The Power that Keeps Us Turning in the Right Direction

by Pastor Doc Adkins

“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30

Just some weeks ago I was traveling on I-64 E coming back into Beckley and as I passed the Erma Byrd Center I notice that the big windmill beside it was spinning around like crazy. The wind was just “whipping “through the air that day and boy did the windmill cut a shine!

Then not long ago I saw a little girl with a colorful pinwheel. She seemed intrigued at watching it and waving it around to get the blades to turn. I amused myself at watching her get it going really good and the use her finger to stop it. It surely did keep her attention. You remember the pinwheel from our youth, we all had one and how much fun it would be watching the colors fly by as the wind blew the blades and we used every imaginable thing we could to stop the blades and then start over again.

Most of us know that pinwheels or windmills don’t just spin around on their own volition. There has to be a wind source of some kind. You have to blow on it with your own breath or take it outside and allow the wind to move it. (Just a thought of from days gone by, “don’t stick your pinwheel out of the car window unless you hang on to it really tightly”…just a lesson learned).

Of course pinwheels and windmills won’t spin around on their own strength. That’s just like us as Christians. We can’t spin around on our own either. We need God’s strength and power.

Sadly, some of us try to spin around in our own strength anyway but we are not getting very far. Some of us have got some things stuck in our blades that are blocking our wind.

Our power source is the Holy Spirit, and that is a powerful wind. So much can be accomplished for Christ when we allow the leading of the Holy Spirit in us. Just think about the disciples. They turned the world upside down.

We’ve all got things that get stuck in our blades and slow us down or even make our effectiveness for Christ come to a complete standstill. Here are a few that came to my mind.

Power Blockers:

Bitterness
Whew! This one can really be a clog in your wheels. If you have bitterness in your life, you have to deal with it in order to have the power you need to keep spinning. Bitterness can rob you of your joy and eat away at you until you’re not useful to anyone, let alone God.
Let all bitterness…be put away from you. Ephesians 4:31

Unforgiveness
If there is a rift between you and someone else and you don’t deal with it, it’s like running a rod right through your blades. You are not going to keep spinning with something like that stuck in your life. You’ll find yourself not doing anything for Christ.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

Our Own Will
Trying to spin around all by ourselves and in our own direction isn’t going to work. We have to give ourselves over to what God wants for us, which at times may not be exactly what we might want. Living with our lives in tune with Christ daily is the only way we’ll be sensitive to His will and not our own.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1,2

Unconfessed Sin
Of course if we have unconfessed sin in our lives, it’s going to affect how the Holy Spirit works in us. We can’t have something between God and us or there’s not going to be any wind flow.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

Conclusion:
We often block the “turning of God” in our lives. We keep our guards up and don’t let the Holy Spirit get to us even when we need to be refreshed. We steel ourselves from being touched by a special song in church, or by a sermon, Sunday School lesson, and worship service because we’re too inward focused and not Godward focused. We go into defense mode at invitation time because we don’t want to go forward and deal with our issues even when we feel the Holy Spirit trying to work in us. We miss out on so much power that way and by keeping those power blockers stuck in our blades. Those things grieve the Holy Spirit which we are told not to do in Ephesians 4:30. We need to allow the breath of the Holy Spirit to go all the way through us so we can spin round and round doing the things Christ would have us to do.

If we are Christians, the Holy Spirit comes to reside in us. We have to be sensitive in order to allow His working. Remember that the winds are what makes the difference. In Scripture, the Holy Spirit is compared to a “rushing mighty wind”.

So, how are you spinning?

Spring Cleanin’

by Rev Doc Adkins

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

I remember well the earliest days of Spring as a kid. Whether at my mom’s house or later living with my grandparents, the same weird thing would happen. Both my mom and grandmother would start looking for dirt. Not the outside kind but the inside. Those cob webs, window sills, closet floors, back porches and dresser drawers were the first targets. Man, they both had that “look” of “Mr. Clean” about them. Scary! There were words used like: spring cleaning, painting the kitchen, new curtains and somehow, I just knew that a lot of this would concern me. Lord, I wished so many times I had a sister!

