October 1, 2014

2014 Camp Meeting Sermon Excerpts

Inside or Outside? 

Have you ever missed a flight or train by just a few minutes? We can be near a door or gate to some place but not be inside. “In” is inside, and “out” is outside, and there is nothing in between. Recently my wife, Stella, and I were traveling on the London Underground. At one of the interchanges, we were to transfer to another train. I was focused on making sure Stella was in front of me, so when she jumped in, I did not, and the door closed. Of course, the train had to move, and it did not wait for me. Stella was carried away, and I was left behind, because she was inside and I was outside.

The Kingdom of God is similar in that we are either inside or outside. It is a beautiful Kingdom, a peaceful and eternal one. It is worth everything to enter into it.

When Jesus was on earth, a scribe asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus answered, and then the scribe repeated back to confirm what Jesus had said. Mark 12:34 says, “And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” That man should have asked, “What else do I need? What is the next step I need to take in order to enter the Kingdom of God? I don’t just want to be near it; I want to be in it!”

I am from the United Kingdom. Many people like to come to London to visit. Perhaps they have heard about the crown jewels in the Tower of London, about Buckingham palace, or the Victorian architecture around the city. What if a person decided to visit London and flew into Heathrow Airport. On the flight in, it might be possible to see the River Thames, the Dome, and the London Eye. There might even be a glimpse of Windsor Castle. But what if that person decided before he got through customs and immigration that he was going to turn around and go back? It’s a ridiculous thought! He would not have seen the sights; he would just have been near them.

Spiritually speaking, people can hear about the wonderful things the Lord can do. Testimonies of others indicate what He has done for them. God’s Spirit can speak to hearts to draw them to Him, but the purpose is so people will call upon the Lord to make them ready for Heaven. No one should stop at just looking from afar. Rather it is better to pray, “Lord, have mercy upon my soul! Please forgive and deliver me!”

This Kingdom of God actually starts in the heart. When a person repents, he is forgiven, and his name is written down in Heaven. Jesus told Nicodemus that “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). It is the will of God that all be saved, but each one must make the individual choice.

God wants you to be inside His Kingdom. Are you?

— Isaac Adigun

God Is Able

It is good to have confidence in your boat motor. There is nothing like the feeling of being way out in the ocean where you can barely see the shore, and having your engine start to cut out. I grew up in Neah Bay, Washington, and have spent a lot of time on the Pacific Ocean. Whenever I go out on the water, I want a reliable engine, one that I know will get me to where I want to go, but just as importantly—or maybe more importantly—get me back in again. I don’t even want to hear that engine sputter a little!

How much more important it is to have confidence in the One who holds our eternal destiny in His hands! We serve a God who is able. Noah Webster defines able as, “Having sufficient physical power, also having confident strength or fortitude.” The Apostle Paul said, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12). God is able and we can have confidence in Him.

One day when I was about to enter my senior year of high school, I headed out onto the ocean in a little boat that almost didn’t get me back to shore. A big wave came right over the bow and filled it with water. Talk about confidence gone! I looked around and there was not another boat in sight. I had no way of contacting anyone. It was very grim. I’d taken survival courses and knew it was too far to swim before hypothermia would set in. The only thing I could do was bail water with a tiny plastic Tupperware container, and pray! I was not saved, the Lord was speaking directly to my heart, and I was in a listening mood! I said, “Lord, if You will help get me out of this situation, I will give You my life.” God mercifully spared my life that day.

Later that summer, during camp meeting, the Lord reminded me of that prayer and it broke my heart. I decided to quit making excuses for myself. He helped me make my way to the altar, where I prayed a simple prayer, and the Lord came in and made a wonderful change. God was faithful and able to save my soul, just as He had saved my life on the ocean that day.

God is still able to save, and He is able to keep. Paul said, he was “persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.” God is able to keep you.

God is also able to help you to remove the root of sin from your heart. Jesus prayed that the Father would sanctify His disciples and “them also which shall believe on me through their word” (John 17:17 and 20). He prayed that you would be sanctified, and He is able to sanctify you today. God is able to fill you with the baptism of the Holy Ghost as well.

In Matthew 9:27-29 we read about two blind men who asked Jesus to have mercy on them. Jesus asked them, “Believe ye that I am able to do this?” When they answered, “Yea, Lord,” He healed them. The Lord is still able to heal.

Are you persuaded that He is able? The Lord is not slack concerning His promises. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” Have confidence! God is able!

— Wayne Butler

Where Are You?

One game our children like to play is hide-and-seek. Sometimes when I come home from work, they will ask me to cover my face and count while they hide. When I open my eyes, normally I will say, “Ready or not, here I come!” Then I start looking around the house. Usually I don’t have to look for long because my youngest child will call out, “Daddy, you cannot find me!” Then the older sisters will say, “Shhh!” Suddenly, their positions are revealed.

In Genesis we read how Adam and Eve hid from God, but that was not a game. “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” (Genesis 3:8-9).

Have you ever wondered why God asked Adam, “Where art thou?” The Lord knows everything. He knew quite well where Adam and Eve were. The Bible says, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him?” (Jeremiah 23:24). It also tells us that “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, beholding the evil and the good.” Nothing is hidden in the presence of God. Therefore, God did not ask Adam “Where art thou?” to gain new information.

