Summary: Anniversary Service for church. Looks at some of the priorities of a church.
WHEN GOD BUILDS A CHURCH
ROL 7th Anniversary
- Read Matthew 13:31-33
In these verses we find 2 short parables, 2 earthly stories with heavenly meanings. In the first 2 verses, Jesus describes the way the Kingdom of God grows. He says, “It grows like a mustard seed. It starts off small, and then grows surprisingly large.”
That’s certainly the way Jesus’ ministry went. When we think about Jesus and His ministry, we think of the thousands of people Jesus fed on the day He multiplied the loaves and fish. We think about the many people He healed, and the countless thousands of people He must have taught when He was on earth. Yet, in spite of all the work He did, in spite of the people He healed, the people He fed and the people He taught, we find that at His crucifixion, there were only a few of His followers present at the cross. After His death and burial, there were only a few people gathered in an upper room. Even after His resurrection, only 120 people gathered in an upper room for prayer. That’s even after many saw Him risen from the dead! Talk about a poor start.
But the Bible says that on the day of Pentecost, over 3000 people were saved. A few days later, another 5000 became Christ-followers. Later, the Bible records that the Lord added to the church daily.
From that small beginning, Christianity has spread around the world! Today, the Bible is the fastest and largest selling book in the world! Most people have the scriptures in their own language and more are languages are being added each year. Churches are being planted around the world. Russia, that great persecutor and killer of Christians now has a growing group of Christians and new churches are planted in that country almost daily. China has growing numbers of Christians there, and in spite of the government’s crackdown, the church continues to grow.
From a small beginning, great things.
It was 7 years ago this past May that I met with a group of people at the Deltona Community Center and talked with them a second time, about the possibility of starting a new church. At the time I was pastoring in Locke Station, Mississippi and the Lord was blessing there. I had no real desire to move back to Florida, to the I-4 traffic jams and congestion, but the Lord was working. I had already contacted 10 of my friends in this area to see if they would be interested in being a part of this new church. Apart from my mother and one of my brothers and his family, Tom and Alix McDaniel were the only ones that had said they would come be a part of the new church. But, at the meeting that night, Central Baptist Church sent word that they would be willing to pay 1/3 of my salary the first year if I came.
After the meeting that night, I called Gladys to tell her how things went. She answered the phone saying, “We’re moving to Florida aren’t we?” We had been praying about it for some time and I told her, “Yeah, the Lord has already moved my heart.” I thank the Lord for a wife who believed in me and in my walk with the Lord enough to leave her family and take a leap of faith as well.
That night I drove back to Mississippi. The next morning, a woman from our community in Mississippi called. I barely knew the lady. We had probably met 5 or 6 times during the 3 years I had lived there and she had only visited our church a time or two during that time. She said, “Brother Gene, I don’t want you to think I’m strange or anything and I’ve never done this before, but in my quiet time this morning the Lord told me to call you. I don’t know what you’re doing or what’s going on, but the Lord told me to tell you that He is with you. When I asked the Lord if there was a Bible verse He had for me to share with you, He told me to share with you, Jeremiah 33:3 which says, Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
A few days later, I got a letter in the mail from Dan Stone. He said, “Brother Gene, the Lord has told me that I’m supposed to be a part of this new church. You are now my pastor. Tell me what you want me to do, Oh, and by the way, my Dad and Barbara want to be a part of the new church also.”
A few weeks later, my brothers and their wives came to Mississippi to help us move.