Howard Mooney - The First Day - Turlock, California - 1984

To begin with, I would like to read to you the first verses of the Bible. Genesis 1, "In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth. And the Earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And the evening and morning were the first day." I suppose all of you know that the light of which we have just been reading is the light of the glorious gospel. The natural lights - the sun, moon, and stars, were not created until the fourth day. II Corinthians 4:6, "For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." That was the same light he was referring to. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." That was the same light that we read of in Genesis 1. Jesus came to the world to be the personification of that light. Paul said the commission God gave to him was to turn men from darkness to light. That is still the work of the Gospel. John put a climax on it when he said, "But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.” The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. The people who sat in darkness saw great light. There is no greater darkness than the darkness of confusion the people were sitting in darkness.

There were many churches, all believing in the same God, all getting a different meaning, and all contributing to the darkness of confusion. God in His mercy sent the gospel when we were in darkness. This light was created and presented to the world on the first day of the week of creation. I want you to notice that it was the first day. Later on, the Lord authorized that His people would meet together to worship on the first day of the week.

Acts 2, this was a time when the world was filled with expectancy because they had been told that on the day of Pentecost following Calvary, God would pour out His Spirit in a dramatic way. History tells us that the whole city of Jerusalem at that time was filled with a gala of expectation, and there in their synagogues, they thought, "Surely upon us, God will pour out His seal of approval." The Pharisees and Sadducees felt the same way. In order to relieve any confusion or any doubt, the Lord caused His Spirit to come like a hurricane. It roared over the heads of all those people and left them speechless. That spirit came and settled upon the home and filled the house where the disciples were having their Sunday morning meeting. It was at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday. He not only poured out His seal of approval on the way, but He poured out the seal of His approval upon the day on which they were worshiping. We from time to time come to face with people who feel we should keep the old Sabbath. We can take them right to the infancy of the church when the disciples were meeting together on the first day of the week.

If you read Leviticus 23 after the meeting, verses 15-21, the Lord told about the order of this day of Pentecost. The day after the 7th Sabbath was to be the day of Pentecost, and that would be the first day of the week. It will be worth your time to read this yourself and get it embedded in your own mind. I want you to notice especially the 21st verse. On that selfsame day, they were to have a holy convocation. A holy convocation was a special meeting. When the Sabbath and the old law were still binding, the Lord told His people He wanted them to have a special meeting on Sunday. Otherwise, they would not have been gathered in the synagogues on Sunday. When God poured out His Spirit of approval upon those Christians, He not only poured out His seal of approval on the way, but also on the day on which they were worshiping. From that time on, there was no question but what this is the way and this is the day that the Lord has placed His seal of approval upon.

There are three reasons the first day of the week is a special day to the Lord. It was on the first day of the week that the Lord revealed the Light of the glorious Gospel. It was on the first day of the week that He raised His Son from the dead. It was on the first day of the week that God placed His seal of approval upon His disciples. When Joel prophesied this day, he referred to it as a great and terrible day of the Lord. Peter referred to it as a great and noble day. We can do everything that the Bible teaches, but if we do it in the wrong way, Jesus considers it the work of iniquity. All of the zeal they were putting into it, and then awaken to the fact that God couldn't put His seal upon it, it was a terrible day, but to the Lord's people, it was a great and notable day.

We were studying about the fellowship meeting in a couple of our studies, and while we were studying about these and the New Testament instructions of what they should mean to us, I thought I would look into the Old Testament because everything Jesus lived and taught was foretold in the Old Testament. Isaiah 49:10, "They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them; for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them even by the springs of water shall He guide them." This pictures a guide guiding His people to the springs of water. Springs are hidden sources of refreshing that God brings to the surface. You don't drill nor dig for them. But God brings them to the surface. These are things revealed to them who are willing to follow the guide. I can't find a better description in the Bible of what a fellowship meeting should be like. Two prerequisites of a desert guide - he had to know the way, had to have gone over it before so they could know the way, and another requirement of that guide was that he would sit down at the oasis in the desert and talk to those journeying with him about the city they would come to when the desert journey was over. "Oft the desert way is dreary, but our hearts rejoice to know, Jesus leads, He knows the pathway. Joyfully with Him we go." I hope you appreciate the fact that these days you are enjoying the things that are hidden from the wise and prudent. I hope we appreciate that we have access to something special in every meeting. There is a lot more to a meeting besides what you see on the surface.

