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:
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."
Through the writing of the Palmist, Psalm 2 comes to a conclusion with a warning from the Holy Spirit: “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalms 2:10-12 ESV)”
The Holy Spirit gives us three imperatives in this paragraph of Scripture, which if followed, will result in blessed living. First of all, the Holy Spirit compels those of our day to be “wise” and to be “warned.” Wisdom and warning come from God’s Word and His Holy Spirit. Christ followers must constantly be people of the Word and the Spirit to live for Jesus as the Word and the Spirit will come together and do a powerful work in our lives. When either the Word or the Spirit is rejected, wisdom and warning is cast away and the result is destruction.
The second imperative given by the Holy Spirit in these verses is to “serve the LORD.” Salvation from the wrath of God that is to come is not complete by only accepting Jesus as your savior; you must make Jesus LORD of your life. You must follow Him and commit your life to His lordship.
The third imperative the Holy Spirit gives us is to “Kiss the Son” which implies intimacy in relationship. Jesus came to earth rejecting religion and religionist, proclaiming and portraying relationship with God instead. You see, it’s not about religion. It’s not about manmade denominations. It’s not about church membership. It’s not about devoting all of your extra time to church activity. It’s all about relationship with Jesus; kissing the Son; having an intimate relationship with Jesus.
Why does the Holy Spirit give us these three imperatives? Because the wrath of God is coming on all those that do not love Him and have rejected His Son, Jesus Christ. Those who will obey these imperatives are found in Jesus and there is wonderful news for them in the face of world destruction like has never been seen before. That wonderful news is found in the last sentence of Psalm 2: “Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”
Beloved, take refuge in Jesus, making Him your LORD and Savior, receiving the bountiful blessings found only in Him.
In over two decades of teaching, preaching, and pastoring, I have taught parishioners that any time you read a promise in the Bible, you need to start looking around for the conditions to obey in order to receive the promise. If you do your part in obeying the Scripture, God does His part, and the promise will be realized in you. It's a central theme throughout the Bible. The "Bible Promise" books that have been so popular over the years leave the conditions of the promises of God out, leaving people standing on the promises, but ignorant to the conditions to obey in order to receive them.
Now we have a book that explains how to read and understand Scripture finding the conditions that lead to fulfilled promises, and it is written by a friend and mentor of mine, Robert P. Holland, who has been pastoring since 1965. First a word concerning Pastor Holland, and then I will talk more about his book which I have completed reading and highly recommend for all those who are serious about understanding and receiving the promises of Holy Scripture.
Pastor Holland is one of my heroes of faith. I have known him for two decades and had opportunity to sit under his ministry for a short season prior to pastoring my first church in the early 1990s. Pastor Holland has a keen understanding of Scripture that is reflected in his life. He portrays the image of Christ more than any other person I have had the privilege of knowing. His ability to communicate and teach the Word is a gift given to us by God. Those who have had the privilege of sitting under his ministry have not experienced a famine of the Word under it, and have instead been given a bountiful feast that brings growth in the Lord.
I just finished reading his book, Some Understand 1 + 6 = 7, and highly recommend it. The book begins with an explanation of the title which is fundamental to the 44 chapters which follow. In each chapter, which Pastor Holland refers to as "Wisdom and Promise workshops", a Scripture promise and its conditions (Pastor Holland refers to as "Wisdom") are identified and proper exegesis, application and exhortation is given.
For those who will read the book, I believe that the Holy Spirit will bring attention to the areas of life where proper wisdom is not applied, and where promises are not being realized, allowing for proper application of Scripture to take place. I"m sure that every reader who has a desire to please God and live for Him will be able to properly apply wisdom and receive promises as they prayerfully read and glean from each chapter.
There have been some great books that I have read that I commit to reading again. With this book, I plan to incorporate it into my daily discipline of reading, studying, and meditating on Scripture, by reading a chapter each day for a while to come. In the days ahead, I will also be tweeting (@Gregory_Johnson) some quotes from the book and posting some quotes on my Facebook page (GregoryAJohnsonPage).
I encourage you to get a copy of the book today, read it, and let God speak into your life as you discover the wisdom and promises that God would have you receive. The book is available as a paperback and as an ebook on Amazon. Click here and get your copy today - Some Understand 1 + 6 = 7: Finding Wisdom and Receiving Promises.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. -- Romans 12:6-8 tniv
I don't know about you, but I find myself having to intentionally work at listening more and speaking less, questioning myself "am I a slow learner, or just struggling with the human nature?" I'm probably a slow learner if no one else, but me, has to work on these.
Instead of being slow at learning, maybe the slowness can shift to my human tendency of getting angry. In dealing with these and other inheritances of the human nature, I thank God for prayer, the Holy Spirit that dwells within, and God's grace.
...And of course, I thank God for His Word which guides us to proper behavior.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. ~ James 1:19, NLT
Every day, no matter what our age, we get older, but the Spirit within us never ages and continues to give us life.
But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. -- Romans 8:10-11 tniv
For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.
