This type of interview was a first for me, and I didn't know quite what to expect, but I believe that the LORD helped me answer her questions in ways that honor Him. I hope that you will make some time to listen to the interview, and I pray that you will be blessed as you do. You can listen via the player below:
Many strive to become great today. It may be in knowledge, sports, career, politics, or wealth—many strive for greatness. There is nothing wrong with striving to become the best that you can be. Hard work is always honorable, and it is oftentimes rewarded with success, including the monetary gains that come with it.
Citizens of God's Kingdom, which Jesus is currently ruling over, do not strive for greatness in the Kingdom. They simply obey Jesus and His Word as they follow Him.
In my book, The Kingdom According to Jesus, I write about how Jesus revealed His Kingdom through His words and actions. The Kingdom revealed by Christ includes love, grace, peace, and life with race equality, gender equality, health equality, and economic equality for all. Citizens of the Kingdom make it known today through their words and actions. They are totally obedient to Jesus. They do not strive to become great in the Kingdom. They are called great because of their obedience.
Beloved, obey Jesus. He came, fulfilling the Law, establishing His Kingdom. As you follow Him with your whole heart, continuing His point-of-need ministry, you will be called great in His Kingdom.
Jesus said: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19 ESV).
Jesus, I thank you for coming to this earth and fulfilling the Law. I have accepted your grace and answered the call to follow you, allowing you to lead me on this journey from earth to glory. Help me today keep my eyes fixed on you, revealing your Kingdom through my words and actions. Show me ways today that you would have me serve you. Emulate your love, grace, and peace to others through me today. I pray this in your precious name. Amen.
It is easy to grow discouraged in our day. Each of us has the difficult task of filtering out all the negative news that tries to find entry into our being on a daily basis. Many Christians in our day are guilty of spreading fear instead of encouragement. As we know, according to God's Word, fear is not of God.
I try to keep as many people as I can encouraged and uplifted throughout the week. As I discuss in the introduction of my book, Be Encouraged: A Daily Devotional, Volume 1, We are all called to be encouragers. God's Word tells us: "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" (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV).
According to God's Word, each of us is to be encouraging others as we follow Christ on our journey from earth to glory. We are to be looking for every opportunity to bring encouragement to others, because "the Day" of Christ's return is one day closer. Our redemption is drawing close. The best is yet to come!
It is good to be on the receiving end of encouragement, soaking in the encouragement brought to us by others. We all need that, and we need it in exponential measure in our day. What do we do when no one is bringing us encouragement? Or, what do we do in addition to the encouragement we are receiving? We are to keep ourselves encouraged.
Let me give you a formula for encouraging yourself. You can practice it, proving the equation in your life. The encouragement equation is this: Encouragement = Rejoicing + Patience + Praying. The basis for this formula is given to us in God’s Word: "Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying" (Romans 12:12, NLT).
Our confident hope is Jesus Christ, the One we follow. Our victory today, and every day, is found in Him. When trouble comes our way, we know that it is just for a season, and as we follow Christ, He will get us through. He has already overcome the world and its troubles. That is why we can rejoice in the midst of our trouble. We know that, in Him, we will overcome!
Patience is simply waiting on the LORD to get us through whatever comes our way. We wait; He strengthens.
Praying is the privilege that we are given by God that allows us to talk to Him about everything we are going through. Prayer is where we release our life to Him, leaving our present and future in His hands, knowing that He is in total control. He is directing our steps, making a way where there seems to be none.
Beloved, always remember the encouragement equation:
Encouragement = Rejoicing + Patience + Praying
It’s an equation that we all can live by and be blessed!
THE LATEST BOOK by Gregory A. Johnson, LGF Founder
We all need help staying on a godly course to become the courageous men and women the Creator wants us to be. In Be Encouraged: A Daily Devotional, Volume 1, Gregory A. Johnson lays out a road map of prayers, scriptures, and stories that will motivate others to love and perform good works. Unlike the long-term demands of a year-long devotional, this shorter thirty-day version will be more practical to complete. The devotional can also be used during holy times, like Easter and Christmas, to reinvigorate one’s spirituality or to sustain faith during spiritual trials.
Each day begins with a theme like “How to Live With Fearless Confidence,” “Why Does God Not Answer My Prayers,” and “Where to Find Safety in a World Gone Mad.” Johnson’s provocative commentary on the day’s theme is followed by well-chosen scripture and a prayer that emboldens the reader to set forth on achieving his or her goals. The easy-to-read selections are relevant, full of conviction, and blessed by God’s grace.
The devotional is more of a spiritual experience than a how-to book. Heeding the command of Hebrews 10:24-25, Johnson asks his readers to “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” It is a reminder that the prayerfulness and stillness found in a Sunday church can also be had over Monday morning coffee or during a break in our bustling workday.
