BUSINESS AS USUAL

BUSINESS AS USUAL                                                                                                                    Andy Hollifield 6-15-19

John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. (ALL SCRIPTURE USED IS KJV)

It’s just business as usual. I know we’ve all heard that statement and probably used it a few times. Most of the time it just means there is nothing new or out of the ordinary going on. If the truth be known, that is how some of us like our lives to be; simple and uneventful. As my pastor, Bruce West always says; “Same ‘ol ten, two, and four.” Can you imagine living a life where things that were incredible, unbelievable, and even miraculous were commonplace? That is exactly how life was for Jesus and his disciples for over three years.

Miracles were “business as usual” for them. Some people say Jesus performed 37 miracles that are recorded in the bible and some say it is 40. That is just the ones we know about and like the verse in John 21:25 eludes to, those numbers don’t even scratch the surface. That is just the ones he did while here on the earth that we know about. Other miracles took place just because he showed up. Faith healings, controlling the weather, raising the dead, casting out devils, and multiplying whatever was needed.

Blind people, deaf and deaf-mutes, lepers, paraplegics, and he even caused the ear of Malchus to heal back in place instantly after Peter cut it off. Malchus was a servant of the high priest who had come with the crowd to arrest Jesus when Peter cut off his ear with his sword. Can you imagine doing that for a man that was coming to take part in leading you to your death? That’s love ain’t it? Luke 6:19 says, “And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all. Matthew 12:15 tells of great multitudes that followed Jesus and he healed them all. Whether he touched people or they touched him the result was the same; instant healing. He even healed from a distance by just declaring someone would be made whole and they were when they weren’t anywhere near where he was.

Jesus has never turned away anyone that came to him needing healing if it was in accordance to the Father’s will. He not only healed folks from all manner of issues, but he even raised the dead with his word and/or his touch. He even cast out demons on more than one occasion and healed the physical and mental ailments associated with demonic possession.

More than once he was moved with compassion because he knew the multitudes following him hadn’t eaten. That was no problem for him. He just prayed and blessed the food he had and broke it and had enough to feed thousands and even had leftovers. He even filled nets with fish with only his word and even caused a fish to have money in its mouth at tax time. He even cooked fish on a fire on the beach that no one had caught.

He even did miracles concerning nature. He once cursed a fig tree because it didn’t bear fruit when it should have. He turned water into wine for a wedding and calmed storms and wind on the sea with his words or just his presence. He could even see for miles through those storms and see the activity on the deck of a ship in the dark. If that wasn’t impressive enough; he could even walk on the water and go to the ship.

He sometimes used unconventional methods, to say the least. He once spit on the ground and made mud and put it on a blind man’s eyes and told him to go wash and he came again seeing. He once put his fingers in a deaf mute’s ears and spit and then touched the man’s tongue and looking toward heaven he prayed, and immediately his ears were opened and his tongue was loosed and he spake plain. He even got the Pharisees all bent out of shape by healing people on the Sabbath.

Although his methods and timing and even his choice of folks to help didn’t always sit well with those around him; he didn’t care. He wasn’t interested in anyone’s social standing or lack thereof, he just met their needs. By meeting their physical needs, he gained the credibility to turn them to God and thereby meet their Spiritual needs. What a concept! I wonder what would happen if we operated more like that today.

I said all of that to say this: whatever your need might be, he can handle it. John said in 1 John 5:14, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us.” Jesus prayed in the garden for God to spare him from the death of the cross. But he also prayed, “Nevertheless not my will but thine be done.” If we want to see God’s glory manifested in our lives, we must seek his will above our own. The bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” We don’t always understand or even like God’s purpose in our lives at times, but we can rest assured that he is working everything in our lives, both good and bad, together for our good. We will benefit to the utmost by the way he does things in our lives. He is the ultimate dad and always does what’s best for his children. Just think; this was the life of his disciples. All of this was, business as usual. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

 

 

WONDERS NEVER CEASE

WONDERS NEVER CEASE                                                                                                           Andy Hollifield 6-14-19

Matthew 15:31 Insomuch that the multitude wondered, when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see: and they glorified the God of Israel. (KJV—ALL SCRIPTURE USED IS KJV)

