Thursday, September 08, 2011

Come Holy Spirit !

In the Old Testament, the general population did not know much about the Holy Spirit. They knew about God, and they knew about the promised Messiah, but the Holy Spirit played a role that caused Him to hardly be noticed. His role was to come upon certain individuals, or circumstances at God’s direction to perform a miracle. He had an important role in creation. The Spirit guided Moses in leading the people though the wilderness. Numbers 11:17 I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take some of the power of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them. They will share the burden of the people with you so that you will not have to carry it alone. The Spirit came upon Gideon to destroy the enemy. Judges 6:34 Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet,….. 7:22 When the three hundred trumpets sounded, the LORD caused the men throughout the camp to turn on each other with their swords. The Spirit came upon Saul as he was anointed to be King  by Samuel. I Samuel 10:6 The Spirit of the LORD will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you. The Holy Spirit just came upon them for a moment for a temporary anointing. We know this because of the continual failures of men like Saul who eventually lost his favor and position because of his failings. We would all love to have a prophecy spoken over us as Saul had—to be a different person….to be able to do what every our hand finds to do and have God with us.  The key here was to remain that ‘different person’—one under the holy influence of the Spirit.
In the New Testament, things began to change. At the coming of the ministry of Jesus, the Holy Spirit came upon Him at the river Jordon as John baptized Him. John 1:32 Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. From that point forward, Jesus began to teach them about the Holy Spirit.  John 6:63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. The 14th chapter of  John is full of teaching on the Holy Spirit. John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:17  the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. For the first time here in Jesus teachings we see a changing role for the Holy Spirit. He had been ‘with them’ but now He will be “in them”. This speaks of a holy intimacy much like Adam and Eve knew with the Father before the fall. A Holy Spirit would soon live inside of any believer who was willing to let Him guide their life.  He would be a teacher, an   advocate, a helper, a guide, reminding the disciples of every word Jesus had spoken.  When Jesus left them, they would not be alone. The Spirit would indwell them. With the presence of the Spirit in their daily lives, life would never again be the same. Like Saul, they would be ‘different people’. The Bible even calls believers  a ‘peculiar people’. As you read through the book of Acts you see miracle after miracle in the daily lives of the early church. Yes, they suffered persecution, death, and hardships of every kind, but the miracles flowed freely. When the people of God see the miracles of God, nothing else seems to matter. Miracles confirm the literal presence of God in the lives of ordinary people. As miracles flowed, the churches increased in number. When a fire burns, people come to watch it. They learned the importance of allowing the Holy Spirit freedom to guide both them and their activities. There is nothing more beautiful than to have the power of the Holy Spirit flowing freely in church services and in the everyday lives of believers. Come Holy Spirit!
Today, there is a vacuum in many churches. Just as the time in the Old Testament when the Spirit and glory of God lifted from the temple, He, the Spirit has been wounded by the frivolity and careless attitude towards the holy and the divine. I was thrilled to listen to a radio broadcast the other day, in which the guest speaker challenged the churches. He said we have done our youth a disservice by dragging video games and entertainment into the church instead of feeding them on the powerful Word of God. In school they can learn calculus, and trigonometry, but in the church we dumb them down and instead of teaching the powerful truths of Ephesians or James, we entertain them in the hope of keeping them in the church. As they mature, they leave. They leave the church, and they leave the faith in which their parents raised them. They declare themselves to be agnostics and atheists. How did this happen to a generation? They had questions of faith, but no one took the time, the energy, the prayer to give them the answers they needed. They don’t need more entertainment. They don’t need more video games. They don’t even need more fellowship. They need God. They need the power of the Holy Spirit filling their lives, leading and guiding and teaching them as the Word comes to life. I am calling all grounded believing adults, to build a bridge with some person in the younger generation, talk with them (don’t preach) about spiritual values. As them questions like “ How is your spiritual life today?” Let them talk. Let them know you care. Let the Spirit guide your lips and change a generation one person at a time. As a spiritual mentor, you will need an extraordinary relationship with God. Come Holy Spirit!
