Do It Now
9/10/2000 Joshua 3:1-8 John 11:38-44
Today is the beginning of a new day in the life of our church. We are celebrating Kickoff Sunday in one of the greatest moves of faith we have taken to date. In a football game, the opening kickoff goes a long way in determining who gets the momentum for the start of the game. When you’re the team kicking the ball, you’re usually all in one line. The kicker starts running toward the ball. You start your run as he passes you. The main thought on your mind is, I’m going to hit whoever gets that ball so hard, he’s going to be scared the rest of the game.
When you’re the team receiving the ball, you’re more scattered over the filed in usually about three rows. The front row is thinking, the first guy that comes to me is going to see stars when I knock him down. The next two rows are thinking, when I get the ball, I’m heading straight for the goal line. I’m going to score before they knew what hit them.. Both teams are ready to go at it.
The whistle blows, and the kicker heads toward the ball. My friend whatever you plan to do, you better do it now, if you’re going to make a difference in the kickoff.. Every now and then whether or not 6 points gets on the board boils down to just two guys on the field. Will the last guy on defense stop the guy carrying the ball. The whole stadium is usually up cheering. Whatever move the guy running the ball is going to take to break the angle, has to be done now. The guy trying to stop him, has to stay under control now, or he may over commit himself and let the other guy score.
Today, this is a big game for us, but no team you see lined up for the kickoff, is together for the first time. Today’s game has its roots in a vision that was placed in the heart of a people one hundred and ten years ago around 1890, when a group of people down at Old Stone Church located on public square today, had a vision to build a church in the outlying area of the city of Cleveland known as Glenville. That group of saints, had a vision as well.
Their kickoff led to the building of this sanctuary. We sit in the pews for which they made sacrifices. We sing God’s praises in a beautiful sanctuary because they were willing to serve the Lord with a whole heart. That congregation at one time was one of the greatest givers to world missions in the entire denomination. Their kickoff was successful in changing lives for Jesus Christ.
Our next big game was the vision to expand this place for ministry. Around 1910, the saints here had a vision to add the fellowship hall area, the classroom and the bathrooms. Thanks to their commitment in 1912, we were able to have space for one of the first Headstart sites in the 1960’s. We had a place for the first freedom schools here in the city when the schools were closed because of segregation. We have had a place for Vacation Bible School, For Life-Sharing Classes, For dinners and other things. God was using the congregation of 1912 to enable us to do ministry in the year 2000. Though they have gone on to be with the Lord, their sacrifices made then continues to reap a spiritual reward for them now. Their kickoff was successful for the cause of Christ.
When our neighborhood changed, the original Glenville Presbyterian Church came to an end and closed. But that was not the end. God had a few more games He wanted us to play. He placed it in the heart of our founding members to line up at the kickoff line once again. Not many people thought a white pastor could start a predominantly black church in a changing neigborhood. As a matter of fact, the founding pastor David Zuverink told me, that the denominational officers told him he was crazy and wasting his time. I’m glad that people don’t mind being called crazy for Jesus. They were just willing to line up at the kickoff.
Unbeknown to the critics and the nay sayers, on that opening kickoff were players on the field with names such as Fendley, Hall, Jackson, McHam, Moore, Moffett, Pollard, Stewart, Sullivan and Williams. Players that were not only on the opening kickoff, but those who would still be on the field playing almost 4 decades later. How many of the world’s athletes can boast the same kind of endurance.
Because of that kickoff game, this church started again in this neighborhood. Education was one it’s hallmarks with the Learning Program at the church. When other churches didn’t want Dr. Martin Luther King coming to Cleveland because in the early days he was seen as a troublemaker, this church had him come and speak at this pulpit. It was this congregation that produced the After School Supper Program which has been feeding children in this community full meals for two decades. Their kickoff was successful for the cause of Christ.
Out next big game occurred against an opponent that once again threatened to close down the ministry coming out of this church. Again we line up at the kickoff line and said, we’re going to play with our whole heart for the Lord. We started to pray, to witness, and to give, and we were scoring touchdowns before the other side knew of our determination to win. We became the Glenville New Life Community Church PCUSA and served notice on all opposing team, we had our eyes set on the conference championship. We took steps of faith and changed the appearance of this building. We took steps of faith and started teaching the word of God as never before. We expanded our ministry to reach hurting people’s lives.
We established programs to meet the needs of single parents, of married couples, of people needing medicine, of youth, and more all because we as a congregation we really do love and we do care. Our mission giving touches the lives of Nigerians, Hatians, and Central Americans. How many of you can look back and see how the ministry of this church has impacted your life and members of your family?
We committed ourselves not only to providing teaching for ourselves, but to help other Christians and non-believers alike. That’s why we do our radio and TV broadcast. God has placed some unique gifts and abilities in this church which need to be shared with the body of Christ at large. When new opportunities arose for ministry, our session has been willing to vote in faith and say "let’s do it now." Because of your faithfulness in willingly serving and giving, we have been able to be a church that does not put things off, but we do it now. God has placed some outstanding saints within this congregation, young and old alike. Our kickoff was successful for the cause of Christ.