The word “wonder” is in the bible 15 times. “Wondered” is also used 15 times. A quick study of these words reveals that a good number of the times they were used, were pertaining to the work or words of Jesus. The “wonder” surrounding Jesus began on the night he was born. Luke 2:18 says, And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” The message the angel brought to the shepherds that night on the hillside immediately piqued the curiosity of everyone who heard it, about this new baby. I don’t believe Mary and Joseph wondered but the Bible says in Luke 2:19 “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” They had already seen and heard enough from the angel of the Lord prior to Jesus birth, that probably nothing surprised them by that point. I would imagine that as the shepherds told their story, Mary and Joseph may have smiled at each other and thought, “If they only knew.”

The wonder of Jesus had actually started as early as the psalmist writing about him and also Isaiah and the prophecies of the Messiah hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth. Can you imagine the saints of old before Christ’ birth? I can see them in my mind just pondering and wondering exactly what the Messiah would be like. I am sure they often wondered how long it would be before the Lord sent him to the earth.

The prophecies surrounding him, the angels accounts of things to come concerning him, and the account of the shepherds that night at the manger. Never before or since has the world been filled with so much wonder about something or someone so small. Little did anyone know that his birth was only the beginning of many wonders to come concerning God’s precious Son. Anna and Simeon in the temple on the day of Jesus’ circumcision, had spent their lives filled with wonder and anticipation of his coming. They had waited and prayed so earnestly for his coming that when they saw him in the temple that day, they knew that all of the prophecies, prayers, and anticipation were now answered in this one little, newborn, child.

As he began his ministry, the wonders continued. The difference was that now he was performing them live and in person while walking among them. No more did they have to wait to hear from heaven because heaven in many respects had come to earth. The word “amazed” is another word that is used quite often to describe the reaction of people to the works, wisdom, and words of Jesus. “Amazed” is used 21 times and 11 of those are pertaining directly to people’s reactions to him.

In Matthew 12, they were all amazed when Jesus cast out the devils and the blind and dumb man both spake and saw. In Matthew 15 the multitude wondered at Jesus’ works prior to him feeding the multitude. In Mark 6, the disciples wondered when Jesus came into the ship in the midst of a great storm to the point they were “sore amazed.” In Luke 4:22 they were amazed and wondered at Jesus’ gracious words. As only a child, he had “astonished” everyone when he was found in the temple, “sitting in the midst of the doctors both hearing and asking them questions.”

With all of the things he has done, why should any of us be filled with wonder? From healing the sick, feeding multitudes, and calming the wind and sea; his works and words have always amazed and filled us with wonder. But why? Didn’t he say he would never forsake us? Didn’t he tell us he would be back for us one day? Doesn’t the Bible say that our heavenly Father knows all the things we have need of? Doesn’t it still say, “Ask and it shall be given you (Matthew 7:7)? Doesn’t it still say in Philippians 4:19 “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory?” Heaven isn’t bankrupt so God is still fully capable to meet our needs.

If all of those things are still true, and they are, and the Lord is no respecter of persons according to Romans 2:11, why are we so amazed when he keeps his word to us? We should be used to the fact by now that there is still nothing too hard for him according to Jeremiah 32:17. Mark 10:27 tells us “With God all things are possible.” I am thankful that God’s ways and thoughts are still higher than ours and according to Ephesians 3:20, he is still “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Even though we shouldn’t be amazed by the incredible things God does, I am grateful that he still does them. Looking back over the years of my life, I must admit that God has done a lot of might works that still amaze me and the wonders never cease. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

 

 

YOU JUST CAN’T PLEASE SOME PEOPLE

YOU JUST CAN’T PLEASE SOME PEOPLE                                                                                  Andy Hollifield 6-13-19

Luke 11:15 But some of them said, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub the chief of devils. (KJV)

Some people just can’t be made happy no matter what you do for them! They would complain if you gave them a job as a taste tester in a pie factory and paid them to do it. They would find fault with it for some reason. I worked in the LTL freight industry and it doesn’t take long to figure out, it’s never enough. No matter how hard you work, how dedicated you are, how much your customers like and trust you; all of that is never enough. You might have done something and got the bosses out of a jam yesterday and was a hero, but that was yesterday. If your numbers don’t look good on paper today, it doesn’t matter what kind of job you actually did on the street; it wasn’t good enough. Can anybody relate to that?

