CAN THE LORD FEEL YOUR TOUCH?

CAN THE LORD FEEL YOUR TOUCH?                                                                                     Andy Hollifield 2-17-19

Mark 5:30 And Jesus immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?

What a story of great faith? Whether it was great faith or desperate faith I don’t know but I do know this; it was enough faith. In her desperate search for a cure for her condition, she had spent all that she had and tried many doctors and had only gotten worse. She had even suffered much at the hands of physicians. Twelve long years she had been searching for a remedy while suffering the whole time. For twelve long years she spent everything she had just trying to get better. For twelve long years she had suffered and for twelve long years, she had all but given up hope of ever being healed. I don’t know what all she had heard about Jesus but I know she had heard enough. She had heard enough that it was worth it to her to take one more chance. It was worth it to fight through that crowd and touch his clothes. She believed if she could just touch his clothes she would be made whole. Verse 33 of Mark 5 tells us that when she touched him, she felt something inside of herself change. She immediately felt the fountain of her blood dry up.

She wasn’t the only one that day that felt a change in themselves. Jesus stopped the crowd and asked who had touched him. In Luke 8, his disciples questioned him for asking because there was a whole multitude that was touching him. This touch had been different. It was a touch of faith. Although he knows everything, he asked so this lady would have opportunity to confess. When all others had denied, she came forward and told him her whole story. She had come fearing and trembling but Jesus told her to go in peace and to be whole of her plague because her faith had made her whole.

While that is a wonderful story of the power of the Lord, that isn’t what I want to focus on. Jesus made the point that he had felt virtue go out of him. Since he told her that her faith had made her whole, I am led to believe that genuine faith gets his attention. One of the definitions of virtue is power. She had enough faith in Jesus to extract power out of his body. My question is this, “Do we have enough faith to extract power from the Lord?” Have we touched him through prayer by faith enough for him to even notice? When was the last time we believed that much and had that kind of faith? Can we touch the Lord by our faith to where he is able to feel it in himself? Do we have enough faith to make our touch any different from all others? We can have. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Just like this lady, her faith in the Lord for what she hoped for produced the evidence of things not seen. No one else had felt it or seen it or knew it to be fact, but she did. Because she is the one that had the faith. Can we touch the Lord by faith enough for him to feel it? Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

FINISHING RIGHT

FINISHING RIGHT                                                                                                                           Andy Hollifield 2-17-17

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” 2 Timothy 4:7. Very familiar words to anyone that has ever been to a funeral. Usually read-over scripture when you are trying to get to the crown of righteousness in the next verse. We always like to talk about that crown but we don’t want to dwell too much on the fight. Paul never said he won every battle or conquered every foe or rode out every storm fully intact. He just said, “I fought good”. Sometimes we get so wrapped in that crown that we forget that we really are in a fight with a real adversary that is seeking to devour us. This life ain’t a parade ground but a battlefield. It ain’t about marching in a tight little formation all the way to heaven, but its about crawling through a muddy foxhole fighting for the glory of God and trying to win some sin sick soul to the Lord and trying to rescue the perishing and comfort the dying. It’s about facing the storms, and there will be storms, and not losing faith in your God. To be honest with you, when you’re fighting hell by the acre, you’re not worrying about a crown. You’re only concern at that point is survival. Ask a soldier how worried he was about getting medals. He will probably tell you he is proud to have earned them now but at the time he couldn’t care less because he was just worried about the fight. This may rub some folks the wrong way but I am going to say it anyway, it would do us good to focus on the fighting and winning lost souls. Heaven will be there when we get there and right now we just need to be trying to get up a load to take with us.

