bible is filled with the rewards that await those who choose to please Him….heaven, (John 14:1-4) help (John 14:15-17) love (John 14:23) fruitfulness (John 15:5) joy (John 15:11) and all the promises of God.

3. Live your life as if God were standing by your side. There are Bible heroes who were noted as being men and women who pleased God . First of all we think of Enoch. He pleased God so much, that the Bible tells us ‘God took him’ (Hebrews 11:5). What was it about Enoch that pleased God? It was his faith...that resulted in actions...And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Heb 11:6) It takes faith to serve God diligently, believing in His existence so that it affects every waking moment of your life...causing you to seek Him daily.
King David, although he sinned, he was also a man who sought God. Whenever David sought God for the problems he faced, God blessed his kingdom. But the moment David started doing things on his own, (counting the troops), he trusted in his own ability instead of God’s ability. That’s when failure came. That’s when sin conquered. He learned from his failure and spoke wisely from that lesson….I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. 1 Chron 29:17. It is getting harder to find people of integrity… people who will do the right thing, even when no one is watching….people who go the extra mile, people who refuse to bow to the carnal culture around them. But those kind are God pleasers!
Solomon started out well., for in 1 Kings 3:9-10 we read Solomon’s request. 9 Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom.
If that were you, and God asked you what you wanted in life, how would you do? Most folks would ask for money or lands or tangible things...but Solomon wisely asked for the understanding heart. That pleased God! While God rewarded him with wisdom and wealth, Solomon later failed because he forgot to continually seek God.

4. Love the Lord with all Your Heart. We know this is one of the two great commandments that Jesus spoke of. Yet to make it personal and do it daily is a daunting task. The Psalmist said…’the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.’ (Psalm 147:11) People have their hopes in so many things today. Some hope the stock market will rise. Others hope to find a kettle of gold at the end of the rainbow, via the lottery. Some hope for a great successful career. Others hope to meet that special someone who will solve all their problems in life and put stars in their eyes. Loving the Lord does not mean you can’t have nice things, or be successful. It does mean that you put Him first in everything. When we do, He promises that all the other things we long for will also be satisfied. He is the source of our fulfillment. He is the hope and joy and love of the believer. When we love Him the way He wants us to, everything else just falls into place. How many young couples have married, thinking that their partner will bring them happiness, only to discover shortly thereafter, that they married a sinful human being, just like themselves. They divorce, trying to find that perfect someone, only being disappointed again and again. That’s what happens when our hearts look to mankind to make us happy when God designed us with an emptiness that only He can fill. If you are struggling in your relationship today, start loving Him again, and then begin to treat your loved ones as if they were Jesus...loving them unconditionally, serving them with gladness of heart. A Christ-centered heart is a happy heart, and pleases God and man. In fact you do more than please delight Him!

5. Make Humility the Norm. There is nothing more obnoxious than being around someone who is arrogant. It’s like living with a skunk. You can’t wait to make an exit. (Psalm 51:16-17) ‘You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.’ God is consistent...although He asked for sacrifices...He did not delight in them. What gets God excited is a broken and contrite humble heart….one willing to admit their sin, willing to come to God when the going gets tough...willing to listen and obey. Lots of folk go through the all the right things...give to the right causes… but they look for the glory...they want the attention. God looks for those who seek no glory and honor.
So are you pleasing God? It’s not an easy assignment. But the more you do it, the easier it gets. It comes real easy when you fall in love with Jesus all over again. Look at what He has done for you! Remember what He has saved you from!
I have always endeavored to please God with my life. It has been an interesting journey. Each day is a new experience in pleasing Him. As I daily get to know Him more, I discover new secrets of who He is. That’s the way it is when you are in love. Each day is a new adventure...seeking to know Him more...spending time in His presence...listening to His still small voice...and then walking throughout the day in obedience.—no matter what others think.
If you are reading this today and the heavens seem like nobody is listening….start by searching your heart. Repent of anything that has come between you and His awesome presence. Clean the slate. Start fresh. Then begin loving Him. Tell Him how much you love Him….instead of what you need. Open your heart to Him. Imagine yourself entering His throne room, as He beckons you to come closer. Bow in His presence and get real with Him. No more pretend. No more lies. Nothing between! You are His delight!
It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,”
Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”;
But you will be called, “My delight is in her,”
And your land, “Married”;
For the LORD delights in you…
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So your God will rejoice over you.
Isaiah 62:4-5
Take some time today to be in His presence...and bring Him pleasure.
J. Johnson

Friday, April 03, 2009

Are You...Out of Control???

