Friday night my parents housed at least 10 people, myself included. We stayed up laughing and talking, and then awoke early Saturday morning to be at the meeting house at 10:00. The song service was rich, filled with praise to our Savior. Elder Sam Bryant of Vestavia PBC in Birmingham, AL, preached first, instructing us to "awake, thou that sleepest." He reminded us that the devil is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. And, he's smart - he doesn't prey on the strong; he'll go after the weak and sleeping sheep. He shared a story that goes like this:
A young Indian boy, before becoming a Brave, was required to solo climb a cold mountain. When he finally reached the top, he found a rattlesnake. The rattlesnake said, "Please, take me down to the bottom of this mountain. It's cold up here!" The young Indian boy replied, "You're a rattlesnake. You'll bite me!" The snake, in defense, said, "I promise, if you'll take me down this mountain, I will not bite you." So, the young Indian boy picked up the snake and took him down the mountain. As soon as he reached the bottom, the rattlesnake snapped, and bit him! The young boy, in sorrow, cried, "You promised you wouldn't bite me!" And the snake answered, "You Knew what I was when you picked me up."Bro. Sam made the point that we often know exactly what troubles await us the moment we pick them up (drugs, porn, etc.), and choose to ignore them. That is why Peter tells us to "be sober" and "be vigilant". 1 Peter 5:8
Elder Gary Harvey followed Bro. Sam, and preached the remainder of the morning service, as well as the afternoon service. His subject matter was "Human Suffering". He said there are a lot of CRAZY ideas in the world, one of them being that "a loving God would not allow all the suffering in this world". Human suffering is NOT inconsistent with a loving God. Much suffering is the result of our own sin. Some suffering is for our own growth and maturity. He gave at least 5 Biblical examples of this. I'll give you two: sheep and oxen. Sheep are dumb. They like to wander from the fold and are easily led astray. Guess who God's children are compared to in the Bible? Yep, sheep. Sometimes, a shepherd will actually break a stubborn sheep's leg, to keep it from continually wandering from the other sheep. He does this to protect the sheep from wolves and lions. (See the parallel?) One more example...oxen. An ox is actually just a male calf who was castrated at birth (suffering, no?), and whose sole purpose is to work. He is trained to work by an older ox, and once he is completely trained, his sole joy is his work. His natural drive is taken away, that he may fulfill another purpose to the utmost. God's children are also compared to oxen. Fascinating, huh?
Saturday night we enjoyed another sweet evening of fellowship with the saints. And Sunday morning, Bro. Gary preached for us again, this time on the topic, "There is Still Much Land to Be Possessed".
Sermons have been uploaded to our church website: www.zionrestpbc.org. I encourage each of you to download and listen when you time. Below are a few pics from the weekend:
Oreo Dessert! (In-Progress at time of photo)
74 Chocolate-Chip Cookies (all devoured by Saturday night)