Paul wrote a lot to encourage Timothy and others. I remember preacher Hanley Milby preaching about wounds and scars one time. I think he was actually preaching about dying on the battlefield. He made a statement about his time in the service I believe in Vietnam. He said he would listen to those young soldiers that hadn’t seen much if any action, talking around the fire at night about what they were going to do to the enemy. He said he noticed some older soldiers sitting off by themselves not saying much and he began to talk to them to find out what it was like. One of them apparently told him that he had trouble sleeping and late at night when the clouds hung low and it was cold, his wounds hurt him. He had been through some battles and some he had won and others he had lost and in some of them he had been wounded. They weren’t prancing around the fire bragging, but they were recalling what it really was to have been in a fight. I had a similar experience with an older soldier a couple of weeks after I had announced my calling to preach. I went to a church in West Asheville where a longtime friend of mine was pastoring. After I went in and the usual pleasantries were exchanged, I figured out that although I still went to church with his kids, pastor Warren Williams didn’t know I was preaching. I have never forgot the conversation that night almost 31 years ago. After the greetings and chit-chat I finally asked him if he had heard that I was preaching. He said no he hadn’t heard but that was good that I was. The next thing he said without even looking at me was “it’s a rough row to hoe.” I thought to myself “thanks a lot man. Way to encourage somebody”. But after a short pause, I heard him chuckle and I looked and saw tears streaming down his face and he said “but it’s a glorious one.” I knew when I saw that, that I was talking to an old soldier that had some wounds that hurt him when it got dark in his life. I also knew that he was just trying to fight good and was satisfied with his captain. He then said “well, you can just preach for us tonight.” That was the first church I ever preached in and now looking back, I’m the old preacher now and I have some of those wounds that hurt me when it is dark and the clouds in my life are hanging low. At those times, I am not worried about accolades and honors or even crowns, I am just worried about fighting good.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Know ye not that they run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” Paul goes on to speak about being temperate in all things and keeping his body under subjection so that (27)”…lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” I believe he was simply saying, ” I want to finish right.” “I have fought good but I need to finish right.” After 31 years of ministry I understand what he meant. I have seen too many things and took too many body shots and got the wind knocked out of me, and had too much heartache to just quit and make it all in vain. The older I get the more I realize that I need to finish right. There are some young kids and other folks that have confidence in me that I can’t afford to let down. There are some old saints and old preachers that have believed in me and helped me over the years and pushed me when I started out that I can’t let down. I have got a God that saved and keeps me that I can’t let down. I cannot let all the grace God has given me and all the victories he has won in my battles be for naught. I hear the footsteps behind me of that next generation walking where I am walking trying to find that old path that I have grown up in (Jeremiah 6:16). I have to keep making tracks so they can have somewhere to walk. I was saved right on the tail end of the days when folks truly worshipped and sought after God. I love the position that God has allowed me to be in. I love getting older in the ministry and seeing all the young folks dedicating themselves to the work of the Lord in whatever capacity they are. I want to be like Paul in the fact that I want to be an example that is fit for someone to follow. I don’t plan to finish for a long long time but when I do, I want to finish right. I truly have come too far to turn back now. What once seemed to be everything to me is just a far distant memory somewhere in my past. I am seeing the glow of that city just beyond a few horizons. I am closer than I have ever been. I am probably better than half way home. The Lord let me write a song when I first started preaching called “One Day Closer Home.” Little did I know then that as I got older that song would become more and more precious to me.

I have had too many prayers answered to stop short of the finish line. I am not working to get saved, I am working because I am saved. I am actually working because he is the most worthwhile part of my life and the only part that doesn’t change. Too many times he has let me walk out of hospitals leaving my doctors in amazement of what he has done. Too many times he has delivered me in storms that I was sure were going to take me down. Too many times he has tied the knot at the end of my rope and given me the strength to hold on and when I lost my grip, he held on to me. Too many times have I seen other folks prayers answered in impossible situations and God made it happen. Too many times have I experienced that perfect peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Too many times has that peace kept my heart and mind when it seemed I was about to lose both. Too many times have I heard of a friend having the “Big C” only to hear later that the “C” now meant clear. Just recently with a daughter of a couple I know. I don’t know her but God delivered way beyond what was expected. Too many times have I seen someone at death’s door only to turn and walk away from it and live a while longer. Too many times have I heard about the “good old days of the church are gone” only to know that my God don’t change and see him show up and show out just because he can. Don’t tell me that God ain’t moving like he used to because I still crave what I seen as a kid and although I didn’t fully understand what I was seeing, I realize now that it is all that I want. God will move like that if we want it bad enough to seek it from him. Programs won’t get it. Preaching and outlines and hours of study won’t get it. We’ve got more education, technology, capability, and tools to serve God with than we’ve ever had and have less power and Spirit of God than at any time in the history of man. It’s not all those things that make us spiritual. It’s dedicating ourselves in prayer and seeking God for everything in our lives and walking it when we get off of our knees. It ain’t matching the first letters of all our words in an outline, it’s matching what we do with what God says do. The only way we can know what God wants out of us is to go ask him. Brother so and so’s latest book or his ancient sermon outlines won’t tell me what God wants me to do. They might help our spiritual growth but there is nothing that can possibly replace getting orders from headquarters, straight from the captain to the chaplain. Too many times I have seen it work when we “seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things will be added unto you.”(Matthew 6:33).

