THE DEVIL AND THE DONUTS

THE DEVIL AND THE DONUTS                                                                                                    Andy Hollifield 8-19-19

Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (KJV)

I always enjoy seeing the devil lose! That may sound like a dumb statement but for anyone involved in mission-work that is one of the fringe benefits. When you are working trying to please the Lord the devil is always working trying to keep you from doing it. We see situations quite often where the devil gets a jab into us and might discourage us a little. But then, God comes back with something of a miracle that we would have not even thought about much less thought possible. I had that happen several times in the last couple of weeks.

The first few I have written about already. One was the mix-up in scheduling use of the fellowship building at Ridgeview. That resulted in us having to back up our backpack project a week later. That worked to our benefit for a few good reasons.

The first was that by the second Saturday of August when we normally do our assembly, I didn’t think I was going to even have backpacks. Help4Kids ordered those and had them shipped directly to us unexpectedly so they made it in time. Another one was that I only had about half of the stuff to go in them on the 2nd Saturday. I actually wound up going to Help4Kids in Myrtle Beach to pick up the rest of the stuff on that Saturday.

One more reason was that I still needed crayons and gluesticks. I went to Wal-mart Bleachery Blvd and got the crayons but they didn’t have any glue sticks. I stood and put crayons in cardboard boxes for over an hour. I needed 504 boxes and when I found the last complete box it was number 504. A lady was there, rather frustrated that she and her son were going to have to go somewhere else to find them. I felt like I should give her a box but she actually needed five, which is the number of grace in scripture. They were also buying for kids they didn’t know so I gave her five of mine.

When I was unpacking all of the stuff I had left from last year I found seven boxes of crayons. I had two boxes left when I finished Saturday. While I am talking about our assembly, we only had a total of fifteen people come to help. We were still able to get all 504 backpacks assembled in only one hour and twenty minutes. I extend a very heartfelt thank you to all who came and made it happen.

As I mentioned, I was still about 64 packs of glue sticks short after going to Wal-mart Weaverville. While at Weaverville though, I was able to get 400 rulers to finish out all I needed of them. I went back to Asheville but they only had 3 packs of glue sticks that I could scrounge up. I decided to go to Wal-mart on Hendersonville Rd. and to my surprise, they had an abundance. I bought 60 packs even though I only needed 32. I had found enough I had leftover from Christmas to account for 32 packs of the 64 I still needed. When I left Hendersonville Rd. I had more than enough and they had a lot of them left.

That covers God’s provision for the building, backpacks, supplies I had, glue sticks, crayons, rulers, and also the rest of the supplies that I had also been given at Help4Kids in Swannanoa. As if all of that wasn’t enough to be thankful for, as usual God had to show out just because he can. I wound up having the smoothest year getting everything on the tables earlier in the week and by Friday night I was ready to go and had even bought drinks which I usually do on Saturday. Everything was covered except one thing…donuts.

You may think donuts aren’t a big deal but you know us baptists; if we’re gonna be meetin’ we’re gonna be eatin’. We have always provided donuts and coffee for those that come and help with our projects. Studies have shown that people work better if they’re not hungry. We just try to get everybody sugared-up and jacked up on coffee. Actually, it is just a gesture to let them know how much they are appreciated. The last thing I needed was the donuts from Krispy Kreme.

I unbuckled my grandson Sam from his car seat. He had spent the night with us so we stopped at Krispy Kreme on the way to church. After I placed my order I noticed the workers were talking about their credit card machine giving them problems. Sure enough, as fate would have it, they were able to finally get the machine to accept the customer in front of me but then started taking “cash only”. I had no cash and they refused to take a business check. I was pretty disgusted that I wasn’t going to have donuts this year but with nothing I could do about it, I went to put Sam back in the truck. As I was about to do that, one of the customers behind me in line came out the door and handed me some money and asked if that would help me get donuts. He had apparently seen the writing on the ministry trailer and wanted to help.

Just as I was thinking the devil had fought against me and won, God sent that nice gentleman along with a fifty-dollar bill to pay for the donuts. I left there, donuts in hand, thinking the devil tried to take them away and bring me down but God provided right on the spot in a way I would have never even considered. I wonder how frustrated the devil must get knowing that no matter what he does God always outdoes him and comes out the winner.

