Posts in Jeff Johnson
Flip the Script

Key Scripture: John 12:12-19

Palm Sunday. The day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. “The Triumphal Entry.” But have you ever wondered what made it so triumphant? After all, didn’t they crucify Jesus at the end of the week? Many people at that time sided with Jesus for the same reason some Pharisees and others sided with Rome. They thought Jesus could do for them what Rome had done for their rulers—deliver them from the oppressive system under which they lived and make their lives better. Jesus never did what they wanted him to do, so they quickly changed their minds and wanted to get rid of Him. However, God had a much different and much better plan. He has a better plan for your life today, as well. Will you choose His script, or insist on your own?

Scripture References: Isaiah 55:8-9, Zechariah 9:9, Luke 19:41-44, Psalm 118:22-24, Romans 5:1-2, Romans 8:28

Truly Different

Key Scripture: Colossians 3:1-17

Jesus Christ died and rose again to pay the penalty for our sins and to give us new life in Him. This new life includes a new way of thinking. As followers of Christ, our mindset is different than it used to be. Why? Because our mind is no longer set on worldly things that are here and now. Instead, our minds are set in a different realm – above with Christ, in eternity. Our old life is dead and our new life is now found only in Him. He is our present and our future! As our thinking changes, so does the way we live and the way we love others. What is your mindset?

Scripture References: Romans 8:5-8, John 10:10, John 14:6, Ephesians 3:19-20, Galatians 2:20

Love

Key Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Our world has many problems and God wants to use His Church to do something about them. However complicated and challenging this might seem, the ultimate goal of the Christian life is quite simple: Love. Jesus made it clear that a genuine and lived-out love for others is the distinguishing mark of His followers. Without love, all of the programs, plans and charitable organizations in this world amount to nothing, and we have missed what it means to be Christian. A troubled world is crying out for Help. Let us answer and affect change one person at a time by loving well.

Scripture References: 1 Thessalonians 3:12, Colossians 3:14, 1 John 4:7-8, John 13:35

Human Trafficking

Key Scripture: 1 John 2:15-17

Human trafficking is a significant problem in our world today. It’s estimated that more than 20 million people worldwide are currently living as slaves, while as many as 800,000 are trafficked across international borders every year. Even in the United States, more than 20,000 people are victims of human trafficking annually, with the vast majority being women and more than half of them children. These victims are typically exploited and forced into involuntary servitude and prostitution. The vulnerable and marginalized have always been at the center of God's missional activity in the world, and Scripture repeatedly calls us to care for the outcast, widows, orphans, and the poor. As followers of Christ, we must do everything we can to secure freedom for those living in bondage. How does God want to use you to help set people free?

Scripture References: 1 John 2:15-17, Genesis 3:6, Jeremiah 17:9, Ezekiel 36:26, 2 Corinthians 5:17

Poverty

Key Scripture: Matthew 25:31-46

Poverty is a serious problem in our world. Everywhere you look, there seems to be a great imbalance of wealth and power that causes anxiety and suffering. Many live without even the most basic provisions: food, shelter and clothing. Yet God is a God of justice. He wants His people to make a difference in the world, standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. He is a God of compassion, and He wants His church to share what we have with those who have nothing. We are called to display God’s love by caring for those who need help. Who do you know in need? What can you do to help today?

Scripture References: Leviticus 19:9-10, Mark 10:21-22, Mark 12:41-44, James 2:15-16, Luke 12:12-14, 1 John 3:17

Christmas Show

Key Scripture:  Mark 4:35-41

Christmas is a time filled with many opportunities to “be jolly” and celebrate with friends and family. It can also become a great big Show. Our lights need to look as good as our neighbors’ lights. The gifts we give need to be better than the ones we get. The house needs to be perfectly clean when guests arrive for our perfectly-planned party. If anything is out of place or below our Norman Rockwell standards, it robs us of Peace. Often, we try to make things seem perfect to cover up the things in our lives we know aren’t perfect: the loss of loved ones, the breakup of family, financial hardship or problems with health. Ultimately, no amount of Christmas production can bring us the Peace we’re missing. Instead the answer is focusing less on how we celebrate and more on Who we’re celebrating. Let’s put Jesus back at Center – our Prince of Peace!

