All should appreciate the faithfulness of God


Published: Thursday, February 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 1:46 p.m.
A local ministry is sewing a seed in the heart of east Gainesville, and it hopes to reap the fruits of its labor come harvest time.
"We are a canvassing and witnessing church that wants to make a difference in the lives of people in the community," said the Rev. David Middlebrooks Sr., the pastor of Harvest Baptist Church at 1922 E. University Ave. "We go door to door in this area telling people about the goodness of Jesus Christ, and we encourage them to come out and fellowship with us.
"We have activities for the children, like tutoring on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. They don't have to be a member. All they need to do is bring their homework, and we will help them with it. If you see our doors open, come on in. We also have a clothing ministry and a food bank."
On Sunday, the service began with the singing of several hymns, and the reciting of the responsive reading, which came from Psalm 122, before Middlebrooks began his sermon.
"We just thank God for another joyous day," Middlebrooks said. "We're excited about what God has done for us."
Middlebrooks preached from Isaiah 5:1-7. He said every healthy Christian ought to have a desire to be pleasing to God. He said people like to make excuses about why they don't attend church. He said a lot of people say they have church in their hearts.
"If you really believe in Christ, you will be in church helping to build his kingdom," Middlebrooks said.
The title of his sermon was, "We Should Appreciate the Faithfulness of God."
Middlebrooks said in the fifth chapter of Isaiah, God uses the term ''vineyard'' to represent Israel, the church and all believers.
He said God should be the first priority in people's lives, and that people should be looking to please God.
"We need to go to God and be obedient to him, instead of us asking God to come to us," he said. "There are no excuses for us not being what he made us to be. God has a right to expect fruitfulness from us because he gave us everything we need. He gave up his only begotten son.
"God has supplied everything we need. God knows what we need. He has a purpose and a plan for everyone of us. God has spared us no expense. There are no excuses! Middlebrooks said God has removed the obstacles out of people's way, and has made the way clear for anybody who wants to know his will. He went on to say that God has expectations for everybody, because that is how he made it.
"If you expect nothing out of children, that's just what you are going to get," he said. "If you expect nothing from your church, you will get nothing. If I expect nothing from you, that's what I am going to get.f-z "God has high expectations of all of us, and this church."
He told the children in the congregation that God expects them to get good grades in school and to behave at all times no matter what situation they may be in.
"God wants you to be successful," he told the children.
"God gives us his best, and that is what he is expecting from us," he said.
He went on and talked about God putting a winepress in the vineyard when no grapes had grown yet. He told parishioners that God is a God of anticipation.
"You don't wait until it starts raining to go buy an umbrella, do you?" he asked. "You don't wait until it is breakfast time to go get eggs, do you?" he asked. "God doesn't wait either, and neither do we. We are anticipating growth here, and we anticipate you all being leaders."
Middlebrooks said that the grapes that eventually grew in the vineyard were wild grapes, and that they were not fruitful. He said the fact that the grapes were not fruitful indicates that God was not pleased with his people.
"We can't fault God when we are not being obedient to him," Middlebrooks said. "We look to blame other people. We have more influence in changing ourselves than anybody else.
"It is always easier to fault someone else, and not look at ourselves. I could never repay God for what he has done for me. I'm a debtor."
Middlebrooks said God removed the hedges he had placed around the vineyard to protect it so that it could be destroyed. He said God was distraught because even though he had given his people everything they needed, it was still not enough for them to do his will.
"You can't be blessed living a disobedient lifestyle," he said. "God has order and structure. He loves us too much to let us live any kind of way. He saved us to serve in his vineyard. We are going to be working in his vineyard, and we don't want it to be said that we were neglectful in our duties as servants of the Lord.
"There are so many benefits when we obey God, and when we are disobedient, the consequences are devastating."
One young member who was in church on Sunday said he was glad to be there.
"I like being here with my friends," said 13-year-old Stonny Barnett after the service. "They do fun things with us like take us to the movies and to basketball games." Stonny was in church with several other boys his age. They were all picked up by Rick Smith, a University of Florida math professor who met the boys months ago while witnessing in the community. Smith said he brings the boys to church with him most Sundays. One will be getting baptized soon.f-z Smith said Harvest Baptist Church is a mission church of Westside Baptist Church, the church where he and his wife, Jane, are members. However, he said they both have been attending Harvest regularly for a year and a half.
"More than two years ago, Westside decided to plant a church on the east side of town," Smith said. "We got acquainted with the neighborhood during block parties we organized. The response has been good, and it is always nice to fellowship." Middlebrooks, 46, has been married to his wife, Linda, for 27 years. The couple reside in Jacksonville and have four children. He is the manager of a loss mitigation team for Wachovia Bank, and he plans to move to Gainesville soon.f-z For information on the clothing ministry and food bank, call (352) 505-5599 or (352) 219-7618.
Sunday morning worship is at 11 a.m., and evening worship is at 4 p.m. Prayer and Bible Study are at 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.

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