Today we are being called to line up for the kickoff once again. As your pastors we are excited, and we are nervous. Nervous not with a sense of fear as much as an expectation of a move of God that we have not seen before. We are at a point in our history like the children of Israel when Joshua became their leader. Now the children of Israel had been wandering in the desert for 40 years. Originally God had planned to take them to a higher level of living, and they go to the boundary line of it in just a few months. God told them to go take the land and to "do it now".
But the people came up with several reasons for why it was they could not do what God had told them to do. The land was too hostile, the people in it were too strong, they would not be able to survive, it would be safer to go back to Egypt and just be slaves. They were unwilling to leave what was comfortable to venture out for what was best. Because they did not move when God told them to move, a journey which should have taken a few months took 40 years as their punishment.
It was the end of the 40 year period and once again, God was ready to take them to an even higher level of living. He told Joshua, now tomorrow is the day for you to take the people across the Jordan River into the promised land. When you see the priest move out and head for the river, you are to follow them. Now consecrate yourself, and you will see the Lord do amazing things. Joshua tells the priests "when you come to the edge of the river, you are to go and stand in the middle of the river and just wait for the rest of us."
Now the Lord has a way of telling us to trust Him, when He could just as easily let us in on His plan in advance. In our New Testament reading, Mary and Martha were upset with Jesus over the fact that Lazarus had died. But then when Jesus wanted to do something about the situation they thought He was losing his mind. Jesus told them, "take away the stone that has him sealed in that tomb."
They protested, "Jesus, its been four days. He has not been on ice. If we take away the stone, the stink coming out of there might kill us. There’s nothing else to be accomplished by looking at a dead body." Aren’t you glad, God always has a fresh way of looking at a situation. When they moved the stone, there was nothing about any bad odor. Jesus simply said Lazarus come forth. Lazarus came out, healthier than he had ever been. When Jesus gives us life, he takes away the bad odor that surrounds us.
Now Joshua knew there were no bridges going across the Jordan River and the people knew it as well. To make matters worse, God told them to "do it now." The time chosen by God was during the flood season of the River, which meant this water was rushing down like the mighty Mississippi River. You could not tell how deep it was, or how strong the current might be. No doubt a lot of people felt, now is not the time, nor the place. We might lose our lives, our cattle, our possessions trying to cross this river. Joshua must be a fool to ask us to do something like this. I’m going to the back of the line and see what happens to those in front.
Can you imagine being Joshua. "So Joshua, how you planning on us crossing this river." Well I’m sure the Lord is going to make a way. All we have to do is get ready for the kickoff" I was afraid you were going to say something like that. Why don’t we just sit here for a while and let the waters go down. But Joshua couldn’t sit on this side of the Jordan any longer because God was moving to the other side in the morning. He had a blessing for them they had yet to receive. As a church we could continue to sit where we are and do what we’re doing, but what good is it if God has moved somewhere else. To get God’s blessings, we need to be where God is.
Our kickoff is for our New Life Center which is to be used to change lives for the cause of Jesus Christ on a greater level than we have known. This center will be a place where we will touch young lives for Jesus Christ. We want to take our kids off the corner and put them in a positive environment. We want to see families learn how to play together and build healthier homes. We want to teach our kids sports can be used to gain glory , but there’s a greater glory still which is found in Christ.
We want to equip people in the job market with computer training classes. We want to equip parents, youth, singles, marrieds, and others by hosting various types of conferences and workshops. We want to have a place of celebration to honor the achievements of others in our midst through special banquets and celebrations. As we continue to sow the seeds in our ministry, God is going to start a weekly increase in our numbers, and we’re going to need a place to worship when we are forced to build a larger sanctuary. We’re building not simply for the congregation of today, but for the congregation of tomorrow. God is going to do a work in and through us far greater than have imagined. Our fear at times as pastors is not that we have a dream to big as a church, but maybe our dream is not large enough to accomplish all God is willing to do through us as a congregation.
Some of us who are lining up on this Kick-off Sunday will not be with us when we march into that building for the first time. This Kick off will be your last opportunity to make a mark for the Lord which will impact many lives in the future. Death has a way of coming to take us away, regardless of our age or present health condition. But we pledge to you, that your picture or my picture will go in at the front of the line when we march into that building for the first time.
You’ll be rejoicing in heaven right along with us on that day. You final reward will be based on many things yet to have been done. Saints from back in 1890, are receiving rewards because of what they did then, has you working for Jesus Christ today. Think not of simply a building, but imagine faces, your faces, your family faces, your friends, and the strangers around you coming to know Jesus Christ through the outreach ministry which pours from the New Life Center.
