Friday, November 14, 2014

November Meeting at Little Union

We were able to travel down for Little Union's November Meeting last week.  It was a very blessed meeting.  We do love to visit family, but we very often try to schedule trips when there are going to be meetings, because the one thing we love even more than our natural family is our spiritual family, and to be fed by well studied, God-fearing ministers.  This year Little Union had Bro. Philip Conley and Bro. David Montgomery, two ministers that we enjoy and have often heard the Lord bless.  It is always good to go back home, and it is wonderful to see Little Union and Bro. Chris Crouse.

Thursday Night
First Bro. Philip preached from Matt 11:11 and Luke 7:28-30 on why John the Baptist was both the greatest and the least. As he was the greatest of the prophets because he actual saw and testified and baptized Christ. And yet we have more than he because we have a fully picture than they did, of the work of Christ. What he has done, is doing and will do. We have "seen" the Resurrection through the testimony of many witnesses. We are the closest to his return than any time in history. And finally unlike John the Baptist we had the privilege of being baptized. There is great comfort and blessings that we get that you don't get otherwise, a gift of the Holy Ghost.

Bro. David Montgomery followed him preaching from Luke 11:27-32 on how the BEST thing we can do is hear and do. He used the example of Matthew 11:12 where the violent take the kingdom by force, or those who seize on it, who go and get it, get the blessing. He told us that the Queen of Sheba and the men of Nineveh didn't need a sign to do what they should and neither should we. There is a blessing in hearing, but a greater blessing in doing. We don't need a sign from God telling us to do, what he has already laid out in his word to do - whether that is being baptized, repenting and adjusting our walk, or following Christ faithfully no matter our circumstances until the end.

Friday Night
Have you ever heard 104 people lift their voices up in praise to their Savior, their God? (I counted that many as services were ending, there were probably around 125 or so.) I am typically not an outwardly emotional person during services, but last night when we sang "As Thirst the Hart" and "Show Pity Lord" I had tears. And that was only the beginning.

Bro. David preached first on the subject of Communion. He painted this very vivid picture of that first Passover, as they are in haste, surrounded by death. And while they were given detailed instructions which the Lord expected them to obey, he didn't look at their works as he passed over, but for the blood applied. The blood was to be a token or picture, the experience was to be remembered as a memorial, and it was ordained that they should continue to keep this ordinance. Today we continue to observe the Passover everything we take part in the communion. The wine and bread are the tokens of the blood applied to us, of the death that surrounded us of the suffering Christ endured to save us from that everlasting spiritual death. We are to ever remember that sacrificial death as a memorial. And we will keep that ordinance till he comes. He saved us, now let us act like it.

Bro. Philip preached a powerful sermon on Christ as the suffering servant. In Psalm 40 it tells us that his ear was pierced, laid open. Exodus 21 explains what that means. At the end of his 6 years of service a Hebrew servant would go free, but if he said that he loved the wife he had been given and he loved his children and would not go, then they would bore through his ear, and he would be the servant of his master forever. We are often pictured as both the children of God and the bride of Christ and He loved us so much that while would have been just to leave us to Hell, which we richly deserve, that He said I love my wife and I love my children. He was determined to bear the burden as long as necessary to have His wife and children with Him. He endured the cross, He was laid open for us, He bore the burden of our sins, and was forsaken of God, until the price was paid, all so that we would never be alone. If we ever feel alone it is because sometimes the darkness of the world crowds in, so we should hide His word in our hearts, reach out and cling to Him, and walk following Him.

Saturday Morning
This morning, I was able to take as detailed notes, because I took Rebecca out of Church.  She was pitching a fit, and had been ultra clingy with Gary all weekend.  I was trying to let him at least hear one sermon in it's entirety.  Bro. David took all the time and read first from Exodus 34:29-35, speaking about how Moses's face had shown with the glory of the Lord after coming down from Mt. Sinai. It was to the point that he had to cover his face because the others couldn't look to him. He told us of this glorious, powerful alright God who gave us the law telling us how to be justified, and to do it because He is GOD because He IS. And thus the law was glorious, but no son of Adam could keep it. That did nothing to detract from Him, and that doesn't change the glory of the law. Bro. David then went to II Corinthians 3:7 and finished out the chapter showing us, that Christ fulfilled the law, removing us from under its power, and if that first testament despite being one of death was glorious how much more glorious was the testament that Christ sealed with his death. He instructed us not to place a veil over our heart, not to harden our hearts, but take these thoughts to our heart and live our lives to reflect his glory, just as Moses's face reflected the glory of God.