I guess I better close now but I hope that I have said something under the leadership of the Holy Ghost that will help you watch your walk cause someone else is watching it. Finish right! Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

 

WHO TOUCHED ME?

WHO TOUCHED ME?                                                                                                                  Andy Hollifield 2-16-17

As I sat in church Wednesday night, something was said about the woman with the issue of blood touching Jesus. That made me start wondering just how many people did actually touch Jesus. That may sound kind of silly until you stop to think about it. He touched a lot of people but how many people actually physically touched him? That may strike you as an unimportant question but it really isn’t. Touch is one of the five basic senses. Sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Touching is the only sense that involves anything other than our head and one of only two that involve movement you can see; taste and touch. The rest are stationary senses and the tongue is limited in its movement. Touch is the only sense of our major extremities and again one of only three, including the lips, that are capable of initiating contact. Touch is in my mind the only multi-faceted sense of the human body. It determines firmness of a handshake and softness of a baby’s skin. It also detects temperature and texture as well as pain. The other senses except the tongue, which also detects temperature, texture, and pain, all have one basic function for the most part. A human touch can alleviate or inflict pain. It can also calm and soothe and relieve fear and pain. Touch communicates intimacy such as between a mother and a baby. Initiating touch to another person is a deeply personal gesture. Putting your arm around someone’s shoulder may give comfort or make them uncomfortable. Touching someone’s face is a deeply personal gesture. To put it plain, you have to have a special relationship to hug someone and even more intimate to touch their face. That is far more personal than shaking hands. My point in all this is to say that folks that touched Jesus physically had a special bond that others didn’t necessarily have.

In my study unless I missed someone, I found only probably six and possibly eight that actually touched Jesus in a display of either faith or affection while he was alive. There were a lot that touched him in anger. I will try to highlight the good touches for you. This may not seem too important right now but by the time we are done I think you will see it in a whole different light. I know I did. First was Mary and you have to assume Joseph. The bible doesn’t say that he did but it would be a natural assumption based on the prenatal and early childhood care that he provided for Mary and Jesus that Joseph was an affectionate father. Those two to me were kind of no-brainers.

Luke 2:28 tells us that Simeon “came by the Spirit into the temple” when Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to be circumcised. The next verse says the “Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God…” Can you imagine the closeness Simeon must have felt with the Savior at that moment? The fact that he was now holding the Lord’s promised Messiah in his hands as he had asked the Lord to allow him to do. He had actually only been promised to see him so holding him was a bonus.

The next was one of the probable ones, with Joseph being the other one, was the prophetess Anna. The bible only says that she seen him and “gave thanks likewise”. It is quite likely that she worshipped him the same way Simeon had only a moments before. She had finally seen come to pass the very thing that she had dedicated her life to. I have a hard time believing that she would just see him and proclaim him to everyone and give thanks and never hold him. It’s possible but not likely. There is also no record of the shepherds touching him in the manger that night but it is very possible they did. The same can be said for the wise men as they visited him in a house some time later.

I will try to hurry along as much as I can. John 1:29 speaks of his baptism by John the Baptist. Imagine if you will, the honor of getting to baptize the one that brought salvation to the world. Also in the book of John is Mary the sister of Lazarus in John 11:2 and 12:3. She is the one that anointed Jesus body for burial as he was eating with his disciples and Lazarus in their home in Bethany.  She broke an alabaster box of expensive spikenard and annointed his head and washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair while she continually kissed them.  Can you imagine the humbleness of her actions and the love for her Savior she must have had to do that? There is a lot of similarities and questions among scholars as to whether or not this anointing in John 12 is the same one as in Luke 7. I personally believe it is Mary the sister of Lazarus in John 12 because they had prepared Jesus a supper, presumably at their home in Bethany.  I believe it is Mary Magdalene in Luke 7 and it possibly took place in the city of Nain, which is the last city named that Jesus had went to. In Luke 7 in the home of Simon the Pharisee, a sinful woman of the city, possibly Nain, also anointed his feet with oil and washed them with her tears and dried them with her hair.  Plus, she had a reputation of a sinful woman and the sister of Lazarus didn’t.  Either way, a lot of the participants were the same and the spirit in which it was done was the same. Also in John 13 is the account of John the beloved leaning on his breast at the last supper.  Another person that touched Jesus.