I just completed writing my first book and it is available on Amazon. The title is "The Characters of Christmas: God at Work in our Lives".
In this simple and easy to read book, I attempt to take the characters of Christmas – Mary, Joseph, Herod and the Magi – and bring to the readers attention that nothing is impossible for God, God’s plan for us is best, God delivers us from evil and God is at work in our lives. I call these God themes. God themes are found throughout the Bible. Although the word “Christmas” is in the title of this book and I use the characters of Christmas throughout, these God themes are relative to us during any calendar season or any season of life.
My prayer is that the words written will encourage, strengthen and build faith in each reader. May God open the windows of heaven and pour out all of His spiritual blessings on each one as they read.
The book is only available as an e-book. You can read it on your Kindle or you can read it on you Windows PC, Ipad, Iphone, Mac, Blackberry, Android or Windows 7 phone by downloading the FREE Kindle reading apps. Click here to download the FREE Kindle reading apps.
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. (Mark 1:32-34 ESV)
The Jewish Sabbath is a weekly day of rest observed from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday. A lot has taken place on this Sabbath day that Mark tells us about in chapter 1 of his gospel. Earlier in the day, Jesus teaches in the Synagogue and casts a demon out of a man who was in attendance there (Mark 1:21-28). After the service, He heals Simon’s mother-in-law in the house of Simon and Andrew who were brothers (Mark 1:29-31). And now, Mark is detailed in telling us that after the Sabbath was over, as marked by sundown, people brought to Jesus those “who were sick or oppressed by demons.”
Notice that the people who were brought to Him where either “sick or oppressed by demons.” Some in our day have associated illness, especially mental illness, as demonic possession, but this account of Jesus’ life and ministry in Scripture is careful to separate the two. It would be wrong for anyone in our day to attribute a person’s illness, whether it is physical or mental, to demon possession.
I have been in the ministry for over 19 years. I have ministered both within the walls of the church building and outside the walls of church building and beyond the confines of a church service. I have ministered to those in hospitals and prisons. I have ministered to young gang bangers in correctional facilities and the homeless on the streets. I have ministered in America and in third world countries. I have ministered to literally thousands of ill people both mentally and physically, but I can count on one hand those who were possessed by demons that were made obvious through physical manifestations including voice, facial distortions and actions. I was never afraid and the Holy Spirit within me always triumphed over these evil encounters. I tell this to implore you to not associate illness with demon possession. Many precious people have been wounded and hurt because there are those who have taken their illness and proclaimed them to be demon possessed when they were not at all demon possessed. It should not be and it hinders the work of those who are utilizing their life to advance God’s Kingdom with the help of the Holy Spirit who gives them the needed and necessary spiritual discernment.
I received the following email that I feel led to share:
Just wanted to let you know that I am enjoying the study of Mark. It is so convenient how you have set it up that the student can view the discussed scriptures right as you are teaching them. How you did that is beyond me! Also another plus to the study is that you can progress at the rate you want. Some of the studies have been so good that I have listened to them several times and each time I gain benefit!
Each study in Mark is only 9-13 minutes long. If you are not yet following along in Mark with us, please join us . Please take a moment to invite your friends to join us also. Each study can be listened to individually or in a group setting. You can even facilitate a LGF gathering right where you are at!
The first 15 verses of the Gospel of Mark tells us about the ministry of John the Baptist, the baptism of Jesus, the temptation of Jesus and the message of Jesus, which is the same message for us in our day. In verse 15, we hear Jesus say "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." After making His message simple and clear, He began to call those who would follow Him and continue His point of need ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men." And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. (Mark 1:16-20 ESV)
John the Baptist is in prison and Jesus could have decided to continue His ministry alone, but He chose not to do so. His plan is to call people to follow Him. He will train, empower and direct them to continue His point of need ministry. He trains by example, He empowers by the Holy Spirit and He directs through His Word.
As we follow Christ on our journey from earth to glory, it is the Spirit that drives us into the wilderness. It’s a God thing. He desires us to draw close to Him and allow Him to prepare us for the ministry ahead of us on our journey. Each Christ follower has great potential in God’s Kingdom and revealing that Kingdom here on earth, but they must be prepared. Beloved, the wilderness is where such preparation is made.
The timing of us entering the wilderness is in God’s perfect timing. In Jesus’ case, the Spirit did not waste any time. After Jesus submitted to the will of Father which was pleasing to God, the Spirit “immediately drove Him out into the wilderness”. If you are not already in the wilderness being prepared by God for the next step in your journey, you have either just came out or you are getting ready to go in. The timing is God’s. Beloved, allow Him to do a full work in you as you focus entirely upon Him.
Beloved, submit to God and His plans for your life letting him direct your every step. Follow Christ. Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Him. And be assured that you are baptized into the body of Christ by the Spirit that dwells within you.
