The services began with some congregational singing, and a responsive reading of Psalm 19. Rachel Robberson was introduced, and sang the uplifting song, “All Along.”
Pastor Gary Berry introduced Don Ball, Pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Lebanon. Pastor Ball’s Text was Romans 8:28. His message from the verse was entitled “The Recipe of the Redeemed.”
He pointed us first to the confidence of the recipe. “We know…” God’s promises will all be accomplished.
He also talked about the completeness of the recipe. “…all things work together…” It can be relatively easy to believe the sweet things work together. We are quick to attribute positive events to God’s providence. But what about the sorrowful things? Often we become confused when things don’t appear to be working together. What about satanic things? Paul said that his affliction was a messenger of Satan. But God used even that. God is in control, and there is a completeness in the recipe.
There is also a cause for the recipe: “…For our good…” God has a purpose for bringing all of these things together, and it’s our good.
Pastor Ball also noted a condition: “….to them that love God, to them that are the called…” God has not issued a promise for the world. Those that have rejected the Lord cannot claim this promise. But it is for us.
Lastly he talked about the constraint of the promise “…according to his purpose…” Nothing can happen in our lives that are outside of the scope of God’s purpose for us. We don’t have to worry. God is in control, and He will bring all the events of our lives together for His purpose to change us into His image.
The preacher surmised some of the hardest events in his ministry: incidents followed by sorrow, fear, and confusion. But he kept pointing us to the Word, and encouraging our souls by reminding us that all things that God either causes or allows fit into His divine plan for our lives.
After this encouraging message, we enjoyed fellowship and a variety of desserts provided by the church.
The next day we returned to Southland, and Pastor Berry lead us in a prayer meeting. He encouraged each of us to pray with someone we did not know well. We prayed for each other, the churches, and the meeting to follow.
Pastor Berry invited Pastor Kent Hogan to preach.
Pastor Hogan read Psalm 119:65. He told us that God deals well with His servants. That is a sure truth, though we may not think we see it in our lives. “Many times we don’t think God is dealing well with us because we forget that He made us for His pleasure, not our own.”
We turned to Genesis 37, and read from the life of Joseph. Bro Hogan reviewed the events of Joseph’s story, from his conflicts with his brothers to the prison he was thrown into. It appeared that there was no hope, and that all Joseph had was a wasted life. It looked as if God had not been dealing well with his servant. Rather, circumstances seemed to say that God was dealing ill with him.
But Pastor Hogan reminded us of the events that followed. From prison to power, Joseph’s life is a surprising testimony to the truth that God deals well with His servants.
Bro. Hogan proceeded to tell us about a recent survey that researched longevity of pastors in churches. According to the survey, the average pastoral tenure in a church is only 3.6 years. He went on to talk about how pastors are tempted to quit and move on from church to church, a recent trend that produces ill effects on both churches and ministers. He encouraged us to have longevity in ministry. Never doubt God’s ability to keep His promise, that He will deal well with us.
Bro Hogan said, “You stay put until God moves you, because God put you there for a reason.” He encouraged all of us to not get anxious and look for a better ministry, but rather to remain faithful and consistent to God, knowing that He is faithful and consistent to us.
Pastor Jeff Merrick of Knob Noster was invited by Pastor Berry to talk about the philosophy and practice of Bible institutes. He was able to share reasons behind his faith in the institute format, and give us a basic overview of how his is set up. This was an important subject to be addressed and Pastor Merrick encouraged pastors to think about this need in a very balanced way: he invited them to consider starting such a project, but warned that an institute is only useful if it is ran well.
Bro. Gerald Berry led the assembly in a reading of 2 Timothy 4:1-8. After another hymn, Pastor Kevin Metsinger was introduced as the next preacher.
Pastor Metsinger read from 2 Thessalonians 2:13. He noted Paul’s continual thankfulness: “but we are bound to give thanks alway to God…” Paul was thankful for people. Ministry would not be better with fewer people: ministry is people. Bro Metsinger noted that many pastors wished there were fewer problems in ministry, and reminded us that our purpose is to help people with problems. We are not to begrudge the people God has given us to minister to. We need to be thankful.
We need to be thankful for being “…brethren beloved of the Lord…” We need to recognize the importance of brethren. We have been born of God, we are in Christ, we believe the same Word, we are “beloved of the Lord.” Have we grasped the fact that we are loved by God? This is the same term used when referring to the Father’s love for His Son, and yet it also describes God’s love for us.
We have also been “chosen to salvation….” Bro Metsinger noted that this verse does not say God chose some that could be saved and chose others to damnation. Rather, He has chosen to offer eternal life to everyone. He chose to form an eternal plan for our salvation.
God works internal holiness in our lives: “through sanctification of the Spirit…” Now only are we brethren, beloved, and chosen, we are sanctified. God is transforming us into what He wants us to be.
God has accomplished all of this through “belief of the truth.” Our thankfulness should be directed toward God, for He has made all of this possible by revealing His truth to us. Look at what God has done for us. When we consider all of these amazing blessings, we can say with Paul, “We are bound to give thanks alway.” Preachers should be a thankful people.
Pastor Berry invited Rob Robberson to the pulpit. He and his wife Rachel just returned from a trip to Nepal. He told us about his burden for the people of Nepal that he believes God has placed on him. He told us about the false religion in Nepal. Hinduism and Buddhism have such a foothold that less than one percent of the population claims to be Christian of any kind. He and his wife have started deputation. They have an intense desire to get on the field and preach the Gospel. It was a blessing to hear his heart.
After a responsive reading of 2 Corinthians 4, Pastor Berry invited Parker Dailey to the pulpit, longtime pastor of the Blueridge Baptist Temple.
Bro. Dailey led us to James 5:1-11. He spoke on the “Virtue of Patience.” James was writing to scattered believers. They were away from home, confused, and maybe restless in waiting for God to help them. So James encourages them to be patient.
Patience is a relevant topic, especially in church life today. Dedication is waning, in both pastors and members.
First, we must note that “God is not indifferent to our problem” (verses 1-6). God heard the cries of these believers who were being sinned against. God heard the baby Ishmael’s cry. He heard enslaved Israel’s cry. He heard Hezekiah’s cry. Jesus heard Peter’s cry.
Second, “God is never late” (verses 7-10). God’s plans all come to pass in His time. Christ came on time in the first coming (Gal 4:4) and He will return exactly when the Father has planned at the second coming. Bro Dailey commented on verse 7, and talked about his growing up on a farm. He learned that you can’t rush nature. Neither can we rush the God of nature. Everything happens in his time.
Third, “God is always merciful” (verse 11). Job had trouble seeing God’s mercy at first, but things changed. “Sometimes God’s rewards are surprising.”
He encouraged us to be patient in our work for the Lord.
We were served a fantastic lunch and again enjoyed our fellowship with each other. Southland Baptist Church did a wonderful job of making us feel right at home, and encouraging us in the work with the Word of God. Stay in touch for information regarding the Spring Meeting of 2015
– David Harris