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The Lord Has Been Good To Us

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\\ WESTWOOD BAPTIST CHURCH, UNIVERSITY CENTER
2510 ALBION STREET | NASHVILLE, TN | 37208
88TH CHURCH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2008

SERMON BY PASTOR ROBERT EARL HOUSTON, SR.
ASSISTANT PASTOR

“The Lord Has
Been Good To Us”
Deuteronomy 2:1-8

Just a few weeks ago my son, Robert, turned 25 years old. He was born on August 20, 1983, went to pre-K, kindergarten, grade school, middle school, high school, and then onto the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration. On the day Robert was born, the umbilical cord was wrapped around his throat, and I named him and prayed for him while the doctor’s resuscitated him.

\\ I remember his first words, “Dada.”
I remember his first steps.
I remember his first school play (he played a preacher).
I remember his first pair of baby shoes.
I remember his first surgical procedure.
I remember his first seizure.
I remember his first girl he had a crush on.
I remember his excitement about playing soccer.
I remember his first goal playing soccer.
I remember his excitement about playing basketball.
I remember his first and only time going to the principal’s office.
I remember his first and last time he cursed at his father.
I remember his high school graduation.
I remember his first phone call asking for money when he went to college.
I remember the second phone call asking for money when he went to college.
I remember the third phone call asking for money when he went to college.
I remember ignoring his fourth phone call, knowing that he would be asking for money when he went to college.
I remember his first college sweetheart.
I remember his excitement about becoming a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.
I remember his name being called when he graduated from college in the School of Business.
I remember the tears streaming down my face when my son graduated.

Although I’m proud of my son, I wish that I could have had children like they do on soap operas – like Young and The Restless. One season they are two and three years old, and a few months later, they’re graduating from high school.  One month they are sent to their room, and another month, they are moving out their own. One day they are six years old and the next day they are twenty six. Soap opera children change age quickly and you never get to see what happened between their childhood and their adulthood.

Our text is “soap opera text.” Moses, the writer of not just the Book of Deuteronomy, but he is the author of most of the first five books of the Bible – Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.  In this second chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses shows us a soap opera child – Israel, who has left the bondage of slavery in Egypt, tasted what freedom from slave masters is like, murmured, grumbled and complained after leaving Egypt, suffered an unsuccessful attack upon the Canaanites, when Moses introduces this text, Israel is a young toddler. Walks out the door moving to Kadesh, and when Israel walks back into the pericape, Israel has been wandering in the wilderness for 38 years.

For 38 years, they’ve been walking but going nowhere.
For 38 years, they’ve collected souvenirs, but no permanent place to display them.
For 38 years, they’ve seen births after births, and yet have buried their share men, women, boys and girls.
For 38 years they followed Moses who led them out of bondage but doesn’t have a GPS system in his pocket.

Israel, Moses’ soap opera child is now 38 years removed from bondage. At Kadesh, numbering in the millions, Israel has wandered as a result of God’s own decree. In Numbers 14:33-34, God says that they will wander for forty years, and many of them will die in the wilderness, until all the generation that has done evil in the sight of the Lord was consumed.

They have followed Moses to Kadesh, and as they travel, Moses has heard the voice of the Lord. Moses does not lead by committee. Moses does not lead by a majority of the vote. Moses leads by the voice of the Lord. Look at what he says, “We turned, as the Lord spoke to ME.” I know we live in a democracy, (in a few days we will choose between Barack Obama and John McCain for President of the United States) but the church is not a democracy, it is a theocracy! In other words, we are governed by the Lord and His word and not our own plans, methods, and schemes! God’s word is able to carry us through!

Moses says we kept on going. May I suggest that even though they had been in the wilderness for 38 long years, that does not mean that God had left them alone, all by themselves. Today, we celebrate a Church Anniversary in a paid off sanctuary. Today, we celebrate a Church Anniversary with a full choir stand. Today, we celebrate a Church Anniversary with a Senior Pastor, Assistant Pastors, Associate Ministers, Deacons, and Church Leaders.  Before we got to this point in our history, the Lord has been with Westwood for over 88 years.

When James Tunstill pastored in 1920, God was with us!
When S.M. Wright pastored in 1922, God was with us!
When Levi Butler pastored in 1924, God was with us!
When J.H. Lawrence pastored in 1925, God was with us!
When Ambrose A. Bennett pastored in 1928, God was with us!
When W.O. Wells pastored in 1957, God was with us!
When Alphonse Blake pastored in 1959, God was with us!
When George W. Brown pastored in 1961, God was with us!
When J.W. Watkins pastored in 1965, God was with us!
When Amos Jones, Jr. pastored in 1969, God was with us!

When Pastor Barton Elliott Harris became our pastor in 1987 – GOD is STILL WITH US!  Some come, some go, we’ve gone from a small sanctuary to a cathedral, we’ve gone from no staff to church staff, we’ve gone from a handful to hundreds! GOD IS STILL WITH US!

Matter of fact, you’ve been through some things, but God is still with you! You’ve gone through heartaches and pain and disappointments and trouble and job loss and parents and children and siblings and rents and mortgages and promotions and firing, but GOD IS STILL WITH YOU!

The Children of Israel didn’t know where they were going, however, God still gave Moses the word to make a turn! I’m in Bible territory here, even though God may be displeased with us, I still want him to talk to me, when I’ve done wrong, that to leave me and not say a word!

I’m in a storm – God talk to me!
I know I’ve done wrong – God talk to me!
I’ve said some things I shouldn’t have – God talk to me!
I’m about to lose my mind up in here up in here – God talk to me!

