Two Stones of Hope

Main Text:  John 11:38-39

38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”


There are two stones mentioned in the Bible, besides the five that David picked up going after Goliath, two stones that sit in the way of victory and blessing for every one of us.  To receive all that God has for us, these stones need to first be rolled away.

The first stone is mentioned in the text we just looked at.  This passage, along with several verses before and after it, tell the story of Lazarus and his resurrection.

John 11:1-37

11 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.  10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”  11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” 12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.  15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” 28 And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.” 29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.” 32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” 37 And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” 38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”  41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”  43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”  44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”


In this story, Jesus arrives on the scene to find those whom He was close to grieving over the loss of their brother, Lazarus.  They were convinced that if Jesus had come sooner, then their brother would not have died, but now they were offended at Jesus who could have easily healed their brother if He had come as soon as He heard of Lazarus’ sickness.  They were offended.

You need to remember something.  Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were very good friends of Jesus.  They may or may not have been physically following Jesus from town to town, but they were followers of Jesus.  And, Scripture makes it very clear that Jesus loved them.  He loved, and still loves, everyone, but His love for them was special, otherwise Scripture would not have made a point in mentioning that.  How hurt and offended would you be if someone you loved dearly, someone you thought loved you the same way, did not come running to help you as quickly as possible or in the way you thought they should have if they truly loved you so much?

How many times have you been offended because Jesus didn’t respond to your prayers as soon as you thought He could and should have?  After all, we faithfully attend church, we’re faithful with our tithes and offerings, and we help at the church as much as we can.  Is it too much to ask after all we do?  Shouldn’t those things we’ve done make our requests a priority with God?  And now you’re offended.

Yes, Jesus could have gone sooner and healed Lazarus, but the Father had bigger and better plans for this situation.  When Jesus finally arrived on the scene, everyone thought that Jesus had come too late to help in any way.  How many times do we think the same way when Jesus hasn’t responded to our requests for help in our circumstances, and now it seems like it’s too late for Him to do anything on our part?  Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt that a situation got to the point that it was too late for Jesus to help or do anything?  (scene in Facing the Giants; another team cheated)

When Jesus finally arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days, and the stone was in front of his tomb.  Jesus knew that Lazarus would be raised from the dead, but He also knew there was a stone that would prevent Lazarus from appearing to everyone else.  The stone had to be moved.  But Jesus, the Son of God, God, the creator of the ends of the universe, wasn’t about to move it, or even help move it.  The stone can represent things in our lives that block and prevent the manifestation of victories and blessings God has available for us.  If the stone wasn’t moved, Lazarus would not have come out of the tomb though he may have been resurrected from the dead.  How many times has God resurrected things in our lives only for them to never be seen or experienced because we hadn’t first removed the stone in our lives?

**** Things that can represent a stone in our lives ****

  1. Doubt and unbelief
    1. Israelites not allowed to enter the promised land due to doubt and unbelief
    2. Jesus was unable to do much of anything in His hometown due to their unbelief
  2. Fear
    1. What will others think
    2. What if God doesn’t come through
    3. Will I look like a fool?
  3. Unforgiveness
    1. Forgiveness that needs to be sought
    2. Forgiveness that needs to be given
  4. Disobedience and rebellion (towards God and those in authority over us)
  5. Sexual immorality in all its many forms
  6. Gossip, backbiting, slander and profanity
  7. Pride
  8. Attitudes and mindsets, “stinkin thinkin”

As Christians, our hope of seeing God’s hand move on our behalf when we need Him to is realized and manifested after we roll away the stone, or stones, that are keeping them from being seen.  When God shows us something in our life that needs to change or be removed, are we just as determined to obey Him in that area as we are in other areas where we exercise great determination and energy to accomplish? Or are we apathetic about it hoping God will move it for us, or that He will still move on our behalf with minimal or no effort on our part?  The very fact that Jesus shows us what to change in our lives as we grieve over a need we may have, that should energize hope within us that God is going to move on our behalf, but we still need to first roll the stone away.

To move the stone, as big and heavy as they were, would require strength and determination, or in other words, it would require work.  In the same way, the stone or stones God wants us to remove in our lives may take both work and determination on our part to complete the task at hand.  And like we read about Lazarus, where the results were more than worth the effort it took to remove it, even so the work it may take to remove the stone or stones in our lives will be nothing in comparison to what God will do afterwards.  Do we really want the victory and blessings we are seeking God for?

The second stone is mentioned in all four of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  The story as recorded in each of the Gospels centers around the stone that was placed in front of Jesus’ grave, and that the stone had been rolled away.

Matthew 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1

Matt 28:1-7

1 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. 5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”


In this historical account of the greatest event in human history, recorded or otherwise, God by way of an angel He sent out, is the one that rolls the stone away.  We often mention this from the idea that the stone had to be removed to prove Jesus wasn’t there, but perhaps there is another reason for this?  Like the account of Lazarus being raised from the dead, the stone had to be removed for all to see, but how the stone was moved in both situations is important to know and understand.  When we read of Lazarus being raised from the dead, even though Jesus was there on the scene, it was by His command that others had to move the stone.

In the case of the resurrection of Jesus, God was the one that moved the stone, and that is a very important point to understand.  The resurrection of Jesus is one of the essential elements of the salvation process, for without His resurrection there would not be any hope of eternal life in heaven.  When we understand that, it is then that we can understand why it was so important that God moved the stone, as that further represents that fact that salvation was not dependent upon humanity in any way.  It was through God and the death and resurrection of Jesus on our behalf, that salvation is made possible for us.  There was nothing on our part that we could say or do to make that happen, which further reinforces the passage that lets us know that we in no way can earn or be worthy of salvation.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:8-9 that salvation is not offered to us because we deserve it or because of any works we have done of ourselves.  It is a gift of God, and God makes it clear in that He’s the one that moved the stone.  He is the one that makes it available to all.

Eph 2:8-9

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.


No matter what is in your past, or where you are at in the present, the fact that God, Himself, rolled away the stone from in front of Jesus’ tomb should cause hope to rise within you of better days and years ahead if you will accept what Jesus did on your behalf, and embrace everything about Him with passion and determination.

God isn’t asking or requiring you or anyone else to roll away the stone from in front of Christ’ tomb.  There is nothing needed on your part to make that happen.  You don’t have to, as some would say, “get your act together first before coming to Jesus”.  As others would say, “you don’t have to take a shower before getting cleaned up by Jesus”.  The tomb is wide open for all to see.  People go there by the tens of thousands to see for themselves.

Your past doesn’t determine whether the stone is blocking you from seeing the risen Jesus.  The stone is gone making the path to Jesus easy, but you must walk that path to Him.

What is in your past?

  1. Murder?
  2. Sexual immorality?
  3. An abuser of others (mental, emotional, physical, sexual)?
  4. A thief?
  5. A liar (dishonesty and deception)?
  6. A victim of abuse (sexual, mental, emotional, physical)?
  7. Rejection

In His death by crucifixion on a cross, Jesus paid a price enough to cancel out our debt of sin against God, a debt that we could never in ourselves pay.  In His resurrection from the dead, Jesus made the hope of eternal life in heaven a reality for all who accept what He did on their behalf and surrender their lives to Him and for His purposes.

Are you in need of hope in your life?  Are you in need of God to move supernaturally on your behalf in some way?  Are you needing to be set free of something, including sin and the penalty of sin?  If you haven’t accepted Jesus as savior and Lord of your life, God has a hope for you to embrace that is found in Jesus’ death and resurrection, evidenced in His moving the stone away for you.

How Shall They Know

Hello, Everyone!  My name is John Johansson, and welcome again to another broadcast of the Resounding Shophar Blast!  It’s been a while since our last broadcast due to some pretty significant things taking place on the Johansson front, and in time we may share some of those with you in future broadcasts.  In the meantime, we are back and looking forward to sharing more Resounding Shophar Blasts with you as we see the day of our Lord’s return speedily approaching as never before.


To begin with, the Apostle Paul asks a rhetorical question that is the theme for today’s broadcast, and that question is found in Romans 10:14 which says;


14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?


As Christians, believers and followers of Christ, we know and have a message that the world is looking for, and it is our responsibility to share that with others.  What is our message?  It’s the message of salvation through Jesus, and Him alone.  It’s a message that through Jesus one can be set free of the bondage and penalties of sin.  It’s a message that gives hope to the hopeless of a glorious, pain, sickness and death free eternity in heaven.  It’s a message of the Blessed Hope found in Jesus alone where He returns to receive His people to Himself, an event that takes place before God’s judgement is released upon the whole world in a seven-year period identified in Scripture as the Tribulation Period.  The problem is that it seems most churches in America are not sharing this message with others.


