“CELEBRATING A MILESTONE”                     By Pastor YAU

Text: Joshua 4:1-8                                                  June 29, 2008.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)     An ancient milestone: As in other people and cultures, there were milestones in the history of Israel starting form their exodus of the land of oppression. The next big even was their receiving the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai. Then was their crossing of the Jordan River, entering the Promised Land. These were the milestones in their history God wanted them to remember. As soon as the people crossed the river, God asked that they sent 12 leaders from the 12 tribes to take 12 large stones from the bottom of the river and built a monument for the following generations to see and remember the acts of God in their deliverance. God wanted the children of Israel to remember what He did to their ancestors so they won’t forfeit their God and their faith in Him.

2)     A modern-day monument: There are also milestones in the history of our church. It all began with the mission work of Dr. Paul Caudill at First Baptist Church.  Over 50 years ago. After many years of diligent labor of pastors and helpers, the Chinese Mission was organized into a church in June 1988 with her own property on Stratford Road. Ten years later in June 1998, God provided us with a brand new building on this new location. Now another decade had passed, God provided resources to pay off all debts, added a second floor also debt free. So, today, we are here to celebrate this new milestone of this church at this new location. The celebration is aimed for those who have come to this church on each of the milestones to remember how much God has blessed us so they too will keep the faith of our forefather.

 

REASONS FOR CELEBRATION: So we remember our past.

1)   Remember God’s blessings: “The land you are crossing to take for possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drink rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God in continually on it from the beginning of the years to its end.” (Deut. 11:11-12)As God gave the Promised Land to the Israelis and asked them to remember the caring eyes of the Lord God, we are to remember the caring eyes of our Lord God and His caring eyes on this land, our beloved church and her works at this location. We see the caring eyes of God watch over this land and this church and blessed this church that we won’t forget.

2)   Remember the pioneer: “The Lord has said to Abraham: Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you . . . you will be a blessing to all the people and all the people on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3)We all know that this is the call of Abraham thousands of years ago. Over 50 years ago, God called a young preacher to leave his hometown in Georgia to move to Memphis to serve as pastor of the First Baptist Church. God gave him a vision to reach out to the Chinese community with the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we celebrate the milestones of our church, we remember Dr. Paul Caudill and many of his faithful helpers to lay the foundation of our church.

3)   Remember the forerunners: “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses pass on to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2)As Paul instructed Timothy to pass on the baton of teaching the gospel to reliable men so they might continue to teach others, Dr. Caudill passed on the baton of the Chinese Mission to reliable men like Dr. Jachin Chan, Rev. Ulan Ho, Rev. Chi Wu, Dr. Paul Wong, Rev. Joseph Yip and Rev. Paul Li. Among these reliable men, Rev. Wu and Dr Wong served the longest years as full time pastors of our church. Many good things happened in those years of faithful and fruitful ministries by these good men. Dr. Wong led this church into a chartered church and moved to our first property in 1988.

4)   Remember the faithful: “I thank my God every time I remember you. I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Phil. 1:3-5)As Paul prayed and praised the Christians at the church in Philippi he remembered their dedication and faithful contribution to the gospel ministry. Today, as we celebrate a new milestone of our church, we also remember the faithful services, contributions and sacrifices of countless faithful members of this church past and present. Some of these faithful saints have gone to be with the Lord, many of them still continue to serve the Lord and His church with much love, dedication and sacrifice. Without these people, we won’t have much to celebrate.

 

VISIONS FOR CELEBRATION: And we look into the future.

1)   Build on the foundation of the Bible: “The Bible is the supreme authority of our faith and practices.” These are the words in the Baptist Faith and Message a faith statement of all Baptist churches in the United States on the authority of the church. In a world that changes sp rapidly to cater to the demands of culture and man, we see churches and denominations have departed from the foundation of the Bible. We all need to remember that this church is built on the foundation of the Bible. The pulpit of this church stands on 2 Bibles in the foundation of this building symbolizing our commitment to the Bible as the sole authority of our faith and life practices. We are to teach the Bible to non-believers so they will know the salvation message. We teach the Bible to believers so they will grow in their faith and spiritual life. We are saved by the Word and we will live by the Word.

