Tommy Gamble - Williams I, Western Australia, Australia Convention - 2006

We’ve heard of comfort and we’ve heard so much about God speaking and that should be all our responsibility. That God would speak in these meetings, we know that God wants to speak to us and when we attended the gospel meetings in the beginning, God spoke. We may see things that speak to us too, not always what we hear speaks to us but what we see. 

I remember when I attended the gospel meetings, before that, the thought was in my heart, the devil put it there, that serving God was not for young people and I believed that. One young man that I went to school with, he began to serve God but he didn’t go on very long and that convinced me that it was not for young people and when I went to the gospel meetings, two sisters had those meetings. One was young, her first year in the work and first gospel meeting and I can’t remember much of what I heard in those meetings but I’ll never forget what I saw. I’ll read that verse that Paul wrote to the Corinthians, I Corinthians 2:3, Paul mentioned there, “I was with thee in weakness and fear and my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom but in demonstration of the spirit and of power.”  So that’s what I saw in that young life.  The Lord gave me a demonstration of His spirit and His power and all He could do in that young life.

As I said, I thought that serving God was not for young people and when I went to those meetings, the devil told me that that young lady was wasting her time. I believe that the devil can say some good things, too. I believe that did something for me and I had great sympathy for that young person. When I went to those meetings, I began to see that I was wasting my life and then the devil got working, too. God was speaking in those meetings and He desires to speak in these meetings and the devil may say to you like what he said to David (Psalms 3:2), “Many there be that say to my soul, 'There is no help for him in God.'” So that’s the voice of the enemy, while the voice of God will tell us there is help and there is hope. 

Well, in those meetings, the devil said to me, "Now, you are too young to begin serving God…too young to begin to serve God. Wait until you’re older and married and settled down and that will be time enough." Well, I’m glad that God showed to me that my time was at that time. That hindered me for a long time, "You’re too young to begin to serve God," but I’m glad that God gave me the grace and the help to overcome that.

When that choice was made, I believe God put the thought in my heart about the work and the devil said, "You’re too old. You’re too old to go in the work." I struggled with that for a few years, not just some days but a few years, "too old."  In those days, I prayed the prayer Saul prayed, “What wilt Thou have me to do?” If you and I are concerned about what God wants us to do, pray that prayer, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” I’m glad that the time came after a few years, after I thought I was too old for the work, that I got the courage to offer.

You know what the devil said then? "You waited too long to go into the work and God doesn’t want you now." One of my first co-workers said when I told him this, he said, “Your devil changes his mind a lot.” I didn’t tell that to make you laugh. Because that was my experience for a few years but I tell it because we would like you to get to understand that that is of the devil and if he doesn’t get us one way, he will get us another.  He wants to hinder you and he wants to overtake and he wants to divide the spoil and we need to determine the difference between the voice of God and the voice of the enemy.

We heard last night from Genesis 49 and there was one family in that meeting and there was one voice in that meeting and the voice was the father’s voice and all those sons were spoken to. There was a message for every one of them and it’ll be the same in this convention, it will be the message for you and it may be something that you see or something that you hear but you and I need to put forth the effort and come with the right attitude and the right spirit. We often pray about the spirit in the meeting and the spirit will be in the meeting if we bring the spirit to the meeting. We all had the responsibility here so that God will speak and there needs to be an effort between the meetings, a preparation between the meetings.

I like to think about some in the Bible. who made a little extra effort for God to speak to them and I thought about that little man called Zacchaeus and he sought to see Jesus and his name means “pure.” Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 5, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Well, Zacchaeus' name means “pure.” The effort he put forth to see Jesus, he ran before, to climb the Sycamore tree, to see Him, for He was to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and He spoke to him by name. When God speaks to us by name, we really understand that God is speaking. He said, “Zacchaeus, come down, for today I must abide in thy house.” I like to think about the extra effort, we often hear about the second mile.  Put forth the effort and God will speak to you, too. Tere is no doubt about that and we know that He wants to help us in these meetings. He made haste and came down and was helped.

Jesus said, “Today has salvation come to this house for so much as he is also a son of Abraham.” Then Zacchaeus began to put things right, “If I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I will restore him four fold.” There may be some little thing we need to put right and I don’t think there is anything among God’s people that cannot be put right but we know that things need to be put right. We have a clear picture of that in the life of Jacob.  Remember that time when God spoke to Jacob, spoke to him in a dream and he saw God’s way as a ladder set up on the earth and he said, “This is a dreadful place. This is none other than the house of God. This is the gate of heaven.” God made a promise to him and Jacob made a promise to God, he vowed a vow and said, “If Thou will keep me in this way, the way that I go, and give me bread to eat and raiment to put on so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.”  He vowed a vow, - a vow is a solemn promise.