When spring arrives, more sunlight brightens your home as the days grow longer, and fresh air blows in once the temperatures warm up enough to open your front door as to welcome a breath of fresh air. But all the light and fresh air reveal what you may not have noticed during the dark, cold days of winter: Your house is a mess. It’s not fun to see the clutter and dirt that needs to be cleaned up around your house, but the lighter and air that flow in, the more motivated you are to do some spring cleaning.

Spring cleaning can be more than just a chore, however, it can show us in a spiritual way how cluttered and (we don’t want to admit it) what’s hiding in the corners and closets of life. We can actually use the time to start cleaning up something far greater than your house: your soul. The closer you get to Jesus – the Light of the world – and the more you invite the Holy Spirit to blow the fresh air of His love into your life, the more you become aware of how messy your soul has become. Thankfully, there’s no sin too messy for God to clean up when you follow His divine cleaning plan of confession, repentance, and reconciliation.

So while you’re spring cleaning your house, invite God to clean your soul. Here’s how:

Eliminate clutter. Get rid of distractions that block your intimacy with God. Take an honest look at what might be interfering with making your relationship with God your top priority. Are you devoting more time and energy to working, watching TV, shopping, playing sports, socializing with friends, pursuing a hobby, or something else than you’re devoting to time with God? How much time are you really spending doing activities that nurture your connection with God, such as praying; participating in church; and reading, studying, and meditating on the Bible? Are frazzled thoughts cluttering your inner life, or are you making time regularly for quiet reflection, and asking the Holy Spirit to renew your mind? Eliminate clutter in your schedule and your mind to create space to focus on what’s truly important.

Scrub away dirt and disinfect. This is the hardest part. Cleanse dirty attitudes and behaviors and purify your soul. What kinds of unclean attitudes are lurking in your soul? Are you harboring bitterness against people who have hurt you? Do you entertain judgmental thoughts about people you don’t like? Are you infected with anger, fear, or selfishness? How do impure behaviors affect your life? Are you struggling with a bad habit or even an addiction that causes trouble whenever it rears its ugly head? Pray about each dirty attitude and behavior, asking God to help you clean up each specific one. Whenever negative thoughts enter your mind, purposefully replace them with positive ones that reflect biblical truth. Whenever you’re tempted to slide back into a bad behavior, pray for God to empower you to resist and overcome temptation.

Vacuum. Suck up everyday annoyances and persistent resentments that will stain your soul if you let them accumulate. Keep short accounts with people rather than letting issues between you pile up and spill over into dirty arguments. Ask God to help you learn how to deal well with difficult people and those whose personalities differ significantly from yours. Whenever people offend you in minor ways, be willing to let the issues go. Whenever people offend you in major ways, be willing to forgive them and reconcile if possible. Remember that God expects you to forgive others since He has forgiven you. Trust Him to empower you through each step in the forgiveness process. Do all you can to live at peace with others and resolve conflicts quickly and wisely.

Dust. Wipe away old dirt of the past that is hindering you from moving into the future with confidence. Ask God to show you ways you need healing from past traumas and losses. Then patiently work through the healing process as God leads you. Expect that each time you deal with one layer of dust from your past, you can see a bit more clearly as you move into the future.

Polish. Make your relationships shine by serving others as God leads you. Be creative about figuring out how often you can bless others through your words and actions. Remember that even a brief encouraging comment or small act of kindness can make a significant, positive difference in someone’s life. Every day, look for opportunities to encourage or help the people with whom you come into contact.

Organize. Rearrange your life so you find “the time.” Clear out your own agenda and invite God to show you His dreams for your life. Then build your decisions for how to use your resources (time, energy, talent, money, etc.) around pursuing those things, so you can focus on what’s important without being sidetracked by what’s urgent. Set specific and measurable goals to help you move closer to fulfilling God’s desires for you. Check your progress regularly, and make whatever adjustments you need to make to keep your life organized well.

It’s a great big job. Isn’t it? Yet, when you see the final outcome, nothing compares to a “clean house” where God resides.

Always know where the exit is!

by Rev Doc Adkins

This is a crazy thing to remember…When I was a kid I can remember a teacher telling us that anytime we went anywhere in a public building that you should always know where the exits are–that you should always make a mental note of it when you sit in your seat for whatever function it is. And I remember being told that you just don’t look for the nearest one, but that you make that mental note of all of them that you see, because for some reason you may not be able to get out at the nearest one in an emergency.

