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Know Your Bible

VOL. 8                           September 6, 2009                           NO. 33

Gospel Meeting

    Despite what some say, I don't think that the days for having successful gospel meetings are gone. I do believe that the days are passed when we simply plan a meeting, invite a preacher to come and present some lessons from God's word, and great numbers of people show up, and many are brought to the Lord as the results of very little effort on behalf of the local church. There are too many TV shows to watch, too many places to go be entertained, and too many other things for families to be involved in for them to come to a church service where the gospel is being preached without members personally inviting and encouraging them to attend. It is going to take a greater effort on our part today than it may have taken some twenty to thirty years ago.

    What can I do to help make this gospel meeting a success There is no denying the fact that each member has responsibilities to the local church of which he/she is a member. Notice the words of the apostle Paul, when he wrote to the church at Ephesus, "from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:16). I can't do everything, but there are some things that everyone can do. If we will do our part, this will be a very successful meeting.

    I can pray for the meeting. Prayers can be offered for the visiting preacher that he may do his job well. That the lessons he has selected will be those that are most needed. That just the right person will be there on the night that he presents the appropriate sermon for them. I can supplicate God on behalf of the other members, that He might aid them as they serve Him and others in the community. Be sure and pray for those that you have invited and work to accomplish your prayer by presenting them with the opportunities to attend. Maybe you can have them in your home for a meal; offer to pick them up at a certain time; or after services to go have a cup of coffee, etc. Do what you can to encourage them to be present. We each can approach the throne of our Creator and Redeemer and ask His help in doing His work.

    I can be present each night of the meeting. Just think; if every member is present every night there would be a good number present at each service, not counting the visitors. That would greatly encourage all members to see such participation and zeal on the part of so many. Remember what the writer of the book of Hebrews said, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24,25). I have seen on occasion members invite someone from the community, that person came, the member who invited them was not there, and then the visitor never returned. Such speaks volumes about the Christian. May we each make plans to be present at every service, to encourage others, to honor God, and to be taught and edified ourselves.

    I can participate when coming together in such an assembly. It was said of Ezra, "For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel" (Ezra 7:10). We need to prepare our hearts to receive the word of God as well. As the Bereans, we must be sure that the things taught are indeed found in the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). Once we see that they are without doubt from God’s Holy Book, we must then make application of those principles. It may mean that drastic changes must be made but nonetheless I must either remove or add what is necessary to please my Father. Part of my participation is to sing with the song leader and pray with the one leading in prayer. My mind must be centered upon all aspects of our worship so that the Lord will be pleased with my effort to serve Him and that all might receive the needed edification.

    Remember, it is not what others can do, but what "I" can do! Are you willing to do what you can to make this meeting a success? It is my hope and prayer that we will all be workers together with God to accomplish the greatest amount of good to His glory (2 Corinthians 6:1).

---Jimmy Mickells

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The Culture Of No Consequences

    In the beginning, The Lord blessed man with a paradise garden to keep, trim, and enjoy. Only one prohibition was mentioned. Adam and Eve were not to eat of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Gen.2:17). If they ate they would lose their place in garden and forfeit their right to the "tree of life." They would lose their lives and their special relationship with The Lord. This was the consequence. Sadly, they ate of the prohibited tree and paid the consequences.

    Have you noticed the singular lack of consequences in almost every system of American culture? God's plan of behavior management for children (the rod of discipline Prov. 22:15) has been set aside by parents and schools. Athletes, stars and politicians are seen to break laws with impunity. Bad manners and rudeness are tolerated if one is popular or famous. Coaches throw chairs, athletes sling helmets, and parents attack other parents, all clear violations of team rules and rules of appropriate behavior. Yet, rarely are those actions held to account. Proverbs 19:19 tells us the truth: "A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again". Priests and teachers have abused children without penalty. Presidents lie, congressmen take money, etc.

    Human beings require structure and discipline. Fortunately for us, our Creator planned for our growth and happiness by holding us accountable. God is honest with us: sin brings death. The Word clarifies His expectations and holds us accountable. God is predictable, consistent, and fair. And aren't we thankful for that! The beauty queen and best player have the same consequence and reward as the rest of us. Moses, God's chosen leader, was held accountable for disobedience (Number 20). Samson, a judge chosen by God, maintained supernatural strength as long as he followed God's directions. However, God allowed Samson to suffer the consequences of foolish behavior: the Philistines cut his hair, blinded and imprisoned him. Ultimately Samson gained victory over himself and over his enemies; God did not abandon Samson but answered his prayer.

    Obedience begins with the fear of consequences. God's people cannot thrive if they accept the culture of no consequences. Churches grow numerically but not spiritually. Many are suffering from the lack of discipline among their members. Fornication, bar-hopping, gossip, and bitterness find their way into churches. Behavior that is plainly un-Christian is ignored while the "positive" is accentuated. By overlooking sin the consequences of sin are not seen or felt. Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for this (1 Cor.5:1-5). They accepted an adulterer as a faithful brother. Paul told them to deliver him to Satan to let him know where he was spiritually. They were not even to eat with him. How cruel! No! This is God's way of shocking the sinner into seeing the consequence of his sin.

    Not all consequences are bad. In fact, the disciplining of the Corinthian adulterer caused him to repent and return to Christ. Paul urged the brethren to reaffirm their love to him (2 Cor.2:3-9). The renewal of Christian fellowship was crucial in helping this brother remain faithful. It remains the same today. We can not live without consequences. Some believe because God does not punish sin immediately He will not punish it at all. "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecc.8:11). This is a serious mistake. In this life we might evade many bad consequences. However, in judgment all will be made right. Everyone will stand before God to be judged based on the things we have done of earth (2 Cor.5:10). Don't buy into the idea of a culture with no consequences for there is no such place in existence.

---David Hartsell

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