Encouragement When Down

Written by Lynn Bruce (Daughter of Elder Sony Pyles): 6-11-2018

Chemo #50 today. This one is shelling my pistachios, because it’s preventing me from spending a week at camp singing hymns with my best beloveds. I have not missed camp in almost 20 years. It’s Christmas in June to me, a little glimmer of heaven on earth. And now my grandbairns are there! I want to whine that it’s just not fair. I awoke this morning at precisely the moment the wake-up hymn is broadcast at camp. The soul knows where it wants to be. But the body needs to be in the chemo chair—fair or not.

Here’s the thing. If I get hung up on things being fair, if I make my happiness depend on that, I’ll stay stuck at the bottom of every hill. The Psalmist knew this. “But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.” 🎯“When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me… Until I went into the sanctuary of God…”

Oh my.
I do know this to be true.

True of the actual sanctuary and true of this sanctuary in the rubbled temple that is my body. Where somehow both cancer and Christ dwell together. Where there should be singing!

“But I don’t have a song here today, Lord,” I cried as I parked my car at the chemo lab. “My song is elsewhere, without me.”

And then I heard them. He let me hear them. From the vaults of long memory, I heard the voices of my camp friends, singing for me: “Thus far the Lord has led me on, thus far His power prolongs my days, and every evening shall make known some fresh memorial of His grace. In vain, the sons of earth or hell tell me a thousand frightful things; my God in safety makes me dwell beneath the shadow of His wings.”

Here in the shadow of that wing, I do not have to climb up this hill. I will be carried. And I will be given a song. This too, is not fair. It is far beyond fair. But I realize now that it is not my LIFE that He means to call fair. It is ME. Because when He comes, He will be singing “Rise up, my fair one.” He is fair, so shall we be. Sing on, fair ones.

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Preservation of the Word

Written by Ben Winslett
Thursday, 24 May 2018 08:33
Point to consider: If we found an ancient manuscript of a portion of God’s word, and this manuscript was considerably different than what we’ve recognized as God’s word throughout the centuries, rather than embracing the new text and altering our Bibles, we would keep our current reading. Why?

It is a fundamental tenet of the faith that God keeps His word preserved and pure throughout all generations. This means that the word is preserved through being used by the Church. It is duplicated and distributed, and this is the process through which God has seen fit to preserve His word. The preservation of the scriptures has never been about maintaining a set of “originals”, obviously, because no originals exist! So we use what we have received, being trusted, and not that which is “lost and found,” being suspect.

Chiefly, this is a matter of faith. The church is “the pillar and ground of the truth.” This means the truth is preserved in the church. Libraries, museums, and universities are not Divinely charged with this task. It’s the job of the church. And we trust that God has preserved His word through the duplication and usage within the institution of the church.

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May Communion Meeting

Bethany was blessed once again to have a Spirit filled Communion meeting with outstanding preaching by Elder Ronald Lawrence, good visitation from sister churches and friends, singing, food and fellowship. The weather was threatening but the Lord blessed us not to have any really bad weather and Friday night Elder Lawrence preached a sermon primarily on mercy from the Canaanite woman’s plea to Jesus “Have mercy on me, thou son of David.”

Saturday night we were blessed to have a great supper of fish, chicken and everything else with the fish prepared by Gene York. The food and fellowship was greatly enjoyed and followed by a good congregation and outstanding preaching, as usual, by Elder Lawrence on the subject of “the heart” as the seat of emotion and feeling and only the Lord can change a heart of stone by nature into a heart of flesh capable of spiritual feeling. Elder Lawrence had to leave Saturday night and was blessed with a safe journey home and he wished to thank the church for their hospitality and the opportunity to be with them dring the meeting.

Sunday we were blessed to have a good congregation and after a shirt sermon by the Pastor, Larry Wise, on the subject of the “smitten rock” the church entered into communion with the observance of the Lord’s Supper of the bread and wine as symbolic of the body and blood of Christ. This was followed by the washing of the saint’s feet by the brothers and sisters. Some fathers and sons washed each others feet and some mothers and daughters did the same. We welcome all who participated and especially those who may have been participating for thew first time. Some were unable to participate due to sickness or physical limitations. After communion there was a prayer of thanks and dismissal and each expressed their love for their fellows brothers and sisters by telling of their love for one another and a godly embrace.

Here are a few of the scenes from the meeting and more to follow under the Communion meeting page on church website:

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Deanna Wise’s Mother Falls

SISTER DEANNA WISE’S MOTHER (DIANE BROWNING FALLS:

Sister Deanna Wise’s mother (Diane Browning) fell today (May 9) off a six foot ladder into a pile of lumber and had to go by ambulance to Union County Hospital. She has a broken left wrist, a broken and dislocated right shoulder and possibly arm. She is being put to sleep to put shoulder back in place and will be seeing an Orthopedic doctor afterward. Pray everything will go well in regard to any surgery and recovery from these injuries.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16.  He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we are able to ask or think. Eph. 3:20

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Something New

It seems that people today are always seeking something new to entertain their fancies. They want new clothes, new cars, new houses and new ways to worship the Lord. It is evident that people have not learned what Paul had learned. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” (Phil. 4:11). Contentment is a great virtue for the child of God as it brings peace of mind and stability in difficult times. The worship of the Lord in the assembly of saints should be a time of peace and contentment and we are given plenty evidence of the New Testament pattern of worship. It is too bad that people aren’t satisfied as David was with the house of God. David said, “… we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple.” (Psalm 65:4). David was satisfied with the goodness of God’s house.

