Devotions

Author Archives: Shawna Johnson

Giving • Devotion #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?

1 John 3 • Devotion #4: Ol’ Blue Eyes

Love. The word alone makes me want to burst into song. I enjoy the one by Frank Sinatra. 

“L is for the way you look at me
O is for the only one I see
V is very, very extraordinary

E is even more than anyone that you adore.”

Often, the first thought that comes to my mind regarding love is a romantic one. It is the kind where two people just adore each other and want to spend every moment together. I suppose this would come as no surprise seeing as I recently got married (insert your version of total cheeseball, giddy, girly, smile here). We know, of course, that is not the only kind of love. There are many opinions of what the word means, some self-serving, some feelings-driven, and some divine. I took a poll on Instagram, asking people what love meant to them (unashamed millennial here). Some of the responses are listed below. Please note, these are from both Christ-followers and non-believers.

“Compromise, tolerance, and patience.”

“Something or someone that you cannot stop craving.”

“When someone genuinely cares about you, and you care about them too.”

“Willingly dying to yourself for someone or something else.”

“Sacrifice and devotion.”

“Unconditional.”

“I can’t describe it, but I can feel it!”

“Serving someone where they are at without any agenda.”

“God. He is love.”

Often times, myself included, we get confused with that true love is. Good thing for us, as Christians, we do not have to guess; the Bible is full of examples of true godly love.

John writes, “For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another”(1 John 3:11 NIV).

Sometimes love means graciously giving news or guidance that others do not want to hear. Paul writes, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently” (Galatians 6:1 NIV).

Sometimes love is forgiveness when you just do not want to forgive (Ouch, this one is personal!). Paul also writes, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13 NIV).

If you are a believer and claim to follow Jesus, there will be evidence by the way you love and live! John adds, We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him” (1 John 3:14-15 NIV).

Do not live a life of death. Choose love. Lord, help us choose true, godly love, even when we do not want to.

Number One

Hits Rock | Devotion 3: Number One
Shawna Johnson  

Who is your number one? Who is your go-to? Or what is your go-to? When you are in trouble, when you are excited, or when you are down, think about what your first response is.

For me, it is usually my husband or one of my girlfriends; then after a while, I will be reminded that I need to go to God. Whether it be thanks, praise, or crying out in prayer, God is not always my first thought. I pray that through this devotion, with the help of each other, and being in God’s Word, we can be reminded that God should always be our Number One.

I am thankful for the life and stories of Moses. He was unsure of himself, and he needed reassurance, but He did not let himself or his fear get in the way of what God had for him. He led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, through the Red Sea, and further on their journey, often unsure of how to lead them or what to do.

Numbers 20:2-5 (NIV) says, “Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, ‘If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!’”

As we read about Moses and the Israelites journey, I am encouraged by Moses.

Numbers 20:6-8 (NIV) continues, “Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord said to Moses, ‘Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.’” 

Notice this passage of Scripture does not say Moses talked to Aaron about it, complained, or pouted about it, but that “Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown.”

Immediately he went to God.

Moses called upon the Lord, and the Lord not only heard him but responded to him. Moses would not have gotten anywhere had he tried to solve the problem on his own.

One of my favorite quotes came from DeeAnn Moshier, “His purpose will stand, and He will accomplish His plans with or without you.” Do you want to be part of what God is doing? Let us go to Him first, in both praise and concern, that He may use us as a blessing and encouragement to others. Holy Spirit, please help us to consider You first, that we would make You our Number One always.

Remember the Lord

Advice | Devotion 2: Remember the Lord
Shawna Johnson

Is it easier for you to recall what you ate for dinner last night, what you wore this past Tuesday, or what verse the pastor talked about on Sunday? I have a confession, and without serious thought, it is difficult for me to remember any of those! I have a terrible memory; I need constant reminders; forgive me if I missed your birthday. My desk is full of post-it notes, and Siri should probably get a pay raise for how often I ask her to remind me of something. If you can live without constant reminders, please, teach me your ways!

I am thankful for the Bible and its constant reminder of our need for the Lord. So often we work hard to get things done or give advice, forgetting first to pray, seek, and remember the Lord. As much as I wish I could say I always remember and put the Lord first, that is not always the case. I need constant reminders, even in this area of my life; the reassuring thing, so did many others in the Bible. Moses’ own son was a constant reminder of the Lord.

Exodus 18:4 says, “And the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, ‘The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh’).” 

Every time Moses called his son’s name, he would be reminded of God’s goodness, protection, and provision.

I sometimes contemplate getting a tattoo of a Bible verse, or an image representing a Bible story. It needs to be something that when I see it, I remember the Lord. So far, no tattoo, however, I did ask one of my beautifully talented friends to create a work of art I could keep in my office. I assure you she delivered. Sitting on my desk is an 8×10 painting of Deuteronomy chapter 8 handwritten, with “Remember the Lord” spelled out in beautiful tiny forget-me-not flowers in the foreground; a constant reminder as I am working, to remember the Lord.

What do you do to ensure you are remembering the Lord and putting Him first? Do you have a routine you have made into a habit? Do you have a child with a biblical name? Have you tried post-it notes everywhere? I am thankful for a church that is constantly focused on the Lord. Find friends and community that point you to Him. We are a family here! We get to help each other!

Know Not What They Do 

Forgive | Devotion #2: Know Not What They Do
Shawna Johnson | Communication Director

Jesus was hanging on the cross. He was bloody, bruised, and beaten. They spat on and mocked Him. The crowd was chanting for His death, harassing Him incessantly.

It is humbling to take a moment and recognize this reality. This seems like as great a time as ever to give thanks to our Lord, the One who endured this pain for us; the One who took the weight of our sin.

Jesus, while still hanging on the cross, entering His final moments of life on Earth, chooses to forgive the very people shouting for His death. Despite the abuse, spitting, and harassment, Jesus’ response to it all was, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

This is forgiveness I cannot comprehend. As I sit and try to wrap my head around this concept, all I can think of is how difficult it is for me sometimes to forgive even the pettiest of things. Yet, Jesus forgives them for crucifying Him! 

A story that has helped me walk the road of forgiveness is from the live action movie “Cinderella.” If you do not know the story of Cinderella (first of all, come out from under your rock! Just kidding), it is about a girl whose father dies, and she is made to live with her evil stepmother and cruel stepsisters. As she is out, she meets a gentleman, and they share a brief introduction about their lives. When asked, “How do they treat you?” Cinderella’s response was, “They treat me as well as they’re able.” 

This quote has been incredibly powerful in my life. It brought me back to Jesus’ response, “They know not what they do.” If we live a life of constant forgiveness, putting our ego and pride aside, praying for those who wrong us, and considering the point that they “treat us as well as they’re able,” our lives could look dramatically different. 

Jesus would love nothing more than to have a relationship with each person in the crowd. He sees their sinfulness and yet still shows grace, mercy, and forgiveness toward them. Imagine if we lived that way. We need to choose to live that way. Who do you need to forgive?

Lord, help us love like You. Help us have grace and mercy like You. Help us live for You. Help us forgive like You. Because of Jesus, and in His name only. Amen.



Office: 8393 E. Holly Rd. Holly, MI 48442 | 248.328.0490 | info@theriverchurch.cc

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.