FILLED UP OR STILL HUNGRY

FILLED UP OR STILL HUNGRY                                                                                                Andy Hollifield 2-14-17

In churches a lot of times you will see people who are really spiritual …… when they are there. The trouble is that they are not real regular at being there. The bible says in Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” I am afraid that in the day we are living that we have a lot of people that are just dropping in for a snack. It don’t seem like there are too many with a genuine hunger for the things of God anymore. I don’t mean to sound judgemental but just based on personal experience, when I get hungry I go looking for something to eat. If I am at home, I always know where to go find it. If I am not at home, I know a few signs of restaurants where I can go and get something I like for a price. It is the same way with God. If we are willing to pay the price, God will allow us to sit in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6) and eat from his table. The price has been paid for the gift but we still have to be responsible for accepting delivery. To accept delivery, we do have to be present. His table is at his house. I know that God can bless wherever we are but I also know that he said in Hebrews 10:25 “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much more as ye see the day approaching.”

I have been raised in church practically all of my life. I have been in both big and small churches. The one common thing I found among all of them is that very few people know the leading of the Lord like they once did. The bible says in 1 John 1:1 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God:….” Sometimes we can even get so caught up in wanting something from the Lord that we miss his will altogether. I have done this recently as a matter of fact. Just wanting to partake of God’s goodness to his people, that you miss his leading. Those are some lean times when you crave for something that you just can’t get in on. Although it is kind of miserable when you are seeking the Lord and just can’t get hooked up so to speak, it is also a good indication of your relationship with him. Even if you are temporarily hindered, you can work that out in prayer. It is those who have no desire that are my greatest concern. I have been in the place where my desire has not been what it ought to be. When that happens, it can always be traced back to a power failure on my part. God still has the power but there has been a short-circuit in my life. If I am concerned enough to try to solve the problem, I can always find where I have let sin creep into my heart and mind and it has grounded out my power with the Lord. I have a couple of strands of electric fence around my pasture inside of my barbed wire. From time to time, I will check the fence and find out that it isn’t charging. The power is still on and the charger is working but there is no juice in the pasture. Every single time this happens, without exception, I can start walking the fence and somewhere I will find either that the fence is broken or that the electric fence has made contact with the barbed wire and grounded it out. It is the same way with our spiritual life. Sometimes we simply make contact with something that we shouldn’t and lose power. It may not be anything bad but it may just be something that hinders us. One of my personal examples is football. I really enjoy watching a good football game and the Carolina Panthers especially. I have found out however, if I am having to preach on Sunday night, it is best if I don’t watch them on Sunday afternoon. Not that there is anything at all wrong with football, but if they manage to lose in a ridiculous way or there is bad officiating, I get too worked up about it. The best thing I can do is if I know something hinders me, avoid it. The devil uses that against me to hinder me if I am preaching. He may not control the outcome of the game, but if he can distract me enough to get me all worked up about it, it will short out my power. I am afraid that too often we don’t take care to keep stuff off of our fence. The ultimate result winds up being that we lose what we are trying to contain. Not our salvation, but our close relationship with the Lord. If you are right with the Lord, you will miss that and try to correct it. That is a long description of getting out of the will of God and getting cold and indifferent on him. Indifferent to the point that you aren’t concerned with the things of the Lord. You can get that way sitting on the pew every service. That being the case, just think how quick you can get there if you only show up occasionally to the Lord’s house. I don’t go days at a time without eating because I will get weak and unable to function, so I shouldn’t think I can deprive my soul of spiritual nourishment without getting the same result.

I have always been pretty bad to use sarcasm and I don’t mean to be disrespectful. In my own life, I have always been able to justify in my mind at least, why I do the things I do. The bible says in Proverbs 16:2 “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.” It also says in Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” In Proverbs 21:2 “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.” Plainly put, we don’t know what is right and therefore must seek the Lord. We can justify ourselves all we want to but in the end, God knows our hearts. He knows whether or not we are hungering and thirsting after him. The bottom line is that we make time for what is important to us. We find time to do what we want to. If we can’t manage to get to the Lord’s house on a regular basis, it is simply because we don’t want to. God knows our hearts and even when we are sick, he knows whether we really are or if we are just hunting an excuse to justify our desire to lay out. I don’t mean to sound mean but if we want a closer walk with the Lord, we have to get honest with ourselves.