Well, there you have it, the story of the devil and the donuts. As I said earlier, we get to see stuff like this quite often in mission-work. It helps to get reminded every now and then that God is fully able to meet our needs. As for the generous stranger, I have no idea who he was and he got gone before I could find out. I pray that God will bless him richly for his generosity. It also goes to show that God is concerned with even the slightest of things that concern us.

Also, just as a closing note, I recently had one of our churches drop their support from what I heard later without even so much as a phone call. I was a little disappointed about the support but more about not being informed about their decision. I decided that was God’s business to deal with. Well, he did. Just last week one of our other supporting churches, not knowing anything about that situation, voted to double their monthly support. That put me back even which was a great blessing. I found that out on Sunday and the following Wednesday night, I found out that another church had just taken us on as a mission. When all was said and done, God had doubled what we had lost.

I just wanted to let you know some of the things God has been doing for us especially when things don’t look possible. Thanks for your prayers for H.O.P.E. Ministries. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

A LOT OF THINGS AIN’T

A LOT OF THINGS AIN’T                                                                                                               Andy Hollifield 8-16-19

Malachi 3:6 For I am the LORD, I change not;… (KJV)

In this world of change, it is sometimes good to be reminded of some things that don’t change. I will go ahead and warn you, this is a little lengthy but I believe you will be blessed by it. I had felt led by the Lord to visit a church in Barnardsville, NC where a friend of mine is the pastor. Due to inclement weather, I waited until Sunday night to go. I arrived about an hour early and since I wasn’t sure if they were having evening service, I decided to take a ride up past my old church that I was attending when I got saved. Even though the church is now someone’s home, I just wanted to ride by and look at it. It has been added on to and remodeled a lot but it still holds a special place in my heart. After I went up the road and turned around, I came slowly back down and just looked. I had gone by a few years ago just to look. The memories I have of my childhood days are still very vivid at almost 52 years old.

The disappointing part to me was that I couldn’t really figure out where the old baptizing hole was. The creek bank has grown up considerably along with the fact that I have gotten a little bigger and things look a lot smaller than they did then. Plus there are several residences on the backside of the creek where there used to be nothing but woods. As my mind drifted back, I begin to count and realized that had been 45 years ago. I can still see everything just as it was then. I still see the baptizings we had after church on Sunday mornings and still smell the dinners we had on the ground at Hettie and Earl’s house afterward. Out there on the front porch and playing in the yard. Being careful not to mess up my good clothes. No one seemed in a hurry to leave. What a difference nearly half a century makes.

As I mentioned, the house has had a porch added to the side and siding on it so that it is barely recognizable anymore. The steps in the front that once seemed so spacious seem now like just enough to walk on. I remember sitting out there with a young man, at least 15 years older than me, wrestling out loud with the fact that he had fallen in love with a girl several years younger than him. What amazed me at the time was that he was talking to himself out loud. I, being so young, couldn’t understand what the big deal was. If he loved her and wanted to marry her, what was the problem? Wasn’t that what you were supposed to do? Ahhh, the innocence of a seven or eight-year-old boy.

Even though siding had covered the addition, I could still recognize the portable building that had been joined to the main building to make our first closed Sunday School class. A big step up from the curtain in the back of the sanctuary. The outhouses on the hill were of course no longer there. I knew now that it had running water as well as indoor plumbing since it was now someone’s home.

As I went down the road looking toward the creek, I thought of those Sunday afternoon baptizings. Then down at the bottom of the road near the new bridge in the curve, standing like a monument to my past, was the lone chimney which was all that remained of the old Rathbone house after the fire. A metal gate blocking the entrance that once was so warm and inviting. The bridge was not the same narrow bridge of my childhood but was wider than most of the road it was on. Near the stop sign, the old church sign was no longer there. No longer were there any children in the Shelton’s yard running and playing as we had years before. As I made the left from Dodd Road to go up the road to Pensacola, I begin to look at all the houses. Four and a half decades earlier, there was nothing past the Shelton’s and McClain’s except for maybe one or two up on the mountain. As I turned around just beyond the end of the pavement I thought; a lot of things have changed in forty-five years. It was then that the Lord spoke to my heart, not audibly although it was plenty loud enough, he simply said; “there’s a lot that ain’t changed.” That hit me right between the eyes. Here I was, lost in reminiscing about all that had changed but what he wanted me to see was all that hadn’t.