I am sure it is probably pretty much the same no matter what line of work you’re in. You probably have those bosses and they even have those bosses. I am writing to make you feel better. Jesus had the same problem. If he couldn’t please some people, it’s a safe bet we aren’t going to either. The sad thing is that in his case, it was the very ones that claimed to be trying to please God that found fault with the things that he did. It was the religious leaders from down at the temple. So what, you may ask, was Jesus doing that was so upsetting to the leaders? He was healing all manner of sickness and casting out demons.

If you back up and look at Luke 11:14 (KJV) you will see what the problem was. “And he was casting out a devil, and it was dumb. And it came to pass, when the devil was gone out, the dumb spake; and the people wondered.” It is amazing enough that he cast out the devil but what was really amazing to me was the fact that this dumb person was able to immediately begin talking after Jesus was finished. Even babies have to learn to talk but this person didn’t, it just came natural to him. When Jesus fixes something, he fixes it right.

The next verse begins; “But some of them said…” Sounds familiar doesn’t it? No matter how much good you may do, someone will have a problem with it. In Luke 8:33, we find the occasion where Jesus cast out the devils from the demonic man of the Gadarenes. He sent them into a herd of hogs which stampeded and ran over a cliff into the sea and drowned. By verse 37, the whole multitude, who only a little while earlier were thrilled and amazed at what Jesus had done, asked him to leave their country because they were afraid of him.

In Luke 8:51-55, we find the account of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus, a ruler in the synagogue, from the dead. In verse 52, Jesus came and told them all that the girl was not dead but only asleep. After that statement from Jesus, they laughed at him in verse 53. It is interesting that a lot of them no doubt had followed him down the road and saw the woman with the issue of blood healed by just touching his clothes. Having seen a miracle like that you would think they might have waited to see if Jesus could raise her before they laughed at him. In verse 54 he put them all out and commanded her to arise and she did. I believe because she probably hadn’t eaten in a while due to her sickness, he told them to feed her. I believe it was also to keep them from denying it and saying she was only a ghost.

In Matthew 9 it was a case of a man with palsy and on his deathbed that Jesus healed. Some of the scribes, rather than rejoicing because of the miracle, accused him of blasphemy because he forgave the man’s sins. In John 5 it was the man that had an infirmity for 38 years. When Jesus healed him and told him to take up his bed and walk, the Jews confronted the man because it wasn’t legal according to the law for him to carry his bed on the Sabbath. You would think that after 38 years the Jews could have at least rejoiced with him rather than getting legalistic and finding fault. In John 9:16 they found fault with Jesus because he broke the sabbath by healing a blind man.

It’s not just you! Like I said earlier, there are some people that you just can’t please. If folks complained about all the good that Jesus was doing, they are going to complain about us. Now, that should take some pressure off of you knowing that you’re not going to please everybody and someone is always gonna complain. So, just live your life the best you can for the Lord and let the naysayers gripe. They are going to anyhow. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

THE VOICE OF THE LORD

THE VOICE OF THE LORD                                                                                                           Andy Hollifield 6-12-19

As I was writing a while back, I began to think about the numerous times in the scripture that God spoke audibly to man. I have never heard the Lord speak audibly to me but he has spoken a lot of times so clear that it might as well have been audible. Audible means capable of being heard. He has spoken loud enough to be heard but not “out loud”.

I have heard the Lord speak to me regarding a message as soon as I stepped into the pulpit. One night, he spoke to me as I was praying after I had read my opening text. He told me to preach from another scripture I had read that morning that he had nudged me on when I read it.

I can take you pretty close to a spot in the road on Hwy 221 North in Marion, NC where I had been forced to leave the road in a truck to keep from having a head-on collision. After I left the road standing on the brakes, the empty straight truck started to flip over and the Lord said: “Turn the wheel and get off of the brake”. When I did that, the truck sat back down on the ground and I grabbed a lower gear, drove on through the field. I then pulled back up on the highway without even stopping to the amazement of several drivers that had stopped to see a truck wreck. I could tell several instances in my career and my life where God spoke and told me what I needed to do. After that afternoon in Marion, I have always been convinced that God is the ultimate truck driver.