What I really can’t understand is this: how someone can show up at church once a week or every couple of weeks and just shout the house down so to speak and I go three or four times a week, read my bible, pray, and still have to repent and only occasionally get in a service where the Lord just blesses to that extent. Either God is a respecter of persons and holds them to a lower standard than me or there is a lot of noise without a whole lot of spirit going on. I can tell you without doubt that God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). God definitely doesn’t hold us to different standards when it comes to blessing us. Proverbs 28:13 says “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” “Forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” is sin. God will not bless us with his spirit and allow us to “sit in heavenly places” when we are willfully sinning against him. Hebrews 10:26, the verse immediately following where he tells us to assemble together says “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (27) But a certain fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation, which shall devour adversaries.” A “CERTAIN” looking for of judgement. Without question you can look for judgement, not blessings, if you fail to assemble yourselves together. I didn’t write it but that is what God’s word says. If God didn’t bless Jonah because he tried to shirk the command of God, why would he bless us when we shirk the command of God? He won’t!

It would seem that some folks just get a lot more mileage between fill ups than others. That could be because they have smaller engines that generate a lot less power. I am thankful that I apparently have a big engine and don’t get good mileage. I have to get filled up regularly just to get by. I can’t run for weeks at a time without coming to God’s house. My prayer is that I will produce enough power of God in my life that my light will shine bright enough for others to see. To put it plain and simple; if you don’t have a hunger and thirst for the things of God, why not? Have you ever tasted the good things of God? Hebrews 6:4 says “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, (5) And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, (6) If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” You cannot renew yourselves again, but God can forgive you. It requires repentance. Repenting when we sin is not an option but a requirement. You cannot do just pick up where you left off with the Lord without repentance. That is, IF you have ever tasted of him. If you think that God is working that way in your life, you might want to check up on your soul and see if what you have is actually him. He will never operate against his own word. If you don’t have a hunger and thirst that makes you want to eat and drink on a regular basis, according to his word; you don’t have him. I hope this will help you. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

OUR PROPITIATION

OUR PROPITIATION                                                                                                                       Andy Hollifield 2-14-18

I realize that today is Valentine’s Day and I want to wish each of you; man, woman, boy, or girl, a happy one. Also, for anyone that might struggle through this day like I have many times in the past, don’t think that this day is for everyone else. If you will read to the end, with God’s help I hope to show you that you have and are the most precious Valentine of all time. I said that right; you have the most precious Valentine because of what Jesus did for you and you are the most precious Valentine because he thought you were worth everything it cost him to have you as his own.

“Oh what a story, I love you was written in blood. Rivers of mercy were flowing, from the matchless fountain of love. The ransom was paid for every man’s soul. On an old rugged cross the great love story that was told. The greatest love story is the old rugged cross.” Unfortunately, those aren’t my words but the words of Rick and Rusty Goodman of the Happy Goodman family southern gospel singers. There is no better story because “greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Those are the words of God’s only begotten Son Jesus Christ and he was speaking of his love for us because that is exactly what he did for us because he loves us. John 3:16 talks about the love of his Father for his most prized creation; mankind. It starts off with these words; “For God so loved the world that he gave…” End of story, he gave. He is still giving to all that will come unto him in repentance of their sins. I do want to list just a few verses to show exactly what was accomplished on the cross for you and I. After all, when Jesus cried “It is finished,” it was. With his last breath, the sacrifice was finished and only the resurrection and ascension remained. Also, the placing of the blood on the mercy seat. That last sacrifice that would have to be made. That sinless, spotless, perfect lamb of God that was and is the propitiation for our sins.

Romans 3:23-25 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; (24) Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: (25) Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are through the forbearance of God.

