All posts by Michael Johnston

About Michael Johnston

Creative Abstract Expressionist Artist

The Things that are to Come

Future Harvest

But now I will not treat the remnant of this people as in the former days,’ declares the LORD of hosts. ‘For there will be peace for the seed: the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its produce and the heavens will give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things.” Zechariah 8:11-12 NASB

The year is 2020 and it is unlike any year that we’ve ever seen or had the opportunity to be a part of. What we thought was to be a year of serene vision and visitation became more like something from an episode of The Twilight Zone. Everyday, something different came into the light presenting itself to be more intense and added to the confusion.

Is this an attack or a wake-up call?

We know that when things get bad there’s usually something good just beyond the dust-stirred horizon. I believe that this year was set before us with a two-fold purpose. First, with all that has been thrown at us, our response is what is being weighed and measured in both the eye’s of God and the enemy. God is rooting for us to prevail over the fleshly attacks of physical, emotional, and spiritual injustices. The devil is just a liar. Second, there’s something coming that we need to be ready for: The Harvest.

The above scripture from Zechariah I believe is a foreshadowing of what’s next: peace, prosperity, and people inducted into the Kingdom. It’s the inheritance of those who have humbly submitted themselves as bond-servants to the Most High.

If I could give this one bit of advice:

Put away your fleshly quarrelling among yourselves and seek a moral higher ground. Adopt the spirit of an Issachar son, one who is decisive and not divisive. Be harvesters of good and not of evil. Plant seeds that will produce bumper crops for your children and grandchildren to inherit. It is the promise of God.

Be Blessed and be a Blessing,

Michael-Paul J

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Doubling Down on Doubt

“If Any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.” James 1:5-8

Doubt doesn’t bring many points to the game!

The issue of doubt is the catalyst for deception. Doubting something, whether pure or not, opens up the mind for skepticism hidden beneath layers of cognitive thought. We question everything and it’s validity today because what we see or hear must be judged according to what we know or have been told. We have become narcissists to a certain degree because the internet has armed us with an arsenal of knowledge, most of which is inherently untrue.

In a nut shell—we’ve convinced ourselves that we are right—100% of the time. We have deceived ourselves in doing so to ignorant levels. No one believes in much of anything anymore—only what they can see and form an opinion about. And even then, there’s this level of deception that convinces us that the truth is in fact a lie. How low have we stooped? Hollywood? Washington? I can show you my handkerchief and tell you that it’s blue. And you can either agree or disagree stating your perspective because there is many shades of blue. Even if I show someone the packaging it was purchased instating that it is blue—it is still relative in certain person’s point of view.

Deception is obscured truth and a betrayal of trust. You either form a strong opinion about something or believe a lie so much that it becomes your own personal truth. You must believe and not doubt. The scripture is very clear about this. When you ask God for something but don’t believe in Him or that He’s not capable of following through on His promises, you become deceived in your believing. You are very unstable in all that you do. I heard this statement one time:

“A person who asks for advice but doesn’t follow it is an Askhole.”

Funny but true.

The scripture specifically points to knowledge as the subject to ask for. Knowledge is readily available everywhere and at any time, but Godly wisdom only comes from one place. The Holy Spirit dispatches the information you are requesting, in agreement to your personal position with God and your belief backs this up. This is how you “double-down” on doubt. Ask in prayer, and receive by believing in the Lord and His truth. It must be a “done-deal” to believe in God. You can no longer question God and expect to move forward. It’s not going to happen. Move forward, with God, fully immersed in His word and truth. Make up your mind to make up your mind! Literally!

Be Blessed and be a Blessing!

Michael-Paul J

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Ministering with Gentleness

Bearing fruit in season

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.  Galatians 6:1 NASB

Apostle Paul is giving important instruction here about ministering. He just finished the previous chapter on the fruit of the spirit. Walking in the spirit, exhibiting such fruit brings maturity and fortitude. Appraising each situation with discernment is crucial to be effective when dealing with carnal desires. Just as a soft answer turns wrath, gentleness turns chaos into control.

