LIVING ON PURPOSE
RESOLUTIONS AND POSITIVE LIFESTYLE CHANGES
After the packages have been opened, the Christmas cards and decorations put away and the holiday meals become another wonderful memory of family and friends, most of us are left in awe of what a wonderful life we have. But the pleasures and appreciation of enjoying an abundance of material possessions actually have very little to do with our real joy and blessings. Hopefully, throughout the festivities that usually include sentimental traditions, decorations, luscious meals and visiting with loved ones, we have paused to consider the true purpose of our celebrations – the birth of Christ, the only hope of our eternal salvation.
The Christmas Song, “Do you hear what I hear” has a line that says, “let us bring Him silver and gold” and though often considered as literally pertaining to the wise men, symbolically it is about our spiritual response toward God. I often wonder how many of us have forgotten or maybe some have never known the true meaning of our worship and praise unto the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth. Yes, He has no problem with blessing our lives, but His real mission was to offer Himself as the perfect “gift” of eternal salvation to a hopelessly lost and dying world. Our response is to be forever thankful by devoting our lives to Him.
As a community chaplain, I regularly hold services in different places and was recently with a beautiful group of physically and mentally challenged adults. As I spoke about the wise men bringing their gifts to the Christ child, I stopped and asked them, “what can we bring Jesus now?” and a precious young lady enthusiastically exclaimed – ALL OF OUR LOVE! So sweet and child-like, and as tears welled up in my eyes I considered again, do we really understand this? Am I aware that what He wants from me more than anything is the very thing that I do not want to let go of? Our most prized possession is not what we own, but it is our will to choose how we live. Jesus does not need our gold or earthly treasures, He wants control of our decisions the seat of our will. So I must ask, are we following His star and as wise men and women are we humbly bowing before Him today in complete submission and obedience?
Whatever happens this coming year, let us be encouraged in knowing that God is in control. Faith is the opposite of fear and for heaven’s sake we do not need more negativity! Anytime is a good time to make resolutions and positive lifestyle changes but it will take more than just a verbal declaration. It will take a transformation of our mind and soul. Since the meaning of life is to have a personal relationship with the Lord, the greatest treasure we could ever offer Him this coming year is as the precious young lady replied, “All of our love.”
LIVING ON PURPOSE
HE LOOKED BEYOND OUR FAULT AND SAW OUR NEED
One of the most profound mysteries of life is how the natural realm and the spiritual realm operate so differently. It’s common for our logical reasoning to be contrary to the way God thinks because number one we cannot always trust our emotions and number two, the natural mind cannot comprehend divine truth. We are reminded in John 4:24 that, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” and this implies that His wisdom can only be interpreted through our new spirit. The Bible declares that His ways and thoughts are much higher than ours but He also promises those who search for Him will find Him. It’s only when we become dialed-in to this perfect spiritual “frequency” that our conscience can begin to understand who God is, who we are in Him and what He wants us to become.
An example of these opposing realms is how we must become a humble servant in order to experience the joys of liberty. However, mankind in his arrogance believes his greatest achievement is to be free to live however he wants, but divine reality reveals he is actually suffering in the bondage and blindness of deception. Humans have a natural tendency to run away from God because they are afraid that if they respond to His call, they will become miserable slaves and suffer a life without pleasure. Yet, most do not realize they are already a slave to sin. The ultimate freedom is spiritual liberty and can only be experienced when a person abandons their carnal nature and allows Christ to become the Lord and Master of their life. Divine truth is the power of Jesus to set someone free and this new identity provides the highest form of peace and security of God’s love and grace.
To those who want to know and achieve the meaning of life, it will simply come down to either believing the Bible is true – or denying its absolute validity. There is a growing movement to deny the spiritual authenticity of the Bible but we also must remember there are many versions and translations of the original text. It is possible that humans did not correctly interpret some of the words when they made copies, but this does not mean the original manuscripts were not divinely inspired or God-breathed. For those who desire to do more than judge and criticize someone else’s interpretation, there is nothing preventing anyone from studying and researching the original languages for themselves.
