June 3-4 Berean Baptist Church, Springfield, MO.
By 7:00 Monday evening a large crowd of members and guest pastors filled the auditorium at Berean. The service began with a prayer by Evangelist Wally Williams. After a welcome from pastor Ables, some congregational hymns, and few special, Bro. Sam Davison was invited to the pulpit. His text was Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
Bro. Davison began by introducing the idea of “secrets,” relating that many times secret-keeping can be a negative and harmful thing. But God “can do secrets.” It should be no surprise to us that the incomprehensible One has things we do not know about or understand.
To relate the context of the Scripture, Bro. Davison went back to chapter 28. Moses was telling the children of Israel what God had revealed, the law. The principle was this: obedience is followed by blessing, and disobedience is followed by cursing. Bro. Davison then used some examples from the Old Testament to show the truth of this concept.
He also went on to prove that this is not just an Old Testament concept. Using the last words of the Sermon on the Mount, he explained that God expects us to obey Him as well. If we do, we will be blessed, and if we do not, we will be cursed (i.e. the two houses at the end of Matthew 7).
He wrapped up the sermon with the question: “What about when it looks like God is not honoring this principle?” He followed this by giving some moving examples of trials in the lives of people that obeyed God. The answer? “The secret things belong unto the Lord.” We need to do what God has told us to do, and let Him worry about the secret things.
At the conclusion of the service, everyone was invited to the fellowship hall for desserts. Several stayed afterward.
On Tuesday morning, services resumed at 9:00. After some special music, Pastor David Newkirk approached the pulpit. His text was Exodus 25:1-9, and he focused on verse 8. Pastor Newkirk reminded us that throughout time, God has desired to meet with us. This is not so He can be complete, but so we can. God was giving a plan to Moses for the Tabernacle so He could meet with His people.
Although God’s terms were simple, Pastor Newkirk showed various examples in the Old and New Testaments of people that complicated the means of having a relationship with God (Cain’s sacrifice, the Pharisees and Judaizers, etc).
God has also given us a blueprint for meeting with Him, but it is on His terms. The simple truth is that through Jesus Christ, we can meet with God. We tend to take this for granted. God desires to be with us. Why do we complicate things by letting distractions get in the way? Sin, hurt, bitterness, and hobbies are just some of the things that can lead us to forget the main thing. God has given us everything we need to meet with Him. Jesus Christ is our High Priest. Never take it for granted.
The second speaker was Jeff Hastings, Pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Columbia. It quickly became apparent that even though Bro. Hastings had a different Text, his message would build on the previous one. He invited us to Isaiah 64:1-5. He introduced the message by explaining that many times people want to deal with the symptoms of a problem rather than the problem itself. Churches are no exception. He went on to say that the issues we see in churches today are symptoms, not the root. The root is the lack of God’s presence.
In Isaiah 64, Isaiah is praying for God to come down. He was not asking God to bring judgment or destruction, but rather, he was asking God for His presence to return to the Israelites. God’s presence is available, we just don’t want it bad enough. We need God’s presence because of our trials (verse 1), and because of God’s name (verse 2).
Having God’s presence is solely based on Christ. We cannot have it without humility. It is not based on our righteousness: appearance is a poor substitute for presence. Keeping up external appearances is easy, but it is not the same thing as having the presence of God in your life. We must consider who we are in His sight (verse 6). God’s presence is a necessity. “The need is not to see the hand of God, but the face of God.”
The next and final message of the day was preached by Bro. Sam Davison. He preached about “The Unexpected Doubter” from Matthew 11:1-6. He began by reminding us of the disciples and some of the disappointing things they did toward the end of Christ’s ministry (i.e. Thomas, Peter). Even though these men were the companions of Jesus Christ Himself, they had some disappointing ends.
Bro. Davison then contrasted the disciples with John the Baptist. John the Baptist was different than the apostles. From his conception to his unique calling and ministry, he was obviously special. He was the forerunner of Jesus Christ Himself. His ministry was marked by boldness and confidence. As Bro. Davison put it, “He was that, except when he wasn’t.” He then hinted at our passage of study, where John questions whether or not Christ is even the Messiah. Why did this happen?
He reminded us of John’s ministry. John preached repentance. He was bold to call out sin and set things straight. He was even bold when he made his famous announcement about Christ, “Behold the Lamb of God!” But something happened. Bro. Davison reminded us of Herod’s marriage of his brother’s wife. John preached, and ended up in prison for it. As Bro. Davison said, “The seeds of doubt grow in the soil of sorrow and disappointment.” John became low. Very low. Jesus was increasing, and John was decreasing.
Bro. Davison applied John’s dilemma with our present situation. Not all the doubt is taking place outside the church doors. It is in the pew as well as the pulpit. We never doubt when things are going well, but in sorrow in disappointment.
How did Jesus respond to John’s question? It was three-fold:
1. What has been prophesied has been fulfilled. 2. The work is still being done anyway. God’s purposes are not limited to our individual circumstances. 3. Blessedness would not come by getting our of prison, but by not being offended over God’s ways and timing.
When we get offended at Christ, we do not know the blessedness that others have, simply because they believe Jesus is Who He says he is.
After the last prayer, the church served guests a barbecue lunch. Many of the attendees stayed and enjoyed fellowship.
– David Harris