As I began to look at scripture, you only have to look to Genesis 1:26 (KJV) where God said “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;…” Who was “us”? God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. God had already spoken creation into existence but only man was formed by his hand and in his image. After creating man and woman, we find that Adam feared when he heard God’s voice in the garden. This was Adam’s second response after sin. The first had been shame when he realized he and his wife were naked. The voice of the Lord will definitely bring a fear upon us when we know that we have done wrong.

As I began to read further I found that God’s voice also brought judgment. He not only judged Adam and Eve but also the serpent. Throughout the Old Testament, blessings were promised to those that hearkened to His voice and curses and destruction for those who refused to obey.

The Psalmist wrote that the voice of the Lord moved waters, thundered, is powerful, is full of majesty, divideth the flames of fire, shaketh the wilderness, and causeth the hinds to calve.

God’s voice brought comfort to a very distressed maid named Hagar in Genesis. In Exodus, it again brought comfort to Moses as he watched a bush burning but not being consumed and heard the Lord call to him out of the midst of it. His voice again brought fear and also comfort multiple times to the children of Israel in the wilderness.

His voice gave courage to Gideon to fight, Joshua to lead, Elijah to come out of hiding, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Samuel, and Ezekiel to prophesy. It also gave courage to King Saul to prophesy and to lead and later to David to do the same. It gave courage to the prophet Nathan to tell King David “Thou art the man” and pronounce judgment from God.

Forty-eight times the phrase “The voice of the Lord” is used and that includes only once in the New Testament (Acts 7:31) referring back to Moses. I thought of all the times that the voice of the Lord must have brought courage and comfort to his children.

No doubt during the great flood Noah was encouraged by the voice of the Lord as well as his presence. If you notice in Noah’s story, God commanded him to “come” into the ark, not to go into it. That can only mean that God was already inside.

I think also of Jacob’s flight from Esau and that first night when the Lord spoke to him in a dream. Young and afraid and riddled with guilt but having no remorse. Just the thought that God would speak comfort to him, much less make the promises he gave him that night was hard to comprehend.

I think also of Joseph after being sold into bondage by his brothers. Alone in a strange land, separated from his father, lied on by Potiphar’s wife, and forgotten in the prison by men he thought were his friends. How many times must the Lord have spoken sweet peace to his soul in the dark of the midnight?

What about Solomon who upon hearing the voice of the Lord in what he thought was a dream. The Lord offered him anything he asked, yet he only asked for wisdom to lead God’s people.

On over in the New Testament, we find blind Bartimaeus. Upon hearing that Jesus was passing by, he began to call out to him for mercy. Imagine his relief when the same crowd that had tried to quiet him down came and said: “Be of good comfort, He calleth for thee.” What a comfort when He calls for you. The Song of Solomon says that the bride longed for the sound of her beloved’s voice. Her response was much like I imagine Bartimaeus must have felt. Just like a momma’s voice is to a child having a nightmare; so is His voice to those that love Him.

Imagine the man at the pool of Bethesda when Jesus explained that his 38-year infirmity would now be over if he believed and obeyed. What about Mary and Martha after the disappointment of Jesus not getting there before Lazarus died? Imagine their hearts beating with anticipation as he uttered the words “Lazarus, come forth”.

I think of the relief and joy of the disciples on a boat in the midst of the lake when a great storm arose. After being afraid of what they thought was a spirit, they heard Him call out over the roar of the waves, “Fear not, it is I”. How many times in my storms have I longed and ached to hear those words from him?

I also think of the joy in the heart of the thief beside Him as he heard Jesus say, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43KJV). Also, think of the heartbreak of the disciples and other believers as he uttered his last statement, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” and then he died (Luke 23:46).

In Luke 24:36, imagine the fear and then the elation they must have felt when he appeared in the room with them and said “Peace be unto you” and then proved himself to be alive by eating. The voice they thought was silenced forever at Calvary was now speaking “peace” to their troubled souls.

