Author Archives: Shawna Johnson

Road to Emmaus • Devotion #6: Expectations

Have you ever gone somewhere or experienced an event and it was nothing like you expected? I am going to guess that you have and that you are thinking of that moment right now. What type of response did you have? Was it way better than you anticipated or was it a total bummer?

I hate to admit this, but oftentimes I get these ideas in my head or have high expectations, just to find myself working through disappointment shortly after, needing to remind myself of all the beauty that still surrounds me.

This reminds me of the disciples walking along the road to Emmaus. Please read Luke 24:13-35.

A couple of disciples are walking along discussing all of the events that just surrounded the crucifixion of Jesus. Scripture says their faces are downcast. They have been told about His goodness and have placed their hope in Him, but at this moment, things are not going quite as they have expected though they have been told the truth.

I have had to learn over the last several years that my feelings and emotions do not equal truth. I must tell myself this statement over and over. My expectations almost never match God’s plan! However, His ideas are always way better than mine! Oh, how quickly I forget as I walk along my “road to Emmaus.”

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Our mind (God’s truth) needs to take charge of our emotions and not vice versa. All too often our expectations are based on things around us (what the world approves) as opposed to God’s promises.

Let these disciples be a reminder to us to stand on God’s truth and put our hope in Him no matter what.

1 v 1 • Devotional #6: “Sacrificial Worship”

“Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything – all she had to live on.’” Mark 12: 41-44 NIV

This is an interesting concept. The rich people put in larger amounts, so how is it that this woman put in “more?” The woman gave “more” because she sacrificed more. She felt it. She gave “all she had to live on.” Still, she trusted God. The rich people gave larger amounts, but may not have had to sacrifice or potentially even think about what to give.

This concept translates to more than just finances.

Mark 14:3-6 (NIV) says, “While he [Jesus] was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, ‘Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.’ And they rebuked her harshly. ‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.’” To others, what these women did with their money and their possessions did not make sense. For them, it was an act of worship.

Do we worship with our money, possessions, and time? Do we worship when it might inconvenience us, or make us uncomfortable? Or, do we only do it when it fits into our schedule?

I would encourage all of us to take a moment and really try to imagine giving the way these ladies gave. While we do not necessarily have to give up all we own or donate an entire year’s wages, imagine what God could do with us if we trusted Him with everything we have?

Grow • Devotional #5: “God’s Will For Us”

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.” 1 Thessalonians 4:3

If you are reading this today, I am going to assume you are a Christian. If you are a Christian, I am going to assume you regularly desire to live your life according to God’s will.

As a young adult and new follower of Jesus, I would often ask that, “What is God’s will for my life?”  I was mostly wanting to know the answers concerning things like my career and where I should live. Of course, we need to go to the Lord in prayer, fasting, and seeking wise counsel in all of those things. The Lord will lead you with His peace. However, I know sometimes we wish we could find the name of the school we are supposed to go to, the career we are supposed to choose, and the name of our future spouse written in bold letters in Scripture. We really do, myself included, make it more difficult than it needs to be sometimes! While you may not find the name of the company you are going to work for or the major you should pursue spelled out in Scripture, the Lord does in fact show us His will for our lives!

While there are several places in Scripture we find God’s will, today we are going to focus on one section in particular.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:3, Paul begins by saying ”For this is the will of God.” Did you hear that? Listen up! We are about to learn what God wills for our lives! Paul says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8). God regularly calls us to holiness.

We often look for the life-altering decisions as needing God’s direction; however, we need to look to God daily for direction and strength. We need Him to help us do the right things and make the right choices. God cares about every detail of our lives. He does not want to just show up at “big” moments of our lives but cares about each step along the way. He does not just want part of us, He wants our whole hearts and lives.

My prayer for us today is to pursue holiness. In 1 Thessalonians 4:7, we are told, “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.” 

Hunger • Devotion #6: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

First things first, I need to ask you, do you know who Jesus is, what He has done for you, and have you chosen Him to be your Savior? Did you even know you needed saving?

If you do claim to be a Christian, is your faith genuine? Is it truly your conviction, or your parents? Grandparents? Spouse?

I know, so many questions!

Here is the deal, God created us in His image. He loves us and wants us to have a relationship with Him. When He created us though, He gave us the free will to choose to follow Him and what He knows is best for us, or to choose ourselves (selfishness), and the desires of the world in which we live.

Here are some examples of what God wants for us and what that leads to:

• A full life (John 10:10)

• Hope (Romans 15:13)

• Love, Joy, Peace Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control (Galatians 5:22-23)

• No more guilt and shame (John 3:17)

• Freedom (Romans 6:22)

• Eternity in Heaven (John 11:25-26)

Here are some examples of the desires of the world and what that ultimately leads to:

• Power and Control

• Sex

• Money

• Addiction

• Brokenness

• Loneliness

After reviewing those options, does God’s way not sound better? I think so too! There are some things you should know, though! Following Jesus will often lead to situations where you find yourself responding opposite of what the world would expect of you.

What do I mean?

Where the world seeks power and control, God asks us to be humble.

Where the world says lust is sexy, God asks us to be faithful and committed.

Where greed is rampant, God asks us to give, and cheerfully!

Where the world kicks addicts to the curb, God says, you have a future and a way out.

Where the world dwells in brokenness, God gives hope.

Where the world breeds loneliness, God gives us family.

My prayer for all readers today is that you choose Him! It is not always easy, but it is always worth it!

Gather • Devotion #6: Pure Joy

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” James 1:2 (NIV)

Wait, what did that say? Let me try that again, “Consider it pure joy” is fine, but “whenever you face trials” is challenging. Is this saying I am supposed to be joyful not only through my trials but because of them? 

We all face struggles and conflicts. Trials are inevitable. Yet, how do we “consider it pure joy?” 

James 1:3 (NIV) continues, “Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Trials can be a blessing because we can come out better for it on the other side!

For the first time in my walk with the Lord, I am beginning to understand this concept. I will let you in on a not-so-secret part of my life. I am not always firm in my faith; I waiver. 

This last season, I struggled with depression (another first for me). I began to question myself, and eventually, it turned into questioning God, and even His people. I knew that He was good, and He knew what I was going through, but even still, my faith was wavering. Once I gained the courage to ask for prayer and seek counseling, I was surrounded by reminders that my feelings were not His Truth. No, our feelings do not equal Truth.

God’s Truth is: 

I am created in His image! “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). 

He cares about me so much; He even knows the ridiculous details, like how many hairs I have on my head! “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7). 

He knew me before I knew me – and knows me better! “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:13-16).

I am, in fact, a child of God. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NIV).

Finally, that in Him, I am whole. “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” (Colossians 2:9-10 NIV).

I was able to be reminded of all of this because I am surrounded by a community that loves the Lord and loves me.

I wish I had continued to read. I wish I continued to go to gatherings. I wish I continued to pray. However, when I did not, they did. Community is important. God’s Word is important. When we are down, they both can remind us of this, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23 NIV).
Now, on the other side of this trial, I can help someone else be reminded of who they are in Christ! Gathering with the church family is important! After all, it is what He calls us to do! “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV).

Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 |

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.