People today aren’t satisfied with the goodness of God’s house as something new is continually being added. The apostle John tells us the seriousness of adding anything to the clear instructions in the word of God. “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:” (Rev. 22:18). By the same token, those that would take away from the book of prophecy will have their part taken out of the book of life (not Lamb’s book of life) and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. The modern worship service doesn’t even begin to resemble the worship service that is recorded in scripture.

They are desiring things new today and they were wanting things new even in the Old testament but what does the Bible say? Jeremiah admonishes the people of God: “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.” (Jer. 6:16). The old paths are those instituted by God and are found in God’s word. Not only do people want new ways but they want leaders (ministers) to encourage them in their scriptural deviance. Paul writes Timothy, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” (II Tim. 4:3). Israel of old did not want the prophets to really tell it like it actually was. Israel’s attitude was: “Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits:” (Isa. 30:10).

I see new places of worship sprout up in new areas and they must be disgruntled believers who have become disenchanted and desirous of something new so they will start their own church. The truth is it is not “our church” but the Lord’s church and He has given us a pattern to follow that is complete. As the song says, “If it was good enough for Paul and Silas, it is good enough for me.” David was satisfied with the goodness of God’s house and so should we. ‘There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov. 14:12). The old adage “the bigger the better” is not always true as Jesus describes what the true kingdom of God consists: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32). Notice it is a little flock; it is not a Mega church. Money is the name of the game in the Mega church and this is only reasonable since they have so many “new” things they have to support.

The church is the ship of Zion and it sails on troubled seas. It will be fine as long as the water stays outside the ship, but when it begins to seep into the ship, it is in danger. The church is in the world; that is true; however, when the world gets into the church, there is danger. Remember it doesn’t take a lot as “a little leaven leaventh the whole lump.” The Bible tells us to prove all things and God’s way has always been proven to be the right and best way. Stick to the old paths and maintain the course and not be led astray with those that are continually seeking something new in the Lord’s house.–April 5, 2018–Elder Larry Wise

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We Know

THANKFUL FOR WHAT WE KNOW:
There are many things that we do not know in this life but it should not hinder our faith in the Lord. We do not know what a day may bring forth so we are to live our lives day by day with a trust in the Lord. We do not know what the future holds for us or our family but we trust in the Lord to provide. However, there are things we can know and of which we can be completely assured. Can we know that we are children of God? The Bible says that we can as we listen to John saying, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. ” (I John 3:14) If we have passed from death (unborn again), to life (born again), we are children of God by birth in addition to being children of God by choice and by purchase. Nicodemus said that “we know that thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles except God be with him.” (John 3:2). Nicodemus knew this much more than by a physical witness because the Lord hath revealed unto him the truth that Jesus came from God but there were many things Nicodemus did not know at this juncture in his life. We don’t know exactly what it will be like in heaven but we can know by faith what the final culmination of all things will be. The apostle John again states, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” (I John 3:2). We are thankful for the truth of salvation by grace that makes us free. Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32).  We can know more by reading and studying the scriptures but what we know now in this life doesn’t compare with what we will know in heaven and immortal glory. So brothers and sisters, we should be extremely thankful for what we know concerning ourselves and the Lord Jesus Christ.–March 3, 2017–Elder Larry Wise
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Ordination–Jeremy Wise

Bethany was blessed with a large congregation to share the occasion of the ordination of Brother Jeremy Wise to the work of the ministry on Sunday January 14, 2018 in spite of the wintry weather. There were 27 ordained ministers and deacons who sat in the presbytery to perform the official work of the ordination. Brother Larry Wise was chosen as moderator of the presbytery and Brother David Wise as clerk to record all the proceedings. Brother Jerry Wise was chosen to question Bro. Jeremy on the articles of faith of Bethany church and his agreement with them and promise to stand by these articles in his ministry to which he agreed on all 13 articles read to him by Jerry Wise and Brother Larry Wise was chosen to deliver the charge as to responsibilities of the ministry. Brother Steve Weaver was chosen to pray the ordination prayer accompanied by the laying on of hands by the members of the presbytery. After the ordination prayer, Bro. Jeremy and his wife, Hillery were asked to sit in from of the pulpit as Brother Larry Wise delivered the charge focusing on the calling to the ministry and responsibilities as a servant of the Lord, a steward of the mysteries of God, a soldier in the army of God, and a student of the word of God. Brief charge also given to his faithful wife Hillery and to the church, Antioch to which he has been called as Pastor.

Brother Jeremy and Sister Hillery were asked to stand in front as everyone gave them the right hand of fellowship and best wishes as they go forward in the service of God amid a hymn that was sung. Elder Joe Nettles dismissed the congregation with a very fervent prayer. 

