one week church devotional

God does not need us to condemn each other on His behalf but to love each other on His behalf.

7 brief devotional readings for a ‘week of Christian love’

John Wesley was one of nineteen children born to Samuel and Susanna Wesley. Samuel was an Anglican clergyman. John became famous and influential as a revivalist preacher; his brother Charles for music and hymnody.
John Wesley 1703-1791 Charles Wesley 1707-1788
In 1766 John Wesley wrote A Plain Account of Christian Perfection, from which the following paragraphs are taken.
There is also a short bible reading for each day. Read – Reflect – Reach out

MONDAY – 1 Corinthians 12:12-16
We may be wise but have little love, or we may have love with little wisdom. God has wisely joined us all together as the parts of the body so that we cannot say to another, “I have no need of you.”

TUESDAY – Colossians 3:12-14
Even to imagine that those who are not saved cannot teach you is a very great and serious mistake. Not observing this has led some to many mistakes and certainly into pride. Let there be in you that lowly mind which was in Christ Jesus. Be clothed with humility. Let modesty appear in all your words and actions.

WEDNESDAY – 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
We should always remember that love is the highest gift of God. All of our revelations and gifts are little things compared to love. Settle in your heart from this moment on you will aim at nothing more than that love described in 1 Corinthians chapter thirteen. You can go no higher than this.

THURSDAY – Colossians 3:15-17
Do all good you possibly can to the bodies and souls of your neighbours. Be active. Give no place to laziness. Be always busy, losing no shred of time. Be slow to speak. In a multitude of words sin abounds. Try not to talk to much, or for a long period of time. Not many people can converse profitably beyond an hour’s time. Especially avoid pious ‘chit-chat’ or religious gossip.

FRIDAY – John 15:9-17
Ceasing to have a reciprocal love for one another is inner disunity which is at the very root of all outward separation. Beware of everything which leads to this separation. Beware of a dividing spirit. Do not despise or run down, not even for some mistake, even if you are right.

SATURDAY – Romans 15:5-7
Do not even give a single thought of separating from your brethren, whether their opinions agree with yours or not. Just because someone does not agree with everything you say does not mean they are sinning. Nor is this or that opinion essential to the work of God. Be patient with those who disagree with you. Do not condemn those who do not see things just as you do, or who think it is their duty to contradict you. Beware of touchiness, of testiness, of an unwillingness to be corrected.

SUNDAY – Hebrews 10:23-25


“To seek the lost,
to win the curious,
to build the convinced,
to send the committed.”

an uncelebrated key to success

I watched with Canadian pride as our figure skating team won the gold medal at the 2018 Olympics in Korea. The announcer said this about Tessa Virtue, who skating with ice dance partner Scott Moir, sealed the deal for gold. “Curiosity drives her, not ego.” In my opinion, ego can only take you so far. Eventually, ego can corrupt and even crumble. Ego can cloud perspective and cause a loss of respect. But curiosity can bring innovation, resilience, and discovery. Curiosity can drive you into the unknown with anticipation rather than fear. It compels us to look for success around the next corner, to test drive the variables which will help us excel. Ego can end up imprisoning a person, and alienate those whom we want to serve and bring value to. Curiosity, conversely, is the activity of the truly free. Are you working and walking in the freedom of curiosity or in the slavery to ego?

prayer mysteries

Exploring the Mysteries of Prayer
Rev. D. Johns

1. Is there strength in numbers? Why is it good to gather with other believers to pray? Are longer prayer meetings more effective than shorter ones? Sometimes we are tempted to discuss the mysteries of prayer with more energy than is expended entering into prayer itself.

Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference? Zondervan 2006
He relates an account reported by historian Paul Johnson. In 1493 students at the University of Louvain debated these topics: do four five-minute prayers on consecutive days stand a better chance of being answered than one twenty-minute prayer? Is a prayer of ten minutes, said on behalf of ten people, as efficacious as ten one-minute prayers? The debate lasted eight weeks, longer than it had taken Columbus to sail to America the previous year.

Yancey is not willing to ‘buy-in’ to the thinking that prayer operates according to a mathematical formula in which God calculates the total amount of prayer-pressure being applied. But he does acknowledge anecdotal/historical evidence for mass prayer meeting success. Yancey notes Biblical accounts of group prayer being called for and celebrated.

