Two Kingdoms

The Bible describes the world in which we live in various ways, but one intriguing way is through word pictures. Jesus taught in parables, stories that have hidden, but profound meanings. When you understand Jesus’ parables you understand the thoughts of God toward His people. Jesus used parables to teach lessons on living for Truth, righteousness, love, and obedience. In Matthew He uses the term kingdom numerous times to describe a realm in which we live. There are two realms or kingdoms, the kingdom of heaven and earth (world). Jesus’ primary focus is on the value of the Kingdom of Heaven over the kingdom of this world.

In Matthew 13:44 Jesus says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” This parable speaks of the intrinsic value of knowing God. This parable speaks of the intrinsic worship of being willing to give up all you own on this earth to follow Christ. This parable speaks of the intrinsic joy of inheriting an eternal blessing that can only come from living for God. When it comes to Kingdom living there is only one choice of any lasting value.

On Mission,

Pastor Johnny

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Free From Sin

Think about the one sin you have trouble shaking! How does it make you feel when you fall into temptation? The Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 5-8 the joy that can come through the challenge of sanctification. In Romans 5, we have the promise of eternal glorification in Christ. In Romans 6 we have the freedom from sin that only comes through the Spirit of God living in us and through us. Romans 7 reminds us that in our own striving and strength we can do nothing. Now, Romans 8:1-2 states, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8 provides the promise of “no condemnation” for those who are in Christ Jesus. We do not have to walk around defeated due to sin. We can overcome sin in this life by knowing Christ has already overcome sin for eternity. Are you in Christ? If you are a follower of Jesus, you can overcome any temptation and sin that easily entangles you, so you can become a slave to righteousness and life, instead of sin and death.

Live in Freedom,

Pastor Johnny

New Life In Christ

You have probably heard it said, “Life is hard, but God is good.” There is truth to that statement. Life is hard. Since the fall of man in the Garden, life has been hard. The world is waiting for complete redemption with the second coming of Christ. His first advent released the world from the guilt of sin and gave us a reward of knowing God. In the meantime, the Apostle Paul describes how our life can be renewed and regenerated. “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation, old things are passed away and behold new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

First, Paul describes the event of faith and trust in Christ, that is, being “in Christ”. This reminds us that when God looks at us as believers, He sees Jesus’ sacrificial atonement covering our guilt and shame.

Second, he describes that we are “new” or renewed in Christ. Our priorities change, our desires change, and our love is rearranged. We have new passions. Our “old“ desires are replaced, and we answer the calling to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

Finally, our new priorities bring new habits and choices, that in the end provide joy and freedom. This new creation does not insure a care-free life, but it does insure a hope even in hard-times.

On Mission,

Pastor Johnny

Joy Unspeakable

In our culture it seems joy is hard to come by. We mistake joy with happiness and that can lead to frustration. Joy transcends happiness and the circumstances that surround you. The chaos of this world can lead us to lose our joy and hope that anything will ever change. The Bible tells us otherwise, and it gives a us some great examples of how joy can overcome even the darkest circumstances.

In Philippians, the Apostle Paul writes from a prison cell about the joy he has in knowing Christ, the progress of the gospel, and even awaiting trial. His punishment even in innocence could be death but he is still joyful. How? He knows Christ and the power of his resurrection and he is willing to hold on to his joy even when life seems dark and dreadful.

Joy is finding contentment in Christ through prayer, His Word, and encouragement of fellow believers who are going through similar struggles. God never promised relief from the pain or struggle or even prison, but He does walk through them all with us, and our faith as it is tested by fire will be purified as gold and silver. Allow God to provide joy even when it seems there is no joy to be found.

In Joy,

Pastor Johnny

Life of Sacrifice

Have you ever lost something super valuable to you? I heard about one story of a lost wedding ring in a lake, later found by a couple in shallow water. One day, while asking a local jeweler what they should do with the ring, after four months of searching for the owner, he asked, “where they found the ring?” Sure enough, it was a couple who had just inquired if anyone had found a lost wedding ring in the same lake. Rings can be lost and found, just like a fruitless wandering life can be lost and found in Christ.

After trusting in Christ, Jesus gives us a picture of what our new life should resemble in Luke 9:23. First, self-denial – we must seek after the things of God not our selfish gain. Second, self-sacrifice – the cross is a place of death, there is no making it out alive. The cross symbolizes in our life all that must die in order to become a disciple of Christ. Jesus is not just an add-on to our life. His journey becomes our journey. Finally, we must be self-motivated; we must desire to follow Jesus example; it cannot be a casual relationship. Following Jesus means that we consume our life with His directives, and He will make our path straight. Ask God to help you live the sacrificial life!

