As I am preparing to write this post the clock as moved me beyond July 1 into July 2. That is only if you live in EST. I am currently on the road in Mt.Vernon, IL heading to Missouri and I believe that I am typing on CST. Maybe it’s because my eyes are heavy with the dust of the road, but I do know it’s late. However, I wanted to post a bit about my worship today at the Community Freewill Baptist Church in Pikeville, TN.
I was in Pikeville visiting a friend who is currently rehabbing at Our Master’s Camp. I joined him, and many more wonderful, gracious brothers and sisters in Christ at the church on the top of Swafford Mountain in Bledsoe County. One of the things that blessed me the most was the congregational singing from an old Church Hymnal with shaped notes. The harmonizing and praising throughout the worship was uplifting and Spirit-blessed!! I didn’t know two of the songs: Heaven’s Jubilee and Prayer Bells of Heaven, but we ended with Amazing Grace…and how powerful the singing was!! I was tearing up as the songs took my heart heavenward and focused on the work of Christ. It was truly a blessing. There was a time of special music and the soloist played at the piano and sang, “I Bowed on My Knees“. This song had special meaning as I listened and prayed for my dear friends who were watching a loved one pass into the rest of Jesus Christ at that very time. I was moved deeply by the song’s message.
Pastor Jimmy Jewell brought a sermon from Matthew 19 entitled, “Who Then Can Be Saved?” It was a powerful, gospel-centered message that probed and discussed the story of the rich young ruler. Pastor Jimmy is a Spirit-led man of God who jokingly refers to his “barnyard theology” but I will say that he is being used of God in mighty ways. If today was just a sampling of what my friend and others are experiencing on a regular basis, I am jealous of their opportunity while praising the Lord for their opportunity to grow and be discipled by this man of God! Pastor Jimmy eloquently and simply, in a way that could only be brought in a church on a mountain top, stated how close this young man was to the Door of salvation (knowing that he lacked something) and yet when it was revealed to him what he lacked, he chose to walk away. How sad! But then, as was brought out in the sermon, there are many who, like this rich, young ruler, – they do good, appear good and righteous, perhaps even blessed of God, but because of their pride…they walk away from Jesus. Perhaps they think they will somehow find another way to the Father – but it is impossible.
This very point was brought out by the disciples: “Who then can be saved?” If this righteous (self-righteous), good young man can’t be saved, is there hope for the rest of us who are simple sinners, wretches deserving every bit of hell? Jesus answers this heart-racing question with a statement that is so glorious: with man it is impossible, but with God…all things are possible!! Glory!! You can’t save yourself – no matter how good you keep those commandments!! It will be a work of God in your life, drawing you to the Father Himself, or, you will be tormented in your choice of rejection of the Savior.
At the end of the service the pastor opened the “altar” – a place up front to pray. Men from OMC went immediately to the front, Jason, my dear brother, hit my arm and said “let’s go”. We spent several minutes praying and weeping, holding each other as we begged God to continue His work in our lives. We had an opportunity to pray over one another and I was blessed by it. How I cried!! I wept because I was thinking of hours and hours of prayers that have been answered and are being answered…I wept because the Spirit was moving in my own heart, showing me areas of sin and slothfulness in my own Christian walk…I wept because I focused on the grace that Jesus showed me – it was an impossible situation, and yet God showed up and changed my life. How grateful I am for that!
We stood at the altar and embraced one another for a moment, tears of joy running down my face. To have my dear friend, my brother back! To see his total surrender and submission to God and His word…oh what a day!
After the service had concluded, there were two baptisms of men who were part of the OMC. One had just graduated the program on Friday and the other was still enrolled. People were rejoicing, hands were in the air, tears on faces, clapping all around….God was working!!
I haven’t been part of that powerful a service in years. Perhaps most of it was my own fault – my own failings getting in the way. Today, however, I did business with God. I sought His face, His will and begged for His Spirit to empower me and keep me in a way that would honor & glorify God. Oh! the Mountain Top experience…it’s truly a glorious thing!