Happy Thanksgiving from NHIM

great is thy faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father.
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions – they fail not.
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow –
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hands hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Sweeter as the Years Go By

sweeterOn a retired woman’s shirt was written a delightful phrase: ‘I Am Not 65 Years Old, I Am Sweet 16 With 49 Years Experience’. So I thought, “I’m not 73 years old, I’m a 16 year old preacher boy with 57 years of experience.” This summer (2015) was one of the busiest in my ministry. A month on the mission field, three camp meetings, and a revival filled my schedule.  What a joy and blessing to be able to share the gospel and to bear fruit even in old age. While some bemoan the passing years, my heart sings.

Lelia Morris’ hymn, written in 1912, expresses my feeling better than I ever could:

Of Jesus’ love that sought me, when I was lost in sin
Of wondrous grace that brought me back to His fold again;
Of heights and depths of mercy, far deeper than the sea,
And higher than the heavens, my theme shall ever be.

He trod in old Judea life’s pathway long ago;
The people thronged about Him, His saving grace to know;
He healed the brokenhearted, and caused the blind to see;
And still His great heart yearneth in love for even me.

’Twas wondrous love which led Him for us to suffer loss,
To bear without a murmur the anguish of the cross;
With saints redeemed in glory, let us our voices raise,
Till Heav’n and earth re-echo with our Redeemer’s praise.

Sweeter as the years go by,

Sweeter as the years go by,
Richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus’ love is sweeter,
Sweeter as the years go by.

Does your heart sing those inspiring words? Those who have a close relationship with the Savior will give a resounding, “Yes!” If you do not have a close relationship, the opportunity is still available. Starting now, you can begin to build a relationship like Lelia Morris wrote about. Open your heart to His redeeming grace and He will put a song in your heart. Today and for the rest of your days on earth you can sing …

Sweeter As The Years Go By

~ Brother Roy

Living Without Fear

granny gunAcross the years, I’ve collected many stories and amusing events from my Eastern Kentucky home. They often serve as a humorous way to make a serious point. Let me share such a story to help me make a point in this devotional thought:

Sheriff Tackett was sitting in his police car beside H.C. Spark’s Store. Miss Maude, an eightysomething-year-old ‘unclaimed blessing’, came out of Squabble Creek and turned onto the main road. She didn’t stop at the stop sign. In addition, she had a broken taillight. The Sheriff caught up to her and pulled her over. Reviewing her violations, he asked to see her driver’s license. As she extracted her license from a large purse, a pistol fell out on the seat. The sheriff exclaimed, “My goodness, is that your pistol?” “Yes”, she responded. “Do you have anymore weapons with you?” he asked. Miss Maude opened the console and laid a 9mm Glock pistol on the seat. After the shock wore off, he asked if she had any other weapons in the car. She promptly opened the glove box and removed an imposing .357 magnum pistol.  A stunned Sheriff Tackett responded, “Oh, my goodness Miss Maude, what are you afraid of?” Her confident reply: “I ain’t afeared of nothin!!!”

This world can often be a threatening and fearful place. We may be fearful for our own personal safety, of home invasions, of credit card fraud, health issues, and a myriad of other menacing situations. We may face the challenges of life with a fear of failure, a fear of rejection, or a fear of personal inadequacy. In light of such intimidating circumstances, is there a way to live without trepidation in this often hostile world? Can we live without worry short of arming ourselves ‘to the teeth’, like Miss Maude?

Yes! Thank the Lord there is a way. We do not have to live in fear. There is an answer. 1 John 4:16-18 (NKJV):  And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.  Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”

What comfort the words of Paul can bring – “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”  (Romans 8:38-39, NKJV).

If we abide in God’s love, we don’t have to be “afeared of nothin”.

~ Brother Roy

The Call of the Shofar

shofarOn a recent trip to South Africa, I found a real prize. I located a wonderful ‘Shofar’, a trumpet made from an animal horn. I have long wanted to own such an instrument. As a student of the Old Testament, I often preach the soul-stirring accounts of events and people preserved there. Shofars are frequently referenced in these accounts. A Yemenite Shofar, made from a giant kudu horn, is now one of my most cherished possessions.    