1 John 2:1-3 My little children, I write unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (2) And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (3) And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

1 John 4:8-10 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (9) In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Those scriptures are the only three times the word “propitiation” is used in the bible. I do want to look at some definitions that will help us better understand what it was that Christ really is for us and also what he did for us that we could not do for ourselves. The first of course is the word “propitiate” which means to make favorable inclined; to appease; or conciliate. He definitely made us favorably inclined unto his Father. Not since Adam sinned in the garden had man had a way to be truly favorable in the eyes of God. Jesus did what all the sacrifices before could not do; he didn’t just atone for our sins and put off the judgment of God, but he purchased forgiveness of our sins and bought us the favor of God once again. The word “appease” means to bring to a state of peace, quiet, ease, calm, or contentment; pacify; soothe. Jesus not only purchased us peace and contentment but his death, burial, and resurrection also pacified and satisfied the judgment of a holy and righteous God. It also means to relieve and assuage which means to make milder or less severe and to ease, soothe, calm, or mollify. “Conciliate” means to overcome the distrust or hostility of, and to placate or win over. It also means to win or gain goodwill, regard, or favor. Also to make compatible and to reconcile. If that isn’t a good definition of what Jesus did for us I don’t know what is. Did you notice how that every one of those definitions brought you right back around to the last one? God don’t never leave out even the smallest detail. One more definition that I believe will be a blessing to you is “finished.” The word spoken from the cross and I am sure no one in attendance even came close to grasping the full meaning of the word that day. The original word is actually “teleo” which not only means to “finish” but also means to bring to a close; passed; to perform, execute, complete, fulfil, to carry out the contents of a command, to pay, and to accomplish. Our modern word is defined like this: ended or completed. Completed or perfected in all details, as a product. I like this one especially; polished to the highest degree of excellence. Think about all of that. It not only means to end but to fulfil to the greatest detail. No improvement can ever be made on the work that Jesus did on the cross; plus nothing, minus nothing!

I guess I may have gotten a little carried away but I refuse to apologize. It thrills me to really sit down and think of just exactly what Jesus did for me. As the writers said, “I love you was written in blood.” The last blood, the last sacrifice, the only blood that could possibly satisfy the holiness of God. Whether you are alone and struggling or with the love of your life; just remember it all pales in comparison to how much Jesus loves you. His is a perfect love. It doesn’t diminish with time or distance and if it could change at all it would only intensify. But the good news is that it can’t change. It is a perfect love. It is utterly impossible for him to love us anymore than what he does. I hope this will help each of you to get through your day. Think on this; regardless of how good or bad today may be for you, there is always one that loves you more than anyone else ever possibly could. After all, he did give his life that you might live through him and he is “our propitiation.” Happy Valentine’s Day! Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

 

WHEN YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND

WHEN YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND                                                                                          Andy Hollifield 1-12-19

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.

That is a hard verse to digest isn’t it? There are a lot of things that happen in our lives that we just can’t understand. I have learned throughout my life, and still learning, that God saved me because I was a sinner that needed salvation. He didn’t save me so I could be an advisor to him. I also don’t have a seat on a board to where he needs to clear what he does through me and get my approval. The sooner we get that figured out, the better off we are. You can’t really accept help from someone when you are mad at them. When we get bitter about how God does things, we aren’t receptive to his help.

I have always had a hard time understanding cancer. I have seen it take family and friends both young and old. Probably the biggest thing I can’t understand is why babies die and also why little kids have birth defects or handicaps. I have wrestled that for years and I don’t believe there is a satisfactory answer. Another thing is why good people die and it seems like heathens live forever. I have a partial answer for that one though. Good people die because, if they have accepted the Lord, they are ready and have finished their course in this life. God is being merciful when he allows the heathens to live a long time. He is giving them every opportunity possible to repent and accept him as their Savior. As far as cancer, babies, and kids, I have come to the conclusion that God knows best and we don’t have to understand it, we just have to trust the Lord and accept it. I say that with some experience, having lost a child through miscarriage.