Then in Genesis 32, we read about the time he prayed and wrestled with the angel and it was about the time he went out to meet Esau. To make peace and put things right, you need to pray.  I remember a lady some years ago and she came and said to me, "Would you speak to my sister-in-law? Something’s wrong between my sister-in-law and myself." I said, “According to what we read in the Bible, you should go.” If your brother has  ought against you, you go. I told her, “You need to go in the right spirit and you need to do some praying, and go down there in the right spirit and put things right with your sister-in-law.” I don’t know what she did, but she went there and made the thing worse and even to this day, it hasn’t been put right. We read there of the cost with Jacob, the cost of coming to make peace with Esau. So it’s a cost to that and to make peace.  So you need to put things right while you have the time and the opportunity.

Well anyway, I thought about this little Zacchaeus. The effort he put forth and he was well rewarded for the effort because God spoke to him by name. “Speak to me by name, Oh Master; let me know it is to me.” That’s what God wants to do, speak to you and speak to me.

We read a little bit in the 1st chapter of Peter and Peter was writing there to God’s people. At this time, they were scattered because of the persecution that was in Jerusalem. Peter wrote some very nice things to them to help them in those experiences. Now you and I go through some experiences and they can be difficult experiences but many experiences are needful to fit us for the “great beyond.” I like to think of Peter now as an old man writing to God’s people, he didn’t want them to get this thing wrong, that they shouldn’t have this experience or have all this suffering. You remember what he said to them, he reminded them about the sacrifice of Christ, he said, “You are not redeemed with corruptible things such as silver and gold but by the priceless blood of Christ,” and to Peter, while it was a very, very precious fact.

This year I have thought about the precious blood of Christ and it is indeed precious to us. We think about the cost and we think about Jesus and His prayer in Gethsemane. When He prayed there so earnestly to His Father in Heaven, "Please remove this cup from Me but nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done." He prayed there, three times and He got the victory. He got the victory to go to Calvary and we would like to look upon that as a very serious thing and serving God is a very serious thing. We don’t want to be foolish about anything we do in serving God.

So when these people would think about the sacrifice of Jesus and think about the suffering they were going through, they would thank the Lord. We feel the same way when we think about the sacrifice of Jesus and think about the suffering we have to do, well it is nothing to be compared to what Jesus had to do. Peter wrote a lot of nice things to them and he said, “Blessed be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” There is another rendering about that, we have been born again to a life that is full of hope and that’s a very nice thing to think about. 

We heard last night about the hope, God being the hope of His people and it’s really a wonderful thing to have hope. Paul mentioned about hope, “Hope is like the anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast which entereth into that within the veil.” It is a hope that is anchored to heaven and that’s so different to the hope of the hypocrite. We read that his hope is like a spider web, he’ll lean upon it but it will not endure but the hope that God has given us, it’s like the anchor to the soul, a hope that is anchored in Heaven so we have been born again to a life that is full of hope.

It is a great experience to be born again and we used to think it was foolishness but being born again is a real experience and we feel sorry for those who haven’t been born again. I don’t know what it’s like here in Australia but I know we have some people there in my country and they don’t have the experience of being born again. How do we know if we’ve been born again? We have a little test that we can put to our lives to help us to understand if we’ve been born again. John wrote there that we know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. Didn’t have any of that before we began to serve God, we didn’t have any love for anyone, only ourselves but in those meetings, the love of God was shed abroad in our hearts and we got a love for those servants of God and we got a love for the people of God. I remember in those little meetings that I attended, the little meeting that I went to, it was always so nice to get there on a Sunday morning and you could feel the love in that meeting and the atmosphere was so good and you almost desired to remain there and you know what we were encouraged to do in those first days, to pray for everyone in the meeting and name them over before God and that’s a helpful thing to do. It makes the meeting good fellowship. It is the responsibility of the elder to encourage God’s people and to keep them together, send them away, encouraged to face another week. That’s what the little meeting meant for us and we’re glad for this experience of being born again.

I like to read there about that man Nicodemus. We don’t want to go into that much but there’s a verse there that will help us to understand if we’re born again or not, it says, ”The wind bloweth where it listeth and you hear the sound thereof, so is everyone that is born of the spirit.” You hear the sound; when a person is born again, you hear the sound. When they speak in the meeting, you hear the sound. 

We were at a funeral not long ago, the person we buried, he spent most of his time outside. His father and mother had a meeting in the home. He was a man who rose to great heights in this life, he was some sort of a professor and rose to great heights in this world and at the funeral, some Doctor Friend was able to tell a little about this man. Well, he rose to great heights and she was telling about this man and it all seemed so empty, so dry and empty that after she had finished, our brother Harold McKnight began to speak and that verse came to me again, "You hear the sound." The sound was so different and when we speak in the little meeting, well, you hear the sound. One of our older brothers put it this way, "When you go to the doctor, the doctor will say to you, 'Put out your tongue.' He can tell by looking at your tongue and he can tell a lot by looking at the eyes, too." Just as well, we don’t ask God’s people to put out their tongue but it is when they speak on a Sunday morning, you understand whether they are healthy or not, you hear the sound. 