The last one technically didn’t touch him but (Mark 5:27) only touched the hem of his garment but nevertheless, she touched enough. Jesus said it was her faith that saved her. Also in Matthew chapter 14:35 and 36, many were brought to him that were diseased and desired to touch the hem of his garment and as many as did they were made “perfectly whole”. Aren’t you glad that God don’t do anything part way but they were made perfectly whole.

We also have Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus that took Jesus’ body of the cross and prepared it for burial and put it in the tomb that touched him after his death. That in itself must have been a humbling experience and was a gracious display of love. Joseph had apparently been a long time “secret” disciple of Christ. Matthew 27:57 describes him as a rich man and a disciple. Mark 15 says he was a respected member of council and Luke 23:50-56 tells of an instance where he didn’t consent to the councils actions concerning Jesus. In John 19, he begged the body of Jesus and done the burial in his own tomb along with Nicodemus. In John 3 he had come to Jesus by night and left disappointed by what Jesus had told him. In John 7, it was Nicodemus that reminded his fellow members of the Sanhedrin court that according to the law, a person must be heard before they are judged. Then he appears here in chapter 19 and even provides spices for the burial. Since he is considered as a disciple of Christ, it is obvious that at some point he returned and accepted Christ.

There were many that touched Jesus in anger. It is very likely that since Malchus, the high priest’ servant, had his ear cut off, he may have been the one taking Jesus into custody. We know that Jesus replaced his ear immediately and we don’t hear any more of him. Judas however, kissed the door of heaven that night in the garden and went to hell. Although he was remorseful and tried to return the blood money he had been paid, he never repented to Christ, only in himself. You can repent to yourself and feel remorseful all you want and die and go to hell just like Judas. Unless you repent of your sins to the Lord, you will seal to yourself the same fate as Judas. You have no power to forgive your own sins so it is useless to repent within yourself.

In closing, I want to ask a question; could you be found guilty of touching Jesus? The account of the woman with the issue of blood said that when Jesus knew that virtue had gone out of him he asked, “who touched me?” It goes on to say in Mark 5:33 “But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth.” Would Jesus even know if you touched him in a crowd? Something to think about isn’t it? She said in verse 28, “…If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole.” Unwavering faith yielded impossible results. What others had failed to do, he done without even trying. He can do the same for you. It don’t matter how wrecked your life may seem, you don’t have to go the way of Judas. If you are reading this, God is being merciful and giving you another opportunity to kiss the door of heaven and repent and gain entry. All you have to do is touch him. When you do, he will know it and you will (33) know what is done in you. If you just try to touch him in faith with your prayer of repentance, he will without question touch you and you too shall be made perfectly whole. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

ACCIDENTAL MIRACLE

ACCIDENTAL MIRACLE                                                                                                              Andy Hollifield 2-15-17

Valentine’s Day is a lot larger holiday than you probably think. According to History.com, more than 62 % of Americans celebrate Valentine’s day by giving cards, flowers, gifts, romantic dinners, and more. Lupercalia was an ancient Roman fertility festival but the Christian church chose mid February to celebrate St. Valentine’s day thus capitalizing on the celebratory festivities of the Roman holiday. Claudius II, emperor of Rome banned marriage at one point for young single men believing that single men made better soldiers. One Christian cleric named Valentine was sentenced to death for continuing to perform marriage ceremonies in spite of the ban around 278 AD. One tradition says that Valentine became fond of his jailer’s daughter prior to his death and left her a card that was signed; love, your Valentine. Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as the day to honor the death of St. Valentine. The holiday became linked with love and romance in the 1300’s and also in part because it was believed that bird’s mating season began on February 14th. Some accounts have the tradition of cards being exchanged occurring first in the 1700’s in Great Britain even though some have the first greetings and letters in the 1500’s. The first mass-produced Valentine’s Day cards in the US appeared in the 1840’s and the holiday quickly caught on. It is estimated that 1 billion cards are sent on Valentine’s Day, more than any other holiday except Christmas. Over 35 million heart-shaped boxes are sold each year as well as over 220 million roses are produced for the holiday for a typical year. Americans alone spend almost 20 billion dollars on Valentine’s Day. That is an average of 130 dollars per person per year. The favorite gifts are Chocolate, flowers, and jewelry in that order. The expenditure for jewelry though, can exceed as much as 4 billion annually. Also, some 6 million couples are likely to get engaged on Valentine’s Day. Of course the little, fat, eagle-eyed, archer Cupid is said to be the child of Venus the Roman Goddess of all things romantic love, beauty, etc…