The Almighty Creator of heaven and earth is trying to intervene into everyone’s life by convicting the conscience through the power of His Word. Why? Because God loves us! John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever will believe on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The Holy Spirit has many unique ways to interrupt our worldviews but will never force His will upon us. Everyone is searching for contentment and happiness in this world but all will eventually discover that life is disappointing without nurturing a personal relationship with God. Mick Jagger sums it up when he sings, “I can’t get no satisfaction” and this applies to the entire human race until they embrace a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You see, God’s plan toward a blind and hopelessly lost world was to establish an open line of communication between us and Him and He did that through Jesus Christ. We are now invited to receive His salvation by faith and today all who hear Him knocking on their heart’s door have the choice to either abandon their will and accept Him or remain established in their own rebellious independence. Jesus was crucified, died and rose from the grave to provide the only sacrifice that could redeem a soul and without this intervention, mankind would have continued down the path of being hopelessly doomed forever. In our desperate need, His amazing grace provided a way for us to be found when we did not even know we were lost. Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8 and 9 declares, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a gift of God: Not of anything we could accomplish lest any person should boast.” This simply means that no one finds God – He finds us.
Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com
LIVING ON PURPOSE
Money does not always make us rich
We often hear the term “it’s all about the money” but nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to hope and a sense of spiritual well-being. Humans use their creativity and imaginations to dream about being satisfied but I would say that fantasies about power, fame, and money are the most common. The recent record-breaking lottery generated quite a bit of excitement and like everyone else, I was amazed at how the jackpot grew and what a mesmerizing effect it had on the masses. Human behavior is interesting especially when it comes to considering the influence money has on us and how easily it can distract us from what’s really important.
Certain religious interpretations declare that gambling is a sin and it might be, but casting lots is not always associated with wrongdoing. I can agree that someone who cannot afford to pay their bills and yet will waste money on daily lottery tickets needs more than financial help. Nonetheless, I personally do not see anything wrong with someone spending a couple of dollars every now and then to have a chance to be financially secure. It is true, money cannot bring happiness and I question whether or not even winning the lottery would truly be a blessing for many as I believe that would depend on how mature and level-headed the individual is. I have also pondered that instead of praying to have more money, maybe we should spend more time asking God how to better manage what we have.
We have heard about the stories of those who have lived modest lifestyles and then suddenly find themselves with a mind-boggling amount of financial power. Many of these testimonies have not turned out as one might think and in the end, have been more like a curse from the dark-side. I am not knocking money, in fact, I like it and it can do a lot of good, but in the hands of those who pay no heed to God’s instructions, it can become like a blind man operating a wrecking ball. Instead of wealth being used as an instrument to help the poor and finance God’s ministries, if we are not careful it can actually use us by capturing our mind and possessing our soul.
The Bible mentions a lot about wealth and there is no shortage of books and sermons to help further explain the benefits and dangers. One camp teaches that God desires to bless His people with material abundance and the other side emphasizes the need to give everything we have away and to live by faith alone. Personally, I fall into the category of trying to find a reasonable balance that can enjoy the abundant life while learning how to develop sincere love and generosity to help as many as I can. Yes, Jesus told His followers to sell all they have, give it to the poor and take up their cross and follow Him but does this mean literally or to just be willing? Surely there is no condemnation to work, earn a paycheck, pay our bills, support our family, and have a house and car all the while faithfully representing Him as a true Christian.
I have also often wondered if winning the lottery is strictly by chance or if God has a hand in who wins? We realize He already knows in advance who will have the correct numbers, but how in the world with so many people praying to win, does He choose one winner? Let’s just say it’s possible that God could give us the numbers through road signs or a dream, but may we remember that more important than having a bank filled with money is to make sure we are not in love with it. Hopefully, we all can agree that even if we have small finances, our joy, peace, and contentment will always be found in the secret place of His presence. “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have turned away from the faith and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” I Timothy 6:10.
LIVING ON PURPOSE
Responding to the call
Being a chaplain for the Jessamine County Fire District along with involvement in state and local crisis response teams, allows me to see behind the scenes with the sacrifices first responders make in their daily routines. Most people only think about emergency personnel when they are passing by an accident or having a crisis themselves but if we stop for a moment and consider the big picture of public emergency services, we will find a deeper meaning to the word duty.
