BREATHE ON ME

BREATHE ON ME                                                                                                                 22817 Andy Hollifield 6-8-19

John 20:19 “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. (20) And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they SAW the Lord. (21) Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (22) And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:”

What I really want to look at is in verse 22 where it says, “he breathed on them.” Think about what a moment that must have been for them to sit there as Jesus paused as he passed by each one and breathed on them. I hope that is doing in your soul what it has done in mine! What a sweet peaceful moment that had to be. Here the disciples were, gathered there for fear of the Jews, and in walks Jesus, stood in the midst of them and said: “Peace be unto you.” As a parent, I remember the times alone in the middle of the night with our baby so congested and not able to breathe, I would sit and watch him try to sleep while waiting for some medicine to take effect. Just sitting there watching his chest and listening, scared to death of what might happen next. Sometimes so fearful I wasn’t sure the next breath was coming. Finally, as the medicine took effect and the prayers got answered, his body would go limp and he would be still and his little chest would rise and fall in perfect rhythm. What had just happened? He was finally at peace and resting easy. I remember the overwhelming relief that finally it looked like he would be ok and I was glad he was able to rest. I figure that night with the disciples probably felt a lot like that for them. With fear coursing through their veins, knowing what had recently happened and having been told by Mary and others that Jesus was alive again and Peter and John having seen for themselves that the tomb was empty, anxious with fear about what would likely happen in the coming moments. Surely the high priest would accuse them of stealing the body of Jesus and would come looking for them. At any moment, soldiers could bust through the door and capture or kill them. Especially Peter; he had been the most outspoken of all and it was likely going through his mind that they probably hadn’t forgotten that he was the one that drew his sword and took off the ear of Malchus the servant of the high priest. Any minute now, disaster was likely to strike. But instead, all of a sudden with the doors being shut, stood Jesus right there in the midst of them. And in the midst of all their fear, anxiety, and chaos, he says “Peace be unto you.” Can you picture that moment? Have you experienced that moment? That moment when in the midst of the impossible, Jesus suddenly pops in and says “Peace be unto you, I’ve got this.” And as he shows the evidence of what he has done, you instantly become glad when you see him. That is exactly what happened when Jesus showed them his hands and his side, they were glad when they saw the Lord. I have been in that place when the fever broke or Tyler drifted off to sleep or when I finally drifted off to sleep in the midst of worry. What a blessing when the Lord shows up and shows out just because he can. Actually, he was there all the time but he was just waiting till I finally admitted there was nothing I could do and give up. That is when he begins to work. When we give up and give in, that is when God gets the most glory and we can’t take any credit for what is accomplished. Just like in the case of Lazarus, sometimes he tarries, waiting for the right situation so we can’t make no mistake and think something we have done has worked and made things better. The bible says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

Now, back to that upper room. I hadn’t seen this before but after they became glad, Jesus said again to them’ “Peace be unto you.” Nothing like a double portion of peace in those high anxiety storms. I know we have a lot of folks that say “I don’t let stuff bother me that bad.” Good for you, I am happy for you. I don’t let it bother me, but the devil hasn’t ever asked my permission before he messed with my mind. He didn’t ask Job what he thought about it before he afflicted him either. When I walk uphill, I get tired a lot quicker. When I walk uphill in a bunch of snow or even in mud, I tire even quicker. In our spiritual life, to get to the mountain tops, we have to fight the cold and the snow on the high peaks or sometimes it is just a bunch of mud from all the runoff from our storm. But when you get on top, the view is worth the struggle. You’re still tired and weary and maybe even bruised and battered but it is still worth it for that view. To be there, close to him and see him, makes your heart glad in spite of the troubles of the journey. As close to him as what the disciples were, if they were hiding out for fear, I am sure it is no surprise to him when I do. Elijah was a lot better man than me and he hid in a cave the day following the greatest victory in his life. I call it “Elijah syndrome” when you’re on the mountain top one day and eating bugs off the ground in the valley the next day.

