“Teaching us on the Path and in the Pew” – by Bryan Johnston

"Teaching us on the Path and in the Pew" - by Bryan Johnston      Could you imagine being an eyewitness to the gospel story? Those who walked and talked with Jesus had a challenging time accepting the fact that Jesus was the true Son of God. The disciples were raised hearing the words of Moses and the Prophets. They knew that the Messiah would come and how he would give his life for them. Yet just days after the death of Jesus we find a couple of disciples walking away from Jerusalem doubting that the one who spoke words and performed deeds of God was in fact the Messiah. Jesus patiently walks along the path with them as a father would walk with a child, tenderly reminding them of the teachings of their youth. He interprets the Scriptures through the lens of the death, burial, and resurrection of none other than himself. Let us not forget that the Messiah is with us today. We like the disciples need teachers who will walk the path with us so that we may come to knowledge of the truth. Let us not be foolish nor slow of heart to believe. I pray we have saints who will walk with us and lead us into paths of righteousness.

I was blessed [*on a recent Sunday, February 19th] to share communion with Carson, a new young member to our fellowship, and Clair Farnsworth, a senior saint who is a battled warrior of faith who continues to march the path. We broke bread and drank from

Read the rest

“Swish!” – A Devotional by Bryan Johnston

She picked up the ball at the opposing team’s free throw line and galloped toward our goal. Finnley had her head held high as she dribbled down the court speeding ahead of the charge of the defenders. Under control and with great confidence she came to a solid jump stop on the baseline. With the ball in hand and eye on the basket, she bent her knees, raised her arms, and let the shot go. The leather orb spun through the air with a perfect backspin and swished through the net. The crowd went wild. A smile a mile wide filled her face, and her dad, the coach, cheered in proud proclamation. It has been a great joy to coach Finnley’s basketball team with the Upward Sports program. It has been fun to see each one grow in his and her skills and also come together as a team of friends. During our training event, the directors highly stressed focusing on different levels of success rather than just winning games. The league we play in does not keep a score at the games. Yes, there is great excitement when baskets are made, but that is not the only measure of success that we have been encouraged to recognize. Successes are made with each catch, pass, controlled-dribble, matching up with the correct player on defense, and even running toward the correct goal. Success is recognized for having good sportsmanship and exhibiting Christ like attitudes.

     The disciples walking down the road to Emmaus were expecting a Messiah who would successfully redeem them through power, force, and victory over their enemies. Jesus came to show that salvation would come rather through sacrifice. Jesus conquered the world through humility, service, and love. How do you measure success in your life? I encourage you to put your hope in the Lord and to pursue service as a way of life. Serving both God and others above yourself, will bring happiness to your life in ways that serving only yourself could never bring. This will be a different way of living, but it is by this way of love that the world will know that you are of God and on his winning team.

Bryan Johnston, North Bend, Oregon (USA) Church of Christ.

 

“Upside Down” – by Bryan Johnston

"Upside Down" - by Bryan Johnston     The empty tomb turned the world upside down. The women were expecting to find Jesus’ dead body in a closed tomb, but instead the stone was rolled away and the body of the Lord was not there. The Lord emptied himself of everything by giving his life. At the outset of this reality, it seemed like another failed attempt at redeeming the world of its failings. The women were left in wonder and confusion but the angels appeared proclaiming, “He is not here; he has risen!” What?! Death is not the final answer?! There is life beyond the grave?!

Jesus revealed that living a life of self-sacrifice and obedience to God will lead to eternal life and joy. As Jesus gave all his heart and all his love, he was able to conquer death and overcome the grave. Seeking a life of self-promotion and self-glorification, will only lead us to forfeiting our souls in pursuit of our own benefit. The pursuits and desires of this materialistic world will not carry us past the grave. They have no power to save our lives. They have no ability to do us any good. We use them and then they are gone. They are fleeting and they are weak. They demand our lives to obtain and leave us empty and wanting more. Turn your life upside down.

Empty yourself and pursue the Lord, then you will find life. Then you will be full, and his power and grace will break through the bonds of sin and death. Stop killing yourself by trying to gain more. Start living real life by giving more, serving more, and loving more. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matt. 6:24). “Choose you this day whom you will serve” (Josh. 24:15). Please choose life.