A lot of churches are embracing various false and deceptive teachings, and in the process, they are not presenting the message of salvation accurately or completely to those that are within their sphere of influence.  Some churches are not embracing false and deceptive teachings, but still they are not presenting the message of salvation and what it is, what it means, and why it’s so important for each of us to embrace.  We recently left a church we had been members of for nearly five years, and at that time someone made the comment to me that as long as it wasn’t over a salvation issue then that was okay, but something inside me rose up and I had to tell them it was over a salvation issue.  There were different reasons for our departure, but the main one was that in the nearly five years we were attending it was extremely rare, if at all, that the message of salvation was actually preached or taught from the pulpit or at any “outreach” events, and that is a salvation issue.  Let me explain.


If I know someone is very sick, perhaps with something like cancer, and I know what the cause of it is and have the cure for it, what could be a great life-giving event turns into a life and death situation if I withhold that from them.  In like manner, if I know the spiritual condition of a person, the root cause and that salvation is the cure, if I don’t let them know and give them the cure which is Jesus, then that is a salvation issue.  It doesn’t matter how knowledgeable I am of the situation, it doesn’t matter if I learned from honest and accurate teachers about it, if I don’t share the cause and the cure with them then that is a salvation issue.  In other words, even if a church is doctrinally sound, if they do not preach and teach on the subject of salvation, then that is a salvation issue as those under their influence have no idea what it is and why they need it, and as a subsequent result could still be eternally lost in hell unless they are told the truth about salvation.  How can people know about the salvation made available to them through Jesus if no one tells them about it?


On the same note, a lot of churches lead people to Jesus, but it stops there.  I liken it to me taking someone I know to be sick to the doctor.  If I take them to be introduced to the doctor, but I never tell them why they need to see the doctor or how the doctor can help them, after the introduction we can turn around and leave and all the person knows is that they just met a nice doctor.  We can take people to Jesus, figuratively speaking, but if we never tell them why they need to meet Jesus and what He can do for them, then all they’ve done is met an important person in world history.  Again, how can people know about the salvation made available to them through Jesus if no one tells them about it?


Something else we need to be sharing with others is about Jesus’ soon return for His bride.  This is another message that seems to be overlooked or ignored in many churches here in America.  There are many reasons for this; pastors and other Christians don’t know much about it, some are intimidated by the subject, some are afraid that others will respond with fear or contempt, possibly taking their money with them, and others just don’t believe in it.  In either case, it isn’t getting preached or taught in most churches.  I remember a time when I was a kid in which this subject seemed to be talked about nearly all the time, both behind the pulpits and outside the four walls of a church, but now it seems like it’s almost taboo to even discuss it.  People that once strongly believed in the pre-tribulation rapture, now it seems many of them no longer believe even in the rapture itself.  Sadly, this is another fulfillment of Bible end-time prophecy pointing to the ever-imminent return of Jesus for His followers.  Getting back to the issue, it’s scary to me that more and more churches are not preaching or teaching on Biblical end-time prophesies and the return of Jesus for His followers in the event we know as the Rapture.  When I think about this, I can’t help but remember some of the things Jesus said on the subject, things that should be a red flag for us to pay attention to.


When it comes to His return for us, on multiple occasions Jesus tells us to watch and pray, and He said it with emphasis.  Each time He said it, it was not a suggestion or a recommendation, but it was a strongly stressed command.  What does it mean to watch and pray?  To watch for His return, it means that we need to expect Him to return at any moment, and with that to be watching the signs of His coming.  Granted, there are no specific signs pointing to His return at the Rapture, but there are many signs pointing to the Tribulation Period, and when we begin to see those signs being fulfilled pointing to the Tribulation Period, that should tell us that the Rapture is that much sooner.  There are some who say we don’t need to be watching for Jesus to return at any moment, or even to be watching the signs of His return, but that is simply in contradiction to what Jesus tells us to do.  I don’t know about you, but I believe Jesus means what He says, He says what He means, and since He knows more than we do I think it best to take Him at His words and be obedient to them.  To not be watching as He has commanded us is disobedience wrapped up in pride that says we know better than Jesus what we need or don’t need to do.  In Luke 21:34-36, Jesus tells us not only to watch, but He also tells us to pray that we are counted worthy to escape that which is coming on the earth.  Counted worthy?  Yes, that is what Jesus said.  Some will argue that we are already worthy at the point of salvation, and that we will remain worthy from that time forward no matter what, but there are many passages in Scripture that would seem to contradict that way of thinking.


In Titus 2:11-13 and 1 John 3:2-3, we are told that as we look forward to Jesus’ return for us in the Rapture, the Blessed Hope, we are to purify ourselves from sin and all ungodliness.  For those who believe their admittance into Heaven was sealed at the point of salvation, and that there is nothing more they need to do until then, it is a dangerous place to be in because it becomes very easy to not take the presence of sin in their lives seriously.  According to the Apostle Paul and the Apostle John, the more we look forward to Jesus’ return for us, the more we should be motivated even more to repent of sin in our lives and turn from it.


So, how serious is it that we be watching for Jesus’ return for us?  Well, apparently Jesus takes it pretty seriously.  In Revelation 3:1-6, speaking to the church in Sardis, He pretty much tells them to repent and start watching for Him, and that if they don’t watch for Him to return, they will miss it when He does.  I don’t think you can get much clearer than that.  If we don’t watch for Him to return, then we will be caught off guard and miss it when it does happen.  Is there another passage that lends some weight to this?  Yes, there is.  In Revelation 16:15, Jesus makes it clear that those who are watching for His return, and who keep their garments clean of sin, they are blessed.  But He goes on to say that those who did not watch and keep their garments, people will see them naked (without their robes of righteousness) and see their shame as ones who knew the truth but didn’t take it seriously enough to apply it to their lives.  Wow!  I guess that means we should be watching for Jesus’ return for us, and to make sure we’re ready when He does.  Going back to the main theme for today, how will people know about Jesus’ soon return, the need to be watching for Him, and the need to keep our garments clean of sin, if no one is preaching and teaching them about it?


How shall they know ….


In Ezekiel 33:1-11, God makes it very clear that if we don’t warn others of what is coming, then their blood will be upon us.  However, if we do warn people of what is coming, and how to prepare and avoid it, then if they choose to disregard the warning then their blood will be upon themselves.  This should be a stark warning for all followers of Christ given that we have been given a message we are commanded to share with the lost, and if we neglect to do so their blood will be upon us.


Do you realize that Jesus’ return for His followers is very close and could happen at any moment?  Do you even care?  Jesus isn’t going to rescue you from the judgment that is coming to the world if you really aren’t concerned about it.  He’s looking for people who are eagerly waiting for Him to return for them, the Blessed Hope we read about in Titus 2:13.


Perhaps you are a Christian, but you haven’t been living as you know you ought to, allowing sin and idolatry to reign in your life.  If that is you, then I strongly encourage you to repent of such, to make things right with Jesus, asking Him for forgiveness and turning away from the sin.  Don’t play what I call Russian Roulette with your eternity because you want to hang onto that which is sin and dishonoring to God.  Do it today!  Don’t delay!


Maybe you have never given your life over to Jesus.  Maybe you have been living life as you wanted, and on your terms, but in listening to me today you realize there needs to be a change in your life.  You are seeing the signs I mentioned earlier only increasing, and you can tell things are not going to get any better but instead much worse, and you want to avoid as much of it as possible and realize the only real way of doing so is by surrendering your life to Jesus.  Well, you can make that change right now wherever you are.  It’s simple, as simple as “A, B, C”.  Let me tell you how.


For you to be considering making such a change in your life, this only shows that God is speaking to you.  He wants to have that saving relationship with you far more than you could ever want it yourself.  To enter that relationship with Him, the first thing you need to do is acknowledge that you are a sinner.  To acknowledge, or to admit, that you are a sinner is the “A” in the “A, B, C’s”.  This may be difficult for some to do, but it’s vitally important.  We are told in Romans 3:10 that no one is righteous or good, no, not one.  The reason for that is found in Romans 3:23 where we’re told that all, everyone, has sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  This means that nobody is good enough, no matter how good we may be, because we all have sin in our lives.  Continuing in Romans, we are told in Romans 6:23 that the wages of our sin is death, or in other words the penalty of the sin in our life is eternal death.  So, where does that leave us?  We are told in Ephesians 2:8-9 that the salvation God offers us is a gift of God, something we receive by grace and through faith.  No one deserves salvation, and no one certainly can earn it through works of any kind, but rather it is a gift from God.  To receive this gift from God, the first thing a person must do is “A”, acknowledge or admit that they are a sinner.


The second thing a person must do, and this is “B” in the “ABC’s”, is to “BELIEVE” in their heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and that God raised Him from the dead.  Romans 10:9-10 tells us that if we confess with our mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved.  It’s not just a mental believing as some would like it to be, but rather a believing that dictates the way one lives their life.  It’s a way of life that reflects and supports what they say they believe.  In James 2:19 were told that even the demons believe, and they tremble, but salvation is not available to them.  Just having a head knowledge is not enough.


The third thing a person must do, and this is “C” in the “ABC’s”, is to “CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD.”  You need to call Jesus Lord, and to do so means one must surrender their life to Him.  There is coming a time when every knee will bow before Him, and every tongue will confess to God that He is Lord.  Now is the time for salvation, and now is the time to voluntarily surrender your life to Him.  The eternal rewards for surrendering your life to Jesus is far greater than anything this world could ever hope to give you.


