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LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 9/21/20

Choosing to rearrange our priorities

Praying to God in faith is one of the most important deeds we can do. Why? Because prayer is the foundation of our relationship with Jesus and reveals how serious we are about obeying Him. It seems very likely that our sincerity and love are measured by our prayer life. Someone asked, if praying were our full-time job, would we still be employed? The Lord is not impressed with our words or even our works as much as He is with our devotion to the secret place of meditation and intercession. Have you been sensing the Holy Spirit speaking to you lately about going deeper with God? There comes a time in our spiritual development where every Christian must move on from the pacifier and the milk and embrace our need to become more mature. The safety we find in the shallow baby pool may give us a sense of security, but it can also be used as an excuse to live in denial.

I have certain things in my life that I would like to accomplish and realize that I only have so much time to do what I’ve been called to do. Followers of Christ realize there is always much at stake and our greatest contribution will involve prayer. Not only is the world facing serious problems, there are many situations within our personal network which need God’s intervention. When we choose to look closely at our responsibility to intercede, we can’t help but notice our apathy and lack of enthusiasm. I am guilty for being sporadic in my prayers and I repent for my selfish attitude. Our days are busy and if we wait until bedtime to pray and read the Bible, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. Praying must become a lifestyle within the prime time of our day or it will remain an honorable thought. Until we decide that we will sacrifice a segment of quality time for God each day, we will miss the miracle power of His presence in our life. I’m not talking about religious legalism but rather realizing that having God at the top of our priority list will allow us to accomplish His will.

Why is it that when everything is going well, we forget about prayer? My human nature is constantly tempting me to not worry about taking up my cross and following Jesus, and to focus and channel my energy into all the pleasures and enjoyment which distract me from what is critically important. As this battle rages within me, I’m aware that when I become spiritually lukewarm, it has a devastating negative impact on my life and the eternal futures of those around me. Could it be possible that someone could miss heaven because we did not stand in the gap for them? Whether we want to admit it or not, it is a reality that spending time in the Holy of Holies is the key to understanding and obeying God. However, in order to enter into the depths of spiritual intimacy with Jesus and accomplishing our mission, we must learn that embracing His will includes surrendering ours. Prayer is not trying to change God, but it’s allowing God to change us.

I was updating my prayer journal the other day and was enjoying the time of fellowship with the Lord while also trying to guard against distractions. As many of you know, we become refreshed when we are walking in God’s Spirit. I must include that I was ambushed from several directions and by the end of the day I was in tears. Satan will always target us when we are moving toward God. This aggressive resistance is why many avoid developing a burden to pray. I’m not talking about saying grace over our meal, I’m referring to setting aside a specific time and place each day to meet with God. Yes, there is a cost to being a prayer warrior, but the rewards are priceless. James 5:16 says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much.” Within our intimate personal relationship with God, let us realize there is a difference between praising Him and trusting Him. Many are thankful for their blessings and want to escape hardships, but let us beware of only wanting Christ for what He can do for us instead of loving Him just for who He is.

Discover more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 9/14/20

We are all asleep until God awakens us

Within the Christian faith, we understand that an individual will not desire to come to God on their own. The depravity of mankind and the lost condition of our spirit prevents everyone from having a yearning to love and serve or even have an interest God until there is a stirring of the mind and conscience. So what can cause a person to want to know more about God? They must be drawn to Him. Whenever anyone is compelled to reach out to God, we know the Holy Spirit is intervening with a process known as spiritual conviction. This is the love and grace of God that allows a person to see their desperate need to be transformed into a new spiritual creation and the faith to accept this invitation.

The purpose of Jesus coming to earth and agreeing to go through the crucifixion and resurrection was so that all who believe in God could have the opportunity to be changed and rescued from a hopeless spiritual state into a brand new member of His family. His body was the only sacrifice that could be accepted and His blood is the only payment that can pay for the sins of those who love and trust Him. He was sinless and His pure and holy offering of love is what opened the door to our spiritual redemption. In short, He died so that we could live. It’s true, we are all sinners, but there is a huge difference between the lost sinner and the saved sinner. The lost sinner has never been transformed into a new spiritual identity, while the saved sinner has received the gift of salvation and is learning how to know God as they allow Him to teach them how to live.

There is a general or universal call which is made available to anyone whenever the gospel message is proclaimed. Luke 14:23 says, “Then the master said to the servant, go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” This particular invitation of grace does not discriminate and is only conditional upon the person accepting His offer. The gospel of Jesus Christ is meant to be shared with everyone and promises that whoever receives this truth in faith and sincerely repents will be forgiven and will receive everlasting life which only God can give. Accepting and believing is an attribute of the human free-will and applies to this general call of redemption as an individual has the choice to walk away and reject this opportunity if they so choose. There is also an effectual call where God selects and pursues a particular person at a certain time and this is not conditional to the human will. Of course, this is still an act of grace, but is not dependent upon a human to accept or reject. Election is simply based on His desire to select and choose certain individuals and is an example of God’s sovereignty. It must be noted this search and rescue process cannot fail. John the Baptist is someone who was elected before he was born and in the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus explains how when a sheep goes missing, the shepherd will search until he finds it. The point of the parable is that God will always find and save those He is seeking. In both cases, John 3:3 declares that in order for Christ to be our Lord and to have eternal security, all must be born again. “Jesus answered and said unto him, verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Within this miracle of His amazing grace, we cannot ignore the highly unpopular demand from God to also demonstrate a holy lifestyle. Conviction does not cease once a person is born again, but continues as a standard of truth to warn the follower to resist sin. It’s common for many who are eager to accept their golden ticket to heaven, to not be concerned with their awareness and dedication to the call of sanctification. We know there will be holiness and perfection in heaven, but we are reminded in first Peter 1:15-16 about our accountability to represent His nature and character here and now. “But as He which called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

245 – Published 9/7/20

Being ready to give an answer

Today, just as there was in the ancient world, there is a need for the people of God to assume the role of a watchman. If Christians do not tell the world about the gospel and warn them that Jesus is the hope of our future and is returning soon…who will? The watchman’s call 2700 years ago is still heard today: “The morning comes and also the night!” Yes, the world is in distress and insecurity is increasing on many levels, but there remains one rock that cannot be shaken and that is the Kingdom of God! Many are focused on tribulation approaching, while others are excited and filled with encouragement and joy and yet both camps are reading the same Bible. Some believers are evening star Christians and some are morning star Christians, but the ancient watchman saw both. He had spiritual discernment to see the night, but he was also the first to announce the breaking of the morning dawn. Likewise, we are to be a realist, but never giving up our confession of faith and hope, for no matter what the world or even the religious leaders declare, our security and hope is found in Christ. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:6.

Do people privately ask you about God? Do those around you respect your walk with Jesus and do they trust you to tell them about the Bible? What we say and the way we live has everything to do with our integrity and how effective we are for His kingdom. Is the Lord saying this is the time for long-term planning, or is today is the opportunity to repent and allow Christ to purify our heart and fill us with His Holy Spirit? As God’s messengers, did Isaiah or Jeremiah have any more responsibility than what we have now? Have we been too busy for the great commission? These questions are not just for teachers and missionaries, this is for everyone who proclaims to be a child of God. The concept of being a watchman is not an option, but rather a demand from the Lord to listen carefully, to know what He is saying and to follow His voice. Soldiers in the military are given orders and are committed to obeying the commands they are given. If a soldier is told to stand guard and they fail, are they not held accountable? Have you been faithful to stand guard and not been sleeping? Will our diligence to evangelism and prayer not be a part of our judgment? Have we forgotten the consequences of being backslidden and living a mediocre spiritual life? We are warned to not slumber as many around us are lost and in desperate need of the Savior.

It’s difficult to follow God’s orders and dedicate our life to repentance, sanctification, intercession, studying, witnessing, and obeying His voice, however, it’s easy to enjoy our blessings. How quickly we can lose our burden for other people’s souls and drift away from our personal relationship with Jesus. Too many distractions from worldly pleasures and not spending enough time with God is the formula for spiritual disaster. It’s time to stop singing “I surrender all” if we do not really mean it. George Macdonald is quoted as saying. “It is simply absurd to say you believe, or even want to believe, in God, if you do not do anything He tells you.” When people ask, “watchman what of the night” are you prepared to share what the Lord is revealing to you? He wants to arrange divine appointments, but is waiting for His people to awaken from their slumber. How many people desire to invite God to rekindle the fire within their spirit and to forgive their lukewarm attitude toward Him? Our relationship with Christ has everything to do with our obedience and we are only playing games if we have no intention of walking away from our carnality. There is no more middle of the road if we continue to be comfortable with the routines of our intentional sin. A watchman is serious about allowing God to transform their life and is always ready to help and encourage others in their spiritual journey. You can give your heart to Jesus this very minute by sincerely asking Him to take over your life.

Read more on the website billyhollandministries.com and watch new YouTube videos at Billyhollandministries

LIVING ON PURPOSE

244 – Published – 8/31/20

My glory and the lifter of my head

Sometimes the dark side tries to bring us down and discourage us and if we continue down this path, we will agree that our life is not worth much and no one really cares. However, there is some incredibly good news; the Bible as the highest standard of absolute truth clearly establishes that God sees you as the most valuable treasure ever created. Since He is perfect and what He makes is without mistakes, all that is needed for us to be a victorious overcomer is to believe it! “I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that, my soul knows well” Psalm 139:14. Living with low self-esteem is like driving with your foot on the brake and this has everything to do with how a person views themselves. Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, “What is behind us and before us are tiny matters compared to what is within us.”

We not only have two sets of eyes, but we also live in two different worlds at the same time. Our natural, physical eyes process everything within this natural realm and our perception has a direct influence on our emotions. When we are convinced that we have been sentenced to a life of failure and rejection, we feel sad, discouraged and worthless. However, when Christ comes into our life, He renews our mind and unveils our spiritual discernment in order for us to comprehend spiritual truth. This gives us the ability to see ourselves the way He sees us. Until we go beyond the default way of thinking, we will not be able to see this divine reality. We are all vulnerable to becoming entangled with depression and feelings of low self-worth, but we can find relief from our pain by simply asking God to give us the correct vision. If only you could know how important you are to the world! My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” Psalm 73:26.

The Lord is waiting to provide a new understanding that will help us realize just how much He loves us and how valuable we are to Him. If you have given your heart to Christ, and you now belong to God, how much does that make you worth? Let us consider that since the precious blood of Jesus is the highest payment that could be offered for our redemption, and it was given to set you free from sin and restore your relationship with God. I pray that you will realize you are His most valuable possession and your worth is beyond measure. First Corinthians chapter six explains that His people are bought with a price and are the temple of the Holy Spirit. All have been given a choice to accept this gracious offer or walk away. Accusations and negative thoughts of fear, failure or hopelessness are smokescreens to deceive us and keep us in bondage. When Jesus willingly went to the cross you were on His mind and He would have gladly paid that price if you had been the only person that needed His salvation. Each day we face harsh resistance from the enemy of our soul, but we can stand boldly in confidence and encouragement when we choose to accept God as the author and finisher of our faith. “But thou O Lord are a shield for me; my glory and the lifter of my head” Psalm 3:3.

The Lord declares throughout His Word that you are priceless and praise His name; He considers our worth and calculates our value simply because of who we are – nothing else. You see, value depends on how much someone is willing to pay and as John 3:16 declares, “For God so loved you, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This means that God sacrificed His precious Son for you which proves that you are His highest treasure. No one has ever paid a greater price than God paid for you and no one has more value in heaven or in earth than you. “Arise shine for your light has come, the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” Isaiah 60:1.

Dr. Holland is a Christian author, outreach minister, and community chaplain. We welcome you to watch his new music videos on YouTube at Billyhollandministries

LIVING ON PURPOSE

243 – Published 8/24/20

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling

Within the Christian faith, we understand that an individual will not come to God on their own. The depravity of mankind and the lost condition of their spiritual state prevents everyone from having a desire to love and serve or even an interest in God until God intervenes. So, what can cause a person to want to know more about God? They must be drawn to Him as they would not have the faith to come to Jesus unless God first places the desire in their heart. Whenever anyone is compelled to reach out to God, we know the Holy Spirit is tugging on their heartstrings with a process known as spiritual conviction. This is when the Lord intervenes and awakens our conscience so we can see our lost condition and desperate need to be transformed into a new spiritual creation. The purpose of Jesus coming to earth and agreeing to go through the crucifixion and resurrection was so that all who believe in God could have this opportunity to be rescued from a hopeless spiritual state and be transformed into a member of His family. His body was the only acceptable sacrifice and His blood is the only payment that can pay for the sins of those who love Him. He was sinless, and it is that pure and holy offering of love which opened the door to our spiritual redemption. In short, He died so that we could live. It’s true, we are all sinners, but there is a difference between the lost sinner and the saved sinner. The lost sinner has never been transformed into a new spiritual identity, while the saved sinner is progressing and developing as they allow God to teach them how to live for Him.