Now that we have established the fact that we are all human, I want to point out something else. After he spoke peace the second time, the next thing he did was gave them the command to go. If he wanted them to lay around and enjoy each others company and the goodness of the Lord in a safe place, he wouldn’t have told them to go. As church members, if we aren’t careful we will try to do that. Just abide in the safety of the Lord’s house and insulate ourselves from sinners. We can’t win them if we don’t talk to them. We have to go. If you need proof that he wanted them in contact with sinners, in verse 23 he told them they could remit sins, which means to pardon or forgive. If they weren’t in contact with sinners that statement would be unnecessary. What I have really been trying to get to is the statement right before that one and his action before that. Verse 22 says after he told them to go, “he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:”

Before I get sidetracked I noticed something Sunday night when I read this that I hadn’t seen before. For about 45 years I have either read or heard this scripture, especially around Easter, and preached out of it several times but I always missed this. If you look at verses 24-29 you find the story of Thomas. You find that he wasn’t there the first time Jesus came. We don’t know why but we do know he had been told. Jesus specifically told Mary in the garden to tell Peter and his disciples. He is not a respecter of persons so I don’t believe anyone was left out. As far as we know, he was with them when Mary returned from the garden. He never complained about not knowing about the resurrection, he just said he wouldn’t believe without proof. If you notice in these verses, when Jesus came back the second time Thomas didn’t hold to his boasting. As far as we know, he never put his hand or fingers anywhere in the wounds of Jesus but he did believe. Jesus forgave his doubt and still blessed him. But the thing I noticed was that he never breathed on him and gave him the Holy Ghost. If I am reading correctly, Thomas spent the time between the resurrection and Pentecost having to operate on fact and not on the working of the Holy Ghost in his life. I may be wrong but that’s how I see it. After that evening however, every time the disciples are gathered Thomas is there. In John 21 when they went fishing Thomas was there. In Acts 1 Jesus is gathered together with the apostles he had chosen; one of which was Thomas. In Acts 2, the scripture says “they were ALL with one accord in one place.” It goes on to say in verse 3 “And there appeared cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon EACH of them.” In verse 4 the bible says that “they were ALL filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

What I am trying to say is that if we want the power of God in our life, we are going to have to be where Jesus tells us to be when he tells us to be there. We are going to have to be in one accord in obedience to his word. Had Thomas been there the first time like he should have been, he would have gotten breathed on and received the Holy Ghost that night like the rest of them. You have to give him credit though. He was smarter than a lot of us are sometimes. At least he learned his lesson. The disciples never gathered together again without him being there. He must have decided that having the Lord breathe on him was far more important than anything else he might have had going on. The word “breathed” is only used 4 times in scripture and only once in the New Testament. Twice it is used in judgment. In Genesis 2:7 God breathed into man’s nostrils and he became a living soul. In John 20:22, Jesus breathed on men and they received the Holy Ghost.

I am not advocating multiple workings of the Holy Ghost. Christ hadn’t ascended yet so these men, although believers, were walking by sight and not by faith as we are. Now, when we accept Christ as our Savior, the Holy Ghost takes up residence in our soul at that time. We do not get saved by works or in degrees. It is up to us whether or not we allow the Holy Ghost to have right of way to work in our lives to our benefit and the blessings of God. It would do us all a world of good to be found in his presence with the saints and put ourselves in the position for him to breathe on us. May you submit yourselves to him today and may the sweet peace of his breathing be upon you. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

THE DEVIL REALLY HAS GONE DOWN TO GEORGIA

THE DEVIL REALLY HAS GONE DOWN TO GEORGIA                                                           Andy Hollifield 6-7-19

The devil has imported help to go to Georgia to try and steal souls. Guess what: IT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN! I don’t care if Opie has turned his back on generations of fans, no one can steal the souls of the babies that the modern day reprobates are wanting to destroy. If you’re super-sensitive, you might want to tune back in another day because I am beyond frustrated. The souls of those babies are with their heavenly Father who gave them to begin with.

I was disappointed to see in recent weeks that “Opie” aka Ron Howard has thrown his two-cents-worth in on the side of those wanting choice for a woman’s body and the right to destroy the little unborn women (and men) they are trying to take that choice from. I have a question. If you kiss a snake on the lips, what is the risk you take? There is obviously the 50/50 chance you will get snake bit. If you want to avoid the possible consequences; you don’t kiss a snake on the lips, or anywhere else for that matter if you have common sense. If you have physical relations between a man and a woman, what are the possible things that can happen? One is the possibility of a pregnancy especially since that is how children have been created since man became a living soul. You make the choice in that private moment, not after the consequences of your actions have become apparent.

