Gem Castro Talks About Our Relationship with God
The church service in the Laurelbrook Seventh-day Adventist Church on September 3, 2016 began with an introit by Samantha (9th grader) on the piano. Rich Sutton reminded everyone that Laurelbrook has as its goal the training of missionaries.
Bob Gustafson welcomed everyone and reminded everyone that the cafeteria would be open after the meeting and that there would be a hike around Laurelbrook beginning at 2:30 p.m. The group would be back for the next meeting at 4:00.
Gem Castro had the invocation. The congregation then sang “Faith is the Victory”. Bob Gustafson then had the Morning Prayer; the congregation sang “Hear Our Prayer”.
Bob Gustafson then called for the offering. Terrence White, Daryll Ellis, and two students then collected the morning offerings; the loose offering went to the local church budget. The congregation sang the doxology, and Bob Gustafson prayed for the offering.
Natalie Wood then told the children present a story about an old man whose only possession was a buffalo. He wanted his neighbors to know Jesus. A teacher and his wife came to open a school. The wife got sick, the old man prayed, and the wife was healed. Then the old man got sick, and the boys in the village took care of his buffalo. The boys came running into his hut and told the old man his buffalo was dead. The teacher with his students came. He anointed the buffalo and prayed. Nothing happened. The old man then talked to God about his wish that the buffalo be healed so his neighbors would know Jesus. The water buffalo went running down the road.
Bob Gustafson then read Matthew 18:3 “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The Wood family then sang for special music.
Gem Castro discussed the topic “Absolute Reliance” and then issued a call for people to help finish the work. The congregation sang “Have Thine Own Way, Lord”. Gem Castro had the closing prayer.
Personnel Other Than Students:
Bob Gustafson – Laurelbrook vice-president / Laurelbrook farm manager / local church elder
Daryll Ellis – Laurelbrook graduate working for nearby Majestic Stone Company
Gem Castro – travelling speaker for Jesus for Asia
Jon Wood – head of Jesus for Asia, a ministry working in Southeast Asia to spread the Word of God to people who have never heard of God or have lost sight of Him
Natalie Wood – wife of Jon Wood and ministry partner
Terrence White – local church head deacon / Laurelbrook mechanic
Following are some notes on the sermon by Gem Castro:
- When you take God at His word, He pours out His blessings as needed.
- Everything we are going through right now, God has a message for us.
- We don’t often have the promised peace and rest because there is something wrong with our lives.
- There are three things I would like to share with you this morning. First, we need to include God as a main actor in our future plans and dreams. But often we dream for ourselves.
- Ellen White says that it is not for us to shape our future. Christ on earth made no plans for himself.
- The major part of our total life is eternal life, but we make decisions made on the short part of life we have here on earth.
- Only God knows what is best for us. Consequences only happen when we go out of the path of God’s will for us.
- Ellen White says that it is the privilege of every person to find peace in Christ by following God’s will even if it leads us to difficult countries where we give our lives for God and His Word.
- There are many people waiting for God’s truth in the countries of Southeast Asia perhaps due to the fact that our main agenda is for our future, not for God. This is the reason we don’t have God’s peace.
- Ellen White says that God asks us to give up those things that hinder our progress to heaven. These things can be good or bad.
- God gives us something better for everything we yield and give to Him.
- God is the best travel agent, relieving Gem of the responsibility for his travel plans.
- Secondly, we trust too much in our own strength and what we have accomplished and attained.
- Ellen White says that Solomon was never so great or so rich as the time when he confessed that he was but a child (didn’t know what to do).
- Matthew 18:3 “And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
- Like children, we often leave God and go our own way.
- Ellen White says that the greatest blessing is to know what we are destitute. Until we get there, the Lord can do nothing. How many times have we missed on God’s promised strength?
- And God’s ways are always crazy in man’s sight. Take Gideon and his 300 soldiers, for example.
- Judges 7:2 “And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that [are] with thee [are] too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.” But victory was assured when Gideon followed God’s commands.
- God often takes away things in life we depend on so all praise goes back to Him instead of us.
- Pride is faith displaced on self rather than on God.
- Galatians 6:3 “For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.”
- When you are strong, really you are weak. The moment you take pride in your strong points, it is only downhill. When you realize that you are nothing, you are ready for God’s help and strength.
- Have we as a church been self-sufficient? We have not been letting God be in charge.
- Ellen White says that to the soul who sees his/her need, nothing is withheld.
- Thirdly, we don’t wait on God. When Israel was about to conquer Canaan, spies were sent through the land.
- Numbers 13:1-2 “1 ¶ And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them.”
- Ellen White says that the land search was really the people’s idea. The Lord simply let them do it. Result? Disaster and destruction.
- We have good ideas, but if these ideas are not God’s ideas, destruction and disaster followed.
- If Israel had waited for the Lord, they would have seen the glory and majesty of the Lord and kept 40 years of their lives and possession of the Promised Land.
- Have we been waiting on God to lead us to the plan to run this ministry? We have distress because we follow our own ideas.
- God wants to give us a mansion, but we settle for a shed or a gazebo.
- Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
- God wants us to have a larger dream that our ministries can accomplish.
- Ellen White says that the Lord Himself directed Gideon’s mind to a plan that accomplished the destruction of his enemies.
- As a leader, Moses had the most difficult tasks but was not permitted to enter Canaan. He was sent to a lonely mountain, was shown the subsequent history of Israel, and was permitted to die alone despite the fact that he was in full vigor of health.
- At this point, he was thinking about the people he was attempting to lead into the Promised Land, not himself.
- Moses was shown Christ’s First and Second Coming. He died, but then he woke up in the Heavenly Canaan.
- God wants you to look to His leadership instead of your own but then pass into the Heavenly Canaan.
- Come, for the Lord will not wait forever.