There is a general or universal call and is also commonly referred to as the gospel call which is made available to anyone whenever the message of Jesus is proclaimed. This invitation of grace does not discriminate and is conditional upon the person accepting His offer. Luke 14:23 says, Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” His gospel is meant to be shared with everyone and promises that whoever believes in faith and sincerely repents will be forgiven and will receive everlasting life which only God can give. We are told in Romans 1:20, that God’s presence is everywhere. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” He has revealed Himself through His creation, providing evidence of His existence and the expectation for all to worship Him. In addition, there is also an effectual call where God selects and pursues a particular person at a certain time and this is not conditional on the human will. Of course, it’s still an act of grace, but is not dependent upon a human to accept or reject. Predestination is simply based on His desire to select and choose certain individuals and is another view of His sovereignty. It also must be noted that He is perfect in all His ways. John the Baptist is an example of someone who was elected before he was born and in the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus explains how when a sheep goes missing, the shepherd will never stop searching. The point of the parable is that God will always find us.

There is a considerable amount of disagreement between God electing people to His salvation and the human choice to accept Him as Lord. Nonetheless, it’s clear that He provides the process, supplies the faith, and is the only one who has the divine authority to deliver anyone from sin and transform our spirit. In both aspects of these callings we are overwhelmed with God’s love and mercy and are reminded in John 3:3 that in order to know God and have eternal life we must be born again. Jesus answered and said unto him, verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a person be born again, they cannot see the kingdom of God.” God loves you today and wants to save you and give you eternal life. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” Romans 10:13.

Watch Billy’s new video “God has a plan for all of us” at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

242 – Published 8/17/20

Our highest quest is to know God

The Christian worldview of life is about learning what God requires and willingly accepting the call to become a devoted disciple of Christ. This life-changing decision has everything to do with yielding mind, body, and soul to the Creator of heaven and earth. It’s definitely worth considering since He has promised with all certainty that He is the way, the truth and the life. Most Bible scholars are convinced there are two categories of judgment and are commonly referred to as the saved and the unsaved. Even though there are levels of good and bad behavior, the basic concept describes a certain number of souls who are spiritually born-again and are declared as being a child of the Most High and on the other side of the fence there are those who willingly reject the invitation to become a member of God’s family and thus are referred to as spiritually lost. The deeds that were committed or omitted are known to God but the book of life will declare the eternal destination that only God has the perfect wisdom to address.

I consider myself as a student of God’s truth and much of the time a philosopher as well as a minister. It’s humbling to wade into the deeper waters of reason and purpose, and helping others in their relationship with Christ is a serious responsibility. I’ve listened to spiritual leaders and noticed that individuals who are committed to being His messengers are sincere, bold, and disciplined, yet at the same time they are rational thinkers filled with sorrow over a fallen humanity. Christ was filled with compassion and mercy while also being honestly blunt and the huge difference is that He was not a hypocrite as humans tend to be. I’ve made mistakes and taken some hard falls and it’s only with His endless mercy and grace that I live and move and have my being. I do not want to be remembered as someone who could talk about God but could not live for Him. What do you desire to be known for? I realize my righteousness is as a dirty rag and if I have accomplished anything in my life that has eternal value; it was manifested through me by the one and only holy God. What is my message? To cry from the housetops and stand in the middle of a busy highway if need be to warn a world being held in bondage about how Jesus Christ can set them free. To plead with all whom God will arrange with divine appointments about the dangers of accepting the default life and becoming satisfied to trade seventy or eighty years on earth for an eternity of terrible disappointment. The red devil with a pitchfork might be portrayed as a joke, but the holiness of the Almighty God who demands honor, reverence, and respect is very real.

It is no secret that seekers of spiritual truth have lot’s of difficult questions. Beliefs are reference points within our learning process and as we dig deeper for God’s wisdom throughout our spiritual journey the more likely we are to add and subtract within our understanding. It has been said that knowledge is merely the accumulation of informational facts, but wisdom is the understanding of knowledge. Again, we use the idea of levels to describe just how far and how deep we will venture in our quest to know the Alpha and Omega and the meaning of our existence. We are warned that earthly communication can be mixed with opinionated commentary which attempts to explain knowledge from a human perspective. May we careful to not be conformed to the world’s interpretations of truth. Things are not always the way they seem, which reveals the critical need for spiritual discernment. Unfortunately, the passion to discover these heavenly revelations seem to only matter to a small amount of the population and that is peculiar in itself, nevertheless we can agree as the fictional X-file agent Fox Mulder used to say, “the truth IS out there.” One of the most essential questions at the end of life is how much truth did the seeker find and even more important is how much of it did they comprehend and demonstrate? To sum up the meaning of life, we can say that, “God is absolute truth and our highest quest is to know Him, love Him, and obey Him.”

Read more about the Christian life and watch Billy’s brand new video at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

241 – Published 8/10/20

Stand up, stand up for Jesus

We are living in perilous times and now more than ever I’m reminded of the old saying that if we do not stand for something, we will fall for anything. However, the call to step forward as a soldier for the Lord does not imply that God needs us to defend Him physically, the Creator is more than capable of exerting His authority over His creation. Standing for Jesus is understanding that our warfare is spiritual as the Bible declares In Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle NOT against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” The world wants to conquer through human strength, but the Christian communicates with God and has faith that His plans will be accomplished by His might and power. For those who follow Him in Spirit and truth, they are willing to accept the responsibility to invest their time in the secret place of intercession. No longer can His children ignore their call of duty to love and pray. It would be wonderful if Christians were undercover agents for God’s kingdom, but unfortunately many are just hiding in the shadows because they are afraid to become involved. For too long the church has enjoyed the pleasures of life while being distracted from developing an awareness of His presence.

For many of us that have a religious background, we recall the inspirational old hymn, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus” that was written by George Duffield Jr. in 1858. The seed for this powerful song was planted from the dying message of a young pastor in Philadelphia named Dudley A. Tyng. Duffield and Tyng were members of a group of ministers that preached revival meetings in the local YMCA. It’s interesting to note that he had recently been removed from his church for taking an aggressive stand against slavery. In March 1858, Tyng delivered a motivating sermon to 5000 people, and it was recorded that over 1000 made a profession of faith in Christ that day. During his message he is quoted as saying, “I would rather that my arm be amputated than I should fail to deliver God’s truth.” Strangely, only a few weeks later Tyng was in his barn where a mule was harnessed to a machine that was shelling corn. As he was patting the mule his sleeve accidentally became caught in the cogs of the wheel and his arm was severed. It was a devastating injury and as those who loved him were gathered at his bedside, his last plea was for all who claim to love God to always stand up for Jesus. Soon after he quietly passed away. His friend and fellow minister, Dr. George Duffield, was deeply touched by these words and wrote the hymn which still stirs and encourages our heart today. At Tyng’s memorial service on April 25, 1858, Duffield preached about the struggles and the constant resistance from the enemy of our soul and concluded his eulogy by reading the lines of “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” as a tribute to his dear friend as several verses referred to Tyng’s life and ministry. Duffield’s Sunday School superintendent published the lyrics in the church newspaper and the hymn spread from there.

The challenge of standing up for Christ is explained in the front-line military metaphors Paul uses in Ephesians chapter 6 such as the sword of the Spirit, the shield of faith, and so on. Although some individuals are not comfortable with the warlike imagery, the Christian’s passion to fight on our knees is directly associated with taking up our cross and surrendering our will. Romans 13:12 says, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” Today is the day to arise and embrace the good news that even though we may lose a few battles here on earth, for those who know and love God, our eternal victory in Christ is assured. I close with one of the verses of this song that was meant to stir and awaken God’s people; “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, the strife will not be long; this day the noise of battle, the next the victor’s song: to him that overcometh, a crown of life shall be; he with the King of glory, shall reign eternally.”

You can watch Billy’s brand new video at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

240 – Published 8/3/20

There is no condemnation for being transparent

I realize that church leaders must be real with their feelings because if the “human factor” did not come through our personalities, we would all seem very robotic. But at the same time, many feel pressure to be excited and happy all the time because they want to keep everyone pumped up, and fear if they do not demonstrate a positive image they will appear weak and discouraging. Learning how to be “real” is like walking an emotional tight wire, and as fellow Christians we need to remember that we all live in human housing. The role of a spiritual leader is not easy and deserves more prayer and less criticism. I recall when I was younger, I was invited to attend a meeting of pastors that were discussing the trials and challenges of ministry, and instead of being compassionate, I was disappointed because they were not wearing their superhero capes. I listened as these warriors shared their burdens and worries and questions about church growth and how to get people to catch their vision. As they talked about problems with everything from excessive debt to people being unfaithful, I sensed a heaviness of negativity and defeat. When it was over, I left with a feeling of hopelessness for the local church. I was not encouraged, inspired, or built up in any way, yet here I was surrounded by those who fight on the front line and are filled with God’s power and faith. I felt there had been a mistake because I thought I was going to a celebration of spiritual victory with the generals, but instead was sitting in on a religious pity party. I was thinking to myself, everyone knows there are problems in the churches, but pastors are supposed to have the answers. What I failed to realize was that Elijah’s also need places to vent their frustrations and weaknesses and a safe environment with those who understand what they are going through.

Local assemblies have teachers, counselors, associate pastors, administrators, singers, musicians, superintendents, elders, and deacons, and these helpers are support staff. Of course, Christ is the head of the church, but He appoints the head pastor to relay His messages and to have a burden for all the sheep. May we remember that the head pastor also wears the brightest bullseye. It’s true, the office of a head pastor is to know God’s direction for the assembly and lead the warriors into the battle, but what I personally failed to realize in that meeting was that God’s messengers give their lives to help others. These individuals were letting down their guard in front of me. They felt secure with each other and used this time as a place of refreshing and refuge away from the war zone, to share their wounds, experiences, and open their hearts. I was not discerning what was happening and was secretly judging too harshly. These are the laborers who get up in the middle of the night and kneel on cold hospital floors praying for the sick. They hold people’s hands who are passing on to the next life. They counsel and try to help when people make a huge mess of their lives and they feel compelled to go inside the prisons to preach the kingdom message. They carry the concerns that only God knows because many people have shared their deepest secrets with them and trust them to keep it confidential.

While none of us, including pastors, are to dwell in a world disappointments and worries, let us also remember that it’s okay to be honest with the ones we trust and who care for our souls. It’s alright for overcomers to be concerned, but we must also learn to leave our anxieties and fears at the cross as they are very heavy and can hinder our joy and peace. As servants of the Most High, spiritual leaders feel the same pain and heartache that everyone does and there is no condemnation for being transparent. For all of God’s children, it’s critical that we learn how to encourage ourselves and to know that God is the source of our strength. Overcomers learn that qualities like fortitude, perseverance, and patience are formed in times of great difficulty. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” II Corinthians 4:8-9.

Check out Billy’s new video message and free CD offer at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

239 – Published 7/27/20

God’s invitation is still being given

Christ as the rose of Sharon, was willing to be crushed and this holy fragrance of love reveals the nature of God’s amazing grace. His blood was the ultimate sacrifice as it redeemed and paid for the sins of all who would believe and accept Him as their Savior. God has drawn a blueprint which includes His general will and His specific will for every person. His general will is written in the Bible as His basic instructions to obey, and His specific will is offer to lead us in our everyday life and can be fulfilled when we seek Him with all of our heart and mind. We have been given the choice to follow this heavenly plan or to be independent and live according to our own desires. The more devoted we are to His blueprint, the more of His attributes will be released within us. Jesus followed His mission and He became heaven’s bridge for our salvation. Ephesians chapter five and verse two reminds us, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor.” When we choose to surrender our will and become committed to this covenant relationship, our life can also become a sacrificial aroma of love that pleases God.

A couple of forest rangers who were hiking in Yellowstone National Park after a forest fire, told this story. As they were assessing the inferno’s damage, one ranger found a bird literally petrified in the ashes, perched like a statue on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he noticed something moving under her. When he removed her body, there were three tiny chicks nestled under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. Then the blaze had arrived, and the heat had scorched her small body, but the mother had remained steadfast and was willing to die, so those under the refuge of her wings could live. How much more does Jesus love you? Jesus knew we we doomed so He willingly gave His life so that He could save us from eternal death. Will you trust and believe in Him today? “He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will trust. His truth will be your shield and buckler. You will not be afraid for the terror by night; neither from the arrow that flies by day” (Psalm 91:4-5).

Among the chaos, we know that God is still on His throne and is only allowing devil to have a short time of rebellion before Jesus returns to restore order. We should not be surprised as The deterioration of humanity is prophesied in His Word. I encourage you to find a quiet place today and share with Him about all the things that are troubling you. In John Chapter 14, we read where Christ sent the Holy Spirit and that He would help guide and comfort us in our journey. I’m receiving more emails and letters than ever before, and many are from individuals who are afraid about what is happening in our world. There is a lot of talk about tribulation and these subjects are not pleasant to imagine, as they involve anxiety and the mysteries of the unknown. I’ve studied the Bible and listened to many teachers about the last days, and it’s true that perilous times are coming. Some are having dreams and visions about the future, and like the rest of you, I’m asking the Lord to reveal what is true and what is not. Nonetheless, may we remember that Jesus will never leave us or forsake us no matter what we may face from this point forward. Like the mother bird who would never abandon her children, we can know that God is always with us. Christ is an invincible tower of safety and is still inviting those who are battling fear and anxiety to, Come unto me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28. In His presence you will find peace and encouragement, but we must take the initiative to seek Him.