Since many first responders have also served in the military, the sense of public responsibility becomes not only a familiar term but is actually the result of a conscientious way of thinking. Humans are wired differently and have a spectrum of callings and varied interests, but diversity becomes more single-minded in the area of serving when we are referring to these types of individuals that sincerely want to help others. With emergency medical, law enforcement, firefighters or whatever type of service that is associated with saving lives, we should all be very grateful that someone is always ready around the clock to come to our aid.
So why do little children play doctor and nurse, or wear fire hats and play with police cars day and night and then grow up to become almost obsessed with the idea of coming to someone’s rescue? It’s a gift and calling for a select few. Helping others is their time of distress is more than a job to these unique individuals. It’s a response to a voice deep within the conscience to follow the divine blueprints that guide the willing servant into the direction of their destiny. By observing many training classes of intense classroom work along with the physically demanding training that responders go through, believe me, it takes concentration, strength, and devotion to carry someone on your shoulder down a ladder from a burning building.
Television programs and movies often present the lives of emergency responders as difficult and much of it is true with long hours and family stress. Without a doubt, the life of a public servant is not the normal 9 to 5 because when the call comes in, they are heading out the door. Video games portray re-enactments of disasters, wrecks, explosions, and deadly shootouts while these warriors are actually dealing with real danger, real blood, and real death. They may be tough on the outside but are deeply compassionate and caring and many times cannot even sleep because of what they have seen. Being trained to help with psychological first-aid for post-traumatic stress-related situations breaks my heart as I witness the horrific tragedies that survivors and families experience but only those who have been on the front lines really understand how emotionally demanding it is to be directly involved with life and death emergencies on a regular basis.
The powerful scripture found in John chapter 15 and verse 13, “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends” causes us to think of the ultimate sacrifice. A few of the terms that help define duty are responsibility, commitment, loyalty, mission, purpose, and faithfulness but do we ever consider the real meaning is love? If entering a burning building, giving CPR or running down a dark alley after someone with a gun is not a definition of love – then what is? There is so much to pray about in this world, but the next time we hear the sound of sirens it would be respectful and much-appreciated act of concern if we would ask God to help not only those experiencing a crisis but also the brave men and women trying to save them.
Read more at billyhollandministries.com
LIVING ON PURPOSE
Blessed assurance Jesus is mine
I cannot imagine a more optimistic and exciting thought than going to heaven and spending an eternity worshiping God. For those who have accepted Christ as their Savior, this promise should be a wellspring of joy reminding us that our trials cannot be compared to the glory that awaits us. There would be nothing wrong with taping this reminder to our bathroom mirror so that every morning we can be grateful for God’s love and the great sacrifice He paid so that we could be with Him forever. The fundamentals of our salvation can be basically described as God’s love intervened as a rescue mission of mercy in order to save a world that was hopelessly lost. Salvation is all about grace! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born-again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” I Peter 1:3-4.
Our busy schedule is filled with distractions and for most of us, it is exhausting just to keep up. As our daily routines weigh us down with stress and frustration, it’s important to remain aware of a much higher reality. If we only think about the next life when we attend funerals, we are missing a vital component of our relationship with God that can keep us excited and rejuvenated with encouragement and joy. Spending time alone with the Lord was never intended to be a last resort but rather a daily privilege as a way to know Him better and listen to His instructions. We can live in a positive state of mind and be filled with anticipation as Titus 2:13 reminds us, “Looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”
One of the many blessings of being a follower of Christ is choosing to live in a constant attitude of peace and hope. We have heard many people talk about going to their happy place and actually, there is a truth to be discovered in this. The Bible mentions how we can dwell in the secret place under the shadow of the Almighty and this awareness of His presence is a state of mind that can be attained for those who desire to be filled with His Spirit. God lives in the conscience of His children which allows Him to be our Lord if we decide it is worth surrendering our heart to Him. Being attentive to His voice will not come naturally but can be achieved with serious determination but He must become our highest priority. Many do not realize that as Christians our allegiance is to King Jesus and our citizenship has been transferred from this world to the spiritual reality of His Kingdom. This concept of abandoning our will has everything to do with devoting our life to His plans instead of only thinking about ourselves.