I guess that was good advice, and I have always remembered it, especially when going to a big concert or big event in a huge building. Hey! If there is going to be a mass exodus–I don’t want to be the one left behind.

Yeah. Maybe I’m just weird and nobody else thinks like that, but you always have to sit and think about something quietly while waiting for a function to start. Me? I look around and familiarize myself with the building. Okay, I look at people too. Wow! There are some strange people in this world! How about we say I’m observant, not weird.

At this time of the year we are thinking about all our plans for the New Year. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in all the little nuances of life. Little tiny details tend to slow me down so that sometimes I can’t see the big picture. I need some exits!

So I was thinking I need some exit strategies. You know, I need to be able to have some alternative plans if things don’t go too accordingly. I need something to think about to recall me to be focused on the task at hand. I need to bring myself out of the rabbit trails that I chase. I need to plan and prepare. I need to keep on a schedule and all those things. I’ve got to stop getting side-tracked because time goes so quickly.

1 Corinthians 10:13. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I know I need some exit strategies where my planning and organization is concerned, but what’s important is that for the New Year is that I don’t forget to have those exit strategies in place in my spiritual life. I have to be prepared.

My Spiritual Emergency Exit Strategies.

  1. Submit to God. (James 4:7)
  2. Have a strong prayer life. (Matthew 26:41)
  3. Know God’s Word. (Hebrews 4:12)
  4. Keep good company. (1 Corinthians 15:33)
  5. Be more like Christ. (Romans 13:14)
  6. Go in God’s strength–not my own. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
  7. Be watchful. (1 Peter 5:8)

The Season of Winter

by Pastor Doc Adkins

Song of Songs 2:11-12 “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. New International Version

Winter has always held a magical place in my heart. I enjoy winter most of the time. Oh, I know the hardship of slick roads, winter illnesses from being “cooped up” most of the time. Yet I don’t mind the snow. I do mind the cold but not the snow. Have you ever noticed how much quieter and cleaner the world looks after snow.

Again, I am reminded of the farm house and those early days of my life. It doesn’t snow as much in Hinton as it does here in Beckley, but when it does it can be a “doosey”. Yet the farm was always picturesque. Everything was white and beautiful, and the whole of nature seems to be in deep peace.

Changes comes suddenly in the snow. I knew what the garden looked like a few weeks prior, and I knew that the white flakes have covered fallen brown leaves, withered grass and plants. It’s was all there, but it wouldn’t be seen now as long as winter lasts.

The winter may seem unpleasant to many, but frost and snow in our country are an indispensable part of life. Without winter, spring and summer wouldn’t be what they are.

There are seasons in our lives too. And we often have difficulties in understanding why they are there. Why do we have to pass through winters with barren branches and frozen ground, times without flowers and fruit, without singing and joy? Why?

It’s good to learn from the way nature works, because He who created us also created nature, and through His works we can better understand Him, and His ways.

Winter may seem a time of death, but in reality it’s a time of rest. When harvest is over, trees aren’t ready to bear new fruit immediately. They need a rest, and winter gives them time to do that.

Many of us get so easily caught up in a treadmill of producing all the time. ‘God can’t be satisfied with me if I don’t produce anything for Him, can He?’ is the way we think. But in His grace God allows a winter season in our lives, to give us rest. He doesn’t expect us to bear fruit when it’s winter, and we would do well if we could learn not to expect fruit when we should be having a rest.

At the same time winter is preparation for new flowers and new fruit. Under the snow, in the unseen depths something is going on. It’s only on the surface that it looks like death. Under the surface life is active and stirring! Roots are filling up with nourishment, and buds are bracing themselves for spring. In late winter it only takes a sunny day, and you see how the buds begin to break forth! They were ready for it.

All this Covid virus is making such changes and adjustments in our lives, it hard to adjust to changing seasons. BUT, rest assured that our loving God has all of us in the palm of His hands and covered with His grace. All this has changed our way of thinking. Dread and despair are not easy to overcome. When you inwardly go through a time of winter, you may well withdraw from many expressions of life, but that doesn’t mean your spirit is dying. It only means that for a time you are resting, and preparing for a new season, a season of flowers and growth. God takes you aside to prepare you for what is to come, and without that thorough preparation, you won’t be ready for a new season!