 

 

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New Year 2018

Happy New Year 2018 to each and everyone and may God bless with His goodness and mercy throughout the year. Our prayer for you this year and every year is what Aaron was told as to how to bless the people: “The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:  The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:  The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” (Numb. 6:24-26). What greater things could anyone enjoy during 2018 more than these six things: 1) To be blessed 2) To be kept 3) To have His face shine upon you 4) To have His gracious presence 5) To have His countenance lifted upon you 6) to have His peace. There are 365 days in the year and we pray the Lord will bless you with these six things each day; however, we know that Satan is always ready to rob us of the joys of our salvation. If we aren’t blessed with all six things experimentally in our lives each day, we know that we shall be blessed with all six things in glory after awhile.

There isn’t a single human that knows what the year may have in store but we serve a God who does know. Elder Michael Gowens gives quote from someone in one of his sermons that states; “Never be afraid to trust an UNKNOWN future to a KNOWN God.” The future on earth is not known by anyone but we aren’t in the dark about God as He is KNOWN by His born again children of God. We can trust God to give us strength day by day because he is faithful. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Cor.10:13). God has never broken a promise and never will but we are fleshly individuals at times and doubt if God will come to our rescue. Jesus said that the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. God doesn’t gives us a week’s supply of grace at once but we are taught to pray “Give us day by day our daily bread.” This breeds continual trust in a KNOWN God who has everything is His storehouse that His people need.

Even though there are 365 days in the year, no two days are alike as each one has its own unique characteristics. When our hope seems dim as the dawn arises, we can remember the promise of God given by Jeremiah who also felt his hope had disappeared. He was made to declare, ” It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:23). The mercies and compassions of the Lord are NEW every day even though that mercy may bring the same blessing we enjoyed the day before: however, we need it today as we cannot use yesterday’s mercy today. The scripture says that “today is the day of salvation.” The scripture also says to take up our cross DAILY and follow the Lord through self-denial and commit our ways to the Lord.

This is what happens to those who TRUST the Lord, DELIGHT in the Lord, and COMMIT their way unto the Lord. “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. ” (Palm 37:3-5) May we all be blessed to follow this recipe for happiness each day during 2018.–January 1 2018–Elder Larry Wise

 

 

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Christmas Singing 2017

Bethany was blessed with  a Spirit-filled singing on Sunday night December 10 with many visitors from sister church and friends that made up a large congregation. The singing was excellent with traditional Christmas songs and worship songs as everyone sang from the heart and the fellowship in the singing and afterwards in the meal provided was wonderful indeed. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Col. 3:16). We are thankful to all who came and those who brought food as we had a fellowship hall that was about full of those who stayed for food and fellowship. Here are some scene from the singing and fellowship that was enjoyed by those in attendance:

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Thanksgiving–Sacrifice

This is a partial repeat of a prior Thanksgiving post but still good to meditate upon and as a Thanksgiving sacrifice it is all centered around the greatest sacrifice of all; that being the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of His people. The sacrifices of thanksgiving are also a sweet smelling savour in the nostrils of God just as the sacrifice of Christ which is the greatest example of love that ever transpired. “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” (Eph. 5:2). Thanksgiving is more than Black Friday sales and feasting on a turkey or ham. May we all ask ourselves what we are thankful for and it shouldn’t be hard to come up with something. Consider this thought posted by Elder David Wise as you read the following: “I read a devotional today that asked the question, “What if God only blessed you today with what you thanked Him for yesterday?” What a sobering and convicting question, and I’m afraid I won’t get too many blessings today if that were the case!” We always get better than we deserve.

This is the week of the observance of the Thanksgiving holiday that is usually identified with Turkey and Dressing and football games along with gatherings of family and friends. There is more to Thanksgiving than those things. We are told in scripture, especially is the Psalms, to praise the Lord for His wonderful works toward the children of men. This is done with sacrifice and that is really what the word “thanksgiving” means; however, how many of us realize that thanksgiving is a sacrifice?

The Psalmist identifies praising the Lord for His wonderful works with the sacrifice of thanksgiving. “And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.” (Psalm 107:22). The servant that had been loosed from his bonds declared what he needed to do for this blessing: “I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.” (Psalm 116:17). True thanksgiving involves sacrifice. It is not the sacrifice of animals but it is the sacrifice of self to the will of God. We are told to present our bodices as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. We are told to deny self and take up our cross  and follow Christ and this involves daily sacrifice and not just a Sunday morning worship service for an hour and a half.

Jonah disobeyed the will of God and found himself in the belly of a whale but it was there that he learned much about thanksgiving as a sacrifice. He said, “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.” (Jonah 2:9). Everyone knows, or should, that Jonah said “salvation is of the Lord” but how many connect it with the sacrifice of thanksgiving which Jonah said he would do with his voice which of itself is a sacrifice as the tongue is an unruly member which no man can tame. Paul writes concerning thanksgiving as a sacrifice: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” (Heb. 13:15-16).

Let us verbally express our thanksgiving but let it be more than just saying thanks over a meal. Thanksgiving is a way of life; it is the way of an abundant life of joy and peace and it all revolves around the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!–November 22, 2017–Elder Larry Wise

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