As I drove back down the road, with tear-filled eyes and my heart bubbling over, he began to show me the things he was referring to. The moving of his Spirit in that old building that I saw as a child did not just become a memory but created a hunger and a thirst for his presence that I have never quenched nor do I want to. I realize that seeing Pop Wheeler walking across the floor waving his handkerchief and crying crocodile tears was intriguing to me then but a necessity to me now. That sensitivity to the Lord is my heart’s desire. I have never forgotten the tears and even though I couldn’t understand hardly anything he said, I knew he was praising his redeemer. As a young child, that didn’t scare me at all. I came to expect that that was how worship was supposed to be. Women squalling and men shouting or crying and my pastor Bruce West rolling his shoulders and blowing like a big bull was totally natural to me. Even before I was saved, when I seen those things start to happen, I knew that the Holy Ghost of God was passing through. I also knew he was to be reverenced and sought after.

I also thought about the afternoon singings on the second Sunday of each month. They included groups such as preacher Warren Williams and the Friendly Five Quartet out of Richland Baptist in Woodfin, or at least some of them were. Also, the Benton Family out of Kingsport and they are still singing today although some of the group members have changed. Also, the Primitive Quartet when they first started out. I even remember Warren Williams singing so low on the song “Rainbow Of Love”, that the old windows rattled so loud you couldn’t hear him singing. I recall the altar being used by saved and lost alike. Sinners couldn’t sit under the convicting power of the Holy Ghost when he was in the room.

I can remember the Sunday School class that we had and getting my very own bible for memorizing the books of the bible. I still have that bible all these years later. One thing that I just can’t get over is the fact that during church time, you seldom heard a car drive up the mountain toward Pensacola and even less often did one go up past the church. When cars drove anywhere near the church they did it as quiet as possible. Even lost folk respected the Lord and his house back then. The bible and the love for it and especially a strong overwhelming desire to be in the Lord’s presence were the greatest things I got in that old building that didn’t change. What was being soaked into my soul there, was what brought me to the altar in revival in October of 1973. Watching what worship was, just created that desire I mentioned earlier. I can’t go long without a hit from the Holy Ghost. Just like an addict, I am going to look until I find his presence. I am not talking about some big racket but about that still small voice speaking sweet nothings to my soul.

As I arrived back at North Black Mountain Baptist Church, I sat in the truck for about half an hour just thanking God for all the things that ain’t changed. There is nothing I can do about the things that have but I can sure search out and cling to the things that haven’t. Moments later, a neighbor informed me that church had been canceled due to weather. I had already been nudged by the Lord that I needed to go back up to New Hope and ask the current resident if I could just walk around their place. As I introduced myself and started trying to tell her what I wanted, that same Holy Ghost began to squeeze my heart till the tears came again like rain as I told her that her house had been my church back when I got saved. I couldn’t hold back the tears and didn’t want to. She graciously obliged me and as I walked up on the hill I knew that even the place where the outhouses had been was holy ground. I recalled my pastor preaching out the back door and out the length of the cornfield that was there then, and then back inside and behind the pulpit. It wasn’t that unusual and the funny thing is no one got up and left. We all watched and waited and listened and he said years later he didn’t remember doing it. That my friend is the power of God. As I finished my lap around the building, I encountered another lady and she wanted to give me a tour of the Dodd Cemetary. I had preached a decoration service for the family on the front porch of Hettie’s house over 25 years ago. I wound up talking to the lady, who turned out to be Hettie’s granddaughter, for about an hour.

As I headed down the road, heading home to Candler, I realized the precious experience God had just blessed me with. Before deciding I would go ahead and go to North Black Mountain Sunday night, I had called a preacher friend of mine to see if he was having church. I had just walked into my house when he got my voicemail and called me back. I am thankful that the Lord led me the way he did. You might be thinking that I missed church but quite the contrary. I spent the evening with God and got to worship him in the beauty of his holiness. A perfect evening and a day I will never forget. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

 

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH

THE MOMENT OF TRUTH                                                                                                            Andy Hollifield 8-3-19

At long last, the late nights spent cramming for exams were almost over at least for now. The moment of truth was fast approaching. Just two more weeks and Alex would be taking his most important exam to date; the SAT. Pass the SAT and go to Duke and get accepted into the pre-med program. Then, he thought, he would have the world by the tail. Little did he know that his life was about to change forever in ways he couldn’t imagine.

