“Risen Welcome” by Bryan Johnston

The Lord is risen!  He is alive and well.  Jesus is reigning as King over all.  Jesus is the Son of God.  He was born of a virgin and walked this earth.  The Lord performed signs and miracles and spoke words of God.  Jesus was put on trial by his enemies and was sentenced to death on a cross.  The Lord submitted himself to God and gave up his life.  Jesus was buried in a tomb and stayed hidden for three days.  On the third day the tomb was found empty and he was not to be found.  Praise God he revealed himself to the women, the disciples and many others.  After commissioning his disciples to spread the good news and advance the kingdom of God, he ascended into heaven where he sits on his throne in heaven granting forgiveness and giving his Holy Spirit to all who confess, repent, and obey the gospel.

We gather each first day of week because of the resurrection.  The church is the embodiment of the kingdom of God to worship Jesus and to love others.  We celebrate the Lord’s Supper each week to remember the Lord’s death.  We are transformed by the gift of his life.  We celebrate Baptism to participate in the gospel; the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord.  We are transformed by the power of his blood and by the gift of the Holy Spirit.  We live as kingdom people continuing daily in God’s word being shaped and formed by the message of love.  We live to love God, love others, and serve the world.

We are blessed to have you join us for worship today.  We pray that you will give your life to Jesus as Lord and Christ.  We pray that you will accept the invitation to become his disciple.  We pray you will use your gifts to edify the body of Christ and to advance the kingdom in this place.  We are committed to loving God and loving others.  Let us know if we can serve you in any way.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).

Bryan Johnston, North Bend, Oregon USA Church of Christ – www.churchofchristnb.com

“Peace Be With You” – by Bryan Johnston

“Who is this (Jesus)? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Mk. 4:41) The Prince of Peace has the power to calm the seas and stop the storms. He can cure every disease and restore every physical ailment. Jesus can overcome every military force and erase every spiritual attacker. Jesus defeated sin through his sacrificial death and triumphed over the grave. His body was resurrected. Which is easier for our Lord to say “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say to a lame man, “Get up and walk?” (Lk. 5:23) For our Lord both are a piece of cake. Jesus is mighty to save. He has the power to bring perfect peace that overcomes every storm of life.

The peace of Christ is a raging river of life. His love and mercies never cease. The Lord is the well-spring of life that never runs dry. As followers of Christ, we have this gift of life through the presence of the Holy Spirit living and welling up inside of us. The Prince of Peace continually restores, redeems, and sets our life straight. Do you have….

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“Anxious Return” – by Bryan Johnston

After my first year of studies at York College, in York, NE I returned home to Culbertson, MT to work. It was nice to be home with family and friends and not have to worry about school work and the stresses of all of those requirements and responsibilities, but after just a few weeks into the summer break my heart longed to return. I would stay busy with working three jobs, counseling at bible camp, and spending time with loved ones. There were blessings in that time spent in my hometown, but I began to miss the fellowship and community of faith that I had been a part of at York.

I missed the community of friends and faculty that shared a common faith and love for the Lord. I missed the opportunity to serve in the ministries of the campus to share a common love for others. I missed the time with mentors who sharpened me and trained me in my gifts in the Lord. I missed the overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit that rested on that place. I missed the times of friendship and fellowship. I missed the intimacy of brotherhood that was formed with fellow followers of Christ.

When the summer was over, I was anxious to return to my new community of faith at York College. I had an adrenaline filled 850-mile, 14-hour drive from Montana to Nebraska. I was a nutcase of joy and exhilaration driving at times at accelerated speeds to make it back to my place of spiritual formation. At the intersection of I-80 and highway 81 is a multicolored water tower that looks like a huge hot air balloon. Because of the extremely flat terrain of Nebraska, this iconic marker can be seen thirty or forty miles away. Once I spotted that tower on my drive back to York my heart would overflow with excitement and joy.

