Nelson Retchford - Gospel Meeting - Oak Lodge Convention - 1975

It is that second verse that has been so much with me:

"Kindly entreating, Come unto Me

Aimlessly drifting on life's restless sea.

No hope, no refuge, where will you end?

Hasten to Jesus, your Saviour and Friend."

 

And oh! Friends, what a true picture it is of the multitudes in the world today, the majority of people that is exactly what they are doing, aimlessly  drifting on life's restless sea. All in the tent tonight will admit that it is a restless sea, an open sea. We see it in every way and every walk of life. Men are restless and have no refuge. They are aimlessly drifting but the pity is they are not aware of it. They are just drifting and not conscious of it. And the sad thing is they don't seem to feel the need of having an objective in life, having some aim beyond life; just taking things day by day, as they come, with all their pleasures and so on, and wasting their lives and drifting on to a lost eternity.

 

I have thought recently about an instance that happened some years ago. I think it was Clem Geue and I were down visiting folks at Second Valley and they told us about a very large boat that had gone ashore there about half way between Cape Jervis and The Bluff and they invited us to go down and see it. It was quite a big boat. We had to climb down pretty steep steps to the sea and there we saw this great boat which was beginning to break up, but there strewn on the shore were I do not know how many, it seemed like dozens and dozens, maybe hundreds, of crates filled with empty beer bottles, and it was common talk, the common verdict, that the crew, the whole crew, were very much under the influence of liquor from the captain to the first mate and everyone there they had no control over the boat whatever. There was no need for it to have gone ashore at that time. It was not a heavy sea and no reason why it should not have just continued far enough away from the shore to be safe, but they were incapable of guiding it and steer­ing it and there it drifted out and breaking up on the shore. And oh, friends, what a picture of so many lives in the world today, tonight, just drifting, unconscious of the danger. They are not sober. So many things are causing them just to take things like that until eventually they must need make shipwreck. Now we know that their captain on the boat he has the means to guide them, he has the different things to make sure that he is on the right course.

 

Every day they take their bearings from the sun and then at night they look for that fixed star, the star that they know they can go by. In the north there is the Pole Star. They have other stars, too that they know they can safely take their bearings by and there is no need for the boat to make shipwreck because even in the night time there are stars to guide them, the fixed stars. We have that lovely thought in our hymn that "I look to Jesus, bright star to guide me." Indeed He is the One to guide us safely during life and bring us to our desired haven. There are some lines that go like this:

"Half the wrecks that strew life's sea,

If some star had been their guide,

They had now been safely sailing

But they drifted with the tide.”

 

But you and I we don't need to drift and that guide we have, that vision of Christ who is still our guiding star, the One to guide us through life in all its perplexities and bring us eventually to that desired haven, the haven of eternal rest and eternal peace; we can be with our earthly guide for all eternity.

 

 I have enjoyed again looking into some of the Psalms, especially Psalm 49 and Psalm 50 that depicts so clearly to us the gospel story, the glad tidings. Of course, it depicts the plan of God, and so often the foolish plans and purposes of men. Sometimes people argue, say, "Well, where did this begin? Where did this way begin?" Oh! we are so glad it began, it began away back there in the Garden of Eden. And as the two conventions have continued, I have enjoyed a few fresh thoughts I have gleaned through hearing what others said. Eventually Christ came who is the Redeemer, the One promised there in the Garden of Eden.

 

We have heard to­night a bit about Abel, that Abel had a born-again experience, that is true we know. Abel must have learned from Adam and Eve; I am sure many, many times they must have told him exactly what happened in the garden and how there blood was shed that they could be clothed and he understood that blood was the blood of the Redeemer yet to come, the Saviour, and Abel felt the need of cleansing blood, the need of God's forgiveness; but forgive­ness would have come alone through Christ and Abel also was moved to feel that the firstling of his flock must have been a lamb; as he looked upon the blood he realised this is indeed the symbol, the token of the One who is to come, the Redeemer to give His life for me. God clothed Adam and Eve with the garments He made - the first garments ever made were made by the hand of God, and how fitting it was because He is the One alone who can clothe us with the garments of salvation.

