A FIRM HANDSHAKE

A FIRM HANDSHAKE                                                                                                               Andy Hollifield 5-23-19

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”  That’s just one of the  things dad tried to drill into us.  I remember dad would say when he told someone he would see them later or would do something or made plans to go somewhere, he always preceded it or followed what he said with the phrase; “if nothing happens”. He would sometimes say “Lord willing” or “Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise” (you would have to be country to understand). I never remember him making a commitment of any kind without always at some point saying one of those statements and it was usually; “if nothing happens.”

I finally ask him once “Dad, why do you always say that?” He looked at me and said, “Because you never know what might happen between now and then and you don’t want to tell somebody a lie.” Up till that point, to be honest it was kind of annoying. After he explained it, I caught myself saying one of those statements almost all the time.

That may all sound silly to a lot of folks but you have to understand that I grew up in a different time than what we are living in now. A man’s word was his bond and a firm handshake was as good as a contract. That was just how you dealt with people. You didn’t have to have everything in writing. I remember underpricing mowing jobs as a kid due to my inexperience, and making less than what it was actually worth because I had given someone my word. I worked for a lot of good people and usually they would pay extra because they realized I had underpriced it. If they didn’t, I took what we had shook on and went my way thankful that they had let me work and paid me what they had agreed to.

Dad taught us to be men of our word, and he wouldn’t tolerate anyone cheating us. I remember one Saturday morning I went to help my brother mow a yard that he did on  regular basis in a wealthy neighborhood for a very wealthy widow woman. She had contracted with my brother to mow her yard for fourteen dollars. On this particular day I was wanting to go crow hunting or squirrel hunting I think with a couple buddies of ours.

Being fifteen, I couldn’t drive so if I wanted to go, I had to help him get that yard mowed. We went over early and he used her mower and I took ours. We were done in less than an hour. When it came time for my brother to be paid, she only paid him seven dollars. Although their deal had been that he would cut her grass for fourteen dollars, she felt that since he had help and she hadn’t hired me that he had only done half the work and shouldn’t be paid for the whole yard since he hadn’t done all of it. Keep in mind that it was a contract job and not hourly. The yard was supposed to pay fourteen dollars flat rate. My brother told her that she had a completed job and that he had a deal with me and he didn’t expect her to pay me. She refused to pay the full amount so we left.

After we got home and he told dad what had happened.  After he calmed down he called her.  He told her he would be mailing her check back to her and not to call either of us anymore to work for her. He explained that he had raised us not to cheat people and he didn’t expect us to be cheated and he certainly didn’t want my brother taking her money if she couldn’t afford to keep her word.

That may sound simple and maybe even silly, but I gained a lot more respect for my dad that day. I was pleased he got that worked up in defense of me and my brother.  It gave me a sense of security knowing that my dad always had my back. To put it in plain English, I was plumb proud!

I am thankful that all that honesty was drilled into me and that I also had a good example lived out in front of me. My dad was a man that you could always “take it to the bank” if he told you something. If he didn’t follow through with something he told you, you knew something was wrong.

In Proverbs 22:1 the bible says that “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold.” Ecclesiastes 7:1 says, “A good name is better than precious ointment;…” We were always taught a man’s word is his bond as I mentioned earlier. We were also taught to “guard your name cause it’s all you have.”

One more thing I remember being taught is “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” I try to retain those lessons of my youth and pass them on as I have opportunity. I am not even sure why I wrote this today. I guess I got to thinking about how careless we are with promises and commitments. It seems that everyone is always trying to avoid keeping their word rather than going out of their way to be honest.