As I look back at my life, I can see numerous things that, given the chance I would do a lot different than I did. That is why it pays to walk with the Lord. Had I been as close to the Lord as I tried to make people believe I was, I would have made some much different decisions on some things. It is true that hindsight is 20/20. Since we can’t relive the past and have no promise of tomorrow, we have to live in the present in a way pleasing to him.

Although Isaiah 55:9 may not bring comfort as far as explaining things, it does bring some comfort. Can you imagine facing the things I have mentioned and having to rely on our own understanding for comfort? It is comforting to know that we do serve a God that not only knows all things but can do all things. He can give his peace that passes all understanding in those times. I’m no theologian but I do have a pretty good understanding of that verse, Philippians 4:7. I believe it means having peace when it makes absolutely no sense that you would have peace. If you ever experience that kind of peace once, you will desire it when you get in one of those type of situations again. It is good to know that God is “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3). “All comfort.” Not just a little bit but all that we need in our situation.

We sing a song from the old Stamps/Baxter red hymnal called “Grace For Every Need.” I have learned in a lot of different situations, God does have the exact grace we need. Like he told Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “… My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” When we feel like we have gone as far as we can go, God’s strength will carry us through. Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (6) In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Sometimes, when we don’t understand what God is doing, it is hard to trust with all of our heart. He tells us in those times we can’t count on our understanding but if we will acknowledge him, he will direct us how we should go. It is hard to follow his paths when we don’t know where he is leading. “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

We don’t have to like what he is doing all the time but we do have to trust him all the time. Jonah is a good picture of the results of not trusting God. I am not talking about being swallowed by the fish but about the sermon he preached. Do you realize that he preached one sermon and over 120,000 repented in sackcloth and ashes and even covered their livestock with sackcloth and ashes. Jonah was still so bitter about what he had suffered for his disobedience, that he couldn’t enjoy the fact that God had just let him become the most successful evangelist ever. One message and over 120,000 souls trusting the Lord and repenting and he was bitter about it. I have been in that shape when I had my kidney transplant. I was so scared and bitter and also way out of God’s will, that I couldn’t even see how he was going to use that, then and now, to reach others. His thought and ways were definitely far above mine. You miss out on those blessings when you don’t fully trust him when you don’t understand. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

A GOOD NEIGHBOR

A GOOD NEIGHBOR                                                                                                                    Andy Hollifield 1-18-17
On the news this week we have heard people calling for protests and riots and “civil disobedience” all because we disagree on various politicians or their opinions. Two years ago, we all loved to hate Donald Trump. He was just another rich, arrogant, reality TV star. Widely renowned as a suspected womanizer, chauvinist, and probably someone who a lot of us would be very content never to make acquaintance with in our lifetime. Certainly not someone we would want our daughters to bring home as a boyfriend. Now 24 months later we have all turned on each other simply because of an election. I am not going to make this post entirely about politics but this election has brought to the forefront a serious problem that has been lying dormant and festering for probably an entire generation. We are no longer neighbors. I am not talking about sitting on the front porch type of neighbors but I am talking about the helping a man with a carload of kids get his tire changed in the rain on the way to church kind of neighbor. Here in the south, I remember those type of neighbors. The old man on 19-23 near Weaverville that picked up a teenage boy walking home at night in the dark cause his car had quit on the interstate type of neighbor. I never knew his name but I have never forgot him and still appreciate his kindness. I know we live in a different world than in 1982 but we can still be kind to people. Jesus gave commandment in Luke 6:27 to “Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, (28) Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. That is not a suggestion but a command from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We don’t have to agree and we don’t have to compromise but we don’t have to beat each other up either. We need to stop and listen to ourselves. Listen to what we are saying. We are Americans! The same ones whose fathers and grandfathers were part of “the greatest generation”. Not called that by themselves but by those of us that have come after them. Not called that because of their diplomacy or riches or social standing but because they were willing to give all of that up for the simple idea that this country could not and would not allow the spread of tyranny around the world anywhere that it threatened freedom and were willing to give their life to keep it from happening. “Not over my dead body” was an old saying that used to mean something. That was where they were willing to draw the line and back it up. Now here we are almost 75 years later ready to riot and loot and steal and destroy the property of other people that they have worked hard for and all because we disagree with each other over issues that need resolving in this country. The last time that there was this much division in the country was in the civil rights era of the sixties and the country worked through that and made great progress and now we want to throw that away and fight each other over an office that almost all of us couldn’t pay the filing fee to even run for. What happened to the golden rule? You remember that one, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” What happened to being kind to one another? What happened to being a real neighbor and giving or loaning because you could and you had something someone else needed? What was wrong with living that way? “What goes around comes around”. Have we forgotten that old saying?

