Below are notes to a sermon preached Sunday morning and evening, April 29, 2001, at Gospel Light Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia.
LONGING FOR THE GOOD OLD DAYS
By Michael D. O’Neal Pastor, Gospel Light Baptist Church Albany, Georgia
Scripture Reading: Job 29:1-12
Text: Job 29:2
Job 29:2 Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;
Introduction: All of us have both pleasant and unpleasant memories. The pleasant memories are the reason for our calling the days of the past, “the good old days.” The truth is, some of the days of our past were BAD old days. I know that all things work together for our good, according to Rom. 8:28, but some of the things that happened to us seemed, in themselves, to be BAD.
I don’t like to dwell on the bad things of the past. They drag me down. I don’t spend a lot of time remembering them. I like to remember the GOOD days.
This is going to be one of those “reminiscing” sermons. I know I’m getting old, because I find myself talking more often about my life’s history. I know some of you folks don’t think that I’m old, but I was reminded of it again a couple of days ago. I was in the gym and overheard two men talking about the USS Saratoga. I commented, “I used to escort the Saratoga.” “Really?” one of them exclaimed. “Yes, I was on what was designated at the time a guided missile frigate, DLG-13, the USS William V. Pratt.”
One of the men asked, “But you’re in the Marine Corps, aren’t you?” “No,” I said. I was in the Navy, but I got out in 1975. “Wow!” one man said. “You got out of the Navy before I was even BORN.”
Yesterday I noticed one of the men at our Men and Boys Fellowship looking at my head. He finally asked, “Preacher, why do you suppose that gray hair behaves so funny?”
I’m not as old as some people. One man I talked to this week remembered when his daddy took the family to church with a horse and wagon. I don’t have those memories.
In our scripture reading, Job was, and this is the title of the message, “Longing For The Good Old Days.” I want to remember some of my good old days, and I hope that they will cause you to remember some of God’s blessings upon your own life.
I. I REMEMBER THE DAY OF MERCY IN SALVATION
Psalms 66:16 Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.
A. I remember the course I was on
B. I remember the circumstances that brought me under the sound of the gospel
C. I remember the contact that was made
D. I remember the conviction that I experienced
E. I remember the Christ I trusted
F. I remember the conversion I experienced
February 11, 1968 was truly one of “the good old days”!!!
II. I REMEMBER THE DAY OF MOTIVATION FOR SERVICE
1 Chronicles 29:5 The gold for things of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and for all manner of work to be made by the hands of artificers. And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the LORD?
A. I remember the crowd I had as a teenager
- Nearly all of my buddies were members of our church’s youth group.
B. I remember the challenge I received from my mother-in- law
- She predicted that I would “go bad” when I joined the military.
- Did I stay right out of “spite”?
C. I remember the conquest God gave me in boot camp
- The entire crowd and total atmosphere was ungodly.
- I was able to stand.
- I was not a preacher, but I was asked to be the company chaplain (which only meant that I led in prayer and read the Bible at night before we slept).
III. I REMEMBER THE DAY OF MARRIAGE TO MY SWEETHEART
Proverbs 18:22 Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD.
A. We met in Vacation Bible School
B. We married at the church where we both were saved
- I joined the Navy on September 5, 1971.
- I married Jane Giddens on November 19, 1971.
C. We made up our minds about some things
- We were going to be faithful to church.
- We were going to tithe and give offerings faithfully.
- We were going to honor our marriage vows.
- Next month we will be inviting our church families to renew their marriage vows at church.
IV. I REMEMBER THE DAY OF MINISTRY AND SURRRENDER
1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;
A. I was called
- The Holy Spirit worked in my heart and conscience.
B. I was cowardly
- I had felt a “tug” a few times since I was saved about being a preacher, but I always backed off from it and would not accept that God was actually leading ME to be a preacher.
C. I was convinced
- In a revival meeting on March 20, 1972, I KNEW God wanted me to preach, and from the beginning I felt my specific role as a preacher was to be a pastor.
D. I was committed
- I walked the aisle and said, “Yes,” to God’s call. My wife found out about it when the pastor announced it to the congregation.