We as Christians need to be especially mindful of this. We have a whole world of lost folks looking at our lives. If they don’t find honesty, integrity, and moral values in us; where are they going to find it?  You can kill your own influence with people by failing to keep your word.  Always keep your word. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

JUST WHAT MOMMAS DO

JUST WHAT MOMMAS DO                                                                                                           Andy Hollifield 5-13-19

I know we’ve all heard the saying “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” I wrote a tribute to my mom on Mother’s Day so I decided just to write a post for her as well as the rest of you moms about what mommas do. It may sound strange coming from a man because I have no experience really being a mom. I have heard the term “Mr. Mom” but there is still a lot lacking in that. No offence to anyone but God made moms and dads different and therefore both are necessary. Some folks are forced into filling both rolls and God has grace for that but there is still a difference. Before any men reading get mad at me, think about this; how many times after Jesus was a toddler do you read anything about Joseph? If I remember correctly there is only the time when Jesus was in the temple for three days as a boy and Mary and Joseph returned looking for him. In Luke chapter three, he is mentioned in the lineage of Jesus when Jesus was baptised at thirty years old. Don’t get me wrong, even though Joseph was not the physical father of Jesus, God honored him with the job of dad and protector of both Jesus and Mary and by reading about all of the moving they had to do, he had a tough job. It would also be assumed by Mark 6:3 that Joseph had taught Jesus carpentry. Jesus already knew all things but everyone else assumed that he learned it from Joseph.

Well, I have given us dads a whole paragraph for Mother’s Day so lets get down to business with the moms. There are a lot of moms listed in the bible and stories about a lot of things they did for their children. I want to look at just a few that overcame extremely difficult life and death circumstances to save their kids. Let me start off by giving a verse that tells what the number one duty of a mom is. Psalms 113:9 “He maketh barren women to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord.” Do you know why that verse ends with “Praise ye the Lord?” I think it is because God gave women the most important job on this earth other than His, Jesus’, and the Holy Ghost. That’s just Andyology but I know we’ve all heard the saying “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Also, keeping house means more than laundry, dishes, and diapers. Proverbs 1:8 says moms are the lawgivers. Momma sets the rules of the house when dad is away. He may be the instructor and teacher of his sons and head of the house but mom lays down the law for the children in accordance to the leadership of the husband. Proverbs 29:15 speaks about “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” Not only do you lay down the law but you are also the enforcer. Isaiah 66:13 says you are the comforter and in Matthew 1:18 it was a woman that was chosen to bring the greatest gift ever given into the world. Proverbs 31:15,18,21,27, and 28 all speak specifically about the role of mom. As Mary found out in Jesus’ life, moms often have to bear heartache that others know nothing about. Being a mom is a badge of honor, wear it proudly.

I began to think about some of what you could call “Hero Moms” but I am sure all of you mothers would say they were just doing what had to be done for their babies because that’s “Just what mommas do.” Exodus 2 speaks about the mother of Moses. She hid him as long as she could but then built a ark of bulrushes and put him in it on the rivers edge. We know how Pharoah’s daughter found him and wound up hiring Moses’ mom to be his nurse. Some might think there is no way you could ever do that to your baby. I dare say you could if it meant saving him from death. It would break your heart and scare you to death but that’s “just what mommas do.”

One I almost forgot about in Genesis was Hagar. In chapter 21 she fled from Saria and wound up in the wilderness of Beersheba. Out of water and desperate she put Ishmael under a bush and walked off a little ways and sat down groaning and weeping. A lot of you have been there in the place where you could do nothing for your baby and its life was out of your hands. The Lord heard the lad and spoke to Hagar and showed her a well and promised he would be with her and the boy would become great right there in that wilderness. This was the second time she had been forced out by the jealousy of Sarai but this time the Lord didn’t send her back. In Genesis 21:21 Hagar even got Ishmael a wife out of the land of Egypt. God blessed her in her wilderness and provided all they needed just as he does now. It took quite a woman to sacrifice her life for the well being of her son but then again, that’s “just what moms do.”

In 1 Kings 3:16-28 we find the story of two harlot mothers. While some may think that harlot moms don’t exactly deserve the celebration and reverence given to the position on Mother’s Day, when we get to the end you will change your mind. The story goes that both had babies and one of their babies died in the night. The one whose baby had died stole the baby of the other. It’s not much of a Mother’s Day story yet is it? They brought their case to Solomon who, unbeknownst to Solomon or anyone else, had just acquired great wisdom overnight from God. He thought it had only been a dream where he had asked God for wisdom but the next morning he found out God had given it and it was no dream. After both women argued that the remaining baby was hers, Solomon made a simple yet wise decision. They would cut the baby in half and give half to each woman. As it turned out, the real mother told the king she would give up the baby if he would just let it live. In his wisdom, he determined by her obvious love for the baby and its well being that it truly belonged to her. Why would she be willing to give up her child? When it is necessary, that’s “just what mommas do.”

