It seems like only yesterday, when I was struggling to perceive, receive and obey the calling of the Lord with respect to this church, but it was on March 6, 1974, with Sister Cathy, my wife, Sister Evelyn Johnson, my mother, and Sister Sewell, who is now deceased, that “The House of Prayer For All People” was organized. Shortly thereafter Elder Johnson came and then Pastor Butts and his wife, Jewrusha, and we were incorporated as The House of the Lord.
Now here we sit, twenty-nine (29) years later, tremendously blessed by the providence of Almighty God! We have seen thousands give their lives to Jesus Christ and we are one of the largest churches in America. “This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
I’m reminded of the Star Trek movie, “The Wrath Of Khan.” Khan was an old enemy of Captain Kirk’s, before he became Admiral Kirk. In the movie, after Khan was defeated, Admiral Kirk, and his Enterprise crew, still had another problem. The Enterprise needed to get their warp engines back on line, before the Genesis bomb exploded, but any one who would enter the dilithium chamber would be killed by radiation poisoning. With time running out, Captain Spock literally fixed the problem with his own hands. This of course meant certain death for him.
But before he entered the radioactive chamber, he did a quick Vulcan mindmeld on Dr. McCoy and uttered the word, “Remember!” In so doing, Spock placed his own consciousness in the soul of Dr. McCoy, where it could later be retrieved under favorable circumstances. (Show clip if new projectors are in.)
Today, I need to do a vulcan mindmeld on you and then place my consciousness into your consciousness, so that you may remember what God did for us twenty-nine years ago, on March the 6th, 2003.
To accomplish this task, I am going to use a typological situation in the history of the nation of Israel that is very applicable to our situation.
About thirty-five-hundred years ago, God delivered Israel from the tyranny of Egypt with a mighty and outstretched hand. And, like Captain Spock, He spoke the word, “Remember,” to the nation of Israel, His beloved people and wife!!! In so doing, He placed His own consciousness in the soul of Israel. We see this in the book of the Exodus. Would you please notice with me Exodus 13:3-10?
As we celebrate 29 years of God’s blessings, God is saying the same thing to us, “Remember.” The major imperative is to remember, but there are two others that are closely connected to it. Let’s explore the three major commands that God made to Israel and apply them to ourselves.
(The first command is:)
I. Remember (vs. 3).
Moses commanded the Children of Israel to remember the day in which they went out from Egypt, from the house slavery. They were to remember the day, because it was accomplished by the powerful hand of Jehovah.
A primary application of this day of remembrance certainly has our salvation in view. We should remember the day, when by the powerful hand of Jehovah and through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the true Passover Lamb, we were delivered from the Egypt of Sin and from the house of Satanic bondage.
Another application of this principle of the the day of remembrance is to the Church of Jesus Christ. The Israelites certainly experienced individual deliverance from Egypt, but there was also the corporate deliverance of Israel as a people and nation. This certainly envisions the Church of Jesus Christ, because on Calvary, Jesus wrought the salvation and deliverance of His body, i.e. the Church of Jesus Christ. He paid the price for the deliverance of His Church. This was a new entity, composed of Jews and Gentiles, i.e. literally all the nations of the world, into one new body of believers. The Church was certainly born and entered into a new dispensation on the Great Day of Pentecost. We should remember the birthday of the Church, i.e. the Great Day of Pentecost!!!
I would like to suggest a third application. That application is to us as a local assembly of believers, who were born on March 6, 1974. We were called together, out of the world, for the purpose of salvation, deliverance, and a prophetic ministry of being a witness unto the world for Jesus Christ!!!
Therefore, let us remember what God has done for us!!! Remember:
· The house on Douglas Street.
· The miracle on Thornton Street.
· The miracle on Brown Street.
· The miracle at J. C. Penneys
· The miracle of the land for the first building here (Seth Rohr).
· The miracle of the loan for the first building here.
· The miracle of every building.
· The miracle of 38 acres of land.
· The miracle of The Great Worship Center, New Nursery, and The Sanctuary Of Prayer.
· The miracle of selling back the 38 acres of land.
· The current miracle of The New Family Life Center.
(We come now to the second command in this passage of Scripture. The command is:)
II. Rejoice (vs. 5).
I have chosen the word “rejoice” to represend the second major command in this passage of Scripture, because of its alliterative value, but the word is verse 5 is “observe.” Let’s look at verse five again.
Exodus 13:5 (NASB-U), “It shall be when the Lord brings you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall observe this rite in this month.”
The phrase “observe this rite” is literally “serve this service.” The two words “observe” and “rite” are from the same root, which is reflected in the literal translation. The first word has the connotation of observe, worship, celebrate, or rejoice. The second word has the connotation of service, work, or labor. So, this phrase could also be translated, “Rejoice in this service, rite, ritual, or ceremonial act.”
Apparently Moses was establishing a ritual, which would be celebrated again, only when they entered the Promised Land.
