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

A Hymn of Praise

Hymn of Praise
words by Gloria Gaither; music Traditional

Oh, loving Father, by Your grace,
We gather here to seek Your face
And thank You for this family
And hearth and home and loyalty.

Our hearts are full of gratitude –
For work and rest and daily food,
For neighbors kind and faithful friends,
The gifts on which our lives depend.

We even thank You for the pain –
It’s through the losses that we gain
A clear perspective, better view
Of our dependency on You.

We hold all things with open hand –
Our homes, our lives, and this great land.
Our gifts, possessions, and our days,
We lift to You in grateful praise.

Through good and bad we’ve learned to trust
That You are loving, wise and just.
So now with childlike hearts we raise
Our hymn of deepest, highest praise!

Happy Thanksgiving from NHIM!

Are You Really Poor?

Man shows he has empty pocketsOne of our morning coffee crew at Fitch’s Store often graces our conversations with interesting comments. Dwight’s ‘Kentuckyisms’ add humor and sometimes insight to our ruminations. One morning, as we discussed what it meant to be poor, Dwight offered this gem: “The soles on my shoes are so thin I can stand on a worn dime and tell you if its heads or tails!” No one at the table could top him that morning on the topic of – ‘How poor are you?’

Most of us grumble from time to time about high prices, higher taxes, even higher costs of medical necessities, etc. The truth be told, the majority of us probably never had it so good. It is hard to measure real wealth. God’s word has a lot to say about both being rich and being poor.

There are those who possess earthly wealth, but are poor toward God;

  • Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely, they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them.” (Psalm 39:6)
  • God says, “I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say, I am rich, have become wealthy and have need of nothing – and do not know that you that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)
  • A certain rich man said, “And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry. But God said to him, ‘Fool’! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided. So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:18-19)
  • 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…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19,21)

There are those with little of this world’s goods, but are rich in faith toward God;

  • “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5)
  • “For He shall stand at the right hand of the poor.” (Psalm 109:31)
  • “A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” (Proverbs 28:20)
  • “A little that a righteous man has is better than the riches of the wicked.” (Psalm 37:16)
  • “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold.
I’d rather have Jesus than riches untold.
I rather have Jesus than houses or land.
I’d rather be led by His nail-scarred hand.
Rhea F. Miller

~ Brother Roy

Marvelous Magnolias & Spiritual Photosynthesis

magnolia

From time to time, the ‘old’ Biology teacher in me surfaces. I taught High School Biology and Chemistry for a time after I graduated from Asbury College. Those were pleasant days and have provided me many fond memories. Sometimes a random event will trigger in my mind a life principle that I taught in those days.

Not long ago, I was sitting on the porch of a cottage on Mobile Bay, admiring two magnificent, large Magnolia trees. The deep green leaves and fragrant white flowers glistened in the morning sun. They stood as a testimony to the creative genius of the Heavenly Father. The words of Jesus came to mind, “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these” (Luke 12:27 NKJV). 

Looking at these large and beautiful trees, I started to wonder how could they grow and prosper in the sandy, poor soil so close to the shore line. My mind harkened back to Biology classes had I taught. The answer is ‘photosynthesis’.  Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants and certain other organisms transform light energy into chemical energy. During photosynthesis in green plants, light energy is captured and used to convert water, carbon dioxide, and minerals into oxygen and energy-rich organic compounds. Oh, the unfathomable design of our Creator! Using light from the sun, these marvelous trees produce energy to live on and as a by-product give off oxygen essential for so many other forms of life. In addition, the Magnolia blossoms fill the air with fragrance.

I see the ‘common thread’ of our Creator running through all of His creation. Like the Magnolias, if we turn our life toward the Light, which is the Son of God, we will prosper. In poor soil or rich, we can grow by His design into something beautiful. It’s kind of like photosynthesis in our soul. The Light of Christ gives us the energy of eternal life. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). A by-produce of a life in Christ, like oxygen produced in plants, is the gift of helping others and making the world a ‘better’ place for all around us.

God bless the Magnolias and God bless all who live in the light of Christ. May the fragrance of their love and service touch a hurting world.