Another mom that gave up her child is found in 1 Samuel 1. It is the story of Hannah who was barren but prayed desperately for a child. She was praying silently in the temple so much that the priest thought she was drunk. When she explained her predicament, he told her the Lord would give her a son. She promised to give him back to the Lord. When he was weened, she returned with him to the temple to present him to the priest to serve him in the temple. Why would she make such a promise? Because experiencing motherhood and knowing the love of a child is worth it even if you have to give them up. That’s “just what mommas do.”

I have already mentioned the last and most obvious one I want to look at and that is Mary, the mother of Jesus. Out of all the Jewish women in humanity, God picked this little virgin that had never known a man to bring his Son into the world. She was “highly favored among women” but it also came with a boatload of heartache. I guess that could be said by most moms at one time or another. From the time the angel appeared to her until the death of Jesus, there were a lot of things she had been told by the angel, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna, and later even the wise men. All of her life she pondered these things in her heart. I can’t help but think the prophecy of Simeon as he told her in Luke 2:35 “(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” had to have kept ringing in her ears all of those years. Then, as he began his ministry, she seen and heard the hatred and disdain that many had for her Son. To know that you can’t lash out but must restrain yourself from defending your baby, must have been torture. Then at last to see him give his life on a cross, crucified for doing good, would have made any mom bitter. Had she not understood the Father’s will for his life and that he was the Messiah that brought salvation to man through his death, she would probably have been consumed with hatred. Knowing that was what he had to do, she didn’t try to hinder his work because like it or not; that’s just what mommas do.

There are more that I may write about later but in the interest of not going too long, I will stop now. I want to thank all the true mothers that love, care, comfort, nurture, instruct, and discipline their children for all they do. Even those moms who have given up their children through adoption to make their life better. Most of us will never know the hurt of that decision and the sacrifice you have made but thank you for loving your child that much. Also, those step moms and adoptive moms who have born someone else’s child in your heart. If you are the one doing the job, that makes you mom in my book. If I have made you all sound like the heroes or heroines us men believe you are, I have done my job well. Thanks for reading and I hope you had a Happy Mother’s Day. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

BACK TO THE WELL

BACK TO THE WELL                                                                                                                    Andy Hollifield 5-21-19                                (RERUN FROM 5-21-18)

*John 4:3-7 He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. (4) And he must needs go through Samaria. (5) Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. (6) Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. (7) There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

*John 4:25-26, 28-29 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. (26) Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. (28) The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, (29) Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

It is kind of hard to sum up 42 verses in just a handful. But there is one thing that I heard recently that I hadn’t ever thought about until it was mentioned by Pastor Terry Sprouse at State Street Baptist Church. He made the statement, “I wonder how many more times that Samaritan woman went back to the well after the day she met Jesus there.” I had never thought about that even though I have preached out of that scripture many times. I guess that goes to show that you never get too old to learn and God can always show you something new, regardless of how well you may think you know something. I am glad it is that way. Can you imagine how boring it would be if we ever got to where we knew all there was to know about a scripture?

As I began to ponder that thought, my mind went back to Barnardsville, NC 45 years ago in the fall of 1973. October the 2nd to be exact. Somewhere between 8:30 and 9:30 to be a little more precise. About 3 feet to the right of the pulpit and about 4 feet from the front bench. That’s where my well is located. Pisgah Forest FWB Church in a revival on Tuesday night. My pastor Bruce West from New Hope BC, just up the road about a mile, was preaching the revival meeting with Preacher Horace Honeycutt. I don’t remember what was said or exactly what all took place or even what I prayed. All I know for sure is that the Holy Ghost did a work in my soul that night that I have never got over and don’t want to. I met someone that night like no other I have ever met. He has been better to me than anyone else ever could, ever since the moment I met him.