As our values become more centered on God, it’s normal to start looking forward to our eternal existence. How exciting to think that our heavenly Father, our Lord, and Savior, our loved ones, our new name, our new body, our inheritance, and citizenship, along with our crowns and rewards are all a part of the glorious future. We are briefly passing through this world and the only thing we will take with us when we leave is an account of how we lived and loved. How wonderful to know that heaven will be filled with endless praise, everlasting joy, perfect peace and contentment without darkness, suffering, pain or sorrow. It’s true that God loves everyone, but we will not enter heaven because we are good or deserve it. We are given eternal life when we repent, confess, believe, and accept by faith that His blood is the only sacrifice that can pay the ransom for our sins. Redemption is all about God’s plan that was accomplished on the cross. “In the arms of your mercy, I find rest. Cause you know just how far the east is from the west…from one scarred hand to the other.” Lyrics from Casting Crowns – East to the West.
Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author, outreach minister and community chaplain. To learn more visit: billyhollandministries.com
LIVING ON PURPOSE
Remembering those who are forgotten
Such a large beautiful structure, the bricks, and steel of a refuge provided to give back to those Veterans of war whose season has now turned to winter. Down the long and well-lit hallways where wheelchairs roll and quiet greetings are exchanged, there is an aura of distinction and dignity. We notice the libraries and lush manicured gardens created to honor those who believed then and now that liberty is worth fighting for. If the marble floors and chandeliers could speak, they could re-tell the stories of times past when sincere men and women were called upon to bravely defend against aggression. Behind these walls of gratitude are the precious souls that represent innocent courage that once stood strong and held in high regard. Now seemingly forgotten they exist in “waiting rooms” for the glorious freedom of the next life and there is nothing wrong with this, but let us remember they still have real desires, hopes, and needs today.
As a volunteer chaplain for a Veteran Healthcare facility, it’s truly an honor to spend time with these heroes. The commendation medals and awards are admirable but this is only a fraction of what they have been through. It is said that war is a glimpse of hell but everyday life also has its share of fierce battles with a determined enemy, live ammo, suffering, victories and defeats, wounds, scars, and broken hearts. We are observed carefully by everyone throughout our life and how we treated others and our determination to do what is right will always be our true legacy. The world may remember these individuals for what they accomplished but those that know and love them will always recall the person more than the achievement. Just because our body has become old and we cannot take care of ourselves anymore does not mean our lives have lost meaning or that we have become less valuable for we are still the same person on the inside. How lonely and sad to be recognized as doing something instead of being someone.
When we begin to focus on others instead of ourselves, we are drawn into the divine reality of spiritual charity. Sadly, it seems the stress of our modern-day avalanche of information is slowly replacing our personal awareness of others and most importantly the consciousness of God. How terrible to allow our spiritual sensitivity to become calloused to the point where we are more interested in television, the internet, cell phones or fictional literature than we are with another person’s real life. When we step into a hospital room or nursing home and sit at the bedside of a weary soul that has been worn down by the years, we can give the most valuable gift called listening. Yes, we can pray and help make them comfortable, but will we take the time and care enough to be attentive and browse with them through their photo albums and listen to precious memories that love to be told? Joy and fulfillment do not come from what we have attained but rather to know that someone cares, respects and remembers who we are and will be with us until the end.
A while back I sat and listened intently to a 93-year-old gentleman as he told an amazing adventure when he was stationed on an aircraft carrier in World War II. As a machine gunner on a fighter plane, he proudly described how he shot down four Japanese planes – in one day! With tears in his eyes, he said when they landed, everyone was cheering and as he slowly turned his head toward me with a feeble grin he said, “This was one of my finest hours.” He went on to say that he believed no-one is still alive that remembers his heroic exploits, and then he reached out with trembling hands, squeezed my arm and said, please… do not forget.
Read more stories at billyhollandministries.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
LIVING ON PURPOSE
Published – 2/15/2016
FINDING THE FAITH TO BE HAPPY
When we hear that happiness is a choice many will roll their eyes in one of those “whatever” attitudes especially when having a bad day, the last thing we want to hear is another zip-a-dee-doo-da platitude. However (here we go) yes, the statement is actually true and in order to discover what it means, I thought we could at least stop for a moment and look at a few ideas that might help us become… well… happier!
