Monday, April 26, 2010

Slow Down!

O had one of those "ah-ha" moments today while I was watching a video that a guy by the name of Mark Barnes created illustrating how he uses Logos 4 to help him prepare sermons. I was interested in understanding how others use the software for Bible Study since it is complex and very powerful. What really caught my attention was the fact that he still uses a paper method of breaking down the important areas of the text. I am not sure I will go back to a paper method even after watching his video; however, I did find it intriguing.

What really struck me as interesting was the fact that using the paper method slowed him down. I use the software so I can use a greater amount of resources in a shorter amount of time. Why would anyone want to slow their technique down? The answer to that question is very important. He said it is like getting an airplane ticket from the east coast of the states to the west coast of the states. How long would it take to get from point A to point B? Not too many hours if you are fortunate. Now compare that amount of time with the time it would take to drive the same distance. Driving would take a person days!

Everyone wants to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible; however, we must ask if speed is always the best. What does a person lose by taking the plane? The answer is the details of the countryside. These details would include the towns, the sights, and the people. If you drive you will gain a lot more information about the route of travel.

Let's apply this principle to Bible study. Do you have a plan to read through the Bible in a year? If so, good for you. However, does this method create any problems for understanding Scripture? I would have to answer that question with a yes. Too often we get caught up in reading the text and not studying the text. Studying the text takes time. Sometimes I get into a few verses and spend a couple of hours trying to understand them.

If you are on a reading plan be sure to take time to go through it. Using a plan is not about "checking off" the Bible reading from your day planner. It is about getting you into a habit of studying God's Word. When Scripture becomes alive before you then it means so much more. Therefore, slow down and see the big picture.

Doug Johnson

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Response of the Crowd

Have you ever felt like making a stand for Jesus but were worried about what others might think? Have you ever been convicted of your sins and felt Jesus calling you to repent and follow Him but you were afraid that you would lose friends?

Mark 10:46-48 says:

As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then many warned him to be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mk 10:46–48.]

I want to focus for a few moments on verse 48 which says "that many warned him to be quiet". In other words, they were saying "we don’t want to hear from you". You don’t know what you are doing. Who are you to be demanding the attention? People were rejecting Bartimaeus's cry to the Savior. I am sure this picture is like the thoughts that go through our own minds. The exciting thing we see from Bartimaeus is is the fact that when the crowd rebuked him, he cried out all the more. "Son of David" have mercy on me!"

That day, Jesus stopped and commanded Bartimaeus to be called. What is so awesome about this account is that the crowd's response changes. They no longer say, be quiet, but rather, be of good cheer, Jesus is calling you. Get up and come to Jesus. Isn't it amazing?

When we stand against the crowd for Christ, Christ will get the last word. Not only that, once you cry out to Jesus, nothing or no-one can stop Him from responding. We know that Jesus will respond but the question becomes "are you willing to take a stand for Him no matter the circumstances?" Think about the following:

Matthew 10:32-33 says: Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. [Ibid., Matt 10:32-33]

What do you believe to be the greatest decision?

In Christ,
Doug Johnson

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Choices of Mary and Judas

Matthew 26:6-13 says the following:

And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:6–13.]

This passage deals with a couple of people. The first person is Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, as recorded in John 12:3-4. The second person is not really seen in this Gospel account, however, in the Gospel of John we see that it is Judas who makes the objection. Therefore, we have two different people contrasting what should be done with the expensive oil. Mary seized the opportunity to serve Jesus by anointing His feet with this costly perfume. Judas Iscariot, however, chose to criticize this woman for her act. Judas, being the disciples' treasurer, is more concerned about the cost of the oil rather than Christ Himself. Who do you think made the better choice?

Most of us would probably answer Mary. Why is that? Because what she did was a sacrificial act for the Lord. Judas, however, could care less about the anointing of Jesus' body, but rather desired to have the money that was equivalent to the oil's value. Sometimes we make the decision of Judas when it comes to service. Sometimes we choose to focus on the material rather than Christ. We may have a motive that seems "spiritual" but we miss the Will of Christ. We know that Judas missed Christ altogether.

Let me challenge you today to focus on Christ before anything else. It may mean the difference between obedience and disobedience.