Although I was only eight years old when I got saved, I was still just as lost and needed the Lord just as much as the biggest drunk in Barnardsville. I hadn’t done a whole lot by that age that was wrong and certainly nothing that I would have considered evil or wicked. I was faithful to church, not of my own will all the time, and studied my Sunday School lesson, and even did my memory verses each week. At some point I had even memorized the books of the bible, although I probably couldn’t recite them in order now without missing a few. I was even singing in church from the time I was probably six or seven years old. My point is that I was doing everything I knew to do but there was still something lacking. I didn’t realize it until one day I was walking outside to practice singing. As I rounded the corner stepping off of the porch and laid my songbook on a stack of three or four cinder blocks, something told me, “There’s more to it than what you have.” I may not have been doing a lot of things that we categorize as being actions of a sinner, but I was just as lost as anyone could be.

Rolling forward now about 45 years, I can look back now and see some of the things that I needed forgiveness for. And yes, contrary to when I was eight years old, some of them have been wicked and evil. I am glad however, that I got saved when I did. Although I tried to go astray and fit in with the world, it was an evident fact that I didn’t belong.

*Hebrews 13:5 “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

God meant exactly what he said. In my teen years I would have gotten into a lot of different things if God would have left me to my own devices. I am thankful that he didn’t. Looking back I can see a lot of times that God would have been better off just cutting his losses and leaving me but he is faithful and has never even entertained the thought of leaving me.

I wasn’t able to just parade right back into church and pick up where I left off as a kid. There is a little matter of repentance. Nothing gets swept under the  rug.

*Proverbs 15:3 says, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”

*Isaiah 40:27-28 says it a little plainer. “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God? (28) Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.”

*Psalms 69:5 says “O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.”

No matter how embarrassed or ashamed we may be of things we have done, we can still go “…boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. I have been back to the well many times just seeking his mercy and forgiveness. I don’t have to go back to Barnardsville to my well, even though I have been on occasion. But I can go in prayer to draw from the well of grace all that I have need of in my life. I have even taken the devil back to that spot many times when he would try to make me doubt it.

I have often taken him back to another well where I settled in my heart that God was calling me to preach. I have taken him back to another Tuesday night 13 years later in June 1986, where I knelt beside a bush in my grandma’s front yard and give in to him. I tried again to talk him out of it the next night in the altar at church but in the end, I had to give in to his will. Those two places I have drawn strength from many times. The funny thing is that the devil don’t stay around long when you take him back to your wells.

I wonder how many times that Samaritan woman went back to that well just to see the place where her life changed forever? I have the answer: just as often as she needed to. Just like me, there are times that we all just want or need to be reminded. When you come upon those times; you just need to “go back to the well.” Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

 

YET NOT DISTRESSED

YET NOT DISTRESSED                                                                                                                Andy Hollifield 5-20-18                           (RERUN FROM 5-17-18)

Nehemiah 2:17 Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. (KJV)

Psalms 18:6 In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears. (KJV)

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; (9) Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; (KJV)

Distress—–great pain, anxiety, or sorrow; acute physical or mental suffering; affliction; trouble. 2) a state of extreme necessity or misfortune. 3) that which causes pain, suffering, trouble, danger, etc…

Paul said, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed.” Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.” The reason we are not distressed is simply because we have the Lord for our hope. We don’t just have hope in him, he is our hope. Hope is not only “the feeling that what is wanted can be had and that events will turn out for the best” but it is also defined as “a person or thing in which expectations are centered.” That is who our God is. Psalms 33:18 says, “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy.” Just knowing that the Lord has his eye on us should be great cause for hope.

The word “distress” is used 33 times in the bible and “distressed” is used only 11 times. The word “hope” is used 129 times. With that being said, which one does the Lord put more emphasis on, distress or hope? “Hope” is used almost 4 times as often as “distress” and almost 12 times as often as “distressed.” Sounds a little bit ridiculous for us to allow ourselves to be distressed when we have as much hope as what we do. Job, who once said that his days were spent without hope and had good cause to be distressed, used the word “hope” 16 times. It is used 22 times in the book of Psalms talking about the Lord and his word being our hope. Isaiah described the Lord in chapter 25 verse 4 saying, “For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.” With a God like that, how can we stay in distress?