1. What others say or do should not cause you to be unhappy. Even if they go out of their way to pull your string, you can refuse to be tempted and drawn into anger, intimidation or resentment. Mental strength comes like lifting weights, slowly with lots of determination and self-discipline.
2. Your childhood might have been less than desirable but it is important to not allow negative emotions to continue draining your joy as an adult. Happy people learn how to understand the past and use these experiences as positive stepping stones for a victorious future.
3. It’s very important to make peace with your appearance. You do not need to look a certain way to be loved or respected because true love accepts you perfectly as you are. Psalm 149:13 declares that you are “wonderfully and fearfully made.” Embrace who you are!
4. Fear and anxiety are everywhere, but it is not a license to be unhappy. We can rise above the chaos if we choose to live in God’s peace. When we discover that fear is a weapon to steal our happiness, Jesus can show us how to walk in the “valley of the shadow” with faith and hope.
5. A broken heart is devastating but God’s joy is the perfect medicine. Difficulty can develop wisdom, character and inner strength you never knew was possible. In time, it is absolutely vital to receive His healing, trust His decision and move forward with your life.
6. If you have made huge mistakes and feel that you are on the bottom, this may be a perfect time to allow God to start rebuilding you. It is never too late to start again! The enemy of our soul will accuse us and condemn us until we finally stand against him with holy truth. There will never be a time when darkness or hopelessness can overcome the brilliant light of God’s restoring love.
7. Surrender sounds like a defeat but actually, it can be our greatest victory. Learning to let go of our plans and allowing God to take total control can be one of the most liberating events in our life. When we allow Him to be our Lord, His Spirit will literally flood our hearts with happiness.
8. We are miserable when we choose not to forgive. In order for God to wash us clean, we must repent and forgive others. Unforgiveness is a snare trap that can ruin us from the inside-out as there is no way we can carry the heavy weight of bitterness and be happy at the same time.
9. Sometimes we need to re-evaluate our relationships in order to maintain a clear focus and a pure heart. We have a responsibility to guard our conscience and eliminate the negativity as a good attitude and a positive sense of well-being is the pathway to happy living.
10. Lastly, there is more to being content than just singing “don’t worry – be happy” and even becoming determined to live in the joy of the Lord doesn’t guarantee we will never be sad, frustrated, angry or discouraged. But it does mean when facing adversity, we can learn with God’s help how to pray, confess His Word and make better decisions which will lead to higher levels of confidence and contentment.
In this day and age when everything is going at such a fast pace, there is a temptation to become more self-centered and withdrawn. However, this type of reaction actually makes us more miserable while an attitude of sacrificial giving brings us joy and a deeper sense of gratitude.
Dr. Holland lives in Central Kentucky with his wife Cheryl, where he is a Christian author, outreach minister and community chaplain. To learn more visit: billyhollandministries.com.
LIVING ON PURPOSE
REJOICE! JESUS LOVES THE WORLD
There are many things in today’s world that give us reason to be concerned. Two thousand years ago, Jesus was talking about how sin would grow worse and realized that we would be anxious and troubled living within a hostile environment of trials and challenges. Yes, we are stunned and saddened as we watch the daily news but I am reminded that God is not surprised, afraid, panicking or worried and neither should we! He has always known what is going to happen and it should encourage our heart to embrace the fact that all is not doomed or hopeless. How easy it is to become so caught up with negativity that we lose our joy and excitement and forget about our real mission which is helping others. Let us rejoice! Jesus loves the world and has a burden to save the lost and this should be the focus of our praying, thinking and planning.
In Matthew chapter 24 Christ revealed much spiritual insight as to what is coming in these last days. He talks about severe persecution for God’s people, the great falling away from the faith, the anti-Christ, the tribulation, His glorious return and the judgment of all who did not heed the warnings to be faithful and obedient. Of course, the enemy is working overtime to tell everyone (especially the younger generations) these are merely fairy tales and superstitions as he leads a global campaign to discredit God’s Word and to make it seem that only an uneducated fool would actually believe such fictional literature. However, may the Christian proclaim that every word of God’s promises are true and will come to pass exactly as The Almighty has declared!
