Wednesday, September 30, 2015

In His Hand


A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods. Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. (Psalms 24:1-4 KJV)

It is comforting, isn’t it, to think that the earth is in the Lord’s hand. That He cares for what happens here, for all of us. Please, do not become too comfortable until you get acquainted with with God and His attributes. Paul – in the midst of writing to new Christians – includes this verse:

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31 KJV)

David had a different view:

And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let me fall now into the hand of the LORD; for very great are his mercies: but let me not fall into the hand of man. (1 Chronicles 21:13 KJV)

Have we found confusion between these two verses? Not hardly. And, they cannot be viewed without context, either.

Paul was writing about someone who had left off believing in God. David was writing as a man who depended upon God.

We would need to know the background in II Samuel 24 to understand David’s strait and we would have to know more of Hebrews 10 to understand Paul’s admonition. Single verses are nice to quote, but understanding to whom they were written, what happen before, when in history, where the authors were and why they were written.

That’s really the beginning of the study, too. It is necessary to know much of God and His perfect judgment before understanding that one person would be fearful of God and falling into His hand while another – under indictment of his error – would fall into the hand of the Lord because of His mercies.

Working toward that understanding is a very personal journey, isn’t it? It takes courage for us to examine our place along that journey. I think milestones along that road include a lack of knowledge regarding God and (hopefully) realization and acceptance that God does exist. What we do next determines whether or not we fear His hand in our lives or we lean and depend on His hand for guidance and strength.

Are you open to such examination? Open to asking God, Himself, where we are in His hand?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Four Verses in Luke 15


I do hope you’re familiar with the story dubbed “The Prodigal Son” from Luke 15:11-32. If not, go ahead, click on the reference and take a few moments to read it. If you’ve read it before, it won’t hurt to renew the story in your heart, so go ahead and click on the reference.

Back already? What did verses 18 and 20 tell you? It speaks to me that nothing was accomplish in verse 18 except a decision made. It took the action in verse 20 to accomplish the decision. Look at them again:

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, (Luke 15:18 KJV)

He was living in the vilest of conditions imaginable. Eating leftover food fed to an animal his people were told not to eat. Now he was no better that the pigs from whom he stole food. Servants in his father’s home were much better off than he was. Even though he counted his father’s words as less than nothing, he was ready to go home and admit how wrong he was. He could have stayed sitting there until he died. Instead:

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. (Luke 15:20 KJV)

Action. Once the decision was made, the son got up and went home. He didn’t send a letter to see whether or not he was welcome. He had only the memory of his father’s character, nothing to indicate how his father would receive him. He simple got up and went to his father. He was welcomed with love. He knew his father accepted him, but he completed his decision with action:

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. (Luke 15:21 KJV)

Consider, too, the man who told this story. It is a parable – illustrations Jesus gave to show us what cannot be described in reality. Jesus made several factual statements in the Bible to give wider meaning to this simple parable – He knew God loved the world enough to give Himself in order for whosoever to make the decision, to return to the Lord who made him.

The Bible tells us in several places that we are God’s children. Jesus said to pray, “Our father . . .” The apostles wrote of that in their letters to the new congregation of believers as the word spread. Christians believe that is doctrinally true. We also believe our lives are just as lost as the prodigal’s, until he returned home and completed the decision he made in the pig pen:

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. (Luke 15:21 KJV)

He confessed to his father how wrong he was. Please note, that was after his father welcomed him home. The father’s love was unchanged, but his joy was greater when the son was home. Thee father’s love was unchanged, even when the son confessed.

If this father’s love was so great, how much more is God’s for His children?

Monday, September 28, 2015


For the last few Sunday’s, Pastor’s sermons have centered on I Timothy 3 and 4. They are very instructional passages. Paul is writing plainly to Timothy. Since we believe the Bible was inspired by God for instruction to all, these passages help us understand the duties of a bishop (our preachers or pastors), those of our deacons, how we should behave in God’s house, how to live a Christian life and the importance of God’s word.

They are all good sermons and are available for you to hear on our First Baptist Church of Cottondale’s website. They were recorded as preached and you’ll hear some of our youngest attendees adding to your listening pleasure.

Sunday, September 27, 2015, the sermon hit me very hard. As it applied to me, of course. There were several points I need to attend to  in my life, but more than that I thought about profiting and who will see it.

Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. (1 Timothy 4:14-15 KJV)

I believe every Christian knows someone who has neglected a God-given gift. To see that neglect in someone who submitted to the laying on of the hands of other ministers is one of the most saddening things to watch. It is painful seeing someone who stood in a pulpit, and preached from the Bible to others, self destruct.