I know that we are all human, made out of the same dust, and all of us without exception are subject to getting in distress. We have all seen the times when circumstances concerning yourself or others looked seemingly hopeless. The Lord has been described in the book of Psalms alone as our shield, our glory, the lifter up of mine head, our strength, our help, our buckler, a sun, our hiding place, our goodness, our fortress, our high tower, our deliverer, he in whom we trust, he who subdueth people, our refuge, a very present help in time of trouble, our rock, our defence, and our portion just to name a few. With a God that strong, what do we possibly have to be distressed about? The verse above in Isaiah 25 should be enough to give us hope. What a mighty God we serve!

None of us are “up” all the time. Satan wouldn’t be doing his job if he wasn’t afflicting us. But, the thing to remember is this; Satan can’t overcome the Lord. He has always tried and failed numerous times throughout history. He couldn’t tempt the Lord into sin and he couldn’t keep him from the cross. He couldn’t keep him from the grave and he definitely couldn’t keep him from the resurrection. He couldn’t keep him from ascending, and he cannot keep him from coming back to get those that have been born again. He couldn’t overthrow God from his throne, and he can’t keep us from getting to the Lord unless we allow him too. James 4:7 tells us that if we will resist the devil, he will flee from us.

We may have trouble on every side and we do. Nation against nation and children against parents. It is enough to make you wonder how long God will withhold his judgment from a world gone crazy. But we have a God that is all-knowing, all-seeing, and always everywhere at the same time. Why should we be distressed? Just as the scripture in Nehemiah 2:18 says, even in all of the distresses Nehemiah and the Jews were in; “the hand of my God which was good upon me.” You may have faced some trouble and tragedy and hard times in general but there is one thing for sure; you will never face anything that God can’t handle if you submit yourself to him. I hope this has been a help to someone. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

 

BORROWING TROUBLE

BORROWING TROUBLE                                                                                                                Andy Hollifield 5-19-19

Matthew 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (KJV)

Have you ever laid awake at night just going over something in your mind and working a hundred different scenarios of how it will happen only to be totally wrong? I mean losing sleep because you can’t get something off of your mind. It could be something as simple as a conversation and wondering what you will say. You could also be worried about how you will be received if you know what you’re going to say. Most of the time it is just plain worry about something coming up or something already done that we can’t do nothing about. I am pretty bad to lay my head down at night and my mind is getting cranked up working third shift. The verse above is one of my favorites but I have by no means mastered it.

When I was growing up, there was an old saying that said; “Don’t go borrowing trouble.” Simply put, it means worrying about stuff that either you can’t change or something that may never even happen. I remember in high school, all of us drummers were scheduled to go to Asheville High for a percussion clinic. I was excited because I wasn’t that great of a drummer and wanted to get better. The only problem was that when I woke up for school the next day it had snowed overnight and school was cancelled. You can’t imagine how disappointed I was, so much so that I remember it to this day. I also remember being so upset with a friend of mine once, because I felt like he had wronged me, that I laid awake almost all night hurt one minute and breathing fire the next. That’s not good when you make a living driving a truck. The end of that wound up being that the problem that had occurred between us wasn’t at all like I had imagined and we are still friends and always have been. There are situations in my life now that I sometimes lose sleep worrying about but rather than worry, I just try to breathe a prayer and ask God to help the person or the situation.

Maybe no one else has these issues and if not I guess I am using you as therapists. There is another old saying; “Honest confession is good for the soul.” It’s not very encouraging when you are a fixer by nature and realize that some things just can’t be fixed. Sometimes it is people that can’t be fixed and they require a lot of prayer. At the end of the day, we have to accept the fact that some people just can’t be helped. The Serenity Prayer is something that we all need to pray. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” If we could live by just that prayer, we wouldn’t have half of the worry that we do. The songwriter said it best when he wrote “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow.” The last two lines of the chorus tell us all we need to know. “I don’t know about tomorrow, but I know who holds my hand.” That really is all we need to know.

I know this may not be the most encouraging thing I have ever written but I just wanted to remind you that you are not alone. You are not the only one that lays awake worrying about stuff or if not worry, just having it constantly on your mind. You are not the only one that gets frustrated when you can’t fix something. Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” That is good scriptural advice if I have ever heard it. Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” God can and will give us peace at times when we feel like we should have worry. Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Perfect peace; the kind that only comes from God.