When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them all the blessings, pleasures, and everything else in the Garden of Eden to enjoy. He said there was only one tree they should not eat from. When the devil came, he pointed out the one thing they were not to do in the Garden. He did not remind Eve about the goodness of God. He did not remind her about all the enjoyment, the beauties, and every other thing they had been given to enjoy in the Garden. He tempted them with the one thing that they could not do, and they yielded.

God wanted fellowship with Adam and Eve, but after they disobeyed, they were afraid and hid. Of course, God knew where they were, but He wanted them to understand their position in relation to Him. That is why He called out, “Where art thou?”

Some people today have problems with just one thing—perhaps the music they listen to, or their friends. The Lord asks questions to help us understand our own position. He wants to help us locate ourselves spiritually.

God is calling out, asking, “Where are you?” He wants fellowship with us. He is calling us to come closer, to make deeper consecrations, to have fellowship with Him. He may use some questions to help us realize our spiritual location. All we need to do is be honest with God and cry out, “Here I am, Lord; I want You!” He is waiting to answer our prayers.

— Olusola Adesope

Pliable in His Hands

In Norway we have a saying that if you feel you are finished with your education, you are really not educated, you are just plain finished! The same is true spiritually. We always have something more to learn and God wants to continually shape our lives. God gave the Prophet Jeremiah this illustration: “Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel” (Jeremiah 18:6).

Stone that has been pulverized into small particles becomes clay, and it can be found almost anywhere. Alone it does not have much value, but it has a lot of potential because of what a master potter can make out of it.

Often the first thing a potter will do is get rid of any hardened, unusable parts of the clay. We read in Ezekiel 36:26 that God will “take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” If your heart is heavy, maybe it is stone. Let God soften it so you can love Him.

Sometimes even after a good start, troublesome particles appear. These particles make it impossible to form very thin pieces of clay, so they must be removed. Similarly, God has to take things out of our lives at times—things that are not necessarily bad, but that will hinder His work in our lives.

Our part is to allow God to do the work. We had a sister in our Norway church a number of years ago who was a little different in her way of thinking and sometimes did and said things that were quite humorous. One time she broke her leg, and it was a serious fracture, so to aid the healing process she had to have massages and therapy that were very painful. Others having the same treatments said to her, “You seem to take this in stride. How do you do it?” “No problem,” she answered, “I give them my other foot to massage!” That was a solution that didn’t help in the long run. Spiritually, it might seem easier to “give the other foot” instead of getting down to where the problem is. God might put His hand on a spot that is sore, and although addressing that sore spot does not feel good at all, it needs to be done.

Sometimes if a potter’s materials are particularly unworkable, they end up being discarded on the trash pile. However, God doesn’t do that when He works on our lives. He works tirelessly to make us what He wants us to be—a vessel that is useable to Him. He will address areas where we are too stiff and hard, and Jeremiah observed that at times He starts over completely, continually adding the moisture of His love.

When the potter is ready to start working, he puts the clay right in the center of the wheel. If it is a little off center, the product becomes lopsided. And if it is too far off center, the centrifugal force takes hold and the whole piece of clay comes off the wheel. We want to be sure that we are in the center of God’s will so that we do not end up flying off the wheel or even being a little bit lopsided. We want to be in a place where God can make a really beautiful and useful vessel out of us.

God is not finished with us yet. He has a lot to do in our lives and we want to let Him. Let’s be pliable and let the Master Potter work!

— LeRoy Tonning

Get In!

Many comparisons can be made between the time of Noah and our time. Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all” (Luke 17:26-27).

God initiated the contact with Noah. He had a plan that would save Noah, his family, and I believe anyone else who would have been willing to go into the ark. God initiates contact with us also. He has a plan for our salvation, and calls after our hearts. In the directions God gave Noah for the ark, there was only one door—one way in. Today there is only one way to Heaven, and that is through Jesus Christ.

When God looked at the earth in Noah’s time, He was grieved by the sinfulness of those He had created. But He found one who was just. Noah walked with God, even though he was surrounded by evil. And he was a man of faith. Although he was not familiar with rain, he stepped out in faith and followed God’s directions.

Noah was also a preacher of righteousness. While he was building the ark, he told those around him of the coming flood. No doubt his many years of preaching could be summarized into a few simple words: Get ready! The rains are coming and you must be in the boat! The message of the Gospel today is the same: Get ready! Jesus is coming soon, and we must make preparations for Heaven.

In Noah’s time, it is likely that many came to see what he was doing. Some were probably curious and may have gone into the ark and looked around. Perhaps some even thought to themselves that they needed to be sure they entered in time. But when it was time to get into the ark, Noah and his family were the only people who did so.

If we are going to be ready when the Lord comes, it will take more than a casual relationship with God. Hearing the Gospel message and even thinking we need to do something about it will not be enough. We must have a determination to be fully yielded to God and following Him with all our hearts.

The people of Noah’s day mocked him, but they believed once it began to rain. However, it was too late; the door was closed. After Jesus raptures His saints, there will be many who wish they had made the proper preparation, but it will be too late. God is calling for hearts. He is waiting to work in our lives. Will we “get in the boat”?

— Jeff Downey

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