Now that we have wasted a couple hundred words on totally useless information that you are destined to forget, we will move on to other things about the day. In 1919 UPS was started. Also, the first action that a Medal Of Honor was awarded for concluded on this day. In 1929 the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre occurred in Chicago. In 2000, tornadoes swept through southern Georgia killing 18 people. In 1884, fifteen years prior to becoming president, Teddy Roosevelt’s wife and mother die within hours of each other. Finally, something that affects us all, Penicillin was discovered. Sir Alexander Fleming accidentally discovered penicillin. Fleming had left a plate of Staphylococcus bacteria uncovered. He noticed later that a mold had fallen onto the culture and had killed many of the bacteria. Thus penicillin notatum (a mold similar to the one on old bread) was born and was introduced to the country on February 14th, 1929. It was introduced as a way to kill bacterial infections. From this one discovery by accident, many thousands of lives have been saved. Diseases such as diphtheria, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, and typhoid fever are just a few examples of bacterial infections. All of which can be fatal if left untreated.

With all of that said, I am thankful that we have a remedy for these types of infections that are caused by microscopic little things that get in your system and can eventually kill you. We still have a bigger problem though. We will take penicillin for these infections caused by bacteria, but we reject the antibiotic that will cure the infection caused by sin. We have a remedy. The second definition of remedy is; something that corrects or removes an evil of any kind. The word remedy is used in the Old Testament three times and not at all in the New Testament. The scriptures in the Old Testament all say without remedy or no remedy. I believe personally that it is not mentioned in the New Testament because the remedy has a name: Jesus Christ! All throughout the New Testament in example after example we find that Jesus is the remedy for sin. Don’t take my word for it, let’s look at some examples:

In John 4, we find Jesus traveling from Judea back to Galilee, a distance of about 70 miles or two and a half days. It is believed that normally Jews took the other route through Perea, east of Jordan, because of their hatred of Samaritans. But Jesus said he must needs go through Samaria. I believe it was because he had an appointment with a particular woman to tell her all things she had ever done. Also a lot of others believed because of her. Sounds a lot like a remedy for the wreck she had made of her life.

In John chapter 8 there is a woman taken in the very act of adultery. The law required that she be stoned. When they asked Jesus what to do, he calmly told them to let the one without sin throw the first one. When he looked again, no one was there. He told the woman that he didn’t condemn her but not to sin any more. From the jaws of death and an angry mob, to walking away with a clean heart and forgiveness of sin. There hadn’t been a remedy like that before.

There was also another woman in Matthew chapter 9. Although she wasn’t sinful, she had been 12 years in her condition and she had spent all her living on doctors but hadn’t got any better but only got worse. We know that she touched the hem of his garment and that was all it took. She had at long last found her remedy.

In 1 Kings 17 we find a widow that was one handful of meal and a little oil away from starvation. No record of her being a great sinner. She was just a mother trying to care for her son when she met God’s man. After her encounter with him, when she dipped her scoop down in the meal barrel that day she got a lot more than she was asking for. She found a remedy for her situation.

In 2 Kings 4, we find another widow with a broken heart and a couple of boys on their way to becoming slaves. When Elisha told them to borrow all the vessels they could find, they did. This woman was even the wife of a prophet that had died, but she had a problem she couldn’t fix so God did. In the face of losing all she held dear, she still believed and trusted God and found her remedy.