The devotional will help focus the reader’s attention to turn to God on a daily basis. With its passages celebrating hope and shouting down sin, the book serves as a powerful reminder of the divine presence in all our lives. Like all devotionals, its acts of prayer, scripture, reflection, and suggestions for action will bring you daily to a place of renewal. For instance in one entry called “How to Look At Your Circumstances Differently,” Johnson admits that he may be tired or even somewhat depressed when he goes to his place of prayer. But he comes out another person, strengthened, and full of gratefulness. The day’s prayer ends with a call to action, “Instead of being burdened and anxious, help me be patient as I pray, allowing you to work in each situation.”
Readers will enjoy the book’s practicality, relevance, and inspiration. Its down-to-earth style is cultivated by a pastor who has ministered to folks from every conceivable walk of life. Johnson answered God’s call to ministry in 1988 and hasn’t stopped since. The ordained minister is a Christ follower whose desire to encourage people to walk in the path of Jesus goes far beyond church walls and Sunday services. His ministry has reached society’s haves and have-nots alike. He has ministered in homeless shelters, halfway houses, and prisons. He has also worked for two Fortune 400 companies as well as with the governor’s office for technology in Kentucky. His devotional brings true spiritual nutrition for every hungry reader and listener.
We are in the Lenten season—one of my most favorite seasons of the year.
Every year, Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (February 22, 2012, this year) and continues until Easter Sunday (April 8, 2012). It is a wonderful season on the Christian calendar, being observed by Christ followers, Protestants and Catholics alike, who desire to fast something in recognition of our LORD's sacrifice for us.
It is good to give the cost of what is given up during Lent to the work of the ministry, and the time associated with what you give up to good works of faith and justice (Isaiah 58). What are you giving up for this year's Lent? It's not too late to start today. The Spirit within you will help you decide as you pray and ask the LORD.
Christ gave up much to be our Savior. He left the riches of heaven and was birthed into poverty. As He walked this earth, He experienced hunger. He experienced homelessness. He experienced rejection of people. He experienced the loss of a close friend, weeping at the entrance of Lazarus's tomb. He experienced injustice, being falsely accused. He experienced those closest to Him being nowhere to be found in the time of His greatest need—His disciples hid in fear as He hung on an old rugged cross. He experienced pain and suffering. He experienced feelings of forsakenness by people and by God. He experienced the sting of death. Yes, Christ gave up much to come into our world and take the penalty of our sin—death.
As we live reminded of the ultimate sacrifice that Christ made for each of us, be reminded of the resurrection. Some only celebrate an empty tomb once a year on Easter Sunday. The Christian church celebrates an empty tomb each and every Sunday. It would do us good to celebrate an empty tomb every day of the week. Because of the resurrection, we are given life—abundant and eternal.
Also be reminded that, as a Christ follower, you have resurrection power dwelling within you. "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (2 Corinthians 4:16, NIV).
Aging, sickness, and disease take a toll on our bodies. The longer we live, the more we realize the limits of our earthen vessel. The outside may be wasting away, but those who have been birthed into the Kingdom by the Spirit are continually renewed on the inside. The Spirit brings life!
Beloved, you have resurrection power residing within you. The Spirit will keep you renewed on the inside as the outside steadily heads back to dust.
I am thankful that we are one day closer to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. Media has utilized the date setting false prophets of our day to desensitize society to the reality of the return of Christ, but that does not negate its truth. I feel the Holy Spirit compelling me, more and more, to remind people that Christ is returning as He promised, and we are to always be ready.
So many in our day, both inside and outside the walls of the church building, base what is right from wrong on what feels right instead of on Scripture. They are not hearing much different coming from behind the pulpits, and they are not reading the Bible on their own. I often ask myself what Jesus would be preaching in our day. Would Jesus preach on love, grace, and joy, but neglect preaching against sin? Would He preach only about heaven or would He include the reality of a place of eternal torment for unrepentant sinners to reside? Many go to church and only hear about receiving God's blessings; this message mimics many of the popular books written today by popular pastors. What would Jesus preach? Beloved, His message has not changed. Yes, Jesus preached about the blessings of God, but He did not leave out the reality of hell for unrepentant sinners -- He preached about the consequences of sin.
Jesus preached, "Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear" (Matthew 13:40-43 ESV).
The glorified Christ delivered a fiery message near the conclusion of Revelation that spells out some specific sins that will send unrepentant hearts to an eternity of torment. This message is a balance of God's grace and the consequences of sin: "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:6-8 ESV).
Jesus has given us everything we need to conquer our sin problem; He has given us His life, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit. To live ready for His return, which Scripture declares is imminent, we must allow Jesus to live through us; we must know and obey Scripture; and we must rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit to overcome each temptation to sin that comes our way.
In our day, may we echo the message Jesus preached from village to village -- "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15 ESV). I pray, "Father, lift up those in our day who will preach and live this timeless message. Amen."
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