So, whether you stay home tonight and pray from there, or choose to gather with other followers of Jesus at church tonight – I will not judge. Yes, it is a mystery. Perhaps life in the Kingdom of God is about doing both.

trying to untangle eschatology

I can get anything tangled. Shoe laces, garden hoses, computer cords, seat belts, …. and theology. Especially eschatology (the doctrine of the end times). A few preachers are consumed with prophecy, making charts, and scaring people into readiness. Many prefer to stay away from the hot-button issues that lay people love to test their pastors about – you know test the pastor’s alignment with a preconceived theological system. This month I waded into these muddy waters for a short 3 part sermon series. This of course is an adventure deserving much more effort and time, and is more worthy of a New Testament scholar or Professor of Christian Theology. I must admit that the study and preparation reminded me of those days 40 years ago when curiosity, passion and adrenaline (and the quest to score at least a passing mark in my courses) drove my academic blood.

Simply, here is what I did:
1. “Watch! No Sleeping On Duty“. Mark 13:24-27, 32-37
2. “Ready Or Not, Here I Come!” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, 23-24
3. “Ask Any Question” An opportunity for people to seek eschatological clarity

Our church website is sadly, badly, out of date. However links to the audio of sermons is current.

If anyone wants to look at my modest notes I can certainly email them to you. Just message me on Facebook or email

I depended heavily on some good sources, which I list below. I brought only a small portion of my library to Germany, and you no doubt can locate some good academic resources, but these books served me well. (And yes, my default ‘go to’ publisher of much of my library has always been Inter Varsity Press.)

I believe the best scholarly treatment of Mark 13 is by Robert H. Stein; his book published by Inter Varsity Press Academic in 2014 Jesus, The Temple and the Coming Son of Man. It is concise, readable and persuasive intellectually.

99 Reasons Why No One Knows When Christ Will Return by B.J. Oropeza, Inter Varsity Press 1994

Jesus, Paul and the End of the World: A Comparative Study in New Testament Eschatology, Ben Witherington III, Inter Varsity Press 1992

What the Bible Teaches About The End of the World, Bruce Milne, Tyndale House, 1979

A balanced and easy to understand commentary on 1 & 2 Thessalonians is by John Stott, The Gospel and the End of Time, Inter Varsity Press, 1991

A very helpful presentation of various theological and Biblical approaches to heaven, hell, resurrection, the return of Jesus and the millennial kingdom is found in The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity by Roger E. Olson, Inter Varsity Press 2002, (note chapters 14 & 15)

I recommend reading the debate writings about hell. Two Views of Hell: A Biblical & Theological Dialogue, Edward William Fudge, Robert A. Peterson, Inter Varsity Press, 2000

After Life: What the Bible Really Says, Douglas Connelly, Inter Varsity Press, 1995

MARANATHA! – Doug Johns, May 2017

Preaching in an Age of Distraction


From Doug’s Preaching Mentorship Notes:
Design2Delivery #7 – Wednesday October 26 2016 – Rev. D. Johns

More and more we are preaching to an audience that is ‘disposed to distraction’. I have preached outside and had to compete with animals, wind, rain and beautiful scenery. I have preached in old ‘steeple churches’ and had to do battle with rodents on the floor and bats in the air. I think my ability to raise my voice above babies crying and old men snoring scores high on the concentration scale. I have preached through power outages and natural gas leaks. All that being said, the biggest challenge these days is to somehow communicate with an audience accustomed to fifteen-second sound bites; an audience that lives with continuous visual stimulation much of their day. It’s an audience that doesn’t have much patience for a delayed punch-line.

But I think the built-in attention-avoidance to lecture and preaching so prevalent our culture runs much deeper than a quick fix of video or PowerPoint. Somehow we have to capture their interest at the outset in such a way that the subject we speak or teach about is so compelling, so essential, that minds are jolted into awareness that this moment in time could indeed be a ‘game-changer’. This means, though, that each time I speak, I have to be satisfied with the knowledge that my effectiveness is going to be measured in small numbers. I mean, not every Sunday will be a ‘game-changing’ experience for all who are present. It also means that the introduction might be of more value, and therefore demand more preparation energy and creativity than hitherto invested.

Caution: Don’t let the preacher off the hook too quickly. It is all too easy to label the audience as ‘low concentrators’ while elevating the speaker into the heaven-blessed thoughtful, reflective, meditative zone of super spirituality. The preacher can easily be led into ‘the land of lazy’ just as much as the listener. Attention spans for all of us need some serious re-training.