So it is a great thing to be born again and if we’re not born again, well, we could get on our knees and keep on praying and ask God if we could have the experience of being born again. So these people were born again to a life that is full of hope and Peter was telling all these things to these people to encourage them.  He mentioned to them about an inheritance “To an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God.” Nice to think about the inheritance, nice to think about the place reserved for you in Heaven and for those who are kept by the power of God and we’re glad for that. It mentions here about the resurrection, I like to think about the power of the resurrection and when Paul wrote to the Romans he mentioned this, “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, you’ll have a mighty power within.” There is no greater power than the power of God within. When I was in those little meetings, something came in and there is still something there and we understand that we have got to attend to what the Lord has given us. The power of the inward man will have to be renewed day by day and you and I know where that power comes from. 

I like the last verses in Isaiah 40. It mentions there, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings  as eagles, they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Well, there it is, we get strength by reading, waiting on the Lord. We get a power within. The thing that troubled me so much when I sat in Gospel meetings, "How can I serve God and work along with those worldly people that I used to work with?" I was thinking about my human strength and I didn’t really understand much about the power of God but we’re glad that the power of God can enter into our lives and get the power over the smoking and the drinking and that’s a wonderful thing. That all came about because of the experience of being born again. Peter was writing here of, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but by incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides for ever.” So it’s a great experience. 

He said other nice things to them here and it was all to help them to understand and mentioned, too, that there would be days of heaviness through manifold temptations and know that there are different days that you and I pass through, different experiences, it’s not all joy but  there will be days of heaviness through manifold temptations. You remember what Job said, “Even today is my stroke heavier than my groaning.”  Job went through many trying days, many tough experiences and many, many hard experiences and there didn’t seem many to help him through his experiences. I like that hymn we were singing, “Is there Anyone can help us, one who understands our hearts?” There is Someone who can help us for each experience we need to go through, these days of heaviness and there will be days of rejoicing. In these days of heaviness, we may not be able to make a lot of headway but in those days, we can rejoice because of a living hope and we can rejoice because of the place reserved for us in heaven. Peter was writing to them to help them to understand that there will be these days and he wanted them to understand what it was all leading to. He said, “Receiving the end of your salvation, even the salvation of your soul.” So that’s what it’s all about, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your soul, and that’s a very important thing. The salvation of your soul. One soul means a lot to God. 

I thought about what Paul wrote to the Hebrews. He said, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great  salvation?” Now, that is very serious and I want to take it more seriously. Even these days, it is very serious. We heard last night that we could come to convention and not hear the voice of God and that puts a fear in my heart and that I need to do my part that God’s voice would be heard in my own heart. When His voice is heard in our heart, well, we rejoice at hearing the Bridegroom’s voice. We could come to the convention in a careless way, attend the meetings in a careless way, read in a careless way - what’s our hope for the future? “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation which began to be spoke by the Lord and was confirmed unto us by those that heard Him.” So, it’s a great thing and a very, very serious thing, salvation. The salvation of your soul and my soul. We can’t afford to neglect it.

These Hebrews seemed to be neglecting the meetings, that’s one thing they were neglecting. They were not in all the meetings and when you and I miss a meeting, we miss a lot. I wouldn’t like to have missed the meeting last night as I said it bought me a lot of comfort and a lot of assurance. Well anyway, it says, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?" A very, very sobering question. We know there will be no escape if we neglect it and why should we neglect something that is so precious? Peter here was an old man and he was talking about the precious blood and the precious faith he was talking about the precious corner stone. He mentioned about the precious promises and we could understand what he was meaning, understand what it all meant to him. Understand what the Lord has put into your life. 

Paul wrote to Timothy about “That good thing that has been committed to your trust, kept by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in you.” So, I hope these days we could get stirred up. Know that the Lord wants to stir us up, and do our best between the meetings to pray. We’re responsible for God to speak and we know that it’s His desire to do that. So I enjoyed thinking about these things and how Peter was trying to get them to understand about experiences and hope that God will help us in these experiences and we want to trust Him. 

There’s a little Bible marker I was given one time and I like the words on it. It says there, “Trust Him if dark times assail thee, trust Him when thy strength is low, trust Him when to simply trust Him, is the hardest thing of all.” So we really want to trust Him because, “they that trust in the Lord will be like Mt. Zion and cannot be removed.” There are many we can read about in the Bible, who trusted in the Lord.  So I hope the Lord can help us these days.

**Not verbatim