Well, maybe the Lord had me to write this today for some struggling soul. Just put your trust in him and he will see you through like no one else can. Remember; don’t go borrowing trouble. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

 

 

PLENTY

PLENTY                                                                                                                                           Andy Hollifield 5-17-19

Joel 2:26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.

Plenty— a full or abundant supply or amount.

Synonyms of plenty—enough, good deal, wealth, avalanche, oodles, mountains, masses, lots, loads, heaps, flood, deluge, piles, stacks, sufficiency.

Believe it or not, it is funny some of the things that God uses to draw our attention to a fact he wants to emphasize to us about something. Today, it was an experience trying to get a couple of wraps when Tyler and I stopped for lunch. Without getting into too much detail I will just give you the highlights. When I placed my order, two employees were asking questions about what I wanted at the same time about two different wraps we were ordering. Then they were skimping on vegetables like growing season was over and they were running out. When you ask for cucumbers and get two slices, you would think it must be a famine to end all famines. As far as cheese, what he tried to pass off as acceptable would barely have run over in a communion glass. They put so little stuff in it they were able to roll up that big wrap into less than six inches. Then, they shorted me two cookies which I ordered to offset the healthy eating. You get the point. Needless to say, I won’t be back in that particular restaurant for a long while.

As I finished writing to their corporate office a thought crossed my mind. “I am glad God doesn’t do us that way.” When we come to the Lord and need nourishment from him, not only has the price already been paid but he always gives more than enough. Like the verse in Joel says; when you come to him you will be satisfied. I began to think about how over-priced my lunch wound up being but then thought about how much everything I get from the Lord costs. It cost God his only begotten Son, heaven it’s lamb, and Jesus his life. Talk about getting gypped, God beat himself pretty bad when he gave all of that for us.

I began to think about how liberal God is in his gifts to us. The word “liberally” is used twice in scripture. Once in Deuteronomy 15:14 when it speaks of the Israelites letting their slaves go free in every seventh year. They had a command from God to not let that servant go away empty. Verse 14 says “Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.” That is exactly how God provides for us. He gives plenty of everything we need. The next time “liberally” is used is in James 1:5 where it says speaking of wisdom that God “giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not…” The only requirement is that we must ask for it.

Getting back to the word “plenty.” It is used 13 times in the bible. Each time it speaks of what God will give or has given his people. The word “plenteous” is also used another 12 times. Do you want to know another word that only appears in the bible 13 times? “Abundant.” It speaks of God’s abundant mercy, our abundant rejoicing, God bestowing abundant honor, and the seas having abundant treasure. Moses declared when God descended in the cloud and passed by him that he was “merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” In 1 Timothy 1:14 Paul speaks about God’s grace saying it was “exceeding abundant.” “Abundantly” is used 32 times and the Psalmist said in Psalms 36:8 speaking of God’s people that “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house.” The word “satisfied” is used 43 times and 10 times in the book of Psalms alone. Guess what other word is used 13 times in the bible that goes along with these words; “sufficient.” The last time is when God told Paul that his grace was sufficient for him.

Those are some real powerful words aren’t they? We’ve looked at the word “plenty” but lets look at the others right quick. “Abundant” means present in great quantity, more than adequate; and even over-sufficient. “Satisfied” means content, convinced, or completely paid, as a bill. There was a bill all right and thanks to God’s exceeding abundant grace that bill has long ago been satisfied on the cross and out of the tomb. Oh, and the word “sufficient;” it means adequate for the purpose or enough. The word “plenteous” is another one and you won’t believe what the definition is; “abundant.” Who could possibly tie all of these words together with such close or exact meanings and the number of times he used them in his word except God.