While we might tend to think of serving, service, a ritual, or a ceremonial act as drudgery, “when the service is offered to God, it is not bondage, but rather a joyous and liberating experience (Theological Word Book Of The Old Testament). This is actually very closely related to and embodies “worship.”
So, this service, observance, or worship is celebration that ought to bring rejoicing and when we look back to our salvation, the birthday of the Universal Church, and the birthday of this local church, THOTL, we ought to do so with an observance, service, or worship that entails great celebration and rejoicing.
Today’s anniversary celebration ought to cause us to rejoice in the same way that Israel rejoiced, when God completed their salvation, by delivering them through the Red Sea. The Bible says in
Exodus 15:1 (NASB-U), “Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and said, ‘I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; the horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.”
We ought to sing today with all of our might, as a way of rejoicing in what God has done! We ought to sing “How I Got Over.” We ought to sing “Give Thanks!” We ought to sing, “My Tribute.”
How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me-
Things so undeserved, yet You give to prove Your love for Me?
The voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude-
All that I am and ever hope to be, I owe it all to Thee.
To God be the glory, to God be the glory,
To God be the glory for the things He has done!
With His blood He has saved Me, With His pow’r He has raised me-
To God be the glory for the things He has done!
Just let me live my life- Let it be pleasing, Lord, to Thee;
And should I gain any praise, Let it go to Calvary.
With His blood He has saved me, With His pow’r He has raised me-
To God be the glory of the things He has done!
We should sing these songs with all of our hearts!!!
The Bible also says in
Exodus 15:20 (NASB-U), “Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing.”
Somebody ought to rejoice with dancing today, because of what God initiated and continues to do for us and with us!!!
Frank Thomas, in his excellent book on preaching, They Like To Never Quit Praisin’ God, talks about celebration in preaching. He says that “Celebration is the culmination of the sermonic design where a moment is created in which the remembrance of a redemptive past and/or the conviction of a liberated future transforms the events immediately experienced.” Preacher, seminarian, and author, Henry H. Mitchell, defines celebration as “both the literal and the symbolic or ritual expression of praise or joy.”
What Thomas says ought to take place in a good, celebratory sermon, ought to take place in our anniversary celebrations. We ought to remember, with praise and joy:
· How He brought us out of the bondage of the enemy;
· What He delivered us from;
· How He made a way out of no way;
· How God brought us together;
· How far He has brought us from.
So, as the Jews were to observe this ritual of rejoicing, when they entered the Promised Land, we should be observing a ritual of celebration, with praise and joy, right now.
Celebration adds vibrancy to life!
Celebration adds meaning to life!!
Celebration adds dignity to life!!!
(There is one more major command that I want to point out for us.)
III. Rehearse (vs. 8).
Once again I am using this word because of its alliterative value, but the word in the text is “tell.” We see this in
Exodus 13:8, “You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’”
The word literally means to keep something conspicuous before someone, hence: to tell, declare, or announce. The fact that this was going to be done ritualistically, on an ongoing basis, brings the word “rehearse” to mind. Once they entered the Promised Land, they were to remember the day of their deliverance, rejoice in a special celebration service, and rehearse for their children the reason for the celebration: because of what the Lord did, when He brought us out of Egypt.
· We need to rehearse the story of what God did for us, when he saved us.
I remember what God did for me in that dimly lit, store front church, in North Akron, under the viaduct.
· We need to rehearse the story of what God did for us, when he baptized us or we received the “Lukan” filling of the Holy Ghost.
I remember what God did for me, when I was asking Him to fill me with the Holy Ghost. I wasn’t that sure of what God did then, but He reaffirmed that experience about six years ago.
· We need to rehearse the story of what God did for us, when He started this church.
I will never forget the early days in my parents home…in the living room…preaching to 3 to 14 people.
I will never forget the experiences of Thornton Street.
I will never forget the experiences of Brown Street.
I will never forget the experiences of the J. C. Penneys Building.
I will never forget the miracles that led to our being established on this piece of land.
Remember, rejoice, and rehearse!!!
The Backward Look
A shepherd who had been given a position of great honor by one of Scotland’s kings would often go alone to a certain room in the palace. The king became suspicious and thought he was plotting a conspiracy. So he asked to look inside this secret room. To his surprise, all that was there was a chair, a shepherd’s crook, and an old plaid scarf. “What does this mean?” asked the king. The nobleman answered, “I was a humble shepherd when your Majesty promoted me. I come to this room to look at the crook and the plaid. They remind me of what I used to be—and that I am nothing but what the grace of the king has made me.”
It is by God’s grace that we remember, rejoice, rehearse, and rest in His presence!!!
(Now is the Day of Salvation! Come to Jesus, Now!)
Call to Discipleship
 Frank A. Thomas, They Like To Never Quit Praisin’ God, United Church Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1997, p. 33.
 Henry H. Mitchell, The Recovery Of Preaching, Harper & Row Publishers, New York, New York, 1977, p. 54.