There is no doubt that our financial world is totally out of control. As the government tries to get a grasp on the situation, it is struggling to return a sense of confidence into the banking system and into the mind of borrowers and lenders. But while this problem hangs over our world like a big black cloud, there are other areas of our world that are ‘out of control’, and that lack of control influences our tomorrows. In the Old Testament, Moses was given the awesome task of taking the reins over a ‘nation’ that was to become the central core of both Judaism and Christianity. He had on his hands a group of people who had lived in the middle of a pagan culture for 400 years. Doing so had certainly influenced their culture, their traditions, their morals, and their faith. They had been under the ‘control’ of the rules imposed by the Pharaohs, but now, they had no rules at all. As a result, one of the first orders of business on God’s calendar was to impose upon them a list of rules for them to follow. We know them today as the ten commandments. Those rules brought a sense of order into the wilderness camp. Leadership could now determine what was right or wrong. Judgment could be made based on those rules. What was out of control could be controlled.
Today, many folks tend to ignore the rules or they make new ones to suit their own whims. That has resulted in the global financial crisis, the severe decline in Biblical morality, the decline in marital fidelity, the rise of humanism, materialism, and the moral corruption in churches of all denominations. The sad thing is, the more we humans try to ‘control’ our lives, the more we get ‘out of control.’ The more we think, “I can handle this…” the more we discover—we can’t. So what areas of your life are out of control? What are you doing to change things? There is a key that God wants every out of control person to discover, that will bring your out of control world back into a sense of order and peace.
God never meant for us to ‘handle it all.” "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.'' (Matt 11:28-30) He paints us a picture here of people who serve their master as a slave, under bondage to a ‘yoke’ which controls their lives, decisions, movements and freedoms. The picture is of two oxen, harnessed together by a heavy wooden bar, a yoke, together pulling a plow in a field. It is a heavy burdensome weight. Instead God has designed for us to willingly choose to take His ‘yoke’… a new relationship, one that does not cause us to be burdened, yet maintains a sense of control for us when we cannot control things ourselves. He promises us that His way is ‘easy’ and ‘light.’
Yet all around us, we see both inside the church and outside of it, people grasping for control. Much of the problem is based on man’s neglect of the basics. Paul warned the early church, “ But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5) These kind of people are ‘out of control’! There was a time when we used this ‘list’ to describe folks outside the church doors, but today, unfortunately, it applies both inside and outside of the church. When our love for what we want precludes our desire to please God, the church is in trouble. What are some of the selfish choices you have made lately when it comes to God and church? Perhaps you have failed to give to God a portion of your income, because you needed that little extra for a vacation, or a new boat. You are a lover of money. Perhaps you decided to sleep in a little longer on Sundays, because you “deserve a break today…” and you now have fallen into a habit of missing church and Christian fellowship. You are a lover of pleasure more than a lover of God. Perhaps you decided you would not forgive that person who hurt you so badly, ‘because they deserve my anger.’ You are unforgiving. Perhaps you have fallen into immorality by choosing to move in with a friend of the opposite sex, ‘to save a little money.’ You are lacking self control and are unholy. Perhaps you are angry at the pastor because in counsel, he told you the Biblical truth, but you were unwilling to face it and deal with it. You are headstrong and proud. Perhaps you go to church, go through all the motions, perhaps even teach a class or serve on the board, but you never let on to anyone that you have a powerless faith. You have a form of godliness, but deny the power.