 

“Running On Empty” – by Bryan Johnston

When I was in college and traveling between Culbertson, MT and York, NE there were many times that I was literally running on empty. With many miles between towns I had to strategically plan out my gas station stops. The wind and the traffic at times negatively impacted the fuel efficiency of my compact car. There were times that I was 50 miles from the nearest gas station when my fuel gauge flattened out on empty. Somehow, I never ran out there always seemed to be enough reserves or fumes in the fuel tank to power my car into the next town.
Jesus emptied himself when he came to this earth. He left heaven to become a man and as a man he emptied himself by becoming a servant. As a servant he become obedient to death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:6-8). See what the Lord was able to accomplish when he gave up everything. The call of Jesus to become his disciple is also call to empty oneself. The first disciples left everything. Upon calling his disciples, Jesus expects the response to be a complete denial of self and a total following of trust and obedience. He says, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

If you would like to have a full life this year, then be like Christ and follow him. Following Jesus is a life of emptying yourself of all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and seeking him first. Being a disciple of Christ means choosing to be last, leaving everything behind, and taking nothing with you on the journey. Deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow Jesus. If you want to gain your life you will lose it. If you want to live a life to the fullest, then you have to become nothing. Choose to become less that he can become more. May God bless you with a full life this year.

Bryan Johnston, preaching minister, North Bend, Oregon USA Church of Christ

“Praying Through Romans” – A Prayer Guide To Share

At the local church, we had such a great response from our “40 Days of Prayer” that many wanted to continue the focus of praying together.  We’re now offering a new prayer focus on the book of Romans. By clicking THIS LINK you can download the guide called “Praying Through Romans.” To Save a copy of the file (instead of opening it) RIGHT-CLICK on the link and choose “Save Link As..” or “Save Target As…” whichever your browser uses.

If you have any issue with the link, here is the full path to the file: http://www.wordforlife.com/files/general/reading-through-romans-2017.pdf  – and you are free to share this with anyone. If you live in our local area, we welcome you to join our Sunday morning Bible study at the North Bend (Oregon) Church of Christ, 2761 Broadway, North Bend, Oregon. Telephone: 541-756-4844, email: nbcoc@hotmail.com if you have any questions. The church website, which contains more information as well as MP3’s of the sermons and much more is at http://www.churchofchristnb.com

The Wisdom of Socrates – The Story of the Three Sifters

Someone once asked the great philosopher Socrates, “Do you know what people say about you?”

Socrates replied, “Wait a minute. Filter everything you say through three sifters.”
Friend: “Three sifters?”
Socrates: “Yes. The first sifter is TRUTH. Are you SURE what you are about to tell me is the true?”
Friend: “No, I just heard it.”
Socrates: “Let’s try the second sifter – the sieve of GOOD. Do you want to tell me something good?”
Friend: “No, the opposite.”
Socrates: “Then let’s try the sifter of USEFULNESS. Do I really need to hear what you want to tell me?”
Friend: “No, it’s not necessary.”
Socrates: “Well then” he concluded, “What you are about to tell me is not good, true, or necessary. So why bother telling me it at all?”

There is a great deal of wisdom in that story. And in this one:

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

You can read the rest of this chapter online at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+4&version=NIV

BABY CHICKENS FOR IMPOVERISHED FAMILIES

markmagill_t2_5For impoverished families, a brood of chickens can become a daily reminder of God’s faithfulness, as their eggs provide nutritious food as well as a source of income. For $14.00, we can supply a dozen chicks, help a family set up a coop, or offer basic veterinary care. For the next two weeks, our church is gathering donations from those who are able to do so to donate $14.00 USD (or any amount) to help these families. If you’re coming to the church, there is a collection jar on the wall in the fellowship (main social area) hall. Jesus once said He longed to gather the people of Jerusalem “as a hen gathers her brood under her wings” in (Matthew 23:27) and this can be as a daily reminder to the families that someone here on Earth also cares for them. At the rate chickens can multiply, just that one batch of chicks can provide a food and nutrition source for years. If you’d like to donate by mail, please send it to the address below. Thank you!  –Mark Magill

North Bend Church of Christ
2761 Broadway
North Bend, OR 97459 USA
Attn: Chick Fund Donation.   <— please be sure to put this note on the envelope

If you don’t live near here and would like to donate via PayPal, just contact me directly at mrmagill@gmail.com and I will forward your donation to the church. Thank you.