Is a relationship with Jesus like I’ve described important and worth it?  It is most definitely worth it, and then some.  I won’t say that life will be easier or with less problems, but it will be more fulfilling, and with that there is a Blessed Hope for all Christians to embrace and pursue.  More and more people are beginning to feel hopeless with life, especially when they see everything that is happening around them and around the world, but as Christians we have a hope that is solid and independent of anything this world could ever hope to offer us.  The signs we are seeing across the news headlines now days only energizes the hope we have of Jesus’ ever imminent return for us.  It is that same hope, that Blessed Hope, that encourages Christians to keep the faith and to continue living for Him and Him alone.  Are you one of those who place their trust and hope in Jesus?


If you do not have a saving relationship with Jesus, and you would like to, I encourage you to talk to God right now.  It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or eloquent, just a sharing of your heart to Him.  If that is you, and you’re ready to give your life to Jesus, then say this prayer from your heart and to Him.  Again, it’s not a formula, just a sharing of your heart to Him.


“O God, I am a sinner.  I’m sorry for my sin.  I want to turn from my sin.  I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son; I believe that He died on the cross for my sin, that He was buried, that You raised Him to life, and that He’s coming to take me back to His house in heaven very soon.  I have decided to place my faith in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, trusting only in His shed blood as more than sufficient to save my soul and to take me to heaven.  Thank You, Lord Jesus, for saving me.  Amen.”


Now that you have entered into this relationship with Jesus, I strongly encourage you to find a Bible and start reading it, and to find and get plugged into a solid Bible-believing church that teaches and preaches the full Gospel of Jesus, which includes Bible prophecy and the need to be living righteously and holy before the Lord in all your ways.


In closing, know that Jesus is coming soon, very soon, for His followers, and it is vitally important for each of us to be found both watching and ready for Him when He does.  Don’t get lulled into the deceptive thinking that His return is not near for one reason or another, especially when the fulfillment of the signs given in the Bible tell us that it’s at the door.  It’s our responsibility to be watching the signs for Him, and to be ready, free of any spots, blemishes, or wrinkles brought on through sin in our lives.


Remember these two things:

  • The King is Coming!
  • Be ready for Him when He does!


By John Johansson

Clogged Arteries

The last several weeks have been an adventure of sorts for me.  It all started for me the first week of November.  For about a week I had been feeling extra tired and weak, so I knew that I was fighting something in my body but what I didn’t know.  Then it was on the first Monday of November that I developed a discomfort high up in my chest, a feeling I associated with something like bronchitis.  The discomfort was constant and consistent in its intensity throughout the day, and then by evening time I began to feel very tired and weak.  Again, I was just thinking I was fighting congestion of some sort.  Well, very early Tuesday morning I woke up with the same discomfort as before, but now I couldn’t get comfortable in bed,I was drenched in sweat, and I felt like I was about to pass out.  It was at this point that I told my wife I needed to get to the hospital, but I couldn’t get to the car, and therefore I ended up having a ride by ambulance to the hospital located just two blocks from our house.

On the way to the hospital, the paramedics told me that my symptoms did not reflect an issue with my heart, but that they couldn’t say for sure one way or another.  At the hospital, many tests were ran trying to identify what I was experiencing and what was causing it.  All the tests they ran indicated my heart was not the issue, and they were getting ready to discharge me with a diagnosis of acid reflex or something like that, but before discharging me they wanted to run one more test a third time. The first two times they ran the test, the results were fine both times even though the second test results were a little elevated.  When they ran this specific test a third time, not only had the results elevated even more, but it had elevated into a“grey” area, and this result told them that something was definitely going on with my heart.  At this point it was decided that an exploratory heart catheter would be best to help identify exactly what was going on, with the hopes that they wouldn’t find anything.

You’re probably asking why I’m telling you all of this, but there are a couple good reasons for it that I will share as we continue.

When they went in through my wrist to check my heart, they discovered two things.  The first thing they discovered, and not necessarily in this order, was that one of my arteries was100% blocked, and a second artery they refer to as the “widow maker” was 60-70%blocked.  The second thing they discovered was that I was on the verge of a major heart attack if they hadn’t gone in when they had.  They opened the one artery that was 100% blocked and put in a stent, but they left the other one alone at the time hoping medicine could take care of it.  Needless to say, less than 24 hours after being discharged, I was back in the ER with chest pains which gave me a helicopter ride to another hospital in another city down the interstate.  It was then that they went in a second time to put a stent in the “widow maker” artery.

All this which took place within one weeks’ time, though it still wasn’t the end of the adventure.  As I looked back over the previous events and how everything transpired, seeing God’s fingerprints all over the situation, I realized something that had a spiritual parallel.  When I went into the hospital the first time, my symptoms were not typical of a heart issue, but those symptoms were the catalyst through which they discovered the more urgent issue with my heart.  Sometimes people go through situations and experiences that propel them to seek the assistance and counsel of pastors.  Perhaps it’s a marriage that seems to be falling apart, the death of a loved one, financial collapse, children making bad decisions, or bad medical reports and health.  They seek the help and counsel of a pastor regarding what they are going though, only to find out that a more urgent issue needs to be resolved first, either the person needs to surrender their lives to Jesus and/or deal with unconfessed sin.  Sometimes in our lives, it’s not the apparent issues that need to be dealt with, but rather those issues are what propels us to identify and deal with more important issues in our life and in our hearts.

A little more than a week after being discharged the second time, I found myself in ER again and after seeing something was going on with my heart,they transported me to another hospital in a neighboring city.  They did another exploratory heart cath to identify what was going on, but this time the results were good, and they were positive for the future with instructions on how to deal with the symptoms.  Between the second and third time I was admitted into the hospital I learned something that really surprised me.  Several years ago, I had been told that I had high cholesterol and was only told to change my diet and attend some classes.  Well, I did attend the classes,but not much changed regarding my diet. It wasn’t until the past few years that I really began to change my diet to benefit my health, primarily focusing on the high cholesterol.  So, it was exciting to find out that the tests they ran the first time I was in the hospital showed that my cholesterol numbers were normal, with the exception that the HDL was a tad low.  Apparently, all I had been doing the past couple years, all naturally and without prescription medicines, had paid off in getting my cholesterol down.  What was surprising to me, though, was when I found out that there is nothing outside of medical procedures that one can do to unclog arteries.  Did you catch that?  Even though I had made changes to reduce my cholesterol, there was nothing I could do on my own to unclog the arteries, and that it would require a medical procedure. My cholesterol had been reduced to normal numbers, but I still had clogged arteries that could become fatal to me at some point if not properly dealt with.  The danger and threat to my life had not been diminished because I made good changes to my life, and in fact it was only because the doctor did an exploratory heart cath at that moment in time that they could see I was on the verge of a major heart attack that could have taken my life. 

You see, I knew that my cholesterol was bad, and I thought that if I could make the necessary changes in my diet then I would be okay.  I then thought of people who realize for whatever reason that they need to make changes in their life, good changes that would benefit them.  I also thought of many who decide to make positive life changes by attending and getting involved in a church, or for that matter a charitable organization of some sort, but they are not dealing with core issues, issues that could still prove fatal for them spiritually.  Spiritually speaking,every single one of us is born with an issue that condemns us to an eternity in Hell and the Lake of Fire, and that issue is sin.  It doesn’t matter how good and moral you are,or how many positive and charitable things you do or support, or even how involved you are at church, if the issue of sin has not been properly and adequately dealt with in your life then nothing is changed for you eternally speaking.

As I began to make changes to improve my health and get my cholesterol where it needed to be, I felt good knowing I was doing something good and positive.  For the most part, everybody feels good when they do that which is good and positive, especially for the benefit of others.  This isn’t something that only followers of Jesus experience, but rather mankind in general feel that even though their good works are not centered around Jesus.  This is something that God has hardwired within each of us, but when we are self-centered, selfish and prideful we become blinded to this truth.  This is why there are some people who openly reject Jesus but still are considered good and morally solid individuals.  It is for this reason that people who are not Christians like to get involved with charitable organizations and churches, because it makes them feel good when they are doing things that help and benefit others even if they don’t embrace the beliefs of that organization or church. However, just doing good and positive things does not deal with the eternally fatal issue locked up within each person, and it’s something they can’t take care of on their own.

Spiritually speaking, sin is the spiritual plaque within our spiritual arteries.  We are born with it, and the more we sin the more plaque gets built up within our arteries, yet there is nothing we can do of ourselves to remove it.  It’s not enough that we change the way we live, trying to be a good and moral person,because in doing so we convince ourselves that we are okay when in fact we still have spiritually clogged arteries that threaten to send us to Hell. It is only through salvation, the repentance of sin and the surrender of one’s life to Jesus, that not only is sin removed but also the plaque buildup within our spiritual arteries, and it is then that the hope of eternity in Heaven becomes a reality we can embrace.  And to keep those arteries clean, we need to be quick to repent of sin and seek to honor Him in all our ways.

