A Graveyard Story

garden_tombIt seems everybody has a favorite cemetery story. They usually involve someone falling in an open grave or ghostly figures and scary sounds in a graveyard. Our pastor related a personal experience of such an occurrence in an Easter sermon.

But what happened in Jerusalem 2000 years ago was not an imaginary story. It is a fact! The resurrection of Jesus and the events that followed is one of the best documented facts in history. Even skeptics realize that there is no other event from 2000 years ago that is as well-documented as the resurrection. Time does not permit me to give an exhaustive list, but I have attempted to provide some illustrative scriptures to substantiate the point.

Numerous resurrection appearances of Jesus are noted in the four gospels. In addition, one of the earliest and most complete single accounts is found in 1 Corinthians 15:4-8, which was authored by the Apostle Paul: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.  After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.  After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.  Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus appears to the disciples and eats with them, demonstrating that he is flesh and bones, not a ghost. His glorious victory over the tomb is a ‘grave’ reality. His resurrection is not a ghost story. The necessity of a believer embracing the reality of Jesus’ resurrection cannot be over emphasized.  The scripture declares, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NIV). For the Christian Faith, Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection is the cornerstone.

Is Your Faith Anchored In The Reality That God Raised Jesus From The Dead?

~ Brother Roy

Advertisements

Squirrel Watching

squirrelFall is an incredibly beautiful time in ‘My Old Kentucky Home’. Changing colors of the leaves, fall flowers, and warm sunny days mark this special time of the year. On my morning walk, I could not help but notice the abundant crop of acorns and walnuts falling from the colorful trees.

I also noticed the explosion of energy and the hectic racing around of the squirrels. Their God-given instinct to prepare for the coming winter drives them. They feverishly gather a harvest of nuts and seeds and store them away for harsh days ahead. They react to the shorter days and cooling temperatures with an increasing sense of urgency.

Pausing to observe the squirrels, a scripture came to mind. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work” (John 9:4, NLT). The squirrels’ task is to gather in before winter. Our task is to go into all the world sharing the message of salvation and gather in the lost to Christ. I sense a growing awareness among Bible-believing Christians that the days of grace are growing shorter and the spiritual climate is cooling. Increasing wickedness and rejection of Biblical principles are evident everywhere. People are running here and there with little purpose or direction. In confusion, people are mainly intent on gathering up earthly treasures.

The Gospel of Matthew says of Jesus,When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” (Matthew 9:3, NIV).  Oh, how people need a savior and workers to teach them how to store up treasures in heaven!

As the world grows darker and darker with sin, true believers must work quickly to win family, friends, and the lost to Christ. It is the task the Lord assigned to us. The night is surely coming when we will be able to work no more. Are you gathering in?

He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”
(
Matt. 12:30 NKJ)

~ Brother Roy

Woolly Worms

wooly-wormPeople in my hill country home need little provocation to hold a festival. Almost anything will serve as a reason to hold an event featuring food, friends, and of course a flea market. We have the Apple Festival, Sorghum Festival, Honey Festival, Court Days, and more. My favorite is the annual Woolly Worm Festival in Beattyville, Kentucky.

In the fall, the appearance of fuzzy caterpillars that we call ‘woolly worms’ is all that we need to have a festival. Folklore holds that you can predict coming winter weather by observing the woolly worm’s stripes. The wider the rusty stripes, the milder the coming winter will be. The more black there is, the more severe the winter. So, we celebrate the woolly worm.

There seems to be in humankind the perpetual desire to predict the future. The religious world has been especially predisposed to ‘seers’ and ‘fortune tellers’ of all sorts. The pages of scripture offer many accounts of prophets and false prophets and the impact they had on people. The words of the true prophets of God, as documented in scripture, stand alone in their inerrancy and infallibility. If we want to know what the future holds, we need to know what God’s word says.