While studying for the SAT, Alex was extremely fearful that he wouldn’t pass the test. His grades were excellent which is why he applied to Duke to become a doctor. Suddenly there was a knock at his door. Rising from his desk, he rubbed his eyes and looked through the peephole. No one was there. It was one in the morning and some jerk was playing jokes on him. He didn’t have time for this, he had studying to do. Just as he began to get back into his work there was another knock. Again, no one was there. “That’s enough of this” Alex grumbled as he flung open the door of his room. Someone was about to get a piece of his mind.

Alex had recently gotten a summer job at a local Christian conference center that would begin right after his SAT. The administrators let him move into his room early so he could have complete solitude for his SAT prep. Now some jerk thought it was funny to bang on his door in the middle of the night. As Alex ran out the door he nearly did a face-plant as he tripped over a backpack left by his door. Assuming the knocker was long gone by now, Alex took the backpack and returned to his room. As if he needed another distraction, he would begin trying to find the owner of the backpack tomorrow.

As Alex grabbed his backpack, choking down a pastry for breakfast as he went, he suddenly remembered the other backpack. As he walked down the hall he looked in the backpack for some identification. Instead of that, there was a folder that read SAT on the front of it. As he opened it he was amazed to find a complete set of answers for his SAT. Alex returned to his room leaving the backpack as he tried to figure out what he would do with it. He knew that cheating wasn’t right but he also knew he could sure use the help. After all, a high SAT score along with his high school transcript and finishing third in his class would almost assure him a spot at Duke. What a stroke of luck that was to find that backpack.

After a restless night, Alex realized he couldn’t keep those answers. His parents had raised him to be honest at all cost and he knew cheating wouldn’t be pleasing to the Lord. He grabbed the answer backpack as he headed for school that day. After school, he took it to the place where the SAT was going to be administered and told them the story of the backpack and how it had been left at his door. They thanked him for his honesty and as he walked out the door, he felt a sense of relief for having been honest but also a sense of dread about the upcoming test. He never had been very good at testing and those answers would have really helped.

Weeks later he thought about that backpack again as he began reading his mail. Sure enough, he hadn’t done as well as he had hoped on the test even though his scores were well above average. He suddenly felt sick in his stomach as he saw an envelope that said Duke University in the corner. Just as he had feared, Duke wasn’t looking for above average, they were looking for excellent. Now with his life dream gone by the wayside, he wondered for a moment if he had done the right thing with the backpack. Down deep he knew that he had and if God closed one door he always opened a better one. He would just rely on his faith and wait to see what the Lord would do.

Three days later, still choking on his disappointment, he noticed a letter from NC State. Why were they writing to him, he hadn’t even applied there? As he read the letter, it seems they had requested his transcript from his STEM high school. They were beginning a new program in water system engineering and design intended to help bring fresh water to third world countries. They weren’t as interested in his scores as they were his transcript. He had excelled at all forms of math and science and they were offering a scholarship to him if he would enroll in that program. It wasn’t what he wanted and he couldn’t understand why God would deny him his life-long dream of being a doctor but it was still a free education so he enrolled.

Alex’s story is anything but remarkable. Some folks are destined to be average or maybe that isn’t the best way to put it. There are just some people whose expectations some of us can never live up to. We can take solace in the fact that we never sold out our integrity or faith to purchase our dreams. Alex now realized that sometimes our dreams and God’s plan are two very different things.

Upon graduation from State, again near the top of his class, Alex was offered a job in which he would get to see the world. He may not have become a doctor but he did still get to help people in ways that doctors never can. The firm that hired him was a designer of water systems. His first assignment was in a small poor village on the backside of a mountain in Honduras.

Alex has been a lot of places since his first assignment. To say he has been successful would be a gross understatement. He stands today near the window of his hotel room overlooking the village square. As he watches, the women come and go to the well he designed and installed. No longer do they hike through the jungle and bring water from the river a half-mile away and have to boil it before using. He doesn’t get to see children he has treated recover from illness and leave a hospital somewhere as he had hoped to all of his life. Instead, he sees these women and their children, now healthy because of the freshwater he brought to their village.

Suddenly there is a knock on the door. He opens it to see a small woman with two children and a basket of vegetables. A thank you gift for the water that she used to grow the garden that now feeds her family and has lifted them from sickness and poverty. No, it’s not a backpack with test answers this time but rather the gratitude of a family. Also, it is the peace of knowing that when the moment of truth came in his life, he did the right thing. He now has the satisfaction of not only making people healthy as doctors do but also rescuing them from desperation. As the woman hugs him and turns to leave he realizes; yes, God opened a much better door when he trusted him in his moment of truth and did the right thing. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

HANG ON ALL NIGHT, DAYLIGHT’S COMING

HANG ON ALL NIGHT, DAYLIGHT’S COMING                                                                      Andy Hollifield 8-15-19

Genesis 32:24 And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of day.