On Mission

Pastor Johnny

Endure to the End

It has been said that the Christian life is a marathon not a sprint. You don’t trust in Jesus and immediately go to Paradise. The Bible uses the word endurance many times to describe the believer’s journey of faith. A marathon takes endurance, training and builds character. Jesus speaks of the end of the marathon in Matthew 24. He describes it this way, “and this will be a sign of the end of the age.…Lawlessness will increase.” (vs.12) I believe, you can just turn on the news and see that lawlessness is increasing at an alarming rate. However, the promise from Jesus is this, “the one who endures to the end will be saved!” (vs.13)

We are not just simply to endure this end, we are to thrive to the end. Jesus commissioned everyone to, “Go and make disciples of all nations… and the gospel of the kingdom will be preached to the ends of the earth and the end will come.” (vs.14 & Matthew 28:18-20) God is not finished until all have had the opportunity to hear. Jesus mission was to redeem “all who would call on His name”, and the message of salvation must be proclaimed to the world. (Romans 10:13) Church, run this race of faith with endurance and bring life to the dying.

On Mission,

Pastor Johnny

Jesus Is The Good Shepherd

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:10-11) This passage is an agrarian depiction of life that Jesus’ disciples would have easily understood. The hills around Galilee were filled with sheep and shepherds. Jesus describes the true motivation behind a shepherd in 1st Century Palestine.

The shepherd had three main tasks. First, to know and call the sheep. The sheep knew the real shepherd’s voice and he would name them, so he could call them out individually. (John 10:14) Jesus called out and calls out everyone who will follow Him. Second, the shepherd was to feed and protect the flock from wolves and robbers. (John 10:8-10) Jesus’ whole ministry was spent shepherding His people and providing a place for refuge for them.  Finally, the shepherd was to lay down His life for the sheep. (John 10:17-18) Sheep were so valuable in that day that shepherds lost their lives protecting and rescuing them. Jesus is our Good Shepherd laying down His life for the World.

One theologian said it this way, “After the Resurrection, Jesus did not invite His disciples to a time of communion on the Mount of Transfiguration. He said, ‘Feed my sheep.”- Oswald Chambers

Pastor Johnny

Our Treasure In Jars Of Clay

“(7) But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (8) We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; (9) persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; (10) always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”          (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)

What is the most valuable item you own? Your car, a house, a wrist watch. I saw where an NFL football player had a watch that cost him $25,000. Wow! Everyone places value on things they have or the people they love. The Apostle Paul paints a picture for us how as believers in Jesus we have a “treasure”, which is described as the light of the Gospel, that spreads hope and direction to all who will believe. The gospel shines even in persecution, we can be struck down, but the impact of the gospel cannot be destroyed. It is by Jesus’ death we can live, and in our life, we should carry the marks of His death, which is sacrifice and love for all who need Him.

On Mission,

Pastor Johnny

Taking a Knee

Bowing and kneeling are two of the most humbling expressions we can make. When we bow and kneel, we are showing honor and respect to the one we are kneeling in front of. The Psalmist encourages us in Psalm 95 to bow and kneel before God our Creator. God is our creator and He alone is worthy of our worship. We often worship so many other things beside God. Why do we so quickly worship idols? People make lousy idols, they always disappoint, and money makes a lousy idol –  it only brings fleeting happiness. Our nature tends to lead us to idol worship, instead of humbling ourselves before God and worshiping Him with our entire lives. Jesus described worship this way, “my sheep hear my voice and know me as their shepherd.” If we are the “sheep of His pasture”, we should strive to hear His voice and follow His lead. Jesus, being our Good Shepherd, wants to lead us to green pastures and beside still waters that only He can provide. Bow and kneel before God today as His humble sheep, and He will lead you into abundance.

In Christ,

Pastor Johnny

This Is Us

This is Us, is a popular TV show detailing the lives of everyday families searching for lasting significance. However, we often search in all the wrong places for satisfaction, love, and self-worth. What if our homes searched for Christ?

Luke 19 details the account of Zacchaeus searching for Jesus. Jesus met Zacchaeus where he was and told him, “today I will abide in your house.” (Luke 19:5) Zacchaeus’ life and home were rocked that day. He was not the same after meeting, dining with, and seeking to follow Christ with his entire life. “Many homes have been rescued from unhappiness and ruin by the entrance of the Savior.”

Jesus visits and so much rearranges; mothers reflect His purity, fathers reflect His patience and sacrifice, and children reflect His humble submission to our Heavenly Father. Simply put, our lives change when we meet Jesus. Does your home glow with peace, devotion, and good will from meeting Jesus? One author wrote it this way. “The Christian home is earth’s sweetest picture of Heaven.”

This must be us! Allow Jesus to abide, stay, and rearrange the furniture of your house, and you will be so glad you did. He is knocking, let Him in today.

On Mission,

Pastor Johnny