You see, everyone's “profiting” – or lack thereof - continues to be seen by all. Some have reached for the world and ignored souls, even their own. That too, is an example, albeit not a good one. Paul knew that he was an example to others and was an encouragement Timothy.  He wrote elsewhere to lead by example:

Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. (2 Thessalonians 3:9 KJV)

Paul instructs Timothy to be on his guard – not just for himself, but for those who will hear his sharing of God’s word:

Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (1 Timothy 4:16 KJV)

So – what’s it to us? I believe we need to pray for those who have not found their way to God, even if it appears tey were there and left Him. I believe through the Holy Spirit we can take heed to doctrine and follow instructions. I believe our best instruction is found in Christ’s response to Peter when he was concerned about another disciple duties:

Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. (John 21:21-22 KJV)

Whatever another person does or does not, what is that to me – or you? Christ has given us the ultimate instruction: Follow thou me. To do less is neglecting our own gift and consuming our own soul.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

“Thy Words”

I haven’t done a study – at least not yet – but I think David has an edge on the number of times “thy words” was written of him speaking of God’s words. For example, early on in his career:

Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto? And this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord GOD; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant's house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD? And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord GOD, knowest thy servant. For thy word's sake, and according to thine own heart, hast thou done all these great things, to make thy servant know them. (2 Samuel 7:18-21 KJV)

Have we knelt before God and acknowledged that He has had a part  in our lives? That He has brought us to where we are today? It really is easy to do when we know Him and see how He is active in what happens when we seek Him.

Elisha heard God’s words when He called him to face four hundred and fifty priests loyal to both Queen Jezebel and Baal. He called  on God and referenced His words:

And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. (1 Kings 18:36 KJV)

Jesus referred to God’s word, too, as He prayed for those who would come to believe on Him:

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17 KJV)

We, as Christians, believe that the scriptures are inspired by God. That the Bible exists for us as David describes God’s word:

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalms 119:105 KJV)

And, we have been told where to keep God’s word:

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes. (Psalms 119:9-12 KJV)

We are told it provides sustenance greater than food. Jesus quoted that in scripture:

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4 KJV)

He knew the scripture He quoted:

And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. (Deuteronomy 8:3 KJV)

Can we respond to temptation with God’s word suited to the situation? Yes – but only when we study God’s word and come to know when “thy word” truly applies to something He commands, and not simply to history He inspired to teach us lessons. That’s how we differentiate between God’s requirements and mankind’s traditions. Can you tell the difference?

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Gehazi The Servant of the Man of God

We met Gehazi yesterday in the story of the Shunammite woman. He was described there as servant to Elisha. We see him again in the next chapter, not doing so well in the Story of Naaman, a leper who came to Elisha for healing. It’s much better told in 2 Kings 5:1-19, but what happens next has to do with Gehazi:

But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him. So Gehazi followed after Naaman. And when Naaman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well? And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount Ephraim two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments. (2 Kings 5:20-22 KJV)

Elisha had turned down gifts for the healing, but Gehazi thought there wouldn’t be a problem in accepting just a little bit. He was wrong.

And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow. (2 Kings 5:26-27 KJV)

But – we hear of him again. In Chapter 8, Elisha warns the Shunammite woman of coming famine and she leaves her home. By the time of her return, it appears it is only she and her son came home to regain their property. To do that meant coming before the king. He heard many petitioners – but for her, he turned to another for verification:

And the king talked with Gehazi the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things that Elisha hath done. And it came to pass, as he was telling the king how he had restored a dead body to life, that, behold, the woman, whose son he had restored to life, cried to the king for her house and for her land. And Gehazi said, My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life. (2 Kings 8:4-5 KJV)

The king compared their stories and her land was restored:

And when the king asked the woman, she told him. So the king appointed unto her a certain officer, saying, Restore all that was hers, and all the fruits of the field since the day that she left the land, even until now. (2 Kings 8:6 KJV)

What we do has consequences. When we follow instructions, the consequences have a much greater opportunity of turning out better for us. When we make decisions based on our own desires rather than the instructions we’ve been given, we lose opportunities, one right after another.

Gehazi was a servant to a man who chose to serve God. He witnessed miracles and knew that what Elisha did was within God’s instructions. So did the Shunammite woman. She followed Elisha’s instructions – Gehazi did not. She was a woman of wealth before the famine, she regained her property. Gehazi was a servant before Naaman’s healing, afterward he suffered Naaman’s disease.

