On Monday evening, about thirty preachers and their families gathered at Bible Baptist Church in Cameron for the Winter Meeting. The uplifting singing and hospitable spirit of Pastor Jim Mackey and his congregation allowed the guests to feel at home. Bro. Bob Reagan was the first speaker.
Bro. Reagan had us turn to Isaiah 1, and he proceeded to read verses 16-20. He reminded us that God called the Israelites to be His special people, a theocracy. In the Old Testament, God blessed them as a nation in response to their obedience. And when they disobeyed, there was judgment.
Moses and Joshua led the people in following God, but the period of the Judges brought anarchy. They decided they wanted a king, and God allowed them to institute a monarchy.
Isaiah was a prophet that preached primarily to the Southern Kingdom. And it is God’s warnings to the Southern Kingdom that constitute theme of Isaiah.
First, Bro. Reagan pointed us to Judah’s wickedness and its results (1:2-9). Despite all God had done for them, they had forgotten Him. They didn’t even really know Him. Their northern neighbors had been destroyed and taken captive because of their idolatry, and God was signaling that the same event could happen to them. Because of their ongoing sin, judgment was inevitable.
Bro. Reagan applied this to our society’s moral status. Like Judah, people sin as if God doesn’t care or sin’t watching. But ongoing sin doesn’t get swept under the rug. The warning to Israel is a warning to all nations, and individuals: sin always brings consequences.
Second, we saw the offer of restoration (1:18-20). God promised an offer of forgiveness to His people. And more than that, He promised to restore the kingdom after the judgement (verse 25).
Wickedness always brings consequences. Whether it is sin in the nation, in the home, in the church, or in the heart, God’s holiness demands that He responds. But praise Him for his mercy! The offer of forgiveness is still available. God both just and loving, both holy and merciful, stern yet gracious. Whenever we get into sin, we can run to and rest in God’s mercy.
We enjoyed fellowship and desserts after the service (some of us stayed very late!)
Tuesday morning began with a message by Pastor Greg McCurley from Romans 8:5-11.
Bro. McCurley talked about the reality of false converts in the church. All minister will have to deal with these individuals. We will be deceived by people who look like Christians, and later discover they never were. These people are part of the “for they” group, a reference to Romans 8:5, “For they that are after the flesh…”
What’s even more discouraging is the reality of the “for they’s” in ministry. Preachers fall into sin and have no signs of repentance at all. Pastors commit terrible crimes and there is no humility or confession.
Bro. McCurley related several accounts of individuals he has known that looked like Christians, but later demonstrated that they were never born again. They were one of the “for they’s.” This is one of the most discouraging things about ministry.
But not only can it be a source of discouragement, it can also lead to pride. When we see others fall, it may engender pride in our own hearts. It may make us feel good that we are not part of the “for they’s” of this world.
To prevent us from falling into pride in this area, we need to remember why we are not “one of them,” why we are not one of the “for they’s.” And the only reason for that is the Holy Spirit. Without the work of the Spirit in our lives, we would also be of the flesh. If we had not been born again, we would not be different than any other sinner. Watching people fall should not cause us to be depressed or discouraged. Neither should it be a source of pride. It should make us turn to God in gratitude for His grace.
Pastor Shane Hughes was the third speaker at the meeting, and his message was from Matthew 13:1-23.
Before Jesus taught the Parable of the Sower, He announced to the audience, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Jesus was speaking to their responsibility to listen to God’s Word. God created us with an ability to hear His Word. These people were able to listen to them, which made them responsible for what they heard.
Even though they had this responsibility, they would not see or hear God’s truth. The problem was not that they could not see or could not hear, it was that they would not see and would not hear.
Jesus knew that most of His listeners weren’t really listening. They were there, on the scene, but with closed eyes and ears (spiritually).
But then Jesus told the disciples they were blessed. They had ears to hear. They had eyes to see. Then He explained the parable.
There was the soil from which the seed was quickly taken. This described people that at first gave audience to God’s Word but never let it sick in. There was the soil in which the seed never took root, picturing the Word of God being received but only superficially. The soil that received the seed but then was choked pictures the person that listens to God’s Word and agrees with it, but doesn’t see it as precious as the things of this world. The soil that brought fruit was a picture of the hearts of the disciples.
All men have been given the responsibility to listen to God’s Word. What is our heart like in relationship to the Word? Is it receptive? We need to be sure we have eyes to see and ears to hear, and then pray that our congregations will have the same.
The final sermon was preached by Bro. Gerald Berry. It was entitled “Wells, a Wall, and a Will.”
The text for the message was 2 Chronicles 32, and the message came from the life of Hezekiah. Hezekiah was the king that brought back God’s order to Judah. He began his administration by restoring temple worship and destroying the idols. He stands out as one of the few kings that actually did what God wanted him to do.
His reign had been marked by success and the blessings of God. But then something surprising happens. Chapter 32 gives us the words, “After these things, Sennacherib came.”
When the Assyrian armies began approaching, Hezekiah counseled with the men of the city and decided to stop the fountains and reroute them to Jerusalem. This would keep the people from thirsting, and the Assyrians from consuming it. Why would they, after all, supply water to their enemies? Why should they help the enemies defeat them, and make the siege easier?
We are no match for the world system. We should not surrender to Satan. We should not help in the plan to defeat us. The best way to resist Satan’s plan for your home and your church is to take away what he is using to defeat us. We should be on guard, and make sure that we are not helping in our own demise.
Second, Hezekiah built up a wall. The more fortified the wall, the more difficulty the enemy would have in gaining an entrance. Our homes and churches should be fortified in such a way that it is difficult for sin to enter. Personal standards protect us, family standards protect our families, and church standards protect the church. Doctrine keeps the church pure. Membership keeps the church pure. Don’t be afraid to raise the walls.
Lastly, Hezekiah told the people to be courageous in God. And that is the same encouragement we need to have. No matter what our enemies may do, we can find courage in God.