Devotions

Author Archives: Randy Johnson

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.”

Audience of One

Forty | Devotion #4: Audience of One
Dr. Randy T. Johnson

“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.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Finished | Devotion #1: Lifetime Achievement Award
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

I have a friend who is a college professor in mathematics. He has been working on an “unsolvable problem” since 1971. Whenever I saw something labeled “unsolvable,” I turned the page. He likes to point out that it is unsolvable for now. He took a yearlong sabbatical to study with someone in Sweden who also had the same goal. He has been working on a problem for about 40 years. Most of us remember math class. If we could not find the solution in five minutes, we flipped to the back of the book and hoped there was an answer key. Not only has he labored over those numbers and letters, but his actual goal is also not to necessarily solve the problem. He just wants to help the progression so someone can eventually solve it. It has been his lifelong goal. 

For some, finishing a puzzle, book, or room renovation can be quite the accomplishment. However, few have lifelong projects.

Jesus came to Earth to die. He lived a perfect life, fulfilled hundreds of prophecies, and never got distracted. He left Heaven because mankind needed a Savior and He was and is the only one suitable for the task.

We sinned and earned death, Hell, and eternal separation from God. However, Jesus died in our place to offer us the “free gift” of eternal life (Romans 6:23) and life to the full (John 10:10). This mission took 33 years. It was literally a lifelong project.

John 19:30 says, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” Jesus woke up every morning with the same goal in mind. He chose to do the right thing in the right way every day. He lived for us; He died for us. Finally, while on the cross struggling and gasping for every breath, Jesus gave the ultimate mic drop and said, “It is finished.” 

Lifetime achievement awards are very honoring. It is interesting to see what someone finds so valuable that they spend days, weeks, months, years, decades, and their entire life and resources to accomplish. Jesus found you to be that valuable.

Jesus lived with you in mind; Jesus died with you in mind. He is not asking you to die for Him, but will you live for Him?

Preconceived Notions

Thirst | Devotion #1: Preconceived Notions
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

Fox Broadcasting Company showcased a new show in 2019, “The Masked Singer.” On the show, celebrities competed against one another by singing while wearing an elaborate costume. They were fully covered, and their voice was altered to hide their identity. At every performance, they revealed a secret about their identity. Four celebrity judges tried to guess the performer’s identity. 

A man dressed as a peacock was one of the performers. He was wearing a cape and waved it across his body. It appeared to be solid black, but the underside was full of color. All four judges immediately focused on the rainbow and assumed the performer was part of the GLBTQ community. Their preconceived notions could only let them consider this option. I immediately said to my wife, “It is the coat of many colors. It is Donny Osmond.” About ten years ago, I took my wife to see Donny Osmond perform “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in Detroit. They gave another clue about a wig he wore while in prison. Donny may not have been in an actual prison, but Joseph was. One judge was thinking it was Donny Osmond but dismissed her guess as he was not part of that community and not believed to have been in prison.

Sometimes we get so locked into our natural thinking that we miss the obvious. John 19:28 says, “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’” There are two valuable points to gather from the phrase, “I thirst.”

The first one is prophecy. Psalm 69:21 informs, “They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” One thousand years before Jesus, this moment on the cross was proclaimed. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy.

The second point is very basic. We can become so focused on Jesus’ loving sacrifice for us that we forget He was human. Jesus was 100% God, and He was 100% man. He could forgive sin and still be thirsty. Right when we are so focused that Jesus is God, we are reminded that He was also a man. 

This month as we visualize Jesus as God on the cross, we also need to remember Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  

Do Not Gamble

Forsaken | Devotion #1: Do Not Gamble
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

While Jesus was on the cross, He said one of the most misinterpreted phrases of all time. Matthew 27:46 records, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” I have heard and read many faulty theories. Jesus was not confused. He was not questioning His choice to go to the cross. He intentionally carried the sin of the world knowing God would not be able to look upon Him. He left Heaven for this day. It was even prophesied.

Jesus was taking His present audience and even us back 1,000 years to a writing by David. The get the attention of a specific group, He chose to say the phrase in Aramaic. Luke interprets it for his readers. Jesus gives the opening words to a song every adult Hebrew male had memorized. He took them to Psalm chapter 22.

The song starts, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” As a seasoned Rabbi, he started the poetical section expecting his pupils to continue through the piece they had studied. The chapter goes on to mention that the Messiah was “despised by the people” (verse 6), they “mock” Him (verse 7), He is surrounded by enemies (verses 12-13, 16), His “bones are out of joint” (verse 14), He is thirsty (verse 15), they “pierced” His hands and feet (verse 16), and for His “clothing they cast lots” (verse 18). The crucifixion is clearly described and predicted in Psalm chapter 22.    

Verse 18 makes me laugh as I picture the whole scene, “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” I imagine the Jews, both who have accepted Jesus as the Messiah and those who rejoiced in His abuse, humming out loud or in the mind all the lyrics recorded in this song. Jesus started it, and they caught His lead. I picture everyone who understands Aramaic looking at the guards as they are casting lots. I believe it is the first time Satan ever said, “Do not gamble.” I picture him screaming for them to tear the clothing in half, burn it, steal it and run, or even for them to be kind and give the clothes to the needy. He could not change God’s Word or plan. A millennium earlier, it was recorded, and no one could do a thing about it. 

Jesus chose the cross. He knew what that meant and even took time to teach another lesson. He was the ultimate object lesson.

Jesus loves you. He lived for you and died for you. His plan was not and could not be thwarted. He has a plan for your life. Listen to Him and step out in faith and confidence. 



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