The Key to Real Control
There is an answer to all the problems we face. First of all, it is putting Christ first place in your life. He must be Lord...the one in charge! Most of our ‘out of control’ issues begin when we put ourselves in charge, when we fail to yield and try to do things our own way instead. When we do things our way, we put our lives within reach of satan’s grasp and control. We reject God’s controls. Rejecting God’s ways is our mistake. Faith means trusting God in all areas of our lives….even when life seems out of control. God allows difficulties, not to harm us, but to teach us. Have you asked yourself lately, “What am I supposed to learn from this God?”
Once we put God in control of it all, then we must seek Him daily for guidance in every situation. We do this by reading His love letter to us, the Bible, and by spending time in prayer, talking to God and listening for Him speaking to us. His words to us will never contradict the Bible. Then it takes obedience….following the guidance… staying between the lines. This is where many fail. Rebellion sets in. We are a stubborn lot. We must have our own way. It’s one thing to listen, and another altogether to obey. But if we are to wear His ‘yoke’ we must go His way, or remove ourselves from the yoke to do our own thing. Then we pay the price with an ‘out of control’ world, and our ‘yoke’ becomes in partnership with satan, who puts on us a heavy load as we become his slaves. Our only hope is living with the ‘yoke’ where the burden is partnership with Jesus Christ.
The next part of the key is our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Every believer experiences the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. For He is the One who convicted us of our sins in the first place. He continues to teach us and help us grow in God. He is an encourager, and we certainly do need lots of that! But there is even more for the believer. Order comes when the man or woman of God decides to yield control to the Holy Spirit. You have all of the Spirit….now He wants all of you. Yielding control means giving Him all! It means moment by moment giving Him the right to speak through us to others, the right to direct our footsteps. In turn, we reap a huge benefit. We are free from control—-for He is the One in control. The portfolio of a genuine Christian who has put the Holy Spirit in control of all areas of his life should reflect this list: “add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ( 2 Peter 1:5-8) The ‘self control’ referred to in this verse is really a God-control that you have chosen by your own will and it results in spiritual fruitfulness.
If it is your home or marriage that is out of control, put Christ and the Holy Spirit in charge. Yield to Him. Give Him your spouse, your wayward teen, your violent temper, your mouth that speaks ungodly words. Repent of your past then start by speaking His Words. Encourage those around you with the kind of things Jesus Himself would say. Listen to your mouth. Are the words you speak pleasing to God? Encouraging to others? Helpful and life changing? Jesus words to the sinners He encountered were never condemning. “"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:17) “' And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.'' (John 8:11) Let’s learn from His example.
There is an increasing number of people who love to control others. In reality the only one you can control is you. Jesus addresses the control freaks of the world when he said…. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck in your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7: 3-5) If the world around you seems out of control, if you find yourself bitter, critical, demanding and unhappy, there is a chance you might be a controller. The key for you is to yield control of your own life to the One who made you. Stop trying to change others and let God do it. Only He can change others.
If your life is out of control, then put yourself in the controlling hands of God. There is no better place. When you are in His hands, you will be ‘out-of-control’ but in a good way. He will help you with your finances and spending habits, your drug abuse issues, your emotions, your greed, your selfishness, your relationships, your sexual issues, and most of all, your daily spiritual walk. Like the author of the book by Lisa Bevere, I am “out of control….and loving it!”
J. Johnson

Sunday, March 15, 2009

We Need Living Water!

Have you ever had a drink of water from a deep well on a hot summer day? The water is usually cold and refreshing. It seems like you just can’t get enough! You want to pour it down your parched throat...dump it on your head… and keep on doing it until you are thoroughly satisfied. I grew up on a small farmette that had a well. I remember that water. I also remember other wells along the way. Some had fallen into disuse. When the water was to be used for drinking, it had to be tested. Sometimes it had to be shocked with chlorine to kill bacteria. Some wells produced insufficient water for the demand and had to be re-drilled at greater depth and with a larger pipe.

Living Water and the Feasts
In Jesus day, the Jewish people celebrated their final festival of the Jewish year, Succoth or Tabernacles, for seven days. A very important part of the celebration included water. It could not be just any water. It had to be ‘living’ water. Living water was not water that was standing in contaminated puddles. It was not salty or brackish. It was pure and clean water, springing from underground streams and rivers, flowing into lakes and ‘cisterns’ for safe use. Israel is an arid land. Rainfall for the year is very low. But when it rained, the people learned to gather that rainwater and make use of it throughout the year. They would store it in huge underground ‘cisterns’ often as large as a house. One of those large cisterns is located in the Garden of Gethsemane. Another is near the top of Masada. From those cisterns they would draw water for their needs. On Succoth, each day, a pitcher of water would be mixed with wine and poured out as a thanksgiving offering to the Lord who had provided His people with a bountiful harvest. That water used in this special festival had to be drawn from a well of living water. The high priest would make it a parade as he went to the pool of Siloam through the south gate also call the ‘Water gate’ of the city...filling his golden vessel brimming with clean, clear, cold water for use in the special offering. The procession would wave a bouquet of palm, willow, and myrtle branches, while they sang Psalms 113-118. While they sang, musicians would play their reed flutes and blast their rams horn trumpets. Upon their return to the altar, they would circle the altar seven times and then pour out the water into a double channel on the south side of the altar… water into the western half and wine into the eastern half.
It was a time of jubilation and happiness. This water spoke of several things. It reminded them that God was their source of rain and provision. It also spoke to them of the Holy Spirit. ``For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground:  I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.'' Isaiah 44:3 and also in Joel 2:28-29 “"And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
Ezekiel 47:1-12 also describes a healing river that will flow out from beneath the prophesied future temple where the Messiah would reign.
This water speaks to us spiritually as well. It speaks to us of life and health, of provision in drought, of the ever presence of the Lord in our midst...always there when we need Him. His holiness is reflected in the purity of the water. Are you spiritually thirsty today? Draw from His ever-flowing well of living water! It is cool and refreshing. It satisfies the soul. Remember the promise Jesus made to the Samaritan woman at the well…? He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38

