Devotions

Author Archives: Dr. Randy Johnson

Church • Devotion #4: Example

Albert Schweitzer said, “The three most important ways to lead people are: by example, by example, and by example.” As we talk about church leadership, we know that setting the example is paramount. Jesus even said this after He washed the disciples’ feet. In John 13:14, Jesus said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” Jesus, the ultimate leader, lived a life worth copying.

Paul wanted to be a role model. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, he said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” I used to think he was saying that he wanted people to imitate him in the areas where he was doing things right and imitating Christ. Yet, he did not want people to imitate when he was missing the mark. However, there are other passages where he confidently says, “Follow my lead. Do as I say, and as I do.”

“I urge you, then, be imitators of me.” 1 Corinthians 4:16

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.” Philippians 3:17

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6

“For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you.” 2 Thessalonians 3:7

“It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate.” 2 Thessalonians 3:9

We need to live lives worth imitating. We are called to “be holy.” God expects us to live a life of thankfulness due to the gift of salvation. Be real. 

“A good example is far better than a good precept.”

Dwight L. Moody

Work • Devotion #6: And Then Some

“On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and behold, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.” Numbers 17:8

God Almighty does not deal with ordinary people in simple ordinary ways. He is a God of the Extra Ordinary. In Numbers chapter 17, God displays His willingness to go over and above the call of duty. Korah’s rebellion caused immense confusion and complaining throughout Israel. A battle over leadership had surfaced. So, God set up a test to distinguish whom He had chosen to lead Israel. The staff belonging to the man He chose would sprout. One leader from each of the tribes of Israel picked a staff, wrote his name on it, and gave it to Moses. Moses then placed the staff before the Lord in the Tent of the Testimony. The next day when Moses entered the Tent, he immediately spotted Aaron’s staff. Yes, Aaron’s staff sprouted. However, it more than just sprouted. In just one night, it sprouted, budded, blossomed, and produced almonds! God had agreed to perform a miracle so the people would realize the leader was truly chosen by Him. God not only spoke through the miracle, but He also shouted. He had the staff sprout – And Then Some.

“And said to Moses, ‘The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do.’” Exodus 36:5

Moses heads up the construction of the sanctuary in Exodus chapter 36. God has chosen Bezalel, Oholiab, and every skilled person to do the actual work on the sanctuary. God has gifted them and now gives them the opportunity to express their talent. All of Israel was invited to contribute offerings for the tabernacle. Verse five says the people brought more than enough for doing the work.

After understanding how God has gone way over of what could be expected in His relationship to us, it is only natural to respond back in like manner – And Then Some.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

Christians should be the best employees ever. They should be known for honesty, teamwork, encouragement, and a full day’s work. They should be known for going over and above the call of duty.

The difference between the ordinary and extraordinary Christian lies in just three words – And Then Some.

Work • Devotion #5: For God

“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.

“Not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” Ephesians 6:6

“Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.” Colossians 3:22

Work • Devotion #3: Endure

The word “endure” is used 112 times in Scripture. It must be a pretty important concept. We know we are called to “keep on keeping on.” The Christian life is not designed to be a plush, easy life. It comes with challenges. Some words from William Barclay are rattling in my mind, “Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” The reason we are called to endure is so that God will receive glory. Therefore, it is worth the pain.

Paul uses the word “endure” four times in his first letter to the Corinthians. While describing ministry, he says, “To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things” (1 Corinthians 4:11-13). The contrast is striking. They are being reviled and they repay it with blessings. They are being persecuted and they do not quit. They are willing to press forward for the cause of Christ.

Paul continues the concept of endurance in 1 Corinthians 9:12, “If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” Paul reminds us that our goal and purpose in life should be to glorify Christ. We do not want our bad attitude or harsh words to become “an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.” Our desire should be to bring people to Christ, not block the opportunity. There are times by our enduring a bad situation that others will notice and ask where we find this hope and strength. It is in Jesus.

In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul points out that God will help, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”No matter how bad the situation gets, we do not have to make the wrong choice or even say the hurtful words. We can stand strong because He is faithful.

Finally, in 1 Corinthians 13:7, Paul describes love, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” This might seem like an odd verse to end a devotion on endurance in the workplace, but it should relate. When Jesus was asked which is the greatest commandment, He said to love God. He then quickly added that we need to love others. Endurance is easier when you love. Love those whom God has placed around you and over you at work. Pray for them. Encourage them. When you take these steps, enduring proves to be valuable and fruitful for the Kingdom.

Micah 7:18-19

Forty | Devotion #6: Micah 7:18-19
Dr. Randy T. Johnson

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.”



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