We in America are such controllers. We want to have everything just right. Usually that is our pride showing. When we step up and try to do what we think is the right thing, we often discover we have failed to ask God what He wants. Both Abraham and David failed God miserably when they failed to seek God first before attempting to do anything. Abraham listened to people and ended up with Ishmael and Hagar. David failed to go off to war and ended up in bed with Bathsheba, and an unwanted pregnancy. Problems fill our lives when we listen to man or to self instead of seeking God. Henry Blackaby states “Why are Christian leaders burning out from overwork and exhaustion? Is God responsible? No. When people become overwhelmed by the commitments and responsibilities, they are operating on their own agenda.” There will always be more things to do. There will always be people telling you how and when to do them. But Jesus set the perfect example—He got up early to pray and seek the Father’s will. Maintaining that intimacy was mandatory. It should be no different for us all. Take time to invite the Holy Spirit into your day, to guide you and lead you and show you when to say “no” and when to do what demands your time and energy. The Holy Spirit will always be there to help you through each and every challenge. He is in you—now let Him flow out through you! Come Holy Spirit!
We all face challenges in our lifetimes. Sometimes it is the loss of a loved one, or a financial set back, the loss of a job, breaks in family relationships, unexpected illness, or even the pain from church conflict. No matter what the challenge you are facing today, God is able to see you through. There is no mountain too tall, no valley so deep, that He is not there. As I personally face my own challenge this month, having surgery, and not knowing the end result, I have a deep settled peace in my heart that only the Holy Spirit can give. We don’t know what our tomorrows hold, but we can trust the One who holds us in the palm of His hands, who fills us with His Presence and helps us look to the future with hope. Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!       (Romans 15:7 TMB) We don’t know how God will meet our needs, but we know that He is the God who can, the God of the impossible, the One who sees the future, and the One who has a plan we can trust. We just need Him! Come Holy Spirit!
The moment you gave your life to Jesus, the Holy Spirit came into your life. You have all of Him you will ever get. He is a person and you do not get to enjoy little pieces of have ALL of Him.  Now He wants ALL of YOU. He fills you to overflowing when you yield yourself fully to Him. Let Him use you as He desires. Walk daily in the Spirit. Listen to His voice. Learn from His guidance. But it is all up to you to allow Him to flow out freely. Don’t seek the guidance of man and then ask for God to bless it. Go to the top and ask the Spirit to guide you first. You will discover a blessed way of serving God. Make this your daily prayer:
Father, I yield all that I am to you today, that the Spirit may flow freely in my life. Lead me and guide me by your Spirit to those who need your touch. I give you all my tomorrows, and work through me today. Come Holy Spirit!
J. Johnson
Praise reports and prayer requests…..
Pray for revival!  Pray for those who are struggling with forgiveness,  anger and doubt.
Pray for the Johnsons as they seek a new place of full time ministry...a church that needs strong leadership. Pray for grieving families who have lost loved ones....(L Gardner family, Elizabeth Hawes-Schulz family) Pray for Evangelists, Missionaries, and Teachers. . Pray for US Army Chaplain Steve Maglio.
Pray for those needing a healing touch in their bodies:) Jeanne Deike (cancer-stage 4)  Dave Barth (cancer),  Joyce Johnson (surgery for hysterectomy Sept 14th) Pray for those dealing with chaos, anger, abuse, temptations and carnal sinful habits.  Pray for the nation, for the President, for our service men and women, for Israel, for Christians in Muslim countries, for the unsaved,  and don’t forget to Praise and thank  the Lord! Come Holy Spirit