Doing good and positive works is not enough to change our eternal destination.  On the outward we may look good to others, and inwardly we might even feel good knowing we are doing good things for the benefit of others, but if sin has not and is not being dealt with in our lives, and if our lives haven’t been surrendered to Jesus to be lived for Him, then we are just as dead in sin as we were in the beginning and destined to an eternity in Hell.  Don’t let your good works and deeds be in vain, knowing that they in themselves have no bearing on your eternal destination.  Give your life over to Jesus, all of it, asking for His forgiveness and seeking to honor and please Him in all your ways, and from which good works and deeds will naturally follow. 

Don’t try to change your life by making good decisions and being good and moral in the sight of others.  Change your life and get your blood cleansed and your arteries unclogged by surrendering your life to Jesus first and foremost, and then He will be the reason for the change with eternal rewards for you.

John Johansson

Family Heritage

Family reunions.  Some families have them, and others do not.  For those families that do, some reunions are good while others are ones you wish you could block out of your memory.  Some are reunions that are filled with love and acceptance, others filled with anger and hatred, and then there are those that are a mix of both.  For the first time in over 40 years I am currently attending a family reunion, and it’s been a blessing being able to see and connect with relatives I haven’t seen in years, as well as some I’ve never seen before.  Does your family have reunions?  Are they good ones, or are they ones you would prefer to not be invited to?


In a family meeting held earlier this evening, one of the things addressed was regarding how the family is growing, and as it’s growing how the younger generations are not appreciating the importance and heritage of the family and its reunions.  In a brief conversation later this evening, a follow-up of sorts to what was discussed earlier, someone made a couple comments that got my attention.  The first thing he commented on was the main reason our reunions got started, and then he addressed the responsibility each of us have.


One of the main reasons given attributing to the start of these reunions started when my grandpa and his siblings were young, when their parents, my great-grandparents, had them all rehearse scenes in the Bible.  As a result, they became very close, having unconditional love and acceptance for one another, and this was a reason he gave for how these reunions got started.  I’m sure there was more to it, some of which we may never know, but this was one of the things this person attributed to these reunions.


Regarding the responsibility each of us have, it was simple.  This person commented that each of us have the responsibility to train and instill within following generations an appreciation of the family and its heritage, and as a result the reunions and family heritage will continue throughout the generations.


When I think of what this person said, I can’t help but see the same within the family of God.  There is a heritage within the family of God that extends back to the early Church and the life, death and resurrection of Christ.  It’s a heritage of unconditional love, grace, and forgiveness, both that which has been given to us through Christ, and that which is to be the heart and character of each one of us that takes on the name of Christ.  It’s a heritage full of life, freedom from sin, reason and purpose for life, and a blessed hope of eternal life without sin, sickness, sorrow, or death.  The heritage afforded us through Christ is greater than any we could ever hope to have or gain in this life.  This is a heritage more valuable than life itself, and it is up to us to not only guard and nurture it in our life, but to also invite others to partake in it for themselves by wholly surrendering their own lives to Jesus as well.


For those of us who have become partakers of this spiritual heritage found in and through Christ, it is our responsibility to train and instill within the hearts of our children an appreciation and passion for that which we gain through Christ, and Christ alone.  It is up to us to pass down to the generations that follow us an appreciation of that which Christ did for us, becoming a conduit by which the spiritual heritage we have can be extended to those that follow us as they surrender their own lives to Jesus.  Each person, each child, must make that decision on their own, but if we fail to train and instill these things into the hearts and minds of our children, then they will have a decreasing appreciation for the spiritual heritage we have in Christ and will one day no longer have it for themselves, much less transfer it to their descendants.  We see this happening in the world today, especially in America.  Christians have basically taken things for granted and didn’t guard the spiritual, Christian heritage of this country, and now we have a country that has drifted far from Christ, and in many ways, have become enemies of Christ and everything about Him.


When I was thinking about all of this, another thing crossed my mind that is an epidemic within church circles, something that has done more to drive people away from Christ than to Him.  Often, well intentioned people or parents will focus on training others in how they are to live, forgetting to instill within them not only a love and appreciation for Christ and what He did for them, but more importantly the need to develop and nurture a personal relationship with Christ.  Relationship with Christ is where it all begins, but many times we forget about that and focus on all the other stuff.  Relationship with Christ is not based on the absence of laws, rules, and commandments, nor is it based on obeying laws, rules, and commandments.  Relationship with Christ is based on a love for Him and an appreciation of what He did for us, paying the penalty of our sins and making eternal life with Him available through His resurrection.


Growing up I remember hearing people talk that Christians don’t do this or that, and without really addressing the why’s people became resentful because they couldn’t see the harm in some of those things.  They began to view Christianity as a life filled with do’s and don’ts, a life of legalism.  As a result, there has been a significant exodus of sorts of people from Christianity, some of which returned to embrace a form of Christianity that is opposed to any rules, laws, or commandments.  The problem wasn’t with the do’s and don’ts.  The problem was that they had not caught the spirit behind many of those do’s and don’ts, and as a result all they saw was legalism.  They didn’t know how that many of those don’ts were there because people before them had been saved from a lifestyle that included those things, and out of a love for God and a desire to honor Him in all their ways, they refused to allow those things to be a part of their life.  It wasn’t the list of things that was so wrong, but it was the neglect to train and instill within those that followed them the reason and the spirit behind them, and as a result what was right and good for some became legalistic for others.


If we are to continue the spiritual heritage we have in Christ to those who follow us, whether they are our children or others that look up to us, we need to start by instilling within them a love for Christ and a deep appreciation for what He did for us 2000 years ago.  If we fail to do so, then we will fail to give those who follow us any reason to embrace the spiritual heritage we have, much less lead others into it.   If those who follow us don’t have a deep love and appreciation for Christ, then they won’t reflect that in their life and how they live, and if they do then it will be more out of obligation or because that’s how they were taught to live, which could lead to being legalistic.  Remember though, if you do your best with God’s help to train and instill within others a deep love and appreciation for Christ, then it’s not on you if they choose to go in another direction in their life.


Do you have relationship with Christ?  Are you in the family of God?  Then it is up to you to nurture and protect that spiritual heritage in your own life, and to promote it within the hearts and minds of those who follow you through a personal relationship with Christ.  Do your part to continue the spiritual heritage you have become a part of in Christ.


John Johansson (Pastor John)


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How Secure Are You?

I was recently asked by a friend I’ve known since my youth if I had written anything on this particular subject.  While I have eluded to it at times, I have never focused primarily on the subject, but seeing that the return of Jesus for His bride is right around the corner I felt it was important to write on it.  How secure are you in your relationship with Christ and eternity?  Are you secure in it, or are you embracing a false security that could have disastrous consequences if you are not prepared when that trumpet sounds?


As we see the turmoil within society and the world at large increase in intensity faster and faster, it’s becoming more and more evident that we are actually living in the last days prophesied in Scriptures.  As a part of these last days we know that Jesus will be returning for His Bride sometime in the very near future, and with that the question is asked, “How secure are you in your relationship with Christ?”  It has been debated over the years to what extent one can be assured of their salvation and entrance into heaven, with some arguing that once you’re saved you’re always saved, and some arguing that each time you sin your salvation is lost and needs to be restored.  Which one of these arguments are true, or is it an entirely different position somewhere between the two extremes?


The idea of “once saved, always saved”, also known as “eternal security”, has been around for years.  What is believed by those who embrace such a doctrine is that once someone is saved, their eternal destination in heaven has been sealed and cannot be revoked for any reason.  When asked about those who appeared to receive salvation yet later on in life seem to live a life apart from Christ, the common response is that the person wasn’t truly saved to begin with.  It’s as if a person forfeits any free will when they get saved, having no freedom to change their mind at a later time in regards to salvation.  Perhaps this is where the thought originated, that those who have experienced and received the love of Christ will automatically and without question give their lives to Him, and that they would never want to be without it?  I wrote about such a person that had both observed and received Jesus’ love and acceptance for over three years, yet at the end he chose to make decisions that destroyed his relationship with Jesus and his eternal home in heaven, 30 Shekels of Silver.  The teaching of “once saved, always saved” implies that at the point of salvation, salvation is complete and requires nothing more from the individual, except maybe to be loving and gracious towards others.  For some, they will go to the extreme and say all their sins, past, present, and future, were forgiven at the point of salvation, and that there is now no more need to confess and repent of future sins as they were already forgiven.  I realize Scripture is used to support the “once saved, always saved” doctrine, but is there Scripture that would contradict it?


