The Mountain Trillium

IMG_1267I was preaching a revival in Eastern Kentucky. On the way to the church, I was driving slowly along a narrow highway. I saw a beautiful white flower blooming in a shady spot beside the road. I couldn’t help but pull over for a closer look. It was a mountain trillium.

I remembered as a child that folks in the hills said the trillium told a beautiful story about God. There is one stem on which rests one flower which has three petals exemplifying the the three persons of the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The Apostle Paul acknowledged the three persons of the Trinity when he prayed,The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you” (2 Corinthians 13:14, MSG). 

IMG_1264The beautiful white of the flower represents the sinless nature of Jesus, the Lamb of God without spot or blemish. He took our sins to the cross that we might be saved. “For He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NKJV). Near the pure white flower of the first trillium that I saw was another trillium. It had streaks of red across the white petals. It reminded me that it was the shed blood of Jesus on Calvary that washed away my sin. The words of an old hymn by James Nicholson echoed through my heart: Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow. Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” 

As I was preaching the final service of the revival, a young man in the congregation intently fixed his eyes on me throughout the service. He strained to hear every word. At the end of the message, I extended the invitation to come to the altar to seek the Lord. He came quickly and ask the Lord to forgive his sins and set him free from the drug addiction that was destroying him. In the twinkling of an eye, he was able to experience the amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit”.

That night, with spirit eyes, I saw a beautiful mountain trillium push its head through the darkness of sin and bloom by the altar of a small country church.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

~ Brother Roy

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What’s on Your Mind?

whats on your mindOur conversations are often peppered with phrases that refer to a person’s state of mind. Someone may ask, “What’s on your mind?” or, “What was his frame of mind?” We regularly make comments like, “I wonder what he was thinking?” Our mindset or state of mind colors most everything we do.

Scripture identifies three mindsets or mental states:

  • A Reprobate Mind. “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient”  (Romans 1:28, NKJV). The dictionary definition of reprobate includes words like unprincipled, immoral, and degenerate. People with a reprobate mind are inclined to sin. They are selfish, self-centered, and focused on what they want, not what God wants.
  • A Double Mind. The Apostle James states, A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8, NKJV).  James encourages people to, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8, NKJV). Double-minded people want to serve God, but they also want to please themselves. A double-minded person tries to serve two masters. However, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24, NKJV).
  • The Mind of Christ. As Christians mature, they are expected to cultivate the mind of Christ. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5, NKJV). The world will try to confuse us, “But we have the mind of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:16b). In light of scripture, true believers need to make a natural progression away from a reprobate mind. Then, we need to move past double-mindedness and arrive at the mind of Christ.

May I ask, “What is your mindset?” Our mindset determines our eternal destiny. God’s word says, “To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6, RSV).

Prayer: Lord I want to “be renewed in the spirit of my mind(Ephesians 4:23, NKJV). I want the mind of Christ to dwell in me.

~ Brother Roy

Weeds

weedsSpringtime in Kentucky is a most beautiful time of year. The greening pastures on the horse farms are checker-boarded with white rail fences and dotted with sleek yearling thoroughbreds. It’s a sight to behold. The hill country comes alive with the color of redbud, dogwood, and tulip poplar trees. Wildflowers of various tints and hues paint the forest floors and pastures. My heart sings:

For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth over and around us lies.

For the wonder of each hour of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light.

Christ, our Lord, to you we raise
This, our hymn of grateful praise!
 (Folliott Sandford Pierpoint)

At this point, I wish to interject a familiar phrase used by the late Paul Harvey, “Now, the rest of the story”. Along with the beauty of a spring comes issues in the flower beds around my house. The loose and enriched soil in the flower beds provides a nurturing place for flowers, but it’s also a conducive place for ‘weeds’ to grow and flourish. It’s hard work dealing with the weeds.

This spring I gave due diligence to the flower beds in front of the house. But, because of abundant spring rains and the difficulty of navigating a steep driveway, it had been some time since I had worked in the flower beds in the back. Those beds contain mostly perennials so I wasn’t overly concerned. When I finally went to check, what a surprise! There were weeds taller than the flowers and unwanted tree seedlings had also shot up about three feet The problem then became clearing out the weeds and seedlings without uprooting the flowers.

A spiritual corollary comes to mind. Unless the soul, like a flowerbed, is carefully and consistently tended, spiritual weeds take root and begin to spoil the beauty of a Christian life. Spiritual weeds left unchecked will choke out growth in grace and not allow fruits of the spirit to be produced. Scripture takes note of the problem:

  • Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;” (Hebrews 12:14-15)
  • Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away” (Matthew 13:24-25, NKJV).
  • Others are like the seed planted among the thorny weeds. They hear the teaching, but the worries of this life, the temptation of wealth, and many other evil desires keep the teaching from growing and producing fruit in their lives” (Mark 4:18-19, NCV).

Weeding is hard and tiring work but necessary if we want to enjoy the flowers. So it is in our spiritual lives if the beauty of Jesus is to be seen in us. We certainly must weed the conspicuous places, but we must not forget the weeds that are out of our sight line or around back.

Good Advice: “We must not become tired of doing good (weeding). We will receive our harvest of eternal life at the right time if we do not give up(Galatians 6:9).

~ Brother Roy

Walking with God

enochTowering like a giant colossus above the men of his generation and impressing multitudes in the centuries that have followed is the man Enoch. Enoch did not become noteworthy because of his profound scholarship or writing. He was not a great statesman, military genus, architect, or political figure. He is of eternal significance because scripture says, he ‘walked with God’ and ‘pleased God’ (Gen. 5:22 & Heb. 5:11).