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Empty Nets ?

  Years ago, I lived in Newfoundland and made my home in the house of a local fisherman and his wife. I was teaching school. During the warm season, I watched them go out in their small fishing boat to catch cod, and later lobster. Sometimes they got a good catch and sometimes the catch was poor. Regardless, each time they returned home, they checked their nets. Some were damaged by debris in the ocean. Others were torn from lobsters or crabs or sometimes they were gummed up with seaweed. They needed repairs. The Jenkins men, would sit on the wharf, checking and mending their nets. They were a lot like the fishermen of Jesus day.

Luke 5:1-11 1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. 2 He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

  This was a real stretch for bone weary fishermen! They had worked all night long. Now they had given up and were cleaning and mending their nets. They were done in. Now along comes this teacher—this land lubber—telling them to go out into deeper water and let down their newly cleaned nets. Fishermen were a tough lot. They worked hard for their living. Fishing information was shared between fellow fishermen. But here was something different.  It demanded respect and attention. So Peter says… “because you say so, I will let down the nets.” That took a step of faith. It demanded effort and action. The result was an immense catch of fish, so many that both boats had all they could do the haul in  the catch. 6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. Simon Peter immediately recognized something supernatural had just happened. This was no ordinary end of the day fishing catch. He knew God was here….for in the presence of God, we suddenly see ourselves...sinners, needing a Savior. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” But Jesus had other plans. As hard as these men worked for fish, He wanted them working for the souls of men. He did not want quitters. He wanted those who would keep on working, even when the going got tough. He wanted men who would listen to his commands. He wanted men who were simple enough to recognize the divine. Sometimes it is a good thing to catch someone when they are at the end of their rope, when it is time to throw down the nets in frustration, and look for a glimmer of hope somewhere else. The old ways of doing things were not working. Night fishing was a popular way to catch fish...but it was not working. The fishermen would hold a basket of fire suspended out over the water and the light would attract the fish...but now, no fish were to be found—until Jesus came by.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.  He immediate challenges their fears, and gives them a new purpose in for people. They left behind the only work they knew. They were launched on a new venture—following the One who promised a new kind of catch—men! They left the massive catch of fish, the nets, the boats, the family and the old way of living. To find out what He meant, they had to follow Him. Today, Jesus still is inviting us to follow Him. It will mean change, sacrifice, learning new things, and lots of questions. Simon Peter was launched on a new mission...mankind.

  The story does not end there. After the resurrection of Jesus, the angel told the disciples to go to Galilee...back to the old stomping grounds. What did they do when they got there? They went fishing again. But then, someone on shore asked them about their catch...and again they had caught nothing. Their nets were empty and their arms ached. And again some unsolicited advice…6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” (John 21:6) and again a divine moment comes to these weary men. When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” It was a “deja-vous” moment for Peter. Three years before, Jesus and Peter had had such a moment. Then he had commissioned him to follow Him and catch men. Now, Jesus has a new mission...feed sheep—feed lambs—take care of the sheep.  No more empty nets!

  Where are you on your spiritual journey—at the beginning, or years into the walk with Jesus. Are your nets empty? You struggle in your walk, you do what you know how to do, but you continue to come up empty.  Get on God’s agenda. Do what Peter and John did...listen to the Master and obey His commands. Man’s way results in empty nets. God’s way fills them to overflowing. Don’t be so busy counting the catch that you forget to continue the mission. Too often we tend to glory in the moment, wondering if we had anything to do with it. Let me assure you, we did not. When we look around us, do we see new converts? If there are a rare few converts, is anyone discipling them? Most new attendees come from other churches...and they have come looking for more than they had at their previous church. The more they need is not more entertainment, more friends, or more programs to busy their lives. They need more of God in their lives. They are looking for the presence of God in our services. They long for real revival, the kind that changes pastors, parishioners and whole communities. Too often they come but find once again ‘empty nets’...people going through the motions of fishing, but finding none.