The scriptures teach that Jesus is coming again and that He will receive believers to Himself. We know that the world as we know it will pass away. We know there will be a judgment. We know that all people will pass into eternity. The righteous will move into eternal life with Christ in heaven. The unrighteous will be cast into hell. Jesus said, “Earth and sky will be destroyed, but the words I have spoken will never be destroyed.  “Be careful not to spend your time feasting, drinking, or worrying about worldly things. If you do, that day might come on you suddenly,  like a trap on all people on earth.  So be ready all the time. Pray that you will be strong enough to escape all these things that will happen and that you will be able to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:33-36, NCT).

“Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:28)

~ Brother Roy

Life Among the Rocks

klipspringerI believe that there is a principle of compensation in God’s dealing with His creatures. If an animal lives in a particularly harsh environment, they seem especially endowed to survive in that environment. A small antelope called a Klipspringer is such an animal. They are uniquely adapted for their life among the rocks. Each individual hair in its coat is hollow and almost quill-like, making its coat like an air mattress. This provides good insulation and, should the antelope fall, it is effective in cushioning. It is a master of balance, with hooves ingeniously adapted to provide incredible grip on the rocks. They can be seen running up rock faces that are nearly straight up and clinging to the narrowest of ledges where predators cannot follow. Since there is a scarcity of water in their rocky environment, they require little, if any, drinking water.

I have observed this principle in the lives of people. I do not presume to understand why for some of God’s choice people life is very hard and for others it is easier. I have two friends in particular that are strong men in the faith, yet both are suffering prolonged illnesses. However, God has given them extraordinary grace, victorious spirits, and amazing testimonies of His love and goodness to them.

There is an incredible example of this principle of compensation in Deuteronomy 33:25. It is the account of the blessing of the tribes of Israel before they entered the Promised Land. Moses said to the tribe of Asher, Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be”. According to the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary, Asher’s inheritance was the rocky coast from Carmel to Sidon. Shoes of iron and brass would be suited for the sharp, flinty rocks of this area. The promise additionally gives the assurance that “and as thy days, so shall thy strength be”. Gill’s Exposition of the Bible suggests it may denote such a measure of strength given as is proportioned to the events that daily befall.

The hymn “He Giveth More Grace” beautifully expresses God’s rule of compensation:

He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

All of us will likely experience ‘life among the rocks’ at some time or another. For some it will be of short duration, but for others it will prolonged. We can have the courage to face the future without fear because of God’s compensatory grace.

He Will Equip Us For Life Among The Rocks

~ Brother Roy

Day Dawns

dawn

One of the great side benefits of doing mission work in a number of different countries is experiencing a wide range of cultures. In doing so, I have encountered many wonderful proverbs used by these diverse people groups. Some of the proverbs sound strangely familiar from one culture to another. I believe these commonalities across humankind reflect our common Creator.

I am particularly fond of a Zulu Proverb, “Even when the rooster is not present, day dawns”. This proverb is used for a prideful person who thinks they are indispensable. The issue of pride, likewise, receives considerable attention in scripture. Its destructive nature ought to command our attention. The following verses provide notice of the serious nature of pride:

  • “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, NKJV)
  • “When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 1:2, NKJV)
  • “Arrogance and pride, distinguishing marks in the wicked, are just plain sin (Proverbs 21:4, MSG)
  • “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself”  (Galatians 6:3, NKJV)
  • Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12, KJV)
  • For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3, NKJV)

If a person wants to find favor with God, it is humility that pleases Him. Pride will often get between a person and God without the person realizing it. But, if a person would stop and think, they would realize they have nothing except what has been received from Him. Did we create ourselves? Did we create the ground upon which we walk or the air that we breath? Did we reveal ourselves to God? Was it by our own doing that the plan for our salvation came into existence? Are we able to save ourselves? Did the gift of the Holy Spirit come to us through our own agency? Pride subtly elevates a person, in his or her own eyes, to the same level as God, resulting the person rejecting the very gifts God would give them.

Hear God’s word on the issue: Thus says the Lord: “Heaven is my throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,” Says the Lord.” But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:1-2).

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:6, ESV)

~ Brother Roy