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.
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.
Lord, let the thick skin that covers me not be a hindrance to you. Pass through it. My eyes, my hands, my mouth are yours. This sad lady in front of me: here is my mouth for you to smile at her ... This smug young man, so dull, so hard: here is my heart, that you may love him, more strongly than he has ever been loved before.
- Madeleine Delbrjl, Missionary and activist (1904-1964)
Pass through my thick skin Lord, and touch others with your grace, peace and love.
Our life is full of brokenness - broken relationships, broken promises, broken expectations. How can we live with that brokenness without becoming bitter and resentful except by returning again and again to God's faithful presence in our lives. -- Henri Nouwen
Through it all, God will never leave or forsake us.
He is faithful.
And His presence is always with us.
He will give us the strength, grace, and peace in our time of need that will give us the needed endurance on our exciting journey from earth to glory.
Many years ago as a child in church camp, I was taught a song that I have never forgotten. It goes like this:
Father Abraham had many sons
Many sons had father Abraham
I am one
So are you
So let's just praise the Lord!
Many think today that God only blesses one nation.
In my country, America, you always hear people say "God Bless America."
Some believe that Jesus is returning for one physical nation.
Some believe that Jesus is returning for a physical piece of land in the middle east.
Check out what God promised Abraham:
Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. (Genesis 17:4-5 ESV)
According to the Bible, God is for all nations.
God's heart is that none should parish, but that all have everlasting life through His son, Jesus Christ.
Color of skin does not matter to God.
Language does not matter to God.
Gender does not matter to God.
Economic status does not matter to God.
Physical location does not matter to God.
Jesus is not returning for one physical nation.
Jesus is not returning for a piece of land in the middle east.
Jesus is returning for His faithful followers who have denied self and taken up the cross.
Jesus' return is the consummation of His Kingdom here on earth that is already within His followers and He is ruling over it.
His Kingdom is full of love, grace and peace with race, gender, economic, and health equality for all.
His kingdom already consists of people from all nations.
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.
It is not the product of a victory or a command. It has no finishing line, no final deadline, no fixed definition of achievement. Peace is a never-ending process, the work of many decisions by many people in many countries. It is an attitude, a way of life, a way of solving problems and resolving conflicts.
Beloved, in the world there is sin, sickness, disease and disability. As Christ followers, we have citizenship in God’s Kingdom that Christ is ruling over.
Our citizenship is not of this world and we are to utilize our remaining days on earth putting our faith in action so that those in need can have opportunity to experience Jesus’ forgiveness of sins while seeing the Kingdom in action and desiring to be a part of it. In God’s Kingdom there is love, grace, peace and freedom with race, gender, health and economic equality for all.
Beloved, as we put our faith in action within our cities and communities, Jesus will do the rest. As we minister at the point of need, people will sense the love of Christ as our motivation and many will come to Christ and receive the forgiveness of sins. We will reach more people for Christ this way than by telling them that they are going to hell as sinners. If you go to the marginalized in your city and tell them that they are going to hell unless they come to Jesus, they will not understand because they are already living in hell. But, if churches meet the needs of the marginalized in their city, people will experience the kingdom of God in action and want to be a part of it.
I thank God for the Christ following churches who are bringing people out of the hellish conditions in their city and introducing them to the love, grace, peace and freedom of God’s Kingdom through point of need ministry.
And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven." (Mark 2:1-5 ESV)
Mark is very explicit in pointing out that Jesus was there “preaching the word.” Taking care of people’s needs was important, but preaching the word was priority in Jesus’ life and ministry. The “word” that Jesus preached is defined in Mark 1:14-15 which reads “… Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. (ESV)"
Needs being met attracted the crowds, but Jesus constantly brings attention back to the preaching of the Kingdom which is His priority. Near the conclusion of chapter one Jesus tells His followers "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out. (Mark 1:38 ESV)”
In the kingdom that Jesus is ruling over there is love, grace, peace and freedom with race, gender, health and economic equality for all. That message must take priority over all else in our day. Taking care of the needs of people is vital and is to be the result of preaching Christ and His Kingdom which must be priority. Actions must follow words. The result will be a realization of the Kingdom and participation in it.
More to come tomorrow... Your comments are encouraged!
The church in Florida that is hosting a "burn the Quran day" on 9/11 may be Christian, but it is of my opinion that they are not following Christ. Christ taught His followers to love their enemies (Matthew 5:43-48) and to love our neighbor as we do our self (Matthew 22:37-40). Christ, from the cross, prayed for those who had violently nailed Him there and asked the Father to "forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:32-34).
It would be naive for me not to think that there will be some who read what I just stated and say that I am being judgmental, but I am not judging this church and it's leadership. I am simply inspecting their fruit as Christ encouraged His followers to do (Matthew 7:15-23, John 15:1-6). So, is this good fruit of a church or is this bad fruit?
Quran burning will not portray the love of Christ to the world and is not how citizens of the Kingdom of God are to respond. It is acts such as these that fuel the hate of America in other parts of the world which lead to extremist activity spreading death and destruction. Acts such as these also stereotype the Christian church and makes it harder for the numerous Christ following churches to make a difference in their community through displaying the true nature of God's Kingdom which includes love and peace.
I pray that this church and it's leaders repent, change their plans and react to those of the Islam faith in love and peace, praying for them and showing the world that citizens of God's Kingdom live recognizing that their allegiance is first to the Kingdom of God, and after that, to their nation.
And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, "If you will, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them." But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter. (Mark 1:40-45 ESV)
What Jesus does in this paragraph of Scripture is startling to the people watching, but Jesus was not focused on the watching people. He was not interested in attracting crowds and that was not why He did the miracles that He did. He was focused on an individual who had lost his health, his dignity, his ability to earn income, his social status, his family and his friends. Jesus responded with a touch and the words “I will; be clean”. The crowds gasped when Jesus touched the leper, but the leper was filled with healing warmth that flooded His being as he was healed of leprosy and was made clean. It was love that moved Jesus to act to make this man’s life better. Jesus did not just feel sorry for him. Jesus helped him. Jesus responded with compassion – a love that compels one to act.
The first touch this man felt for probably many years was the touch of Jesus. He would never be the same. Why did Jesus touch him? He did not have to do so. In all of the recorded exorcisms, Jesus spoke a word and freed the individuals. He never once laid a hand on a demoniac. He would speak a word and the winds and waves would obey Him, so why did He touch this leper? Maybe, he touched the leper to be our example; a pattern for us to follow.
Who are the social outcasts of our day? Is it the diseased? Is it those living in poverty? Is it the homeless? Is it the incarcerated? Is it the shut-in? Is it those living alternate lifestyles? Is it those of a different race? Is it those of a different faith?
Who are the social outcasts in your city? Who in your city is financially and socially isolated? Who is shut-in? What would happen in your city if each person makes it a point every day to do an act of compassion, reaching out to touch one that is in need? I believe more people would realize the Kingdom of God and want to be a part of it.
Beloved, we live in a day where there is an overabundance of armchair theologians and armchair politicians. We don’t need any more of those. What we need in our day are people who will follow Jesus and get their hands dirty in point of need ministry revealing that in the Kingdom that Jesus is ruling over there is love, grace, peace and freedom with race, gender, health and economic equality for all.
Touch people beloved. Touch people. Be Jesus’ hand extended.
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