I remember just a few years after high school sitting on the floor during one of our youth fellowship group meetings, or home group as some call them, at a youth leaders house.  That night a question was raised that I had heard many times before, but this time it was different.  The question asked, when does grace end?  This, of course, was under the premise that a person could lose their salvation.  So, when the question was asked, when does grace end, the Holy Spirit immediately pointed me to a scripture reference.  It wasn’t one of those times where you’re trying to think of a scripture to answer a question or to support a perspective, and I definitely did not remember what the scripture said, but the Holy Spirit immediately gave me direction.  Now, before I give you the reference, let me tell you something about myself.  I’m one of those people that if you told me that the sky is blue, then I would conclude that it isn’t red.  If you tell me that stepping on the accelerator pedal of a car will make a car go faster, then I would conclude that to take my foot off of it would make it go slower and perhaps stop.  So, when I read the verse I’m about to give you I immediately made a conclusion based on what it said.  In Romans 6:17, the Apostle Paul tells us “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered”.  After reading that I believe God gave me the answer to the question that was asked.  If salvation by grace is a result of obeying God from our heart, then it only makes sense that grace begins to cease when we no longer obey Him from our heart.  It’s not so much an issue of whether or not we sin, but what is the condition and attitude of our heart when we sin.  If our heart seeks to honor God and to be pleasing to Him in all our ways, then we are going to shun sin in our lives more and more, having an attitude of repentance and turning from sin that can be seen in our actions and behaviors.  On the flip side, if we are continually trying to justify or defend why what we are saying or doing is okay, then our heart attitude isn’t right and will jeopardize the operation of God’s grace in our life.  With the right heart attitude grace is in full operation, but it’s a dangerous place to be in if our heart attitude isn’t right and healthy in His sight.


I recently wrote another blog asking if Jesus is your Savior, or is He your Lord and Savior.  In it we took a look at Matthew 7:21-23, and how that the ones Jesus turned away were practicing lawlessness even though they called Him Lord and did the supernatural in His name.  They were doing their own thing, living as they felt was right and okay and not according to Scripture and what God had for them.  The attitude of their heart was not one of obedience to Him, and as a result Jesus told them to depart from Him.


In Matthew 25:1-13, we read of Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins.  In this parable, the virgins represent followers of Christ, Christians.  All ten of them were patiently waiting, with full expectation, for the bridegroom to come get them, but only five were found ready and prepared when he did arrive.  The five virgins that were not ready and prepared for him were left behind.  The setting of this parable is in the context of the ancient Jewish wedding, a picture that is often times used to illustrate the wedding between Christ and the Church.  To keep things brief, one of the aspects of the ancient Jewish wedding is that the groom and bride enter into a marriage covenant with each other, a process that isn’t completed until a future time.  After entering into this marriage, the groom leaves for an indefinite period of time to prepare a place for her.  Upon his return for his bride, the one whom he has entered into a marriage covenant with, if she was ready and prepared for him when he returned, he would take her back to his father’s house where the marriage process would be finalized and completed.  If on the other hand he were to find that her affections were elsewhere or that she had not prepared herself for him as she ought, the groom could leave without her and give her a letter of divorce.  This was what Joseph was going to do with Mary when he heard that she was with child, planning to “put her away privately”, Matthew 1:19.


In the parable of the unforgiving servant found in Matthew 18:21-34, Jesus gives us a picture of the place forgiveness should have in our life.  In it, a king is settling accounts with his servants who represent Christians.  A servant is brought to him that owes him an enormous debt that he could not pay, and when the king gives orders to have him sold along with his wife and children to pay the debt the servant begs for time.  Out of compassion the king not only gives him more time, but he actually forgives, or cancels out, the debt this servant owed him.  The servant then goes out and finds a fellow servant that only owes him pennies by comparison to what he had just been forgiven of, and despite the begging of this other servant for more time to pay, he has him thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.  When the king hears of this he calls for the servant, rebukes him because he didn’t show the same kind of compassion and kindness towards the other servant that he had been given, and in anger recalls the debt that had initially been forgiven and sends him to the torturers until he paid it all.  In a nutshell, when the king forgave the servant, that represents salvation, but because the servant didn’t extend forgiveness to others after he had first received forgiveness from the king, his past debt was remembered and he was sent off to be tortured.  For those that say that this doesn’t apply to us, Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:35 that God will do the same to us if we don’t from our heart also forgive.  The servant received salvation, but because he would not forgive his salvation was forfeited.


Some will argue that these teachings of Jesus are not relevant to us because they were before He died and rose again, but in Matthew 28:19-20, just before He ascended up into heaven, Jesus instructs us to teach others to observe and do ALL that He commanded us.  He didn’t indicate only that which was after His resurrection, but all that He had commanded us to do.  In a book that was written about 90 A.D., almost 60 years after Christ’s ascension, Jesus talks to seven churches made up of Christians in Revelation 2-3.  In these chapters Jesus identifies what awaits those who overcome, and in Revelation 3:1-6 He talks to the church in Sardis.  In Revelation 3:5 He tells them that if they overcome “He will not blot their name out of the Book of Life”.  How can a person’s name be blotted out of anything without it first being put in it?  Since a person’s name is entered into the Lamb’s Book of Life at the point of salvation, this can only mean that because they didn’t overcome as Christ instructed them to do they “lost” their salvation.  Some people confuse the Book of the Living with the Book of Life, but they are two completely different books.  The Book of the Living, which is what Moses referred to in Exodus 32:32-33, has the names of all people who are physically living.  The Lamb’s Book of Life has all the names of those who have received salvation, whether they are currently dead or alive, which is only through Christ and the accepting of His sacrifice for our sins.  The writer of Hebrews indicates in Hebrews 10 that it’s possible for some to “draw back” from the salvation they once received, and how that the just will endure and live by faith.


While I don’t embrace the teaching of “once saved, always saved”, also known as “eternal security”, I do believe a person can be secure in their salvation.  When a person has a heart that seeks to honor and please God in all they do, to obey Him and His commands first and foremost, to actively shun sin in their life and be quick to repent when they do sin, which means to cease continuing in that sin, I believe a person can be secure in their salvation.  But, if a person is continually trying to defend or justify their behavior or the presence of sin in their life, or they take the position that they have the right to decide when they will or will not obey God and His Word, no matter what it is, then they are at risk of forfeiting the salvation they began in.  Some say for some to lose their salvation requires a complete turning of ones back to God, but I believe from what we’ve looked at in this and the previous blog it is possible for someone to “lose” their salvation and not enter into heaven without completely turning their back on Him.  Does a person lose their salvation every time they sin?  No, I believe that a person with the right attitude of the heart will experience God’s grace without measure during those times until they’ve had opportunity to recognize the sin and repent of it.  The Holy Spirit will convict us when we’ve sinned, and when we continue in sin, but if we continue to ignore His conviction or try to say it isn’t Him then we run the risk of falling short of the prize that the Apostle Paul tells us about, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and Philippians 3:12-16.  The Apostle Paul tells us to push for the prize that awaits us, and Jesus tells us that there is a reward for those who endure and overcome till the end.


Do you want the prize, the crown awaiting those who persevere and overcome till the end?  Do you want what awaits those who watch and prepare for the return of Jesus for His Bride?  Don’t let your robes of righteousness become spotted and blemished with the world and sin.  It’s up to you.



John Johansson (Pastor John)

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Jesus, Our Savior

Jesus, our Savior, that is what many of us are looking for.  We want to receive God’s love for us, and His forgiveness of our sins, and for many that is where it ends.  Jesus can be our Savior, freeing us from the bondage and penalty of our sins, but to give Him the position of Lord in our life is another story.  It’s almost as if all we’re wanting is “fire insurance”, enough of what God has to offer us through Jesus to keep us out of hell, but is that the kind of relationship Jesus is calling us to?  Or is He wanting something more from us?


A well-known author made a point along these lines.  He commented that many have come to the place that they believe who Jesus is and what He did for them, and that the basis of their prayer for salvation is based on their belief in Jesus, not a commitment to follow Him.  Many seem to think that all they need Jesus to be is their savior, not realizing that Jesus is requiring a relationship defined as a follower of Jesus.  In Luke 9:23-26 Jesus tells us what is required to be with Him; we need to deny ourselves, take up His cross daily, and follow Him.


In the New Testament, the word Savior is used more than 20 times in reference to Jesus.  The words Lord and Savior together more than 15 times, but the word Lord by itself is used more than 700 times of Jesus.  Jesus longs to be our Savior, but it appears that Scripture greatly emphasizes His role in our life needs to be that of Lord.  Are you okay with Jesus being Lord in your life, or are you content with Him just being your Savior?  It’s a tough question, but your answer could have potentially disastrous eternal consequences.


Some people think that just because they walked down an isle and said the “sinner’s prayer” they are a shoe-in for heaven.  When we look at Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus makes it clear who will and will not enter into heaven.  In verse 21 Jesus tells us not everyone who says to Him “Lord, Lord” will enter heaven, but only those who do the will of the Father.  And in verse 23 we learn that those Jesus tells to depart from Him are those who practice lawlessness.  Check out the irony in this.  Here we have people who are doing the supernatural, and in Jesus’ name, yet Jesus tells them to depart from Him because they practice lawlessness.  This tells us two things.  The first thing is that just because someone can do the supernatural in Jesus’ name does not mean they are in right relationship with Him.  This doesn’t mean that doing the supernatural is not of God, or that it’s not good or desired for us, but instead that this is not the barometer to gauge whether or not we are in right standing with Him.  The second thing we learn is that Jesus is looking for those who do the Father’s will, not those who do as they deem is right and okay based on their own perceptions and opinions.