2)   Build for the salvation of souls: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some souls. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share its blessings.” (1 Corinth. 9:22-23)As times changes, we face more diverse ways of doing ministry in the church. Some churches have turned into tourist hot-spots. But we will remember that the sole purpose of our church is for saving lost souls to the saving grace of Jesus Christ. As we teach, preach, plan and execute all programs and activities, we do all these to bring lost souls to our Lord.

3)   Build by dedicated people: “Therefore my brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself to the work of the Lord because you know your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinth. 15:58)Paul commended the Christians in the church at Corinth that the gospel ministry of their church was built strong and unmoved because they gave fully and completely without reservation. Serving and growing churches is never an easy job especially for those who carry responsibilities as leaders. The future of this church, as in any church, depends, besides the grace of God, on the complete dedication and unreserved sacrifice of all the people, leaders and members alike. It was on the many sacrifices and hard work we have this church today. We need to pledge ourselves in commitment and faithful service and giving so our children will have an even better church in the years to come.

4)   Build on growth concept: Church growth is relatively a new concept in the past few decades. There are dimensions of growth fro numbers to methods, from quality of spiritual life to quantity of ministries. Since the church is the Body of Christ, a living organism, growth is a natural process. When we plan our programs, activities, organize functions, teach a lesson, we need to focus on HOW we can attract our friends, neighbors, colleagues and others so they will learn more about the salvation knowledge.. If we do all things with this soul-winning concept, we will accomplish the Great Commission in a faster pace.

 

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? (Joshua 4:1-8)

1)    It is an “all out” approach: “When all the people had finished crossing the Jordan.” (Josh. 4:1)If we really want to grow our church, to achieve what God asks us to do, to build another bright milestone in the next 10 years, we need to have everyone on the same boat, have the same mind and same commitment, same purpose and give same level of sacrifice. It is an all-out approach. We may speak different languages, have different background, different ways of doing things, but we need everyone to work together, commit ot each other and to God. We are member of the same church, same team of God. There are no players and spectators .Everyone has a place to serve, to work and to do something to make this church dynamic and vibrant which we all live to see.

2)    It is a command of God: “The Lord said to Joshua.” (4:1b)Growing a church is not an idea from a pastor or a few leaders of a church but a command of God. He asked that all His people followed His order. As people of God, we are to listen and obey God’s command without any reservation or personal interpretation. Jesus is our leader. We are to listen to our leader to win a battle.

3)    It is about leaders: “Choose 12 men from then people, one from each tribe.” (4:2)In every group, every church, God asks that some be set aside as leaders or representatives to shoulder responsibilities. There are the people who will take the lead to obey and follow God’s command, to set standards of commitment and sacrifice and to lead others in doing things so others may have someone they may follow.

4)    It is about sacrifice: “Tell them to take up 12 stones from the bottom of the river.” (4:3)While all others may bring their personal belongings crossing the river, these 12 men will bring stones big enough that they have to carry them on their shoulders. (4:4)People who God has called to leadership role are to take care of God’s business before they take care of their own business. This means personal sacrifice. What they have is not a title or position, it is the sacrifices they will bring to the church and the people.

5)    It is about monument: “(These stones) are to serve as monuments amount you.” (4:6)Monuments are built to commemorate the sacrifices of others, their sacrifice and hard work. We are all called to build new monuments so others may see God and His power.

6)    It is about testimony: “In the future when your children ask you: What do these stones mean? Then tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the Covenant of the Lord when it crossed the river.” (4:6-7)What better testimony than a monument built by the faithful to serve as a sign for our children to follow as we build the future of our church. We all want to be in the building of the monument.

7)    It is about obedience: “So they did as Joshua commanded them. They took 12 stones from the center of the river as God had commanded, one for each tribe.” (4:8)There was no question asked. No one argued the necessity or wisdom of doing so, everyone followed God’s command through Joshua and the monument was built as a testimony for generations to come. We all are going to obey God’s command to build a new monument and if anyone may ask in the future, we will have a beautiful story to tell them.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Time to celebrate: Celebration is about thanksgiving to God and remembering the great contributions of those who came before us. Thro celebration, we learn where we come from to know our roots. So, we came from and what others have done.

2)   Time  to move on: As we celebrate our past and the sacrifices our forefather had done for us, we are to commit to take the baton, the torch and to carry it to a higher ground.

3)   Time to glorify God: In whatever we do, we give glory and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ. We will compete with God for His glory. He is the only one serves all the glory.