BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING….

Genesis 1:1-2 – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”  NKJV

 Spiritual Blog - Beginnig

The first sentence of Genesis 1 must become a settled issue in our hearts if we are to grasp, understand and accept the remaining sentences in the entire Bible.  I was sharing with some evolutionist once and told them that in the beginning God created or made everything out of nothing.  I knew that would be challenged and one of the most vocal said, “That’s ludicrous, YOU cannot create something out of nothing!”  I calmly responded, “You are sure right, I (ROY) cannot but then I am not God.”  We went into some lengthy discussions of the intricacies of our universe, planetoid relationships, species of the animal kingdom and the human body and after pointing out numerous ‘stop gaps’ that God had put in place and the astounding nature of the human body with the nerves, veins, vessels, heart, lungs, and other organs all connected through a central nervous center that is beyond any computer ever built.  In the end I asked them what the statistical probabilities would be for ALL THIS just happened.

The distinguished British astronomer, Sir Fred Hoyle once said regarding evolution, “the chance that higher forms have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance of a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard and assembling a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.”  He went further and said, At all events, anyone with even a nodding acquaintance with the Rubik cube will concede the near-impossibility of a solution being obtained by a blind person moving the cubic faces at random. Now imagine 1050 blind persons each with a scrambled Rubik cube, and try to conceive of the chance of them all simultaneously arriving at the solved form. You then have the chance of arriving by random shuffling at just one of the many biopolymers on which life depends. The notion that not only biopolymers but the operating programme of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order.”

             I could never in a trillion years explain God but I believe HE IS and when I consider the probabilities, the problems, and potential of creation I cannot comprehend any other conclusion that IN THE BEGINNNING GOD CREATED.  For me, it actually would take a much greater measure of what the evolutionist call ‘blind faith’ to accept their postulation than to believe in creation.  One of the reasons I believe so deeply and emphatically is because I have ‘experienced’ God personally.  That would be enough for me and I know that some who are atheist or agnostic tell me that religion is simply the ‘opiate of a weak mind.’  They ask me where God came from and conclude that since I cannot answer that the possibility of creation is unacceptable.  I ask them to prove He does not exist and they cannot thus bringing, us to the heart of the matter – FAITH.

I grew up in a home and community that believed in the existence of God although all did not profess to serve or know Him.  After returning from Vietnam I was introduced to Jesus in a very real personal way and will never forget the ‘transformation’ of the night I opened the door upon which He had been knocking and received His pardon and grace.  I did not have to tell others there was something different they told me.  Oh, I told them what had happened in the best way I could but they saw it before I said it.  My countenance, attitude, and actions were different.  I began at the beginning and settled the question GOD IS and since then I have learned that HE IS A REWARDER of those who diligently seek Him.  I have learned that He is longsuffering to us and fulfills His promise to never leave us or forsake us.  Therefore, I believe and stand in confidence that the heavens and earth were created by God.

May God be with you as you go through your day!

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TALL ORDERS – Do We? Can We?

1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 – “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.  16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.”  NKJV

 Spiritual Blog - Thanksgiving

Here we find just a few of the many biblical directives for the believer regarding our attitudes, reactions, relations, and daily lives.  I contend that if we make them rules or religious lists we will fail miserably but if we seek to have ‘Christ in us the Hope of Glory’ and allow Him to live His life through us we can and will succeed.  It is a matter of life vs. legalism in a very real sense.

Consider the directives:

  • Warn the unruly among us.

That does not mean chastise those who are not doing things or living the way you want them to. It means those who are disruptive and detracting from Christian unity. 

  • Comfort the fainthearted.

Most of us would readily acknowledge that and sincerely try to do so but sometimes become weary with the perpetual weariness of some who never seem to come out of the doldrums and tend to turn the focus inward and live in a continual state of personal pity. 

  • Uphold the weak.

Wait, if I grow weary with the fainthearted then I have already failed in upholding the weak.  Everyone is not at the same level of maturity or understanding and therefore we should always consider the ‘weaker’ or perceived ‘weaker’ brother or sister.  Remember that you once were a newbie to the Christian faith and were ‘weak’.  Don’t remember that?  God does! 

  • Stand against Vengeance and Retaliation.

God has demanded the ‘vengeance’ belongs to Him, not because He is vengeful but because He is Holy and if left to us it would degenerate into a vile thing but if He keeps that for Himself it become divine justice and is laced with mercy. 

  • Always pursue good for yourself and others.

