“Committed Community” – A Free (MP3) sermon by Bryan Johnston

JohnstonTitle: Compelled Community – Scripture: 1 Peter 2:9-12 –  “The picture of the church is a group of disciples doing its part to edify the body and advance the kingdom.  It looks like hands and feet bringing love, unity, and hope to the world.  When each part is doing its work it is a healthy, beautiful representation of Christ to the world.  The church has always thrived in threatening times, so let us not be afraid.  Let us be compelled by the love of Christ to carry out God’s plan through his church to bring redemption and restoration to our community.  How are you compelled to show love, unity, and hope to your community?”

DOWNLOAD/LISTEN/EMBED Link: http://www.wordforlife.com/files/sermons2/johnston-10-08-17.mp3 Short Link (Case-sensitive) http://bit.ly/10-08-17

 Author: Bryan Johnston, Preaching Minister, North Bend, Oregon USA Church of Christ – nbcoc@hotmail.com

“Looking Back” – A devotional by Bryan Johnston

JohnstonWhen I was in college, I was blessed to spend one summer in Takahagi, Japan teaching English using the Bible. One day our hosting minister Sensei Yatabe, took us on a tour of Tokyo. Without any instruction or preparation, we stepped off the train in downtown Tokyo. Sensei Yatabe looked at me alone, since I was the closest person to him, and quickly said, “Follow Me.” Quickly turned back around and hurriedly started walking ahead. With only a slight hesitation and moment of concern, I glanced immediately at the team member behind me, making brief eye contact and said, “Let’s Go!” From the corner of my eye I could still see the back of Yatabe’s head and darted off.

Keeping my eyes resolutely set on his indistinct straight black hair, we were led through intersections and streets flooded with thousands of other Japanese citizens. I was fearful of losing track of my leader and at the same time fearful of losing my followers. Our Sensei never once looked back to make sure I was following, and I in turn was never able to look back at my followers. If I had gone astray, I would have gotten our whole team lost. As God was with us, I was able to catch up to our leader and avoid being lost. Only then was I able to look back to joyfully see that my three friends were right behind me. I guess it helps to have red-hair. We are all called to be disciples and disciple-makers. We are called to be followers and leaders. As a leader it is helpful to stay close, look back, and assist your followers.

When calling his followers Jesus says, “repent” and steer your life toward his kingdom. Once redirected and committed Jesus says, “Come follow me.” Later along their discipleship journey of becoming like him, he says, “Go and make disciples.” The goal is that the students will become the teachers. And like Paul, the disciple-making disciples will be able to confidently say to their followers, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” Jesus is looking back at you. As you make disciples, be sure to look back at your followers.

Bryan Johnston

Preaching minister, North Bend, Oregon USA Church of Christ – nbcoc@hotmail.com / www.churchofchristnb.com

Doing Life Together – by Bryan Johnston

(Editor’s note: Life Groups, often called “Small Groups” in some congregations, are groups of believers that meet at various times  to discuss Christian life. Some follow topical studies, discuss that day’s sermon, or whatever as is their interest. They are very beneficial in growing strength in the congregation. Here is a note Bryan sent out just before ours restarted for this term, which speaks some of their value.)

Our Life Group ministry will be starting September 10! Our groups meet on Sunday evenings in homes and at the building from September thru May. It is essential to our growth and maturity that we have opportunities to share our love for God and love for one another. Life Groups provide members a setting to grow as disciples of Christ and to minister one to another. We will share in God’s word and discuss the morning sermon. We will share our lives with each other, providing opportunity to be encouraged and mentored in our walk with Christ. Life Groups provide a place for each one to use their gifts to edify and build up the body of Christ. As we are built up our love overflows into serving the world and growing the kingdom of God.

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The Light of the World – by Bryan Johnston

(Written 8/27/17 – shortly after a full solar eclipse was visible from our location)

JohnstonMillions of people traveled hundreds of miles to witness perhaps a once in a lifetime experience – the 2017 Solar Eclipse! We traveled 100 miles to Newport, Oregon to witness one of nature’s amazing sites. It took planning and forethought to position ourselves in the right place at the right time. The solar eclipse was predicted to start at 9:05 A.M., so we were in place at that time. It took the right equipment to safely view the astronomical attraction. We pre-purchased the NASA/ISO approved protective eye wear to stare observantly at the ocular occurrence. It took patience and endurance to wait for the moon to align itself perfectly in the path of the sun’s light rays to display the total solar eclipse. It took faith to trust that the weather would comply with our viewing location. The fog did give us quite the scare during the last fifteen minutes before totality. Then, at ….