So, if you’re in a winter season in your life right now, it’s not the end! After winter, comes spring. All part of God’s plans for His children. Be prepared, one day you’ll suddenly become aware of an irresistible pull in your spirit that tells you winter is past, and the time for singing is upon you again.

Waking Up to the Good Stuff

by Pastor Doc Adkins

“The morning is just the most important part of the day”, my Grandmother use to say. Life in my grandparent’s house started early. When you think of the morning, they are clean slates on the day and you get to choose what you do with it. By evening it is just a little too late to start planning your day so why not start it out right at the beginning to get things accomplished and spend time with God before we get bogged down with life?

I can remember how my grandma used to fix breakfast in the mornings, most every morning. She didn’t just pour a bowl of cereal or throw a pop tart in the toaster. She probably didn’t even know what a pop tart was. My grandmother fixed real breakfast food—the good stuff!

I have such memories of my grandma’s country farm kitchen and her frying bacon, sausage and eggs too. Never scrambled ones. They were always over-easy, sunny side up ones. Next came the biscuits. Homemade of course. Not those kind many of us pop out of cans. Then came the gravy. White, country style. Of course when I was a kid I loved white country style gravy. I still do! I guess because it was all my family ever fixed with anything. Then, after all this, when good ones were available, my grandma would get a few tomatoes and slice some on a plate to put on the table. In our family it seemed like no meal was complete until there was a plate of freshly sliced tomatoes on the table. The table would always be full. My grandma believed in fixin’ the good stuff. All this topped off with really cold milk, hot…hot coffee and water. You had to drink at least a glass of water. Just ‘cause momma said so, that’s why.

God also fixes the ‘good stuff’’. He has so much planned for our days but do we miss it because we don’t get up early and spend time with Him? Do we anticipate His goodness and kindness to us each day? Do we seek Him early like David did?

“Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.” Psalm 143:8

“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:3

I do have days that I don’t start it off right. We all do, but if we don’t try to spend time with God by reading His Word and communing with Him in prayer at the start of our day then how will we ever be conscious of Him when the afternoon hits or when evening rolls around?

My! How much ‘good stuff’ He offers us. We are given blessings, promises, love, guidance, strength, and protection. We need all of God’s ‘good stuff’ to make it through the whole day.

“It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22

Hope you’ll keep your alarm set and wake up to the good stuff!

Letting Your Leaves Fall

by Pastor Doc Adkins

In just a few weeks I will have leaves from in the front yard dance across the porch and our driveway. My question about them is this, “where did they come from since we only have a little tree in our front yard and the leaves won’t match the ones on my yard”. Obliviously, I have neighbors. Yet, as their bright green color fades, it seems they fall almost as quickly as they change. We all know that in order to flourish in the new season, the tree must let go of its decayed leaves. They have performed well for the term, but their time has drawn to a close.

Autumn is a wonderful time to observe God’s nature. As I watch the swirling leaves stirred by the wind, I am reminded that they display an important lesson for all of us to follow suit in a way. Just as the trees don’t stubbornly hold on to their dead leaves, so we shouldn’t hold on to any unnecessary weight in our lives. When we long to enter a new season, the old can easily inhibit the new if we allow it. God’s Word reminds us to:

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31,32 (NIV)

To get rid of negativity in our lives, we must first identify it. How can we do this?
By reading God’s Word.
By allowing His Spirit to show us the necessary heart changes we need.
By being willing to shun practices such as bitterness and anger.
By asking God to help us let go of the guilt from the past.

How the Lord longs to empower and strengthen us for the new season ahead! If we’re not sure of the issues detaining a kind and compassionate spirit, He will show us when we ask. And if guilt from the past is preventing this beautiful new season, we have His promises like this one to remember:

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18,19 (NIV)

What are you holding on to that is preventing a freshness to the season ahead? Could it be that the decayed leaves are piling up and your heart needs to discard them for good? If so, why not reach out to the Lord in prayer? He longs to hear from you. Ask Him to shine light on any thoughts, circumstances, habits or other “decayed leaves” you might be clinging to. As you watch the leaves fall this season, our prayer is that you are reminded to let go of anything that would hinder a fresh relationship with God.