How are we going to do it? Where is 1/2 million to 3/4 of million dollars coming from. As pastors, we know that if God gives a vision, God makes the provisions. Can you imagine what testimonies we’re going to have over the next three years of how God blessed us? Joshua was looking at the mighty Jordan River. All he knew was that God said, "For tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things for you." We believe if we are faithful in responding to God, He will likewise do the same for us.
That next morning when God said "do it now", the river was just as powerful as ever. There still was no bridge in sight. But when the priest got to edge of the river and the bottom of their shoes touched the water, all the way across the river, the waters stop flowing down stream and started to backup, meanwhile the waters on the other side kept going down river. The priest went out and stood in the middle of the river on dry land and all the people passed by on dry land. When the priests went to the other side, immediately the waters flowed back as before. Nobody in their wildest dreams could have come up with a plan like this but God did.
Our New Life Center will always have as its foundation, finding new life in Christ for people because Jesus came that we might not only have life, but have it more abundantly. The first step in being on the kickoff team is to know Jesus Christ as your own Lord and Savior. One day he’s going to ask you, what did you do with your life. I died for you. How much did you live for me? Jesus died because we all have a problem with sin and wrong doing. The penalty for it is death, both physical and spiritual. If we do not acknowledge our wrong and seek God’s forgiveness, a terrible fate and judgment awaits us. Jesus wants us to change our lives and accept what He has to offer to us. The best time to make that decision, is to do it now. Amen. Let’s pray.
Youth Off Corners, Families In Harmony
Sports Glory, Greater Glory in Christ
Job Market Skills, Senior Jobs
Equipping Singles, Marrieds, Youth Conferences,
Seeds Coming To Harvest, Will Need Larger
God Doing More Than We Can Imagine
Is The Dream Big Enough
We Will Not All Make It
We Will All Enter The Doors Together
L New Life Center About Changing Lives
Think Of Faces
Yours, Family, Friends, Strangers
How , Where 1/2 to 3/4 Million
God’s Vision--God’s Provision
M God Makes A Way
Joshua--Do It Now
Priest In The Water
The Lord Provides
Who But God Would Have Dreamed
N New Life Center Foundation
Changing Lives For Jesus Christ
Changing Lives Today
Equipping Your To Meet Jesus
Best Time Is To Do It Now.
Sermon Outline--Pastor Rick
"Do It Now " 9/210/2000
Joshua 3:1-8 & John 11:38-40
A Get Ready For The Kickoff
Move Of Faith
Opening Kickoff & Momentum
Kicker Heads For The Ball
Defensive Team Thoughts
Offensive Team Thoughts
B The Whistle Blows
Whatever The Plan
Down To Just Two People
The Crowd Goes Wild
6 Points Or not
C First Kickoff 1890
Old Stone Church
Pews, Sanctuary, Whole Heart
Top National Missions Giver
Kickoff Successful For Christ
D Second Kickoff 1910
Vision To Expand
Fellowship Hall, Classrooms, Bathrooms
Commitment Of 1912
Headstart, Freedom School, VBS, LifeShaing,
Prepared For 20000
Kickoff Successful For Christ
E Third Kickoff 1962
Rev. David Zuverink--Crazy
White & Black Won’t Mix
Kickoff Team, Fendley, Hall, Jackson,
Mcham, Moore, Moffett Pollard, Stewart,
Sullivan & Williams
38 year Career Players
Learning Program, Dr. King, After School
Successful Kickoff For The Cause
F Fourth Kickoff 1989
Opponent--Mr. Close It
Give Our Whole Heart
Pray, Witness, Give, Touchdowns
Glenville New Life Community Church
Conference Championship Goal
Steps Of Faith--Building, Teaching
Ministry To The Hurting
Singles, Married, Youth, Medicine,
Nigerians, Hatians, Central Americans
Because We Love And We Care
Goal For Believers & Non Believers
Radio & TV
Session "Do It Now"
Congregation Gifts, Talents, Giving
Successful Kickoff For The Cause
G Fifth Kickoff 2000
Pastors Excited & Nervous
Israel & Joshua at the End Of 40 Years
God’s 3 Month Plan-40 Yr Ordeal
We Can’t Do It Now
Hostile Land, Big Enemies, Safer Back In Egypt, Comfort Zone
H Joshua’s Mission
Call To A Higher Level Of Living
Cross The Jordan Now
Consecrate Yourself And See The Lord Do Amazing Things
Joshua --Priests God Stand In The Middle Of The River
I A Reluctance To Follow The Lord
The Lord Will Not Tell It All
Mary & Martha Upset
Has Jesus Lost His Mind
The Reasons It Can’t Be Done
The Smell & Resurrection
J Joshua Must Move In Faith
The Bridge Is Out
The Jordan At Flood Stage
Is It The Mighty Mississippi
How Deep, How Wide,
Not The Time, Nor The Place
We’re Going To Lose It All
Joshua, "How We Gonna Do It"
Lord Will Make A Way
Why Not Just Sit For A While
1 The New Life Center
Touching Lives For The Cause Of Christ