Saturday Night
Tonight, I was writing just as fast as I could go and still be legitable.  Bro. Philip had so much to say and I didn't know most of it, and wanted to remember it for later.  Gary told me he know most of the information, but never thought about the spiritual application. Bro. Philip took all the time speaking from Psalm 92:12 on the phrase "flourish like the palm tree."  And it is amazing to think what a sermon he preached from 5 words.

He showed us how the Church of God is like a Palm tree. Palms have no tap roots but many small roots. This shows while we are small, together in the Church we are a great congregation (Psa 40). And that he gave us one another for strength and support, the Bible will not support the picture of a lone Christian, he sat us in families. He told us if a spouse is a good thing to help and strengthen us, how much more a Church body with which to stand no matter what. Because of the shallow unique structure of the roots a Palm can live in a desert, where there is no depth of soil, only rocks. Likewise this world is not a friendly, pleasant place, we as the Church only can grow on the Rock, and be sustained by Him. Palms most often grow in a group with their roots intertwining, in the same way we don't merely have our home Church body, but many sister Churches across the country, and we are better, stronger, truer to the faith when we are strengthened by our fellowship (II John). If I as a little root is plucked out the Church Palm will be just fine, but I am nothing and cannot survive on my own.

In most trees the bark is the life and without it, the tree dies. But not so with a Palm. The bark must be pealed back to allow the moisture and air to reach the heart where the life is. Likewise, we must break our flesh, deny our worldly desires. What we want is not important but we should bring our will in alignment to His. Unlike the world that revels in the flesh and can't live without it, it will choke out the heart and the spirit in a child of God.

Palms also have unique fruit in that they grown in clusters not singularly and the middle fruit is the biggest. Our service likewise manifests itself in groups. There are 9 parts to the fruit of the spirit (Gal 5) and 7 things we should add to our faith (I Peter). Also when we give to God the central fruit without which we can offer no other is love. It must be the motivation for all we do just like it was and is for Him. He disciplines everyone of his children, sometimes we must discipline our own, sometimes in the Church we must discipline each other, but always because of Love. Finally he told us the top of the Palm, the fronds fall open to the open shape of a man's hand (which is where they get the name). We worship "lifting up holy hands," offering all to God. And when we keep that attitude, when we keep our focus on Him, this will never fail us.

He eats of the fruit of our offering not because He needs it, but because He enjoys it (Song of Sol 4). May we be like Exodus 17, the Rock Christ was struck for us, giving us that living water, but then the Children of Israel had to go out and fight the same old enemy, even as we must continue to battle our flesh. And Moses held up his hands, Aaron and Hurr supported him, and the children of Israel fought the battle. We all need each other, the minister that preaches to us, the deacons that support him, and the Church as a whole fights together. And when we need to, we can sit down and rest on the Rock.  I have never cared for Palm trees thinking they are ugly, but I will never view them quite the same again.

Sunday Morning
Bro. Philip preached from Mark 4:35-41 on the disciples being in the storm while Jesus slept in the boat. These were great fishermen in an even greater storm, in the middle of the night in a boat full of water. However despite their unbelief, He blessed them anyway. He still has this power, he borns our soul again and in the midst of the storms of life He speaks peace. He does because of the compassion He has for us. But like the disciples we often need reminding. God promised them that they would pass over before they ever left, but they had forgotten. We have the same promise that we will pass over this life and nothing will prevent us from safely reaching the other side. However we read that there were many small boats. All were able to see the great calm, all were then blessed to cross, but only those in the boat had the understanding of what happened. All God's children will feel the peace of the new birth, and all will make it to heaven, but not all will understand. But we should apply ourselves, study and be as close to God as possible.

Bro. David then preached about another time the disciples had trouble at night on the sea (Matt 14). He pointed out that Jesus had just performed a great miracle with the fishes and the loaves. They went to inform the Lord and bemoan the impossible, but He told them that he could handle it. And He does provide so that 12 baskets were left over. The disciples gathered it that nothing be lost, and it was to provide for them later, just as we take home the things preached to meditate on and comfort us later. But a storm came up and Jesus saw them 3.5 miles away, in a storm, at 2 am and he came to them. They were afraid because they couldn't see Him, and they didn't remember the fragments. But He speaks telling them to be of good cheer. And when He gets in the boat the winds and waves, though not rebuked do what is expected and immediately they are at the other side. We should do as He expects without being told. He cares for us now, and immediately our fleeting life will be over and He will take us home.

Bro. Chris then closed out services speaking on the joy of our going home, and the glorious morning of the Resurrection (I Thes). Till then Christ intercedes for us just as he was praying before the storm for the disciples and till then we're to comfort one another with these words.

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