 

I noticed again that verse in Peter where it spoke about, "Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." So wrote Peter that right from the beginning that the prophets understood these things because of the Spirit of Christ which was in them. The Spirit of Christ which was in them. And so we have in the Psalms as well as the prophets, we have these lovely pictures of the salvation of God through His Son and the provision that God would make for His people given through the different Psalms. It depicts the glad tidings, the gospel story, and that Psalm 49 begins by saying, "Hear this, all ye people; give ear, all ye inhabitants of the world: Both low and high, rich and poor, together." And so it is the gospel for every person. All are included, rich and poor, high and low together; and oh, friends, we are so glad this is so and we who have had the privilege in past years to labour in other lands have seen exactly the same result in all different kinds of people, creeds, and colour as they that listen to the gospel message, rich and poor, low and high together, it has appealed to them, they prove the gospel indeed is also for them.

 

And then the psalmist went on to say, "My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding." We have heard so much already in these meetings about this wisdom, the wisdom that is of God and I was reminded of that which Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the wisdom of men and the wisdom of God. And Paul told the Corinthians about, "The Greeks seek after wisdom but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block and unto the Greeks foolishness and unto them which are called both Jew and Greek Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God," and so Christ is the wisdom of God and also the power of God, and right through God's word we have these visions of the wisdom of Christ, His understanding, and the mind and will of God; and that is the kind of wisdom God wants to implant in your heart and mine. And what a lovely thing when we read, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus," and God wants to give to us that mind of Christ, not the mind of some leader who has arisen even in the name of Christ but their very doctrine proves it is not the doctrine of Christ. And so we can look to the One who wants to implant in all our hearts and minds heavenly wisdom.

 

Jesus was filled with wisdom of God, the wisdom of His Father. "The things that I speak, the doctrine is not Mine but Him that sent Me." That is the kind of thing that comes to us through the gospel, the wisdom of Christ that God wants to implant in all our hearts and lives, and then the psalmist went on to give a picture of the thoughts and hearts of men, And oh! How up to date the thing is, the things that he wrote here are just the same today. "They that trust in their wealth, and boast themselves in the multitude of their riches; none of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him." It seems that some had the foolish thought that they could redeem a person who has passed on, a rela­tive, a brother, a dear friend maybe, and they knew that the person had not been living for God, had died out of God's control, lived a life that was displeasing to God and now they had passed on to us that thought, well, by making some kind of offerings to God from their wealth they could redeem the brother that had passed on, but the psalmist said, "Impossible."

 

We read in Ecclesiastes in one place, “I know that., whatsoever God doeth it shall be forever; nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: And God doeth it, that men should fear before him." That which is done for our salvation is done here in lifetime; it must be so and no one can do anything for us beyond the grave. What God does is final, nothing can be put to it or nothing taken from it, the work that He does in the hearts and lives of men is final; but if there is no work begun, well then, it could not be done beyond the grave.

 

In another place we read, in Ecclesiastes, that if the tree fall toward the south or toward the north in the place where the tree falleth there shall it be. You have noticed the trees, a good many of them they lean in a certain direction and the man that goes out to cut down a big tree, the first thing he wants to do is see where the tree is leaning so that he knows how to cut the tree more or less in the direction that he wants it to fall. How true it is that the things that we lean to that is where we are going to fall and that is where we are going to finish, and where we finish that is final. God wants that our inclinations and leanings shall be towards Him and we will have no fear when death comes because we know our lives are in His hands and we go to enjoy the good things prepared for His children. And so those people thought they could do it, "Trust in their wealth ... ransom for him," and those that tell you that you can do other certain things besides what the Roman Catholic priests do, we know it is just a money-making racket and they make gain from it and oh, what a foolish idea.

