A week has past and I have had some time to reflect on the sermons that were given during our anniversary celebration. It is amazing how God works. We selected for a theme; “Back to Basics: The Great Commandment, Commission and Compassion. The scripture reference for our focus was Matthew 28:18-20. We had three speakers that really presented the word. We were challenged, encouraged, and edified. We were left with a sense of awe at the presence of God in our midst.
Our first speaker on Friday night was Rev Soviniour, pastor of Faith Deliverance Tabernacle. He reminded us of the need to get back to our first love. This is the initial state of love between God and us. This is where we were when we first became Christians. The zeal and fire that was in our bellies outpace and negativity. We would be the first to volunteer, we prayed frequently and we would not shy away from telling our stories. He reflected on John’s vision, in Rev 2:1-5, to the church at Ephesus. They received a commendation and condemnation. They were doing good works but they had drifted from the initial state of love. Not that they had lost their love for God but they had gone cold, they lack that initial spiritual passion.
The Power that Jesus referenced in Matthew 28:18, he said, was authority to act. This is different from the ability to do something. Christians have both the authority and ability to carry out Jesus’ commission. This authority was not given in a vacuum, no; it was linked to God the Father. He reminded us “God’s greatest passion is about salvation and that the early church grew in spite of persecution.”
We can restore our first love by remembering that initial state, then we should repent, and then we should return to your first love. Rev soviniour reminded us “if you do not know you are in a mess you will not get out of it.” Once we have amended our ways we should we go in the authority of Jesus and do the work of the Great Commission.
The second speaker was Dr. Michael Frith, Bishop of Family of Christ Church of God and President of Family of Christ Seminary. He began by reminding us that looking back is not always bad. But “In the world of advancement we do always want to look back” to core principles. Thus, the theme is a timely reminder that we need to occasionally revisit that initial state of love relationship with God and look at our core mission. The core of his sermon was that we should go in the Dignity of the power of Pentecost. Dr Frith reminded us that we have the authority to live as Christians, discern purpose of the church and appreciate the authentic power (authority) that is given to the church. Once we love God, as we should, then we would be able to operate in his authority. He reminded us that the Greek word speaking of authority means the right to do. He also,
We were challenged by the reminder, that as, Christians and particular leaders of the church, we are standing as buffers for the people we lead. Therefore we have to have authentic power to combat the trickery of the devil. As Christians, we have to develop and maintain a healthy spiritual appetite. He challenged us to get back to order and purpose.
He encouraged us to continue to follow God’s leading. He challenged us to listen for God’s instructions and “if you hear a voice behind you that means you are in the wrong way”. “It is hard to continue if you have not begun” and eight years represents new beginnings. It is at this time that it is necessary to remind ourselves of the basics of our Christian calling.
The final speaker was Minister Diane Asphalt. She reminded us that we should look to join God where he is working. Once we have return to our first love and begin to walk in the authority given by Jesus then we are ready to join God.
She reflected on the phase in the New Testament that said that the “disciples have turn the world upside down”. After the resurrection of Jesus, He appeared to His disciples reignited the flame of love that was burning low and in some cases gone out. This is recalled by John 21:15, “After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.”
She reminded us that God is always at work and His work is concerning His redemptive purpose in His actions. She continues, “We need to understand the authority of God words, that God has given authority and power; this is the right to do and the power to do. Understanding this divine assignment will allows to “work in is authority but wait on his assignment”. We are not going to walk ahead of God but wait on his directions.
Sometimes, she continues, “God has us simmering at times”, this is where things do not look as if it is changing or there are any movement in my direction. We should wait on the instructions before we make our next move. Like Habakkuk we should develop an attitude of praise, an in spite of praise and “Praise God while you are waiting”. It is this attitude that will help us to walk in his assurance. Like Noah, we will not wait on to be validated by man but as his accomplishments were accepted by God not by men’s standard. Therefore a Noah like attitude will earn God’s approval.
Minister Dianne left us with three points to consider; we should walk in God’s authority, we should wait on his assignment and we should work in God’s assurance
The closing session of our anniversary celebration was the consecration of three leaders to the office of ministers. These individuals have been in training and one on one mentoring for a year and was given their local conference licenses and consecrated to the office of a minister. Ministers from across New York area were on hand to witness this momentous occasion. The presence of the Holy Spirit was clearly present with us. There was a moment of sweet joy and spontaneous worship, not chaotic, but one that seemed to have a director instructing even move.
Even though it was super bowl night, people stayed back as if asking for more. They had fellowship with each other, there was just a sense of genuine love. While there were people from different theological background, this moment seem to ignore those differences and we were just one. Now, I was not present in Acts on the day of Pentecost but it felt like that on Sunday evening.
It was indeed moving to hear pastors and laypeople speak of the challenge to do more for God. There seem to have been a reigniting of the flame of our love for God. To hear person after person say “I got to do more, I remember when I use to… and I have to get back to” is indeed a touching experience. It is really hard to describe the atmosphere in that service but to say you would have had to been there. As a church we were challenged, encourage and energized to continue our assignment here in Bethel Temple of Praise.