I have mentioned several cases from sickness to debt to sin sickness such as adultery to just not having enough to feed her family. God is still a remedy, excuse me, THE REMEDY for all of our needs. What is keeping you from going to the great Physician to get your remedy? No need to set there without enjoying your salvation. Penicillin may have been a miracle cure in 1929 but Jesus puts the MIRACLE in miracle cure. When will you accept the antibiotics and get your remedy? It was no accident that the miracle of salvation took place. God is still offering love and forgiveness today. I hope you have enjoyed the history part of this post but I especially hope you enjoyed the rest of it. He is the greatest Valentine you could possibly have. He is the subject of the greatest love story ever told and he is still saying: BE MINE! Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

WHEN YOUR SHIP IS FULL

WHEN YOUR SHIP IS FULL                                                                                                      Andy Hollifield 2-15-18

Mark 4:35-41 And the same day, when the evening was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. (36) And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. (37) And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. (38) And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? (39) And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. (40) And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith? (41) And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

Just seven little verses containing one little story but man alive how much is in them! The thought I wanted to focus on mainly is found in verse 37 and is the last phrase of the verse: “so that it was now full.” I believe we can all probably relate to that and it most likely don’t need a lot of explanation. If you can’t relate to it yet, hang on because at some point in your life you will. You know, we always like to throw around 1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it.” We especially like the part where it says: “But God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.” We like to say “he won’t put more on us than we can bear.” That’s not exactly what it said. He said “tempted above that ye are able.” He’s not talking about carrying a burden or else he wouldn’t have had Peter to write in 1 Peter 5:7 “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” The tempted part I believe means exactly that; when we are tempted to give up and quit or tempted to throw aside what we know is pleasing to the Lord and just follow our own will. The part we don’t like so much is where he says that “with the temptation” he will also make a way of escape. He don’t snatch the temptation away, he just provides us a way to escape if we choose so that we can bear it. That means we have to endure the temptation and withstand it and choose the way to escape but we still have to bear it. Do you see the difference? It would be nice if he didn’t put stuff on us to start with but just like a good truck, we will never know how good it is until we can see how it can handle a load. God knows what we can handle but he wants us to see for ourselves. After you see how much of a load you can take, there are a lot of loads that seem a lot lighter and easier to bear. I hope I have managed to make that make sense.

Before you think I have got completely out in left field, we are still talking about your ship being full. Keep in mind that it got full because they were in a great storm of wind and waves. These men were professional fishermen, at least some of them were, so I would imagine it took quite a storm to scare them. Keep something else in mind too; these men were with Christ and were there in that storm as a result of their complete obedience to him. Have you ever been there? You were doing exactly what you knew was pleasing to the Lord, walking as close as you could to him and striving to get closer and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you are in a storm like you’ve never seen and your ship, that was on a smooth sea, is now tossed with the wind and waves and is full of water and you get scared that you are going under. It is easy to forget who is on board with you when the storm blows up suddenly and you are hanging on for dear life. Then there is often Job’s friends that come by and say, “What have you done? You must have done something or God wouldn’t allow this to come on you.” Sometimes, it is not that you have done anything but just so he can show you how much you can take and just because it is according to his purpose and his will concerning you. He doesn’t have to give us an explaination and usually don’t, at least not at first. I found out at Mission Hospital years ago just what I could take. When you have to lay across your baby to hold him down for a shot with him looking in your eyes like he is wondering why you are not helping him, it doesn’t get much harder than that. That was bad but already having been told that he was showing all the signs of Menengitis made it even worse. I was crying and my baby was crying and I never have forgot how that felt to me. Little did I know that it was all a set up. God was setting us up for a miracle just a few days later that wouldn’t have brought glory to him any other way. Like my preacher buddy Barry Jenkins posted a while back; “A big Miracle always starts with a big problem.” You could even say it starts with a full boat. The big miracle was that the following Tuesday morning, we were sent home and had been told that it must have been an allergic reaction to some medicine he had taken for 10 days and had been off of for two weeks. I don’t buy that! I believe that what happened was somewhere between the clinic at the end of Leicester Highway and Patton Avenue on Saturday and Mission Hospital on Tuesday morning, the great physician came by and touched my baby boy and made him whole. I went from that smooth sea to a full ship then to the great calm like in verse 39. When he said “Peace be still” the wind and waves that filled my ship had to lay down. And by the way; he always cares if you are about to perish. But, if they had of been about to perish, he wouldn’t have been asleep in the back of their boat. He knew what was going to happen but they didn’t.