A few days later as he spoke to the multitude just prior to his ascension, imagine if you will how they must have felt when he left the promise that he would return to take them with him.

Books and songs and poems have been written and movies made and dramas performed. But nothing can even come close to the sweet peace that comes with the sound of his voice. As we rush through our days, slow down and listen. I believe if you desire it, you will hear the sweet, sweet, sound of his voice speaking sweet nothings to the ears of your soul. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

 

HE HAS BEEN

HE HAS BEEN                                                                                                                                Andy Hollifield 6-11-19

Isaiah 43:2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

God always gets his man! Another year behind me. No, it’s not my birthday but almost as important. Today is the 33rd anniversary of the night I announced my calling to preach. I had halfway surrendered to the Lord on the Tuesday night before kneeling down by the laurel bush in grandma’s front yard, between it and the chestnut tree. I remember that night well and I had gone as far as I could go. I can’t really say how long I ran from the call, probably just a couple of months. The biggest regret I have is that I took as long as I did to surrender.

I will never forget going up to ma’s that night. I sat there so miserable I couldn’t even enjoy visiting so I told her I would be back in shortly. I went outside in the dark and tried to change God’s mind but that didn’t work. I knew he never made a mistake but I knew if he was capable of it, I was his first. I even recommended three men in our church that I was sure would be better suited for the job than me. God politely told me that if he wanted any of them, he would call them but right then, he was calling me.

I felt like I had to tell my grandma when I went back in and sat down. I knew if I didn’t I would try to forget the whole thing even though I knew I couldn’t. Ma said she thought something was bothering me but she didn’t know what it was. I remember going home that night feeling like a weight was lifted off of me. At the same time, the devil was telling me how bad I had messed up. He insisted that if I hadn’t told ma, I could forget the whole thing. He also assured me that I would make a total fool of myself and no one would listen anyway.

Wednesday was a day that lasted about 48 hours and that was just between 8:30 and 5:00 when I got off of work. When I got to church that night, the pastor was gone and I hated he wasn’t there but I knew God was and that was all that mattered. A man in the church preached but when he finished, he didn’t give an altar call. You talk about panic setting in, it did. I knew I couldn’t go one more day but I was going to go pray and try to talk God out of it one more time. Now, I was in a fix.

Thankfully, the chairman of the deacon board Roy Phillips, got up to dismiss the service and make the announcements again. As he started to dismiss he stopped and asked if anyone had need of the altar to come forward. Believe me, no one had to twist my arm that night. God was cordial enough to listen to my pleas and recommendations again but then told me that nothing had changed since Tuesday night and now it was time. When I stood up and turned around and told everyone that God had called me to preach, then the weight really lifted off and the devil was nowhere to be found.

Everyone came through the line to shake my hand and let me know they would be praying for me. Much to my surprise, a lot that came by said they weren’t surprised. I told them I was surprised enough for both of us. People that I didn’t even think had paid me any attention were telling me they had expected it. I even got an invite to preach that I still haven’t filled yet. Cameron Chambers told me that if I just had to preach and I didn’t have anywhere to go, I could come to his house and go stand on one of the stumps in his pasture and preach my heart out. I took that in the spirit it was intended and thanked him. So far, I haven’t got to that point yet. God has always opened up doors.

There were a lot of things in my early ministry that weren’t the way I had imagined. Through all of that, God was still everything he said he would be. The first place I ever preached was at Hill Haven nursing home in Asheville on a Sunday afternoon. Little did I know that day that I would later spend eight years preaching and singing in another nursing home. I learned a lot there.

When my mom went with me one month, she walked in and started going around talking to every patient and shaking hands with them. I hadn’t done that previously but I figured maybe I should do it. There were a lot of folks there that didn’t remember their own name much less mine, but they came out every time I was there and let me preach to them. That was where I learned one of my most valuable lessons. I noticed when I was playing and singing, I looked in the mirror on the piano and was surprised to find those folks mouthing every word of the old hymns. After service, some of them couldn’t speak and didn’t even know who or where they were. I was amazed by that until my lifelong friend and pastor Bruce West explained it to me. He said that our minds may go but what God has put in our hearts we will never forget.