Do I really need to say anything regarding that?

  • Attitude of Rejoicing, Praying, and Thanksgiving is to be the normal natural and daily part of our lives.
  • Do not quench the Spirit and do not despise prophecies but Test all things and Hold fast that which is good.

If we adopted that last item we would move so far toward satisfying the others it would be remarkable.  I encourage you to seek God first and above all else and invite the Holy Spirit to guide your life, guard your mouth, and grant you access to the mind of Christ.  May He walk with you as you go through this day!  Blessings!

THREE WORDS THAT ARE CRITICAL – – “If, And, Then….”

2 Chronicles 7:14 – “ 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.”  NKJV

 Spiritual Blog - My People

The last time I used this passage I had someone tell me to stop using it for it only applied to natural Israel and could not be applied to any other people or nation today.  I understand the context and to whom this was spoken but would contend that it is an invitation and promise that applies to all of the Body of Christ today.

Let me approach it by reminding everyone of Peter’s declaration under the inspiration of the Spirit of God in 1 Peter 2:10 – “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy“.  He was speaking to gentiles and calls them ‘chosen, royal priesthood, and a holy nation’.  We were once ‘afar off’ but now are ‘brought near’ by the Blood of Jesus.

I would also call your attention to the words of Paul in Galatians 3:13-14 – “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”  And we are reminded of Paul’s words regarding the New Covenant in Hebrews 8:6 – “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.”

Therefore, the promises God gave them are applicable to us.  So it is my belief that when God extends an invitation that carries with it such an incredible promise we should take note and actively pursue that.  In our present world most would acknowledge that the conditions are far from perfect and often very volatile, dangerous and even evil.  In our land we need HEALING that can only come from God.  So let’s quickly consider what is being said and see if it is applicable for us in 2014.

Notice the word “IF” for it is the catalyst that propels us into the rest of the promise.  “IF” my people and if you can accept what I have just stated above you will see that ‘my people’ applies to the Body of Christ as well therefore is a legitimate condition for us to engage in this activity and expect the promised results.  But it does not end with “IF” it continues, “if My people who are called by My name WILL….”  There is a condition placed upon the promise which requires decision and action on our part.  “Will what?”  PRAY!   Unfortunately for some the word prayer invokes nothing more than reciting some rote ritual and tossing around a casual or flippant, “God help us.”  But consider the continuation where he says AND…. And what?  SEEK MY FACE!  That is a determined dogged decision to overcome all obstacles, opposition, and attitude that would separate us from God.  It is a decision and determination to enter into His presence and stand before the LIVING GOD.  That is our part where we PRAY, SEEK GOD and TURN FROM WICKEDNESS then comes God’s part THEN…   Then what?  God promises to HEAR us and 1 John 5:14-15 declares that if we ask ANYTHING according to His will He HEARS us and if He hears us He GRANTS the petition.  The continuation is not only will He HEAR us but will FORGIVE us and HEAL OUR LAND.

If you had a family member facing certain death and there was something you could do would you do it?  I believe that 99.9% would be willing to do whatever it took to save the life of their loved one and here God gives us a solution for HEALING OUR LAND but sadly few actually seem willing to engage in it.

My prayer is, “God stir our hearts restore in us a right spirit and create in us a clean heart.”  May God be with you as you go through this day!

LIKE A FARMER….

James 5:7-11 – “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. 8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. 9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. 10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.”  NASU

 Spiritual Blog - James

I love the way the Bible uses life illustrations to communicate truth.  This is an example where the principle of ‘patience, faith and endurance’ is illustrated in the life of the farmer.  I cannot tell you the number of times I have been called into a situation where someone had lost hope and contemplating giving up or had given up.  Some were suicidal some were at their wits end ready to abandon their faith, family and future.  They had endeavored to be patient but time had eroded their confidence and the lack of visible evidence or result had worn down their resolve to the point they were distraught and without hope.