I have to admit, the political climate has got me disgusted now almost as much as it has had for the last year and a half. I am embarrassed that any of the candidates in the general election for president were even considered to hold the highest office in our country. I can still remember when any of them would have been considered as someone you wanted to avoid doing business with because their ethics were questionable at best and criminal at worst. But I have known situations this week of people who had a legitimate need of items that someone else had and wasn’t using and wouldn’t lend them. That got me to thinking about what has happened to people that we no longer have any compassion for each other or tolerance for any opinions that differ from our own. I said tolerance, not acceptance. For years, those of us that are conservative, bible practicing Christians have been told how we should be tolerant while we have been force-fed junk that not only violates our constitutional rights but also our biblical beliefs. And now we are at the place where someone has finally heard what working class Americans have been saying and was smart enough to adopt those sentiments as his own and manage, in spite of questionable morals, to get himself elected as president. The ironic thing is that the same people that called us bigots and intolerant and narrow-minded are now being all the things they have accused us of for years and now they are calling for riots and demonstrations and want to make claims of whether or not Donald Trump is a legitimate president. Let’s look at that for a minute.

If you base it on opinion and not on votes, when was the last time we had a “legitimate” president? What about Barrack Obama and the birth certificate issue? Before him it was George Bush and the hanging chads in Florida. Before him it was Bill Clinton; accused rapist and womanizer and adulterer. Before him was Bush the elder and he just wasn’t Reagan. Speaking of which; How can a clown (Ronald McDonald) or a former actor possibly be qualified to be president? Maybe he can act like a president. What about a peanut farmer from a town in Georgia that nobody has ever heard of? He can’t be smart enough to be president. A Baptist preacher; what about separation of church and state? I failed to mention the draft dodger accusations for a couple of them. Remember those comments. My point is that in my lifetime, based on opinions, we haven’t had a “legitimate” president. Based on the votes, they all have been legitimate. And before anyone says it, the electoral college system is what was put in place by the framers of the constitution and no one wants to change it until their side looses and then all of a sudden it’s unfair. Bottom line is this; as of Friday afternoon Donald Trump will be our next president for the following four years like it or not. We are all Americans if we were born here or have become naturalized citizens. Can we at least agree on that much and act like it?

Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. I have been trying my best to keep my mouth shut because my hope is not in any of them. I have read the back of the book, the bible, and I already know how the story ends. We win (born again Christians)!!! Now back to the bigger problem. All of this division has come about as a result of an increasingly selfish attitude. “Me and my four and no more” to quote an old saying. There was a time not too long ago when that wasn’t the attitude. If a neighbor was hurt and couldn’t tend his fields or his barn was destroyed, everybody else gave some of their time and effort and lumber or tools or whatever they could give and took care of that neighbor. If his cow died, milk just magically appeared on his porch overnight. Even if he was sorry and no account, people still loved his family and took care of them. I’m not even talking about Christians, I’m talking about men that might drink and cuss and fight but when you needed help you could count on them. I remember a man in Martel Village that might steal your gas if he was out but then when he seen the hood up on your car would stop and try to help you. The first neighbor I met in 1973 was a man who came over while it was raining and helped me dig a ditch cause our driveway was flooding. It turns out he was really bad to drink but he provided for his family and seldom missed work and was always a good neighbor. I didn’t agree with a lot of things he done and he didn’t ever go to church but I came to love him and his family as I grew up. We didn’t have to agree in order to be good neighbors. Jesus himself said that the greatest commandment was to love God and the second was to “Love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other greater commandment than these.” (Mark 12:31) Now that’s a pretty bold statement and if that was what Jesus said, shouldn’t that still be what we practice today?