Blessings,

Michael-Paul J

Our World Is Evil

“We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.”                                                        ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

As long as there is evil in the world, the world itself cannot get better. It is virtually impossible on a secular level to remove evil from ever existing on the planet. There’s no magic pill, no special forces soldiers, or any government entity that can stand against the wiles of the demonic.

It will take the Second Coming to bring peace, and even then—evil will still exist—it will be controlled by the presence of the King. Scripture tells of that during the Millennial Reign, there will be peace on earth for one thousand years. All the forces that affect nature and man will be at the mercy of the One True Christ—Jesus. There will be no earthquakes, no wars, no death, and no disease. Wild animals and evil will be under the authority of a Sovereign King of Glory here on earth. When heaven invades earth during this time, to achieve such peace where evil is held at bay, an angel takes Satan and binds him with a chain and locks him in a pit for the one thousand year duration so he cannot influence the nations with his evil schemes ( see Revelation 20:1-6).

     God loves this world we live in, and rightly so—He created it. But we are called to abhor it. Why? It’s rather simple—He created it and He’s not influenced by it. We have a connection with the world on a secular or fleshly level—carnal. He has a connection because He first loved it and those that inhabit it. He is separated by time and space in a dimension that we cannot begin to imagine. We on the other hand, are influenced by good and bad at every turn. It takes divinity to separate. We don’t have that. We do not have the capacity to Love the world so much that we would give our only child as a ransomed act of atoning everyone in it—including sex-traffickers and pedophiles. But He did (see John 3:16).

     We can’t love the world like Him because we cannot separate the world from us. The world is in us whether we like to admit it or not. We consist of dust and clay, mud and sand, water and rock. We have His spirit, but our flesh is stronger (see Mathew 26:41). If it were the opposite, would there be a need for a sacrificial Lamb? It was originally set up that way with Adam and Eve—but we all know how that turned out!

  I’m going to ruffle some religious feathers. You and I are of this world—physically. To think that you are from heaven is not biblical. Jesus Himself had this to say:

“You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.”                                                       ~John 8:23 NASB

We occupy earth, but heaven will be our eternal dwelling place with Him in the end. Until that day comes—we are here on this evil rotating ball called earth, and we must try to make the best of it, living our best life for the kingdom of God influencing all we come in contact with so they too can experience eternal life through Christ.

     The separation that takes place that divides the “of the world” vs. “not of this world” is in our minds. Consider what Apostle Paul instructed the church of Rome to do:

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."                                                                                                                                               ~Romans 12:2 NASB

There’s a separation that must take place inside the mind of every person when deciding to take a step of faith to live for Jesus. You can no longer live and act like you used to—that of the flesh and worldly lusts. There are thee factors that completely contradict the lust of the flesh, the eyes, and pride. They are found at the end of Romans 12:2:

            “…that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” This is God.

Blessings and Be a Blessing!

Michael-Paul J

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Rising Above Regret

Have you ever said something and as soon as it came out your mouth you were sorry that you said it? Or maybe you did something in the past that you look back on that completely embarrasses you and you wish you had never done it? This is completely normal behavior— regrettable behavior.

Dictionary.com defines regret as feelings of sorrow or remorse for an act, fault, or disappointment; to think of with a sense of loss. Some words associated with regret are:

-Anguish

-Bitterness

-Dissatisfaction

-Heartbreak

-Sorrow

     There are so many more that qualify as forms of regret, and many of us experience regret in one of two ways:

  1. We regret things that we have done or something we may have said
  2. We regret Not doing things that we should have done

     Notice that regret has to do with “things in the past”.

     In this blog we are going to cover regret and how to keep regret in the past— because regrettable things will eventually kill the creative process. The enemy uses regrettable things from your past, that may or may not be associated with certain sins committed at an earlier stage in life, to keep you bound and imprisoned. We know that his only angle of attack is to bring up old sins and things of the past that are covered by the blood of Jesus. It’s nothing more than character assassination. He likes to find your weak areas by bringing you into remembrance at subtle but regrettable times in your life. Since the enemy has nothing but your past to revive, he is a master at presenting nostalgic sins as if you were still in the middle of it. Depending on where you are mentally, physically, and spiritually when his attacks arrive dictate the result.

