Tom Kilpatrick - Rochedale, Queensland, Australia Convention - 1938

I am always glad of everything that reminds me of the first days when I first yielded to God. The first convention I attended was a very small convention, but I never forget the impression it made on my heart. I have sometimes spoken of that convention as being the second time I saw the love of God manifested. The first time was when I met the servants of God. I saw something that was not natural. I yielded my heart to God. Shortly afterwards, there was a convention and I saw the love of God manifested there. I left convention feeling miserable, because of not being able to remember much of what I heard. But during the year, God brought to my remembrance things I had heard. When I needed help and grace, God brought to my remembrance the things I had heard and my confidence in God has deepened since.

Sometimes I pause and say to myself, “I have more confidence in God, but has God more confidence in me?” when we sang that hymn in which are those words, “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” I thought of some of the experiences in my life that have caused me to be led to the rock that is higher than I. God is faithful in leading us. That rock is surely a rock of shelter in the time of a storm. It should encourage us to go a little further with God. As I think of the first days, I would like to retain that first love. If I lose that, I lose all. That is why John wrote those words to that church. “Thou has left thy first love.” The only way to get it is to repent and to do the first works. This should cause self-examination. Are we still willing for that and are we willing for what we had in the beginning? The only way to get it is to go back and do the same things as we did first, to do the first works. I remember when I went to that first convention, I made up my mind to be more to God than I had ever been. I feel now I need convention more than ever. I look at it as being like a stocktaking time. Good if we make of our minds to do whatever God wants. It would be awful if God could not speak to us and cleanse and heal us.

I have often watched in South Africa of the pruning of the vine. It does not look much when it is pruned, but the pruning is necessary. John 15, “He will cut off the fruitless branches altogether.” I am glad that God has not cut me off altogether, but what He has cut back is to make me more fruitful. As I watched the pruning in South Africa, I could picture the branch saying, “Why are you cutting me back? Don’t you remember me producing that lovely bunch of grapes last year, and you are cutting me back?” The husbandman would say, “That was last year’s growth.” Sometimes in convention, we need to get cut back so that our lives could produce something better. Then the vine might say, “Must I always remain small?” Yes, the fruit you will produce will be something better, than what you produced before. When we read the Scriptures, we read of some lives that were not willing to remain the least, so produced wild fruit. Saul was one like that. God had to leave him. God wants to prune us down a little. He doesn’t want to hurt us, but to make us produce something better and bear more fruit.

Sometimes as I looked at the pruning knife, I saw a knife only. I could not see the hand of Love and Mercy behind the knife. I remember when the workers left us and we thought we were getting on well. There were no old Christians to help us or hinder us. It is sometimes good when young Christians are left alone. It gives them a chance of falling on their feet. I remember when the workers came back, and sitting in the meeting, I felt the knife pretty heavy on my own life. I could only see the knife at that time. When the meeting was finished, I was glad the root was left. No one can take away the root. Sometimes when pruning the vine and it is given a good hit with a stick which takes away any useless wood. It does not hurt the vine. We need not be frightened of being pruned, having our human nature knocked off. I left the meeting that morning and said to a friend who was present, “You are a nice one telling the workers all that has happened since they left.” She said, "That is just what I was going to ask you. Why you told everything?" I am thankful they were faithful, thankful for the faithfulness of God’s servants and delivering the message they did, even if it hurt. Where would I have been if they had not been faithful? It would have been an awful calamity. Sometimes when God deals with us, we get our backs up and say we won’t go any further. We can be thankful that God takes such an interest in us, and also that the servants of God are faithful, so that we will continue and produce fruit to the end.

Paul said, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer and always making requests with joy, for the fellowship in the gospel.” It was not the human side at all with Paul, but they have fellowship in the gospel. You can be helpful to the servants of God, and not talking to them about everything, but let them speak to help you. I remember at one time there was a family and they said to me, "I cannot understand them," meaning the workers. I said, "We shall go and see them." They had a piano and they began to entertain us by playing hymns on it. They played, “Nearer my God to me” and so on. Needless to say, they did not go on very far. It made me glad when God delivered me.

Psalm 40, there was gladness in the heart of David when he was delivered from the horrible pit. I liked reading of the experiences of David, “Out of the miry clay.” I feel I would like the Lord to lead me further and further away from that pit the Lord delivered me from. Young ostriches, when they come out of the shell, start running round and round until they are exhausted. Then the old ones teach them to walk straight. Some start walking round and round after they are delivered and fall back into the pit. Peter fell in God’s way. We may fall in the race, but can get up and win the race. We can use our failures as stepping stones to victory. We must not let faults and failures overcome us.