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LIVING ON PURPOSE

238 – Published 7/20/20

The constant need for spiritual discernment

Within the Christian life, there are many pillars of truth which are critical to our spiritual development and one of these is discernment. The word may have several meanings, but mostly it’s associated with having spiritual sensitivity. Within the Biblical view it is used to identify whether something is is good or evil and being able to interpret and understand God’s voice. You see, we cannot hear what He is saying if we are not walking close to Him or even aware of His presence. It’s elementary that the closer we are to God, the more clearly we will perceive what He wants us to do. I’m convinced that becoming aware of God’s presence is the key to dwelling in His Spirit, which by the way is the foundation of our salvation. If we do not have any intention of walking in His Spirit, just what do we believe the Christian life is about? Grace does not mean we have been excused from the responsibility to walk holy, it’s an opportunity to know Him and develop an understanding of who He is.

With being surrounded by deception in this fallen world, we cannot overemphasize the importance of our ability to perceive what is going on around us. Recently, I found myself in a situation where I could have used a stronger sense of discernment, but discovered that my perception was lacking. Lets just say, I was approached by an individual through email who seemed to have good intentions. They said they were a messenger of God and began to relay a few things that was supposedly from the Lord. It’s true, I’ve encountered people through the years who have prophesied to me and given me good advice, so I was not really alarmed. This person appeared intelligent and had some good things to say, however they also included certain ideas which I sensed were red flags. Nonetheless, we continued to exchange dialogue until I finally came to a point where I realized this was not exactly what I had hoped it would be. Yes, I was disappointed that this was not one of those “once in a lifetime” spiritual experiences, but even more concerning, I realized that I should have had a stronger spiritual insight and recognized the signs much earlier than I did.

I have thought about this since then and it has reminded me of how we all need to develop our discernment. God’s word warns us that deception will increase and along with the chaos of so many conflicting voices, we should awaken to the fact that we need to know truth from error. Satan is very clever when it comes to mixing truth with fallacy and is the master of lying, fraud, deviousness, pretense, and trickery. His mission is steal every soul he can, and unfortunately he is the leader of many dangerous wolves who are skilled in the art of wearing sheep costumes. Since we know this is true, how can we ignore the danger of not developing our intuition? Building a stronger discernment has everything to do with our priorities and how serious we are about serving the Lord. When a person proclaims to be a believer in God, but has a distant relationship with Him, they are already backslidden and are living in spiritual lukewarmness. This detachment from God’s presence causes the individual to become numb to the conviction of God’s Spirit and unfortunately more receptive to rebellion and carnality. As this cold and callous attitude is personally accepted as a normal way of living, the person continues to fall away from the basic fundamentals of their faith and commitment to Christ. Everyone decides what they will believe and who they will serve.

So how do we maintain the intensity and enthusiasm of our relationship with God which will also keep our discernment on high alert? With much perseverance and determination! We must see our need to abide with God as a lifestyle which is much deeper than just a religious ritual. It will require a fervent passion to be a constant reflection of His attributes. This has everything to do with being obedient and willing to surrender our will to His control while allowing Him to renew our mind. What does renewing our mind mean? Surrendering the independence of our thoughts and embracing His desire for our life. It’s learning what it means to love and trust Him with all of our mind, strength, and soul.

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LIVING ON PURPOSE

237 – Published 7/13/20

Prayers and appreciation for first responders

Someone mentioned the other day about how after pouring out some heated frustrations on one of their Facebook sessions, they had a headache and was terribly depressed. For those who read this column regularly, you know I do not talk a lot about politics or social issues. I just feel we already have all the arguments and opinions we need and besides, I’m more into sharing about how God so loved the world that He gave His only son so that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. In the New Testament, we do not see the Lord arguing and fighting with all who opposed His teachings or spending His time trying to protest against the government. Jesus was simply more concerned with saying and doing what His Father was telling Him to do. Yes, He was surrounded by controversy, but He was also in constant communication with the one who sent Him. His life brought glory to God because He did not allow His emotions to control Him. Is this not the same attitude of obedience which is also expected of His followers today? I believe the Bible teaches that God has designed a specific spiritual blueprint for all of us. This unique destiny is centered around listening carefully to His voice, submitting our will, and doing what He says. Can you imagine a world where everyone listens to God?

It’s true I do avoid wrestling with subjects that are like quicksand when it comes to dissension and strife. It’s not that I’m lacking my own opinions, I have my thoughts and ideas just like everyone else. I just want to stay positive and bring thought-provoking content to those who need the Lord to bless them with some hope and peace. I’m sure we can all agree there is a lot of bad news going on right now, and we could use a word of encouragement every now and then. As chaplain of our County Fire District and a Veterans health care facility, I’m around men and women who are proud of their country and have personally made a lot of sacrifices, and many are still actively serving the community. I also have several family members that have served in the military and are currently associated with law enforcement. I’m proud of all of them and believe that first responders and school teachers for that matter should be respected and paid more because of the amazing protection they provide. Athletes can throw a ball around and make more money in one day than these individuals who are dedicated to making a real difference in the world can earn in a year.

Since I’m on the subject of obeying God’s voice, there comes a time when we need to step forward and support what is right. Yes, Christians are known to be passive and attempt to avoid conflict, but we are now seeing the world taking advantage of this. Like I was saying, I normally would not discuss topics that are controversial, but I am choosing to speak out against the immature and ridiculous idea of abolishing and defunding the police. I remember the company I used to work for would punish every employee when one person would do something wrong. Sure, there are bad apples and exceptions in every profession, but stereotyping all police officers or All first responders as being corrupt is a horrible example of bigotry. When I hear anyone suggesting we should defund law enforcement, I immediately think this is something that a 15-year-old juvenile delinquent would say. Can’t you hear them now, I wish they would do away with the police so that I can steal and hurt people and get away with it.” You know, if we stop and seriously think for a minute, the criminals and those who are rebellious against authority are the only ones who would not appreciate the police. If a citizen abides by the law and does what is right, they will never have to worry about having problems with the legal system. Every decent person counts it a blessing to know they can call an officer or emergency personnel if they need them. Thank God they are there! We could never give our law enforcement and first responders enough love, honor, support, and prayers as they are constantly risking their lives to help others. I pray we will never live in a society without them.

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LIVING ON PURPOSE

236 – Published 7/6/20

Prayers and appreciation for first responders

Someone mentioned the other day about how after pouring out some heated frustrations on one of their Facebook sessions, they had a headache and was terribly depressed. For those who read this column regularly, you know I do not talk a lot about politics or social issues. I just feel we already have all the arguments and opinions we need and besides, I’m more into sharing about how God so loved the world that He gave His only son so that whoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. In the New Testament, we do not see the Lord arguing and fighting with all who opposed His teachings or spending His time trying to protest against the government. Jesus was simply more concerned with saying and doing what His Father was telling Him to do. Yes, He was surrounded by controversy, but He was also in constant communication with the one who sent Him. His life brought glory to God because He did not allow His emotions to control Him. Is this not the same attitude of obedience which is also expected of His followers today? I believe the Bible teaches that God has designed a specific spiritual blueprint for all of us. This unique destiny is centered around listening carefully to His voice, submitting our will, and doing what He says. Can you imagine a world where everyone listens to God?

It’s true I do avoid wrestling with subjects that are like quicksand when it comes to dissension and strife. It’s not that I’m lacking my own opinions, I have my thoughts and ideas just like everyone else. I just want to stay positive and bring thought-provoking content to those who need the Lord to bless them with some hope and peace. I’m sure we can all agree there is a lot of bad news going on right now, and we could use a word of encouragement every now and then. As chaplain of our County Fire District and a Veterans health care facility, I’m around men and women who are proud of their country and have personally made a lot of sacrifices, and many are still actively serving the community. I also have several family members that have served in the military and are currently associated with law enforcement. I’m proud of all of them and believe that first responders and school teachers for that matter should be respected and paid more because of the amazing protection they provide. Athletes can throw a ball around and make more money in one day than these individuals who are dedicated to making a real difference in the world can earn in a year.

Since I’m on the subject of obeying God’s voice, there comes a time when we need to step forward and support what is right. Yes, Christians are known to be passive and attempt to avoid conflict, but we are now seeing the world taking advantage of this. Like I was saying, I normally would not discuss topics that are controversial, but I am choosing to speak out against the immature and ridiculous idea of abolishing and defunding the police. I remember the company I used to work for would punish every employee when one person would do something wrong. Sure, there are bad apples and exceptions in every profession, but stereotyping all police officers or All first responders as being corrupt is a horrible example of bigotry. When I hear anyone suggesting we should defund law enforcement, I immediately think this is something that a 15-year-old juvenile delinquent would say. Can’t you hear them now, I wish they would do away with the police so that I can steal and hurt people and get away with it.” You know, if we stop and seriously think for a minute, the criminals and those who are rebellious against authority are the only ones who would not appreciate the police. If a citizen abides by the law and does what is right, they will never have to worry about having problems with the legal system. Every decent person counts it a blessing to know they can call an officer or emergency personnel if they need them. Thank God they are there! We could never give our law enforcement and first responders enough love, honor, support, and prayers as they are constantly risking their lives to help others. I pray we will never live in a society without them.

Discover more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

235 – Published 6/29/20

Our grass is greener than we think

I really appreciate readers who send me emails and hand-written letters, they are truly an encouragement. Actually, I received a wonderful letter the other day by a gentleman from South Carolina who had recently lost his wife and he said one of these columns touched him deeply. My topic was about how God’s eye is always on the sparrow, and this reminded him of a precious memory that he and his wife had experienced many years ago. He sent along some photos and it was just a very kind expression of appreciation. Meeting new acquaintances like this are very special to me and one of the blessings which comes with having the opportunity to share my heart with others.

I realize that many readers of the newspapers are a part of the older generation and that is wonderful. I’m also a member of what is now commonly called, “old school” who enjoys actually holding the newspaper in my hands along with reading good ole paper and ink books. It seems the younger folks would rather stay glued to their phones and receive their information from the internet headlines. By the way, I really appreciate the hard work that newspaper personnel do every day, they are committed to excellence and have a relentless attitude to provide honest information as a service to humanity. A very noble profession indeed. Continuing with the thought about growing older, I realize that most of us believe we are going to stay young forever, but in plain language we can safely say, “that just ain’t gonna happen.” I think my grammar program just blew a fuse. Anyway, you get the point. For those who are going through anxiety and loneliness, I just want to remind you that you are never alone. God is always with us and offers to fill us with a peaceful and joyful expectation that we will see our soulmates again. I’m very sorry, and cannot imagine what it’s like to not be with those we have shared our life with. In first Thessalonians chapter 4, we have God’s promise that His people will be resurrected and reunited with Him and their loved one’s forever. Revelation 21:4 says, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” I love the lyrics to the hymn, “What a day that will be” and the amazing assurance that God’s Word is true and never fails.

I’m sure that most of us would agree the Lord has been good to us. I know we are very busy, but when we consider what it means to be happy and blessed, many times we forget just how blessed we are and what we already have. Our human nature is convinced that to have more things guarantees we will have more happiness and contentment, but this is not true. The old, “grass is always greener” philosophy influences individuals to ignore their existing level of happiness by thinking there are much higher levels to attain. In reality, our earthly existence can only be so good because there is a limit to how mentally and emotionally satisfying it can be. We know that heaven will be much more spiritually wonderful than we could possibly imagine, and the highest vision of heaven on earth is referring to our intimate relationship with God, not a two week European vacation. My wife and I can honestly say we are as happy as we can be, and this is not just a frivolous statement – it’s literal. I’m not implying we are free from trials and challenges because we have them just like everyone else. What I’m saying is this natural life has a plateau of fulfillment and many of us are actually there now. For those who have an intimate relationship with God, a faithful soulmate, a nice place to live, decent health which includes having the ability to function physically and mentally without terrible pain, and enough money to do whatever they want within reason, how much happier can they be? What could make them happier? More possessions? Solomon was not any more satisfied or content than we are because we all have the same things, except his “stuff” was larger and more expensive. For most of us, we can appreciate and be very grateful that our grass is actually very lush and green.

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LIVING ON PURPOSE

234 – Published 6/22/20

The important responsibility of a parent

I was thinking the other day about how life has changed since I was a little boy. I’m sure that many of you can agree, that we never imagined some of the things we are seeing. I remember when I was young, life was fairly simple, and when I would listen to my mom and dad talk to each other, it was mostly about paying bills and the all little things that kept everything going. We would watch the Huntley-Brinkley report, but I don’t recall my parents discussing politics that much. In those days, the Beatles having hair below their ears was a sign the world was coming to an end. When it came to the news, I cannot recall my parents or grandparents being so upset they turned the television off because it was so depressing. I’m not saying the world was better back then, maybe it was just not broadcast.

I was blessed to have parents that took me to church. Though I did not appreciate it at the time, Sunday school taught me a lot about right and wrong. Providing a Biblical foundation for a child makes a huge difference in the way an individual thinks and lives. I personally know adults who were not given the opportunity for spiritual development and they have never been interested in God. On the other hand, I know others who were raised in church and their relationship with God today is their highest priority. Proverbs chapter 22 and verse six confirms how important it is to not only teach children about God, but to also live what we believe in front of them. “Train up a child in the way they should go, and when they are old, they will not depart from it.”