We were studying in Revelations 21 and 22, and we are all glad that God gave us again in those chapters a fresh glimpse of the city of habitation to which we are journeying. If you would like to make an interesting study, I would like to encourage you to look upon the references to God as our guide. David said, "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory." I found another reference I thought was applicable along this line - Psalms 8, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength because of Thine enemies, that Thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger." God knew before He called me into this fellowship that I would need strength along the way. Because of the enemies and the avenger, God planned fellowship meetings where "out of the mouth of babes and sucklings" we can get strength. The way that is so astounding is the way God in-stills strength.

The wise and prudent were Bible scholars in that day, but they were always arguing and quibbling about which one knew the most. This fellowship isn't made up of the wise and prudent. This fellowship is made up of babes. The Jews looked upon every child up to the age of 12 as a babe. At that age, children look to their parents and don't feel sufficient in themselves. I would like to say to you mothers, God intended you would be an ideal in the mind of the little girl He placed in your care. Don't let that little girl down. Don't do anything to shatter that God-given confidence. You fathers, that little boy He has entrusted to you, God intends he should look to you as the ideal and he should feel that there is no dad like my dad. Don't let that little boy down. When God's people come together on Sunday morning, in the eyes of the world it seems such a weak thing. They don't realise that greatest strength is injected through a meeting like that. We had a lady minister profess in the meetings some time ago. She was ordained from the seminary. She saw the truth and the beauty of it. This little Sunday morning meeting confirmed to her that this was the way. When she told a friend about the little fellowship meeting, the friend said, "I don't think I would like that. When I go to church, I want a sermon." She said to her, "When those people meet together and give their testimony, you have heard the greatest sermon you have ever heard." We can't be the wise and the prudent, but we can all be little children.

Acts 20:7, we read of that meeting that took place on the first day of the week. That was an evening meeting. Sometimes people wonder why they would meet in the evening for the same reason that they met at 9:00 a.m. in Jerusalem. They had to adjust the meeting because of the heat. The midday heat was unbearable. That is why the guest chamber was in the upper room in the house. In the evening, they could remove the tiling from the roof and the cool air could come down and ventilate the room. These people gathered together to break bread. Also, there is the bread and the wine that we partake of when we come together in the fellowship meeting. That is the climax of the meeting. That is the final approval he puts on the meeting. Did it ever occur to you that this was a silent testimony of Jesus...that this is the means whereby God provided that you could have communion? This is just to remind you again that all that you have and all that you enjoyed in that meeting has been possible by the sacrifice of Jesus. God forbid that we would partake just as a matter of form.

When Paul was writing to the Corinthian Christians, he said, "When you partake of the bread, it is a communion of the body of Christ and the wine, the blood of Christ." I have at times read Psalms 22 before going to a meeting because Psalms 22 helps me understand more perfectly the sufferings of Jesus. "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Verses 7 and 8, "All they that see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 'He trusted on the Lord, that He would deliver Him; let Him deliver Him, seeing He delighted in Him.'" Those were the words of ridicule that fell from the lips of scorners. Verse 16, "For dogs have compassed Me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed Me; they pierced My hands and My feet." Verse 18, "They parted My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture." All four of the verses prophesy things that were fulfilled. What He said in verses four to six give us a little insight into the depth of agony He felt, "Our fathers trusted in Thee; they trusted, and Thou didst deliver them. They cried unto Thee, and were delivered; they trusted in Thee, and were not confounded."

Verse 6, "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people." When Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, He took the place of a worm, if you want to know what the worm is read the closing verses of Mark 9. Hell is a place where the worm dieth not. Hell is hell because of the realization of the fact that I am here because I am nothing but a miserable worm. Jesus said that feeling would never die, and the burning regret would never cease. Jesus put Himself in the position of a miserable worm that you might be saved from spending all eternity as a miserable worm. Did it ever occur to you that Jesus went through six hours of hell on the cross of Calvary to save you from an eternity of hell? "Thou didst not leave My soul in hell." You will find that hell took place before Jesus went to the grave. He was referring to the six hours of hell that Jesus went through on the cross of Calvary. I like to read this 22nd Psalm before going to meeting.

I am glad God has planned that we partake of the communion at the end of a meeting. I hope that the first day of the week will always mean a great deal to us as God's people. I hope the first day and the meeting that takes place on the first day of the week will always have a special place. Remember that little meeting on Sunday morning is a place that God planned whereby you might receive strength - the strength that you don't have normally to carry you through another week. Remember in that little meeting, the desert guide sits down and shares with you the hidden sources of God-given springs and shares with you the hidden manna, and He reminds us of that wonderful city of habitation that awaits us at the end of their way. Read Revelation 21 and 22 to get a fresh vision of the city of habitation. I hope we will appreciate the simple and effective and far-reaching provision God has made for us.