Devotions

Author Archives: Shawna Johnson

Bye-Bye, Bystander

Son of God #1 – Bye-Bye, Bystander
Shawna Johnson | Tech Assistant

It continually amazes me how the Bible is still relevant today. When I first became a believer, I was not so sure; the USA alone has changed dramatically in the last 100 years, so how can a book that is over two thousand years old have anything to do with today’s society? The more I read the Bible, learn God’s Word, and let Him speak through His Word, the more I realize it is absolutely relevant to today!

As I read through Matthew 27 and the way Jesus was mocked, tortured, and crucified, it one, breaks my heart to read of the way they treated Him; two, reminds me just how much He loves us; and three, it reminds me of the way our culture responds to Jesus today.

Jesus is not politically correct, Jesus is not a popular topic, and talking about Jesus can be offensive. People were against Jesus then, and they are against Jesus now. People mocked Jesus then, and people mock Jesus now.

Does knowing this stop you from sharing the Good News of Christ? I know that in my walk, I have had to continually pray for courage to share Jesus with my friends and family; I do not want them to think I am weird, or crazy. When I sit back and think about that, I am actually embarrassed. Jesus was mocked for me, Jesus was tortured for me, and Jesus died for me, and friends, He did it for you, too. We are worth so much to Jesus that He died on the cross for us. We should want to share this love with everyone!

A family member of mine passed away recently. As I was preparing to head out of town for the funeral, I began wondering if she knew Jesus. Where would she spend eternity? At that moment I began thinking about the number of people I have the opportunity to know, and love, and I often never even share with them how much Jesus loves them. That moment was when it hit me. I know Jesus. I am beyond words grateful for that, but that is not enough. It is not enough to coast through life following the rules I am supposed to follow, saying things I am supposed to say, and refraining from the things I am not. It is not enough for me to just know Jesus, and know I am going to Heaven. It is not enough for me to just sit back and live a comfortable Christian life.

In the book, “Why Not Me?” Ms. DeeAnn wrote this line, “His purpose will stand, and He will accomplish His plans with or without you.” I do not know about you, but I want to be used by God! I want to see Him move! I want to see Him change the lives of people and especially the people I love! I want to be a part of it, don’t you?

October 15th

I grew up with four parents. I lived with my mom and stepdad, and regularly visited my dad and stepmom. I wanted and needed for nothing. My mom never missed a basketball game, and my dad sent flowers every birthday; I was loved.

When you grow up feeling like you have everything, you don’t even realize anything is missing. It was not until I began making poor decisions, getting into trouble, and experiencing conflict within my family that I felt the void; the void that I learned only Jesus could fill.

There were few instances throughout my childhood and teen years where I had heard peers talk about God. I never thought too deeply about it but those moments were stored in the back of my mind.

By the end of my freshman year of high school, I had become an avid partier, drinking whatever alcohol was available, and had experienced physical relationships in ways I did not know at the time were meant for marriage. It was around this time I began feeling the weight of my decisions; the void I just couldn’t seem to fill.

Shortly after that, I began occasionally attending youth activities with one of my closest friends. She and her Youth Pastor picked me up from school one day and went for ice cream. He shared who Jesus was and what He had done for us. After that, I began attending church with my mom. Every time I went, I cried. I felt like the Pastor was speaking directly to me. I finally made the decision to accept Christ as my Savior and was baptized.

Though I accepted Christ as my Savior, I had not chosen to follow Him with my actions. I stopped attending church and continued to live a life satisfying only myself. I continued partying and making poor decisions until one day those decisions cost me. This time, the battle was not within; I was in trouble with the law. When the officer told me I had a warrant out for my arrest, I remember thinking, “No way, Shawna. What are you doing? You can’t go to jail.” After appearing in court and paying thousands of dollars in fines, I was convinced it was time to get my act together. The pattern continued, I went to church until things were looking up and slowly faded away again.

Life seemed good until the next battle came; this time, the circumstances were out of my control. My family dynamics were drastically changing, and I learned that the person closest to me struggled with a life-threatening eating disorder. When everything I knew changed, and my once seemingly perfect world was not so perfect anymore, I knew I could not do it on my own.

You guessed it; I went back to church.

Only this time, I decided to get involved. I began serving and developing friendships with people who were willing to teach me what it looked like to live for Jesus. We would read our Bibles together, and I quickly learned that despite my circumstances He still loves me. It has been over five years that I have continually been serving and learning more and more of who Jesus is. Let me tell you friends, He is incredible. My life isn’t perfect, but it is peaceful. The void has been filled.

 

Shawna Johnson
Tech Assistant

More than a song

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

When we gather on Sunday, it is the perfect opportunity to pursue and experience God. Whether it is through worship, the message, or even the people that surround us, we want nothing more than to seek His presence.