I’m reminded of a story my grandmother told me years ago. She was an amazing lady and as the first grandchild, I was always close to her. Her parents were devout Christians and she was also very vocal about faith and praying. Her father died before I was born and I can barely remember my great-grandmother. They had 14 children (9 boys and 5 girls) and lived on a small farm so far out in the sticks you could actually walk down the hill to the Kentucky river. This was in the 1920’s and 30’s and they were poor, but my grandmother was very proud of her family. She told me, that every day in the summers, her mom would fix a huge breakfast and after the meal, the kids would all line up out in the yard and her dad would give specific chores for each child. Some of the girls would volunteer to help their mother clean the house and prepare lunch and dinner. Others would be sent to the fields, or whatever needed to be done. Often, the children would agree to trade their duties to keep from being burned out with the same routines. Nonetheless, they all worked hard and played hard, and she always had fond memories of their home as a place of peace and safety, that was filled with God’s love.

She said at Christmas, each child would receive a small toy and a piece of fruit. One year she was given a harmonica and an orange which she declared as the best Christmas ever. She was so excited she put on her coat and boots and walked around in the snow all day blowing on that harmonica. However, one of the most interesting and precious childhood memories was about her father. She said in the evenings he would walk down behind their barn and pray. There was an old log he used for an altar and he would get on his knees and weep and wail so loud they could hear him up at the house. When I look at his tattered photos, I cannot help but imagine what it was like to be responsible for so many and to rely completely on God just to survive. I have a great amount of respect for this man, his work ethic, and tireless commitment to be a good husband and father. Yes, he had a tough life, but his dedication to God was definitely seen by his family and had a positive impact on each one. Maybe if more parents would pray and be a Godly example in front of their children, the evening news would not be so filled with sadness and discouragement.

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LIVING ON PURPOSE

233 – Published 6/15/20

Surrendering our will is not an option

I was asked recently if being born again was the same thing as believing in God. I felt I needed to give a more thorough answer than just a simple yes. It might sound strange, but it’s true that Christians do believe that God is real, and yet there are others who believe in God that are not born again. I realize this seems confusing, and how can this be? Well, the devil believes that God is real, but he does not love or serve Him. So we can see there is a big difference between just believing and being spiritually transformed and embracing Christ as the Lord of our life. There is more to Salvation than just acknowledging there is a God. It has everything to do with knowing and trusting Him, being dedicated to obeying His truth, and having a genuine personal relationship with Him.

Entering into God’s covenant of spiritual redemption is not just raising our hand when someone is asking, “who wants to escape the flames and eternal darkness?” We repent because we are broken over our sinful condition, we literally fall in love with God, and our eyes are opened to see our desperate need to be changed into a brand new creation for His glory. Our responsibility is to willingly surrender our independence and allow Jesus to sit on the throne of the heart and control our life. In short, there are only a few individuals that are willing to “go all the way” with God. Being religious is a piece of cake compared to what being His disciple really means. It’s seldom mentioned, but the only way to accomplish His will, is to let go of ours. This is not very popular because much of the Christian attention is focused on attending an organized assembly which is fine, but developing a constant awareness of His presence is far more important.

Here is a verse found in Luke Chapter 14 and verses 28-30 that you will probably not hear in a revival. Why not? Because if evangelists told everyone how difficult it is, very few would want to commit. By the way, these are the words of Jesus. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.” Unfortunately, many people sign up to be a follower of Christ, but eventually discover they only wanted blessings without accountability.

The cross is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world and is associated with Jesus and Christianity. The cross is also an instrument of death and we know that our Savior was crucified and died on the old rugged cross at a location named Golgotha which was also called the place of the skull and Calvary. Nonetheless, what many Christians fail to realize is that His children have also been called to figuratively and spiritually take up their cross (Galatians 2:20) and die to their carnal old nature. This is the fine print clause that is commonly ignored. It’s very critical to understand that surrendering our will is NOT an option, but His demand. Becoming a living sacrifice through Him is the only way we can possibly walk with Him in Spirit and truth. Along with our commitment and faithfulness unto Christ, we must also realize the world will hate us. For the individual who professes to be a Christian and yet they are embraced by those who do not know God, something is wrong. The Bible contains many warnings about becoming too cozy with sin such as James chapter four, “Don’t you know that friendship with the world is enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

The meaning of sanctification is to be separate or set apart and in context with our subject, we are not to blend in with the world, but rather to reflect God’s nature and character. Let us not be like the disciples who fell asleep in the garden while Jesus was praying. Likewise, the five foolish virgins had no oil and were not prepared for the bridegroom when He appeared. Why I am so passionate about drawing nearer to God? Honestly…I believe there is nothing more important.

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LIVING ON PURPOSE

232 – Published 6/8/20

And I know He watches me

I was working out in the yard the other day and a tiny sparrow landed on the ground just a few feet from me. I watched as it moved its head around and then flew off with lightning speed. I was reminded of the passage in Matthew chapter ten which states that God keeps His eye on every sparrow and how He watches us even more closely. What a comfort to know that wherever we are or what experiences we are going through, we can rest assured that He is attentively observing every moment of our life. There might be times when we are lonely, but there will never be a time when we are alone.
I remember years ago watching the Billy Graham crusades and Ethel Waters singing “His eye is on the sparrow.” I went back and watched it recently and it still brings tears to my eyes. The first verse of the lyrics are, “Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come, why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home? When Jesus is my portion, my constant friend is He, His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.” Such beautiful words and a very comforting truth which remind us that God is never too busy and never forgets us. Psalm 121:2-3 declares, “My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will never slumber or sleep.”

An interesting backstory to this song, reveals how this popular hymn came to be written. Civilla Martin was born in Nova Scotia in 1866 and became a devout follower of Christ. Her husband was an evangelist and they traveled together all over the United States holding revivals, singing and preaching the gospel. In 1904 Civilla was visiting a friend that had fallen seriously ill and was bedridden. Although weak and discouraged, her friend testified that her Heavenly Father was watching each little sparrow very attentively and she was convinced that He would also watch after her. She quoted the scripture in Matthew about the sparrows and with Mrs. Martin being a poet, the inspiration became a perfect idea for a poem. She jotted down her thoughts and by the end of the day, had completed “His Eye is On The Sparrow.” The poem was sent to a well-known composer of that day, Charles Gabriel, and his lovely melody has since then carried this encouraging message around the world. When I write, I not only pray that God will give me the words to relay, but that He will direct those to read the message He has appointed for them. These divine connections are the result of a Savior who loves us and desires to help us. Psalm 121:7-8 promises, “The Lord will keep you from all harm, He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” I enjoy talking to God when I’m by myself. It’s a wonderful contentment to share my personal thoughts and feelings with Him and to have an awareness that His presence is listening. I will admit there have been times when I’ve been in difficult situations and wondered why He would allow me to fall into such a serious crisis. However, even when we are suffering, He is a constant companion and never fails to respond on our behalf.

So today whether you are isolated at home or working in a busy environment, God knows where you are and is aware of what is going on in your life. Maybe you are facing a fearful dilemma and you cannot figure out how you are going to make it through this. As all loving parents watch over their children and protect them, how much more is our Heavenly Father ready to step in on our behalf? In your daily time of prayer and meditation, I encourage you to remember to thank Him for not only always seeing you, but also for His endless compassion and mercy. There is joy, peace, and hope in knowing that God is with us both on the mountain top and in the darkest valley. I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, for His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

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LIVING ON PURPOSE

231 – Published 6/1/20

What does the cross mean to you?

We used to sing a vineyard worship song whose chorus said, “Refining fire – our one hearts desire – is to be holy – set apart for you Lord – I choose to be holy – Set apart for you, my Master – ready to do your will.” When a person accepts Christ, they make a holy vow of commitment to Jesus that promises

they will never flirt, tease, or engage in any type of romantic activity with sin. It’s easy to sing a song, but are we really serious about our commitment and dedication? What are we thinking when we sing songs like this? “Set a fire down in my soul – that I can’t contain – that I can’t control – I want more of you God – I want more of you God.”Do we really want to be filled with Him, or just enough to make it to heaven? Maybe we do not realize what salvation actually is. Matthew 16:24 is such a profound statement from Jesus and worthy of our highest consideration. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

The reality of us being lost and then being found is the greatest gift we could ever receive. To believe with faith and be saved by His grace is a miracle from heaven. However, in case no one ever mentioned it, being born-again is not without conditions or accountability. There is more to being saved than just raising your hand and receiving a golden ticket. Redemption is entering into a marriage covenant with Christ and taking a holy vow to give ourselves entirely to Him and to allow Him to reign within us as Lord and King. We are not just dating the Lord; we are to be completely sold out to Him100 percent. Not 50 or 60 percent committed – we are to be walking in His presence every moment – we are to be “living” in the Holy of Holies with Him. How many have a passion for this type of relationship? Probably not that many which is why they call His followers a remnant. The truth is that very few really want to be committed to this extent. What makes you say that? Well, we can see that hardly anyone is this radical and we can also examine our own life and determine if we are living in this extreme spiritual level. We are able to do whatever we want and this means we can be as close to God as we desire. However, if we are not as close to Him as we can be, something must be stopping us. What is it? It’s simply a rebellious refusal to surrender our will to Jesus? Do we actually have a passion to become sanctified and holy to the point where sin makes us nauseated? Are we in control of our life, or is our life in control of us?

Human nature has its own ideas about living for God and the devil is always ready to educate us with his own distorted persuasions and influences. We would rather do anything in the world than to let go of our independence and decision making power. Listen very carefully my friends, this is not an opinion or some type of spiritual speculation, this is a holy reality directly from God: there is only one throne upon your heart and there can only be one of two possible kings who can be sitting on it – Jesus or Satan. You might be convinced that you are in charge of your own destiny and you might be proud that you did it “your way” but you were duped by the dark side and were actually serving yourself. God is asking for all of us to look into the mirror and accept who is really the Lord of our thoughts and plans. Are we willing to lay down our will so that we can embrace His, or are we satisfied to leave our lives exactly as they are? Today, if our life is not a representation and demonstration of the nature and character of God, then obviously Jesus is not ruling on the throne of our heart. The cross is a symbol of death and hope all at the same time. Jesus died and rose from the dead and likewise our old nature must die so that we can live as a brand new creation in Christ.

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LIVING ON PURPOSE

230 – Published 5/25/20

A very present help in trouble

We are not even halfway into the year and our nation has already suffered more stress and tribulation than I have ever seen. As if the pandemic was not enough, we are now seeing an insurrection of hatred and violence and we still have an election ahead of us. I would imagine that most of you watch the news and to be honest, I probably absorb a little too much. Some evenings, my mind is so hyped-up and distressed with worry that I end up turning and tossing in my sleep. Thank God I can ask Him to forgive me and to please flood my mind and heart with His peace. The Holy Spirit has been given to help guide us and also to bring assurance and contentment, in fact, one of His titles is comforter. Calling on God in times of crisis whatever the situation may be, is such a blessing for our soul. Psalm 46:1 is a beautiful promise that we can embrace as a secure pillar within our spiritual foundation. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” How encouraging it is to know, that we can rest in His endless love and hope when we choose to live in His presence.

Each week I look to the Lord to provide inspirational and positive thoughts within my writing and I believe we need this now more than ever. I’ve often thought that no one really needs other people repeating how the nation and the world is in such a hopeless condition. We already know there are a lot of bad people on this planet. However, it’s always encouraging and refreshing to hear that Jesus gave His life so that all those who would believe in Him could be spiritually saved. Now that’s good news! If we really want to help make the world a better place, we can use our energy to pray, and we can also become determined to demonstrate the nature and character of Christ in our daily walk. As light drives away the darkness, love drives out hate. We hear so many conversations about the fear of anarchy and the failure of government that my head hurts. The answer is Jesus! Short and simple. It does not really matter what anyone thinks except God. He is the only one I want to listen to because He is perfect truth and the exemplary solution for everything. If every person would seek His face, and repent and cry out to Him and obey His voice, we would have genuine love and peace. Now sir tell me, why do you always have to bring religion into it? I’m not talking about religion, I’m talking about a personal, spiritual relationship with the Alpha and Omega the Creator of all things.

Whatever we might face from this time forward, the word that I sense is urgency. What do you mean? We should have an urgent agenda to make sure that all is well with our soul. Is there coming a great spiritual awakening in the world? I do not know, however there can be an outpouring of God’s Spirit within the hearts of those who want to be filled with God. Let us continue meditating on His Word as we ask Him to shield our heart and renew our mind. The truth is that we cannot remove evil from the world. Prayers are powerful, but we cannot transform those who are filled with hatred nor change the terrible mess we are in. However, God can! What happened to the world? Humans refused to love and obey God. Another short and simple conclusion. Unfortunately, Satan has influenced many to embrace evil. Yes, God can change and deliver anyone but they must surrender their will and invite Him to make them into a brand new creation. If there were ever a time to develop a daily lifestyle of prayer, it is now.

Repentance and holiness is the way to walk in God’s wisdom, peace, and joy. Consider Philippians 4:8. Be careful of being overloaded with negative information as our environment is emotionally charged, and it’s easy to be drawn into the chaos. May we listen intently to the Holy Spirit and follow His guidance, remembering to examine our thoughts and be cautious with our words. James chapter three declares how the tongue can be evil and filled with deadly poison. Sadly, we are seeing this all around us. So many dangerous assumptions and empty opinions. “Help us O God.”

