Author Archives: Randy Johnson

Count Your Blessings

The Gift of Blessings | Devotion #3: Count Your Blessings
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

Since an early age, I had always wanted to visit Israel. My Mom and Grandmother went when I was eleven years old, and I loved hearing their stories. They brought back some amazing souvenirs. Later, in 1998, I had an opportunity to go on a Pastors’ Familiarization Tour. It was inexpensive, and I would go with a Pastor who was a mentor for me. Everything sounded perfect except one thing. The dates meant I would be in Israel during my 15th wedding anniversary. My wife was sympathetic to the trip, and I went (when I returned, we celebrated our anniversary by taking a train ride to Chicago for a couple of days).   

While I was in Israel, I wanted to get my wife a special gift. After looking at every stop, I found something near the tomb area of Jesus. The gift shop had a necklace that referenced Numbers 6:24-26, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” This has been a continual prayer of mine for my wife. I want God to bless her, and I want her to notice God is active in her life and is blessing her. 

God is well and alive. He is active in the world and blesses His children. I believe the challenge is that we need to notice that He has blessed us, and we need to give Him credit.

In 1897, Johnson Oatman, Jr. wrote a song entitled, “Count Your Blessings.” This is such a powerful daily message for all of us.

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
*Count your many blessings, see what God has done.
(*And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.)

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

Can you think of five ways God has blessed you today? If not, is that God’s fault or yours?

If you are struggling, count your blessings.
If you are hurting, count your blessings.
If you are burdened with a load of care, count your blessings.
If you are discouraged, count your blessings.
It will surprise you what the Lord has done! 

Micah 7:18-19

Joseph Forgives Brothers • Devotion #4: Micah 7:18-19
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

I am not a fisherman. I was not raised in a family that excelled at fishing. The largest fish my dad caught was a Northern Pike. We all celebrated until we found out that 19 inches was too small to keep. I remember sitting in the canoe waiting for the bobber to disappear. Putting worms on a hook was not very exciting, and I soon realized that the main bait on the lake was me; mosquitoes loved me. To make matters worse, my little sister drew back her rod to cast her line but did not look back to see if the “coast” was clear. I got hooked. I am not saying I got “hooked” on fishing; I am saying that she literally hooked my arm. A few stitches later, I retired from the fascinating sport of fishing. As if it could not get worse, my wife’s dad loved ice fishing. Adding frostbite to a horrible hobby just brought a new category for a nightmare.

This week we have been focusing on how Joseph forgave his brothers. You might be thinking, “What does fishing have to do with forgiveness?” Micah 7:18-19 says,

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

God is amazing! When we confess our sins, He does not hold it over us. He does not stay angry. He shows love and compassion. He is even willing to cast “all our sins into the depths of the sea.” I want to remind you to stop fishing. Do not pull those past sins back out of the water. Let them drown.

Satan wants us to feel defeated. Remember: Misery loves company. Too often we revisit past sins and beat up ourselves. God has forgiven us, and we need to walk in confidence. God has cast our sins into the sea, so we need to put out a sign that says, “No Fishing Allowed.”

Audience of One

Joseph & Potiphar’s Wife • Devotion #4 : Audience of One
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

“From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.” Genesis 39:5-6

The main point of this passage seems quite clear. God blessed Joseph. He not only blessed Joseph, but He blessed everyone and anything around Joseph. Potiphar and his estate were flourishing because God blessed him through Joseph.

However, I think there is another aspect that is too often missed: Joseph was faithful to God. Joseph had been belittled by his brothers, thrown in a pit, threatened death, sold into slavery, taken far from home, and humanly speaking had no hope of ever seeing his dad again. All sense of normality was gone. As he served in the house of Potiphar, he was faithful. He was faithful to God; therefore, he was diligent with his work. He was a hard worker. He was a hard worker when Potiphar was watching, but he was a hard worker when Potiphar was not home, too. With Joseph in charge, Potiphar “had no concern about anything.” 

The key to Joseph’s success was that he had an audience of One. There was only One that he wanted to impress. In everything he did, he was working for God. God was the focus of his diligence. 

It can be difficult to work for an unbeliever or a godless person. It can be tempting to slack off when no one is watching. It can be hard to press forward when we are not appreciated. It can be challenging to give our best when it is not acknowledged. It is easy to follow the crowd. However, Joseph knew One was always watching. He was the One Joseph strived to please.

Galatians 1:10 challenges us, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

As servants of Christ, we need to live it. When “no one” is watching, remember One is watching. When many are watching, focus on the One, the true and living God.

Blessed and Blessing 

Jacob & Esau • Devotion #5: Blessed and Blessing
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

“Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.’ And he was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.’” Genesis 28:10-17

This might be the first time you have ever read this story. Jacob had a life-altering dream. I have read that everyone dreams, but that not everyone remembers their dreams. Jacob had a dream and it embedded his mind the whole next day and throughout his life. His dream was important to him because he knew God made a promise to him in his dream.

Genesis 28:18-22 tells what Jacob did once he had been blessed by God, “So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, ‘If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.’”

Jacob was blessed by God, so he wanted to be a blessing to God. He also chose to set up a visual reminder for himself so that when he saw it, the stone would remind him of God’s blessing.

What do you do when you have been blessed by God? Do you look for ways to bless Him through others? I encourage you to “count your many blessings.” Look for God to bless you and then set up a visual reminder for yourself. Journal of the event. Write the date in your Bible. Post a picture or plant a tree that every time you see it, you remember the blessing from God. Be blessed and be a blessing!

New Every Morning

Requests • Devotion #1: New Every Morning
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11

I am a sticky note fanatic. I create at least one sticky note every day of what needs to be accomplished. I can get so overwhelmed by the big picture that I need to create “baby steps.” I might check off an item on tomorrow’s list, but I try not to fret about those items. If I just look at the project as a whole, I can become anxious, defeated, and depressed. The whole course is good to consider, but the next step needs immediate focus.

Something that jumps out at me is that the Lord’s Prayer speaks of “this day” and “daily.”  The focus is on today. Too often we get so caught up in the future that we miss the blessings of the present day. Matthew 6:34 adds, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Max Lucado got me thinking when he wrote, “No one can pray and worry at the same time.” We need to pray in confidence. George Mueller is known as a man of extreme faith. He added, “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety.” Anxiety is real, but too often it tries to focus on things that are out of our sight.

Lamentations 3:22-24 presents this concept in another way, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” God’s mercies are “new every morning.” His mercies are for today, and He will not run out of love. Corrie Ten Boom experienced God’s mercies at a time most would have missed them. She said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” It reminds me of the whole thought that 90% of the things we worry about never happen and the other 10% we cannot change. Therefore, worrying does not make sense. Luke 12:25 captures the idea, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

God offers peace for today. In John 14:27, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” God will not leave us. He will not forsake us. He is with us. Enjoy Him today.

“As you walk through the valley of the unknown, you will find the footprints of Jesus both in front of you and beside you.” Charles Stanley

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