 

 Then the psalmist said, “For he seeth that wise men die, likewise the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their wealth to others." That seems kind of a bit strange, you think; that the psalmist would speak of the wise man and the fool, that they are bracketed together, the wise man and likewise the fool and the brutish person perish and leave their wealth to others. Now, friends, we do not despise the wisdom that God has given to men or the wonderful things that they have done and are still doing, why: this thing that we are talking in tonight, that is very useful and that has come about through human wisdom, men using their intelligence, and there are so many, many things we enjoy today because of the wisdom of men, but the sad thing is this, friends, that people too pass on and if they have nothing of worth their lives have been spent in vain and they are bracketed with the foolish person. Some men have been very, very wise and also been very, very humble. Edison said, "We do not understand one millionth part of one per cent about anything." And other men too have been very, very humble, but the sad thing is that they know not Christ, they are still bracketed with the foolish person, and they pass on and leave that which they have attained to others. "Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands after their own names. Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not."

 

Then in the 13th verse, "This their way is their folly; yet their posterity approve their saying. For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away, his glory shall not descend after him." Oh! Friends, that again is a very sobering thought, so true, when we pass on we can take absolutely nothing with us. It all has to be left behind, nothing can be taken with us. We have that little Hindustani hymn that we sing in North India, that when you die, you can't even take one cowrie with you. Over in India in some places the people are so poor even the lowest coinage is such that currency is divided into so many sea shells and you can't even take one cowrie with you. How foolish we would be just to live for the things that we must leave behind. Nothing is mine if I must leave it here when I have finished my earthly career. Oh, friends, if only we would grasp more fully that every­thing we have is only lent, God has lent it to us for a purpose and if we use it wisely and well it can also be put to our eternal honour and credit but we must at the same time sooner or later leave it all behind.

 

“When he dieth he shall carry nothing with him. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for He shall receive me."  Oh, what a wonderful thing when you and I have that deep confidence, that deep assurance that God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave; because we have received Him, He shall receive me, because He have received Him here and made Him our Lord and Master. He is going to receive us when we have to pass on and stand before Him; He will then receive us and take us unto Himself.

 

And then the next Psalm says, "The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down there­of." And oh, we are so glad for the gospel story still, God's foresight, and the reason why God allows this old world to continue is for that very reason. He is still calls in the sons of men from the rising of the sun to beyond.

 

"Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined." The Israelites and the children of God in the days of the Psalms they looked to Zion as the token of Christ. Everything about Zion and the worship of Zion was an emblem of Christ. There was the temple and the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat and the shewbread, shewbread typical of Him who was coming to be the bread of life. The sounds of prayers that would rise from the temple court - typical of the prayers of God's people and also of Christ the Interceder. Everything about the temple worship in Zion was a type and shadow of things. "Out of Zion the perfection of beauty, God hath shined." God is still shining through His perfect One, His Son. Can you improve on perfection? You know you can't. If it is perfect, it is perfect, yet there are those today who tell us that which came through Christ is all right, it is not enough, you have to have some fresh revelation, and you have to have something added to it. You can't, friends. Christ is God's perfect One still, He is still God's only way of salvation.

 

"Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined." And it tells about Him calling to the heavens from above and to the earth that He may judge His people. You know, we sometimes don't like the thought of the judgment seat, judgment seat of Christ, but when we allow the Lord to come in and judge our lives here and now, we have no fear. There is that verse in James that tells us, "Behold the judge standeth at the door," and you and I are glad He does stand at our heart's door and He wants to come in and judge our lives, and I am sure as these meetings have gone on that you have been very, very con­scious that the Lord has been doing that for you, judging you and showing you where you have failed and come short and also tried to show you how you can do better, to put fresh hope in our hearts; that it is possible; and that judge who standeth at the door is also the King of Love. Behold the King of Love at your heart's door; because He loves us, He wants to judge us, put us right, the things where we have gone wrong that we will not be ashamed when we have to appear before Him at the end of life's journey. And if you and I these days truly value the judgments of God and allow Him to correct us and put us right, continue to do that right along the journey we will have no fear of the end of the journey and how we must surely appear before Him.