My dad was a giving man and one that did far more than he ever let people find out about. He didn’t need accolades and awards but only the approval of his Savior. I try to run my ministry with that same kind of attitude and try to conduct my life the same way. My ministry board is a group of folks that give far more than anyone ever finds out about but I am convinced that a lot of us preachers will be having to step aside at judgement and wait on them and folks like them to get their rewards. Why can we all not have that kind of attitude? Where is it written that we have to be in the spotlight all the time? Where is it written that we have to be right 100 percent of the time? Also, where is it written that I have the right not to be offended?

We don’t have to always agree on everything. We don’t even have to be buds or for that matter even like each other. A man once said to Jesus, If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us. We may not can do much of anything else but we can have compassion on our neighbor. In Luke 10 we read the story of the good Samaritan. This man was considered to be a neighbor not because he agreed with this Jewish fellow that fell among thieves, or because he had money, but because he showed mercy on the man in need. We can all do that. To quote an insurance company slogan “like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” What kind of difference can you make in your world by being a good neighbor? Your chances of leading someone to the Lord is a lot better if they see his compassion and mercy in you. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

REACHING UP

REACHING UP                                                                                                                              Andy Hollifield 1-22-19

Lamentations 3:41 Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens. (KJV)

Upon hearing my voice, a smile broke across his face and he ran to me with outstretched arms reaching up for Papaw to get him. After giving him a big squeeze, I continued talking to him. In a couple minutes, he leaned over toward me with his little mouth open trying to give me a kiss the best way a one-year-old knows how.

I know that scene plays out countless times in most peoples lives.  It started me thinking about how our heavenly Father  feels about us. I was anxious about just getting to see Sam. I was even more thrilled when he came to me like he did. I wonder how happy and excited the Lord gets when we come to him with our arms up to be lifted up into his arms. I would imagine one of his greatest joys is for his children to want to be embraced by him. When we greet him with a kiss, and a smile, and a hug, I am sure it melts his heart as Sam did mine.

Sam wasn’t expecting to receive anything nor did he want anything. He was reaching his arms up to be received by me. As a parent, there is no greater joy than for our child or grandchild to come running, wanting nothing but our love and embrace. At that moment, our world stops and that child has our undivided attention and love. I am thankful that we are made in our Father’s image and likeness. Just like us, he anxiously awaits for his children to run to him to be picked up and embraced and loved on. I wonder how we would be blessed if we went to him not for things or even answers, but just running joyfully to him and for his love reaching up.

 

 

REMEMBER HOW

REMEMBER HOW                                                                                                                       Andy Hollifield 2-8-19

1 Chronicles 16:12 Remember his marvelous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; (KJV)

That verse sounds really good until you get to that last part because we don’t like to hear about God’s judgments. There is another way to look at the Lord’s judgments. What about all of those times when we were deserving of judgment but God remembered we are dust in Psalms 103:14. Psalms 79:8 “O remember not against us former iniquities: let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us: for we are brought very low.” I am so thankful for all those times when I was guilty as charged and deserving of God’s judgment but instead he remembered his tender mercies to me.

Sometimes, it wasn’t even for sins. But God remembered me when I was brought very low in Psalms 79:8. The cares of this life have a way of bringing us down if we don’t saturate ourselves with things pertaining to God. It’s those times when everything that can go wrong does and you wonder “What’s next?” There are times when life is like the game “Whack A Mole.” Every time we poke our head up, we get socked up side of the head again. Have you ever been there? If you have, was that where it all ended for you? Not if you’re reading this it didn’t and if you are taking your turn being the mole right now, I have good news for you. God is not going to let it all end there for you neither.

