Devotions

Monthly Archives: August, 2017

Sharables Lesson 14 – Devotion 4

Sharables Lesson 14 – “Ready or Not…”
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

“Ready or not, here I come.”  Do you remember playing hide-n-seek?  I love watching children play this game.  You start by counting to whatever number and then scream out that key phrase of warning.  There are classic stories of hiding places, but the best is the child who still lives under the assumption that if I cannot see you, then you cannot see me.  It is precious.  I must confess I had played the game with my own children when I needed a break.  Let’s say I counted to something like 5,000 and then casually took a walk.  Oh yeah, I did say, “Ready or not, here I come.”

Luke 12:35-40 gives another parable on being ready for the return of the Lord. “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.  Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them.  If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants!  But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into.  You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”

We need to be dressed ready for His surprise arrival.  In this parable the man is dressed for service.  Being clothed in righteousness is a common theme in Scripture.

Revelation 3:4 says, Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.”  By saying some have not soilded their garments implies many have.  We need to have a walk symbolized as pure white.

If our garments are soiled, we need to ask forgiveness.  Zechariah 3:4 says, And the angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’ And to him he said, ‘Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.’”

As Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more.”  We are forgiven and God has removed our filthy garments and dressed us in purity.

Isaiah 61:10 continues the thought, I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”  Again, we have a robe of righteousness.  We need to be holy for He is holy.  Our walk matters.  It is part of being ready.

Job 29:14 says, I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban.”

Jesus warned, “Ready or not, here I come.”  He is on His way.  We need to be clothed with the garments of salvation along with the robe of righteousness.

Sharables Lesson 14 – Devotion 3

Sharables Lesson 14 – Eyes Wide Open
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

August 30

While I was in Seminary, I worked full-time as a Security Officer.  It was official stuff.  We wore suit and tie. It was a beautiful structure that had two 25-story office towers that were connected with a mall, parking structure, and 5-star restaurant.  In the center was an ice skating rink with a glass dome covering the structure.  I worked midnight shift at their office tower that was connected by a skywalk.

It was a great job.  I studied all night.  They loved it because it meant I was awake.  Also, being a seminary student helped them trust me.  One night, right after I finished one of the rounds, I went into a plush office and sat on a fabulous couch.  No one was around.  It was about 4:00 am.  I turned up my radio and closed my eyes for “a minute.”  You probably know where this is going.  About an hour later, I checked my radio and had turned it down, not up.  I jumped up and listened as the supervisor was calling me.  His voice was a little stressed.  I went down to the lobby.  He said, “We have been looking for you for over half an hour.”  I apologized and said, “I fell asleep.”  He said, “You took the last round of checkpoints real slow?”  I said, “No, I fell asleep.”  I was a little slow and did not catch on.  Let’s blame the lack of sleep.  He smiled and said, “I am sure all your future rounds will be quicker.”  I thanked him.

It is embarrassing to get caught sleeping.  Mark 13:33-37 gives a parable that emphasizes this point, “Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake.  Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—  lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.   And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”

We need to stay awake.  It is a common theme in sports.  In baseball, when a player gets picked off a base, they say he got caught sleeping.  In football, a defensive player can be caught off guard when the team throws a bomb after several running plays or on a fake punt.  In basketball, you try to find the team sleeping and hit a backdoor pass.  These are only sports and have no real lasting importance.  Remember basketball player Eric “Sleepy” Floyd got the nickname from playing baseball as a kid.

However, we need to stay awake in other areas.  We need to evaluate our own life.  Are we ready for the return of the Master? 

Next, we need to protect our family.  We cannot let people sneak into our house through the door, window, TV, or internet.  We need to be on guard.  We need to help them be ready.

This can spread to our church.  Let’s make sure we stay focused on Jesus.

Be on the watch.  Stay awake.

Horrible things are going to happen, but “not on my watch!”

Sharables Lesson 14 – Devotion 2

Sharables Lesson 14 – The Aisle
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

Weddings are for women.  I have officiated at several weddings and it is interesting to talk to the couple in counseling or at dress rehearsal.  There are some men who think the wedding is about them.  I have even had to remind both moms that it was not their wedding.  The focus is on the bride.  She buys a dress; he typically rents a tuxedo.  She has a whole bouquet of flowers and he might have one flower on his boutonniere.  She dazzles and he is the sidekick.  Should we talk about the price of their rings?  The wedding is her’s. 

