Monthly Archives: June, 2017

Sharables Lesson 5 – Devotion 5

Sharables Lesson 5 – He Started Start!
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

I like studying personalities.  I remember LaHaye’s categories.  The Sanguine is full of energy, the life of the party, and typically a great storyteller.  The Choleric is a natural leader who tends to take control.  The Melancholy has transferred into the English language as sadness, but they tend to be precise, detailed, and focus on quality.  Finally, the Phlegmatic is loyal, easy-going, and often a good listener.

Gary Smalley and John Trent explain the four in terms of animals.  The Sanguine is pictured as the playful otter.  The Choleric sports the king of the jungle in the lion.  The Melancholy is hard working behind the scenes as a beaver.  The Phlegmatic is as loyal as a Golden Retriever.

Something very basic is that Sanguine and Choleric individuals are good starters, but weak finishers.  Melancholy and Phlegmatic people are the opposite.  Starters will start a book or puzzle and do not care if they finish it.  Not so with the finishers.  It might take them a while to pick a book, but they feel they must finish it no matter how bad it is.  It is beautiful; we need each other.

My mom was a counselor and use to say that Jesus had all the strengths of all four personality types.  His title from Hebrews 12:1-2 conveys this point,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Jesus is the Founder and Perfecter.  He is the Author and Finisher.

The Book of Revelation describes the same concept with different titles.

“’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’” (1:8).

“And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment’” (21:6).

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (22:13).

Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, and the Beginning and the End.

I like to think of it this way:

Jesus did not begin when the beginning began; He began the beginning.  He did not start when start got started; He started start.

Be encouraged by Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”  Jesus is working in you, and He is not finished yet.

Sharables Lesson 5 – Devotion 4

Sharables Lesson 5 – Where’s the Next Dance
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

Several years ago I was sitting down at a table to eat lunch and I bowed my head to pray.  One guy teased that I must have partied too hard the night before because I was falling asleep at lunch.  Another guy corrected him letting them know I was praying to thank God and ask Him to bless my food  (Sorry, I did hear them while I was praying).  When I looked back up to eat, the one guy swore about the food and said I better pray for all of them.  So I did.  It was an easy transition to ask what they believed about God.  Interesting answers.  When I asked if they believed in Heaven and Hell and what had to be done to know where they were going, one guy’s answer has bothered me for years.  He said, “I do not care where I go, I have friends in both places.”  He then went on to mock that he will party wherever he ends up.

In Luke 16 Jesus gives a parable about two men, a rich man, and a poor man.  The rich man’s problem is not his money, but his heart and he ends up in Hades.  The poor man was carried to Abraham’s side.  From the “party” in Hades we learn, “And in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.  And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame’” (verses 23-24).  Words like torment, anguish, and flames are not comforting.  A prideful man begging for mercy with no remorse or hope is sad.

Hell is real.  I do not want anyone to go to Hell.  I do not feel by being a Christian that I am better than anyone else.  I am passionate about people knowing the truth.  It may be more important to know what we are saved from rather than what we are saved to.  Even God does not want people to go to Hell.  2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 

There is not a party in Hell.  There is anguish.  Verses 27-28 find the rich man worried about his family, “And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’”

Hell is real.  As long as we have breath, we can proclaim the name of Christ.  But once we die, decision time is over – forever.  We cannot change our own destiny or anyone else’s.

Please examine your own story.

Please check on your friends while you can.

The only party will be in Heaven.

Sharables Lesson 5 – Devotion 3

Sharables Lesson 5 – “A Journey Back”
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

In 2016 I wrote a book with a close friend entitled, A Journey Back.  It was his story on how God used three years in prison to get his attention and bring him back to the fold.  I wrote him regularly and visited a few times. His family stuck with him, but several friends disowned him.  He told me that he would read my letters to his cellblock because most inmates do not get any mail.

Upon writing the book, we contacted a few agents and publishers.  They were not interested because it was not financial suitable for them.  Prisoners cannot afford books.  They do not have anything we need.  So why would anyone care about them?  Maybe we should care about them because Jesus does.