E. I was commissioned
- No, I wasn’t licensed. We were transferred to Pensacola, Florida the week after the revival. The pastor told me to get my next church to license me.
- However, without my being licensed, and without my asking for a chance to preach, I preached three times the first week I arrived in Pensacola: Thursday night at the First Baptist Church of Cantonment’s Brotherhood meeting, the Sunday morning Brotherhood breakfast at Farm Hill Baptist Church in Cantonment, and the Sunday night service at First Baptist of Cantonment.
- GOD sent me forth, giving me many opportunities to preach while I learned. I was not licensed until over two years later.
V. I REMEMBER THE DAY OF MOVING TOWARD THE SCRIPTURES
Zechariah 1:6 But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.
A. I recognized them
- Within months of surrendering to preach, I encountered the Bible version controversy.
- By the way, it WAS INDEED an issue in the 1970’s, in spite of what you may have heard. As a matter of fact, MOST fundamental Baptist leaders of the 1970s took the WRONG position on the issue of the King James Bible vs. other versions.
B. I read them
- I started in April, 1972, reading my Bible through from cover to cover. By April, 2001, I had completed reading it 54 times.
C. I rightly divided them
- I began studying God’s word, learning basic principles of the Bible, such as the fact that the New Testament began, in TIME, at the crucifixion, NOT at Matt. 1:1; the difference between the body of Christ and the local church; the difference between Spirit and water baptism; dispensations; the judgments; the resurrections; etc.
- Within the first three years of study I was absolutely SETTLED on controversial subjects such as “the sinner’s prayer”; the pretribulation rapture; Calvinism; dispensationalism; marriage, divorce, and remarriage; Lordship salvation; the gap in Gen. 1:1-3; the sons of God in Gen. 6; women’s pants; Baptist Bridism; and many others.
D. I revered them
- My attitude toward the Bible over these years has been that it is right no matter WHO disagrees with it!
- The King James Bible is NOT just a translation; it is the WORD OF GOD.
VI. I REMEMBER THE DAY OF THE MANDATE OF SEPARATION
2 Corinthians 6:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
I heard the call to COME OUT
A. About our church and affiliations
- Within a few months of surrendering to the ministry, God led me out of the Southern Baptist Convention, because of the Cooperative Program’s support of liberalism and ungodliness.
- The Lord used my home pastor’s influence, the Sword of the Lord, and a revival meeting in an independent Baptist church to move me out of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1972, never to return! Ever since then I have been a Bible-believing, fundamental, INDEPENDENT Baptist!
B. About our clothes and appearance
- We went through a real “change of life” as we started trying to dress to please the Lord, which included getting rid of all of Mrs. O’Neal’s pants, mini-skirts (this was 1972), and low-cut tops.
C. About our companions and amusements
- We decided that our “crowd” for fun and fellowship when we were off from work was going to be the GODLY crowd.
- Psalms 119:63 I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.
- Proverbs 13:20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
VII. I REMEMBER THE DAYS OF MIRACLES IN SOUL-WINNING
1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?
A. I remember the start
1. I won my first convert, a girl I was dating (yes, I was a dummy; I didn’t know about courtship then), at the age of 16.
B. I remember the special times
- Terrell Stephens – a man in his mid-60s, won to the Lord in his home in Bay Minette, AL. He was a dyed-in-the wool member of the Church of Christ.
- I led both of my daughters to Christ. They are grown women, serving the Lord in our church today.
- Mickey Bevel, who I led to Christ 20 years ago in my living room in Sylvester, GA, came to visit our church last September.
C. I rejoice in the schooling program we have today
- Due to the influence of the Sword of the Lord, I started a soul-winning training program in our church in May, 2000, with just one other man.
- This has revolutionized our church!
- Not only have I been able to lead four adults and one child to the Lord in their homes during this training session, but I have been able over the last year to see many of our people win their first soul to the Lord! This is in ADDITION to many people who have gotten saved at the invitation in our services!
TODAY can be one of the “good old days” upon which you can look back some day, if you will LET it.!!!
Do right TODAY! And you will have happy, encouraging memories tomorrow!!!
Instead of LONGING for the good old days, you could be LIVING in the “good old days” TODAY!!!