Genesis 32:29 And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there.

Genesis 32:31 And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.

I had the privilige of preaching a message out of this scripture once. My thought was this: How can you worship when you’re wrestling giants? I can tell you from firsthand experience that some of the sweetest times you will ever have with the Lord is when your soul is troubled the most. When you are wrestling with giant problems that you can’t do anything about. Sometimes they are self-induced injuries and sometimes are caused by others. Some of those are intentional and some are not. And sometimes, God allows us to go through things just because that is the only way we can learn what we need to for him to accomplish his purpose in our life. Either way, it is still a hard place to be. I want to point out just a few things in this scripture that were a blessing to me when God let me see it and maybe it will encourage someone that is fighting a giant that maybe no one knows you are wrestling with.

Sometimes some giants come along that you can’t tell anyone about. Things that cut you to the bone and just make you sick almost to the point of being nauseated because you can’t do anything to fix them. I am talking about those times when you feel that you are left alone in the dark to wrestle a giant that you can’t even see and you’re there and you have no choice but to hang on and wrestle.

One thing I want to mention is that you don’t have to win, you just have to wrestle. You know you can’t let go and if you could you would go down in defeat. One of those things or situations that you just can’t fix that it will take God to change. You spend your time hoping against hope and believing one minute and doubting the next and positive one minute and just wanting to scream the next. Heartbroken and burdened and at times don’t think you can make one more step. That giant that, for whatever reason has snuck up on you in your darkness when you were alone and now it seems you are in the fight of your life and you just can’t win but you just can’t quit either. That giant that; when you lay your head down at night invades your mind again and takes your sleep and when you finally do drift off from sheer exhaustion, you wake up with it on your mind again.

Has anyone other than me, ever been there? I dare say that if you have been born again and trying to live right any length of time at all, you know exactly what I am talking about. And for the rest of you; I don’t wish it on you but you will face it soon enough. That is why you must be grounded in the word of God. In those times, whatever so and so said won’t help you. The things you have done in the past, won’t help you. I am talking about a helpless feeling because you can do absolutely nothing. Those times when you hit rock bottom and there is nothing there except the Lord and you just try to hang on for dear life.

I had the statement made to me when I was in one of those dark places, that it was just a trust issue, that I just needed to trust God. The person that told me that meant well, but by that statement, I knew they had never been where I was. The only thing I could trust in was the Lord. I am not trying to paint a hopeless picture but by now you have probably gone back in your mind to some of those places in your life.

One thing I noticed in that scripture is that no one else that was on that journey with him, knew that he was wrestling all night long. He was left alone. There was plenty of his family just over the brook but no one knew what he was dealing with.

Another thing is that even though he couldn’t prevail, he hung on and refused to quit. Sometimes all you can do is hang on. Just like a boxer that begins to get tired will start to clinch, sometimes that is our best defense, just to hang on close to keep the enemy from landing punches.

Another thing was this: he never forgot that night because he was reminded of it with every step he took for the rest of his life. There may be scars or injuries that we will always feel but down the road, they will serve as a reminder of God’s grace.

The Lord told David, a man after God’s own heart, that the sword would never depart out of his house. If you read much about his life, you will see that it proved out true. I am thankful that even though David had to live with the consequences of his actions, God never turned his back on him.

I want to assure you that regardless of how you got in the hole you find yourself in, God hasn’t forgotten you. It is in those times that you find out more than ever that God’s grace really is sufficient. It is more than just a passage of scripture because it comes alive in those dark times when you are wrestling your giants alone in the darkness.

Jacob was already injured in verse 25 but still had to continue to wrestle. We don’t get to quit just because we get hurt because your giant doesn’t go away. You have to hang on more than ever in those times. In verse 26, Jacob refused to quit until he got a blessing. We have to “refuse to lose,” as the old saying goes because souls are hanging in the balance. We can’t afford to give up because of what it will cost us.
If we skip down a little, I want you to notice what Jacob’s name meant. It meant “one that displaces another by force, scheming or strategy.” Basically, a cheater or swindler. The shame of carrying that around all his life and living down to his name. Notice I didn’t say living up to it.