Three of my greatest encouragers were in that home. Mabel Watts always met me at the door and asked if I was going to preach. Rena Arrowood and Sally Bryan always thanked me and told me it was good preaching even though I was sure it wasn’t. They are all gone to be with the Lord but they never could have imagined how many times they pulled my face up out of the dirt with their kind words.

My first radio broadcast was at a little station in Black Mountain called WONO. There was a blind DJ that worked there that I came to love and respect. Danny Dyer would always ask if he could have prayer with me before I went on the air. When I said yes, he grabbed my hand and placed his other one on my shoulder and called on God in such a way that I knew he was no stranger to him. One other thing he did every time before I left was to tell me what he liked about me. He would always say, “Brother, do you know what I like most about you?” Naturally I would say no. He then said, “You’re real brother. You just always stay real and God will use you.” That set a standard that I have tried hard ever since to live up to.

Bruce West told me starting out to get me a Strong’s Concordance and a dictionary. He said if I had those two things along with my bible, I would be OK. That still holds true today as well as some of the best advice I ever got that came from my mom. I was telling her about a local preacher I had heard on the radio that just blasted everything from make-up to chewing and smoking, long hair on women and short hair, women wearing pants in church, and anything under the sun that a person might do. I told her that if that was all I ever heard, I wouldn’t want to go to church either, especially if I wasn’t a Christian. Mom thought about half a second and said, “There is too much gospel to be preached to always be harping on everybody’s bad habits.” I have never forgot that and even though I have to occasionally get on some of that stuff while preaching, I don’t harp on it. When God gives it and you do it in love under the leadership of the Holy Ghost, it don’t hurt people.

Well, I could go on for hours about the different things God has blessed me to do in the ministry. But, I don’t want this story to be about me but rather about him. Do you remember the verse I started with? I just want to say I have been through the water and the rivers and even the overwhelming floods more times than I can count but not once have they overflowed me and took me under. There have been a lot of times I have walked through the fire, but it has yet to burn me and I’ve not went up in smoke yet and I never will.

To sum it all up, I want to thank God for 33 years in the ministry. It seems like in some ways this has been the hardest year yet. I guess though, we all probably say that about all of them. I will leave you with this statement for you to ponder in your own life: Everything he said he would be; he has been and he still is. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

 

PATCHES AND SCARS

PATCHES AND SCARS                                                                                                                 Andy Hollifield 6-10-19

Psalms 34:8 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (KJV)

The word broken simply means in this sense; out of order or not functioning properly. It also means reduced to fragments; ruptured or torn. That would seem to be a more accurate description of us at times. We sometimes get broken by things that are out of our control and while we may not be in good working order fragmented, ruptured, and torn might describe us better in those times.

It is in those times that God makes himself even more real to us than normal. It isn’t automatic but when we get to the point that all we can do is cry to him because we are broken, that’s when we see things began to change. It isn’t always our situation or circumstances that change but sometimes it is our heart and our attitude that changes. When we realize that we have never faced anything that God can’t handle, he will begin to put our heart back together and get us in working order.

It is those hardest times in our lives that leave the deepest scars. The scars themselves don’t hurt but they are an ever-present reminder of the hurt we have experienced. Anyone that has walked with the Lord and even those that don’t still have scars. I have some physical scars on my body that remind me of some very difficult and sometimes painful times in my life. But, those same scars also remind me of some of the sweetest times that I have experienced God’s grace in those trying times that broke me.

I got excited when I began to think about patches. We usually look at a patch as something that makes a garment not really fit to wear in public. But if you look at the function and purpose of a patch, you will go away thankful for them and looking at all the places in your life where God’s grace has patched you up. A patch is a small piece of material made of rubber, cloth, wood, or something else depending on what you are working on. As I looked at the definition I couldn’t help but get excited. A patch is used to mend a tear or break. Mend means to put something back together and make it usable. Not necessarily as good as new but back in usable condition. When you put a tear back together with a patch, it doesn’t do away with the tear but only pulls it together, covers, and strengthens it. The tear is still there underneath the surface and even when it isn’t visible, it’s still there. But, with the patch, the tear has not only been covered and put back together but is also made stronger in spite of the underlying presence of the tear.