  What was Jesus answer to the problem of empty nets? He commanded them to do the go beyond the comfortable, to not give up, but to listen to the One who knew how to fill empty nets. One key thing I noticed is that Jesus spent some time feeding them spiritually….”he sat down and taught the people from the boat.” The Holy Spirit is our He flows through human vessels yielded to Spirit and as He speaks to us from the Word of God. Are you listening? I like the way The Message Bible (TMB) puts in in Rev. 3:6 in speaking to the churches… “Are your ears awake? Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.”  It is always the desire of the Holy Spirit to blow through our churches, but too often we are too busy creating new programs to take time to really pray. Those who discover the power of prayer want to cease doing everything else and just pray.  The disciples moved from Galilee and empty nets back to Jerusalem and the Upper Room. There they waited in prayer until the Heavens were opened and the Spirit was outpoured.

  Take some time as you vacation and fish this summer to remember your higher calling, casting nets, discipling others and feeding the flock. If your net comes up empty—get back to the altar of prayer.

J.  Johnson

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Has your faith ever been shaken? When we look around us at a world reeling in turmoil, it is easy to feel like God is somehow not there. We remember the past year and the pain it brought our world: earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, wars, persecutions,   Yes, life is tough and bad things sometimes happen to good people.  Sometimes we make bad choices and follow through on them with devastating results.  We have planted our seeds, and sometimes they fall into rocky ground. We read the Word of God and discover a beautiful promise, then we go with it and base our tomorrows on that promise. Sometimes that promise never materializes and we find ourselves in circumstances that shake our faith. Yet in the middle of it all, I am continually reminded of the heroes of faith found in Hebrews 11. Every single one lived lives of incredible faith. Yet we are reminded that they never lived to see the promises fulfilled. Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. Hebrews 11:13 (TMB) How did they accomplish this? The bible tells us they looked ahead by faith, realizing that life is more than the here and now. It is eternal for those who believe in God. They recognized that the plan of God is bigger than human sight, human life spans, all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth. (Amp).
     How were those heroes of the faith different from you and me? They never ever allowed their faith to be shaken or moved. They believed God. They never came to the point where we often seem to find ourselves thinking or saying, “ How can I go on, I tried this faith stuff, and it is not working for me. It’s a waste of time and energy.” Too many today find themselves moved away from faith rather than towards God in faith.  They want faith to be a simple formula that always gives us what we want and makes life simple and easy. We expect God to be our ‘sugar-daddy’ who gives us everything we want and need in life. We don’t expect God to allow tough times,  health concerns, natural disasters, and for our lives to be shaken through it all.
When we look through the Bible, we see story after story of the people of God going through tough times. Moses started out with a life of ease and comfort growing up in the palace of pharaoh, but that was not the end of life for him. God wanted to teach Him about the harsh realities of life. So God took Moses on a journey, where he spend 40 years herding sheep in the desert, before he would be ready to lead God’s people for the next 40 years in the wilderness. It meant times of hunger, thirst, complaints, insurrection, rebellion, and all the while, because of the lessons Moses had learned, he looked forward by faith to the ‘land of milk and honey’...a land in which he would never dwell. [Motivated] by faith he left Egypt behind him, being unawed and undismayed by the wrath of the king; for he never flinched but held staunchly to his purpose and endured steadfastly as one who gazed on Him Who is invisible. Heb 11:27 AMP What motivates you and your faith in God? Do you allow fleeting circumstances to shake your faith? What do you do when life does not meet up with your human expectations?