Like I said to start with, it’s funny the things that God uses to get our attention. Who would have ever thought that he would give me all of this out of a bad experience getting lunch? I guess on second thought, I did get my money’s worth after all. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

WHATEVER IT TAKES

WHATEVER IT TAKES                                                                                                                    Andy Hollifield 5-16-19

Matthew 15:25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. (KJV)

I wrote on Mother’s Day a post entitled “Just What Mommas Do.” I didn’t get finished with that thought so I want to finish it today. The scripture above is from the account of the Canaanite woman coming to Jesus because her daughter was possessed with a devil. The first problem was that she was from Canaan, the people who owned the land that God gave to Israel. For a Canaanite to ask a Jew for anything would have ordinarily taken a great deal of humbleness and swallowing of pride. I am sure that it did. That part of the story itself could be a great lesson to us on how to get God’s attention. With the feeling of Canaanites toward Jews in mind, you can understand the title. A true mother does “Whatever It Takes” to get her child the help it needs even if it means sacrificing her dignity and self respect. Apparently, those things never even entered into her mind or if they did, she was willing to disgrace herself publicly to get the help her daughter so desperately needed. Another lesson is that this mother refused to quit until she had gotten her daughter help. She obviously believed in the Lord but didn’t worship him apparently until now. When she had his attention, she didn’t make small talk but rather got down to business worshipping the Lord and debating with him. Jesus was so taken aback by this woman’s faith, that he proclaimed he had never seen such great faith in Israel. Can you imagine leaving your child on its deathbed and going to find a stranger that you had heard could probably heal her. She knew if she sat there and did nothing, her daughter would continue to suffer at the hands of this devil. There was a slight chance she could get to Jesus and actually get her the help she needed. What true mother isn’t willing to do whatever it takes to get her child the help they need regardless of the need?

Two of my favorite momma stories are found in 2 Kings 4 beginning in verse 1.  We find a poor widow whose husband had died leaving her in debt. He was a godly man and apparently was familiar to Elisha. She was unable to pay the debts and her sons were about to be taken as bondslaves. Not only would that be bad for them, it would also plunge her into a desperate position. She would have to find a way to provide a living for herself in a society where few woman worked outside the home. He first asked what he could do for her and then asked what she had in the house. At this point she had to have known he was going to do something but I am sure she never planned on the outcome. First thing was that she had to use what she had; the oil. The second thing was that she had to go borrow a lot of empty vessels. That is how God wants us to come to him; empty and willing to be filled. I hadn’t thought about it before, but do you realize that having to go door to door to all of her neighbors asking to borrow dishes was probably pretty humbling for her? It is likely that she had to admit her financial circumstances all over town.

When she had finished borrowing, she went into a room and shut the door with only here and her sons there. Isn’t it something that when God gets ready to do business with you, he only deals with people who are involved with the business? Humbling herself to borrow repeatedly was just a mother doing whatever it takes to care for her sons. I would imagine that after she finished pouring the oil and had no vessels left she was not only grateful but probably amazed. If borrowing humbled her, returning those dishes after selling the oil, with the story she had to tell, certainly exalted her. Just a mother doing whatever it takes for her babies no matter how old they are.

The last one is the Shunamite woman who prepared the room on the wall for Elisha. Although she asked for nothing, at some point as a reward for her hospitality, Elisha asked her what he could do to return the favor of her kindness and provision. Although she didn’t want anything, Elisha’s servant Gehazi mentioned that her husband was old and this woman had no baby. He called for her to come back and told her she would be having a boy. She didn’t believe him at first and told Elisha not to lie to her. A few months later she gave birth just as Elisha had told her.

Sometime later, when he was grown some, he was brought in from the field with a headache. The boy lingered until noon and then died. This woman sent to her husband for one of the workers and also for a mule so she could go see Elisha. She instructed the servant to ride hard and fast and not slow down unless she told him too. When she arrived to Elisha, she told him all was well but the Lord revealed that she had a broken heart as she held him by his feet. Once she explained, she told Elisha that she wasn’t leaving. He wound up going with her and eventually raised the young man from the dead. Her high-speed donkey ride, as well as her faith to go get Elisha with her son already dead, definitely proved that she was willing to do whatever it took for the good of her child.

Your stories may never be in a best seller for all the world to read. But I am sure that, on more than one occasion, all of you mothers have spent your lives always doing “whatever it takes” for your children. There is nothing like a mother’s love, that God put in your heart before your child was born. Thanks to all of you that never make headlines but are willing to quietly do the most honorable and important job in the world. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!