One character that was in my mind was Hannah. I was thinking of Hannah and all she had to go through to go to that convention. What God requires is our hearts that want to go up to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice. It has meant sacrifice to you to come to convention, but God is watching and knows everything what you do in His service. It is the little things that you and I need to watch. Sometimes, we think they are very small. I think of God speaking to Moses about the nails in the tabernacle. Had the nails not been in the tabernacle, it would not have been complete. Worship and sacrifice are joined together. It is impossible to worship in spirit and in truth, yet that sacrifice is not there. It was only sacrifice when the bullock was on the altar with the fire underneath. Where would you and I be today if Christ had not been willing for the sacrifice that He made with His life, and if others had not been willing to sacrifice. They went up yearly to sacrifice and worship.

It speaks of Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children and Hannah had none. The meaning of Peninnah is coral, a hard substance. Hannah means grace, easy to get on with. I would rather be like Hannah, fruitless outwardly, but have the fruit that was in her life. It says that Peninnah had children, but says nothing else of her. The adversary would try to hinder you from going to convention. He would say, “Look at what you have been and look at your temper and so on” What does it matter what you have been, as you come here to be cleansed and with the purpose of heart to be true? Remember when Peter and the others were fishing. Jesus came to the shore and said, “Children, have ye any meat?” That would break Peter’s heart, as he thought, "Jesus still called me His child." Jesus doesn’t look at our mistakes. Why should we stop away, because the adversary provokes us? Because the adversary knows, "If I can keep them and God apart, my purpose will be accomplished." The adversary provoked Hannah sore, but she went up, but she could not eat.

In Psalms, it says, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers.” Remember when the children of Israel came to the Red Sea, there were mountains on one side of them and Pharaoh’s host behind them. They fretted and Moses said, “Stand still and see the salvation of God.” Get quiet in your mind. Then the Lord told Moses they should move forward. Don’t worry about the past, my friends. He is still willing to forgive and blot out the past if we purpose in our hearts to be true to Him. I hope you and I will have an appetite for what the Lord is providing for us. If you don’t remember much of what is said in these meetings, God will bring it to your remembrance when you need it most. Remember what God said to Abram, “I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” Abrams said, “Lord God, what wilt Thou give me?” I feel I lose a good deal of joy and the peace of God by worrying about outside results. Abram felt so alone that he asked, "What is the good of going any further?" God told him to look up towards heaven and count the stars. If we want to produce more fruit, there must be more sacrifice. It is not what I get out of a mission that worries me, but what I put into it, and if it works more of the marks of Jesus into my life. Compassion and etc. and then it has been a good value. Jesus was moved with compassion. That is the one quality of Jesus. How patient He was with all. If I want to be more like Jesus, I must have more patience and more tribulation, because tribulation worketh patience. He lived for others and we talk about wanting to be more like Jesus.

When I was at a mill one time, I saw the boards going through the saw. When the boards were cut, you could not tell the difference between a big tree and a small one. God has a place for all of us in His family, as saints and as servants. The bigness should not be amongst any of us. One of the oldest servants amongst us said, “I should have no more place than any others in God’s family.” Let God impress this on our hearts, that if we want to be great, we must be humble and there must be a coming down and a dying daily. Seek first the kingdom of God and sometimes, we turn it the other way about. We seek our kingdom's interests before God’s.

Hannah went to the feast and it spoke of her being provoked and made to fret. Some here may be fretting about their homes or about their businesses that they have left behind. God told His people not to worry about what was behind. God said, "I see no enemy gets into the camp." God separated not only in body, but also in mind. Hannah began to pray and she had a sorrowful spirit. Hannah mourned and she was sad in the kingdom and she could not supply that need. Nehemiah mourned when he heard about the wall of Jerusalem and it had been broken down. It is a terrible thing when the wall of separation is broken down. He got through the dung gate, but when he went to the gate of the fountain, there was no place for the beast, what was under his to pass through. It is no use getting rid of the rubbish, if there is no way to the fountain of life. It is so terrible for people to get so careless. We may mean to do the right thing, but we have no path to the spring of life.

Joseph had this well of life to drink from every day, and he kept up the wall of separation. That is what is needed in every life. Joseph had those two, and is says that his branches went over the wall. I like a little proverb, “When all is said and done.” One line was added and it read, “When all is said and done, there is more said than done.” You might give a testimony and it might be a good one, but if there are no marks of death in our lives, it will have very little effect on other people.

Hannah was satisfied to be misunderstood by the servant of God. She saw the condition of the people and it made her to pray. Hannah prayed a prayer, “If you give me a son, Lord, I’ll give him back to you all the days of his life.” When she left, it says that the Lord remembered Hannah. When the Lord sees you make vows, He will help you to fulfil that vow. She kept her son until she weaned him, and then she took him to the house of the Lord. How glad God was when He not only heard about that vow, but when He saw she meant to pay that vow. Can you imagine how Hannah felt that day, and how lonely she would’ve felt when she would go back to the empty cot, and see many other little things that would remind her of the child? God remembered her again, because she paid that vow, and God made her fruitful, and as a result, she had that son of praise to offer. God is a God of knowledge. It says in one part of Scripture when the sacrifice began, the song of the Lord began. I hope we will get the best out of these meetings, and that it is possible to get to the place when we make vow, we will make it possible for the Lord to help us to pay that vow. Amen.