When I first started attending church, I did not understand why people raised their hands. I was not really sure why they even sang at all. Was it for entertainment? Was it supposed to be like a concert? I did not quite get it. As I continued attending (still not fully sold on the songs), I cried almost every time. The message seemed to always speak directly to me, and boy did it hit hard. I have since continued growing in my walk of faith, and I have learned that God can speak to us in a multitude of ways, and one way being in song. One of the first songs I remember connecting with was “No Turning Back,” by Chris Tomlin. I remember being so grateful God saved me from the mess I was in and there was absolutely no way I was ever turning back. This was the moment I realized why we sing.

Praise and worship have now become one of my favorite ways to spend time with God. It is not only an opportunity for us to declare our praise to the Lord but for Him to speak to us as well.

Next time you are in a gathering try your best to put all distractions aside and sing along. Don’t worry about your neighbor or what others may think if they hear you singing. (The words are up there for a reason!). I often joke that I have a voice only Jesus could love, and that is okay because you know what, He does love it! Also, He will love it when you sing too!

P.S. – Isn’t it absolutely beautiful when the whole congregation is singing His praises? Imagine how much more He loves it than we do!

 

Shawna Johnson
Tech Assistant

Birds of a Feather

When I was young, my parents often warned me about my choice of friends. In school, they taught about peer pressure and the impact our friends had on us. I liked to think I was my own person and even if my friends made poor choices, there was no way I was going to give in simply because they were doing it. To be honest, for a long time I never gave in, but we know what happens; the more time we spend with someone, the more we become like him or her.

Proverbs 13:20 says, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”

As I continue to grow, God reveals Himself to me more and more. I now know that there is so much truth to that statement. The people we surround ourselves with do in fact play a role in our lives.

A personal goal of mine, as a follower of Jesus, is to become more and more like Him. In doing so, I have to be mindful of the things and people I surround myself with. Friends I used to party with, music I used to listen to, and even activities I once used to entertain myself have begun to change. I still love my friends, there is no doubt about it, but that love has changed. I no longer want to spend all my hours partying with them, but instead, show myself as a living testimony to how God changes lives. Let me tell you, friends, He has changed my life!

If I told you I never think about my past, or occasionally put on music I probably should not listen to I would be lying. I have found that when this happens, I find my mind wandering to places it should not, and the words that come out of my mouth are no longer glorifying God. I begin sounding like the “me” I used to be. It is then that I am quickly reminded that I do not want to go back there. I left the old life behind for a reason.

This is where friends who love Jesus come in! I am so thankful for friends who have the ability to speak truth into my life and to remind me to be the best me I can be. I have recently begun discussing with a good friend the necessity of an accountability partner. It is important to have someone you trust that loves you enough to set you straight.

We are not perfect, none of us are, but we can strive to be the best version of ourselves as possible. Through God’s Word, prayer, and by gathering with brothers and sisters in Christ we are stepping foot in the right direction.

Maybe there are some activities you participate in, or people you give your time to you know you should not. Be in prayer and ask God for friendships that have a foundation built on Him. Set up accountability partners to help you succeed on your journey! The old life has nothing to offer; I promise you that!

 

Shawna Johnson
Tech Assistant

Encourage One Another

Life can be challenging. The great thing about the church is that we do not have to go through it alone! Over the last few years, I have had the opportunity to both sit in and serve at our Recovery Gathering. It is such a beautiful place to be. If you have never been, I urge you to visit at least once. As we gather to hear from God’s Word, nothing is hidden or left out. Nothing is sugarcoated; this is real life, and sometimes life is hard. The beautiful thing about coming and gathering together is that we can walk alongside each other, encouraging, uplifting, and reminding one another who Jesus is and how He saves lives. We do not have to live this life alone.

After being in church for a while, I noticed a difference between Tuesday night and Sunday morning. On Tuesday night, people are not ashamed or afraid to say they need help. On Sundays, people are not as open. I have often noticed struggles are hidden, and we pretend everything is okay. I heard a Pastor mention once that if we always pretend everything is okay we ultimately rob God of the glory of getting us through it! We all know we need help, and we simply cannot get through our struggles on our own, it is okay to ask for help.

Hebrews 10:24-55 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

As we gather during weekend gatherings, small groups, or friend groups, remember the importance of lifting each other up and encouraging one another. I want you to think of the last time someone encouraged you. Not the “I like your shirt,” or “Your hair looks cute,” kind of compliment, but the last time someone genuinely encouraged you? When was the last time you encouraged someone else?

Society today is continually reminding us of how we should look, what we should buy, or how we should act to be successful. Life is tough enough; let us be the light God has called us to be and help each other. Begin praying that God would reveal someone to you that you can encourage this week, and as you attend weekend gatherings be on the lookout for opportunities to love others. You will find that blessing others will bless you!

 

Shawna Johnson
Tech Assistant



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

Copyright © 2016 The River Church. All Rights Reserved.