This surely must be the highest praise that can be bestowed on any person. His life of walking with and pleasing God is validated in God’s word. He reached the pinnacle of human endeavor. If Enoch could walk with God through his 365 years in a sinful world, it should not be considered impossible for us to walk with Him across our lifetime. 

What are the requirements, if we aspire to walk with God?

  • Clean Hands: Job has some advice for those of us who would catch God’s hand and walk with Him. Job 11:13-14:  “If you would prepare your heart, and stretch out your hands toward Him; If iniquity (sin) be in your hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness stay in your tent (in the house you live in).”
  • Genuine Reconciliation: We must be at peace with God. God’s word says, “And if ye walk contrary unto me, and will not hearken unto meThen will I also walk contrary unto you…” (Leviticus 26:21&24). Two cannot walk together unless they are agreed. “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3). That agreement comes on Calvary’s ground. Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).
  • Full Surrender: Enoch could walk with God because he was fully surrendered to God’s will and walked in the light God gave him. We must follow God’s lead, But 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 1:7, NKJV). 

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 10:12 NKJV).

~ Brother Roy

A Day Late

ten virginsIf you have from time to time looked at the devotionals posted on NHIM’s website, you are aware of my propensity to utilize folk sayings and witticisms to advance a point. The saying “a day late and a dollar short” follows that form. I have often heard this statement when someone has missed a valuable opportunity.

The sentiment expressed in this saying is especially true related to the spiritual realm. By God’s grace, people are given multiple chances to repent and receive eternal life through Jesus Christ. However, God’s gracious invitation neglected over time results in the opportunity being lost. The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20 KJV). 

A poignant word came from Jesus concerning a tragically missed opportunity. Jesus shared a parable about ten virgins. “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish” (Matthew 25:1-13). The five that were foolish neglected to adequately prepare for their ‘big moment’ when the bridegroom arrived. They had not taken enough oil to keep their lamps burning, which was their primary responsibility. While they were gone to find oil, the bride groom came and those who were prepared entered in and the door was closed. The five who were not prepared came and found they had been left outside. They pleaded, “Lord, Lord, open to us!” But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you” (Matthew 13:11-12, NKJV).

We have been invited to be a part of “the Marriage Supper of the Lamb”. We have one main job to do. We are to keep our lamps burning brightly and be ready when the cry goes out that the bridegroom is coming. Have you accepted the Lord’s invitation? Is the ‘light’ of your life in Christ burning brightly? Oh, don’t be caught “a day late and a dollar short”! Don’t be left outside!

Prayer: Lord, help me to heed your plea, “Prepare To Meet Your God” (Amos 4:12 NKJV). When Your call comes, I want to be ready to enter in to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

~ Brother Roy

All In

All InEarly in my days at Asbury College, I learned the importance of the word ‘all’.

My Freshman Composition professor was generous in her use of the red pen in grading my work. Words I used frequently such as “always”, “never”, and “all” drew the red ink. This was especially true for the use of the word ‘all’. The professor informed the class these words expressed generalizations that were seldom true and typically should be avoided. Normally, there will be exceptions in most situations. For instance, we might say, “All of my friends agree on politics,” or “All of the houses in this neighborhood look alike”.

I did finally concede the point and usually tried to eliminate such absolute terms from my speech and writing. There is, however, an area where I will not yield. That is in the spiritual realm.  The Lord’s words stand as absolutes for me. The following dialog illustrates the point: And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself ’”  And He said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live(Luke 10:25-28, NKJV).

In our relationship with the Lord, partial obedience, half-hearted love, or incomplete surrender will not do. If we are to walk with the Lord and inherit eternal life, it must be an ‘all’ proposition.

The 1992 song ‘All That I Am’ by William Hines reflects the desire of my heart:

All that I am, all I can be,
All that I have, all that is me,
Accept and use, Lord, as you would choose, Lord,
Right now, today.

Take every passion, every skill,
Take all my dreams and bend them to your will.
My all I give, Lord, for you I’ll live, Lord,
Come what may.

Prayer: Lord I want to be “all in”. I want to live for you with no reserve, no retreat, and no regret.

~ Brother Roy

I Was Hungry

kya

Kya Sands Slum

My daughter and son-in-law, Lori and Rich, recently led an NHIM mission team to South Africa. They spent time visiting families in some tiny shacks in the sprawling slums where they are working. These areas, like Soweto and Kya Sands were made infamous during the days of Apartheid and Mandela. Since Mandela’s era, progress has been painfully slow in addressing the grinding poverty in these areas. For many who struggle to survive in these places, there is no running water, no electricity, no sewage and meager shelter. There is mainly a panorama of shacks, garbage, rats, and deprivation.

Returning from one of those desperate communities to the place where the team was staying, members were emotionally spent and in ‘shock’ at what they had witnessed. Some team members were asked what had made the greatest impression on them. One of the young men gave a moving response. The team had taken food to families where they were working. He said in one of the homes they had visited a man told him, “Having food here is not a right, it’s a privilege”.

While a short term mission team can do little to remedy the overall situation, they still have an extremely important ministry. They offer people the knowledge that someone knows, cares, and prays for them. The temporary relief the team can provide lifts spirits and the message of the Savior’s love gives a long term hope.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Its better to light a candle than to curse the darkness”. The South Africa team was busy lighting small candles in these dark places. We need to know that as Jesus was welcoming believers into heaven, He said, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in I needed clothes and you clothed me…” (Matthew 25:35-36, NIV). Believers then asked when had they ever ministered to Jesus in that way. He said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40, NIV). What a privilege to be able to minister to the Savior in such a way.

Prayer: Lord, may the ‘least of these’ hear you say, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1, NIV). And may we who are able be your presence to them.

~ Brother Roy