     Humans, by nature are very nostalgic. We like to hold onto memories associated with specifics detailing celebratory times as well as difficult times. “Do you remember when…” becomes familiar verbiage in our trips down memory lane. It’s good that we remember where we came from and what we walk through to get to where we are today. I’m not arguing that point. It’s when we go to the past, especially the negative parts, and pitch our tents staying for a while that can cause serious damage to your creative process. We have to make the conscious mental decision that we are visiting for a little while to remember how we got the victory over certain issues, but not to attach ourselves with the familiarity of revisiting the pain. That’s a dark alley that we don’t want to go down.

     Regret is an interesting thing because it has so many layers. You can regret doing something— like remembering back to your younger days of partying— waking up in someone else’s bed wondering how you got there. Or the sobering thought of finding out that one of your closest friends was very toxic from the start of your relationship and it ended very badly. And it could be something as simplistic as being offered two jobs right out of college and you chose the more glamorous option with the biggest company, but years later you are still in that entry-level position, and your friend who took the other job that was offered to you just made senior VP. These are all regrettable situations. We have all made mistakes in the past that we will eventually regret. I have mentioned this scripture already a few times in other blogs but the words that apostle Paul wrote to the Philippian church echoes so true even when it comes to dealing with regret and fighting the enemy’s attack on your past:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”                                                 Philippians 4:8 NASB

     This is how you fight the enemy and his regrettable devices. You must take control of your mind so you can guard it and your heart and soul from becoming distracted. The devil wants to keep you in the past where he can control you. If he can distract you with your regrets from the past, he will try to layer one regret to another, causing this domino effect of distraction destruction. His goal is to stop your creative process and take away the things that God has for you by putting roadblocks of regret in your way. He will say things to you with a calming nostalgic feel in hopes that he can detain and entertain your thoughts. It will sound similar to this:

“Remember the good old days when you use to get high? That would really help you right now to take the edge off. What would it hurt?”

Or…

“The person that you struck up a conversation with at the company breakroom has been asking about you. Remember how much you had in common and how you felt inside when they listened to you?”

     Notice the last part to the first question: “What would it hurt?” The word ‘hurt’ is a clear indication to do a complete 180° turn and run the other way! The devil is all about the “hurt”. He doesn’t care if it hurts a little or a lot because his ultimate goal is for you to join him in hell. It’s an idiotic plan but a successful one that he has used day in and day out against good people, highly creative people that have a plan and purpose for their lives but break under the pressure of grief and heartache associated with regret.

Recognizing and Defeating Regret

     The sooner we recognize the character assassination of regret and its implications to destroy us, the better our chances of staying on the correct creative path of completing the mandate that God has entrusted us with. The first thing in recognizing regret is to recognize it for what it is— an attack. When someone approaches you, and they have that look in their eye like they are getting ready to knock your head off— what is your initial response or reaction? You either brace yourself and get ready to be hit, or you take a defensive posture so you can quickly respond with a counterattack. We have been equipped with God’s word to handle such attacks that happen in the spirit. The Bible is full of Scripture that helps us verbally counter-attack our enemy when he comes to bully us. One of my favorite verses is found in Isaiah:

            “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper.”   Isaiah 54:17 NASB

     Another Scripture that smacks regret right between the eyes is found in the book of Romans:

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 8:1

     When you give some thought to it, regret is similar to condemnation— Satan’s main weapon for accusation, damnation, and blame. He is in the business of passing judgment over past sins— and he does so by trying to bring them to the present. He has no authority to judge anyone. And whatever he’s trying to judge you for has been placed under the blood of Christ Jesus. Sometimes it amazes me that the dummy will even try— equally surprising is that Christians fall prey to the same old tactics every day. We have God’s word as a weapon, but we don’t use it. Why? One reason is that Christians don’t know enough word to be defensive or offensive against the attacks (Ouch and Amen). Another reason is that many times we go “rogue” on the devil and try to take him on by ourselves. Both are highly ineffective and secure a spot reserved in the hallowed halls of regret. We must take God’s word seriously by understanding what James mentioned in his letter to the early church:

“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves”.                                                                                 James 1:22 NASB

     Hearing the word is only part of the process— doing what the word actually says validates your attentiveness and obedience to God and his word. You can’t have one or the other— it takes both to keep yourself fresh from mixture. I believe James gets this concept from Jesus’s parable of the sower found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy but they have no firm roots in themselves and are only temporary. They hear it— but there’s no follow-through.