Those who do the will of the Father, and those who practice lawlessness even though they can do the supernatural.  I think you can sum up the difference between the two with one statement; one group made Jesus their Lord, and the other group only saw Him as their savior.  We see people in church circles who are quick to claim the promises and blessings of being a child of God, even moving in the supernatural with signs and wonders, yet at the same time they can be rebelling against God and His will for them.  Perhaps God called them into full-time ministry and they decided to pursue a career more to their liking?  Maybe it was to keep their mouth shut but they just can’t stand not gossiping or making comments whenever they choose to do so?  Maybe God wanted them to move somewhere and they decided to stay put or move somewhere else?  Or, it could be something as mundane as God telling them to give up sodas, but because they see nothing wrong with them they continue to drink them.  Some may argue whether or not situations like what I just described could keep them out of heaven, but to argue that point is to miss the point.  Besides the fact that choosing to go opposite of what God is calling you to, regardless of what it is, sends the message that your opinion is more important than God’s, there is a heart issue here.  If a person is always trying to justify their decisions, or their behavior, as to why they are not being obedient to God or continue behaving in a way that is not honoring and pleasing to Him, the issue goes beyond the choice they made or the behavior they choose to continue in.  The issue is an attitude of the heart.  Is the attitude of your heart one that desires to obey and honor God in all areas of your life, or is it one that consistently tries to defend and justify themselves?  A Christian with the right attitude will be quick to repent of sin in their life, which means turning away from the sin.  A Christian with that attitude of the heart I believe experiences God’s grace without measure, covering sins in their life that they may not be aware or had opportunity to repent of, but a Christian with the wrong attitude of the heart could very possibly find themselves with the same group of people that Jesus turns away in Matthew 7:23.


A lot of people in the days we are living in see Jesus as only their savior.  They are quick to accept and receive all the promises and blessings God can give them, including love and forgiveness, but sadly many of them don’t allow Jesus to be Lord in their life.  Some have the mindset that our relationship with Christ is based solely on what He can and has done for us, giving very little to no thought that they have a responsibility in this relationship.  They seem to think that salvation is an end in and of itself, and that nothing more is required of them outside of merely accepting it, seeing Jesus as only Savior, but what we learn from the above texts is that this is not the case.  Jesus requires that we live with Him as Lord of our life, and that limiting Him to just our savior is not sufficient.


In my youth I was a part of a church youth choir that did some traveling.  It was not your typical church youth choir in that we had at one time 175 youth in it, and the guys outnumbered the girls causing the Music Pastor to make adjustments to some of the music to accommodate this unique dynamic.  One of the songs we sang is still a well-known song (not because of us), “I surrender all”, but one of the statements in the song that is not often heard was powerful and made an impact on me.  The statement was, “If Jesus is not Lord of everything, then He’s not Lord at all”.  Before you’re quick to say that Jesus is Lord in your life, stop and take a closer look at yourself and see if there are any areas that you’ve pretty much denied Jesus access to.  You may be faithful to church on a regular basis, passionate to talk about Him to others, involved in various ministries, listen only to Christian music with Jesus bumper stickers on your car, but are there areas that by disregarding God’s will or instructions for you, some of which are found in His Word, you have told God that He is not Lord in your life?


Is Jesus your Savior, or is He both your Lord and Savior???????


John Johansson (Pastor John)

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The Narrow Road

I’m reminded of a story a friend once related to me a long time ago regarding an off-road expedition someone he knew went on.  If I remember correctly, the person had a brand new full-size Dodge 4×4, all decked out for off-roading, and he decided to go on a road leading to a place called Devil’s Canyon.  He had never been on this road and therefore was unfamiliar with it.  As he progressed down the road he found it becoming more and more narrow, and it became apparent to him that backing back up the hill was not an option.  Eventually the road became so narrow that it began to scrap the sides of his new truck.  Unable to turn around or back up the hill, hoping the road would begin to widen out he continued down the road.  That is until his truck became so wedged in that it couldn’t move anymore in any direction.  He found a way to exit the truck and began the long walk back to the main highway, leaving the truck in its new resting place indefinitely.  The road continued down the hill, but he was unable to continue down it because the vehicle he chose to take was not compatible for the road he was on.


It is recorded twice that Jesus speaks of the narrow road.  The most popular passage of Jesus teaching about the narrow road is found in Matthew 7:13-14, where He identifies both the narrow road and the broad road.  It is in this passage that we learn that there is a narrow road that leads to life, and a broad road that leads to destruction.  Jesus makes it clear that while it is easy to travel the broad road leading to destruction, it is a difficult and narrow road that one must travel to receive life and only few find it.  In Luke 13:22-30 Jesus spends some extra time talking about the narrow gate and how many will seek to enter it but will not be able to.  He points out that while many will say they ate and drank in His presence, and that He taught in their streets, He will tell them to “depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.”  How can someone who initially started out on the narrow road end up on the broad road that leads to destruction, and subsequently denied entrance into heaven?


There are a number of reasons one might find themselves on the broad road.  Perhaps the biggest reason for this is because the narrow road was more difficult than they wanted to go through, and in trying to avoid some of the difficulty they have chosen to switch from the narrow road to the broad road.  Living for Christ was more demanding than what they expected or committed to, and for them it wasn’t worth it.  They chose the easy way of life instead of the difficult path of following Jesus.


Some people have embraced the idea that God’s grace insures their entrance into heaven no matter how they live, taking the mindset that all their sins, past, present, and future, are forgiven and nothing is expected or required of them.  Because they asked God for forgiveness when they accepted Him as their savior, they tend to think that they no longer need to ask forgiveness for any future sin, and that they can continue without turning from sin.  While it is true that God’s grace is extremely wonderful to experience, to think that God expects nothing in return, or that He doesn’t expect us to turn from sin, can find you on the easy and broad road to destruction.


For some, they have tossed out any trace of a moral compass on how to live.  For them, there is no such thing as right or wrong, or even good and evil, in the life of a Christian.  Some will go so far as discount even the need to acknowledge or listen to their conscience, citing that as Christians under a new covenant there is no longer a need for it.  These people do not see the need to repent of sin, especially since in their opinion there is no such thing as right or wrong, good or evil.  They believe all humanity after Christ is inherently good and redeemed, just on different journeys to eternity.  This is the quick route to the easy and broad road leading to the broad gate and destruction.


The guy in the first paragraph used the wrong vehicle on a narrow road that brought complete destruction to the truck.  In much the same way, a person with the wrong mindsets and ideologies may find that the beliefs they embraced and lived by were incompatible for the difficult and narrow road leading to eternal life, and as a result find themselves going through the broad and easy gate to destruction when it’s all said and done.


The Christian walk is very simple, just living our lives in a way that pleases and honors God.  We often times make it more complicated when we try to designate what parts of our life Jesus has access and control over, and what parts He doesn’t.  Every part of our life, and everything that we have, is Gods, and we need to remember to live accordingly with that understanding.  While the Christian life is simple, it is not an easy one.  We read in Luke 9:23-26 what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and it’s not an easy life to live when our flesh is constantly warring within us to live as we please and in ways that we consider right in our own eyes.  In Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25 we are told that “there is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death”.


Are you on the narrow road?  Or, are you on the broad and easy road that leads to destruction?  When was the last time you took a good hard look at your life to make sure that you’re on the difficult and narrow road?  If you have been on the easy and broad road, it’s not too late to make a change and get on the right road.  In Philippians 2:12 we are told to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.  Many of the people I described above are taking their walk with Christ, or for some God, rather nonchalantly thinking that their eternal destination is set and can’t really be changed.  What Paul is telling us is that we need to take our walk with Christ very seriously, having a reverence towards a righteous judge knowing that while His love for us is without measure, He is also very just and will not allow sin to enter into Heaven.  Grace, God’s grace, is not a ticket to sin, but instead an opportunity through Christ and the Holy Spirit to live the life that God intended for us to live from the beginning.


In Matthew 7:21-27, talking about those who claim to be followers of Jesus, Jesus makes some sobering statements for all of us to consider.  Jesus mentions that there will be many who call Him Lord that will not enter into Heaven.  Oh, they had quite the resume, doing marvelous things that could only be done in Jesus’ name and in the power of the Holy Spirit, but Jesus tells them to depart from Him.  Why did he tell them to depart from Him?  He tells us in verse 23 that they were workers of iniquity, or lawlessness as one version translates the text.  Basically, they were doing the supernatural in the name of Jesus, thinking that they were His followers and representatives to the world, but apparently they were living in disobedience to Him living life as they thought best and right in their own eyes.  They were not living according to the will of the Father.  In 1 John 2:3-6 and 1 John 5:3 the Apostle John makes it very clear what the indicator is of one who truly knows and loves Jesus, and that is whether or not they keep and do His commandments.  If one doesn’t keep His commandments, or even acknowledges that we need to keep His commandments, then scripture is clear that the love of God has not been perfected within them, or that they are even of Him.  They are living life as it seems right to them, but as we read in Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25, living life like that leads to death.


