Today was Celebration Sunday at Gateway!
Alex York started us off. He talked about how he has only attended Gateway for 4 years, so he doesn't know all the stories from Gateway's first 11 years. And he is in good company -- we have many who have attended Gateway less than 5 years.
So he told a few stories -- stories of what God has done recently at Gateway. He told about people whose lives have changed drastically, who have been blessed and who are now blessing the congregation as a whole with their service.
We want to be like Abraham, whom God promised to bless -- but God also promised to make him a blessing to all the nations of the earth.
The kids were in the service with us today, and I liked that they asked the children during the service to draw some pictures and make some lists, answering the questions: What do you want the children's room and playground to look like? What do you want in our new building?
Then Pastor Ed gave the message. He looked at how God's promises throughout the Old Testament were focused on place.
Clearly, place is important in God's mind. We got an amazing land deal for our new building, and we do believe that our property came to us because God wanted to build a church in that place.
The Old Testament is a story of the importance of place to God.
Genesis 12 -- When he first initiated a relationship with Abraham, God talked about a place.
Genesis 15:1-21 -- God made a covenant with Abraham, in which God promised to keep both sides of the covenant. The covenant was about the land he would give to Abraham and his descendants.
Genesis 26 -- God confirmed his covenant with Isaac -- about the land.
Genesis 28:10-15 -- God told Jacob, "I will give you this land."
God did this to accommodate himself to us. He gave them a place. His blessings always included a place.
Exodus 3 -- God called Moses to lead his people out of slavery to the land promised to Abraham.
He brought them back to the land that had been promised to them for generations.
Then they looked at circumstances, and didn't go in.
Deuteronomy 1 -- "See, I have given you this land, so go in and take possession!"
Joshua 1 -- It called for sacrifice, unity, strategic planning, and fierceness.
Joshua 21:43 -- God gave them the land, and they took possession of it.
Years later, when God rebuked them, he took them from the land.
The land was always a central focus of God's activity and a central means of blessing God's people.
Two Contradictory Truths:
1. It was all about the land.
2. It was not about the land at all!
II Chronicles 6:14-18 -- God doesn't dwell in a place.
God's house is his people.
We are God's house.
And we built up God's house this morning with four baptisms.
Three sisters from the Fick family all got baptized this morning, as well as Anthony Moaf, whose mother has been attending Gateway since the beginning -- and praying all the while for her son.
It was a beautiful and inspiring way to finish off Celebration Sunday, by hearing all four testimonies and seeing them join God's house.
Welcome to the family, Laney, Carleigh, Evie, and Anthony!