I am reminded of the old TV show “M.A.S.H.” when the incoming wounded would be brought in and emergency surgeries were diligently performed while rockets were exploding all around them. This was an honest portrayal of how brave individuals did not run and hide but remained strong and concentrated on what they needed to do to save others. Likewise, we are to be courageous soldiers in the midst of an even more intense spiritual war. As we reach out with humility and concern to comfort those who are hurting and afraid, let’s remember it’s not about spending every minute soaking up pleasure or how much we can accumulate, it’s about being filled with God’s Spirit so that we can know what He is telling us to do! Let us not be distracted from our most important mission. The measure that we love and become engaged in His plans for our life will be in direct association with the amount of victory we can be a part of.
The old saying is definitely worth repeating, “The bad things are getting worse but the good things are getting better!” There are still decent people and God is definitely intervening in the affairs of mankind! One question I hear all the time is, “What can we do?” Well, Christ emphasized the importance of us having a pure heart in order to develop an awareness of His presence. As we listen to His voice instead of the chaos that brings confusion, there is a way we can walk in His divine peace. Jesus desires that we develop a Spirit-empowered, positive attitude so we can be filled with joy instead of discouragement but this will take determination and self-discipline. We have been called to give and help those in need and proclaim the good news of the gospel by demonstrating our faith by our works! “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” James 2:26. Each morning we can ask God to not only show us who and what to pray about but also for Him to arrange literal divine appointments where we can reflect God’s character. In this small way, we can make a huge difference in our network for His purpose and glory!
Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com
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GO INTO ALL THE WORLD
There is a lovely colonial type home that sits at the end of what used to be old highway 27 in Jessamine County but many are probably not aware that it has been renovated and expanded into a Nationally Accredited, private, non-profit agency called, “All God’s Children” that provides help for the needs of pregnant and/or parenting teen moms (ages 13-21) and their babies. It is truly a blessing to see Christian ministries reaching out with compassion to assist those in need.
When we hear the term “help” we normally think of someone donating a onetime gift but AGC does much more than that. This organization rolls up its sleeves and becomes heavily involved in the lives of single women by providing a comfortable place for them to live while they are pregnant and even after the baby is born. As a residential treatment facility, they equip these young families with group counseling along with parenting and nurturing education that supplies the mothers with the training they need to become a loving and successful parent. Budgeting skills and time management are taught along with how to take care of their child, food preparation and career-building so they can learn how to overcome challenging circumstances and become productive and respected members of the community. Many have finished high school and continue into college as they receive continual support, prayer and encouragement.
Along with the Rebecca Mackey Children’s center that provides childcare so the mothers can work and go to school, AGC also has a thriving foster care program that has found loving homes for the many children who need and long to be a part of a nurturing family. To learn more about this important and growing ministry visit their website at http://www.kyallgodschildren.org
Most of us are so involved with our own family and work that we hardly realize how many people in our own town and possibly right down the road from us are in serious need. The Christian view about helping those who are struggling is not only a universal mission that should be without religious discord but is the foundation of God’s most important commandments; love for God and love for each other! Jesus spoke very clearly about how those who claim to be His disciples are to have compassion and generosity toward those that suffer lack. I am reminded of the passage of scripture found in Mathew chapter 25, that talks about taking in strangers, helping the poor, feeding the hungry and visiting those who are sick and incarcerated as Jesus proclaims that when anyone makes the choice to prove their faith by their works, they are actually loving and ministering to Him. When we refuse to love others we are exposing our lack of love for God.
Of course, there is a cold-hearted attitude that believes individuals are to be blamed for their own problems and they justify not helping by using the excuse that it’s all they can do to take care of themselves. However, if not for the grace and patience of God things could have gone sour for many of us that were rescued by His mercy. There is another story that comes to mind when discussing our responsibility to be compassionate found in Luke chapter 11 commonly called the friend at midnight that knocks on the door and wants to borrow some bread in the middle of the night. The person from within tells him to go away and yet Jesus says it is always the right decision to rise and give to others and be eternally grateful as we remember all that He has generously given to us.