I want to throw something else out for you to chew on; what do you think happened to the little ships and why do you think it said “there were also with him other little ships?” Why didn’t it say “with them?” My opinion is this: I believe those little ships weren’t as heavy as the big ship and they were probably able to stay on top of the waves. I also think maybe they were there just to see the miracle that Jesus was about to do. Have you ever wondered “Why me?” when the storms hit and filled your ship? Like I said earlier; you were living just where you needed to be when the storm hit. Have you ever thought that maybe the reason it was your ship that got full was because God knew you could hold up in the storm and maybe there were some little ships around, maybe even some you had been praying for, that couldn’t handle that storm like you did, that needed to see the miracle that God was going to perform in your life before their eyes?

Verse 41 tells us that they were amazed because of what they had seen Jesus do. But to see the end of the story you have to go to chapter 5 verse 1. “And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes.” Did you catch that? They got where he told them they were going in chapter 4: to the other side. Did you notice who the only ones were that seen the miracle of him calming the wind and sea? It was the ones that had been obedient and took him in the ship, even as he was (I love that phrase), and set out for the other side. They really had a story to tell when they got to the other side! You will miss out on a great blessing if you try to rewrite your story. Just take him, even as he is, and sail with him. Sail with him through the storms and through the good times. Remember this; you can’t really appreciate the peace and great calm until you have been through the great storm. He is that way of escape so you can bear it. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

REAPING WHAT WE SOW

REAPING WHAT WE SOW                                                                                                           Andy Hollifield 2-16-18

Psalms 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all nations that forget God.

Genesis 6:3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

Psalms 136:12 With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm: for his mercy endureth forever.

Isaiah 55:6-9 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (7) Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord.

Galatians 6:7-9 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (8) For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. (9) And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

I really do try to stay away from this type of stuff because I want to be an encouragement to folks. But, the fact is that sometimes we just need to be smacked up side of the head with the truth and events like the Florida school shootings bring to light the depravity of the human race. To deprave means to make morally bad or evil. Truly we are now reaping the results of creating a society where “God” is just a byword and is said to be just a crutch for weak-minded people. Call me what you want but as far as I know, a crutch is a support you lean on when you don’t have the ability to walk or stand on your own power. You can call my Christianity a crutch if you want to but if my God keeps me from falling flat on my face and helps me to stand through the storms of life and keep on walking, then so be it.

I was looking at Facebook Thursday afternoon and I ran across a question from a local law enforcement officer that also happens to be a great preacher. The question he asked was this: Thoughts on arming well-trained teachers as a deterrent to school shootings? That is a very thought-provoking question. I don’t normally respond to a lot of stuff on anyone’s page but I felt it was necessary in the wake of current events to show support for an obvious solution. I have included my response in the paragraph below:

Anyone would be a lot slower to go in and start shooting anywhere if they knew there was a likelihood that someone would be shooting back. Whoever took the job as school security needs a gun and a uniform so they aren’t mistaken for a shooter when law enforcement arrives on scene. We do need to start by putting God back in school but that can only happen by putting him back in hearts, homes, and churches. We have spent 45 years since Roe v. Wade (1973) demonstrating a complete disregard for human life. This came about 10 years after the bible was taken out of schools and 11 years after prayer was taken out. No amount of legislation is going to change the heart of anyone. We had another chance to turn back to God in 1999 with the We Still Pray movement and in 1994 with the Family Values March in Asheville, NC. God also tried to get our attention when he delivered our fighting men and women from the Iraqi Red Guard (1991) and again in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. None of those conflicts were as costly in American lives as they had the potential to be. My personal opinion; that is over half a century of kicking God out of everything. It will not be fixed overnight unless our nation turns back to God with more than lip service. Have you noticed that no one was on TV Tuesday calling for prayer for our nation? It was only on Wednesday, and not too many then, when tragedy hit that anyone wanted to call on God. According to what I have read, a generation is usually considered anywhere from 25-40 years depending on the criteria you use to measure it. That means we have raised 1.5-2.5 generations that place little if any value on God because that is what we have taught them. Unless God is merciful and intervenes with a mighty work, we will most likely have to spend just about as much time raising kids to fear the Lord as we have teaching them that he is not a priority. We have spent 57 years or more (1961-2018) telling God to butt out because we don’t need him. That is the only attitude our kids know. I believe we are starting to see what our country looks like without God’s hand of protection over it. This is just my opinion except for this verse Psalms 9:17 “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all nations that forget God.”

