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Sunday, April 14, 2013 am 

NOW THAT OUR MEETING IS OVER

 We have concluded our spring gospel meeting this past week. Bro. Brian Haines did an excellent job presenting the word of God in a fresh and convicting way.  He gave us many things to think about.  It is my hope that we benefited from the efforts of this work.  I want to thank the elders for their willingness to continue these efforts in a time when so many have declared the gospel meeting as irrelevant.  I believe there is a place for such works and I would like to devote this lesson to why this is so.  I also want to make some observations and applications about our Gospel meeting.

 I.                    Some things that happened during this meeting

a.        God was worshipped.  John 4:23-24 – in simplicity and in truth.  We had opportunity to pray to God together each evening.  We sang songs.  We studied His word.  All of these are ways we find in scripture that we worship Him.
We didn’t come together to be entertained, as is so prevalent in the world.

b.       God’s word was delivered

                                                   i.      The gospel was preached – Rom. 1:16 – lest we forget, the power is in the gospel.
Heb. 4:1,”The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword…”  
1 Cor. 1:18 says the message of the cross, “to us who are being saved it is the power of God
What does it mean that the gospel is powerful?  Perhaps 1 Thess. 2:13 will help explain this, “For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectively works in you who believe.”
The world still needs to hear this gospel.  The lessons that were presented were true to His word and stormed the will.  There were some present who needed these messages!

                                                  ii.      The SIMPLE message of the gospel was preached.   We sometimes forget that preaching needs to be simple.  Paul when he preached to the brethren at Corinth told them, “And I brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.  For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified…and my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power that your faith should not be in the wisdom of man but in the power of God.” (1 Cor. 2:1-5)
Sometimes the world wants something new and exciting. We hear so much today about relevant preaching.  While preaching ought to be relevant (having significant bearing on the matter at hand), what the world often has in mind is pop-psychology, social issues, and modern day subjects that have little bearing on our salvation and God’s word. 
The preaching this past week was directed at us and designed to encourage us to repent if we need to and to obey the gospel.  It challenged us to defend HIS message rather than the words of men.

                                                iii.      A different perspective – while the gospel we preach is not new, every preacher presents God’s word in a different style.  This affords increased opportunities to learn from God’s word. In 1 Corinthians 3:6 we read Paul saying, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.”  We often think about this with long term effects, and thus is its meaning.  But consider it also from the standpoint of the same message being delivered by different preachers.   FRIENDS, this is one of the great impacts of a Gospel Meeting.
You could also consider the Gospel of Jesus by four different authors.  Each preached the same message, but to a different audience.

c.        The community had opportunity to hear the gospel –

                                                   i.      We are still under the great commission today – Matt. 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Lk. 24:46-47

                                                  ii.      Like the church at Thessalonica, we ought to see as one of our purposes, the presentation of the gospel to those around us.  1 Thess. 1:8 speaks of the message sounding forth within their community.

                                                iii.      The reception of the gospel by the community is NOT our responsibility.  But we ought to create opportunities to deliver the message.  Our gospel meetings are one example of these opportunities.

d.       We were edified –

                                                   i.      When we try to invite the community to hear the word of God, we are not guaranteed success, and it seems that as time goes on, the task becomes more difficult.  BUT, one thing that we CAN control when we assemble together is whether or not we are edified.

                                                  ii.      According to 1 Corinthians 14, if the message is presented in a simple and understandable way, we will be edified.  Vs. 12, while dealing with different types of spiritual gifts (tongues, prophesying, etc.), he challenged the brethren saying, “Let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.  His point was to make the worship such that brethren were built up.  HOW was that done?  Through UNDERSTANDABLE worship.  Consider vs. 15, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding.  I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.”   When we come together Paul further said, “Let all things be done for edification.” (Vs. 26)

                                                iii.      As we worshipped together in songs and prayer, and as we studied God’s word, IF our attitude was right, we were edified (built up).  Paul told the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:32 that the word of God (the word of His grace) was “able to build you up and give you an inheritance among the faithful.”

e.       We sacrificed for good –

                                                   i.      We are so blessed to no longer be under the sacrificial system of the Old Law.  Sacrifices today consist of our surrender of our will to Him – Rom. 12:1-2, and Heb. 13:15 which speaks of the sacrifice of praise to God with the fruit of our lips.

                                                  ii.      When we give of ourselves to God, it is a sacrifice.  Gospel meetings are intensive and time consuming.  So much so, that many churches have either eliminated them or shortened them.  Yet many of our members were here at every service or most of them.  Many helped by feeding the preacher and his family.  Some spent time in preparation for the meeting by passing out fliers, or mailing invitations to friends.  These are all sacrifices. 

                                                iii.      Granted, they are not as painful as other things, but they are sacrifices none-the-less.  And we can take consolation that God knows what we have done for Him.

                                                iv.      And may I also personally say THANK YOU.  Many of you included me and my family in your efforts.  But also, I know those who have children and jobs and other things to do that were here.  I thank you because you did what you could without complaining. 

f.        Was Satan at work?

                                                   i.      Satan is at work to see such efforts fail at all times – we know that there are far too many who are simply not interested in the gospel, especially the true gospel.  It doesn’t matter how many times we invite them or what we do, they simply don’t care.  When seed is sown, like the birds in the parable of the Sower, Satan comes and snatches away the seed before it can do anything.
Furthermore, the lessons may not have appealed to our friends and neighbors.

                                                  ii.      BUT, is it possible that Satan was working on you and I to not be as diligent as we ought to be?

1.       1 Thess. 2:18 which speaks of Satan hindering us.  1 Pet. 5:8 speaks of the devil seeking whom he may devour.  2 Cor. 2:11 speaks of him taking advantage of us.

2.       Were there stumbling blocks that hindered you from doing as much as you could where this effort was concerned?  Satan will put obstacles in our way – some had health issues that kept them away.  Other had commitments that had to keep.   Are these ever the working of Satan?

3.       BUT, did he keep you from praying and planning?

4.       Were there times you were not here when you could have been?

5.       Were there friends and neighbors who were not here because we didn’t take the time to invite them?

6.       Was you attitude toward this work what it ought to be?  Did you glean from the assemblies all that you could?

7.       IF Satan hindered you, may I urge you to repent!  As was discussed in the meeting – that is more than saying you are sorry.  Move forward with the resolve to be better in the future than you have been in the past.  While you cannot change the past, you can change the results of what happens from this moment forward.  I appeal to 2 Cor. 7:10-11 which describes what true repentance will do.

 

  II.                  What now?

a.        We had visitors at every service.  If they came with you or you know them - Follow-up.  Seek to see if there is opportunity for further study.

b.       Consider the lessons and seek to make application in your life.  James 1:21-25 – receive the word with meekness.  Meditate on the message.  Listen again!

c.        Continue to pray for this effort – that is a part of the “watering” process.  Pray both in your own learning and for others who might be impacted by this work.  

d.       Look for ways to share these messages with others – in this age of electronic media, while the sermons have been preached, its ability to impact others has not.  Utilize what we have available – the website, cds, listening to it, printing the handouts, etc.

 

When it comes to gospel meetings, we often speak of success and failure.  Far too many weigh that success by how many responded.  That is not how God views success!  He looks at what we did!  He looks at our attitude!  The truth was presented and in that it was a clear success.  What about your life?  Think about it.