For anyone who thinks I am getting political, this is not a political debate.  Ron Howard has a right to his opinion just the same as anyone else.  This is a question of life and death, or put another way; unjustifiable homicide. Psalms 127:3 says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” I would hate to think that I was willing to sit back quietly and allow the heritage of the Lord to be destroyed and never say a word.

We faced the dilemma when my son was on the way as to what we would do. We weren’t asked but we were told on one occasion that they could not find my son’s kidneys on an ultrasound. We knew if those kidneys didn’t show on the next ultrasound, we would face that question. We already had the answer: ABSOLUTELY NOT! I mention that just to give myself credibility as to the fact I know what I am talking about. I have also spent over seventeen years involved with crisis pregnancy centers and have an intimate knowledge of how things are done. I am not just some guy talking about something he doesn’t know anything about.

I haven’t yet mentioned the poor mothers who are given abortion as a viable alternative. I have known at least one lady who has been through that trauma and has lived to regret the decision she made. I personally believe if women knew the mental anguish that inevitably hits them at some point in their lives as a result of that decision, the abortion industry would cease to exist and Roe v. Wade wouldn’t even be an issue anymore. Unfortunately, that isn’t the world we live in. Women are not given adequate and complete information about the procedure, much less the possibility of the destruction of reproductive ability and other health risks afterwards.

Now, back to Georgia. As far as I am concerned, Opie and Ms. Milano and anyone else who doesn’t like the way Georgia, or their governor, conduct business in their own state, you are not only free to leave but strongly encouraged to. As far as I know, interstates 75, 85, 95, 20, 59, and maybe even more will get you out of Georgia the opposite direction of how you came in. If that isn’t enough options, there are hundreds of flights out each day, pick one. And before anyone asks, I feel the same way about North Carolina. Our taxes have always been high and still are and our movie industry hasn’t seemed to benefit the personal economy and tax rates of most of our citizens. My morals and core beliefs aren’t based on the size of my wallet anyway and aren’t for sale at any price.

Opie was a character, a figment of Andy Griffith’s imagination. Although Griffith was a staunch democratic supporter, he was also a self professed dedicated Christian. His program helped teach several generations morals, manners, and character in general. The fact that “Opie” has come out opposing Georgia’s attempts at preserving life proves one thing; you just can’t believe Hollywood. After all, this is the same boy that, on the show, cried and was guilt ridden after he killed a bird. Go figure; he will cry about a bird but not about a baby.

Sorry folks, I will try to be encouraging tomorrow. You can call this a rant, tirade, editorial, or whatever you want to call it. I have a special place in my heart for babies and the ladies that birth them. I even have a special place for those who make the decision for abortion. After the deed is done, like my former deacon’s wife once said; “You can’t unbreak an egg.” You just have to decide what you are going to do with it. I certainly wouldn’t want to throw out an egg because it was broken and definitely not throw out a lady that made some wrong decisions. As far as the title, I believe the devil is using people with the platforms of fame and notoriety, to promote his agenda of death and destruction. This is my opinion based on scripture and in America, I still have a right to it and so do you… on your page. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

THE HIGH COST OF FREEDOM

THE HIGH COST OF FREEDOM                                                                                                   Andy Hollifield 6-6-19

Acts 22:28 And the chief captain answered, With a great sum obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was freeborn.

Quite often, if we aren’t careful, we will take our freedom for granted without ever realizing at what cost we have obtained it. Although we were “free-born” someone paid a price for the liberty we enjoy. On this date in 1944 the Allied forces, including the US, invaded northern France. Their mission was to liberate France from Nazi occupation. The official name was “Operation Overlord” but it simply became known by its code name; D-Day. It was the largest amphibious military operation in history. By dawn, 18,000 parachutists were already on the ground. There was also 6000 landing craft carrying at least 155,000 soldiers landing on beaches that included Gold, Juno, Sword, and Utah. Omaha beach proved to be a tougher battle in which 2000 allied troops were lost. By the end of the day, over 155,000 Allied troops consisting of Americans, British, and Canadians had taken the beaches of Normandy. By the end of June, 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles were in Normandy preparing to march across Europe. Over 9000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded and the US had managed to get only about 25 percent of its supplies on shore, the rest had been lost. This battle, however, greatly diminished the Germans capability and proved to be the turning point of the war. The numbers vary greatly and will likely never be known as far as how many were wounded, missing, taken prisoner, and killed. The numbers even vary on how many were in Normandy by the end of June from 850,000 to over 1 million. By August 1944, Northern France had been liberated.