Can you remember what happened the last time you were in this type of hard place? I can tell you what happened; just like the last time and the time before that and the time before that, God’s tender mercies prevailed. His grace was sufficient for you as always and you soon realized that, just like he said he would be in Jeremiah 15:20-21, “And I will make thee unto this people as a brasen wall: and they shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail against thee: for I am with thee to save thee and deliver thee, saith the Lord. (21) And I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.” Do you remember how he delivered you the last time the wicked rose up against you? Those times when it looked like there was no way out, no hope for a satisfactory ending, and maybe you had even lost the desire to go on, do you remember how he brought you out? The wonders that he done and all of the marvelous works that he performed just to save and deliver you from the hand of the terrible.

Sometimes, his deliverance doesn’t come like we are looking for it. It may even look and feel like another trial. I remember how for going on 18 years, I had endured trouble on my job. Having experienced better days, it got to where I just dreaded going in to work. It was one of those micro-managing situations that looked good on paper but wasn’t grounded in reality at all. It got to the point where it would affect my home life, what little homelife I was able to have. It was making me into a hard callous person that I didn’t like being. Here I was breaking myself down trying to do my best to help the company make money and it was never good enough. I know a lot of you have been there or going through that situation now. Regardless of how much I prayed, it was almost like God wasn’t listening. I was hurting more physically every day and growing more frustrated mentally with every day that passed.

On June 23, 2011 God delivered. It was by no means a chariot and horses of fire. That was the last day I worked on a public job. I went out, after years of putting it off, to have a hip replacement. I didn’t clean out my locker because I had every intention of going back in about three to four months. I had the surgery and things went great at least the first week. I got home and the next week I was back in the ER. Thanks to some of the sloppiest stitching on an incision that I have ever seen, I had got an infection. If that wasn’t bad enough, a few weeks later, I got up one day and couldn’t hardly walk. Back to the doctor again only to hear “Let’s give it about six more weeks and we may have to go back in.” Definitely not what I wanted to hear. After that visit, it was come back in ten weeks and an offer for a note to go back to work. I couldn’t walk, how was I supposed to go back to work climbing in and out of trucks and trailers all day? The doctor, even after being told that my insurance would be suspended by the end of the year, took that opportunity to run me out of insurance so I couldn’t get it fixed again. I couldn’t go back to work and I definitely couldn’t get another job. Talk about between a rock and a hard place, I was.

The year ended with me being officially let go from my job and still having a bad hip and knee. Over the next year I had to resign myself to the fact that I was going to likely lose everything I had spent my life working for. That don’t sound much like deliverance does it? God provided through a number of churches, my mom, and a number of friends. I didn’t lose anything, finally got approved and started drawing. I now had time to not only be Mister Mom but to also devote more time to H.O.P.E. Ministries. I remember my pastor at the time I started the ministry, Rusty Rector, asking me just how far I wanted the Lord to take it. I remember answering that I would like to do mission work full-time but that would never happen. Boy was I wrong!

The moral of this story isn’t that God let me down, but quite the opposite. He actually gave me that full-time ministry I had worked so hard for. It began to grow by leaps and bounds and the devil continued to fight harder and harder. He eventually got my knees and my shoulder repaired. At some point I realized that God had delivered me but just not in the way I was looking for. Through that entire ordeal I saw first hand some of God’s marvelous works that I would have never dreamed of. Be careful what you pray for, God just might let you have it. Think back in your life at some of the things God has done for you and remember how. When you realize how blessed you are, it won’t be any trouble to you to remember how. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

 

TEKEL

TEKEL                                                                                                                                              Andy Hollifield 2-13-17

“Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting.” Still don’t recognize it? Daniel 5:27, the second word in the handwriting on the wall in Daniel 5:5. This post came about in church on Sunday morning simply because my scales broke at home. That’s right; God is using a set of broken bathroom scales to teach us something. They are actually like we get a lot of times; still functional but not accurate and therefore useless. My scales will operate but when you try to weigh on them you get an “E” meaning error. For a diabetic trying to lose weight, that is useless. On a daily basis, it is only by those scales that I can tell if my efforts are actually working. If I lose weight, my sugar will eventually drop and I will be more healthy and more functional and useful. My sugar readings may fluctuate depending on what I take in, but if my weight continues to drop I know I am still on track to reach my ultimate goal of not needing to take medicine. By now you are probably thinking that you really didn’t need a lesson on diabeties and weight loss. That is not the lesson, I was just explaining how the lesson came about. God can use anything to teach his children whatever he needs them to learn.