Matt Woodley recently wrote an article in Preaching Today, titled Deep Preaching in a Distracted Age: Will anything capture people’s attention and keep it long enough for God to do his work? You can see the full article here

He says,
Recent articles and books highlight what Microsoft researcher Linda Stone calls our “continuous partial attention.” Consider this trio of recent articles from The New York Times—”Addicted to Distraction,” “The End of Reflection,” and “Don’t Distract Me.” The stats don’t lie about our heightened distractibility. The average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8.25 seconds in 2015. Little wonder, since an American on social media receives 54,000 words and 443 minutes of video every day.

I love what he calls a ‘counter-intuitive strategy’ to take face this challenge head – on.

In a distracted, outraged, shallow culture, people begin to hunger for something rare: the focused, balanced, deep. Because we chronically distract ourselves, we crave depth. Deep preaching is our best chance to change lives.

Matt’s plan is to foster four disciplines which impact the development of deep sermons. But be warned, there is no quick and easy solution to reverse the fall into distraction and diversion which has debilitated our society by depriving us of the power of vocal persuasion. Surprisingly though, a slow, deep, and thoughtful preparation on our part can lead to a deep, vibrant and substantial life-change – which in turn becomes noticeable in a loud world that is searching for reality beyond the superficial and transient, above the brevity and shallowness this world has to offer.

why doxology? – why church?

doxology pic

Very few churches sing THE DOXOLOGY any more. Hopefully they compensate for all they lose by omitting this traditional item from Sunday worship. Here’s why ‘doxology’ is so important:

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him all creatures here below;
Praise him above ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

People out of touch with the glory of God are not grounded, they have no anchor. Eventually they drift back to self-focus, self-elevation, and self-worship. This is why the first two words of the Doxology are crucial!


This is a bold reaffirmation of monotheism. Church can help us because when we sing the doxology, or at least other songs with the heart of this doxology, we remind ourselves that there is one true God. Life is grounded, it has perspective.

Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”

Thomas Ken wrote this hymn at a time when the church believed only Scripture should be sung as hymns—with an emphasis on the Psalms. Some considered it sinful and blasphemous to write new lyrics for church music, akin to adding to the Scriptures. In that atmosphere, Ken wrote this and several other hymns for the boys at Winchester College, with strict instructions that they use them only in their rooms, for private devotions. The original hymn, “Awake, my soul, and with the sun” had 11 verses. Ironically, the last stanza has come into widespread use as the Doxology, perhaps the most frequently used piece of music in public worship. At Ken’s request, the hymn was sung at his funeral, which was held at sunrise (see name of hymn and its first line) – a fitting summation of his life focus.

For Sunday August 3, 2014 2 Corinthians 4:1-6, 16-18; Romans 11:33-12:1

K why church ppt pic poster red

shipwrecked! – do you need an anchor?

ship wreck ppt picCharles Swindoll writes: 

                 We see bumper stickers that say “I’d rather be sailing”

                 or “I’d rather be fishing” but no one says “I’d rather

                 be sinking”, “I’d rather be ship wrecked”.

The bottom of the ocean is strewn with the carcasses of ships that go down in the crashing waves and fog of sea storms. And the storms of life yield casualties as well. Are you ready? Are you prepared? Do you have an emergency plan, survival gear, and the instinct to face the storm head-on?

Perhaps you have experienced a plunge to the ocean floor a few times, and by grace and good fortune been able to rise back to the surface to tell the tale. But how will you handle the haunting ghosts of a personal shipwreck?

I want to suggest some spiritual anchors to keep life stable. I will lift these anchors directly from the account of Paul’s voyage to Rome found in Acts 27.

                            anchor pic  Perspective + Hope + Promise + Encouragement

Obviously there are other ‘anchors for life’ that we could add to this list. But this is a good start. None of the four really work unless God is at the centre of each one.

Oh – one last theme: Paul is on his ‘death march’ – Rome will be the end of the road/voyage for him – yet he is concerned for others, does not try to escape, and displays a confidence/acceptance of God’s plan. Perhaps a little reminder of Jesus in all of this?

Two verses to keep in mind with all of this:

Hebrews 2:1 “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”


For Sunday July 27, 2014                                                                Acts 27