Today, 9383 servicemen and 4 women are buried in the American cemetery in Normandy overlooking Omaha Beach. Allied forces had already lost nearly 12,000 men in operations prior to D-Day. The war ended in August 1945 with the dropping of the atomic bombs by the US on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. The war ended with some say well over 50 million military and civilian deaths throughout the 6 years since Hitler had invaded Poland in 1939. All of these figures come from various official agencies as well as History.com and Foxnews.com. My point with all of this is simply that there was a great price paid for our freedom. Had the Allied forces not been successful, Germany would have likely taken over the entire world. A great price was paid for the freedom we enjoy and we should honor the men and women that served throughout the war to the best of our ability. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs, as of 2016, there are around 620,000 American WW II veterans still alive.

There was another time in history that a similar sacrifice was made. About 1939 years before the start of World War II, a man from another land had signed up voluntarily to sacrifice his life for the benefit of all mankind. Even though at the time, his service was rejected and refused and not appreciated, he still was intent on going onward till his death for even those that had viciously rejected him. He could have refused to serve but instead, gave up his royal seat and came to serve as a common man. Imagine that! A man laying aside his royal crown to fight a fight that he could have stayed out of for a world full of people who had no regard for his life or the fact he was willing to lay it down in battle. Oh yes, there was a great battle that had raged since long before man inhabited the Earth. It began before recorded time when the archangel Lucifer along with about a third part of the host of heaven, rose up in opposition and attempted to overthrow God. Of course, Lucifer and his followers were condemned and expelled and cast down to hell which was prepared for them. This great man who was willing to sign on for this battle was none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God and a third part of the Holy Trinity of heaven. He was begotten on this earth by an overshadowing of the Holy Ghost on a little Jewish virgin girl. He had chosen to lay aside his royalty in Revelation chapter 5 and come to this world in the form of a baby and grow up and sacrifice his life for the sins of mankind which God had created for his glory to inhabit the earth. Sometime after God had created the first man Adam and his wife Eve, Lucifer, who is now called Satan, approached in the garden of Eden. He deceived her into believing that disobedience to God would not result in death. God had known this would happen and already had a plan in place for the remission of man’s sin. Christ’ willingness to be the supreme sacrifice would satisfy the heart of God and result in forgiveness of man’s sin. All of heaven and earth and beneath the earth had been searched but no other perfect man was found that was suitable to be that sacrifice. The rest is history. That man Jesus, died on the Roman cross for sins he didn’t commit so that the ones that had committed them could go free. The first of which was Barabbas who had been sentenced to death for his part in an insurrection against the government. The leader of the day named Pilate gave a mob that had assembled against Jesus, a choice between the criminal Barabbas and this man called Jesus. The crowd, blinded by hatred and not realizing that the will of God was being fulfilled, chose to let Barabbas live and to crucify Jesus in his place. There had been only mock trials complete with false witnesses against him, senseless beatings, public shaming, and even as he hung on the cross dying, the crowd and the Roman soldiers united in ridiculing and making fun of him. Still not realizing what they were doing, they continued and even stripped him of his clothes and the soldiers gambled for them. Strange darkness came over the earth from about the sixth hour of the day till the ninth hour. That is from noon till three in the afternoon. During this time as he neared the end of his life, Jesus cried with a loud voice praying and said, “Into thy hands I commend my Spirit” and with those words, he gave up the ghost and died. At that time, the veil which hung in the temple and was very thick and had served to separate God and man because of sin was torn into from top to bottom. Both of these events, the darkness, and the veil had never occurred before. One of the thieves that hung on the cross beside Jesus had believed on him and Jesus had responded by telling the man that he would be in Paradise with him that day. Of course, this had really brought the crowd to a fever pitch. Now he was dead and the veil of the temple had been torn. Some believed on him that day and even some of the soldiers admitted he was a righteous man and one even confessed that he must be the Son of God. All of the angels in heaven, that were at his beck and call, had to stand idly by and allow this to take place while God turned his back on his own Son. Thirty-three years away from his father and this was how it would end.