Scripture References: Romans 12:12, Galatians 5:22, John 17:13, 1 Samuel 16:7, Psalm 98:1-4

Peace?

Key Scripture: Luke 10:38-42

Christmas is a season filled with so many great things, yet it’s also a time when most of us find ourselves missing peace. With so many gifts to buy and parties to attend, we never seem to have enough time or money. “‘Tis the season to be stressed” seems to be the norm. So how do we find peace? We need to remember the real meaning of Christmas and focus on Jesus, the Peace of Peace.

Scripture References: Isaiah 9:6, Luke 2:8-14, John 14:27, John 16:33, Romans 5:1, Colossians 3:15, Philippians 4:4-7

Willing

Key Scripture:  Nehemiah 11:1-36

Once the walls were rebuilt, it wastime for people to move back into the city. This was no small challenge for those who would be moving in. They would have to relocate their families, prepare their new homes, clean and rebuild a city that had been abandoned for 142 years - all with the threat of attack still looming. Despite these difficulties, there were some who were willing to move back into Jerusalem. They recognized God’s hand at work and the opportunity to be a part of it. A life that matters is a life that willingly goes where God leads, no matter the work or risk. Many people wait for a significant life to happen by chance, but God wants it to happen by choice. When we choose to answer His call, we experience His blessing and our lives are remembered. Are you still waiting, or are you willing?

Other Scripture References: Nehemiah 11:1-2, Luke 9:23, Joshua 24:15, 2 Corinthians 8:5, Judges 5:2

Acknowledge

Key Scripture:  Nehemiah 9

 As we look to build the things God calls us to build, we can’t neglect the spiritual rebuilding He wants us to do as well. A real covenant relationship with God is filled with joy and happiness, but it is also about genuine confession and repentance. God calls His people to repentance along with unbelievers – to turn from our sin and turn back to Him. His hope is that we will clearly recognize the direct connection between the evil in our own hearts and the struggles that keep us in bondage: fear, doubt, addiction, shame and more. If we want to experience a life of significance we must acknowledge our sin and our need for God’s grace and mercy in our lives.

Scripture References:  Psalm 32:5, Matthew 5:4, 1 John 1:9, Psalm 51:10, Isaiah 40:30-31, Ephesians 4:17-24

Fight

Nehemiah’s story shows that whenever you try to accomplish anything significant for the Lord, you will face strong opposition. The name “Satan” means “adversary”; he is committed to opposing God and His people, especially when they are zealous to exalt God’s glory.

On the personal level as long as you live with one foot in the world, living according to the world’s values and for the world’s goals, Satan won’t often trouble you. You can go to church and even pray and read your Bible, and he won’t mind. But the minute you wake up from your spiritual lethargy, shake off the worldly mindset, and commit yourself to radical obedience to Jesus Christ, you will encounter spiritual opposition! We have all been called to make a difference in this world for God’s glory.  This call will require us to stand up and fight the opposition that is certain to come, so Fight!

Scripture References

Key Scripture:  Nehemiah 4

Nehemiah 4:1-23

Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged, and he jeered at the Jews. And he said in the presence of his brothers and of the army of Samaria, “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they restore it for themselves? Will they sacrifice? Will they finish up in a day? Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, and burned ones at that?” Tobiah the Ammonite was beside him, and he said, “Yes, what they are building—if a fox goes up on it he will break down their stone wall!” Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders. So we built the wall. And all the wall was joined together to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.  But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. 10 In Judah it was said,“The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” 11 And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” 12 At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.”13 So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14 And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” 15 When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. 16 From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, 17 who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other.18 And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19 And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. 20 In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.” 21 So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. 22 I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” 23 So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.

 Ephesians 2:10

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 1 Corinthians 7:17

Only let each person lead the lifethat the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.

John10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

1 Peter 5:8-9 

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, 

 Ephesians 6:10-14a

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, ……..

Quote

“If we don't fight for what we 'stand for' with our passionate words and honest actions, do we really 'stand' for anything?”  ~ Tiffany Madison

James 4:7

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

1 Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

 1 Corinthians 9:26

So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 

 2 Corinthians 2:10-12

Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, 11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.