I was sitting in church Sunday morning and happened to think that I needed to go by Wal-Mart to get a new set of scales while I was close by. For some reason it dawned on me that scales were talked about in the bible. Isaiah talked about God “weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance.” Balances are a type of scale that we have all seen if we have been to a courthouse. We have seen the statues of “Justice” where it is a lady blindfolded with a pair of balances in her hand. Meaning that justice is blind and fair. It was interesting to me that both words, scales and balances, were used 10 times in the scriptures. Only the scripture in Isaiah referred to weight scales but all 10 times balances are mentioned it refers to fairness. The scripture in Daniel was the first to come to mind and I began to think about my spiritual life being put in the balances, how am I going to fair? Just like my physical life and bathroom scales, will weighing my spiritual life prove I am doing good and gaining ground or that I am falling behind little by little? To quote an unfortunate old saying, “the numbers don’t lie.”

As the Lord brought scriptures to mind, I jotted them down on my notepad I keep in my bible cover so I could look them up later. I am finding that if I make notes when I think of something I am more likely to remember it. The first scripture that came to mind was Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Not a very favorable scripture if you are looking for balance on the scales. Kind of makes it look really bad for those that think salvation and entrance into heaven is based on works. You know those that think “well, I will wait till I get there and hope that the good outweighs the bad.” Well guess what? It don’t. The next scripture wasn’t any more favorable for us. Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” It’s looking worse all the time if we are weighed in the balances. Here is another one for you; James 4:17 “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” It gets worse. Romans 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” And the last one; Mark 10:18 “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.” Well that pretty much settles it don’t it? If Jesus didn’t consider himself good, then there is no use thinking we could possibly come out ahead by being weighed in the balances. No use for me to try stepping on the scales with my works of righteousness because I will only embarrass myself.

I am glad that we do have hope though. Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. (10) “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” I am thankful that our works do not make it onto the balances but when Jesus puts HIS WORKS on the cross on our side, we come out on top. The scales tip in our favor by his works, not ours. Just by his grace and his alone. Our works don’t even move the scale for justification at all. The only thing we had to do with it was when he dealt with our heart by way of the Holy Ghost, we had to accept him. The gift was offered but we had to accept it. John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave…” That why. Not because we deserved it and definitely not that we earned it. But just because he loved the world and he gave. Ephesians 2 goes on to tell in verse 11 what we were in time past. Just uncircumcised Gentiles. Verse 12 aliens without Christ and strangers with no covenant of promise. Hopeless and without God in the world. No way of changing our hopeless position and destined to die in our sins without any hope. BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT, BUT, now! NOW in Christ Jesus ye (that’s us) who sometimes were afar off ( way, way, off; that’s us) ARE (not might be or could be or may be or have the possibility of being if we’re good enough) but ARE made nigh ( that means close, as in next of kin) by the blood of Christ. Ain’t that good! I guess that makes us special huh? There is no way that my works could have possibly been able to buy all of that! I am so glad that I haven’t had to earn my way by being weighed in the balances! I like what Ephesians 2:19 says “Now therefore (because of what he has done) ye are no more (used to be but never again) strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, (we are NOW part of the saints) and of the household of God.” Did you catch that? We are part of his household. That means we belong to him. We are his and have been bought with a great price. We belong to him and therefore the devil best not mess with us! We are God’s kin. Part of HIS family.

You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Did you catch that? Have been meaning past tense and not any more. When he sees me now I am not lacking anything. I am pleasing in his sight because of Jesus. I measure up because of that shed blood and the remission of my sins. Not wanting, not coming up short, but pleasing in his sight. Saved to the uttermost! Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!