So we left Friday and had a good and uneventful ride to Atlanta. We stopped at the home of Elder Marty Smith for supper and to get dressed for the services that evening.
At 7:30 PM, the singing commenced and what a joy it was. I preached first on the subject of "Practical Holiness Connected to our Anticipation of the Lord's Return." I enjoyed my efforts to preach and felt a good response from the congregation.
Elder Pyles followed me and preached from Nehemiah 4:9 - "Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them." He made wonderful points that we as the Lord's children must pray, but then must proceed. IOW's, we must recognize what only God can do and pray He will do it, then know what we can do and do it.
I went home that evening with a delightful young couple, Brad & Treisa Hanserd. They've been married about two years and about the time they were married Brother Hanserd began exercising in the ministry. Elder James Allen of Alabama also stayed the night with us, so we stayed up till about 2:30 talking about various Bible topics. It was a very enjoyable evening!
On Saturday morning Elder Bryant preached from 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 - "Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." He made several good points of pitfalls we avoid, and blessings we receive when we keep in mind the gospel's commands.
Following him, Elder Pyles preached on the life of Abraham. He made several outstanding points that I am still rejoicing in. First, he showed it is possible to believe IN God, without believing what God says. Genesis 15:6 - "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." Romans 4:3 - "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." Galatians 3:6 - "Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." James 2:23 - "And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God." In the Genesis account, Moses said Abraham "believed in the LORD", but the three NT accounts said he "believed God." Brother Sonny pointed out that when the NT writers word things a bit differently, they're inspired men and the Holy Ghost is allowed, and the reason He does so is usually for added commentary. Paul & James make the point that there is a difference in simply believing that there is a God, and believing His words.
To further illustrate, Brother Sonny showed that many say they believe in some kind of god, or God Himself, yet deny the Genesis account of the creation, flood, giants, the parting of the Red Sea, the virgin birth, the resurrection of Christ and His second coming. Many we know deny these principles yet say they believe in God.
Brother Sonny then went on to show 4 ways that Abraham believed God, and that by that faith in Him Abraham was able to perform. He also pointed out that faith is not a blind leap, but knowing that while we don't know it all, God does. So while we may be partially in the dark on the details, we're not in the dark about God's knowledge of all things.
On Saturday afternoon I spoke again regarding the second coming, specifically about NT signs give to us to discern the season of His coming. While I do not believe we can know the specific day or hour, we can, by judging those signs tell the season of His coming. To illustrate, the NT says the Lord shall come as a thief in the night - totally a surprise as to when it will happen. It also says He shall come as a woman in travail giving birth. We know about the time a woman will give birth, around 9 months, sometimes early and sometimes late. Likewise, we can tell the "birth pains" around us and know about when our Lord may come.
Elder Bryant then followed me and preached from Proverbs 3:5-6 - "Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." His message was very timely about many practical ways in which we, God's people, should be turning to God for guidance and not ourselves, thus He will direct our paths.
After that service we began our trip back to Illinois. After a brief stop at Elder Smith's home to change and reload the car, we took off for the long excursion. I was very thankful to have the help of Sister Sandy and Sister Lydia to drive, converse and allow me good sleeping time. We arrived in Edwardsville about 2:30 Sunday morning, and I headed directly to bed. I was blessed with good sleep on the ride home and once I arrived home. I awoke to the Lord's day refreshed and ready to serve.
When I arrived at our meeting-place, I was delighted to see Elder Harris there. After a very good song service Elder Harris preached on the subject of Heaven. Elder Harris is 82 years old, but still able to preach the gospel and preached the best I've ever heard him. Generally he is brief, but took his time and preached well and blessed my soul. I was glad to hear all the congregation received a wonderful blessing from his message. And I was thankful for a "day off" from preaching, but a good day of worship.
This coming weekend is our Fall Meeting and I am anticipating a good time in the Lord!