A patch is also used to cover a hole in something. How many times has a circumstance such as death left a hole in our hearts and lives? The remembrance of when that hole occurred and what caused it may never go away, but the pain of it gets better with time and the patch of grace that God covers it with makes it bearable. The difference between a tear and a hole is that the tear can be mended and put back together and may leave a scar or mark where the tear is, but an actual hole can only be covered. Also, isn’t it interesting that “tear” and “tear” are spelled the same way?

I hope that I am getting this across like it is in my heart. How many times has God had to patch us up? It may be because of a hole left in our heart and life because of loss. It could also be because of something that just tore our heart out. That can be sickness, betrayal, frustration, disappointment, and even perceived failure. There are times when we are sure we have failed and it tears us up when actually we may have failed in our purpose but may have been totally successful in the purpose God had for us. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 the Bible says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” In every thing both good and bad give thanks.

God’s will for my life probably isn’t the same as his will for your life. I am thankful that in each of our lives, God has the grace to patch up and mend all of the tears and holes we experience and endure in this life. Remember this; patches are only intended to be temporary. Even the grace God patches our holes and tears with is not meant to be permanent. Those patches of grace are only intended to mend us and make us stronger… until we get a new garment. If you are born again and have Christ as your Savior, we have a wedding garment waiting on us. It is a white robe that will have no need for patches. There will be none of the things that tear our hearts out and there will be no holes in our lives because none of the hurt that caused the holes in our lives will be in heaven. We will finally be complete in him having no spot, wrinkle, blemish, or scars of any kind. Until then; thank God for his patches of grace. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

 

 

DIFFERENT ROADS

DIFFERENT ROADS                                                                                                                      Andy Hollifield 6-9-19

Quite often in life, we are amazed at the turn of events that our lives may take. Sometimes for the better, which may go un-noticed and sometimes for the worse, which we seem to keep track of very well. I have encountered a lot of people in my life and sometimes I am surprised by how their life has turned out. I remember hearing stories in my youth of people such as Brian Piccolo, about whom the 1971 movie “Brian’s Song” was made. One reason that story always stuck with me is simply that I am a sentimental type guy that loves football and wishes I had played more than I did. The other reason is that he graduated from my alma mater, well not exactly. He was a student at Wake Forest University and about 20 years later I was blessed to be a patient there at Bowman Gray School of Medicine, more commonly known as NC Baptist Hospital. That is where I had my kidney transplant in 1983. I, just like everyone else that knows Brian’s story, think it is a great tragedy that such a promising life was cut short by the dreaded disease cancer. After a long battle, Brian succumbed to his illness at age 26. So much potential and promise was taken so early. It is a difficult and sometimes impossible thing to understand outside of having faith that God is sovereign and knows all things.

There have been many famous people from athletes, entertainers, actors, and others that have lost promising futures as a direct result of things they got involved in. Some wound up in prison for various reasons and still, others just lost their reputation, ability to make a living, and some even their families and friends. We sit in amazement and watch as these people that seem to have it all just seemingly toss it away for no apparent reason. Proverbs 16:18 says “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

The apostle Paul also cautioned that a man should not think more highly of himself than he ought to think (Romans 12:3 KJV). I believe that is a lot of the reason for the downfall of a lot of people that seem destined for greatness. I am in no way attempting to pass judgment on anyone because the same Bible I am quoting about those folks tells me in Matthew 7:1-2 (KJV) to “Judge not, that ye be not judged. (2) For with what judgment ye judge; ye shall be judged, and with what measure ye mete; it shall be measured to you again.” I am very cautious as to how I view things and try not to comment without knowing the facts.

We don’t have to look into the professional world to see folks that seemingly have fallen short of the stars they were reaching for. I remember a young man once that was a brilliant kid. He even had the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. for a summer trip to visit his congressman and to be taken inside the world of politics as well as several different high-level government agencies. He was from a poor family with a tragic history of his own but was seemingly rising above his circumstances to make his mark in life. He was sponsored on the trip by a gentleman he knew and it seemed that he would have his future laid out in front of him and all he had to do was reach out and take it. Instead, he met a girl, fell in love, became a father, got married, quit church, got on drugs, lost his family, lost his job, lost his future, and all because of bad decisions.

