I did not write a summary from the previous week because it was a bit discouraging, but contrasting it with this week bears a lesson worth sharing.
Last week we had three truck drivers, and one of them wanted to talk about his personal struggles in dealing with his past and how he still struggles with sin. He expressed extreme discouragement. This is not all that unusual for a driver to be this transparent in a room full of strangers. Usually, the other drivers in attendance will rally around, share their own struggles and lend encouragement of various sorts. But not this time. The other two just completely shut down.
This was discouraging because I began to second guess whether I should have let it go in this direction, but concluded that the man wanted to talk and was asking for help, and it was the right thing to let him do so.
This week we had a similar experience. We had seven guests, one of whom wanted to share his struggles and ask for encouragement, and the others were eager to encourage and lift him up. There was definitely a different spirit there today.
The point to make here is that this truck drivers’ ministry provides a place where these people can go to pray and study together. We’re surely not going to add to our local congregation with it, and very few new Church of God members will likely result. But we are providing a service for people in need, and ultimately that’s the important thing.
Both this week and last we spent quite a bit of time in Romans 6–8, where Paul says “O wretched man that I am! Who will save me from this body of death?” And his answer of course is “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 8 also talks about the Holy Spirit, which in my mind we do not pay enough attention to. We should ask God for more of His Spirit.
Today was a good one, because we were able to form a bond among us as we shared God’s Word and assisted each other in dealing with the daily struggles of life.
[There are many examples in the Bible where things did not “go well” for God’s people. Kings went to war and lost, prophets prophesied and were rejected, apostles preached and were run out of town. If God undid all the consequences of sin, we would not understand the gravity of it.
One of the most difficult things for a believer to do is to continue following God when those around him are giving up or doing the wrong thing. This is the situation Lenny faced in the first study. Yet Christ had to do this very thing when all of His apostles deserted him when he was crucified. We must turn to God and His Word as Christ did. — NSE]
We had an attendance of eleven today, but it was an unusually quiet crowd. Normally in a group that size at least one person is a talker. This crowd was more of the listening sort, so I was forced to talk more and in effect give a sermon with some questions and answers, which is not the preferred way to do it. But it worked out all right.
I discussed God’s mercy and how he has a history of giving people second chances. Examples of Peter, the prodigal son, Jonah, Paul, etc., were discussed. It was difficult trying to get these people to talk, so I kept pursuing the logic of this and ended up in Revelation 20 and the first and second resurrections, touched on John 5:26–29 (where two resurrections are mentioned), and other such things. From there we went into the unpardonable sin discussed in Matthew 12, and how Jesus follows his warning to the Pharisees in that chapter by telling them that the people of Nineveh will rise with their generation and will condemn or judge them, and that Matthew 11 shows there will be a level of tolerance for people who just didn’t know better.
I was amazed today that they seemed to accept the possibility of this hope without rejecting it outright. It is highly unusual in a crowd this size to not have someone object strenuously to this teaching.
While we were discussing Revelation 20, our eleventh driver came in, and he was the talker, and a rather eloquent one at that. He pointed out that a statement in Malachi (“not by power nor by might, but by my spirit, saith the Lord”) should tell us that we can’t do it on our own, but that we need God’s Spirit to walk in His ways. We all sin but we don’t have to, and we absolutely must go beyond John 3:16 and just accepting Jesus Christ. His little five minute talk was inspirational, scriptural, and a fitting end to the study.
Virtually all the drivers today took Bibles with them, and I was glad that I brought in a few extras with me.
Afterwards I was talking with the man who came in last, and it turns out he used to be a pastor, but one day not long ago felt the call to drive a truck and minister to truck drivers directly in a one-on-one way. He is in the process of moving to Kansas City, where he hopes to be home two weekends a month (and hopefully drop in on us). He made a few interesting comments, one being that as he entered the room, he could tell that everyone was listening intently to what I was saying, which I sort of noticed but wasn’t sure of. I mentioned to him that it was not my intent originally to talk about what I ended up talking about, but I had to do something because I couldn’t get them to open up. He then said something that I think is true.
He said that whatever it was I was saying, I was saying it because somebody there needed to hear it. When the word of God goes out it does not come back empty. That’s a good lesson to remember all the time.
[We can tell from the millions of kinds of plants and animals that God made, that He enjoys great variety. Similarly, He has made people all different. Even the Bible is a large book showing the great diversity in what people do and in how God works with them.
While booklets, correspondence courses, sermon tapes, speaking notes and other teaching tools all have a place, there is no perfect set of such things that will satisfy the spiritual needs of all people. This is why Christ commanded His servants to give His people “meat in due season”. When one thinks about all the different kinds of food that different people eat at different times of the year all over the world—the enormity of the task can begin to be grasped. We, individually, do not have to do it all. But we ought to be flexible enough for Christ to use us in a diversity of ways and we should have respect for the people whom Christ is using in ways that we may not fully understand. — NSE]
Before the study today I was approached by a man who was obviously a drifter, and he asked me if he could ask something of me. He said he was having some problems. Immediately I suspected to be hit up for money. He asked me if I had an extra Bible I could give him. You bet I did!
He stayed for the Bible study, and it turns out he had quite a grasp on the Scriptures. His problem, which he admits, is alcoholism and even admitted to be recovering from a binge the night before. Now this is an area in which I am somewhat incompetent to help, but fortunately God provided. We had four other guests today, and three of them have recovered from alcohol and drug abuse. They were most helpful in pointing out that he was in bondage to sin and needed to exert some effort in resisting Satan. He could see the examples of three dedicated men who had been where he is and have found a way out. They credit this to the strength of God, but also admitted to setbacks.
So today’s study could be construed as unremarkable, except that a forum was presented to help a “backslidden” but sincere believer to hear some things that he needed to hear. It was good not having to do much today, except for what he asked me to do—and what I will pass on to you—pray for Bobbie
Lenny Cacchio; 705 NE
Bryant Drive, Lees Summit, Missouri 64068