If you want to be a hero of the faith, it means you will have to learn to look at life through God’s eyes. If you live to be one hundred years old, though your body fail you and your family turn on you, will you continue to love and serve God by faith, believing that His plan is longer that your lifespan? We must live our lives with any eye on eternity. We must see that the full plan of God includes the timelessness of eternity. We have a hope and a future that is much longer that life here and now. We must keep looking forward, by faith, anticipating the words of the Lord...‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ (Matthew 25:21 NKJV)
Battling the Enemy
Sometimes we fail to recognize the source of the attacks in our lives. We forget that Satan is the one who is the aggressor, trying to undermine the lessons God is trying to teach us. Satan tries to get us to look at the circumstances, at ourselves, and then when we do, he takes full advantage of our moment of weakness. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NKJV) Those heroes of the faith in Hebrews 11 had the same adversary, yet they remained strong. They had a different focus. They knew their God! They trusted their God! James 4:7-8 tells us how to overcome the seduction of Satan. 7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Notice it begins by our submission to God. When we put ourselves in God’s care, we are in the best place we can possibly be. If we resist God, we are asking for trouble. But when we resist Satan, there is an automatic response—he will flee! But we must first submit to God. For every step we make towards God, God moves towards us in equal measure. As we get closer and closer to God, we will suddenly be more and more aware of the sin in our hearts and minds. We must choose to be clean. If we think we want God, but we continue to dwell in sin, we are truly ‘double minded’. We are trying to run things in our own strength and power and at the same time give God His place...who is the One who really wants to run our lives. We cannot serve two masters. We must choose to follow God—all the way! We must put Satan in his place...send him on the run. The devil will do everything in his power to keep us from God, from intimacy, from obedience, from submission to God. The sooner we recognize Satan’s attack, the sooner we can draw near to God.

Shaken Faith
When I think of the energy it takes to make an earthquake, to cause the crust of the earth to tremble so much that everything on it is moved, I also tend to think of how God sometimes allows ‘quakes’ in our spiritual world to move us close to Himself. After every physical earthquake, there are often many ‘after shocks’ as well. They too, shake the world. They remind us of the potential for more earthquakes, and they cause us to think cautiously. They keep us ‘on the edge’ of readiness, and we learn to do things a little differently. Spiritually, an ‘after shock’ should serve to remind us of the potential attacks of the enemy, so we keep our guard high, and our spiritual man seeking after God.  I sometimes think of Jonah who ran from God, was swallowed by a great fish, then after repentance, was tossed on the beach, and he then chose to obey. He preach just what God told him to do and the people listened and repented. But Jonah felt like a fool. He had been through unimaginable trauma, a tiring march to Nineveh, a time of preaching and calling for repentance. He found himself sitting on a hillside waiting for God to pour out His anger on the city. He probably suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome. God had other plans for Nineveh. God forgave them. Meanwhile, Jonah had a valuable lesson to learn. God is the One who is in charge. He does what He wants and we are to learn from each experience. What is God trying to teach you today? Is He allowing your world to be shaken? Is your faith also being shaken?  Remember the bigger picture that is in the mind of God. I like the words of Job 23:10... But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.  So much of our world is wood, hay and stubble. God wants to bring out the best in you...increase your faith, cause you to grow stronger.  I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. 1 Peter 1:6,7 TMB

J. Johnson

Praise reports and prayer requests…..

Pray for revival!  Pray for those who are struggling with forgiveness,  anger and doubt.

Pray for the Johnsons as they seek a new place of full time ministry...a church that needs strong leadership. Pray for grieving families who have lost loved ones....(Bob Schallow family) Evangelists, Missionaries, and Teachers. Pray for  US Army Chaplain Steve Maglio.
Pray for those needing a healing touch in their bodies:  Jeanne Deike (cancer)  Dave Barth (cancer), L. Gardner (cancer). J. Johnson (chronic cough and possible IBS) Pray for those dealing with chaos, anger, abuse, temptations and carnal sinful habits.  Pray for the nation, for the President, for our service men and women, for Israel, for Christians in Muslim countries, for the unsaved,  and don’t forget to Praise and thank  the Lord!

Dear friends,
Please continue to pray for us as we seek God’s placement of our ministry.  We have completed our time of ministry in Tomah as their new pastor will arrive soon. So we now look forward to whatever God has for us to do for Him. Praise the Lord! We are so thankful and so appreciate each of you who take the time to pray and write. Your financial gifts are so important and needed. God bless you all! God is faithful and we anticipate great things in the future… …Serving the Master    
Dave & Joyce
Please address all donations and correspondence to this  address :

Word of the Lord Ministries
Rev. David & Joyce Johnson
PO Box 655, Waupaca WI 54981
Thank your for your donations
Your prayers and gifts are deeply