If you’re not living on the difficult and narrow road that leads to eternal life, then this is the time to get on it, and on it to stay.  It’s all about the road that you are on, difficult and narrow or easy and broad.  Which will it be for you????


John Johansson (Pastor John)

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30 Shekels of Silver

I recently found myself thinking of Judas Iscariot.  You know the man.  He’s the one that betrayed Jesus for 30 shekels of silver.  Who was this man, and why did he betray Jesus?  Is there something in him that we can not only learn from, but also identify within ourselves?  So, let’s take a look at this man.


We first hear of Judas in Mark 3:13-19 and Luke 6:12-16.  In these passages we find out how it was that he became an apostle of Jesus.  In Mark 3:7-12, we see that a great multitude of people were following Jesus because of all the things they had heard He was doing.  They saw Him do signs and wonders.  It is from this same group of people that Jesus specifically calls out the ones He wanted to be His 12 apostles; those who would be with Him, those who would be sent out to preach, and those who would be given power to heal the sick and cast out demons.  And named among these 12 men was Judas Iscariot.  Judas was following Jesus before Jesus called him out.  Why he was following Jesus, we can only speculate.  Perhaps it was only because of the signs and wonders, but maybe there was more?  Maybe it was because of the notoriety he would gain being associated with such a man like Jesus?  Or, was it only because he sincerely believed in Jesus and wanted to follow after Him?  We may never know why he specifically was following Jesus, but we do know that as a result of his following Jesus he was selected to be one of the 12 Jesus would call out to be with Him as an apostle.


In John 12:1-8, we read of Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anointing the feet of Jesus with a costly oil, and of Judas being critical of what she did.  Judas tried to make an argument for selling the oil and giving the proceeds to the poor, but John tells us that this was not the true heart motivation of Judas.  John gives us a glimpse of the heart of Judas, someone called to be a disciple of Jesus sent out to preach and do signs and wonders, by telling us that Judas was more concerned about the money because he would take money out of the money box he kept for Jesus.  When did money become an issue for Judas?  We can be fairly confident that money wasn’t the reason he was following Jesus, but when did he start looking to the money?  Some people have said that money is the root of all evil, but that is not true.  In 1 Timothy 6:10, we read that it is the “love of money” that is the root of all evil, and it is for this same reason that Paul tells us some have strayed from the faith in their greediness.  We can look just about anywhere and see people whose love of money will cause them to do just about anything to either obtain more, or to keep what they have.  They will walk over anyone that is in the way of them getting more money, break whatever law is in their way, compromise any standards hindering their progress, or ignore or discard any trace of moral ethics that stands in the way of their greed.  In essence, people who love money will go to great lengths and depths to acquire more, and then to keep it, all the while tossing away integrity and moral character as obstacles in their way.  Apparently, Judas loved money more than he did Jesus, stealing from Jesus what was His.  Being specifically chosen by Jesus to be an apostle sent out to represent Him in preaching and signs and wonders, money became more important to him than Jesus.


The next time we hear of Judas is in Matthew 26:14-16.  It is here that we read of Judas approaching the chief priests seeking to betray Jesus.  In their search for the messiah, the Jews were looking for someone that would free them from the rule and reign of the Romans, and to establish an earthly kingdom.  This wasn’t happening with Jesus, though some expected Him to do so, and some have argued that this was the reason Judas approached the chief priests.  It is speculated by some that he was hoping Jesus would be pushed into taking action to establish His earthly kingdom if he betrayed Him and had Him arrested, but I’m not convinced this was the case.  If this was the real reason for Judas betraying Jesus, then why would he be interested in what the chief priests would give him to do so?  Judas has been profiting at Jesus’ expense for some time, how long we don’t know, taking what was Jesus’ and keeping it for himself.  Perhaps he saw the money coming to Jesus beginning to decrease, or maybe felt that Jesus’ ministry was coming to a close, or maybe his love of money had grown to such an extent that he sought one last opportunity to throw caution to the wind and get one last windfall of money?  Even though we may never truly know his motivation to betray Jesus, one thing we do know for certain is that he was a thief and loved money more than he did Jesus.  Perhaps Judas was on his mind when the Apostle Paul wrote about those who love money in 1 Timothy 6:10, but if not we can see Paul’s words to be true when we look at Judas.  In his greediness Judas fell from the place of apostleship and anointing, and even in relationship with Christ.  Judas experienced firsthand the love of Jesus, the signs and wonders Jesus did, and the power and anointing Jesus gave him to preach the good news and do the miraculous, yet at the end it was his love of money that was greater than his relationship with Jesus.


While the life and death of Judas appears to be centered around his love of money, what can we glean from him?  Some have argued that anyone that experiences the love of Jesus will voluntarily surrender their life and be obedient to Him, arguing that no one can resist or choose to walk away from the love of Jesus once they’ve experienced it.  What we see in Judas, a man that Jesus didn’t just love but chose to invest Himself into for the Kingdom, is a man who began to love something more than Jesus despite all that he had experienced or seen firsthand.  That something doesn’t have to be money, but anything or anyone that we love more than Jesus.  It could be argued that Judas didn’t initially follow Jesus because of His money, especially since we know that Jesus didn’t even have a place to lay His head, but sometime during those three in a half years of being with Jesus 24/7, he began to love the money.  I’m sure you’ve known people who started out on the right track with Jesus, eager to follow Him, but somewhere down the road their love of something or someone became greater than their love of Him.  Oh, they might still love Jesus, but they no longer love Him more than anything or anyone else, and in that they forfeit their relationship with Him as Paul tells us.


In Mark 14:43-46, we read of how Judas’ betrayal took place.  It’s ironic that it wasn’t enough for Judas to simply indicate who Jesus was, but instead he used deception and hypocrisy to betray Jesus.  He wanted to appear as though he was a close friend of Jesus to all those there, and as such approached Jesus as though there was nothing wrong or amiss in his relationship with Jesus by greeting Him with a kiss.  Sometimes we hide where our heart truly is by presenting ourselves as loyal friends of Jesus to those around us, but Jesus knows our heart and will not be fooled.  Sadly, many a church pew is used by some to make people think they are living right with God, all the while there is someone or something else on the throne in their life.  Christians have often times been accused of hypocrisy, making themselves appear as followers of Christ when they are in church or in the midst of other Christians, but all the while they are living a life contrary to the ways and will of God, ways that dishonor or displease Him.  They are living a life of deception and hypocrisy, fooling themselves that all is okay when in actuality things are not okay.


For whatever reason Judas decided to betray Jesus.  More than likely things with Jesus wasn’t going in the direction he thought they should be, and it is then that we see where his heart truly is.  So, in essence Judas tried to profit once again at the expense of Christ, but this time without reservations because his love of money was greater.  When things in life are not going in the direction we think it should, especially as followers of Jesus, we’re faced with the decision to surrender and submit to what and where God is leading us, or to put our relationship with Him on the chopping block in an effort to hang onto whatever it is we value more than Him.  For some it is money like it was for Judas, but for others it could be career, education, recreation and entertainment, hobbies, relationships, power and control, and any other thing you can think of.  In either case, what are we going to do when we’re pushed into a corner where the loyalties of our heart are tested and subsequently exposed for what they truly are?  It’s a decision we will all face one time or another, and usually it is more than once or twice that we will face it.


One last thing about Judas.  In Matthew 27:3-10, we read that Judas regretted the decision he made to betray Jesus.  When he tried to reverse the results of his betrayal, which was unsuccessful, he then went and hanged himself.  One can argue whether or not Judas would have been granted forgiveness from God if he sought it, but the fact remains that while he greatly regretted what he had done he instead chose to hang himself.  At what point does a person begin to regret the decisions they made at Christ’s expense, or at the expense of their relationship with Christ?  That point is different for each person, and some will not reach that point until after they enter into eternity.  If a person does reach that point and place on this side of eternity, they need to run to God with repentance and submission seeking His forgiveness and restored relationship.  Are you that person, where you’ve sold out your relationship with Christ for 30 shekels of silver, figuratively speaking?  Has someone or something other than Jesus been on the throne in your life?  Are you ready and willing to make the necessary changes to regain right relationship with Him?  If so, let there be no delay in doing so, and take care of it speedily!


 John Johansson

Is It Legalistic?

I recently saw a post on Facebook with a picture of a prohibited left turn sign, and the caption with it referred to people who would view this sign as a suggestion. The problem with this is that the sign in the picture is not suggesting or making a recommendation on how to make your life better.  This particular sign is classified as a regulatory sign, meaning you are required to obey it or risk significant negative consequences.


As I looked at this picture I thought of how many view the Christian life in much the same way. They either view the commands we find in scripture as mere recommendations if they are to experience Gods best in their life, or they simply see them as suggestions with the option to heed them or not.  And even then, some choose to view any of the commands of God as legalistic and enemies of the grace God has given us.


According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a simple definition of “commandment” is; an important rule given by God that tells people how to behave.


In Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus is asked by one of the Pharisees who was a lawyer which is the greatest commandment in the law. Jesus responded by telling him the greatest commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.  He followed that up by telling him that the second was like it, to love your neighbor as yourself.  Jesus proceeds to tell him that on those two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  This dialog was focused on the 10 commandments.


In John 14:15 Jesus tells us that if we love Him we will obey His commandments. Did you notice that?  He wasn’t referring to the 10 commandments, but instead His own commandments.  So, if that is the case then we need to see what it is that Jesus commanded of us to do.  Below are just some of Jesus’ commands to His followers.


  • “Repent”, Matthew 4:17
  • “Be reconciled with your brother before offering your gift”, Matthew 5:23-24
  • “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”, Matthew 5:44
  • “Do not worry about your life, …”, Matthew 6:25-32
  • “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, …”, Matthew 6:33
  • “Judge not, that you be not judged”, Matthew 7:1
  • Forgive others as God has forgiven you, Matthew 18:21-35
  • “Do not be deceived”, Matthew 24:4
  • “Watch therefore, and pray always …”, Luke 21:34-36
  • “Watch!”, Mark 13:37


For those who argue that the teachings of Christ prior to His resurrection do not pertain to us, citing the opinion that it would be legalistic to heed the teachings and commands of Jesus beforehand, let’s see what Jesus had to say about this after His resurrection.


After His resurrection Jesus gave clear instructions to the Apostles. Part of what He said touched on this very subject, telling them to “… teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you, …”, Matthew 28:20.  What He said told them to teach others to observe, or do, everything He had commanded them to do.  There were no qualifiers expressed or implied in any way, like only those I gave after I resurrected, or ones that involved a particular subject matter or not, but instead He said “all”.


In I John 2:3-6; 5:3, we are told by the Apostle John that keeping and obeying the commandments is an indicator of whether or not we truly know Him. If we truly love God then we will keep and do His commandments, and if we don’t then we really don’t love Him.  If it’s been a while since you’ve read I John, I encourage you to do so.


We live in a society that the measurement of ones love for another is based on the presence and intensity of passion and emotion for the other person. It is important for us to have passion and emotional love for God in our lives.  Jesus told the church in Ephesus that no matter how much they were doing things right, they needed to return to their first love for Him, an intensely passionate love for Him.  However, when Jesus and the Apostles mention our love for God, and the test for whether or not we truly love Him, they do not refer to passion and emotion, but instead one’s obedience to the commandments of God the Father and Jesus Christ.  The obedience isn’t to gain salvation, but instead to demonstrate to Him, others, and ourselves that we truly love Him and are submitted to His lordship in our lives.  This is the test, obedience to His commandments, used multiple times to see how real our love for Him is.


I’m reminded of the words of James in James 2. In this chapter James challenges others to show their faith without works, and that he will show his faith by his works.  With that same train of thought a person can say, “Show me your love for God apart from obeying His commandments, and I’ll show you my love for God by my obedience to His commandments.”  Many try to separate works from their relationship with Christ on that basis of grace, but Scripture tells us that our love for Him is manifest in our adherence to His commandments.  We’re not talking salvation through works as that is not possible, because salvation is only by grace through faith.  But, that doesn’t mean our relationship with Him is exempt from being obedient to Him.


I find that many who try to live their Christian walk apart from obedience to His commandments, citing to do otherwise is “legalistic”, are living their life as though they won’t be held accountable for their disobedience. With that I have seen that they tend to lack an appreciation for Christ and what He’s done for them, or any inclination that they need to live their life in such a way to demonstrate their love and appreciation for Him.  This is a scary place to be in when Scripture plainly tells us that the love of God is not in us if we are not obeying His commandments.  A lot of times this is evident especially so in their pocket books, where they seek to maintain control over their finances as though it is their own and not Gods, having no true desire to honor God with their money or to acknowledge that it’s all His to begin with.  A Christian that has to find reasons for not tithing to God, much less more than the tenth, seeking “loopholes” of some sort to justify their behavior, is a person trying to split their allegiance between God and money, something that God will not tolerate.  In fact, Scripture tells us whenever we put something or someone before Him it is idolatry.


What I’m trying to say in this blog is simple. We are quickly approaching the sudden return of Jesus for His bride, and Scripture is clear that many will be left behind even though they thought they were in good and right standing with Him.  With this sudden appearing of Christ speedily approaching us we need to make sure we are ready for Him, and one of the ways we know that is to see if our love for Him is really what it ought to be.


Does your life reflect true love for Him and His lordship in your life? If not, I strongly encourage you to make whatever changes are necessary to get your life where it needs to be.  We are all a work in progress, and that is where His grace and mercy comes in, but where is the attitude of our heart towards Him, sin, and being surrendered to His will and ways?


John Johansson

Has an Alarm Sounded for You?

Has an alarm sounded for you? In Sunday School we are currently going through a study on what it sometimes takes in order for some to change.  As a part of that study we have learned about alarms.  Specifically, alarms that sound in our lives warning us of coming destruction if we don’t heed the alarm and make changes in accordance to God’s Word, nature and will for us.


What is an alarm? Sometimes it is the sounding of an alert like an alarm clock that wakes us up in the morning.  At other times, it is the sound of a warning letting us know of impending destruction if we don’t heed it and make the necessary changes.


When we talk about alarms, it’s funny how some get our attention, and yet others don’t even phase us in any way. In order for an alarm to be effective it has to become more unpleasant to us than what we are wanting or desiring, otherwise we wouldn’t heed it.  When you think of an alarm clock, the soft sounds of a breeze through tree branches or ocean waves crashing against some rocks might not wake you up enough to get up and out of bed, but the sound of an air horn or a fire alarm will probably get you out of bed in a sudden jolt with full adrenalin flowing through your veins.  That alarm was effective.  We see it with our cell phones.  Some ringtones are hard for us to hear to notice, but others get our attention right away and we know that someone is trying to contact us.  What alarms get your attention, and which ones are easy for you to not hear or to ignore?


Have you known someone that paid little attention to what they ate, desiring more the enjoyment of the food than to be without, at least until they got the doctors report? Once they got the doctors report it took very little effort on their part to change both what they ate and their eating habits.  The doctors report was an alarm.  What about the person that thinks nothing about the way they drive and end up having a fender bender that was their fault?  The fender bender was an alarm sounding, letting them know that if they don’t make some changes in the way they drive they could end up in a very disastrous accident that could prove fatal in multiple ways.  Or maybe you’ve been embezzling money from your employer, and one day someone decides to take an audit of the company’s finances?  There’s an alarm sounding.  When it comes to change in our lives, what alarms must God sound before we will take notice and change what needs to be changed?


It would be great if it only took one alarm to bring change in our life, but for many people it takes multiple alarms before that change comes, if it ever does. The person that initially changed their eating habits eventually goes back to eating the way they used to before the doctor’s report, and now they are suffering from a heart-attack that could’ve been avoided.  Perhaps they live through the heart-attack, and if so that is another louder alarm, but how many more alarms will they need to endure before they change or they suffer the consequences of their poor eating habits?  The person with the fender bender shrugs it off as though it’s nothing big, maybe even trying to pass the blame onto someone or something else because they are too good of a driver, only to end up in a multi-car pileup that cost the life of 5 innocent people.  The person embezzling money slips past the audit undetected and they now feel safe, and as a result starts embezzling more than they had previously only to get caught in a “sting” operation that literally costs them everything they have and ten years in prison, not to mention the reputation they had worked so hard to build up over the years.


I recently read in I Peter 4:17 how that judgment first begins in the house of God. Some would say that as Christians we are exempt from God’s judgment, and that we’re free to live as we please because of God’s forgiveness, but that is not the case.  When I think about this verse and the alarms I’ve already mentioned I think of two modern examples for us to consider, Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker.  Both of these men loved God and were greatly used of God to reach millions of people with the Gospel, but both of them had sin in their lives exposed that caused their ministries to collapse.  From what I remember of both situations, both of them had people approach them in private about sin in their life, but because of their pride thinking they wouldn’t get caught or that it was okay, they ignored the alarms God was sounding in their lives.  It was only after they kept ignoring the alarms God was sounding to them in private that God had no choice but to bring very public correction to them, and it cost them dearly, perhaps far more than they ever thought they would lose if exposed.  I won’t go into where these men are now as that is not the crux of this blog, but the fact is God had sounded alarms in their lives long before the destruction came that they ignored.  So, God does sound alarms in our lives when we are not living as we ought, but whether or not we heed the alarms and change is strictly up to us.


Has God been sounding alarms in your life? Is He trying to warn you of destruction heading your way if you don’t change the way you’re doing something?  I think we all have at one time or another, and we will more than likely hear those alarms in the future as we grow and mature in Him as we should.  Instead of learning things the hard-way as some are so proud to declare for themselves, let us heed the different alarms in our lives and make whatever changes we ought to, all with the help of the Holy Spirit.


God loves and accepts us just as we are, but He also loves us to much to leave us as we are.


John Johansson

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