CliffsNotes Living

by Pastor Doc Adkins

“Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.” Psalm 25:5

Do you know what CliffsNotes are? You may remember them from high school or especially in college. I probably should have given them credit somewhere on my degree. Perhaps you used them yourself or you may remember your teachers discouraging you from using them. They are those little study guides for books. Kind of condensed highlights for a book. They’ll tell you things like who the main characters are in a story, the highlights of the plot, and things like that, but they don’t give you the whole story. They give you just some of the details, not all of them.

I think sometimes we rely too much on what we’ve made into our own Christian living CliffsNotes. We develop our own condensed highlights when it comes to the Christian walk. We have a page that tells us Who Jesus is, why He came, how important He is. We’ve got a page set up for some of the main Biblical characters that we learned about perhaps when we were younger in Sunday School, but we don’t know really any more than that. We have a page in our CliffsNotes that highlights what doctrine we believe. We may even have a page of several Bible verses that we’ve memorized and have under our belt.

I think it’s great that we may know all those things and have them handy to refer to, but the problem comes when we never continue learning. If we don’t continue to learn, we miss out on the meat. We miss out on all those little intricate details that God put in His Word for us to find. Our CliffsNotes are not going to carry us through. Sure, it might be great for a guide, but we have to dig into the Word and really allow ourselves to be taught on a deeper level. I think that asking the Lord to teach us can help us get started on the road to learning more.

Teach Me Your Way.

“Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.” Psalm 25:4
“Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.” Psalm 86:11

Teach Me Good Judgment And Knowledge.

“Teach me good judgment and knowledge.” Psalm 119:66
” For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

Teach Me Your Will.

“Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.” Psalm 143:10

Teach Me Your Law.

“Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.” Psalm 119:12
“…teach me thy judgments. Psalm 119:108
“Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.” Psalm 119:34

Teach Me What To Say.

Remember how God helped Moses in this area?

“Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.” Exodus 4:12

“The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips.” Proverbs 16:23

Teach Me To Number My Days.

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Teach Me Right From Wrong.

“And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.” Ezekiel 44:23

“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Titus 2:11, 12

Conclusion:
The Christian life is more than living on our own CliffsNotes but I know it’s sometimes what we end up relying on. Some of us have even allowed others to help write our CliffsNotes for us. We rely on what they say completely, sometimes without checking it with God’s Word.

It’s great to learn from others, such as preachers and good teachers, and read good Christian books, but relying on that alone gets us into that CliffsNotes living realm. We’ve got to study the Word of God for ourselves and learn from it ourselves.

All those things are great that we’ve learned, like the 12 Disciples, the 10 Commandments, points on doctrine, and all those Bible verses we’ve committed to memory. It’s just that we need to keep digging and be willing to learn more. We don’t want to miss out on any of the details that the Lord has for us.

With the Summer ending, vacation time running out, school and college beginning (or at least this is the plan), We see the rise of a new season coming on. A season that is going to challenge us mentally, physically and spiritually. Let’s move from Cliffnote Christianity and into a truly growing season with the Lord. “teach me”, Psalm 25:5

So, are you ready to learn more.

Eyes Wide Open

by Pastor Doc Adkins

Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net. Psalm 25:15

It is finally warming up around here and I’ve been noticing all the little bugs and insects around. I also noticed some days ago when I was at our camp in Hinton that a summer creature you see a lot around the river is the “dragon fly”. That peculiar looking thing with two sets of wings, a long skinny body and BIG EYES! REALLY BIG EYES! They are funny looking creatures to say the least. I am not sure what purpose they have except when they land on the water in the river…fish love them.

I’ve read that their sight encompasses basically 360 degrees and that they can see everything at most angles.

I wish I could see like that, especially those things that seem to sneak up on me and sideswipe me.

There are things I wish I could have seen coming. I know there are things that as Christians we should watch out for so we don’t get off track in our daily living. We need to have our eyes wide open like a dragonfly.

Eyes Open to Understanding.
If we would keep our eyes open to understanding the Lord, just think how much better we would get to know Him.

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints. Ephesians 1:17, 18

Eyes Open to the Word.
I guess if we had our eyes wide open to what God’s Word says, we’d learn more and be better to handle those things that get into our view.

Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. Psalm 119:148

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Psalm 119:18

Eyes Open to Temptation.
Just think how much smoother our lives would be if we were constantly on guard for this one. We know we are supposed to be on our toes for it to come sneaking in but sometimes it’s there right in front of us before we see it.

Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41

Eyes Open to God’s Help.
We get into these situations and our eyes are bugging out because here comes trouble. How much better we could handle it if we constantly had our eyes on God and were really relying on the Lord.

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. Psalms 121:1

Without that 360 degree sight, dragonflies wouldn’t be able to be ready to make the quick maneuvers that they need to make in midair. I think that when we keep our eyes wide open to certain things, we are better able to maneuver too. We are better able to handle all those things that come sailing into our view.

All in all, I think we need to keep our eyes on the Lord because He’s the One who sees all. The Lord can see up ahead where we can’t and that’s a nice fact to rest in. He can see behind us where we may have missed something. He can also help us handle those things that come whizzing past us.

So, maybe God created these little strange creatures like the ‘dragon fly ’just to teach us to keep our eyes wide open for Him to show us our way in life, too.

Pretty Flowers All in a Row

by Pastor Doc Adkins

“And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matthew 6:29

If you take a look around our area, we see that the signs of spring and summer are all around. Grass is greener, trees have their leaves now, birds are singing, and folks are planting gardens and flowers.

Again, I remember growing up days on my grandparents’ farm and one of the things my grandmother always did was plant her flowers. You name it, she’d plant it. Ladies at church would swap flowers “starts” and at times get into a “budding feud” about who’s were the prettiest. Funny old women!

Flowers are one of the most beautiful things I think God created. Sometimes I think He created them just for to add some kind of beauty in an otherwise dirty world. They give us happier, peaceful views of life.. When I see how simple but yet how fantastic flowers are, I can’t help thinking that God is still in control and all is right with the world.

People have loved flowers back from the beginning of time and there are different meanings that have been associated with specific ones over the years. Many flowers have come to have several different meanings. We will take a look at just four of them to see what we can learn.

Aster – Contentment

Asters are those pretty little dainty white flowers that have a yellow center. I think they look like wild daisies. We have them growing along the roads here in WV.

One of the meanings associated with the aster flower is contentment. I kind of like that. They are simple yet pretty flowers and they do give me that sense of contentment. Those words in Philippians come to mind.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Philippians 4:11

Contentment sure is a nice place to be in our lives. Isn’t it? No matter what the circumstances, we have that ease of satisfaction. The problem I think that people have with contentment is that they get it confused with being complacent. Complacent means we don’t care about things or are unconcerned, but being content is not that. When we are content, we end up caring more because we don’t allow things around us to get us off track. It’s being able to push forward and have that peace no matter what the circumstances.

Camellia – Graciousness

My grandmother had a lot of favorite flowers and Camellias are right there toward the top of her list. She had a large Camellia bush beside the front porch.

The meaning associated with the camellia is graciousness. I think that’s a word we don’t hear used much anymore and we certainly don’t see it displayed much.

It means excellence of manners or social conduct. Shouldn’t we as Christians embody that? The world sure doesn’t. I think if we want to be in full bloom as Christian people we really need to concentrate on being gracious. I have known a few very gracious Christian people in my life and to me that makes them quite breathtakingly beautiful.

A gracious woman retaineth honour… Proverbs 11:16

Larkspur – Beautiful Spirit

The Larkspur is a pretty flower. I’ve mostly seen them in purple but they can be other colors as well. One of the meanings associated with the

Larkspur is a “beautiful spirit”. Wow. That’s something to strive for. I’ve always loved that verse in 1 Peter where it is talking about a “meek and quiet spirit”.

One thing I read about the Larkspur is that some of them have become endangered and that you don’t find as many anymore except for those grown specifically for flower arranging. Kind of like those “meek and quiet spirit” people. There doesn’t seem to be an abundance of them either.

Black Eyed Susan – Encouragement

I’ve always admired the Black Eyed Susan. They are so bright and striking that I think they normally contrast everything around them. The meaning of the Black Eyed Susan is encouragement.