In Christ,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


We are all faced with choices. Every day you are bombarded with choices. Some choices are simple and some are complex. For example, do you find yourself asking the following questions?
  • What will I wear today?
  • What will I eat today?
  • What will I watch on TV today?
  • Will I go to the movies tonight?
Some choices are a little more complex than others. For example:
  • Do I take this new job opportunity that is before me?
  • Will I choose to make a stand for what I believe today?
We have all had opportunities and made choices that we have liked and disliked. Sometimes we regret the decisions that we made while other times we have been excited about those choices.

Matthew 26:1-5 says the following:

Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.” [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 26:1–5.]

In this passage, the Jewish Leadership, chose to reject the message of Jesus and began to plot how to kill Him. The leadership had come face to face with the Messiah but refused to believe that it was Him. The result of that unbelief would be to their downfall. I must ask the question why would those who were religious leaders not see that this was who they were looking for? Was it because they were more focused on the position rather than the person? Was it because they were corrupt and this created a problem for them? Would it have been an embarrassment to them to realize they had missed the mark and led others to do the same?

These questions can apply to us today. Have you had an encounter with Jesus? Was it a life changing encounter? In other words, did you surrender when you realized that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and without Him there was no hope? It is a choice that you have to make. You will not be given forever to make that choice and doing nothing with that choice essentially is to deny.

In Christ,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Will You Compromise II

Back on January 23rd I posted a blog article that was entitled "Will you Compromise". As I finish studying Daniel chapter 6 this subject continues to be on my mind.

Remember, Daniel is in captivity. Daniel, because of his obedience to God has been spared. Daniel, because of his refusal to compromise has been granted God’s blessing. Sometimes I believe that we don’t experience the great blessings God has for us because we are too quick to compromise. We compromise when we throw our friends out in front of the bus. We compromise when we start using profanity, or looking at Internet pornography. We compromise when we jump into bed with our boyfriend or girlfriend. We compromise when we neglect studying God’s Word everyday. We compromise and therefore we do not experience God’s blessings.

Daniel is faced with an extreme trial. The men who wanted Daniel removed took the information from their decpetive plan to the king and presented it before him. Not only that, they reminded him that the law could not be broken. The law of the Medes and Persians cannot be changed..

The king was upset but followed through with what the law demanded and threw Daniel into the den of lions. This really bothered the king. The Scripture records that he did not eat or sleep that night. He was greatly troubled. Early the next morning the Scripture records that the king went to the lions den and called out for Daniel who replied:

Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982).]

You see God saved Daniel. The lions did not even touch him. Why? Because he was found innocent before God. The Bible promises that whosoever believes upon Jesus will be saved. He did not know if he was going to be saved from the physical, but he had nothing to worry about.

We see something else in this verse. It says: I have done no wrong before you. Have you compromised your faith? If so, what is it going to take to change? A person living an unfaithful life is a person who is powerless before the enemy.

I am afraid we are living in a country that has compromised her beliefs.

In Christ,

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Faith of Daniel

I am still studying Daniel chapter 6 and just focused on verse 4 which says the following:

So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Da 6:4.]

The princes and other governors were jealous. They did not like the fact that Daniel was in the position he was in and they probably did not like the fact he was a Judean. They wanted to destroy his reputation and knock him out of his seat of authority. Imagine the jealousy! But you know something? They could find no fault against Daniel.

The Scripture said: they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.

People have a difficult time finding fault in someone who is morally upright, especially against someone who is living for the Lord. As a matter of fact, these princes had to attack Daniel’s faith in God to attempt to get him removed; however, there was not even fault in Daniel’s faith. We have all seen an ugly political campaign but just imagine if a candidate was living a faithful life like David. What would the campaign look like? It would be completely different than many we see today.

Let me ask you a question. What does your faith look like? Do you have the faith of Daniel, where others cannot even point out that you have a lacking faith? Or, is your faith lacking? Would people have a difficult time knowing that you are a Christian?

Our desire should be to glorify God by our love and obedience to His will. When we are fully dedicated and devoted to Him our actions will be morally upright to a point that it would be difficult to find fault. Let me challenge you not to just live right but live for God. Be in His Word daily.