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229 – Published 5/18/20

The victorious spiritual life

If our mind is filled with a world of thoughts that are contrary or even dishonorable to God, how can there be room for us to concentrate on His goodness, peace, and hope? When Mary was about to give birth and there was no room in the Inn, God was also allowing us to see that many people in this world have no room in their life for Jesus. Their heart and mind is filled with carnality, selfishness, arrogance, and negative influences. This is why the enemy of our soul has created many obstacles and diversions for the purpose of redirecting our attention away from our Lord. Secular reading material, video games, movies, cell phones, and television are only a few distractions that can be snare traps which can replace and redirect our mental and spiritual focus away from Christ. Having a disciplined mind for God is a key to living a victorious spiritual life.

When we talk about our love for the Lord, there are plenty of ways to prove we are not just cluttering the air with empty words. The call to take up our cross and follow Christ, has everything to do with our level of devotion to Him. When a person falls in love with someone, this is all they think about. Why? Because whatever captures our heart has also captivated our mind. If Jesus has been invited to sit on the throne of our heart, we are sitting at His feet intently waiting for Him to speak and always ready to respond and obey His voice. Our desire to please Him is a direct result of our love for Him. Within this personal and intimate relationship is the reverential fear and awe of who He is. This respect of His holiness is the beginning of wisdom and causes us to be humble and grateful for His presence.

Until sin convicts and wounds our heart to the point of weeping, we have not understood the full meaning of spiritual transformation. The term lukewarm is mentioned in Revelation chapter three and the passage in context is generally talking about a person who is drifting along in a spiritually lethargic state and is convinced they are approved and acceptable in the sight of God. In verses 15-19 God declares, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou were cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew thee out of my mouth. Because you say, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you might be rich; and white raiment, that you might be clothed, and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; and anoint your eyes with eyesalve that you might see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” To say the least, this is a sobering warning for all who proclaim to be followers of Jesus. Deception is common and as we were saying before, this can easily happen when we are not constantly devoted and focused on God.

The true Christian life is not about fulfilling our own plans and then squeezing Jesus in if we have some extra time. This is referred to as, “broad way thinking” which allows carnality to influence and manage our priorities. In reality, our relationship with God is about abandoning our life, laying down our will, and rising every morning singing, “I surrender all, all to thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all.” Sadly, many have never realized what this means and most have no intention of learning. John the Apostle said in chapter three and verse 30, “He (God) must increase, but I must decrease.” Why did he say that? He was trying to explain that our old nature is filled with a strong love for pleasure and our heart only has one throne. We cannot be filled with God if we are already filled with everything else. Those who hide behind the mask of denial, have willingly convinced themselves they can have their cake and eat it too. This is a lie from the dark side. We cannot serve God and our carnality at the same time. If we fail to control our thoughts, our thoughts will not hesitate to control us.

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LIVING ON PURPOSE

228 – Published 5/11/20

What will keep us from Christ?

I recently had the opportunity to watch season one of, “The Chosen.” It’s a multi-episode series about the life of Jesus and uses interesting backstories which brings the scriptures we all love and cherish into a more deeper understanding. By the way, it’s a free app and for those of you who have some technical savvy, you can cast it to your television without charge. Through donations from many believers, the series is available free for anyone to watch around the world. This presentation of the gospel is done with excellent quality and the acting is amazing. Anyway, there are several scenes that touched my heart deeply, but one in particular that I have been thinking about was a scene which involved Jesus and a man named Nicodemus. If you remember in the Bible, Nicodemus was a pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin and a highly respected teacher of the Jewish religious law. He knew that a Messiah was coming to be the king of the Jews, but he never dreamed that Jesus would arrive as an ordinary person or that he would actually have the honor to know Him.

Christ began His ministry when He was around thirty-years-old, and we know that His wisdom to relay God’s message and His miracles were causing quite a stir. The Romans and the Sanhedrin were strongly against a rogue preacher turning the hearts of the people toward what they considered a blasphemous cult. However, in the book of John, we are introduced to Nicodemus who was keeping a close watch on this prophet called Jesus of Nazareth. Nicodemus was observing these miracles with his own eyes and he knew in his heart that only someone who had been sent from heaven could do these things. Eventually, he arranges a secret meeting with Jesus at night, and begins to question Him about God’s law. In chapter three, we notice the renowned and highly esteemed Nicodemus, humbly addressing Jesus as rabbi which means “scholar.” They begin to talk and Nicodemus admits that he believes Jesus is truly the promised redeemer as there is no other explanation. Christ responds by telling him, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus replies, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be reborn?” Jesus explains that a person who wants to follow God must be born twice. Once in the natural and once in the spiritual. Nicodemus was astounded and truly in awe with these words. Jesus went on to talk about how Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness and how soon the Son of man will be lifted up on the cross as the Savior. Jesus was telling No matter how much people know or what good they do on the outside, everyone needs to be changed on the inside. That can only happen through a supernatural act of God when His Holy Spirit convicts us of wrongdoing and transforms us into a new creation. In verse 16, Jesus speaks one of the most popular promises in the Bible. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

They end their meeting with Jesus inviting Nicodemus to follow Him. He tells him where to meet the next day and Nicodemus actually shows up, but is hiding around the corner of a building listening intently. Jesus looks around and quietly whispers, “you were so close.” You see, Nicodemus had a loving wife, children, grandchildren, and many earthly possessions along with a reputation of being one of the most esteemed religious leaders in all the land. Unfortunately, he chooses to not step forward and join the cause of Christ. Instead, we see him weeping bitterly because of his pride and the lack of courage to surrender all for God. I cried when I watched this because I know he represents most all of us. How many have wanted to abandon their lives and be more dedicated, but were not willing to take up their cross and follow Jesus? God says in Ezekiel 36:26, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.” Being born again means that we have a new identity and a new purpose for our existence. We no longer live for ourselves but for Him. (Matthew 10:32-39, Matthew 19:27-30).

LIVING ON PURPOSE

227 – Published 5/4/20

God sees, God hears, God knows

The God of the Bible is not only the creator of all things, but He also has the ability to see everything at the same time, and to know everything from the past and the future. One of His attributes is being Omniscient which means He understands everything including where you are, what you are going through, and what you are thinking. John Bunyan who wrote Pilgrims Progress, was visited by a minister in prison and he told Bunyan, “Friend, the Lord sent me to you, and I have been searching for you in half the prisons in England.” “No, that cannot be, Bunyan said. For if the Lord had sent you to me, you would have come here at once, for He knows I have been here for years.”

God loves you more than anything and has a beautiful plan for your life. The Bible is filled with God’s promises such as this one found in Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Today, Christ wants you to know that He knows where you are, and is waiting for you to trust Him. Remember, Jesus talked to His father in the Garden of Gethsemane when He was struggling with accepting His fate of dying for our sins. He also had a moment on the cross when He thought His Father forgot about Him. He said these words as He hung on the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46. However, His heavenly father had not forgotten about His only begotten Son. God had a wonderful plan just like He has an incredible destiny for you.

A minister of a church named, “Almighty God Tabernacle” told this incredible story. It was on a Saturday night when this pastor was working late in his church office and as the normal routine his wife always wanted him to call her before he left for home. It was not unusual for him to burn the midnight oil as it was a perfect time to spend some quiet time praying and writing as this way the message would be fresh on his mind for the Sunday morning service. That particular evening around 11:30 PM, he called his wife, but for some reason she was not answering. He let it ring for probably twenty times and thought it was very odd that she didn’t pick up. He decided to wrap up a few things, turn out some lights, and that he would try again in a few minutes. This time when he dialed the number, she answered right away. He asked her why she hadn’t answered before, and she confidently replied this was the first time it had rang all night. They were both puzzled, but brushed it off as maybe an error in the phone system and he locked up the church and came home.

The following Monday, the pastor received a call at the church office. A young man introduced himself and wanted to know why someone with this phone number had called him on Saturday night. The pastor could not figure out what he was talking about and kept saying that no one from this location had made a call at that time of night. The man continued, he said “It rang and rang, but I didn’t answer.” The pastor finally realized and apologized for disturbing him, as he must have dialed the wrong number when he was trying to call his wife to tell her he was on the way home. The man said, “That’s perfectly alright, I just wanted to tell you the whole story. You see, I was planning to commit suicide on Saturday night, but before I did, I prayed, God, if you are real, and if you do not want me to do this, please give me some type of sign now. Suddenly, my phone started to ring and would not stop. I finally looked at the caller ID and it said, “Almighty God.” I stared at it for a long time and tears began to fall down my cheeks. I’m calling to tell you that I broke down at that moment and surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I now believe with all of my heart that God wanted to save me. I know that He loves me and has a purpose for my life.”

LIVING ON PURPOSE

226 – Published 4/20/20

The Lord of the harvest

As this year has been different than any we have known, I hope you have found a way to make it one of the most meaningful and personal spiritual experiences with God ever. As the darkness of winter fades and the light of spring emerges, we miss our time of being together, but we can still read, study, and worship God, as we take this opportunity to enjoy His presence. We recently remembered Good Friday as the day our Lord was scourged, tortured, humiliated, and was crucified for those who would believe. What a demonstration of love as His sacrifice became the only way we could be forgiven. The blood He shed is the foundation of our salvation. It’s impossible to imagine the agony and suffering He went through because He loved us. His final words from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30), meant that God had accepted His sacrifice as the ransom and payment for our sins. While that day 2000 years ago was the greatest demonstration of love the world has ever known, it was only a prelude to when He arose from the dead 3 days later. The devil thought he had defeated God’s plan, but he should have known the Almighty has all authority and power! Today we can walk with confidence in God’s grace because Jesus is victorious! As His children, we can dwell in the secret place of the Most High because our heavenly Father purchased us and adopted us into His family and we will live with Him forever!

Throughout the Bible, we are warned that “it is later than you think.” Paul writes to Christians in Romans 13:11–12, “The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” There are millions of people around the world who do not have God’s peace at this moment because they have never found a personal relationship with Jesus. The good news is that as a demonstration of His infinite compassion, Christ who is the Prince of Peace, willingly went to the cross so that we could be born-again. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). He looked beyond our fault and saw our need and at this very moment He invites everyone to accept His gift of salvation. The God of endless compassion sent His Son Jesus Christ into a fallen world so that through our faith in this glorious gospel, we can be transformed into a new creation. Jesus is waiting to rescue, deliver, and restore all those who sincerely love Him and who see their desperate need to be redeemed.

We are living in the end of the age and Christ as the Lord of the harvest, invites all who will accept His invitation to become a member of His family. This defines His amazing grace and as His followers, our mission is to obey His command to tell the world about this life-changing opportunity. God is moving all over the globe and I believe a spiritual awakening is coming. We know the bad things are growing worse, but the good things are getting better! Let us pray for revival and may we be prepared to serve in this miraculous outpouring of His Spirit. As many of you are staying home at this time, I encourage you to take some time and read Joel chapter 2 and Acts chapter 2 as nourishment for your soul. The resurrection is a spiritual reality which daily fills the hearts of those who know and love Jesus Christ with joy and hope. The tomb was rolled away and when His friends looked inside, He was not there! Death nor the grave could not hold Him! Once again, the God of all creation proved that Jesus is the King of kings and has all power and authority in heaven and earth and we love and worship Him for becoming the spiritual bridge from heaven to earth. He accomplished His mission and now we are looking for His glorious return as the Bible proclaims. Christ is faithful and true, God is on the throne, and He will reign forever!

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225 – Published 4/13/20

Dropping the stones, searching within

Those who have never experienced an addiction can seem unsympathetic and uncaring. Why? There are several reasons, like thinking that self-inflicting destruction does not deserve compassion, or maybe it’s the arrogance of thinking they themselves would never be so blind to let something like that happen to them. I feel the greater consideration would be, “is becoming captured in the dependency of a chemical more offensive to God than any other type of obsessive attraction or dependence?” Is drug addiction more of a sin than the addiction of overeating, pornography, alcohol, gambling, or even the dependency associated with social media? Why is it easier to discriminate and have a prejudice against an addict than, for example, someone who lies and cheats on their taxes? Maybe for some spectators it’s just easier to condemn someone that in their worldview is considered higher on the list of destructive behavior.

I recently received a call from a distraught mother that has a daughter who is in every sense of the word an addict. The family lives on the West Coast and she began to tell her painful story of how they were once a happy and blessed family. They went to church, were financially stable and so proud of both of her beautiful daughters. Sadly, the girls started hanging around bad crowds and drifted away. That was eleven years ago. One daughter is recovering, and the other is incarcerated in our local detention center. I made an appointment to see the one who is here in my city. Those who work there know me as a community chaplain and allowed me to meet with her privately in a small office space. We had a productive conversation as she cried more tears in forty-five minutes than some people weep in a lifetime. She wants to change and go back to way things used to be. She remembers flirting with the curiosity of getting high which seemed exciting at the time and how she eventually surrendered to the subtle temptations to experience the pleasures everyone was talking about. Slowly she became entangled in a spider web which led her deeper into dependency and in a short period of time it had her wrapped tightly in the bondage of despair. Yes, she made bad choices, but we all have. The reality is that God wants to recover everyone’s life, but He cannot bring healing and balance if we will not let go of the problem. Whatever we are trying to break free from, we must take it one choice, one day, and one breath at a time. It will not be simple or painless for this young woman or anyone else to regain control of their life, nonetheless we have this glorious promise; “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26.