But look at what his new name “Israel” meant. It means “God prevails”. Let me tell you; God doesn’t lose! As a matter of fact, he has already won. He got the victory for us at Calvary and all we have to do is stay in the fight and hang on and not give up. He did all that was necessary for our salvation but if we want to live victoriously, we have to put our faith and trust in him.

In verse 29, it says “and he blessed him there.” Right there, in the midst of his fight, alone in the darkness, injured and broken, God blessed him THERE. What if he had given up and quit? How would he have ever gotten blessed if he had given up and run across the brook to his family instead of wrestling? He had to be THERE, not somewhere else, to receive the blessings of God.

One more thing; verse 31 says “And as he passed over Penuel the sun rose upon him, and he halted upon his thigh.” If you just hang on, you WILL pass over and the sun WILL come up again and everything WILL look better in the morning. You may carry some scars or signs of injury, but down the road, they WILL serve as a reminder of God’s grace. If the sun doesn’t come up again, the Son WILL and things WILL definitely look better in that morning. You can’t lose!

Wherever you’re at and whatever you’re going through, just always remember one of my favorite scriptures that is in the bible 452 times; “it came to pass.” It didn’t come to stay. It’s not permanent but God’s grace and mercy are, it endureth forever. “…Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalms 30:5). So “just hang on all night, daylight’s coming. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

GOING, COMING, OR SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE

GOING, COMING, OR SMACK DAB IN THE MIDDLE                                                                                                                                           Andy Hollifield 8-14-19

Joshua 1:5-9 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. (6) Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. (7) Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. (8) This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (9) Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. (ALL SCRIPTURE USED IS KJV)

I know that is several verses but I would say that you would be hard-pressed to find any more encouraging scripture in the bible. When you couple this scripture with Romans 2:11 “For there is no respect of persons with God.” it is hard not to be encouraged. It simply means that as God was with Moses and Joshua, so will he be with me and you. Although we are not under the law but under grace, the promises about God’s presence still hold true as do the requirements on our part in verse 8. God’s presence is always with us as he promised regardless, but to have “good success” we must be obedient to his will.

I want to try and paint a picture if I may, about Joshua to help us understand the fear and anxiety he probably was dealing with at this time. Moses had just died and Joshua, for lack of a better term, was about to take the reins of leading the nation of Israel to the promised land. Can you imagine the enormity of that task? Some estimates have the number of Israelites that left Egypt at 2.5-3.5 million people. We know from scripture (Numbers 26) that there were 601,730, that were able to go to war and were 20 years old and upward, that had come out of Egypt. That was men that were able to fight so it is presumed that the number doesn’t include women and children. There were over 64,700 people that died in the wilderness as a result of plagues or judgment of God. My point here is that for a young man like Joshua who was probably around 60 years old when he assumed the leadership role, this would have seemed like an enormous task. Plus the fact that he had served as Moses’ minister and had seen first hand how rebellious the Israelites could be at times.

Although it must have been somewhat overwhelming for him, can you imagine the Lord himself giving you a pep talk, so to speak, and giving you the promise of his presence and blessing? The Lord told him not to be dismayed which simply means to be thoroughly disheartened and lose courage. What a blessing to know that when our soul gets overwhelmed by the storms of life, that those promises made to Joshua can be claimed by us.

Psalms 61:2 talks about the times when we are disheartened and life seems too much to bear. It says “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” In Psalms 77:3, the psalmist speaks about his spirit being overwhelmed and also in Psalms 124:4 and again in 142:3 and once more in 143:4. The word “overwhelmed” is used only 8 times in the bible and all of them are in Psalms.

There will always be those times in our lives that it seems like we are going under for the last time. Stop and recall in your life how many times that has happened to you. Think about those times when you said “Lord, this is it; I just can’t take anymore” only to make it through and realize once again that his grace truly is more than sufficient. It is times like those I just mentioned that is the entire basis of this article. I have come to realize something over the years that I have truly tried to serve the Lord. There are three phases of life so to speak. We are always either going into a storm, coming out of a storm, or right smack dab in the middle of one.

That shouldn’t be discouraging to you because 1 Peter 5:9 says speaking of the warfare of the devil, “Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” In other words; everyone goes through trials. Job said in 14:1 “Man that is born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” That is just how life goes. We all must live through both good times and bad.