Matthew 25:35-36 says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” 

Jesus specifically mentions prisons.  When was Jesus in prison?  The only recorded times in Scripture are the night before the crucifixion.  When He is speaking with them, He has not experienced inmate life yet. They ask Him when all of this happened.  He clarifies in verse 40 by saying, “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”

By visiting inmates or anyone in need, we visit Jesus.  Encouraging them encourages Jesus!  I have been encouraged to see so many friends receive training so they can visit inmates.  It is costly.  Often they have to take time off work, drive a few hundred miles, and even pay for a hotel room.  Others could not go so they helped support those going and have bought thousands of copies of the book to give to inmates.  People are giving to those in need.  God is smiling.

We need to reach out to people that are forgotten. 

They need hope.  They need love. 

They need Jesus.

Sharables Lesson 5 – Devotion 2

Sharables Lesson 5 – Beans, Rice, and Jesus Christ
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

I have been to Mexico many times.  I am not sure what image Mexico conveys for you, but my first fifteen times I took high school students to some very remote places.  Initially, we would take on a building project and play soccer with the local talent as a way to develop rapport. After sharing the Gospel, we would give food, clothing, and medical supplies.  We were constantly in villages with no electricity or running water.  One of the days we would go to “the garbage dump.”  I remember as a child going up north camping when at dusk we would go to the local dump to watch the bear come out (it does not seem as bright or exciting now).  In Mexico, I was left with a different feeling.

It was November of 1995 when I first took a group to Mexico and eventually “the garbage dump.”  I had already preached with an interpreter and was handing out bottles of orange drink.  When I gave out the last bottle, I stood there confounded.  I did not know what to do with the box.  My thought was, “Is it okay to litter in a garbage dump?”  That may not sound like a difficult question, but I did not know what to do.  A local missionary asked me, “What are you going to do?”  I guess my blank stare answered his question as he said, “These men would like the box.  It will be used as part of a wall for their house.”  I do not know if big boys are allowed to cry, but my allergies sure did flare up.

Reading Matthew 25 takes me back to Mexico when I read,

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (verses 34-40).

I have been to Cancun.  I have been spoiled at a resort.  It was restful and even helpful.  I was glad I went, but I could not wait to come back home.  “The garbage dump” was different.  Part of my heart stayed in Matamoros, Mexico.  I went there to be a blessing.  I wanted to experience, “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”  In the process I was blessed.  I was changed.  I know the world may view these brothers and sisters as “the least.”  As they have recognized me returning on numerous trips, they greet and encourage me.  Maybe, at that moment I am one of “the least.”

Who is someone you can help today that has no apparent one of repaying you?

Do it for Jesus – literally!

Sharables Lesson 5 – Devotion 1

Sharables Lesson 5 – Pokemon Go … into all the world
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

Do you remember the craze of Pokemon Go last summer?  Nintendo’s stock went crazy until it was revealed that Nintendo did not develop Pokemon Go.  The stock took major hits.  I wonder how many people went crazy buying stock just to lose it all in about ten days.  It is sad, but when you believe in something you should go all out.  I wondered how many Nintendo workers sold their stock at its peak knowing they did not develop it.

The movie, Back to the Future, brought up a lot of ideas.  It made people wonder where they would go, whom they would visit, and what they would do if they could travel time.  One of the common themes was how you could have changed your finances.  What would someone do if they knew they could go back and invest in Nike or Apple?  How much gold would you buy?

Matthew 13:45-46 kind of gives this scenario, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”

This merchant goes to check out some garage sales. He finds the one steal of a lifetime.  He does not have enough money, but he knows it will top the charts.  He sells his fishing gear, golf clubs, tools, lawn mower, motorcycle, car, and even house.  He sells it all just to buy this one pearl.  He is all in.

The question that begs for an answer, “How much do you believe Heaven is real?”  Maybe a more painful question would be, “how much do you believe Hell is for real?”

When you believe in something, you should go all out.  You should be all in!

Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Jesus said that we need to go and make a difference in the world.  He is not sending us alone into the unknown; He is going with us.

Are you spending too much time and finances on a hobby?  Does it own you?

I am not saying to sell it.  Ask God how it can be used to help others find the Kingdom of God.

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