When discussing the negative attitudes of judgment and condemnation, we are reminded of the true account found in John chapter eight where Christ interrupts a public execution involving a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. The religious leaders asked Jesus concerning His thoughts about the Mosaic law with the intention of confusing Him, to which He simply replied, “He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” This was amazing, but the story does not stop here. As the execution squad quietly walked away, Jesus told the woman that her accusers no longer condemned her and neither did He, go and sin no more. When we see the animosity, disgust, and contempt toward those who have made horrible choices, the question remains as to why human nature is always ready to throw the first stone? I recall the old saying about how people who live in glass houses should not throw rocks and this should remind us of God’s mercy toward us. I believe it’s important in these troubling times, to be more forgiving and more concerned about making sure our own heart is right with God. Spending our time focusing and judging others, causes an infection of pessimism, resentment, and even hatred. When we neglect to pray for those who have lost their way, we continue to grow cold and harsh which adds to our misery. Are we not to love others as ourselves? “All have sinned and come short of the glory” Romans 3:23. Asking God to forgive and wash us clean, fills us with His peace, and reveals our need to drop the stones.

LIVING ON PURPOSE

224 – Published 4/6/20

I once was blind but now I see

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 from 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 transformed spirit. The Bible declares that God’s ways and thoughts are much higher than ours and also promises that all who search for His truth will find it. However, 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.

Mankind 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 if they respond to His call they will become a miserable slave, yet, most do not realize they are already a prisoner to sin. The ultimate freedom is spiritual liberty in God and this 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 includes the power of His love to set someone free form their lost condition and this new identity provides the highest form of peace and security; God’s compassion and grace. For those who desire to know the meaning and purpose of life, it will simply come down to believing that God can save us or continue to hold on to the idea that we can somehow save ourselves.

The Almighty Creator of heaven and earth desires to intervene into everyone’s life. 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.” This is one of the most popular verses in God’s Word, and it should be. It’s called the gospel and is a compact summary of the best news that has ever been told in the history of the world. Jesus was crucified and rose from the dead so that all who believe could be forgiven and live with Him forever and there is nothing better than that! Remember the words to amazing grace? “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”

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 all of us until we make a decision to surrender our heart to Jesus. You see, God’s plan for a blind and hopelessly lost world was to establish an open line of communication and He did that through Christ. 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 spiritually doomed forever. In our desperate need, His amazing grace provided a way for us to be found when we did not even realize we were lost.

We are now invited to receive His salvation by faith and today all who sense Him drawing them with His convicting power have the choice to either abandon their will and accept Him or remain established in their own rebellious independence. It’s true, the Lord works in mysterious ways to interrupt our thoughts and plans, but He will never force us to love Him. 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.

For a limited time, check out the new offer for the book, “Convictions and Considerations” and the narration CD, “Keeper of my Soul” at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 3/30/20

The power of staying positive

Those who have a certain amount of worry and concern are not necessarily weak. Stress, like all the other negative forces which attempt to influence our thoughts every day is real and there is no condemnation toward those who battle against it. However, it would also not be a balanced perspective on this subject without adding that negativity is actually an invited guest rather than an unwelcomed intruder. You are probably wondering what this means? Well, the mind is always open to suggestions, but we ultimately decide what we believe and how we will react. We are constantly bombarded with persuasions, similar to hearing a case in a courtroom, but in the end we accept our position and the course of action we will take. If we agree the situation is hopeless, we are embracing discouragement and failure, but if we reject fear and stand upon the promises of God, we cannot be defeated. Pessimism is an attitude and it can advance into an infection of the conscience while holding us in a paralyzing grip of misery. Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity while the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”

The body is a complex system of electrical currents and hormones which are controlled by the brain and is exactly why we must be careful with what we see and who we listen to. When we choose to live in the realm of our emotions, we can become vulnerable to doubt which is always seeking to distract and deceive. Those who are easily persuaded and have not developed spiritual discernment can be more easily tempted and usually without resistance. The world of marketing probably knows more about how our thoughts can influence our actions than many churches who should be warning God’s people about the importance of protecting and renewing the mind. If we are not convinced that constant advertising is effective, then why do we hear commercials playing in our head instead of Bible scriptures? Whatever we think about is being imprinted into our conscience with the hope that we will believe and accept the message. The danger is that certain information is distracting us from what we should be focused on. When Christ sent the Holy Spirit to be our comforter, He was also given to help guide us and be our information filter. Of course, He is waiting for us to invite Him into our affairs but will not intervene where He is not wanted.

Once pessimism is accepted and given authority to rule the mind, the person becomes subject to its powers and demands. Mathew 18:19 talks about the power of agreement and reminds us that it is wise to stay focused on the positive. It has always been important to guard our eyes, ears and mind from the powerful influences of words and images, and in today’s world it’s more critical than ever. In a very short time we have gone from a relatively quiet and isolated world, to an extremely chaotic environment thanks in part to technology which enables us to be constantly connected with people and information. The sounds of many voices are bombarding us because we have not recognized our need to become more selective with our information gate and the fact that we are accountable for being the gatekeeper. Many people believe they are in control of their lives, but do not realize they are actually being controlled by what others are saying and how this is having a huge impact on their own thoughts and views. Even worse, some individuals do not perceive they are confirming their problems with their negative confessions. Words are not magical, but they have power to create as the Bible teaches in Proverbs 18:21 and also in James chapter three. This is another example of the responsibility for our thoughts and comments. It would be better to say nothing than to pronounce curses into our situation. We can think, say, and do whatever we want which also means we cannot always blame others for the person we are. Let us realize there is a difference between being concerned and coming into an agreement with the forces of fear. As the mind is truly a battlefield for control, a wonderful verse of strength and encouragement is found in Romans 15:13, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

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LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 3/23/20

God is in total control

Praise the Lord I am feeling better and beginning to regain some of my strength. I want to thank everyone for your prayers. Pneumonia is a formidable opponent, and it takes a while for the body to defeat the infection and manage the healing process. I received an email yesterday from a sweet lady who attended a church with us back in 1997. The church was called, “Christ Fellowship” and was facilitated by Dr. Bob Neff and Denny Strickland. I was an ordained elder and served as one of the leaders of our worship team. She said I used to sing a song called, “Total Control” and it had been playing in her head for the last few days and she wanted to know if I could send it to her. The Lord inspired me to write that song in the mid-nineties as it declares that God holds the universe in the palm of His hand and how nothing is greater than His authority. I’ve recorded a few songs through the years and you can listen to the acoustic version of this one on the homepage of my website. Anyway, I was humbled that anyone would remember a song from over 20 years ago, but I have been praying that God will continue to use the music as a blessing to others. Later in the day I ran into a friend at Walmart and he also mentioned that God is in total control several times. Sitting in my office last night, I thought about these two encounters and believe they were not a coincidence. Our heavenly Father is saying that He is still on the throne and for us to keep our eyes focused on Him and trust Him with all of our heart. This is not the hour to panic but instead we can embrace His promises which cannot fail and listen to His still small voice. Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” It takes determination and perseverance to embrace the spiritual reality that doubt is the opposite of faith.

Remember when Christ was asleep in the ship and the disciples were afraid they were going to sink in the raging storm? Jesus simply spoke to the situation and calmed the wind and the waves and He is still reminding us there is peace and rest in the secret place of the Most High.

This is a difficult time and we are heartbroken for many families as we continue to pray for peace, comfort, and healing. There are so many voices speculating about this but we should be careful with our opinions. We do not really know why this has come upon the world or what will be next however, there are some things that we do know! We know that God is never surprised, shocked or worried. He knows everything that is going to happen before it happens. We know that He has all authority and all power and is sovereign to direct all things according to His perfect wisdom. We know that He is in total control and will only allow things to happen as it agrees with His divine will. It’s true that we do not understand why He allows certain things, but are we really supposed to know everything? Do we have the capacity and ability to understand the depths of His wisdom? Probably not, considering we can hardly comprehend the basics of prayer and obedience. Besides, isn’t the foundation of faith trusting in what we cannot see? We know that He loves the world and is a refuge and a strong tower to those who love and obey Him. We know that God has revealed in His Word that there will be perilous times at the end of the age. As His children, we should not be surprised or alarmed, but instead we should be strengthened and encouraged to see His prophecies being fulfilled. We know the kingdoms of men will crumble and that evil will continue to surge until God finally says, enough is enough just as He did in Noah’s day. We know that Jesus is the hope of our salvation and we can stand on His infinite truth. We know He is coming soon and now is the time to prepare our hearts for His glorious return.

Read more at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 3/16/20

Trusting the God of hope

Like you, I’m hearing about acts of kindness during this time when the virus is causing so many problems. We realize it’s easy to become so distracted with how bad things are, that we forget all the good that is going on all around us. In a world where the attitude is many times based on an “everyone for themselves mentality” it’s good to know there are still caring people out there who are sincerely compassionate. Just the other day, I actually experienced this for myself.

As chaplain for our county fire district, I’m honored to work with a group of amazing individuals and their dedication to the community is nothing less than remarkable. I enjoy working with them and doing what I can to support and contribute as they daily sacrifice their lives to save others. I’ve not said much to anyone lately, but I’ve been ill for the last few weeks with what eventually evolved into bacterial pneumonia. I tested negative for the virus, but this has still been a very unpleasant time of feeling terrible and trying to stay isolated. Anyway, we received a knock on the door the other day and it was one of the firemen bringing us a truckload of groceries. We have a fund at the department for things like this and they had all voted to help us out. My wife held the front door while he started placing the bags in the foyer floor. I watched from the kitchen wearing a mask and was deeply moved as the blessings kept coming. We are so thankful for this act of generosity and love and this is just another example in the long list of people choosing to step up and demonstrate deeds with their faith in times of adversity.

With so many families having to stay home, this could actually be a perfect opportunity to reflect on our personal relationship with God and consider the internal and eternal realities of our soul. It’s true that we will get through this and I really believe that most everything will be restored, but shouldn’t God be given more attention and consideration? We are hearing about how strong and resilient we are, but very little about how the God of creation is the all powerful and wise authority of all things. The truth is, we are vulnerable, and He is the one who can deliver us and it is He who should receive all the glory. Are we embarrassed to acknowledge the Almighty, and ashamed of proclaiming the need for us to pray and ask Him to help us? An editor friend from South Dakota emailed me tonight and relayed how she had been praying and it occurred to her that God was already aware of everything that is going on. She realized she was nervously doing all the talking, and that a significant part of seeking God is to listen to His voice. In Mark 4:9 and several other places in the Bible this point is emphasized, “And Jesus said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

So what is God saying? Well, beyond the overwhelming flood of human voices, we have a beautiful passage found in II Chronicles 7:14 that we can stand on because God’s word is true and cannot fail. If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” “Heavenly Father, we pray for the families of those who are suffering and have lost loved ones from this illness. We ask that you to bring comfort to their heart and soul. We ask that you minister your healing to those who are infected and strengthen their immune system. For the ones who are anxious and afraid, cover them with your perfect peace. Those who are experiencing financial hardship, may you restore all they are losing and cause them to come out victorious after this is over. We pray for our nation and ask that you protect our economy in this time of fear and uncertainty. Bind us together in your love and please give our leaders your wisdom to make the right decisions according to your perfect will. We humbly repent of our sins and pray that multitudes will embrace you as the source of their life and the hope of their salvation, in your holy name we pray, amen.”

LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 3/9/20

Fear and faith are choices

Fear and anxiety are negative byproducts of modern life which unfortunately attempt to influence us every day. Our jobs are often stressful, our relationships and finances, and even our children struggle with social pressures we hardly faced when we were their age. Some people turn to natural remedies, like the newly popular cannabidiol products, while others find relief in meditation, but there is even better news which can give us peace in this troubled world. The Bible remains an unfailing source of hope and comfort in the seasons when we are discouraged and perplexed. Psalm 46:1-3 declares that even in the darkest times, we can stand strong in the light of God’s confidence because we are trusting that His promises are true. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”

The new virus has become the topic of the news and is affecting most everyone on earth. There is nothing wrong with being cautious if we can prevent our emotions from leading us into panic. Whenever anyone’s life is in danger we are called to pray and ask God to please stop the destruction and this is certainly the time to do that. Another wave of concern includes the negative impact on the economy and the impact it will have on the average person. It’s not just in this situation, but any type of crisis is usually noticed in the markets. We are reminded once again that wealth is vulnerable to loss as many people all over the world realize their life savings are more vulnerable than they want to admit. I can understand this concern because no one wants to go through this. To many their wealth is their security and they cannot fathom the thought of losing what they are depending on. However, may we remember that God is our ultimate security and even though His followers live in this world, we are citizens of heaven. What an encouragement to know this temporary life is not all there is. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.” When we are overwhelmed with fear and feel as if the walls are closing in on us, we can know that God is with us and will always take care of us. However, faith nor fear does not force themselves upon us, they are invited guest. We are given the choice to select which foundation we will stand on. In this light, yielding ourselves into His care is a deliberate act of our faith. We cannot always control what is happening with our surroundings, but we can control how we react within ourselves. When we truly believe that His eye is watching us even more than the tiny Sparrow, we will learn to stop doubting His desire or ability to deliver us.Let’s remember that God loves us and wants everyone to understand and believe that He is who He says He is. In John 14:27 Christ promises, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world gives, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” He is saying the world cannot give us the spiritual peace that He offers because it’s only based on emotions and materialism. When Christ sits on the throne of our heart, we are no longer frantically trying to figure out our own strategies but in faith we can trust in His power and wisdom to manage our life, family, and future. I believe that optimism can help transform the mind when one chooses to embrace it. Since fear is a learned behavior, can we not train our mind to accept faith instead? When we reach out to God and receive His infinite love and grace, we can then enjoy His peace that passes all understanding. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1.Read more at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 3/2/20

Does the Bible really say that?