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When Darkness Turns Into Light – by Bryan Johnston

JohnstonOn August 21st a total solar eclipse was visible in totality within a band across the entire contiguous United States. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between Earth and the Sun, thereby totally or partly obscuring the image of the sun for a viewer on Earth. The last time a total solar eclipse was visible across the entire contiguous United States was on June 8, 1918. Among others, the towns of Newport, Salem, and Madras Oregon will be flooded with eclipse enthusiasts. The eclipse was estimated to begin at 9:05 A.M. PST with the totality occurring at 10:17 A.M. PST. The totality itself will only last about two minutes. We had to be warned against looking directly at the sun while the eclipse is setting into and releasing from its totality. There was a high potential for extreme and even permanent damage to the eye from looking directly into the sun for that extended period of time. NASA and the American Astronomical Society urge solar gazers to only use glasses with the safety standard number “ISO 12312-2” printed and guaranteed on them. Be safe and enjoy this once in a lifetime experience.

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Home Sweet Home – by Bryan Johnston

JohnstonMy grandfather Harold Martin made his home in the Mona Community in Northeast Montana. His parents homesteaded there in 1915 and after marrying my grandmother Edith in 1925, they built their life together on that land. They had five children together and were active members in the Church and kingdom of God. My grandpa loved his family, his land, and his Lord. He worked hard running the farm, helping neighbors, and serving the church. He loved teasing his grandchildren, playing games, and making music on his fiddle. My grandpa loved his home.
When his wife Edith preceded him in death, Harold spent time living with his children. The farm was taken over by his son Duane and Harold would continue to help when he was able. His two daughters who lived in town would take turns looking after him and caring for his needs. As much as he loved his daughters’ care and attention, he always had an aching for home. For the first couple of years after Edith’s death, he would routinely ask to go home.

Be Holy as the Lord Your God is Holy – by Bryan Johnston

JohnstonResting in the Lord is hard to do. It is a gift from God that he commands his people to set apart one day a week for the Lord. In Exodus 20:9-10 the Lord says, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.” This day of rest is holy because it is dedicated to the Lord and him alone. It seemed foolish to those living apart from God in the ancient world to take a day of rest. It appears lazy as Pharaoh says, “Lazy, that’s what you are – lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ Now get to work.” (Exodus 5:17-18a) In our modern culture where riches and materials rule the day, taking a day off for the Lord seems like such a waste of time.

My grandfather was a wheat farmer in Northeast Montana. During times of harvest workers were committed to spending days and days at a time
with very little sleep, in order to get their crop out of the ground to make the most profit for all their toils. It seemed foolish to take time off. My grandfather knew who his Lord was. He put his faith and trust in the Lord. He never worked on a Sunday in his life. He also never missed getting his harvest. He was blessed, God was glorified, and all who knew him knew who his God was.

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Respect God’s Name – by Bryan Johnston

JohnstonThe names for Jesus go on and on, I have never met someone who has so many names. The descriptions that are associated with our Lord are innumerable. So what is the name that the Lord our God prefers to be known as? I have known many people who preferred to go by a particular name. I think it is respectful to address others by the name that he or she desires to be called. I have known Michael’s that are particular about being called Michael and not Mike. There are others who like to be known by their middle names rather than their first. And there are even those who select names that are completely different from any of their birth names. For example I knew a guy named David Kinzer who was only known by the name “Whompy.”

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Beautiful Welcome – by Bryan Johnston

JohnstonThere is not a more beautiful sight than coming home to the McCullough Bridge into North Bend (Oregon, USA- See footnote). This architectural expansion is laid down firmly to provide safe entry into the Bay Area from the North. The mile-long cantilever bridge allows travelers easy entry as they pass high above the city of North Bend. It endures the high winds and rain to provide access to community life. The bridge’s function is to provide passage by welcoming patrons to travel over its surface. It does not mind the burden of bearing the treading and tracking of all the traffic. It takes great delight to serve people into city limits.

Jesus as the gate is the only entry into the kingdom of God. He is the door that opens to let his people in. As the door he provides access and protection for his followers. Jesus takes great joy in watching over his flock. As the Good Shepherd he knows his sheep and they know him. He meets

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Unlocked Doors – by Bryan Johnston

JohnstonDon’t you love those friends and families who say “you can come over anytime without an invitation,” those places where if you knocked the owners would be offended if you did? My grandparents’ home was like that. My aunt and uncles place on the farm was like that. And there have been a few dear friends whose houses I am so at home with that I can enter without knocking, usually coming in through the back door. The owners of these houses are gracious hosts where no one is a stranger. For many of these, their homes are never locked and their doors are always open. There have been times when I have entered a beloved’s home without them even there. I was trusted and still welcome to find refuge.

The Lord is the Gate for the sheep. He is the doorway into his fold. The Lord welcomes all to come in and go out. There is no need to break in, steal, or destroy. While you are with him he cares for you and provides all your needs. He is the gracious host and he is committed to your flourishing.

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