Restoring Priorities...
Many of our wells are stagnant… and in a sad condition. Instead of relying on the living water provided by God, we have all too often learned to rely on what we can do, our own human resources, our effort to try and fix the problem. When we are emotionally drained, we call the pastor or the psychologist...and when we are ill, our first call is to the doctor or pharmacist. When the church suffers loss, we go to the church growth seminars and read books by famous authors who shine with success. In all our seeking, we often neglect the true source of living water….the Lord Jesus Christ. Our first call should be here! We end up like Israel in Jeremiah’s day….“ For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) When we do things our own way, pushing our own agenda, we are digging broken cisterns...wells that can hold no water. Has America forsaken God and been so busy digging wells to satisfy it’s greed that it has forgotten who it is that sends the rain that fills those cisterns? Are we caught up in our pleasures and our worldly affairs, forgetting to honor the One who provides for us in times of drought? Where has the servant heart gone? Where is the one willing to go the extra mile, ready to give away the extra coat and the last cup of meal. As times get tougher and tougher, the children of God need to learn more and more to do things God’s in their time of need, generous with all He provides, trusting that He will provide even more. Certainly it takes faith—-but isn’t that what our God wants of us? The just shall live by faith—-not by what we hoard! Faith keeps the barrel of meal full during the famine. Faith leads the righteous to provision and safety. Faith moves us to obediently dipping in the river seven times to receive our healing. Faith means believing God! “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)
I have stood by rivers of all kinds. Some were muddy and polluted. Some you could see clearly to the bottom. What kind of river would flow out of you? What is in your heart is what will flow out of you. Sometimes I wish I could record and play back, what I hear coming out of the mouths of believers. They say they are Christians, but what comes out of their mouth is muddy and polluted. I would not want to drink of the water that flows from within them. They spew out anger and hatred and prejudice and abuse. Many have come from homes that flowed with rivers of dysfunctional pollution. But when a person surrenders his polluted heart to the Lord, He makes it a new creation...a river of life. For some it takes time for the flow to change completely...but it must change!

Spiritual Health
Another beautiful benefit of living water is it’s healing quality. Do you need healing today? Be filled to over-flowing with the living water of the Holy Spirit. Many springs of water around the country are known for their healing qualities, filled with nutrients that benefit the physical. But the living water of God is far superior to any earthly spring. It is filled with the life-giving vitality that never dies. It is a continual flowing of vivacious exuberance of the very Spirit of God. That is why when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well about it, he described it as.. “whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14) So often we cling to this carnal life as if it were going to last forever. We want to forget that one day, we will all die. If we fail to prepare for our eternity, we are like the woman at the well, expecting ordinary water to satisfy, when in reality, we need His living water to cleanse us, and heal us on the inside and prepare us for our eternal home in heaven. We need the kind of thirst Jesus was talking about here...a spiritual thirst. When you are spiritually thirsty, you long for a spiritually satisfying drink of Him...the One who is the Living Water! Nothing else will end the thirst. And once you taste of Him, you will want nothing else.
While the churches crumble into dust from the dryness within, the answer to their problem is waiting for them to come to Him and ask for a draft of ‘living water’ of a well that never runs dry. While many search for happiness and fulfillment in keeping busy doing ‘Christian’ things, they fail to spend time drinking at the ‘Well’. They are too busy drawing water from wells that do not satisfy…! I thought it was interesting in John’s story of the Samaritan woman at the well, that when she discovered the living water...she left her water pot behind and ran to tell others about the man with the Living Water. Are we ready to turn our backs on doing things our way? Are we ready to come face to face with Christ, with sin in our lives? Are we thirsty for something that will satisfy? Are our vessels empty? If Jesus came to your ‘well’ where you try to fill your life with temporary happiness, would you acknowledge Him, talk to Him, and do as He advises? Would you drink for a moment...or a lifetime? Would you go and tell others? He is already there...waiting for you!
Remember this...It is not only important what you drink, but what flows out of you. Jesus promised that living water would flow out of the person who drank from the living water. What comes out of your ‘vessel?’ What are you giving to your family, your church, your co-workers, your neighbors? Is it Living Water? Are you having an impact on them? Living water changes everything around it! You should be like a tree planted by the Psalm 1:3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. We are speaking of spiritual prosperity and vitality that comes from living water!
Are you thirsty today? Longing for a drink? Come to the well that never runs dry! He is waiting there for you with Living Water!
J. Johnson