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September 10, 2006

Service at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California

This week I am on vacation in California visiting my family and finally, I was able to attend service at Harvest Christian Fellowship and listen to Pastor Greg Laurie, LIVE. I often listen to his sermons online or I will download them into my MP3 player. But this was cool, to see him in person and hear him minister the Word of God. My Aunt Lesley had been wanting to go also and my mother had decided to come too. I was really looking forward to this and the message was great.

We arrived to attend the first service of the morning at 7:45. Two more services follow at 9:45 and 11:45, then a Spanish service in the afternoon, then a final service at 6:00 p.m. Pastor Greg preaches at each service with the exception of the Spanish service.

We actually had to get in line to enter the sanctuary too. I'm sure that people were beginning to line up at 7:00 a.m. to enter the building and we arrived at 7:15 a.m. and was able to sit about six rows from the front of the pulpit where Pastor Greg begins each sermon. I was amazed to see a few hundred people who were waiting to enter the sanctuary too!! I've visited a few different churches in the past, but I've never seen people waiting in line to get in to the building!!

The main sanctuary can accomodate approximately 4,000 people and they have an outdoor area with a canopy to provide some shade during the service. In Riverside County, which is part of the inland area of California, it is also considered part of the desert. Just today it was approximately 103 degrees this afternoon, but during the second service that began at 9:45, the temperature was probably close to the mid 70's.

Pastor Greg's message was based on Numbers 6:24-27, which reads, "The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace. So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”

His message was titled "What God is Like" and he described six characteristics of God through these verses of Scripture and here they are:

  1. God wants to bless you more than you want to be blessed
  2. God will keep you
  3. God smiles because of you, even despite our sin and seeing us on our way to sin. Though it upsets God when we sin, even making Him angry, He will not punish us according to our sin, until every opportunity has been given to repent of our sin and turn our lives back toward Him
  4. God is gracious toward us. His grace is undeserved toward all of us, especially because we have sinned against Him. God is just and will punish those who rebel against Him. Those who reject Him will not receive the inheritance of eternal life. God is merciful where we will ask him not to punish us too severely, though we deserve it because we have sinned against him. God is gracious to give us what we don't deserve. So, justice is getting what we deserve, mercy is getting less than what we deserve and grace is getting what we don't deserve
  5. God smiles upon us. God actually smiles because of each person, very much like a parent looking at a beautiful infant child. They can make any person smile with such joy
  6. Finally, God gives us his peace. Certainly of which can be found in Jesus Christ

I may go to Wednesday night service though I'm not sure yet. I'm going to the beach tomorrow in Oceanside, near Camp Pendleton. I'm looking forward to a nice relaxing day there.

Have a blessed week.

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