     The main thought is to not put yourself in a regrettable position. I have heard people say that “Regret is a necessary evil when you are successful at anything”. There is truth in that statement when you realize that you must move forward, with or without regret. Regret just becomes another part of the process in which the reward of a life in pursuit of God and His Kingdom outweighs regret from the very beginning.

Blessings and Be a Blessing!

Michael-Paul J

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Conspiracy of Faith

“Whilst some people inspire, others conspire.” ~Ernest Agyemang Yeboah, Ghanaian Writer

Faith is a conspiracy of epic proportions as per the world’s view if I were to be completely candor. After all, “Everyone loves a conspiracy” ~Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code. Even those who are followers find themselves at times dwelling on the what if’s and the unexplained as to relegate its power to something other than Divine. The lack of faith leads to a fix; the necessity to fabricate the existence of your reality. The dangers to fabricating personal pseudo-faith is that it leads to sin and unbelief. Consider the words from the author of the book of Hebrews:

So we see that they (the children of Israel) were not able to enter because of their unbelief. ~Hebrews 3:19 NASB

Also look at this:

And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief. ~Matthew 13:58 NASB

Interesting enough, both Scriptures referenced are end-of-chapter verses, as if a cutoff, conclusion, or some kind of warning (There should’ve been a “Selah” tagged at the end of each verse to consider the ramifications of unbelief.). Both verses hinge on the the idea of unbelief in God. We know that “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (see Hebrews 11:6). So we as the stellar Christians that we are (sarcasm is free), strive to do everything we possibly can to make Him pleased and happy with us.

There are two ideologies that dictate the worlds view of a moral Christian dilemma of belief (or unbelief) in our current culture. They are:

  1. The unbelief in any form of supernatural sovereign deity that cannot be seen
  2. The belief that God exists but we don’t need Him

Sadly enough, church-going Christians actually fall into both categories ( see Maximum Faith/ George Barna). Dangerous levels of unbelief lead straight-way to conspiracy and double-mindedness. An adaptation of carnal ideas allows the mind to be intertwined with roots of bitterness and troubled hearts (Hebrews 12:15-paraphrased). It raises the question among possible converts:

“Is God just a myth”? and “Was Jesus just good conspiracy theory”?

People are drawn to conspiracy theory

Thought-provoking but obviously a waste of time given the fact that the truth is found in what the believer has felt and heard within their spirit-man, the genuine experience with the Lord.

Truth is believable because of the experience allowed by God’s mercy and grace. You can walk through life and experience many things, but until you’ve experienced the power of the Holy Spirit taking over the tri-unity of your existence ( body, soul, and spirit), you have nothing but merely short-lived expectations of what-could-be mixed with skepticism. The intuitiveness of searching for something more, that which seems unbelievable until otherwise convinced is the quest for God. But the quest isn’t that He merely exists, rather that of where to find Him because you know He exists.

The world conspires against us because they hated Jesus from the beginning (John 15:18). The infiltration of hate has permeated every facet of culture and society in an attempt to suffocate the very existence of God. In sheer ignorance, the enemy forgets from Whom he actually draws breath.

This post isn’t designed to lead you astray or to plant some foreign ideology in your mind against God. Its purpose is to help you examine what you believe and why you believe.