Like you, I hear people say things all the time and give the Bible as a reference. However, upon investigation, sometimes these tidbits of wisdom are not actually from God’s Word. I thought it would be interesting to look at a few of these sayings and learn where they actually came from. Let’s begin with, “God helps those who help themselves.” I’ve heard this all my life, and it seems like a logical view, however, this quote is not from the Bible. It’s attributed to a man named Algernon Sydney who penned it in an article called, “Discourses Concerning Government” sometime around 1690. Later it was popularized by Ben Franklin in 1757 in, “Poor Richards Almanac.” However, from a Christian perspective, God is merciful and is in the business of saving those who cannot save themselves. Our next selection is, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” While there are references in the Old Testament that mention the importance of purity and being clean, the Mosaic law does not have a passage that can exactly ascribe to this quote. Some scholars say that it could be associated with a second century rabbi, but the first time the idea appears in writing is in 1561 by Francis Bacon who expressed it this way, “Cleanness of body was ever deemed to proceed from a due reverence to God.” John Wesley then transformed it into the phrase we know and use today.

I’ve heard that, “Money is the root of all evil” since I was a child, but eventually learned this is an incorrect statement. Money is not evil in itself and with the right motive, it can be a tremendous blessing. Riches and wealth does not have a moral value all to itself, it’s what we do with it and how we feel about it. The problem comes when a person begins to lust for money in a way that consumes the mind and controls the conscience. The correct quote comes from I timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” In this light we can say that any type of worldly desire that possesses our attention and consumes our thoughts can be harmful to our soul. Our ultimate love and highest priority should be reserved for God. This reminds me of another familiar saying, “God works in mysterious ways” which is true, but again is not a Bible verse. It comes from a hymn that was written in 1773 by William Cowper called, “God moves in a mysterious way.”

The next one is called, “The seven deadly sins” and we can agree that sin is deadly, but this particular list is not found in the Bible. The list of these seven deadly sins are, wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony and according to historians originates with a fourth century monk. The list was popularized by Dante in his Divine Comedy in the fourteenth century. However, there is a group of seven sins that God hates and is mentioned in Proverbs chapter 6 and verses 16-19. “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.”

I must admit, this last one was embarrassing for me as a minister. For years, I always thought there was a scripture which said, “The Lion will lie down with the lamb.” I know it seems strange, and it’s close, but the passage does not exactly say that. Maybe we saw an image of this or we listened to Elvis sing, “Peace in the Valley” and the seed was planted in our mind, but whatever the case, the correct quote is found in Isaiah chapter 11 and verse 6, “Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.” These along with other familiar sayings like, “To thine own self be true”, “This too shall pass” and “Charity begins at home” are not particularly bad advice, but are also not found in the Bible along with Adam and Eve eating an apple. Isaiah 40:8 reminds us, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.”

Read more at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 2/24/20

Making a move toward God

I know that life sometimes can be difficult. It seems I’m always writing about the struggles of spiritual warfare, but we cannot deny the Christian life is filled with battles. However, there is good news! The Lord is with us and is waiting to help us if we will only allow Him to be in control of our life. I had a long conversation with a precious elderly lady this afternoon and she is struggling with negative emotions. She lives alone and is discouraged which is not all that unusual, but there is a way to learn how to rise above our feelings of negativity. I reminded her that we must make an investment if we want to enjoy the peace and joy of God’s presence. What does this mean? Simply that Christians must take the initiative to pray and read our Bibles, and allow Him to be a part of our lives. A beautiful passage to remember is found in James 4:8, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” This spiritual principle is at the center of submitting our will and implies that we invite God to take control. I realize we all want a “quick fix” that will make us happy, but our mission as a representative of His kingdom is accepting the responsibility to know Him.

Sometimes we forget what God has called us to do. This is clearly understandable with so much of our time being given to all the things we love and enjoy. Nonetheless, the Bible does not try to hide the fact that when we sincerely gave our life to God and was adopted into His family, we also agreed to become a soldier who willingly fights the good fight of faith. Ephesians chapter 6 not only describes our spiritual armor but also explains the type of positive attitude we will need to be victorious. Our personal relationship with Christ has everything to do with incorporating His instructions within our mind and having a passion to obey His voice. It’s easy to become so concerned with our own thoughts and desires, that we neglect God and those around us. When we start praying and helping others, we will be less consumed about our own desires, anxieties, and disappointments. The mirror can reveal many things about us that need to be changed, but if we are constantly infatuated with our selfishness, we will not be able to see the great need that is all around us. In fact, Jesus said in Matthew chapter 25 that whatever we do or fail to do for those around us, is exactly the way we are treating Him.

Jesus passionately loves you and reminds us in Philippians 4:13 that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. The Lord goes before you, He watches behind you and His angels are all around you. Psalm 91:1-2 promises, “He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God; in Him will I trust. Is the devil attacking and trying to discourage us? No doubt about it! However, an important key to succeeding in spiritual warfare is to confess in faith what you want to see happen. Announce out-loud to the enemy, “The joy of the Lord is my strength” over and over. But, for how long? Until the devil gives up and runs away! God’s Word declares in James 4:7, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and will flee from you.” As long as we keep agreeing with the dark side about our fears, the devil will keep shooting his arrows as we continue living in a cycle of defeat. It’s time to make the investment of faith in order to break free from our misery. The Holy Spirit wants to comfort you and bring contentment to your soul, but until we truly believe that, “Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world” we are unable to take that first step toward spiritual peace. Embrace God’s truth and call upon Him today, He is waiting for you to make the first move. He is all knowing and His power and authority are infinite! His promises cannot fail as boldly declare, “Victory in Jesus, our Savior forever.”

Learn more about Billy’s new book and how to receive a free CD at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 2/17/20

Forgiveness is an intentional decision

How much grace does it take to love someone who has hurt us or offended us? Well, that’s a good question. Tragedies happen all around us and we notice how others respond, but how do we react when someone does something to us personally and our family is harmed? I admit that I do not always have the character of Christ when I’m being threatened and many times, my instinct is to retaliate because that’s embedded within our human nature. I agree that people need to be punished for their evil deeds and acts of violence but we must resist the temptation to embrace hatred and resentment. Life is filled with challenges and situations that attempt to lure us into bad attitudes but for the serious Christian, it’s the forgiveness of Christ that can lead us into the peace that passes all understanding.

When we fall into a negative mindset, our joy (which is our spiritual strength), evaporates and we become weak and discouraged. Anger and the desire for revenge can emotionally, mentally, and spiritually hold us in the bondage of misery. If we allow Ourselves to become weighed down with animosity, our relationship with God suffers which is why it’s so important to not allow hatred to be a part of our life. We may be able to hide our feelings from those around us, but we cannot hide from God. For many, there is a war within the conscience where God is saying to let it go while the enemy wants us to stand strong and justify our hatred. Sadly, many would rather live in the agony of being held hostage, instead of submitting to God and allowing Him to execute justice His way. Joyce Meyer is quoted as saying, Forgiveness is not a feeling but rather a decision we make because we want to do what’s right before God.”

If you watch a toddler, you will notice they react to the basic instincts of hunger, affection, disappointment, happiness, and anger but have not yet learned the dangers of being offended. Resentment is one of many attitudes we naturally develop as we grow older and it’s only through inviting Christ to become our Lord and allowing His Word to transform our mind that we can be molded into His way of merciful thinking. God wants us to be open and honest with Him and not suppress these ugly imaginations which can damage our personal relationship with Him. The opportunity to call on Christ is always available as Psalm 46:1 declares, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Holding on to these negative attitudes becomes like a growing infection that can also desensitize us from having sympathy and compassion for others. This is a very serious problem because it involves our most precious asset – our love. May we remember that whatever someone has done to us, we can choose to live in the contentment of God’s forgiveness.“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” Matthew 6:14-15.

I was called to pray for an elderly gentleman the other day that was near death. He was barely able to understand or communicate because of the heavy doses of morphine. His son was sitting next to the bed and after a while he started to talk about his dad. They were not close, and he began to describe a man that seemed to be a decent person on the outside, but had a secret closet of sin and darkness that had caused much damage and ruined his life. He became emotional and described a tragic story of a disappointed and wounded family. The son was a Christian and had been dealing with resentment against his father for years and as he continued to share about how he finally made the choice to forgive, I could sense the love and peace of God in his countenance. This type of heart-rending agony is truly a heavy burden, but if we sincerely ask Christ to step into our situation, He is the only one who can bring inner healing to our mind and soul. Some may say they cannot forgive but the Bible reminds us in Philippians 4:13 that, “I can do ALL things through Christ which strengthens me.”

Order Billy’s free scripture CD and check out his new book, “Convictions and Considerations” at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 2/10/20

KEEP YOUR FACE TO THE SUN

We all have problems occasionally and there are times when we feel like we’ve been punched in the gut. I felt like this a couple of months ago when one morning I went into my office to start the day and my computer would not wake up. I realize that hard drive failures are not the worst things that could happen, but for someone who writes several hours a day, it’s discouraging to say the least, but in the big picture of crisis issues, this is actually pretty far down the list. As I grow older, I want to be more grateful for my blessings and this includes the hope of good health. My good friend who is being treated for lung cancer is still sending out his morning updates and always closes with a series of positive affirmations such as, “Attitude for gratitude” and “Live within the light.” I know that he is being shown precious wisdom as he travels through his journey and he’s quick to testify about his appreciation for each day. I’m not sure who said it, but it’s so true to consider, “When some things go wrong, take a moment to be thankful for the many things that are going right.”

Within our observations, we realize that in comparison with others who are dealing with serious problems many of our troubles and disappointments are small. Even more amazing, there are a few individuals that have not only been able to adapt to devastating situations but have went on to excel and achieve astounding accomplishments. One of these special cases is Helen Keller (1880-1968), who was blind and deaf yet she grew up to become a world famous inspirational author, political activist, and relentless crusader for the rights of the disabled. She was a highly sensitive truth seeker who took great delight in sharing her passion for knowledge and spirituality. Helen was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama; and for her first year and a half, she was just like any other child, however, at the age of nineteen months, she became ill with what many suspect was scarlet fever or perhaps meningitis. The Keller’s family doctor did not believe she would survive; but after several days, her fever subsided and everyone was relieved. Unfortunately, as little Helen recuperated, they were saddened to discover that she had been left totally blind and deaf as a result of the illness. Medical tests confirmed that she could not see any light or objects, and her ears could not conduct sound at all. To have a small glimpse of the world in which she lived, close your eyes and put your fingers in your ears. It is truly difficult to imagine living with no sight or sound.

For those who have seen the movie, “The Miracle Worker” we remember how her tutor Anne Sullivan poured water over Helen’s hand while spelling the word on her other palm. Helen is quoted, It was as if I had come back to life after being dead! I understood what my teacher was saying, that the cold liquid that was rushing over my hand was water, and that it was possible for me to communicate with other people by these hand signs. It was a wonderful day, never to be forgotten.” Another important person in her life was a man named John Hitz whom Helen respectfully called, “The foster father of her soul.” He introduced her to the religious teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg and this ignited her spiritual hunger to know more about God and the Bible.

Helen Keller was the first deaf and blind person to earn a college degree, from Radcliffe, no less, from which she graduated cum laude in 1904 with a bachelor of arts degree. She was also nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1953. In 1999 her name appeared on Time magazine’s list of the 100 most important figures of the 20th century, alongside such iconic figures as Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King and the Wright brothers. One of her many famous quotes is, “Keep your face to the sun and you will never see the shadows.” So how did Helen become such a strong force of optimism and positive energy? She learned to accept her limitations with grace and even joy, because within her heart she knew they had a purpose and that, in fact, her life could be made all the richer not despite them but because of them.

Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 2/3/20

Can God do the impossible?

I have cherished the Biblical account of Abraham and Sarah having a baby throughout the ages and is familiar with those who probably first heard it as a child in Sunday school. The concept of a man and woman having a child together does not sound overly unusual until we consider that Abraham was 100-years-old and Sarah was 90. We find the story in Genesis chapters 17 and 18 and it reveals how God planned to establish a covenant with Israel through this child named Issac. According to the holy scriptures, The Lord and two angels appear one day to Abraham and explains His plans about this covenant and how Abraham’s future child will be the beginning of a great nation. Sarah happens to overhear this conversation about her having a baby and snickers within herself at how ridiculous this sounds. It’s not known for sure, but Sarah probably does not realize this is God who is talking. She had been barren her entire life and this prediction about becoming pregnant at 90-years-old was clearly impossible. Or, was it?

In verse 13 of chapter 18, we notice the Lord told Abraham that Sarah had doubted in her heart and actually laughed at the idea of me saying that she would have a child. By the way, how ironic that the word Issac means, “laughter.” I’m not critical of Sarah or her husband because we would have probably reacted the same way. Then we see God asking an astounding question, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” As this couple was left standing there scratching their heads, I cannot help but examine my level of faith. How would you answer this question? I will gladly be the spoiler and announce that God’s promise to Sarah about her having a son named Issac did come true and as the Patriarch of the Jewish nation, he was the father of Jacob and the grandfather of the 12 tribes of Israel. The dialogue is truly fascinating and I encourage you to read the entire story when you have a chance.