 

The psalmist went on to say, "Hear, 0 my people and I will speak; 0 Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God, even thy God The reason why God has to speak like this to His people."  He went on to say later, was because "Thou hatest instruction and castest my words behind thee." The reason why He had to reprove them and testify against them is because they hated instruction. Oh! A sad thing, a very sad thing, for you and me, friends, to think we do not value instruction, do not value the counsel of God, value this wisdom of God that God wants to give us, to guide us and help us, but the children of Israel here they were hating instruction and casting God's words behind them.

 

And then I found they were making sacrifices, bringing offerings to God and He said, "I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor the goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee; for the world is Mine, and the fullness thereof."  "If I were hungry, I would not tell thee. The cattle upon a thousand hills are Mine. The world is Mine and the fullness thereof." You think about all the gold in the world and the gems and the rubies and all those kinds of things, supposing they were put into your hand and power and you offered them to God, what are you doing? It all belongs to God. "The cattle upon a thousand hills are Mine." If a man owned cattle on every range of hills, he would think he was doing pretty well. "The cattle upon a thousand hills are Mine. I do not want your offerings, I do not want your sacrifices, because of the spirit of rebellion." To be willing for God's correction and teaching.

 

And then we read later on in the next Psalm that David spoke about the kind of offering that God would receive. "Have mercy upon me, 0 God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions." As I read that verse again I thought of Peter and that time when he saw the wonderful miracle that Jesus performed and that great multitude of fishes that were caught and he fell down at the feet of Jesus and said, "Depart from me for I am a sinful man, 0 Lord." And Peter had seen miracles before but again as he looked upon the power of Christ he was made conscious of his unworthiness. Jesus told Peter, "Fear not." Also it tells, "I will make you to become fishers of men."

 

And the publican too, that man he would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but said, "God be merciful to me, a sinner." The Pharisee he was delighting in his good works and boasting that he was not like other men and not like the publican, but the publican had the prayer that God could accept "God be merciful to me, a sinner." That is the prayer that God wants to see arising from your heart and mine when we are conscious of our need and of our sin. And as you and I come in a humble spirit, He will begin and continue His wonderful work in our hearts and lives.

 

And David said in that Psalm, "Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow." Now David knew all about the levitical law and that in the cleansing of the leper this hyssop plant was used. The priest made a little brush tied together with scarlet thread, the cedar wood and the hyssop together, and a bird was sacrificed and its blood was shed upon the sinner; the man who had become a leper was cleansed and for­given by God, cleansed of his leprosy and the hyssop was used and David felt, "I am needy like a leper in the sight of God." And we can have God's cleansing and God's forgiveness and God's mercy as you and I come to Him in that same humble spirit and admit that we are sinful and do need His for­giveness; there is needed cleansing and :forgiveness for us.

 

 Verse 17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, 0 God, Thou wilt not despise." The 4th verse also in the same Psalm, "Against Thee, Thee only, have is sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight." And wasn't that the way that the prodigal spoke when he came to the Father? He had been wasting his substance, his father's substance, in that far country. Now he came to himself, said, "How many hired servants of my father's house have bread and to spare and I am perishing with hunger. I will arise and go to my father and will say unto him, 'Father I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight. Make me to become just a servant in thy house.'" And the father saw him and ran and embraced him, had mercy upon him because of his humble spirit, because of his contrition. And so sacrifices to God are a broken spirit, and that was the kind of spirit in which the prodigal returned to his father. The father had mercy upon him and received him and gave him the very best.

 

 I sometimes think of an incident I saw once, a horse being broken in and we wanted to go a bit closer to see. This young man who was breaking in the horse politely and firmly waved us away. He did not want us to come very close. This thing was between him and the horse; and oh, Friends, how true it is that this thing that God wants to do in your heart and mine is something between us and Him alone as you and I come to Him with the contrite spirit, humble heart, broken spirit, He will indeed with His own good hand upon us, make us the kind of person who can be useful and of value to Him and to others. I hope these things will be of use to us and cause us to love and serve Him, for Jesus' sake.