It is not a sad story however because unlike the sacrifices of WW II, this one has a happy ending. Three days after his death he was found alive by a lady named Mary who had been one of his followers and had come to the tomb early that morning. He gave her instructions on what to tell the men that had given up everything to follow him. Sometime that day, he ascended back to heaven, no doubt to a celebration like has never been seen since. He presented himself and the blood he shed to the Father, as the ultimate payment for sin. After descending back to the earth and later that day meeting with those men, he spent another forty days with them giving them instructions as to how to live. The amazing thing that also happened when he was found alive, was that many other folks that had died were also seen alive after he had risen. None of this could be explained away by the government or religious leaders of the day. At the end of the forty days, he went out to a mountain with many of his followers and there he ascended back into the clouds to his Father but promised to return to get those that believed in him.

Heaven had given it’s best, the Son of God, and he had given his life on a cross to secure forgiveness of sin for everyone who was willing to believe and accept him. His invitation to believe and receive forgiveness is still open to all who will accept it. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). This has been done throughout history from the first battle death until the last but never has the sacrifice of one’s life for his friends meant so much as this one. Freedom definitely comes with a high price. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

 

 

 

WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT

WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT                                                                                                   Andy Hollifield 6-5-19

Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (KJV)

“I can’t believe that just happened!” Have you ever had one of those moments of disbelief? One of those moments when something you wanted that looked impossible came to pass. I love watching all of the videos of soldier’s surprise returns coming home to their families and especially their children. Something good is always made better when it happens when you least expect it. I have often said that the night I got saved, I got in on the little end of something big. I had no idea that I would ever have the joy, peace, and fulfilment that I now have in serving the Lord. I want to look at just a few people who, like me, had their lives permanently changed when they least expected it and in ways they couldn’t even begin to imagine.

I first thought of the disciples. Brothers Peter and Andrew were fishing when Jesus walked by and said “Follow me” and for whatever reason they did. James and John, also brothers, were mending nets when Jesus called them. Matthew was a tax collector, Luke was a physician, and very little is known of most of the others. But, can you imagine what it must have been like to leave everything you knew to follow a man you didn’t know? Furthermore, Jesus was teaching a doctrine of repentance and submission direct to God personally which seemed to be a departure from the norm of the day. It later became apparent that it wasn’t a departure but a fulfiling of the Old Testament law. One day these men were fishermen, tax collectors, doctor or whatever and the next thing you know you are following a man and casting out devils. I would say that happened to all of them when none of them were expecting it.

I have often thought about Elisha. There he was minding his own business and plowing his father’s field. Suddenly a man comes walking down the road and cast his mantle on Elisha. He prepares oxen and feeds the people there and then follows Elijah. One minute a farmer and the next a servant to a prophet. If you read the history of Elisha, you see that he did exactly twice as many miracles as Elijah had. Who would have ever thought that a farmer would become one of the greatest prophets that Israel ever knew? I am sure that Elisha never would have expected that change in his life.

What would you think if you were on a hillside tending your father’s sheep, when you recieved word to return home? When you arrived, the great prophet Samuel, who Jesse and his boys probably knew, suddenly anoints you (David) with oil and declares you to be king over Israel. You are still a just a young man and definitely not king material by any standard. Any standard, that is, except the Lord’s.

What if you were a young widow and your mother-in-law decided to return home? You decide to go with her knowing that you will be an outcast, a Gentile dog among God’s people. When you least expect it, you are welcomed by your mother-in-laws people. Things get even better from there. You are allowed to glean in the field of a man who turns out to be a near kinsman to your mother-in-law. He does what is necessary to redeem you and takes you as his wife. I am sure that Ruth never saw that coming and wouldn’t have expected it in her wildest dreams. But, once again, it gets better. She didn’t live to know it, but by her marriage she became a great grandmother 29 generations back to the Messiah. I bet that is the last thing she would have ever expected when she left Moab.