I tried to figure out the history of the woman walking down the aisle.  The closest thing I could find was that her father brought her to her future husband with a dowry or price.  Sounds sad, “I will pay you to take my daughter.”  Looking at Matthew 15 again, we see a different process.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”  Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus is coming back.  Jesus, the Bridegroom, comes down the aisle to take His bride, the Church.  Jesus, the man, walks down the aisle.  I have mentioned to a few couples that it would make more sense if the man came down the aisle.  Typically, they say, “That’s interesting.”  However, you and I know she is practicing her steps as she comes down the aisle.  She is focusing on not stepping on her dress.  So, she will smile, hold her head up high, and slowly walk down the aisle to “receive” her groom.

The next time you are at a wedding, take a moment to remember that Jesus is coming back for His Bride, the Church.  He is coming back for us.  That will be a time of celebration.

Sharables Lesson 14 – Devotion 1

Sharables Lesson 14 – A Walk Down 8 Mile
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

In college I drove a beautiful Honda 750.  It was red with gold and black trim.  The helmets matched the bike which was fully dressed out.  It was fabulous.  One day I was driving down 8 Mile and my bike just “died” on me.  I had nothing.  The gas gauge showed I had plenty of fuel, but I still checked the tank just in case.  That was not the problem.  Back then cell phones were not an option, and I could not just leave it for later (remember I am on 8 Mile), so I started walking while pushing this beast.  A couple of different people stopped and asked if I ran out of gas.  I replied, “No, I am not sure what is wrong.”  Finally, one guy pulled over and stopped.  He asked if I had checked the fuses.  I must admit, I did not know what he was talking about.  He popped open the side panel and pulled off a fuse.  “Yeap, you have a bad fuse.  Hey, look here.  There is a spare in this container.”  He put the fuse in and the bike started right up with no problem.  Obviously, I was thrilled and thanked him.  I immediately went and got another fuse in case I needed it in the future.  It cost 25 cents.  Amazing how much little things matter.  I also appreciated how prepared the previous owner was to have another fuse.  I would be prepared for the future.

Matthew 25:1-13 contains the parable of some young ladies being prepared and others not, “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

The Lord is coming again and we need to be prepared.  1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 say, For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.  For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

I just want to point out a couple of things.  One, it is evident from this passage that Jesus is coming again.  Two, where Matthew reminds us to be ready, this passage uses the Return of the Lord as a means of encouragement.

Be ready.  Be thankful.  Be active in witnessing.

Sharables Lesson 13 – Devotion 6

Sharables Lesson 13 – God Everlasting
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

The Energizer Bunny.  What thoughts come to mind?  You have that little pink bunny playing his drum as he scoots across the screen.  “He just keeps going and going and…”  For almost 30 years he has been the “face” of Energizer batteries.  He symbolizes a significant length of time.  He is the Energizer Bunny.

Psalm 90:1-2 also refer to a length of time, Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”  He is the beginning and the end, the one who works His purposes throughout the ages. 

Abraham used an unusual name for God in Genesis 21:33, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God.”  He is El Olam.  He is the Eternal God.  He is the Everlasting God.  Abraham called out to the Eternal God knowing He gives strength to the weary.

Isaiah 40:28 continues the thought, Have you not known? Have you not heard?  The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”  God always was and will always be.  He is not slowing down.

How could God have always been?  That is a tough question.  I am reminded of a story Reverend Martin Dale shared, “I remember Billy Graham going on French television and being told by the commentator: ‘Dr. Graham, you have two minutes to prove to us God exists.’ To which Billy Graham replied: 
‘I can’t do that but I can tell you what I do know:  For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.’”

I cannot explain everything like gravity, wind, and an Everlasting God.  I cannot see them, but I do feel their power.  I see the effect and working they accomplish.

I want to close this devotion with the lyrics (by Brenton Brown and Ken Riley) for the song, Everlasting God

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord
We will wait upon the Lord

Our God, You reign forever
Our Hope, our strong Deliverer

You are the everlasting God
The everlasting God
You do not faint; You won’t grow weary
You’re the defender of the weak
You comfort those in need
You lift us up on wings like eagles

Amen.



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