I met a young mother once who was studying nursing, working in the hospital, and had small children at home. Balancing all of that because her husband had gotten hurt and became addicted to prescription pain meds and it cost them everything. This young lady went on to get her degree and become a nurse and finished raising her kids with the help of her parents. Those kids grew up without their dad simply because of the decisions he made due to bad circumstances in his life.

I know another young lady that had made some mistakes in her younger days and wound up on her own with several kids. She got her life straightened out and got a good job and was providing for her kids. She suffered an injury and wound up with an addiction. It costs her children their mother and separated that family and cost the mom her freedom.

These weren’t famous people but folks just like me. I can even remember in recent years, the time when, as a result of a botched surgery, I lost my career. I never got addicted to the pain meds but I did sink into a state of depression for a time. When facing the prospect of losing everything I had worked for all my life and having to start over at age 46 with no way to make a living, I got to the point where I didn’t care about anything. Not my ministry, my possessions, not much for my family and even less for my life. The only thing that kept me from making the wrong decisions and ruining my life and my ministry was the grace of God. I remembered years before that I had earnestly prayed a prayer and asked God to never let me bring reproach on his name. I asked him that before he allowed that to happen, to just go ahead and take me out of here. I had seen the ridicule that a couple big name preachers had suffered as a result of their sins and I just didn’t want to be an embarrassment to my God. During that dark time in my life, I was confident that God would answer that one prayer if he never answered another one. It may sound ridiculous to anyone that has never walked that road, but to anyone that has been there, they understand.

I was told at that time that it was just “a trust issue” that I just needed to trust God. That let me know that the person that told me that had never walked where I was walking. God was the only thing in my life I did trust. He was all that was left that made sense in my life. Even though I couldn’t seem to find him and nothing else at that time made any sense, he was all I had to trust in. Like the apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 (KJV) “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” I was to that point. The place where,, outside of him there was no hope to be had.

Thankfully, those dark days are getting further and further behind me. No one knew about them at the time and they couldn’t have helped me if they had known. I knew the scriptures and knew all the right things to say because I had said them in times past to other people. It is a whole lot harder when you are the one having to chew and swallow. It is a lot easier to spit them out to someone else than it is to take them yourself. Everything in my life isn’t perfect and it never will be until I am in heaven and no longer have a devil to deal with.

I did learn a lot in those days that has been a great help to me. One thing that I already knew but was reinforced then is this: whatever you face in life, it will make you bitter or better. The choice really is yours. God WILL give grace and it IS sufficient. The word “sufficient” simply means “enough”. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 (KJV) the bible says Paul got an answer from God when he was praying about what he called a thorn in the flesh. Paul said “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” That the power of Christ may rest upon us as individuals.

Sometimes the only thing that makes sense is that what we face is for no other reason than to draw us closer to God. Sometimes, he is just molding us into what he can use the best. It is not always comfortable to be on the potter’s wheel. When he begins to put the carving tools to us, it is sometimes quite painful for a while. Rest assured, that even though we don’t know what the potter is doing, and even though what looks like just a big mess of our life with no possible beauty or benefit, the potter knows what he wants the finished product to look like.

Job didn’t understand things going on in his life either. There was a long time when he could not find God either. What he didn’t know, and God couldn’t tell him at the time, was that he had been bragging on him to the devil. God had put his confidence in Job’s love for him so much that he was willing to put Job to the test to prove the devil was a liar once again.

God may not always explain to us what he is doing at the time he is doing it. He has no obligation to; HE IS GOD! Sometimes he has different people to travel on different roads to accomplish different things in our lives. We can’t always judge what God is doing in our own lives much less in someone else’s.

Whatever road you may be on and in spite of the fact that you may not understand it, rest assured that God knows exactly where you are at. The clouds around you may be dark but he hasn’t lost sight of you even for a second. He sees what he wants you to be when he is finished molding you. He may be using you to prove the devil to be a liar once again. You may be a beautifully designed, one of a kind, masterpiece for his mantle. Whatever he is doing, you can be sure that the road you are on, though it may be different than what you would like, is the only one that will make you what he wants you to be; a vessel of honor for the glory of God. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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