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.”

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.

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

the voice



Jesus speaks in times of doubt. “If it is you” we say to the Lord in moments of fear, hesitation, and doubt. Of course Peter should recognize his master’s voice by now – as sheep recognize their shepherd – especially after so much time of personal and public instruction as well as private conversations while walking with the Rabbi day after day. But when fear and uncertainty barge into our experiences, it is not only our courage level that is challenged. It is then that our ‘voice recognition’ technology begins to fail as well. Jesus had said to his terrified disciples “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” This is Jesus speaking the very words of God (an indirect allusion to his divinity) – encouraging words that are repeated time and time again in the Scriptures. Yet in troublesome times we are often deaf to that theme.

Jesus speaks in times of opportunity.Come” – he invites Peter to obediently demonstrate the power of faith. Peter seized the opportunity, but just for an instant. And then Jesus commented on his lack of faith, his unlasting faith. What a challenge it is to sustain faith over time, especially when the circumstances breed doubt and fear. Wind and waves are either the enemies of faith or the motivators to exercise increased faith. Jesus always seems to have an inviting voice: come follow and fish; come when you are tired and burdened; come when you are hungry and thirsty.

Our Prayer: Jesus, in the times of stress and struggle help us to hear clearly your voice. Help us to pray and not panic, trust and not test. Help us to proceed in your power. Help us to seize the opportunities so that when all is said and done, our water walking is a power walk that praises you. Amen.

For Sunday July 6, 2014 Matthew 14:22-23
Rev. Doug Johns

coming to America – why the Pilgrims?



It is a sentimental argument, but not a reasonable one, to promote the ‘religious freedom’ cause. They had this already in Leiden, Holland. Evangelism is also a noble cause, but one that cannot be substantiated.

Both Morton and Winslow make reference to another motive – the colonial emphasis, ‘plant the English flag on foreign soil’ cry – but again it does not stand up under inquiry. When promoting the colony to investors it was important argues Tracy McKenzie, to “soft peddle their [previous] civil disobedience” and to “defend the colony against arguments that they ignored English law”. But patriotism did not give wind to the sails of the Mayflower.

At first glance, the two more accurate reasons sound less than religious. (1) Leiden was a difficult place to maintain their English identity; specifically customs and language; (2) Leiden was a difficult place to maintain economic survival. The very survival of their community and their church depended on relocation; so it can be truly said that they fled to the New World for religious reasons – but not for religious freedom and not for mission.

But they also had a fear of losing their spiritual identity – not from persecution, but from the deteriorating secular culture. Comments from the original sources are interesting. Bradford spoke of “the great licentiousness of youth in that country.” He lamented the “evil examples” and “manifold temptations of the place”. Morton says that Dutch parents permitted too much freedom and this made it uncomfortable for the Separatist parents to provide correction without reproof from their Dutch hosts. These arguments sound like familiar current day rhetoric announced from some conservative Christian pulpits.

Today many argue that while the Dutch society has lost all boundaries, the Dutch churches still maintain rigid standards. But the Pilgrims from England believed the churches in Holland were lax in discipline, ineffective in influence, and soft when it came to observing the Sabbath. Pastor Robinson complained, after ten years in Leiden, that his people had not been able to reform the Dutch profanity of Sabbath keeping. The Pilgrims feared “their posterity would be in danger to degenerate and be corrupted.

It seems that America could provide an opportunity to live without the fear of moral decline – while insuring the maintenance of values held dear: religious freedom and English custom.
So I ask three simple questions then: (1) What kind of determination and courage must be involved in the ‘trade – off’ of these noble concepts for the disease and death to come? (2) Where in the world today could Pilgrims flee to restart a society more likely to guarantee high moral living, genuine faith, and pure Christianity? (3) Is such a dream realistic, or even loyal to the Biblical instruction? Just asking.

No one can argue that American Thanksgiving is a complex weave of spiritual, historical and cultural elements resulting in a national identity with profound significance.
I have developed my insights based on information in the book THE FIRST THANKSGIVING by Robert Tracy McKenzie, Inter Varsity Press Academic, 2013.

The truth about Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving ppt pic

No one can argue that American Thanksgiving is a complex weave of spiritual, historical and cultural elements resulting in a national identity with profound significance.

These insights are based on the book THE FIRST THANKSGIVING  by Robert Tracy McKenzie, Inter Varsity Press Academic, 2013.

Part #1

Ours is a “present tense society” … important to be inspired by true facts of past … “historical ignorance leaves us vulnerable” … “we have chosen the Pilgrims as our honorary ancestors” (American and Christian).

  • Pilgrim/Mayflower/Plymouth thanksgiving tradition was notFirst Thanksgiving” … More accurate label is “First American Protestant Thanksgiving North of Virginia and South of Maine”
  • Algonquin Indians participated in regular ceremonies linked to the crop cycle
  • Spanish held a Thanksgiving mass in St. Augustine Florida in 1565 (only two of the Pilgrims were even born)
  • Spanish held a Thanksgiving with Manso Indians near El Paso in 1598
  • French Huguenots celebrated Thanksgiving in 1564 near Jacksonville Florida
  • English colonialists on Maine coast in 1607 and in Virginia in 1610 & 1619

My observations: We as Christians must get history right. Accurate, reliable history is integral to the Christian faith. American Christians make a ‘big deal’ about the roots of this holiday, so it is essential to set the record straight and draw helpful insights with appropriate lessons. Those will come in subsequent posts.



I was sitting in the front row of the chapel, with all the other pastors and leaders who would take part in the Sunday worship. The worship centre was filled with students, faculty and families, and the worship team had taken its place on the platform. This was my India missions/ministry trip to New Theological Seminary in Dehradun, North India, in the latter part of 2009. Then something strange began to happen – at least strange to me. If this was summer camp I could understand it. But here were these men in shirt and ties, suits – who began to take their shoes off – all of them right there in the front row – the other preachers, the worship leader, the Scripture readers ….. I’m glad my host leaned over and quietly explained: “all of us who lead any part of worship believe we are standing on holy ground. To show our respect, we remove our footwear.” Then the light went on for me. Of course – just like Moses in Exodus chapter 3.

On holy ground, good things happen. Like the reassurance that God is here with us, right now! Like the invitation to Moses to join in on a great divine rescue plan. The trajectory of human history dramatically changed because of a divine encounter in a burning bush – HOLY GROUND!

So how is God getting your attention these days? What mission is He sending you on? Be alert, don’t miss the sign, listen carefully, and know that God will make up for all your inadequacy.