There are many symbolic meanings associated with the shofar. Let me share just a few. One has to do with the Akedah, the narrative that is found in Genesis 22:1-24. It chronicles the day when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. The inspiring account culminates with Abraham raising the knife to slay his son, only to have God stay his hand and bring his attention to a ram caught in a nearby thicket. Abraham sacrificed the ram instead. Because of this story, some Midrashim (ancient commentaries on the Hebrew scriptures) claim that whenever the shofar is blown, God will remember Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. Also, it is believed that God will forgive the transgressions of those who hear the shofar’s blasts. The shofar blasts can remind us to turn our hearts towards repentance.

The shofar is also associated with the idea of crowning God as King on Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew: רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה‎, literally “head of the year”), the Jewish New Year. The Biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah.   The breaths used by the trumpet blower (the Tokea) to make the sounds of the shofar are also associated with the breath of life. “God breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). 

Perhaps the most famous reference to the shofar occurs in the Book of Joshua, where shofarot (plural of shofar) were used as part of a battle plan to capture the city of Jericho: “Then the LORD said to Joshua… March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in” (Joshua 6:2-5). According to the narrative, Joshua followed God’s commandments to the letter, and the walls of Jericho fell, allowing them to capture the city.

Our verbal witness as New Testament believers is our shofar sound to a needy world.  It can be used to call people to repentance. It can acknowledge that the Lord is ‘the breath of life’. It can be a testament that by following the Lord’s commandments the walls of opposition can come tumbling down. Let us lift our voices to the praise and glory of the Lord, but understand that the way we live must reflect the words we speak. “For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8, NKJ).

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
(Psalm 19:1)

~ Brother Roy

The Bargain Hunter

bargainhunterWhen our coffee group, ‘the Sanhedrin’, gather in Fitch’s IGA each morning, the topics are wide and varied. We deal with problems of international and national interest as well as local situations.  Because many of us are retired and live on fixed incomes, we are more price-conscious now than we ever were before. Mr. Jack, an esteemed member of our group, is the bargain hunter. He pours over newspapers and circulars looking for the best prices on items of interest to the group. Do you need to know where the best prices are to be found on tools, building supplies, clothing, house wares, etc.? Ask Mr. Jack!  Restaurants and food prices are also fair game for his price-wise eyes. We take Jack’s information seriously. You know, “A penny saved is a penny earned”.

On a recent shopping trip to another town to look for some items I couldn’t find at Fitch’s, I rediscovered a basic truth. Not everything that appears at first to be a bargain really is! For example, a large economy-size can of a product contained 24 ounces for $1.29. On the shelf below were regular size cans, 15 ounces for $.52 each. Now, I’m not a mathematician, but the ‘economy’ size was .25 cents more than two small cans and contained 6 ounces less. You also need to be aware that some stores may mark prices higher and then lower the price to regular prices and call it a ‘Sale’. Mr. Jack says, “Shop wisely – don’t get stuck with a bad deal”.

We are interested in the cost of most everything this world has to offer. This should be true in every area of our lives, especially the spiritual. The adage ‘Let the Buyer Beware’ is doubly true in the spiritual realm. Don’t accept a bad deal when it comes to your soul! Satan, the prince of this world, continues to promise the world and all of its glamour to those who will follow him. He promises much, but gives little. In the pursuit of wealth and happiness in the here and now, people often fail to count the cost of neglecting their souls.

If you could take the coin of your soul and with this currency purchase the whole world, you would be making a bad deal. Why? Allow me to share three, of many, compelling reasons:

  • The world is passing away. “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever(1 John 2:17, ESV). Who would want to buy a bottle of very expensive perfume if they knew there was a crack in the bottle and the perfume would certainly evaporate?
  • You can’t take the things of this world with you when you die. Someone has said, “I’ve never seen a u-haul trailer on the back of a hearse.” How true that is! Jesus said,“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV) .
  • The world does not satisfy. Deep within the heart of man is a hunger for God, our creator. Without God, life at its best will always be incomplete. “And he (Jesus) said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possession” (Luke 12:15). Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:2). 