I sure love to be around encouraging people. Don’t you? People that give you that special word you need just at that moment or are there to cheer you on in whatever you are doing at the time. Those bright people definitely contrast with those around them.

Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

Conclusion:
I think there are things in our Christian lives that we have to have like pretty flowers all lined up in a row. Things like these four- contentment, graciousness, meek spirits, and encouragement. There are other things too all involved in our Christian living such as love, compassion, and all those other things Christ taught us. When we have these things in order, we have a tendency to live our Christian lives in a more beautiful way.

No one ever said that the Christian life was easy and when it comes to some of these, it requires a little work. We can’t just put up our little place markers with our flower names on them and expect them to flourish if we leave them alone. They require us to put some energy into them by using those tools of Bible study, prayer, and righteous living.

So, are your flowers all in a row?

“And sitting down they watched him there”

by Pastor Doc Adkins

This week I read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection again. Each gospel gives a few details that the other three don’t give. I noticed that Matthew gives the only account of the four centurion soldiers sitting at the foot of the cross.

In Mark 15:24, the soldiers cast lots for his garments, but it doesn’t speak of them sitting and watching. Luke’s account of the crucifixion tells that the people stood beholding. John’s account speaks of those who crucified him casting lots for His coat, with the next verse speaking of Mary the mother of Jesus standing at the cross.

I know the soldiers were ordered to guard Jesus carefully because that was the custom of the day. Anyone who was crucified was guarded by soldiers because there was the fear someone might remove them from the cross. Also, the guards had to make sure the crucified actually died. In the case of Jesus, even though they doubted Jesus being who He said He was, they still thought it was possible Jesus might come down off the cross by His own miraculous power.

Even though I understood the why of Jesus being guarded, I wondered, what was the significance of the soldiers sitting and keeping their watch.

Those soldiers who sat and kept guard had more time to not only observe Jesus hanging on the cross, but also to think about what they had done to put Him there. As it turned out those who had driven the nails and sat and guarded Him were the ones who gave the best testimony in their world as to who Jesus Christ was.

Matthew 27:54
Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, “Truly this was the Son of God”.

The soldiers who sat still and watched Jesus experienced His power first hand. Whatever doubt had been with them as to who Jesus was, ceased to exist when they felt the earth move.

They realized the magnitude of what they had done, driving nails into His hands and feet. I believe they were not only frightened as the verse says, but I believe they were sorrowful for the part they played in His death as well.

All those who simply stood awhile in the crowd and moved on didn’t experience a powerful movement up close and personal like the soldiers who had sat and observed Jesus at the foot of the cross.

Those who simply stood and moved on didn’t realize their part in driving the nails.

They may never have realized that Jesus truly was the Son of God.

They may never have been sorrowful for the part they played in His death.

In our world today there are still those who follow Jesus when it is the convenient and popular thing to do, when things are going good crowds are shouting praise. When things aren’t as exciting they turn their backs on Jesus.

If there is a big Spiritual movement “event” the crowds stand and watch. When they see what they have come to see they go back home.

However, there are Christians who sit and observe Jesus every day. They experience His awesome power first hand and know without a doubt He truly is the Son Of God. They realize the part they played in His death. They know He died for them. They are truly sorrowful and ask Him for His forgiveness.

Today are you sitting at the foot of the cross, or are you simply standing in the crowd?

The very best witnesses for Jesus Christ spend time sitting and observing Him.

JUST A REMINDER
Until at least April 5th, we will not be gathering at the church for services but we will join together for Sunday morning Sunday School and worship by way of our outreach ministries: The radio ministry at 560AM WJLS and the sermon on the web site Facebook page at Facebook.com/ beckleyfirstbaptist.

All Wednesday and Sunday evening services are cancelled through April 5th with a targeted date of Easter Sunday as a new beginning in our church. What a wonderful day to look forward to. We will keep you posted if this date changes.

Please join me in an act of faith. I ask that we faithfully continue to support the church in giving. You may bring your offering by the church office or mail it to First Baptist Church, 422 Neville, St., Beckley, WV 25801 .

Should you need assistance or help with anything: food, transportation, medicine pick ups, etc., please call the church office at 304-253-4252. One of our Deacons or Trustees will be glad to assist you. If there’s someone that you can think of that may not have email or access to the internet, please call them and share this information.