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THE REALITY OF REAPING AND SOWING
No pain – no gain is used as a battle cry for physical exercise but can also be applied to spiritual accountability. The concept of planning with expectation is not complicated; if you want to see a wonderful harvest, you will need to plant a lot of good seed! Whatever realm we are discussing, when it comes to sowing and reaping everyone will always invest in what they love. But how often do we consider that our words are like seeds and have the power to bring life or death? In order to become more of a blessing than a curse, we can ask God for higher awareness and a stronger mental discipline in order to transform our speech into a language of light and truth. You see, our communication originates from our imagination and reveals our true identity.
Within the Christian life, our prayers and generosity are a holy investment and a huge part of walking the talk. Whether we abide in God’s Spirit or place Him on the bottom of our priority list, our daily life is our most noticeable testimony. Those that gripe and complain about everything including the church along with a negative attitude of criticism probably do not pray or give that much. Brother Billy, how can you say such a thing? Let us observe carefully. Those who intercede with fervent prayer and sacrificially give their finances do so because they care. They shed tears because they have a sincere burden for others and will not sow weeds into a field they are plowing! What does that mean? When we truly love people enough to pray for them we are moved with compassion and broken in humility and will not pour out the sweet fragrance of prayer before the Lord’s throne about someone and then turn around and spew out poison against them. Let us realize that investing our faith and finances into someone’s miracle and then talking bad about them would be like laying bricks in a wall today and chiseling them out tomorrow!
Our pure conversations and good attitudes carry blessings of life and produce positive energy that can inspire and edify everyone. Attitude is all about investing our talents and abilities into the cause as a team player! On the other hand, we realize that negative words and dark energy can be used to curse and discourage those around us because they carry the power of death. Brother Billy, you don’t really believe all of that hocus pocus stuff do you? Well, there is no debate, it is a spiritual principle from God’s Word and is as real as the sun rising in the East. This absolute truth reveals the substance and evidence that can help explain and be traced back into everyone’s life – good or bad. Walking in God’s wisdom involves speaking life and unless we have His vision about our mission, we cannot accomplish His will! It is pride that spoils our spiritual sensitivity and will diminish our most valuable character trait of Christ which is spiritual love.
Genuine faith and charity are the foundations in building God’s Kingdom and when these become an active part of our spiritual life, our perception of the world will change. James says in chapter 1 and verse 22, “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” It’s easy to be critical of the church, our place of employment, the government, etc.. and verbally tear it apart or just walk away from it especially if it has not cost us anything but it takes faith to obey, hope to give, and love to pray! The ones who demonstrate forgiveness and manifest compassion are taking God’s Word seriously which in this day and age is refreshing. Let us examine that if God controls our tongue and bank account there is a good chance He is the Lord of our heart.
Contact billyhollandministries.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
LIVING ON PURPOSE
The challenge to keep families together
I am sure that many of you can remember when life was not so demanding and filled with anxiety or at least it seemed that way. I was raised in the city so when I had a chance to go to my grandparent’s house out in the country it was like going on vacation. They lived on a quiet overgrown road that came to a dead-end at the Kentucky River and their farm was so remote that when an occasional car would pass by we would stop and stare at it like it was entertainment. I will never forget helping in the garden, feeding the animals, playing in the fireplace and the sights and smells of country living that gave me a sense of love and security.
I have such fond thoughts of my grandmother serving huge delicious meals, eating homemade ice-cream, the joy, and freedom of running through fields and forest and then catching lightning bugs in the evening. When I was young, I thought that going fishing on my grandfather’s boat was the ultimate adventure and going to the creek to help them wash their old car was such innocent fun. Looking for crawdads, throwing rocks, watching out for snakes and getting soaking wet on a hot sunny day was the perfect combination for thrills and excitement. And in the winter when the snow was deep we would go out and play then come in and hold our hands over the potbelly stove and listen to the coal crackle and pop. Spending the night was filled with such anticipation as we slept in huge feather beds with piles of blankets and I still recall the moonlight shining through the windows that made everything seem magical to a boy who dreamed this would last forever.