Together As Friends – Part 3 – by Bryan Johnston

bryan-jpgNothing describes the relationship we have with Jesus better than the word friendship. We did not choose him, but he chose us (John. 15:16). As our Lord and Creator, he had the rightful power and authority to define our relationship with him. He did not call us his servants, but rather his
friends. He chose to be our friend. As a friend, he protects us from evil, prays for us, and even lays down his life for us. The question is will we choose to be his friend? Will we spend time with him in conversation? Will we do the things that bring glory to his name? Will we care enough to put his interests before our own?

When we choose to be his friend, we have the blessing of joining a body of believers on this journey. Our common faith joins us together in sweet accord. These lovely companions provide us avenues to express our love of God, with one another. I am reminded of the great friendship between David and Jonathan. “Jonathan become one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself” (1 Sam. 18:1). Jonathan proved his deep devotion to David by protecting David against the attacks from his own father Saul. Jonathan said to David, “if my father is inclined to harm you, may the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away safely” (1 Sam. 20:13). This is a beautiful picture of the type of sacrificial love that the Lord has for us, and an example of the type of friendship we are blessed to have with fellow Christians.

“Lord thank you for calling us your friends. Help us to be a good friend to you in return. Father, thank you for the friendship of believers who have sacrificed their time, energy, and resources for me. Lord thank you for friends in the Lord who help me grow and who I am blessed to share life
with. Help us as your church to continue to build one another up. Help the world to see our love and by our love to want to know you.” AMEN


Bryan Johnston

Together As Friends, Part 2, by Bryan Johnston

bryan_t2When the Lord called his first disciples he said, “Come Follow Me.” Each one had to decide for himself to accept the invitation. Each follower soon joined a tribe of other followers. Can you imagine the close friendship that the first followers established with each other? The Lord knew that it would take a group of friends working together to lead the world into the kingdom of heaven. The task was too great to allow for failure. The Lord would not allow his church to be overcome by fear, doubt, or weakness. Alone each one would face defeat; but together as friends they encouraged each other in the work.

The Lord had given the land of Canaan to Moses and the Israelites. They were to accomplish the task of going into the land and possess it as a fulfillment of God’s promise.Moses sent in twelve spies to explore Canaan and bring back a report of the land and the people. Ten of the twelve came back terrified saying, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are” (Numbers 13:31). But Joshua and Caleb, stayed faithful by saying, “Do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid” (Num. 14:9). Despite the doubt and fear of the ten, which led to the fear of the nation, Joshua and Caleb’s joint trust in the Lord kept the mission of God alive. I’m not sure if one of them could have stayed committed in the face of insurmountable opposition, but together they succeeded in carrying out the Lord’s plan.

“Lord thank you for giving us friends in this Christian life. Lord I am so thankful to have friends who are strong for me when I am weak. It is such a joy to have a community of believers to experience life with and to carry out the Lord’s work together. Lord I pray that we will seek true friendship with the body of believers here in this place. I pray that we will make room to add more friend relationships to our circles. Lord thank for calling us to be your friend, help us to be a good friend to you.”

AMEN
Bryan Johnston

Together As Friends – Part 1 – by Bryan Johnston

bryan_t2A good friend is someone who will stand up for you when others try to knock you down. A true friend will deny every lie, refute every doubt, and reject every curse. A courageous companion will uphold the credibility of one’s true character and choices. In times of uncertainty, a friend in the Lord will testify before others your faith and obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. A friend sticks by you during the transformation process of becoming more and more like Christ, and does not waver when one experiences ups and downs during the maturing process. A friend does not live in fear but holds firmly to the truth of the power of the Holy Spirit to bring full redemption and salvation in and through the life of the follower.

Without a doubt, Paul’s faith, life, and writings have had an overwhelming impact on the spread of the gospel. His presentation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ continues to be a model and tool for how the kingdom is taking root today. But let us not forget his good friend Barnabas. When people were afraid of the “new” Christian Paul, Barnabas defended Paul’s confession and conversion to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. When the believers feared accepting this persecutor of Christians, Barnabas testified how the Lord transformed him into a preacher of the gospel. “He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord spoke to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus” (Acts 9:27). Barnabas was a good friend who stood up for Paul and had assurance in the redemptive work of Christ in Paul’s life.

“Praise the Lord for friends in the faith. Thank you for friends who stand with us in our faith, they love us even when we fail and when others have doubts about us. Thank you for friends who do not give up on us during the transformation process of the gospel working through us. Thank you for friends who will rescue us when we get off the right path. May we be as good of a friend as others have been to us.”

AMEN
Bryan Johnston