I pray that we will have that same joy and excitement about the anticipation of returning each Lord’s Day to gather around his table with fellow followers of Christ. I pray that this will be time each week that we can express our love for God and one for another. I pray that our time each Sunday will be a time of encouragement and discipleship as we guide each other in our walk with the Lord. I pray that we will have opportunity to share our gifts of the spirit and use our resources to meet each others needs. I pray that at the close of each gathering we will have a sense of urgency to share our hope and fellowship with the Lord with others. I pray that we will be anxious and excited to meet again with our church body, our family, our
brothers and sisters in Christ.

(Bryan is a gospel minister at the North Bend, Oregon Church of Christ, in North Bend, Oregon USA)

Breaking Buns – by Bryan Johnston

Grandma Martin had the best buns! She made the most amazing bread rolls you could ever eat. Her buns were always offered at every meal. They were golden brown, yeasty, soft, sweet, and oh so comforting. Grandma’s buns were a perfect side, a perfect sandwich, or a perfect snack. Every time to this day when I see or smell a bread roll I remember my beloved grandmother. Her bread touched every sense of my being. The consumption of her food filled my stomach and comforted my soul. But more so than even the bread itself, it was the communion and connection with her that I delighted in. The time spent hearing her stories and sharing mine with her made those mealtimes the most meaningful. My Grandma Martin was a passionate follower of Christ that let the light of Jesus shine through her heart, home, and hospitality. No one was a stranger. Everyone was welcome around her table. She welcomed me with a smile and kept me with her love. I will forever think of her every time I break bread, especially when it is in the shape of a bun.

The Lord knew what he was doing when he connected himself to something as common as bread and wine. Since the consumption of food involves every sense that we have been created with to experience life, the breaking of bread in remembrance of the Lord involves our entire being. Bread and wine were common everyday foods that were staples in almost all homes. The early Christians would meet daily in their homes breaking bread in communion and fellowship with the Lord and with each other.

The Lord invited us to remember him every time we break bread. Jesus is the host that welcomes us and prepares the meal. Jesus is the onewho gives thanks and serves us his life. Jesus becomes the meal saying, ‘take and eat this is my body’ and ‘take and drink this is my blood.’ This meal is much more than eating and drinking. It is more about connecting with the Lord and giving thanks. Let us practice the discipline of communing daily with the Lord and with others every time we break bread. Let us be like the disciples on the road to Emmaus by having our eyes open to see the Lord. (Luke 24:30-31)

Bryan Johnston, North Bend Oregon USA Church of Christ – www.churchofchristnb.com. May be freely shared.

There is More” – A Devotional lesson Bryan Johnston

“There is More” – A Devotional lesson Bryan Johnston
 
The disciples in Luke 24 had left Jerusalem after celebrating the Passover and witnessing the death and burial of Jesus. As they began their seven-mile walk back to their hometown of Emmaus they were joined by him. They were kept from recognizing him while he explained to them everything that Moses and the Prophets said about the Messiah. Jesus was revealing to them the big picture of what God was doing through Christ to bring about the kingdom of God. Eventually the disciples stopped walking because they have arrived at their destination. Jesus acted as if he was going further and the disciples urged him to stay with them.
 
Of course Jesus was going further, because there is so much more that he is about than just these two followers. There were more people down the road that needed to hear his teachings. There was a whole world of sick and sinful people that needed to be restored and redeemed by him. The picture of Jesus’ purpose was so much greater than just spending time with Cleopas and his companion. Although Jesus is about bringing salvation to the entire world, he was and is available to everyone. The disciples invited him to stay with them, and he did.
 
Take courage fellow believers. The Lord has time for you. Why are we kept from recognizing his presence with us as we go about our daily lives? Whether we acknowledge him or not, he is still there. In John 1:12, John says, “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” We are kept from recognizing him because of a lack of living faith. Belief in God is nothing without action. It takes daily effort and decision to walk in the footsteps of faith walking hand-in-hand with the Lord. Let’s not take the Lord for granted. Let’s not keep ourselves blind from seeing the Lord and inviting him into every part of our lives. Jesus will be with you through the simple scenes of everyday life bringing to view the big picture. Let us confess Jesus Christ is Lord!
=–Bryan Johnston, North Bend Oregon USA Church of Christ – www.churchofchristnb.com. May be freely shared.

“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

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“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