I have used this analogy many times and found it effective more than not to help someone understand that giving up is not the answer.  Having grown up on a rural country farm I understand these principles having seen them in action. It was a multiple step process which involved:

  • Preserving the seed to be sown.
  • Preparing the soil for sowing.
  • Sowing the seed.
  • Fertilizing the seed sown.
  • Waiting on the rain.
  • Waiting on the growth of the crop
  • Harvest

            Harvest was much later and the last item in the process.  If we had given up at any juncture in the process there would be NO REAPING.  Our labor, preparation and investment would be wasted.  But if we had patience and endured as Galatians 6:9 tells us “IF” we do not lose heart we will reap if we do not grow weary and give up.  Harvest is the fruit of the labors not the beginning of the process.  As when the Kings of Israel and Judah joint forces to go against the kings of Moab the prophet Elisha instructed them to make ditches throughout the valley in 2 Kings 3.  The next morning the ditches were filled with water and when Moab looked out they saw the ditches filled with blood and rushed out to spoil Judah and Israel and were soundly defeated.  The principle of “Preparation proceeds blessing” was visible.  So remember, the devil cannot win unless we quit so LIKE A FARMER invest the time, prayer, and energy and wait on God to provide the harvest for it will come if we stay the course!

            God bless you as you go through this day!

WHAT AM I TO DO IN TODAY’S WORLD?

Micah 6:8 – “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” NASU

 Spiritual Blog - Micah

 

I am mixing religious and political or social thoughts in this devotional in response to some questions, criticisms, and encouragements I have received over the past few months.  Some tell me that as a Christian we are to totally ignore the political.  Some tell me that as a Christian I am to be involved in the political.  Some tell me that as a Christian I am to become an activist on social issues and others say no we are to just pray.  There is no consensus among those who profess the Christian faith or among those who profess no faith.

I wish I could say that it is just a personal decision and leave it at that and while I agree with that premise on some level I also disagree.  That being said, each person will have to determine in their hearts what they believe God would have them do and follow that urging in the best way they can.  I cannot and will not fault that.

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE is a very misunderstood argument and while I totally agree that it is not the duty of the church to control the state nor the state to control the church but with the adoption of biblical principles, expressions of support for those principles, and the use of the Bible as a teaching tool in public education by our founders it would be difficult to argue that they wanted the church totally eliminated from the affairs of state.  What they wanted was to prevent the federal government from appointing clerics or ministers or forming a national religion while suppressing others.  They wanted to preserve religious freedom in America not prevent godly principles from influencing legislation and the course of the nation.  George Washington spoke of the smiles of heaven on our nation so long as we followed His precepts so I suggest that God wants us to be aware, prayerful and even involved in the legislative process of our land.

CHRISTIAN POLITICIAN is almost an oxymoron but it is not for I know some politicians at various levels who are godly people and truly want to obey the Word of God and the directive of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  Some find it a difficult walk with the continual push from many in politics and activist groups seeking to banish God and the Bible from all things public.  Remember Psalm 33:12 tells us “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…” So having someone in politics who espouses Christian, godly, and moral values is not a detriment but a blessing to our nation.

NATIONAL AND SOCIAL ISSUES are never far from each of us and the Bible is filled with directives as to our obligation to pray for those in leadership and to remember the poor, needy, widows, and orphans.  It however negates the idea of entitlement welfare while advancing the principles of Christian charity, godliness, and the requirement that, men/women be willing to work for their livelihood.  Paul even declared that anyone who ‘would not work’ should not eat.

As a believer I can more effectively pray if I know what is happening and I personally cannot square the ‘ostrich mentality’ of burying my head in the sand with the requirement advanced by Micah to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly before God.  I cannot square it with ‘knowing to do good and doing it not’.  I cannot square it with seeing evil or danger advancing and remaining silent.  No as a believer I sense a need to be observant, prayerful, and work while it is yet day both in advancing the message of the gospel and defending freedom.  You can disagree but that is the conviction of my heart and hopefully it not only helps you understand me but encourages you in your Christian walk and your natural life on planet earth.

            Blessings as you go through this day!

THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT…..

Galatians 5:22-26 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.”  NKJV

Spiritual Blog - Fruit

Let me get in hot water at the outset and ask, “If someone were observing your life and asked to describe your characteristics, attributes or fruit what would they list?”  I would hope they would list some of the items above in describing me but that might depend on what day they were asked.  Am I confessing to inconsistency?  I guess I am.  Am I admitting that I am human?  Well I guess I am.  Am I admitting that I exhibit more carnality than spirituality at times?  Sadly, I guess I am.  However, like Paul said in Philippians 3:14 I am pressing toward the mark. I am not there but trying to keep my ship of life headed that direction.

What would those who know you say if over time you began to consistently (and you may) the items listed in the text passage?  How would it impact your co-workers, business associates, neighbors, and the lost you encounter?  Most of us who have received the Lord Jesus as our personal savior desire that the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ be manifest in our lives consistently and are saddened when we fall short regardless of the situation.  Some have found that allowing areas of small discretion over time have allowed insulation in our conscience so that we are not as deeply touched when we fall short as we should and that is dangerous.

