HOW TO PREPARE FOR THE MEETING
A long time ago, St. Luke tells us when Jesus was a boy of
twelve, He went with His parents and neighbors up to Jerusalem to
the Feast of the Passover. On the return of the company, the child
Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem. 'And Joseph and His mother knew
not of it. But they, supposing Him to have been in the company, went
a day's journey; and they sought Him among their kinsfolk and
acquaintance and found Him not' (Luke ii. 43-45).
Their mistake was in taking it for granted that Jesus was in the
company. Joseph knew He was not with him, and Mary knew He was not
with her, and the kinsfolks and acquaintances knew He was not with
them, and yet each took it for granted that He was in the company
with someone else. But lo! when they sought Him, they found Him not;
He was not there.
Just so, frequently in meetings and conventions the people all
suppose Jesus is in the company, and yet there may not be one that
is personally conscious of His presence. They take it for granted
that He is with someone else, and lo! He may not be in their midst
at all. He has not been preseveringly, importunately, humbly and
believingly sought for and invited to come, and so He has stayed
I remember a number of years ago going to a camp meeting hoping to
find Jesus there in power. I got there two or three days after the
opening, and I found, if I now remember rightly, that no one had
been saved. There was no grip and power in the meetings. At the
appointed hour for the meeting, the bell would ring and the officers
and soldiers who had been laughing and joking and singing songs, and
visiting with each other and making merry generally, would come
strolling into the meetings with smiles on their faces and 'God
bless you' on their tongues, but with apparently no solemn
consciousness of the holy presence of the Crucified One in their
midst. Then the meeting would begin with a rush and a bang, and
songs and prayers and jokes and laughter and collection and smart
testimonies, and a Bible reading would follow, and the meeting would
end again without souls. Everybody would go out good-naturedly, make
a rush for the best seats at the dinner-table, and enjoy themselves
beautifully until the next meeting.
Everyone seemed to take it for granted that Jesus was in the
company, yet no one seemed to be specially conscious of His
At last it was pointed out that the meetings were galloped through
but no souls were saved, and it was suggested that perhaps Jesus was
missing. A prayer meeting was called to look for Jesus, and some of
the people present had to allow that Jesus was not with them. Then
some of them went to their tents to look for Jesus, and some went to
the woods and got down on their knees to look for Him, and would not
give up the search until at last, bless Him, He was found. And when
He was told that He was expected and that He must come, and that we
would not let Him go except He blessed us, then He came. Then there
was a shout of a King in the camp, and He gave us a touch of His
baptism, which is with the Holy Ghost and with fire.
The officers, soldiers and saints got awfully in earnest, and the
poor sinner got awfully alarmed and convicted so that they were no
longer anxious about what they should have for dinner. And some
seemed so anxious to talk with Jesus and get filled with His Spirit,
and His great thoughts, and to get Him to put the dynamite of the
Holy Ghost into their testimonies and songs and prayers, that they
lost their appetites, and did not care whether they had any dinner
at all, if only they could be fed with bread from Heaven.
Oh, I tell you, it was wonderful the transformation that came over
that camp ground when Jesus got there! The shallow joy that caused
men to smile and make an empty racket, gave way before that deep joy
of the Lord which makes men weep and be serious and fills their
faces with the solar light of Heaven, and makes their shout almost
as terrible to the wicked as will be the trumpet peals and awful
thunders of the Judgment Day.
I tell you the presence of Jesus in the power of the Holy Ghost on
that camp ground did make the remaining days of the camp meeting
into veritable Judgment Days for some folks. Then the news went
abroad that Jesus was in the camp, and the people poured in from all
the country round about, and mighty things were done in His name.
Weak folks were made strong. Timid folks became bold as lions.
Broken hearts were healed. Sad folks were made into glad folks. The
lame man leaped as a hart. The blind saw. The deaf heard. The dumb
spake. The hungry multitudes were fed. Spirits that were full of
passion and like a storm-tossed sea, became peaceful and calm. And
dead souls were raised to life! Glory to God!
I tell you it was the presence of Jesus that saved that camp meeting
from being recorded as a dismal failure, and instead caused it to be
remembered as a time of wondrous refreshing from the presence of the
Now Jesus is ready and willing to go up to every camp meeting and
convention and council and indoor and outdoor meeting all over the
world, and to make His personal presence felt by every saint and
soldier, but each one must seek Him as Moses did. God had set Moses
to the tremendous task of ruling a mob of ignorant Israelites just
rescued from centuries of hard bondage, and leading them through a
barren, mountainous wilderness, to the promised land, where they
would meet armed hosts, strongly entrenched in fortified cities. The
burden was too heavy for Moses, and he cried out to God: 'If Thy
presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it
be known here that I and Thy people have found grace in Thy sight?
Is it not in that Thou goest with us? . . . And the Lord said unto
Moses: I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou
hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name. My presence
shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest ' (Exod. xxxlii. 15,
16, 17, 14).
I do not wonder any longer at the mighty things Moses did. If God
goes with a man and tells him what to do and how to do it, and gives
him the wisdom and strength with which to do it, then there is
nothing too hard for that man. God becomes a servant of that man as
much as that man is the servant of God. They are co-workers. One man
like that can chase a thousand, and if he find a fellow, the two
shall put ten thousand to flight. Bless God!
But Jesus is holy and humble and He cannot walk with any but humble
holy men, so, my brother, if you want Him to go with you, you must
humble yourself and be holy. Moses was the meekest of men, we read.
Then, too, if we want Jesus to go with us to the meeting, we must
invite Him home with us after the meeting. He will not come to the
meeting and walk back with us to our door, if when we get there we
find it in our hearts to bid Him good-night and close the door in
His face, and go in and scold the wife and children and talk about
our neighbors and forget what manner of spirit we are of. Our walk
with Him must be constant, not fitful, else we will seek for Him
some day an not find Him.
Oh, that we may always make sure that He is with us, and not take it
for granted, else we find we have been going on a fool's errand
without Him! Poor Joseph and Mary lost five days and had no one
knows how much anxiety and heartache, all because they supposed
Jesus was in the company, but did not make sure. But, bless God,
after diligent search they found Him! Is He with you now, my
brother? If He is not, then get your Bible and go off alone and seek
Him, and if you wake up and seek Him with all your heart, He will be
found of you.