On a day largely devoted to praising God, the performance of the Mass Choir of the Redeemed Christian Church of God was a high point at the opening of the 2020 Holy Ghost Congress of the church.
Although the need for safe distancing under the COVID-19 protocols may have reduced the number of the over 2000-strong choir for the night, those that performed thrilled participants at the virtual Congress at their various locations in a way only the usual spirit-filled sermon of the General Overseer, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, could have surpassed.
His in-depth sermons, laced prophecies, decrees and special prayers, are highly anticipated.
But there were good doses of both. The choir performed at length before the sermon at the plenary session of the day and continued after it in the spirit of praising God.
Pastor Adeboye had earlier opened the Congress with a message of praise. He said: “We thank the Almighty God, the controller of the universe, for the privilege of celebrating another Congress. He has preserved us all through the year since the last Congress for a special evening experience at this year’s Congress.
“May His Name be glorified forever in Jesus’ Mighty Name – Amen!
“This year’s Congress is very special in many ways. We shall spend quality time on the opening day to praise God for His wondrous works at the last Congress and ever since.
“Each day has been planned with you in mind – the opening day, the daily morning, afternoon and evening sessions.
“It’s your turn to fly. Do not let anyone or any situation distract you. It is a special encounter with the Lord Himself, be very ready to receive Him; be prayerful, focused and expectant.
“I have no doubt that you would be the next person to fly and as you fly, your strength will be renewed continually in Jesus Name, Amen. Welcome to the Congress of IT’S TIME TO FLY!”
The morning and afternoon sessions were devoted to presentations by the Pastors Seed Family and children, while the evening plenary session started at 6pm with prayers and intercession. Praise and worship followed and after the opening prayer, and there was more praise and ministration of the Mass Choir.
Then Pastor Adeboye came in with his sermon, titled: “Categories of Praise,” to close the day.
He explained that the night was dedicated to praising God because as African elders say: “If a child is grateful for what was done for him yesterday he will receive more today.
“The Almighty God has been good to us in the previous Congresses and we are trusting Him for something very, very great, something very, very mighty during this Congress.
“And we are trusting that everyone of us would really have cause to Glorify His Name, by the time this Congress is over, in Jesus’ Mighty Name – Amen.”
The text for his sermon was: John 12:32.
He said the very many reasons to praise the Almighty God puts praise in categories, which he explained as follows.
• There is reason to praise God when our bitter past and threats are over. When the Israelites saw Pharaoh and his army drown in the Red Sea, they broke spontaneously into praise because they saw what had been bothering them for decades had disappeared overnight.
It is the praise that is offered usually by survivors; by people who had survived an ordeal or threat and are sure that their survival is a settled matter.
It is a kind of praise that every “True Believers” should offer because the Bible says: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, old things are passed away and behold all things are become new.
• The second category of praise is offered by those who need to thank God because what was causing them shame is gone. For many years, Hannah was mocked over barrenness. So when God gave her a son, Samuel, her praise was spontaneous.
This is the praise that comes from those the world had written off.
• There is a praise that is offered by those whose enemies have become their servants. In a Biblical story, when the guard who was to keep Paul and Silas in prison noticed they had been freed, their chains broken in an earth tremor that hit the prison, he rushed to attend to them.
• We praise God when the enemy is totally humiliated and comes begging.
• We praise God when we hear that all of a sudden, our enemies have destroyed themselves.
• There is greater joy and more praise, when, like in King Jehoshaphat’s example, the wealth of the enemy is transferred to us. It took the king and his subjects 3 days to harvest the wealth of the enemies who had fought among themselves and died.
• There is a praise that demolishes obstacles the enemies may put in your way to progress. You know occasionally in a man’s life, there is someone or a group of people who vow that you won’t succeed; they will do everything possible to make sure you never succeed. So how glad would you be if all of a sudden you discovered that they are all gone?
I will give you one illustration: There was a young man who was praised in his yearly assessment for handwork. But for no reason he was sacked one day and he became confused and very sad.
He brought the sack letter to one of our Holy Ghost Services and we prayed. Then the Word of God came that someone was going to lose his father but he should not mourn.
The following week the young man’s father died and it was as if they heard in his place of work because the day after his father died he was recalled and promoted. It turned out that his father didn’t want him to be greater than he was.
• And then there is a kind of praise that will ensure that your promotion is permanent. An example is the popular David dance, when he praised God so much he didn’t care about his clothes.
The wife saw him and said: ‘You are supposed to be the king, look at the way you were praising God today!
And he replied: ‘I am praising the One who made me King.’
Because David praised God that much, the Almighty God promised him that his Kingdom would be established forever. And that is why till today, Jesus Christ is called “The Son of David.
• Finally, there is a praise that will cause you to fly. Jesus Christ said: If you lift me up I will draw you to myself. He is now seated far above principalities and powers, which is where He will draw you when you praise Him.
But for your praise to please God, you have to surrender to Him, give your life to Him. On that note, Pastor Adeboye made a call for salvation and prayed for people who had surrendered to God.