I would never presume to declare anything as being the judgment of God because I don’t know his mind or thoughts because as the bible says in Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” I do know this; as the British politician Edmund Burke (1729-1797) said: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” That quote was made even more famous in a speech by John F. Kennedy. We have done nothing and let the devil come in and rob us of the godly heritage that we had to the point that not only is it forgotten, but it is hated and reviled. There is no denying that the foundation of our country was predicated upon dependence on God and so also must our survival depend upon him. The one thing in eight years of the Obama administration that he said that I reluctantly have to agree with is this, “America is no longer a Christian nation.” We are not because we have chosen to place our own greed, lusts, ambition, and self-reliance ahead of and in place of any dependence upon almighty God. Unfortunately, that is true as we have proven to have become anything but “Christ-like” as a nation. The corruption we are reaping in several different areas of our society, I believe, is a direct result of man”sowing to his flesh.” Since putting God out to pasture, our nation has become spiritually, morally, and financially bankrupt. Don’t get me wrong, this is still the best country on the planet as far as I am concerned but I have only been to one other one. I do love my country and pray for it and would love to see it once again become the Christian nation that it used to be. The one that our fighting men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice for. The nation that the entire world either looked up to or feared. Are we reaping what we have sown? Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

HERE; HAVE A TASTE

HERE; HAVE A TASTE                                                                                                                Andy Hollifield 2-15-19 (KJV)

Did you realize the word “taste” is used in the bible 22 times. The first time it is used was the first time that Israel received manna and described its taste as wafers made with honey. The last time is in Hebrews 2:9 where it speaks of Jesus saying “…that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. Isn’t it interesting that both of those verses are talking about life-sustaining bread for God’s people?  Five of those times were speaking of “tasting death.” The word “tasting” is not used in the bible and the word “tasted” is used only 8 times.

Psalms 34:8 is a wonderful invitation and it says, “O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” Psalms 119:103 describing God’s word says, “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Those exclamation marks show the excitement of the writer. Hopefully by the time you finish reading this you will be able to put some exclamation marks in your testimony.

Do you remember your first taste? The first time you felt the Holy Ghost settle in on your soul like a thick fog on the water on a dark night just engulfing you. Remember that? It was different from anything else you ever felt. It was kind of a strange but yet peaceful feeling and the moment it left you, you immediately wanted it back. Do you remember that? I kind of thought you would. I bet your mind just went back to that place and time didn’t it? Do you know why? Because you tasted him and he was good. That started a craving that hopefully will never be satisfied until we stand face to face with our Savior. Then, it will be eternally how we will feel just engulfed by his presence throughout eternity.

But until we get there, we have to face tomorrow. The psalmist said that his words are sweeter than honey. Honey gets its sweetness from two simple sugars called fructose and glucose. If we want God’s words to be as honey in our lives we also need to combine two simple things; prayer and his word. If we combine those two, it will sweeten our lives to where we will also be revered by those around us because of our sweetness. Jesus called it being as “a city set on a hill.”  If you think that is good listen to this. Most micro organisms do not grow in honey. Therefore it doesn’t spoil if it is sealed, even after thousands of years. Does that sound familiar to you? That is just like us! 2 Corinthians 1:22 speaking of God says “Who hath sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. Do you what “earnest” means? Listen to this, you’ll love it. “A portion of something given or done in advance as a pledge of the remainder.” Listen to this one: “Anything that gives pleadge, promise, or indication of what is to follow.” Those are according to Dictionary.com. That sounds just exactly like Jesus’ work on the cross doesn’t it? He gave us that comforter which is the Holy Ghost, as just a little testimony of the remainder of what is to come for us. Ephesians 1:13 says, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” What was that promise? John 3:16 “…that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” That was when we got put into the jar by the Holy Ghost. It gets better; Ephesians 4:30 “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Did you catch that? “Sealed;” that means we don’t spoil and we stay pure, still sweet after thousands of years. Just as preserved as the day we accepted that promise of the holy Spirit. The Promise? Acts 1:11 “…Ye men of Galilee why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Why would Jesus come back after what we put him through because of our sins? To keep his promise in John 14:2-3 after he told his followers prior to his ascension “I go to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”

Do you know where I got all of those answers to the questions I asked? I got them from God’s word. That word that is sweeter than honey in my mouth! That word whereby we were begotten unto salvation (Acts 13:33). Preserved throughout eternity without end. Here; have a taste! Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!