I could go on could go on about a widow gathering sticks and preparing to die of starvation but was promised provision when she least expected it by giving away her last meal (1 Kings 17). There is also the widow preparing to lose her two sons as bond servants when by obeying the prophet, struck oil and paid off her debt and lived off of the rest (2 Kings 4).

These people, just like you and I, faced circumstances they could do nothing to change. By putting their faith in God, their lives changed in ways they would have never thought possible. A woman preparing to die and another preparing to have her sons taken as slaves. No hope of change, no way out, nothing at all they could do. A Gentile widow that became one of the Messiah’s grandmas. Men from various backgrounds walking away from their lives because the Lord called them. A farmer turned prophet and a shepherd turned king. It’s nothing for God. There is no doubt that God likes to operate where there is no hope. That way, no one can deny it was him when deliverance comes, and it comes “When you least expect it.” Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

LOOK WHAT GOD DID

LOOK WHAT GOD DID                                                                                                                 Andy Hollifield 6-4-19

Mark 10:27 “…With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. (KJV)

“There ain’t no way! There is no way in the world that could happen. It’s just not possible.” How many times have you had that thought about situations in your life? You’ve pondered and played through all of the scenarios in your mind and you keep coming up with the same answer; “No way!” If you think so, you will want to keep reading. You may find something that will convince you that God can do it. Jeremiah 32:17 said it best when he was giving praise to the Lord. “Ah Lord God! behold thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee” (KJV).

Sometimes it helps us to look at contrasts in the bible. It’s easy to look at the end of things and accept it but if we could have seen some of the beginnings, we would have thought, “No way!” You can find them in numerous books of the bible and so often we just read over them and never grasp how it happened.

Genesis has several but I want to look at just a couple. Jacob is a good one to start with. He was a twin to Esau and the favorite son of his mom. He started out by taking the bad advice of his mom and deceiving his blind dad in order to recieve the blessing of the first-born although he was the second-born. He first cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright and later received the blessing from his dad. He fled to his uncle’s house in Padanaram. There, he learned what it was to be cheated but also was blessed of the Lord.

You never would think that God would take a cheat, swindler, and liar and make him the Patriarch of his chosen people Israel. At the insistence of the Pharaoh in Egypt, Jacob and his family, totaling 70 people, settled in the land of Goshen where they multiplied and dwelt for 430 years. Much of that time was spent in slavery to Egypt. When they left Egypt, the nation of Israel, which was Jacob’s new name from the Lord, totaled according to some estimates around 2.5 million people. All of that coming from a man like Jacob. Look what God did!

Jacob’s son Joseph is another unlikely story. Being the favorite son of his father caused his brothers to be jealous. They cast him into a pit, sold him to traders, and lied to their father about his disappearance. Joseph wound up in an army officer’s house in Egypt as a servant. There he was eventually given charge over everything Potiphar owned. Once again lies cost him his freedom. He was accused by Potiphar’s wife of making unwanted advances which resulted in him being cast into prison.

During his prison time, it became known that he interpreted dreams and, over the course of time, interpreted one for the Pharaoh. This won him his freedom and now instead of being promoted to head over one house, he was placed in charge of everything in the land that was under Pharaoh’s control. It was during a famine that his brothers came to buy grain. Joseph recognized them and eventually made himself known to them. In the process of time, his father and the entire family settled in Goshen. From a slave to a chief steward for Potiphar, to a prisoner to then to chief steward for the whole nation and thus was in a position to preserve his whole family even through the famine. Look what God did!

Time fails me to tell of Daniel who went from a slave to a prince and faithful servant of the Lord to being cast into the den of lions because he refused to stop praying to his God. After his release from the lions, the king decreed that Daniel’s God was the one true God. Look what God did!

A similar story is found in Daniel 3 concerning the three Hebrews that refused to bow to an idol and were thrown into a fiery furnace. The same exact situation as what Daniel had gone through, was the story of these young men. Slaves who were chosen to be princes put in a position of compromise by a new law requiring idol worship, but they stood firm on their beliefs. They were thrown into a fiery furnace but survived and afterward were promoted. Look what God did!