“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

~ Brother Roy

Jehova Nissi

jehovah nissiIn a devotional post sometime back, I referenced my utter dependence on my CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. Without it, I experience chronic breathing problems that lead to other complications. I need my faithful CPAP.

In mid-May, Miss Sue and I led an NHIM mission team to South Africa. Our daughter lives in Johannesburg and had developed an ambitious schedule to maximize the team’s ministry opportunities. We stuffed six packers full of food and materials for the mission project in addition to our individual luggage. I admit I am absent minded, but when things get hectic such as checking to be sure everyone has passports, health insurance forms, needed prescription, emergency phone numbers, content lists for the packers, etc, my absentmindedness is at its worst.

When we checked in at the airport, everyone was on time. Tickets, passports, and all essentials seemed to be in order. Actually, it was a better start than usual. After the 24-hour flight time, we were tired and ready for bed. I unpacked my CPAP and the necessary paraphernalia. To my horror, I had left the power pack and cords to my machine at home. I can survive fairly well for a couple of days by sleeping upright in a chair. The next day I contacted my son-in-law’s father who lives a few blocks from my house in Wilmore. He graciously retrieved the power pack with chords and headed for UPS. The shipping charges were incredibly high at $212. They promised two day delivery. Problem solved. Well, not so much!

The package did arrive in three days and that began a saga that a month later remains unresolved. Customs officials refused to release the package suspecting it was a ‘bomb’. The days stretched on. My son-in-law is a very persuasive businessman and he spent hours on the phone trying to gain the release of the package. With no machine, I began experiencing real problems. My daughter shared our problem with a prayer chain of people in her Bible study group. Within minutes, she received a response. A group member had a CPAP machine sitting unused in his home just a short distance away. One of his friends, who couldn’t use the machine, had left it there. We retrieved the machine, which is remarkably similar to mine. What a blessing! I could breathe properly.

That night I called the Lord ‘Jehovah Nissi’. Why? Years ago while I was studying the various names of God used in scripture, I learned one of those names was Jehovah Nissi. The reference is found in Exodus 17:15. The general meaning is “The Lord is our Banner”. He is the Banner that goes before us. He had truly gone before me to Johannesburg. The CPAP was there waiting for an absentminded preacher who really needed it. He is my Jehovah Nissi.

Are you facing a struggle, a real battle? If Jehovah Nissi is leading the way in your struggle, then you will prevail, but if you are fighting your battle in your own strength your defeat is imminent. Where in your life do you need God to show Himself strong as Jehovah Nissi – The Lord your Banner? He will go before you if your heart is inclined toward Him, but you must ask.

At Times We Need To Recognize Him As ‘Jehovah Nissi’

~ Brother Roy

The Hurrieder I Go

hurriederThe pace of life seems to get faster and faster with each passing year. Perhaps I am slowing a bit, but I know the speed of life is accelerating.  The old adage, ‘The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get’, certainly seems to apply. The competitive and rapid pace of the world will crowd our prayer life and prevent us from spending needed time with the Lord.

Sometime in the past, I read a poem that has stayed with me ever since. I want to share it with you:

I got up early one morning,
And rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish
That I didn’t have time to pray.
Problems came tumbling about me,
And heavier came each task.
“Why doesn’t God help?” I wondered.
He answered, “You didn’t ask.”
I wanted to see joy and beauty,
But the day toiled on, gray and bleak.
I wondered why God didn’t show me.
He said, “But you didn’t seek.”
I tried to come into God’s presence,
I used all my keys at the lock.
God gently and lovingly chided,
“My child, you didn’t knock.”
I woke up early this morning,
And paused before entering the day;
I had so much to accomplish,
That I had to take time to pray

~ Author unknown

 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

~Brother Roy