The fruit that the Living Lord through the Holy Spirit demonstrates in a life He indwells is love.  We are explicitly told in the Bible that one of the ways we know we are saved is that we ‘love the brethren’ that we ‘love one another.’  We often justify this or that in our lack of love but I would suggest that God is not buying it and we know it is not right.

Joy is contagious and at times infuriating.  I had a person tell me once ‘cheer down’ a bit you do not have that much to be happy about.  Walking in ‘peace’ is such a secure place for it allows you to think clearly, listen carefully, and act rationally.  Being patient is something that we learn through complete reliance on our Lord.  We are naturally impatient people and our present world is a ‘microwave world’ where we want everything yesterday.  I have internet that is ‘high speed’ and while it is lightning fast in comparison to the old dial up I still find myself complaining that it is ‘too slow’.  Imagine what it would be like if I had to go to the library and actually dig through volumes to find the answers.  SLOW?  My grandmother told me once, ‘kindness costs nothing but being unkind much.’  Goodness (integrity, honesty) is a quality that will bring favor and respect.  When I read the word ‘faithfulness’ I immediately think of the people who have most influenced my life and the common characteristic has been their ‘faithfulness’ in all things and at all times.   They exhibited the heart of Jesus and where could we find one as faithful as He.  Are we ‘gentle’ and I contend that one can be so without being ‘weak.  In our modern world this next fruit is vanishing rapidly – ‘self-control’.   Paul tells us that ‘against such there is no law’.  He tells us that if we are ‘in Christ’ we allow the flesh to be crucified and replaced with the heart of our Lord producing in us the Fruit of the Spirit.

As we allow the Holy Spirit to manifest Jesus in our lives and walk in the Spirit we will find it a preventative for conceit, jealousy, envy, gossip, division, and will enable us to encourage and motivate one another to press toward the mark.

May God be with you as you go through your day!

WHAT KIND OF MAN???

Matthew 8:23-27 – “When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. 24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. 25 And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” 26 He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. 27 The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”  NASU

 Spiritual Blog - Miracles

Early in my Christian experience and before acknowledging or understanding the call to preach I asked a question that was birthed in this passage much to the caution and disapproval of many fellow believers. The question:  “If Jesus once did miracles why don’t we expect Him to do them today?”  Some said, “We do!”  Others said, “We don’t want to overly inflate people’s hopes and leave them candidates for failure.”  “Miracles were only for the 1st Century church.”  “We have science, doctors, and technology so we don’t need miracles.”  Those are a few of the responses I received and I found that I was being avoided by some because my questions made them uncomfortable and they did not want to be moved out of their comfort zone.

You may not believe in miracles I do not know but I do.  I believe that the answer to ‘What kind of man is Jesus?’ is that He is GOD.  He is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient.  He was, is, and will be I AM THAT I AM.  He has not changed, will not change and if miracles are no longer available then the Bible spends way too much time encouraging us to ‘ask what we will’, ‘come boldly before the Throne’, and ‘ask’ the Lord for things on our behalf.  If it is not possible to receive them the prodding and urging us to seek the impossible is sadistic not LOVE and God is LOVE!

I have been healed on more than one occasion of broken bones and seen X-Ray verification as well as doctor testimony on the radial head of my right arm that God healed 10 days after it was broken.  I have been healed of parathyroid cancer and my mother had a broken back and God healed her.  I have seen people given up for dead that God restored to life leaving the physicians in disbelief and questioning.  I have had financial miracles that could not be explained by natural means.  I have been led to take a different route or direction only to find that had I continued on my course calculating time, speed, etc. I would have likely been killed or faced incredible ruin.  Sorry, but I have experienced THIS MAN who can calm the stormy seas and cause the boisterous wind to become calm.  I have experienced His miraculous working power in my life, witnessed it in others and believe that THIS MAN is the SAME MAN as He was that night in the boat with the disciples.

Will you receive a miracle every time?  I would say no because that is what I have witnessed.  Why?  I cannot answer that and will not allow the condemnation that says, “Well you just did not  have enough faith, believe or confess right.”  No, sometimes the providence of God overrides our desires and prayers and I have chosen to trust Him while not allowing disappointment to diminish my confidence that He not only can but will.  He is Jesus the SON OF THE LIVING GOD!

            May God be with you as you go through your day!