My wife Cheryl has also told me of the special occasions her family shared together with cookouts and all the kids running and playing. I remember her grandmother that lived in an old farmhouse off the highway where so many parties and celebrations happened there over the years. Her husband had passed away a long time ago, but they had seven children and this is where everyone would meet on the weekends. My wife recalls how the men would gather under the shade trees and talk about cars, sports, and fishing while the women would be in the house laughing and preparing the meal. Unfortunately, when her grandmother passed away, it was the end of an era. Many times families become distant when certain loved ones pass away and the absence of these central figures reveals just how much their love, generosity, and concern was the “glue” that held everyone together. We often hear how the world has changed for the worse but maybe it had a lot to do with us being so young that we paid no attention to the news. Or maybe it was because evil had not been so brave to step out from the shadows as it is now. Whatever the case, as we grew up we were slowly drawn into the worries and anxieties of life and as we became burdened with more responsibilities, we gradually drifted away from each other.
I wrote a song years ago about how sad it is when families drift apart and there’s a line that says, “Just because life is not the way it used to be, doesn’t mean we can’t do the things we used to do.” How important it is to adapt when individuals are missing or the locations are not the same. May we not allow the “missing pieces” (as precious as they are) to prevent us from actively carrying on the legacy and traditions within our family. It’s sad when children and grandchildren do not even know their own aunts, uncles or cousins and the only time they come together is at a funeral where the atmosphere is awkward and everyone seems like strangers. Children form their own opinions and attitudes from the bonds of family and it is selfish for us to have these wonderful experiences and memories and then pull away from this important foundation just because the situation has changed. Our parents and grandparents were hoping and praying that someone (like us) would keep the family together because they understood that close families provide the love, security, encouragement, stability, and nurturing we all need and long for.
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LIVING ON PURPOSE
JESUS – THE ALPHA AND OMEGA
Throughout history, no one has made a greater impact on this earth than Jesus Christ, yet many still do not understand who He is. During December, Christians around the world acknowledge His birth was over 2000 years ago but actually He existed long before that. As the Son of God, Jesus is the Alpha and Omega which means He is from the beginning and has no end. This truth of being infinite is beyond our comprehension and trying to figure it out may over-heat our brain but nonetheless, this spiritual reality places Him in a unique category all by Himself. Jesus said in John chapter eight and verse fifty-eight, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was – I am” and was trying to teach all who would listen that His physical birth in Bethlehem was a carefully calculated plan to rescue a world that He (as a member of the Holy Trinity) had created.
In the spring, Christians also celebrate another major spiritual event that declares how Christ was brutally crucified and died then resurrected from the grave in order to redeem and save those who are hopelessly lost. Since this miracle of love and mercy was given, whosoever believes His Word by faith and accepts His offer of salvation by faith can be adopted into His royal family based on this perfect sacrifice – the blood covenant between God and man! We realize the gospel of Christ appears to be relatively simple as Romans 10:13 does say that “Whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” but the concept of free grace does not erase the conditions of human accountability. May we not allow a religious formality to become a substitution for our obedience because the true definition of covenant requires both parties to honor their vows.
It is wonderful to be positive-minded and appreciate that God is good all the time because He is! But it is also important that we research God’s Word carefully so we can know what we believe and why we believe it. When we subconsciously ignore vital information and replace it with emotional happy thoughts, we are vulnerable to falling prey to the dangers of denial. Yes, we may have a difficult time dealing with problems but this does not mean we are justified to ignore our responsibilities as we have been given the Holy Spirit to help us face and overcome our fears and weaknesses. Jesus is not a baby in a manger and He is not a cosmic vending machine! He is the Almighty God that created us and who also expects us to be spiritually mature. The book of Hebrews chapters 8-11 reveals a deeper explanation of our personal relationship with Him.
Our culture is, unfortunately, evolving from a more reverent approach to understanding into a more compact, accelerated, instant way of thinking. The modernized gospel message is now being presented as a smooth, painless call for those who want to go to heaven and I pray that every person is being drawn and truly comprehends what they are signing up for. But it seems that many are only shown the cover of the salvation message and do not see the need to open the table of contents. Most people know the basics of what Jesus has done but all who declare to be a follower would benefit spending more time getting to know Him intimately and what He requires from them. Becoming born again does not mean we will have an easy life but God does promise that He will be with us no matter how dark the valleys might become. There is more good news! We all have the opportunity to love and worship Him now because the stone was rolled away! Jesus rose from the grave to open our spiritual eyes so we could see our need for a Savior. You can never say that no one loves you because Jesus Christ was tortured on a cross to prove that you are His highest passion.
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