What choice is before any one of us right now? To follow God’s instructions? Where are they? In His word – the inspired words written by men who lived as men of God, obedient to this word. That’s a choice we face daily.

How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. . . . . Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments. (Psalms 119:103-106 KJV)

Friday, September 25, 2015

How Do We Answer The Question?

Rembrandt’s The Departure of the Shunammite Woman
I’ve written about Horatio Spafford and why he wrote “It Is Well With My Soul.” And, I’ve written about the Shunammite woman. One Sunday those came together for me when I read:

So she went and came unto the man of God to mount Carmel. And it came to pass, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, yonder is that Shunammite: Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well. (2 Kings 4:25-26 KJV)

But – it wasn’t, thought she answered her husband the same way:

And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again. And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well. (2 Kings 4:22-23 KJV)

No, it wasn’t well with her – or her son:

And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother. And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out. (2 Kings 4:19-21 KJV)

Her story begins in 4:8. She was a capable wife and showed no regret for the lack of children in a society where women were judged by the children they had. We’ve seen that in other Bible stories. Elisha promises a son, and a son was born. Now, he’s dead and she’s saying “It is well.”

Don’t we do that? I know I have. Someone kindly says in passing, “How are you?” And, I respond, just as much in passing “Just fine.” It isn’t. It wasn’t for the Shunammite woman. Her son is dead.
When she reached Elisha, he did not know why she was there:

And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the LORD hath hid it from me, and hath not told me. (2 Kings 4:27 KJV)

She only asked Elisha two questions:

Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me? (2 Kings 4:28 KJV)

Elisha knew exactly what was wrong and what to do – but it didn’t work. What it took was prayer in a closed room. Go ahead, look it up.

Even when God’s answer is “Not now,” or “No,” quiet prayer does bring the peace that absolutely passes understanding – and I can say as the Shunammite woman and Horace Spafford, “It is well,” because God said so.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Where I Am–And Why

If you’ll look at Older Posts you’ll find ten days of praise. The first, Saturday, August 29, was done on my desktop with internet connection. The next nine were done on my iPhone because we lost our internet connection – could not get our “just bought out by another” ISP to fix it within the first week’s difficulty, then another two weeks before they would commit to a service call.  Within that length of time we could get a new IPS – which turned out to have given erroneous up/download info – and still a third ISP to put us back in touch with the rest of the world.

But that’s only half the story.  As you long-time readers know, my Beloved Husband suffers from Myasthenia Gravis and requires plasmapheresis – a filtering of proteins from his blood. The proteins “plug” the nerve lines to specific muscles – an outpatient process. Within three months of his diagnosis, he was in ICU over a week in an MG crisis. Another three months later. A third that summer. There is no cure, but plasmapheresis holds the disease at bay.

If you are interested in learning more, Google – there’s tons of information on this “rare” disease. The important part is “disease” and “plasmapheresis”. You see, toward the last of May, the graft necessary for his process plugged with clots. Removing them is “thrombectomy” and requires hospitalization. Our summer ran like this:

May 12 – plasmapheresis fail – graft clotted
May 13 – thrombectomy – worked
May 14 – plasmapheresis
June 13 – plasmapheresis failed – graft clotted
June 9 – thrombectomy
June 11 – plasmapheresis – worked
June 30 – plasmapheresis failed – graft clotted
July 6 – appointment with nephrologist – new graft required
August 3 – additional graft – original blocked
August 24 – first of three plasmapheresis process – every other day - due to length of time without one. Symptoms increasing.
August 26 – second plasmapheresis failed – thrombosis
August 27 – thrombectomy with stent inserted
August 28 – “second” plasmapheresis worked
September 3 – third plasmapheresis worked – returned to monthly schedule.

As you can tell – we basically lost our summer to hospital halls. There were other doctor visits – to his endocrinologist and neurologist – not listed above, as well as a couple for me, but they didn’t entail being admitted to the hospital’s outpatient. This gave me a greater respect for those needing dialysis multiple times each week, too. Surely you know someone like that! Please spend extra time in prayer for them.

Anyway – while this was going on, our “Together We Can Change Lives” ladies mission group got its late start on our now-annual craft sale for missionary support. I do not sew as well as the others, I do not create jewelry from semi-precious stones and I certainly am not adapt at paper crafts – so I am typing our second cookbook, just as I did the first one.

I am good at typing and organization!! (Except for my own work areas.) All of the recipes come from ladies in our church. Some may sound similar, but are tweaked - feel free to tweak for yourselves. There should be no repeats of same recipe/same donor from last year's book. All of the paper and printing is donated by a wonderful company and I do the assembly, so every $10.00 received for a cookbook goes directly to missions – no overhead! Last year we printed 100 books and reprinted 25 more so that $1,250 went to three specific mission projects. This year we’ll print more and hope they go as fast. 