Beloved, we are indwelt by the same Spirit that indwelt Christ. Christ walked this earth as the Son of Man, full of the Holy Spirit, heading to the cross as the Son of God to die for our sins so that we can have fullness of life in Him now and for all eternity. It is the Spirit that births us into the Kingdom of God. The church does not birth us into the Kingdom, nor does church membership. Walking an aisle and repeating a prayer does not birth us into the Kingdom. Being religious does not birth us into the Kingdom. The Spirit and the Spirit only births us into the Kingdom of God. And as we deny self, take up our cross and follow Jesus, the same Spirit that indwelt Christ indwells us.
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." (Mark 1:9-11 ESV)
As John was baptizing all of the people who were repenting of their sins, Jesus appears on the scene. This is the most unlikely time for the Son of God to show up. Jesus had no need to repent of sins because He was sinless. But yet, He allowed John to baptize Him. His baptism was not for sins, but was to identify with people in their sin showing His willingness to submit to God’s judgment of their sin.
Jesus’ submission to the Father’s will, which meant certain death on a cross, was pleasing to the Father and demonstrated by the Father’s words and the Spirit’s descent upon Jesus. Notice that all three persons of the Trinity was present – the Father, the Son and the Spirit.
It is hard for us to comprehend what is taking place. Jesus came into our world to die for our sin. He was sinless and had no need to die for Himself. It was all about us. The Father loves us and wants to spend eternity with us so much that He sent Jesus. The Father wants us to experience life in Him and not death. And Jesus submitted to the will of the Father and He came. He left the glory of heaven and the splendor of the Father’s presence to come into our world to live and to die. He came as the son of man and He came as the son of God. He was 100% human and 100% God. As the son of man, he lived his life as an example for us to follow. As the son of God, He died for our sin taking God’s judgment for it upon Himself. And here at His baptism He, as a man, is indwelt by the Spirit just as all those who are born into God’s Kingdom would be.
Jesus lived a life on this earth that pleased the Father. It is our hearts desire to please the Father through living in Jesus. We can glean and learn much in the example that Christ gave us as He walked this earth as the Son of Man full of the Spirit while heading to the cross to die for our sins as the Son of God.
Beloved, it’s all about Jesus Christ. He came to save us from our sin and he broke the power of sin that held us captive. He came into our world. He lived. He died. He rose from the dead. He ascended back to the right hand of God. And He baptizes with the Holy Spirit all who decide to follow Him and make Him their Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit dwells within the Christ follower. Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Jesus. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. (Mark 1:1-8)
Those who follow Christ making Him their Lord and Savior are baptized with the Holy Spirit by Jesus.
Paul explains this baptism best:
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Romans 8:5-11 ESV)”
Jesus came into our world. He lived. He died. He rose again. He ascended into heaven. He has given His followers a mission to continue His ministry on earth until He comes again. And He has not left His followers powerless. He has given us the Holy Spirit that dwells within the Christ follower who has made Jesus their Lord and Savior.
Putting faith into action is the right thing to do. Putting faith into action costs us something. Putting faith into action will advance God’s kingdom.
As we follow Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to use us in continuing the point of need ministry of Jesus, we will put our faith in action advancing God’s kingdom beyond any ethnic, racial and gender boundaries and extend it to ALL people in our sphere of influence and beyond. It will cost us something, but Christ followers counted the cost when they denied their self, took up their cross and followed Jesus.
The gospel is powerful! Jesus came into our world and lived an example for us to follow. He died for our sins. He defeated death, hell and the grave. He ascended back to the right hand of the Father, but has sent us the Holy Spirit to empower us to continue His point of need ministry until He returns. Run from evil and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Be quick to obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. It will not be an easy life to live, but it will be rewarding and the Kingdom of God will grow as the result. You will prevail through all opposition as you follow Jesus Christ.
God’s Word emphasizes that Saul and Barnabas were sent out from the church in Antioch (Acts 13:1-3) by the Holy Spirit. Instead of doing what they wanted to do, they were doing what God called them to do. It would have been a much easier life to stay within the confines and comforts of the Antioch church, but the good news of Jesus Christ is to be taken wherever the Holy Spirit directs. And when the Holy Spirit directs, you can rest assured that He is busy on the other end preparing ears to hear the gospel and hearts to believe it.
Each Christ follower is given the mission of continuing the point of need ministry of Jesus. The Holy Spirit has been given to direct and empower the Christ follower. Opposition will be real and sometimes very intense, but the message of Christ will prevail and many will believe.
On your journey as you follow Christ from earth to glory, the Holy Spirit will give you guidance. That guidance will often come in times of fasting, praying, worshiping, and studying the Word of God. The guidance of the Holy Spirit will be confirmed to you through God’s Word and through the council of other Christ followers. The guidance may be vague, but details will be given along the way as you move out in total faith. As you move forward in adventurous faith, more specific guidance will come in the exact timing needed. The journey may be rough and turbulent at times, but the end result will always be Christ exalting.
Jesus promised that He would not leave us on this journey alone. He promised us the help of the Holy Spirit. As we follow Jesus on this journey from earth to glory, the Holy Spirit will guide us along the way. It will take adventurous faith for us to move forward, but Christ followers do what God wants them to do instead of what they want to do.
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