As we continue meditating about the authority and ability of God, we are presented with some very serious thoughts about our spiritual views. Do we believe that God can do anything? Do we believe He desires to help us and to give us the miracles we desperately need? Speaking of believing, we understand that faith is a component of receiving, but can faith developed to a level where we accept and embrace the fact that nothing is impossible with God? Is there something going on in your life today that seems hopeless? Many individuals today are facing very challenging situations and some are reaching deep within their heart and soul to find the strength to believe. Well, this is a lot to consider, but personally, I’m convinced that God created everything in the universe and certainly would have no problem creating anything we might need. You see, the God of the Bible has several attributes associated with His character such as Omniscient which means He knows everything and Omnipotent meaning He has unlimited power and is able to do anything. These two distinctions alone should encourage and reinforce our confidence as we turn to Him in prayer. When we read true accounts like Abraham and Sarah and realize that He is willing and able to do great and mighty miracles for others, it fills us with His joy and peace in knowing that He can also help us. Jeremiah 32:17 declares, “Ah, Lord God, behold thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too difficult for thee.”

When fear and doubt come upon us, remember that God specializes in doing the impossible. Everything from health or financial problems, to restoring relationships or finding our destiny, the Lord is perfectly aware of our worries and has more than enough wisdom and power to take care of it. Believe me, I understand about the intimidating giants and mountains, but I’m learning the importance of absorbing faith and hope from His unfailing truth. Yes, there are certain things we can do to help ourselves, but there is no substitute for trusting God. He sees our life filled with unlimited possibilities and we can too! “But Jesus looked at them and said, with man this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible” Matthew 19:26.

Read more about the Christian life at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 1/27/20

Life is filled with blessings and choices

We had a power shortage today for several hours and reminded me of how dependent we are on electricity. The house was dark and every time I went to do something, I realized there are no lights and I could not see. Finally, I turned off the flashlight and just sat down in my recliner and tried to relax. Within minutes, I was browsing on my phone while considering, what in the world would we do if we lost the entire power grid? Some are prepared, but for many, this would be a serious problem. The dangers of an electromagnetic pulse are real whether natural or man-made and I certainly hope and pray that we never experience such a terrible disaster. It’s hard to fathom our lives without electricity.

Typically, in the old days, when the evening came, darkness was definitely a factor that hindered people from doing a lot of things except maybe to read, sew, or write by a candle or an oil lamp. When electricity was invented people could then work around the clock and the rest is history. Can you imagine how difficult it was without electronic devices? For example, we seldom think of conveniences such as hot water at the turn of a faucet. Back then, the only way you could enjoy hot water was to start a fire under a large pot and wait for the water to warm up. This was done when the laundry and dishes piled up and of course when a person wanted to take a bath. The water was usually carried from a well in buckets and a continuous supply of wood was needed to keep fires going in the cooking stove and the hearths. Just cooking the dinner and washing the dishes alone was a major ordeal and then there was ironing, cleaning, and sewing, which the wife did in her spare time after milking the cow and bathing the children. No wonder they were exhausted as they hit the floor each morning at 4 or 5 o’clock am to start the fires and cook breakfast, with again only candles or oil lamps for light. Utilizing natural light is why they worked hard throughout the day before the sun started to set. On a positive note, it provided a quiet environment to communicate and think about what was really important.

Electric power makes our lives so much easier and with all this extra time it’s given us more time to relax. With less work to devote to surviving, we can now take a quick shower, have dinner brought to us and sit around the rest of the night watching television, playing on the internet, or whatever we want. As we mentioned, in the old days there was always an endless list of work that needed to be done because your life depended on it, but today we have so much more leisure time, we hardly know what to do with it. Advancing technology is wonderful in many ways and can give us more opportunities to promote the gospel and help encourage others, but if we are not sensitive to this subtle pretense, it can enable us to be lazier. The amount of energy we need to physically do things is rapidly being reduced to the point where I wonder if we are forgetting how to live?

Many consider the television as a deceptive device that distracts us from important responsibilities and now the cellphone has become even more addicting. This may be true, however, it’s not fair to blame artificial intelligence or anything else for absorbing our time and attention as every electronic device has an off button. Sadly, there are a group of people who have a secret desire to avoid reality and experience an uneasy and uncomfortable haunting within their conscience when left in a quiet place alone with God. Could this be conviction from the Holy Spirit as the mind and soul reacts to feelings of guilt and the need to repent? Since God has a plan for our lives and wants to lead and guide us every minute of the day, I believe we can agree that how we spend our time is important to Him. Do you believe we will be judged for how much time we spent ignoring our spiritual accountability? Today is a brand new day of blessings and it also brings many choices and opportunities for us to consider.

Read more about the Christian life and Billy’s new book at billyhollandministries.com

LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 1/20/20

LISTENING TO GOD BEFORE WE PRAY

Many people who are not familiar with having a personal relationship with God, do not really understand the basic fundamentals of prayer. Praying has more to do with listening to God than demanding Him to fix what is broken. He already knows everything about the situation and longs for us to love Him and for us to draw closer to Him. Without a desire to listen to what God is saying, our prayers are nothing more than an emotional wish list. Rarely do we consider that God established prayer as a sincere avenue of communication with our Lord for the purpose of knowing Him. This amazing opportunity has everything to do with discerning God’s voice and knowing we are understanding and interceding according to His desires. Within the process of petitioning God, we must confess that His perfect plans are much more important than our desires. Since most of the time we are only thinking about what we want, we seldom realize that He has carefully designed everyone’s destiny in accordance with the big picture of accomplishing His will – not ours. When Jesus died and rose from the dead, our heavenly Father did not just hand over all authority and control to our vain imaginations. Everything that God desires to do in this life has already been sanctioned and ordained through His Spirit so that He might receive all the glory for the inspiration and the result.

There have been times in my life when I have earnestly prayed for a certain situation and felt confident in my heart that I would receive it. I recall a couple of employment positions I applied for and throughout the application and interview stages, I was “humbly” convinced that I was the obvious person for the job. When it did not happen, I was stung with disappointment which by the way, if not dealt with can lead to serious resentment issues. I was aggravated with the Lord and blamed the evils of politics like it was His fault for not stepping in and making a way for me. What I had not considered was that maybe He did not want me to apply for the position in the first place. He can see into the future, He knew this job would be bad for me, but evidently, I was not listening. This is an illustration of how unanswered prayers can actually be God’s mercy protecting us from failure. God loves us and wants the best for us, and it’s difficult to imagine just how complex His plans really are. At best, we can only see through a crack in the fence and are very limited in our understanding. This is also the perfect reason why it’s necessary to live by faith. If we could see the unknown, we would not need to trust God.

Wondering if we are being led by our emotions or following God’s still small voice can apply to everything from relationships, financial decisions, and even our eating habits. A crucial pillar of the Christian life is the ability to comprehend His voice which also leads to the opportunity for Him to influence our decisions. However, to be honest, it seems that many times we are not all that excited about this process. The times when it’s obvious I have missed His instructions causes me to seriously wonder about my lack of perception or willingness to yield my will. Was I really that headstrong and filled with pride that I could not hear Him warning me? Well, sadly I must admit…yes. I know that like sheep we humans are vulnerable to being led astray and when we are distracted with our own ideas, God allows us to make these painful mistakes so that we can hopefully learn valuable lessons about obedience. God is sovereign and this means He can do whatever He desires. He has the ultimate authority over all things but has also installed a critical component within the human conscience called “free-will” that allows us to make our own decisions. Can we prevent God’s will from happening? That is a great question, but for now we can agree that He opens and closes doors and at other times He stands back and allows us to make a mess of things. Overall we can rejoice in knowing that Jesus died to save us, He loves us dearly, and is always looking out for our best interest.

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LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 1/13/20

THE COST OF PERSONAL CHANGE

When browsing in a bookstore, I’m sure certain titles grab your attention and you read the back cover because you want to know more about the content of the book. The same is true for most people who research their direction before they begin traveling on a journey because they want to know about important places of interest. Well, since this is a brand new year, I want to ask some questions that are intended for you to contemplate and decide if this is a direction you dare to go in. My first question is; Are you interested in drawing closer to God? It would seem reasonable to accept that individuals who are sensitive about the spiritual realm would understand that God is the meaning and purpose of life. You may have guessed what the next question is going to be; are you ready to take the step of faith toward God and commit to becoming the person you were created to be? This is the point where we, like those in the bookstore, decide to either purchase the book or lay it down and continue seeking. Most of us humans do not like drastic change because we do not want to let go of all the things that we love, even though many of them are bad for us. However, we really cannot afford to ignore our destiny because avoiding reality is like putting a band-aid on a broken arm. The older we grow the more set in our ways we become and to those who live in a satisfied state of mind, it’s very difficult to surrender the will and become a brand new person. This does not mean it’s impossible for an old dog to learn new tricks, it just means that personal transformation includes a certain amount of sacrifice. It’s sobering to consider that for many individuals who dwell in denial, the cost of changing is more than they are willing to pay.

We realize that it’s pleasurable to hear devotions and read books about how God wants to continue blessing us just like we are. When we hear these words, it seems to imply that we have nothing to worry about and with no further need to be shaped or molded by the Potter. The flesh loves this type of cozy message but unfortunately, it’s not true. As a minister and counselor, I often hear people say they just want to get their life together and be happy and then they will turn to God, but this is putting the cart before the horse. Spiritual peace and contentment can only be found when we fall in love with God first. Others desire to be successful and respected, but how much is enough? It seems that mankind is always looking for a deal or to make some type of compromising agreement but this is not true covenant love. We’ve heard about the overcomers in the book of Revelation, but who are they and what does this mean? Basically, I believe this is referring to those who control their flesh and resist the devil. These are the individuals who are focused on Christ and love Him with all of their mind, strength, and soul. How determined are you and I to be awakened from our slumber? The answers to these questions separate the spectators from the participators.

Imagine the adventurers who boarded ships and sailed away in search of a new world. They waved goodbye while leaving those who were satisfied with mediocrity standing on the shore. When will we decide that it’s our time to come board His vessel of unlimited possibilities? Will we remain the same or will we seek and fulfill our true destiny? Similar to making a decision to diet and exercise, our spiritual evolution has everything to do with desire. Impossible? Of course not. Difficult? Absolutely! Charles Swindoll is quoted as saying, “We all are faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” If we are not interested, we will not succeed and it’s as simple as that. If we refuse to ask God to give us a fervent passion and a higher level of faith to experience a personal transformation, we cannot expect to be victorious. Mark Twain is quoted as saying, Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

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LIVING ON PURPOSE

Published 1/6/20

OUR SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION

People believe many things about God and spirituality. Some are convinced that it’s arrogant to assume that we can know God’s will or walk with the Lord personally, however, what most people never stop to consider is how could the creator ask His creation to accomplish something without knowing who He is or what He expects from them? The divine reality of absolute truth includes the concept that God sincerely desires to share His mysteries and to work alongside His children to help them accomplish His will. I do not believe like the deist who are convinced in their theology that God does not intervene in the affairs of humans. I personally embrace the conviction that our maker wants to help us and walk with us every second of every hour and patiently waits for us to ask for His assistance.

Have you considered that deists do not look to prayer as an answer but rather turn to their own intelligence to find solutions to their problems? It can also be noted that when deists do succeed from their labors, we generally know who receives the glory. For those who are proud to pull up their own bootstraps, these individuals relate to God through logical reasoning and the observation of nature, but not by revelation or supernatural manifestations, such as miracles which is a phenomenon they regard with skepticism. How sad that many live a lonely and miserable existence as they believe that humans are unable to have a personal relationship with the God who loves them more than anything. Like many of you, I’m grateful that we are not living on our own or need to rely on our own strength for everything. The deeds that have been manifested to the glory of God are spiritually empowered and accomplished by the very one who inspired them!

So, how can we learn to draw closer to God in this new year? The first step is to understand that in order to do His will, we must surrender ours. We hope and pray that everyone would want to fulfill the destiny that God has made for them, but sadly we know this is not going to happen. Yes, we can be energetic and have a certain amount of worldly success, but this is not the same as following the blueprints of God’s perfect plan for our lives. You see, I believe that God has a general will and a perfect will for each of His children. His general will is our obedience to the truth of His written Word, while His perfect will is the unique individual direction that He has chosen for each of us. Every person has been called and a specific design has been drawn by the one who knew us before we were born. When we fall at His feet and surrender our mind and heart to Him, the light of His glorious presence can illuminate our path and then we make the decision to follow or refuse. To those who respond to His voice they can look forward to hearing Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make you a ruler over many things: enter into the joy of your Lord” Mathew 25:21. For the ones who ignore their spiritual calling and would rather follow their own imaginations, they have not only wasted this life but are in danger of missing their heavenly invitation.

Is the Lord seeking someone who is perfect? I hope not, because it’s not going to happen. Jesus is the only perfect one. However, He is searching for an individual who wants to be transformed into what Christ died for them to be. Why do we have such a hard time with this? Because our level of determination has not risen to the conscious state of complete surrender to God’s demands. “We will only succeed for Christ when our desire to change becomes greater than our desire to remain the same.” Until we develop an attitude that we will not compromise with carnality, we are a “sitting duck” to defeat. Personal change does not happen with a “whim” and being controlled by God’s Spirit is a wonderful and noble suggestion, but it will take more than charisma, intelligence, or happy thoughts. Spiritual advancement requires a complete transformation as Jesus replied in Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

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