You Are Here

you are hereDuring a Renewal Conference at our church, Dr. Timothy Tennent, President of Asbury Theological Seminary, gave an engaging illustration. When a person enters a shopping mall, they almost immediately encounter a large locator map. A person can then find the location of various stores such as shoe stores, book stores, department stores, etc. Perhaps the most significant point on the map in front of you is the ‘You Are Here’ position. You need to know where you are in order to choose the directions to where you want to go.

Dr. Tennet shared about the ‘fall’ of man in the beginning and later the ‘redemption’ of man through Jesus.  At each juncture, he used the phrase ‘You Are Here’. I thought, What an important concept if we want to accurately chart our journey to heaven.

For example, we must know where we are in order to start the journey.

When you start your journey, You Are Here:

  • “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12.)
  • “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.” (Romans 5:19)
  • “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

By realizing where we are, we can then acknowledge our sins and receive forgiveness and justification through Jesus. “For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many” (Romans 5:15). 

Once you have received Jesus as your Savior, You Are Here:

  • But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)
  • As you move ahead toward your destination know this: “… if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:9) 

When you near the end of your life’s journey, You Are Here:

  • Jesus said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”  Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:3-6)

 Prayer: Lord, when we finally walk through Heaven’s gates, may we hear you say, “You Are Here”!

~ Brother Roy

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Another Way

wise men starWe are just a few steps into the new year. The music of the Christmas season has faded. The trees, tinsel, and yard decorations have been takes down and put away. New Year’s celebrations are over. We are walking into a new year.

With that perspective in mind, scripture from the second chapter of Matthew can serve as a path forward for us. The wise men had seen the light of the Natal Star and followed it to Bethlehem. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11). Herod’s murderous intent was revealed to the wise men. “And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way(v.11b). 

The wise men, like the other people on earth, had seen the light of His star. Unlike others that had seen the light, they followed the light to the Christ. Their account reminds us that it’s not the light we see, but the light that we follow that determines our eternal destiny. When they found Jesus, “they fell down, and worshipped him”. These wise men then presented Him gifts representing their most valuable possessions.

If we, like the wise men, have let God’s light bring us into the presence of Christ; if we have bowed our knees and hearts and worshipped Him; if we have presented Him the gift of our life and service, we must not go into the new year without a new direction. We must not move away from the Christmas experience only to return to the same old paths. If we would be wise, we need to journey into the future ‘another way’. When we walk in the newness of life in Christ, we have a precious promise.

“The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail” (Isaiah 58:11).

~ Brother Roy

Is There Any Word from the Lord?

imagesSo many words! The airwaves crackle with opinion editorials and purported news. Much of what we hear is unsubstantiated information.  The messengers hope that if the noise is repeated long enough and loud enough, it will be believed. Text messages, snap chats, Facebook messages, and more, flood our electronic devices. Words, words, words, ring in our ears. Advertisements, mostly unsolicited and unwanted, clamor for attention, promising miraculous things at the best price ever! Yada, yada, yada.  

Most of the noise that surrounds us is superfluous, but there are words we do need to hear. There are words that can impact our present and future well-being. In the ancient day when Zedekiah was king of Judah, he faced a very uncertain future. He had largely ignored the words of God. “But neither he nor his servants nor the people of the land gave heed to the words of the Lord…” (Jeremiah 37:2). Zedekiah, not wanting to hear unfavorable words of God coming from the Prophet Jeremiah, had the prophet locked away from public hearing.

That was then (587 B.C.), but the impact of ignoring the word of the Lord is the same today. Ignoring God’s words is a prescription for disaster. The conditions for Judah worsened. Fear and confusion gripped the land as destruction moved inexorably closer. Finally, in desperation Zedekiah sent for Jeremiah and asked, “Is there any word from the Lord?” and Jeremiah said, “There is.” Unfortunately, God’s word was still unheeded, and catastrophe followed.   

We, like the people of Zedekiah’s day, face a scary and uncertain future – terrorism, hatred, violence, disrespect, corruption, dishonesty, and greed abound. The family unit is disintegrating and is menacing stable social structures.

As we drown in a sea of words, isn’t it time we ask, “Is there any word from the Lord?”. The answer: “There is!”