There is also the story of Jonah. God took a disobedient, rebellious, preacher and made him the preacher for the greatest single meeting ever known. A whole city of over 120,000 repented in sackcloth and ashes. Look what God did!

Then there is the apostle Paul who started out as a government official causing havoc to the church and killing many Christians. After encountering the Lord on the road to Damascus, God later made him into the greatest church-planting evangelist ever known. He is also the author of a good portion of the New Testament. Look what God did!

Last but not least is Peter. A foul-mouthed, lying, impulsive, fisherman that Christ made his first disciple. He also, even after denying Jesus three times, became the first missionary to the Gentiles by way of a meeting in the home of Cornelius, a centurion in Caesarea. As a result, the New Testament church was born. He had also been the first to stand and preach on the day of Pentecost during which 3000 souls were added to the church. Look what God did!

Now, what exactly is that problem you think God might not be able to handle? As these stories demonstrate, he has taken a whole lot less, as far as people, and done a lot more than anyone would have ever thought possible through them. Your situation may be big but we serve a big God who can handle it. It may look impossible right now, but one day you will look back and say; “Look what God did!” Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

BETTER TOGETHER

BETTER TOGETHER                                                                                                                     Andy Hollifield 6-3-19

Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. (KJV)

“The more the merrier” is an old saying that I have heard often. It is true in church work and mission work especially. As Baptists, we have church workings. A day when the men gather at the church to do what maintenance needs doing and any extra projects. The women also gather to do deep cleaning, I guess it would be called. It happens in most churches around time for the annual homecoming. If you have ever participated in a working, you know the more that show up to work, the faster it gets done.

I’ve been blessed in the last year to experience “the more the merrier” firsthand and it has definitely worked to make us “better together”. I am talking about H.O.P.E. Ministries association with Help 4Kids in Swannanoa and Myrtle Beach, Hearts for Appalachia, and also Dianne Bartlett in Sneedville, Tn. As I mentioned recently in a post, Hearts for Appalachia was able to help works in at least six states with the food and supplies we took to them from Help 4 Kids in Myrtle Beach. All of their donors made it possible for them to help hundreds of families through all four ministries. All of our donors and supporting churches have made it possible for us to be able to help these other ministries.

Nehemiah 4:6 sums up what is necessary for success. All it takes is a purpose and people that have a mind to work. Anyone that has ever tried to run any kind of an event such as VBS or Christmas and Easter plays knows how draining it can be. It can suck the life right out of you if you aren’t careful. I have at times been bad to get so wrapped up in what I was doing that I forgot why I was doing it and who I was doing it for. Colossians 3:23 tells us how to approach our Christian service. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”

The Jewish people in Nehemiah were trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem and like any good work, the enemy will fight. If your work for the Lord is not getting met with opposition and hindrances, you might want to make sure you are working for the right purpose. In mission work, it has proven to be mechanical expenses with vehicles in my case. In South Carolina, a trailer was stolen and deliveries arrived late. In Swannanoa, they are cramped for space and cannot find a building to rent at a reasonable rate. With Hearts For Appalachia, Ryan has faced difficulties with his public job taking too much of his time. Also, Dianne Bartlett has been slowed temporarily by a hip replacement. We have all had something that has hindered but not stopped the work.

On a personal level, none of this has deterred any of us from our purpose for the Lord. We expect these kinds of things to occur and just accept them as part of the work we do. The good thing is that in spite of all of this, a lot of work has been accomplished. I got introduced to Help 4 Kids a little over a year ago and have helped fill a need they had for a driver. They have supplied H.O.P.E. Ministries with an unmeasurable amount of items for all of my projects and food for several needs we have been helping meet. Dianne Bartlett has been able through Help 4 Kids to meet an ever-increasing need in Sneedville with food for families as well as Christmas gifts for families that wouldn’t have had Christmas otherwise. Ryan has not only helped families in the local schools in his area with food and backpacks, but has been able to expand his aid not only in his area, but also helping the ministries in other states. Both Ryan’s church and also Hardy’s Creek Baptist in Jonesville, Virginia have been able to expand their ministries in the communities they serve with the help they have received through Help 4 Kids that we have delivered to them. Pastor Ronnie Sizemore has even offered the basement at Hardy’s Creek for Ryan to store stuff in for distribution. That is in addition to the warehouse space in Rose Hill, Virginia at Deroyal Industries.