It is true that we have an “adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour(1 Peter 5:8).” Just think of this though, wouldn’t you much rather have the presence of the Lord and his grace when those times come? I can’t imagine going through some of my own experiences without the presence and the grace of an almighty God. Just to know, as Joshua did, that the Lord is with me and guiding me and that, just like Job, he has built a hedge around me. There is nothing that can come on us without that God allows it. After all, we “are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). He is simply molding us in these times to be a vessel fit for the masters’ use. He wants us to be a showpiece on his mantle or in his trophy case. We are all trophies of his grace, the reward of Christ’s work on Calvary.

No matter where you are at; going in, coming out, or smack dab in the middle of a trial or storm, I hope this will help encourage you. Just to know that regardless of where you are, God is still with you and he hasn’t forgotten about you. His presence is still real, his grace is still sufficient, and he is still on the throne and has everything, even your situation, under control. It may not look like it but just remember that he can see through the darkness and when you get into the thick darkness, he is still there (Exodus 20:21). Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

WHEN YOU KNOW IT’S RIGHT

WHEN YOU KNOW IT’S RIGHT                                                                                                   Andy Hollifield 8-13-19

James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. (ALL SCRIPTURE USED IS KJV)

Have you ever had a task to do and everything just fell into place? That is how our backpack project at H.O.P.E. Ministries is working again this year. Let me begin by saying that we have a God that is far bigger than any need we might have. God always does something kind of unbelievable it seems like with every project we undertake to do. Let me remind you about last year’s backpacks before I tell you what God has done this year.

You may remember the story of one of my friend’s granddaughter that we provided a backpack for last year. I thought it was really special how things worked out and then I posted a video her grandma made of her getting her backpack. It received more likes and comments than anything I have posted except requests for birthday wishes for Tyler.

The story about her backpack was the incredible story last year. When I decided to get the little girl a backpack I sent word to her grandma to find out what kind of character she liked. As a little girl starting school it came as no surprise that she liked unicorns. I also asked what her favorite color was and found out it was blue. My wife and I went through all 502 backpacks we had received from Help4Kids. Out of all of those backpacks, we only had two with a unicorn. The real kicker was that only one of them was blue. It is those kinds of things that God uses to let you know you are doing exactly what he wants you to do. Confirmation doesn’t usually come with bright lights or angels singing. Most of the time it comes with God orchestrating something that only he can do.

This year has been no different. So far there have been two things God has used for confirmation. The first was the scheduling of our assembly at Ridgeview. We have held it on the second Saturday of August for a few years now. Every year I forget that one of the church members has a family reunion in the fellowship building because her family has been so blessed they have outgrown her house. This year she had the building reserved and rather than have to hurry with my project and have everything cleaned up and gone by mid-afternoon, I just rescheduled for the third Saturday. The good thing about that was that it bought me some extra time to get supplies. They had been slow coming in this year for Help 4 Kids and therefore for me. To be honest, I was starting to get a little nervous and was having to remind myself that God always comes through but usually not on my schedule. I am a firm believer that sometimes God likes to do stuff in a way that no one else can take credit for it.

Help 4 Kids gave me all of my backpacks again this year and most of the stuff to go in them. I am always truly thankful for their support. If the truth be known, I wouldn’t have had any backpacks and only some of the stuff to go in them if we had done them on the second Saturday as I had planned. I was supposed to make a trip to Myrtle Beach to pick up school supplies I wasn’t sure exactly when and they didn’t know when to tell me because things had been a little slower than usual coming in. While I was beginning to pray a little more earnestly about the situation, Ms. Wanda called me from H4K in Swannanoa to let me know that I had 504 backpacks at her house that Ms. Barb had ordered and had shipped up here. That was not only an answer to prayer but also a load off of my mind. We also made plans for me to go down and pick up supplies on the 10th. Everything was finally coming together.

When I was going through my supplies I realized I didn’t have hardly any crayons and there hadn’t been a lot to come in. I went to Wal-Mart and got ready to go clean out several stores to get what I needed. It wasn’t the first time that had happened so I was used to it. The first one I went to was Bleachery Blvd. in Asheville and that’s where it starts getting good. I expected to find a few but after I counted and put them in boxes was when it dawned on me that the Lord had it under control the whole time. After cleaning out every bin of Crayola 24 count crayons I had a total of 504. That is the exact same number of backpacks Ms. Barb had sent to me. All that was left in the bins was loose crayons from boxes that had come open and dumped out. There was a lady and her son came up looking for crayons and needed five boxes. I let them have five of the boxes I had, after all, five is the number of grace. They were buying for needy kids and it gave me an opportunity to talk about our ministry. Don’t worry; I didn’t mess up God’s plan. As I had been unpacking supplies earlier in the day I had found five or six boxes I had left from last year. God just doesn’t do anything halfway does he?