Ultimately, it is His word that really matters because He is “the Word of Life(1 John 1:1). His word to us, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). The word of the Lord is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It is His word for the New Year!

God is speaking. Are we interested in listening?

~ Brother Roy

The Aura of Christmas

christmas sanctuaryThe sanctuary was decorated for the Advent Season. A shaft of light illuminated the Nativity display on the communion table in front center of the church. The scene added emphasis to the scripture that was being read, “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16).

Looking around, evergreen ropes and Christmas wreaths were beautifully placed around the sanctuary. Small clear lights adorned these decorations and gave the area a soft, gentle glow that warmed the whole room. Surrounding the Nativity scene was a number of radiant red Poinsettias.

As the combined Children’s and Sanctuary Choirs sang the music of Christmas the ambiance of the Savior’s birth enveloped me. My soul was immersed in the ‘good news’ of the gospel. For a time, thoughts of “Peace on Earth – Good Will Toward Men” surrounded me. The discord and tears of a world wounded by sin dimmed in the Light of Hope.

Leaving this precious time of worship, I took several things with me for the days ahead. First, the need to keep the the birth of the Savior as the centerpiece of the Christmas Celebration. Secondly, as ‘lesser lights’, there is the need to shine in the darkness for others to see. Then the Poinsettias, so prevalent this season, serve as a reminder of the price He paid for our salvation. He shed His precious blood to save us from sin. He was born to die.

The news crackles with negative static of terrorist attacks, domestic violence, abuse, addiction, and deprivation. For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men!” But, listen and hear the music of Christmas! It will brighten the darkest days. “Then rang the bells more loud and deep God is not dead, nor does he sleep. The wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will toward men” (“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” – Longfellow).

Prayer:  As it was with the shepherds at Jesus’s birth, may the glory of the Lord shine upon you this Christmas season.

~ Brother Roy

Never Down

joyI am by the grace of God a ‘happy camper’.  I love life and try to greet each new day with joy. Psalm 118:25 is sort of my morning mantra: “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.”

I was told there was an old mountaineer in Eastern Kentucky who was a positive soul. If you asked him how he was getting along, he would reply, “I’m never down! I’m up or just startin’ to get up.” I must admit I have been staggered and even knocked down a few times by events in my life, but like the old mountaineer, I’m up or just startin’ to get up.

I try to keep two scriptures in my mind;

  • “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (Nehemiah 8:10, NIV)
  • “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” (Psalm 28:7, NIV)

I still remember a chorus from my church youth group and often its melody echoes through the corridors of my mind:

If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy,
Let Jesus come into your heart.
If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy,
Let Jesus come into your heart.
Your sins He’ll take away,
Your night He’ll turn to day.
Your heart He’ll make over anew
And then come into stay.
If you want joy, real joy, wonderful joy,
Let Jesus come into your heart.

If you have been staggered by events in your life, look to Jesus. He will lift your countenance and your spirits.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”
(James 4:10, NIV)

~ Brother Roy

Didyaever?

menuOn a recent cruise, I noticed an amusing section on the dinner menu. It was titled “Didyaever”. It listed things you might have wanted to try in a restaurant, but were afraid to because of the cost if you didn’t like it. Now, you could try interesting new things and if you didn’t like them, you could just send them back.

There is a similar situation in the spiritual realm. There are people who may have wanted to ask the Lord’s forgiveness and be saved, but were afraid they might be rejected because of past sins. Or, perhaps they were afraid to trust the Lord because they had been disappointed or betrayed in the past by someone they loved. The Amplified New Testament gives us this is beautiful promise: “All whom My Father gives (entrusts) to Me will come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out [I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to Me]” (John 6:37, AMPC). There is a myriad of reasons why people hesitate to call upon the Lord. You may be such a person.

If so, I have good news for you. “For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Now is the day you can call to Him and He will save you. It is His free gift to you! For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NKJV). 

‘Didyaever’ want to see if God’s grace could really be true? This is what His word says to you: “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8). You can taste and see for yourself that He is essentially, infinitely, perfectly, immutably, and solely GOOD.

The pleasures of the world may seem sweet to those who have never tasted the grace of God, but people who have tasted God’s amazing grace lose their taste the pleasures of the world.

God Is Good

~ Brother Roy