All of our ministries have been providing needful assistance as well as getting the gospel out to folks and demonstrating the love of God in what we do for several years. It seems though, that since we have all gotten acquainted and joined forces, God has been able to use us all to accomplish far more than we ever would have alone. I would liken our work to picking at a sore. The more the devil picks at it, the bigger it gets.

My point is not to blow the horn of any of the ministries I have mentioned but rather to make the point that we are all better together. I failed to mention the love and care that Eric and Paula Hollifield have given for the past two years to two expectant mothers. They have provided the means for a work that our ministry had not been able to do until they offered to help. Help 4 Kids, as well as Tri-County Crisis Pregnancy Center in Burnsville, has provided items for both of the babies and their moms. We have also been able to join forces with My Sister’s Place in Marshall to receive help for our new mothers through their network of agencies.

I guess you could also liken all of this to a leaky dam; every time a hole gets plugged, another one pops up. You simply cannot stop the work of the Lord. As Acts 5:39 says, “If it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it…” (KJV). We all need help in some way at some time or another. I have found that whether as individuals or as ministries; when we come alongside one another, we are all “better together.” Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

 

 

 

BLESSINGS BEHIND

BLESSINGS BEHIND
Andy Hollifield 6-1-19

Psalms 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (KJV)

Someone’s following me! Isn’t that a scary thought to feel like someone’s is behind you watching you? You can’t see them and you try not to be obvious, just looking out of the corner of your eye. Then, you get where you are going and you finally see them pass by. What a relief to know they are finally gone and weren’t really following you at all.

That is definitely not the case with goodness and mercy. First off; isn’t it comforting to know that they will never leave you? They are following you on purpose under the orders of God.  Rather than giving you the heebie jeebies and making the hair on back of your neck stand up, it gives you a feeling of soothing, comforting, peace. The Psalmist had been through a lot of dark times by the time he wrote the 23rd Psalm. He had been through enough to know the value of God’s ever abiding presence.

How miserable a person’s existence must be without the power of the presence of God.  He is always with all of us but only those that have accepted him can enjoy the power of his presence.  You must have a relationship with him.

I began to think about some of the blessings that some of God’s people have found behind them. In Genesis 22:13 Abraham was blessed to look behind him and find a ram caught in a thicket by his horns to be the sacrifice instead of his son Isaac. In Exodus 14:19, we find the account of Israel crossing the sea on dry ground. As Israel was standing and complaining and making plans to die, the angel and the pillar of the cloud that was going before them, moved around behind them between them and the Egyptians. This same cloud was a light to Israel and darkness to Pharaoh’s army and kept them from getting close to each other all night. What a comfort it must have been to look behind where you had been seeing the Egyptian army, to see God’s angel and his bright cloud making the darkness as bright as day for you. With that being said, making darkness light is still a specialty of the Lord. He will do the same for us in our time of darkness.

First Samuel 21:9 gives the account of David going into the temple at Nob seeking help from Ahimelech the priest. He had fled from Saul in a hurry and had no opportunity to retrieve his weapons. He was needing bread for he and his men. He also needed a sword. The only one the priest had was the sword that David had taken off of Goliath. There behind the ephod, wrapped in a cloth, was the blessing that David was in need of.

Psalms 139:5 says, “Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me” (KJV). That about sums up the care of the Lord for us. He is in front of us leading us “beside the still waters” Psalms 23:2 and restoring our soul. He leadeth us “in the paths of righteousness for his names sake” Psalms 23:3 (KJV). Psalms 23:4 declares that we don’t have to fear any evil because he is with us.

Isaiah 38:17 perfectly describes the position we were in. “Behold for peace I had great bitterness: But thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back” (KJV). There are great blessings behind all of us that have been born again. Events in our walk with the Lord that can be great encouragement in times of trials. In Philippians 3:13 Paul tells the Philippians that he forgets the things behind him, his past sins, and is “reaching forth unto those things which are before” (KJV). If Paul had to forgive himself of his past in order to reach forward for the Lord, surely we can all draw strength from the things behind us. The storms of our past should not be weights to bring us down, but because of the deliverance of God, they should just be “blessings behind.” Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!