In Christ,

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Siren's Cry

I was listening ot the radio this morning and the personalities were asking people to call in and tell about the preparedness their towns have for emergency situations. The station I listen to was K-Love which is syndicated across the United States. I am guessing that the reason they were talking about this subject was because a storm system is moving across the country bringing heavy rains, storms, and tornados. In any case they were talking about the sirens that accompany storm warnings in many cities. You may or may not live in a city that is equipped with a warning system for such emergencies but many have loud sirens to warn people of an imminent threat.

It is an interesting subject in light of my Bible study this morning. I was reading Isaiah and came across verse 6 which says:

Wail, for the day of the LORD is at hand! It will come as destruction from the Almighty. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Is 13:6.]

In Biblical reference, "the Day of the Lord" refers to the time period before the return of Christ. This period is called the tribulation and will be a time of great judgment on the wicked. This period will follow the rapture of the church and is a seven year period which no-one will want to experience. However, those who have rejected Christ and are still living on the Earth when this time period happens will experience this tribulation. The Bible warns that no-one will want to be here during that time and it has given us signs to look for. These signs tell us that the rapture of the Church and the tribulation is imminent. Therefore, the Christian's cry should be that of warning. Unfortunately too many are complacent and apathetic.

If a tornado or hurricane was fast approaching, would we not want everyone to be out of harm's way? We know that the end is coming soon as we watch our world spiral in many areas. Therefore, we need to sound the alarm and warn others of the approaching storm and show them how to be saved from destruction.

CBN - Sexually Indulgent Now, Marriage Ruined Later?

CBN had a great report recently that presents scientific research showing how sexual permissiveness can do great damage to future sexual happiness. Take a look at the video. (If you are viewing this entry on an RSS feed or another source outside of my blog, you may have to go to my blog to see it.

The statistics of STD's and teen suicide are disturbing.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why Did Daniel Stand Out?

I am continuing to study a bit in the book of Daniel. In chapter 6 Darius restructures the governing authority of the kingdom. He appoints 120 princes, also known as satraps, to rule the kingdom. Above these princes, he sets up three governors, and one of those is Daniel. The text also tells us that the king gave thought of setting Daniel in control of the whole realm. I have to ask a question. Why did he do this? Why did Daniel stand out above the rest? I think the answer falls into two categories: what he did not do, and what he did do.

Here is what Daniel didn’t do:
  • He did not fight to get to the top.
  • He did not pull the spotlight on all of his great achievements. 
  • He did not try to undercut the achievements of others. 
  • He did not have jealousy in his heart for anyone else on the candidate list.
Here is what Daniel did do:
  • He set his priorities in order.
  • God first
  • Others second
  • (Where is the list of stuff?)
Daniel had character.

  • Definition of character: the inherent complex of attributes that determines a persons moral and ethical actions and reactions
  • You’ve heard: It is who you are when no-one is looking!
Think about the following questions:
  • Q: Do you change who you are when around certain people?
  • Q: Would you be ashamed for others to know your secrets?
  • Q: If we made a movie of your true character, would you mind having it played on prime time TV?
I have to admit we live in a world that is self-centered. People do all kinds of crazy things to "get to the top". But one thing is sure, to have a respectable and desirable character, you have to do it God's way. It is what Daniel did.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. [The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Mt 6:33.]

In Christ,

Monday, April 5, 2010

They Try to Explain it Away

With the resurrection of Jesus Christ fresh on our minds it is amazing how many cable channel documentaries try to explain it away.  Obviously, the resurrection creates a problem for an unbelieving world.  A former professor of mine referenced the following YouTube video on his blog and I wanted to share it with you. It shows how ridiculous the theory is that states Jesus did not die after His crucifixion and two days later he was walking 7 miles to Emmaus.

(Note: the images at the end of the video illustrate what an unbelieving world calls goofy; however Christians see those events as factual. If you cannot see the video because you are viewing this through an RSS feed or another source please go to my blog to see it.)

Jesus did die on the cross for the sins of the world but He did not stay in the grave. He arose on the third day conquering sin and the grave. He became the sacrifice for our sins and whosoever believes in Him will be saved. My challenge to the Christian is to prepare to stand in defense of your faith. The time is here.

In Christ,