God spoke to Moses, told him to tell the children to turn, and they turned and started to circle an area called Mount Seir. Mount Seir was part of the Edomite area. Mount Seir was part of the area that was settled by the descendents of Esau. The Horites settled there, just southeast of Canaan. They marched, circling Mount Seir.

Can’t you see, 1 to 2 million people, marching around this area? Mount Seir was a woody, rocky, mountainous area that was dotted with springs and fresh water. They marched around Mount Seir time and time again. They kept on marching around Mount Seir. It had to be monotonous – can’t you imagine what they were saying in the camp?

“Haven’t we been this way before?”
“What is Moses doing?”
“Where in the world are we going?”
“What did y’all do with that map?”
“Didn’t we see this road a few days ago?”
“Mama, are we there yet?”
“Why we got to do this?”
“Ain’t there a shortcut?”

Before we jump on the Children of Israel, there are some children of the Church, that refuse to read the word, study the Bible, praise the Lord, give the Tithe, walk the walk, talk the talk, sing the praise, lift the hands, open the mouth, jump for joy – because of some of the sayings in the camp?

“Why do we have to pray?”
“Where are we going?”
“Didn’t we sing this before?”
“Why do I have to tithe?”
“Why do we have to go to Early Morning Prayer?

Israel kept on marching until God said it’s enough. I don’t know about you but I have decided to keep on serving God until the Lord said, “you’ve done this long enough.”

I’m going to shout until he says “enough.”
I’m going to pray until he says “enough.”
I’m going to love my enemies until he says “enough.”
I’m going to give my tithes until he says “enough.”
I’m going to praise His name until he says “enough.”

The Children of Israel followed Moses, going north, on their way to the Promised Land. However, there is an obstacle between Mount Seir and Canaan and that was the land of Seir. They would have to go through the land of their kinfolk, through the dry, parched land of Seir, where it only rained five inches of rain a year, to get to the land that was flowing with milk and honey.  Sometimes to get to where God wants to take you, you’ve got to go through some things!

They would have to go through that land but listen to what God has told them. You are to go through them. They will be afraid of you, however,  don’t pick any fights with them. Matter of fact, if you need supplies, buy it from them – you are not to be a conqueror here, but a consumer! Don’t you take it from them, buy it from them.

The situation is that 38 years ago, when they last seen of the Children of Israel, they were a people in bondage, no organization, no abilities, no leadership, making bricks for Egyptians. But now, the soap opera child, it’s 38 years later. They will say “I’m scared of you” because of what you have become in the Lord.

Anybody here – have you ever been in this predicament? People remember what you used to be, how you used to act, what you used to drive, what you used to say, and now that the Lord has come into your life – you’re not the same that you used to be. God has changed your heart, your mind, your ways, your walk, your talk, and everything about you. Now, look at they what they say . . .

“I’m scared of you . . .”  with your smile on your face.
“I’m scared of you . . .”  with the joy in your heart.

“I’m scared of you . . .”  with your no-complaining self.
“I’m scared of you . . .”  with your husband and children.
“I’m scared of you . . .”  with your wife and a job.
“I’m scared of you . . .”  with your bling-bling around your neck.
“I’m scared of you . . .”  with your bible in your hand.

“I’m scared of you . . .”  with your life turned around.

Your family and friends ought to be scared of you. You’re not the same people you used to be. Some of us have gone through spiritual intensive care, some spiritual surgery, some spiritual rehab. God has changed us and we’re not what used to be. Look at someone and tell them: You should have seen me before the Lord laid his hands on me. You should have seen me before He turned my life around. You should have seen me before he gave me a new walk.

Israel is on their way to the Promised Land.  This soap opera is about to end, they have pressed their way from Kadesh. They have pressed their way to the area of Mount Seir. They have pressed way to the area of Seir, on their way to the Promise Land.

Before they get there, just like any good soap opera, at the end of the show, they run the credits. The credits acknowledge the work and the contribution of those who made it all possible. The credits list the executive producer, the producers, the director, the casting director, the film director, the chief photographer, the actors, the stage hands, the writers, the editors, the grips, and anybody who had anything to do with the production.

Moses says that in case you need to know who to thank for 88 years. In case, you need to know, who to thank for saving your souls. In case, you need to know, who to thank for watching over you both day and night. In case, you need to know, who to bless for taking care of you. It was the Lord!

Look at what Moses says, “For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.


Is there anybody here that the Lord has blessed? He’s blessed the works of our hands, he has been with us! 88 years later, he’s still blessing the works of our hands.  He’s still blessing our families! He’s still blessing our Sunday School Teachers! He’s still blessing our Preachers! He’s still blessing our Pastors! We haven’t lacked anything!

When we need a place to worship – God provided it!
When we needed a pastor – God provided him!
When we needed workers – God provided them!
When we needed food – God provided it!
When we need musicians – God provided them!
When we needed teachers – God provided them!
When we needed leaders – God provided them!
When we needed pray-ers – God provided them!
When we needed evangelizers – God provided them!
When we needed studiers – God provided them!
When we needed tithers – God provided them!
When we needed souls to minister to – God provided them!

Somebody here needs to make this personal . . .

When I needed joy – God provided it!
When I needed a company keeper – God provided it!
When I needed hope – God provided it!
When I needed healing – God provided it!

Tell your neighbor – we haven’t lacked a thing!

When I needed my soul saved, God provided it! He sent his only son, held a meeting in heaven, decided to send his own begotten son, wrapped him in human flesh, placed him in a human womb, birthed into a human world, baptized him in earthen water, set him up in human circumstance, tried him in a human court, beat him in a human jail, killed him on a human-made cross, and raised him from a human’s grave, with all power, in his hand!  That’s why I praise Him!  (CLOSE)
 

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