“The Shepherd’s Voice” by Bryan Johnston

JohnstonThe young man graduated from Christian College in pursuit of a place to fulfill his calling into the ministry. The Lord led him to a wonderful congregation in Western Montana where he was mentored by a veteran gospel preacher. It seemed that after two summers of becoming a part of that family of faith, that this was the place where the Lord was leading him. Unknown to this young minister, there were greener pastures in the Pacific Northwest that the Good Shepherd had in mind to send his young servant. Upon seeking the Father’s voice and his guidance, the young shepherd was driven to a fold on the coast.

The young man had no known prior connections to his new home church. The Lord Jesus was the only common relationship he knew of with his new family of sheep. One day one of his elders approached him and said, “I know you.” The new minister was dumbfounded, looking the man up and down and staring intently at his face, he responded, “Sorry, sir you are mistaken, I’ve never seen you before.” The elder turned and said, “I know you because I know your father.”

Jesus the Good Shepherd knows his sheep by name and leads them out to pasture. The sheep follow him because they know his voice (John 10:3- 4). When others know the words and voice of God, they will know the words and voice of God as spoken by his disciples. Like father, like son, the words of love will be heard. If you know the Father, you will know the son, and if you know the son you will also know the Father. Others will know who you are by how you talk, how you walk, and how you love others well. Follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, he will lead you to where he wants you to be. Take courage you will never be alone because we are all connected through the Father.

-Bryan Johnston

Community Gospel Experience – by Bryan E. Johnston

Johnston    We were created for community. God lives in community as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. In the beginning when God created man the Genesis account says, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness” (Ge. 1:26). God created from a place of unified “ourness”, for man to live in community with others. In the Genesis 2, the Lord says, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him. Then the Lord God made a woman” (Ge. 2:18, 22). God’s story continues through the context of a family and a community of people until coming of Jesus the Christ. “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn. 1:14). The gospel is displayed through the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord and the Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside and in community with all believers, the church.

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“The Woman’s Testimony” – by Bryan Johnston

    “Praise the Lord for woman of faith! The church is edified and the kingdom of God is advanced because of the ministry of our beloved saintly sisters in their service to the Lord. Jesus did the work of his father in heaven by sharing his life with the woman at the well. He showed up at a common place to share life and conversation with her. She was surprised that this Jewish man was fellowshipping with her, but after learning that he was a prophet she accepted his teaching. Upon hearing him reveal the truth of her life and offer her an invitation to a restored relationship of worship, she rushes home to her people to tell the good news. She becomes an instant evangelist saying, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29).

Jesus is Lord – Worship Him (by Bryan Johnston)

By nature, we are all selfishly driven. Our needs and our desires take priority in our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies. From birth we cry out to have our needs met. A baby’s cry communicates the need for food, coddling, cleaning, or relief from other discomforts. We do not like to be uncomfortable nor in conflict with self, others, or situations. We like to have our hungers filled, our minds at peace, and our hearts at rest. Our egocentric orientation sets us up as the audience of our devotion. The ill-directed attention on ourselves places our lives on a kingly throne that we are not worthy to sit on and requires responsibilities that were are not adequately equipped to fulfill.

Jesus said to the Samaritan woman he met at the well, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). It appears that the proper response should be “Give me this water.” Jesus is quick to expose her self-focused heart. He knows that she does not truly know who he is, because if she did know, she would not be focused on herself. If she did truly know that he was the Christ, the son of God, she would be humbled by his gracious presence. She would fall down on her knees if she knew the great act of love, mercy, and grace that he extended to her, by his presence. She would bow humbly before the King of kings and Lord of lords who, “gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Eph.5:25-27).

Once one knows that Jesus is the gift and the giver all attention and admiration become Christocentric – solely focused on Jesus the Christ. If Jesus is Lord, worship him. The Lordship of Christ will lead you to a life of submission, a life of sacrifice, service, and salvation. As Lord Jesus will sanctify you by the Spirit, cleanse you by his blood, and anoint you for service in his kingdom. At the name of Jesus the true disciples will worship the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. To him be all glory, honor, and praise.     — Bryan Johnston

 

“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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