I don’t know how things will go on Saturday when we assemble the bags or what kind of reception we will get when we start calling schools and our agencies. The way I figure it, this is God’s project and he just lets me carry it out for him. What a privilege it is to do and especially to watch his incredible power and provision firsthand.

In closing, I want to publicly thank Help 4 Kids in Swannanoa and Myrtle Beach for the blessing they have been not only to our ministry but to me personally. It is a wonderful thing when God brings strangers together to do work for him and makes friends out of them. Ms. Barb and Maria and also Donna, Wanda, Brianna, and their families are just kindred spirits that God has put in my life to work with helping others. Words cannot even begin to express my gratitude and appreciation for all that they do for me and others.

When things look impossible that is when God does his best work and like James 1:4 says; “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” When God brings things together the way I have told you, that’s when you know it’s right. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

NOW FAITH; WHEN IT MATTERS MOST

NOW FAITH; WHEN IT MATTERS MOST                                                                                   Andy Hollifield 8-12-19

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (ALL SCRIPTURE USED IS KJV)

Have you ever heard of “Now” faith? That is the kind of faith that you have right now. The definition of “now” is at the present time or moment: without further delay; immediately; at once. If you want some interesting reading, research the word “now” in a concordance. Read the verses in the context of the definition. There are 1356 verses and applying the definition brings them to a new light. Even in Hebrews 11:1 read it like this; at the present moment in time, without further delay, immediately; at once, faith is. That is really all we need to know is “faith is.”

There are times when our “now” faith doesn’t seem to be working like it should. Three times in the bible it says “their faith.” They appear in Matthew 9:2, Mark 2:5, and Luke 5:20, concerning the time when the four men carried an invalid to Jesus. It didn’t say that Jesus saw his faith but rather their faith; the men that brought him. Isn’t it comforting to know that when we are struggling with our faith, Jesus still provides. No doubt the man in the bed had to be discouraged from having lain there for all those years. Thanks God for friends when we are sick that use their faith to get us the help we need from the Lord.

We all get burdened down by situations and circumstances at times and we aren’t the first. In Mark 9 we find a father that had probably believed and been disappointed countless times before by others. This time, he had been disappointed with Jesus’ disciples because even they couldn’t cast out the evil spirit from his son. Have you ever been so deep in despair that you found it hard to believe anymore. This father was in that place. He found it hard to believe “now” when he needed to the most. Jesus confronted the father with a condition in verse 23. “Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” The man wanted help for his son so bad that he confessed with tears his own weak faith when he said in verse 24, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” As a result of this man’s faith, his son was healed. The son wasn’t capable of believing. But, in the moment he was in the presence of the one man that could help him, his father believed when it mattered most and the boy’s life was forever changed.

Mark 5:25-34 we find a woman with a blood disease that had plagued her for twelve years. She had suffered many things from many doctors and only grew worse. She had apparently heard enough about Jesus that she already believed in him before he ever got where she was. In verse 28; “For she said, If I may but touch his clothes, I shall be whole.” She knew the instant she touched him in verse 29 “that she was healed of that plague.” She felt it in her body. All she did was touch his garment from behind. No big slap or no great noise to call attention to herself but just one light touch on his clothes. No one else may have noticed but she did. Jesus also noticed and stopped the entire crowd to find out who had touched him believing. Even though the crowd was great, she was no doubt weak, the multitude was thronging him, yet he knew someone had touched him believing. The one chance she had when he was passing by and one touch changed her life. She was no longer unclean under the law but made whole by the grace and virtue of the Lord.

“Now” faith is believing when you don’t have a good reason, and when the odds are against you. When things don’t look like they will ever work in your favor and you have no reason to believe except that he said to, weak faith and all just reach out to him. Jesus didn’t ask Mary and Martha what they believed when they sent for him. He asked them what they believed right now. You may be in that situation right now. Wanting so desperately to believe but struggling with unbelief and weakness while looking at what seems impossible.

The paralytic man was healed because of the faith of the four. The possessed son was healed because a father wouldnt give up on him. The woman with the issue of blood, and even Mary and Martha. Jesus isn’t all that interested in what you used to think he could do but rather what do you believe he can do now. “Now” faith. “The evidence of things not seen.” Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!