There will come a time when you must stand, first before man, then before God to give an account as to what you believe and how you arrived at such. The days in which we occupy right now demands that you come to grips with which side of the dividing line you stand. It’s not a game, nor a joke. The worlds entertainment of poking Christians will escalate before its expiration date. I could go on and on but suffice it to say that 2020 has been a precursor to things that are to come. There’s never been a greater time in all of history to get a hold of God. Be found full of faith, believing in the impossible, believing in the unimaginable goodness of our Lord and His Kingdom, because He will rule and reign.

Blessings and be a Blessing!

Michael-Paul J

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Ministry Motives

What motivates you?

What stirs your heart to action or a cause?

What or who do you stand up for?

What are you passionate about?

These are thought-provoking questions that you undoubtedly have asked yourself before (or maybe not). The times we live in currently challenge these questions because we’re limited in resources and opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Let’s turn to scripture. Every time the people of God found themselves in distressful situations, He sent a deliverer. Moses, Joseph, Ruth, Samuel, and Esther are just a few. But New Testament times calls for advanced action: Jesus!

You have been chosen (Mathew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.”) by the Lord to be inventive, creative, and productive visionaries to lead certain people that the Holy Spirit has connected you to.

So I ask: “What motivates you to ministry?”

Is it the fear of God-all out reverence of His Holy nature? The love of the Lord and His beautiful people? You just want to help build the Kingdom of God one person or random act of kindness at a time? Is it money or prestige or something else carnally connected to your gifts?

What flows through the heart will eventually grow to the heart. The things (motives) you allow in will be given authority to make your decisions. You either submit to God and His will for your life, or you submit to self and your own will for your life. Your passions will produce future promotions, good or bad. Let that sink in for a minute. Don’t be ignorant…there’s advancement in the kingdom of darkness. The enemy eagerly awaits those willing to promote their own carnal ideas and agendas to help blockade the things of God. Of course, this is the loosing side of eternity.

When your intentions are less than pure you will experience darkness and defeat. Your motivation will lead to manipulation and then onto malfunction. These are unprecedented times...”check your motives at the door”. That’s an old phrase that literally means “before you turn the know and walk through a thing, you better be right”. You better be right in your mind and in your spirit. You must be on the bubble with God and your fellow man.

I’m going to be completely honest right now: If you’re not pure in motive, sit down and shut up. Did I make it plain enough? The church has too many right now that are talking-heads. They’re saying a lot but it isn’t anointed and isn’t from God. When it comes time to pick the fruit, their tree is barren. Genuine ministry, especially those operating in the power gift’s (prophecy, healing, working of miracles, signs and wonders) are far and few between. They don’t get the credibility they deserve.

Motive is the difference between being called and chosen. You can feel called, but you will know if you’re chosen. There will a passion for your purpose.

It’s August 2020…It’s time to re-evaluate your mission, your mandate, and your motive.

Blessings to you and be a blessing!

Michael-Paul J

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Until

The Shadow of His Wings

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For my soul takes refuge in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge Until destruction passes by. ~Psalm 57:1 | NASB

This verse of scripture is referenced from when David is on the run from Saul. When I read this passage about David seeking asylum in the caves, there’s no want, there’s no lack—only desire. Desire to see the hand of the Lord move over his life and protect him.

Until… Destruction passes.

Until…his enemies are no longer.

Until…he can safely move freely in the will of God.

Until…Coronavirus is gone.

Until…Your finances are restored.

Until…cancer is eradicated from your body.

Until…Your kids are living under the will of God.

Until…( you fill in the blank ).

The word until in the original text is ‘adah’ which literally translates “to pass on, advance”.

It’s not the until that is most important, but the phrase that precedes it: “And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuse”. Being steadfast and faithful during the good times and the bad. We are in a cave, secluded and protected by the presence, the power, and authority of the Holy Spirit. This doesn’t mean we hide in fear and terror. But it does indicate the necessity to use wisdom, seeking God in everything we do before we do it.

It’s obvious that times have changed and continue to do so on a daily basis if not sooner. And that is not going change either. The way things used to be is no longer a thing. This virus, this pandemic and all the political power- shifting will pass, but Until…We need to be found in God’s favor taking refuge in the safety of His wings, His presence, His virtue, His love.

Be blessed and be a blessing!

Michael-Paul J