If you missed last year, it is available as PDF on CD for the same $10.00 – just mail a request to:  TWCCL c/o First Baptist Church of Cottondale, 145 CR 3355, Paradise, Texas 76073.  Then you can say your cookbook came from Paradise!!

That’s my story. Beloved Husband is doing better. Internet connections are installed and doing better, too. I am back to blogging – between typing a cookbook – and wondering when I can get bites of these new recipes (well, some not so new, but sounding very good!)

May God have provided for your life and loves as He has so graciously for mine. His mercy is everlasting.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Open To A Challenge?

Psa 47:6  Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises.

Sixty years ago our youth choir sang those words. We sang our praises to our Lord. I haven't found the music by Googling, but I still carry it in my mind and can pick it out on the piano. 

Simple words. The Hallelujah Chorus is comprised of simple words, too. Awesome music, but simple words. It doesn't take a full dictionary to praise God, so take just a few moments to sing His praise. 

I have done it in writing for just ten days. Are you willing to accept a challenge to publicly praise Him for any length of time?  Consider for a few moments. Then, let us know. 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Gathering to Praise

1Co 4:5  Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

No, not everyone praises God. Not everyone sees Him worthy of praise. Those of us who do are sometimes way too impatient with those who do not. Yet why should they praise what they neither know nor seek?

My praise does not depend on any other person. I praise Him for what I see in my own life. It is a pleasure to read why and how others praised Him and how they see Him. Today I will meet with dozens of others to study, worship, praise and share what we see in Him. 

We'll begin together in Sunday School's study of Proverbs chapter six - but individually we will have started earlier in prayers of thanksgiving and praise in our own quiet times with our Lord. 

The invitation stands that you join in. Welcome!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

His Righteousness

Psa 7:17  I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

His righteousness - not mine. I am not worthy to approach His throne, except by His invitation. And that is an awesome invitation given in multiple verses. My favorite is:

Mat 11:28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

If you don't have burdens, I'm surprised. Ask Him about His anyway - they are not only light, they are awesome!!

Friday, September 4, 2015

David's Praise

2Sa 22:50  Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.

Take time to read this entire chapter and you'll understand why this verse begins with "therefore." David gives specific incidents that confirm God's interest in his life. How should he respond? With pride that he earned such attention? Surely we've seen people who think their actions have earned God's benevolent attention - are they as eager to give the same explanation for His disciplinary attention? David did. 

God is, all the time, whether we acknowledge Him or not. He does not require our presence, our praise, our admittance of His grace or discipline. The praise we give Him does not change what He is, but does change us. 

It is a good change, too. When we praise God, we focus on Him. It's not the same as giving thanks, where we focus on what we receive. Instead, we see His ability, His interest, His omnipotence. 

Then, we can give thanks for His grace and mercy in our lives, which we can neither earn nor deserve. Praise God for His infinite mercy, available to whosoever believes. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Deserved Praise

Rev 19:5  And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.

After vanquishing all, just before the marriage supper of the Lamb, those before His throb fall down to worship and a voice comes from the throne saying, Praise our God. 

For me the praise is not for what He has done. What He's done for me instills thanksgiving. That's not why I praise. 

Praise is for His attributes, His capabilities - His omniscience and omnipotence. He is capable of creation and destruction. He is filled with judgment - perfect adjudication - as well as mercy and grace. 

There is none like Him, though men define many that are supposed to be - or deny any exist, especially One who cares about His creation. He inspired Moses to write:

Exo 8:10b    And he said, Be it according to thy word: that thou mayest know that there isnone like unto the LORD our God.

We praise because He deserves it. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Result of Silence

Psa 148:1  Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights.

The next verses tell use who - and what - should be praising the Lord. Then, we get to "Why?"

Psa 148:13  Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.

Consider this - all of His creation is capable of giving Him praise. Jesus gave us an example when He was told to quiet the multitudes praising Him:

Luk 19:40  And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

Do not stay silent. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Praise Out of Mouths of Babes

Mat 21:16  And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

Take time to read the previous verses to understand the context - adults were misusing God's house and children were singing praises for God's work. Jesus gives us meaning through God's inspiration of Psalm 8:6. 

How do we lift our voices in praise?  To God? Or people around us? Both, really. Praise is to Him and for Him, but let others hear to learn and join in. 

Praise ye the Lord for His excellent greatness.