POWER #4: Patience, Kindness, Goodness

HelenKeller&AnneSullivanAnne Sullivan and Helen Keller 1887

Pastor Barry/ The Gathering:  POWER 4: Patience, Kindness, Goodness To watch this video message and others go to thegatheringhg.com and click on the youtube link to subscribe

 “Hero” 

I heard a true story last week that becomes a great springboard for my message today as we reflect on the power of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of His people: An elderly, white Christian lady excitedly made an appointment at her favorite salon to get her nails done—before Governor Newsom shuts them down again!  She arrived for her appointment with her mask on and a little early with a happy       welcome back greeting for the manicurist who had just reopened for business after the long shut down.  Also waiting in the shop was a young black woman dressed in a Black Lives Matter tee shirt and matching face mask. She had walked in without an appointment. Then it happened— the manicurist called the white lady over to sit in the chair.  Immediately, the black woman rose to her feet and in aggressive accusatory language, loudly protested that she was being treated prejudicial because of her color.  “I was here first”, she yelled—”you are being racist!” The manicurist tried to explain to the woman that the policy of the store was to always give first priority to people who had made appointments over walk-in guests, but the woman just became more angry and continued yelling all the louder about the outrage of racial inequality in    America.  The elderly lady who had made the appointment was rattled to say the least and was deeply  offended because she had never been prejudiced a day in her life.  She carefully rose up from her chair, turned to the flabbergasted manicurist and softly said “she can have my appointment— I’ll make one for another day” and hurriedly left the salon. 

Now, when I first heard that story I was incensed! I said, “that Christian lady should have given that self righteous, narcissistic, racist woman a piece of her mind and the owner of the store should have ordered her to leave and to never come back!” That was my initial response, but then my wife, who is much more patient than I, with the ruthless stupidity of mankind, made me see what the elderly Christian woman may have averted with her self sacrificing action: The angry woman may have refused to leave and even escalated to physical violence.  The  police may have been called—bringing about a false blue on black narrative for a cell phone recording sent out on social media.  In today’s climate that could have resulted in misguided protests in front of the store, and even the destruction of that store and neighboring businesses—possibly even the senseless loss of life.  At least it would have fueled the victim infused racist narrative that is so embraced in society today.  That Christian woman was a hero! She should certainly be given a free nail job!

 Watch Your Step Ephesians 4:26-27, Galatians 5:16-17, 25

That story sobers me, because I realize that my natural reaction in that scenario likely would have led to disaster in some form.  My natural reaction may be understandable, justifiable and even right… but would it have edified the situation?  Would it have  mitigated the situation?  The answer is no.  Would my natural reaction have given the Devil an opportunity?  I’m ashamed to say, “yes, it would have”.  Thank God I wasn’t   getting my nails done that day (for many reasons)!     

We are instructed in the Bible not to sin in our anger and not to give the Devil a foothold (Ephesians 4:26-27). The only way that we can accomplish this is by walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18).  The less we respond with our “natural reactions” the better (especially in today’s climate). “We are not to do whatever we want.”  We must allow the “fruit of the Spirit” to guide us. When we “keep in step with the Spirit” we will not give the Devil a foothold (Galatians 5:25).  The “fruit of the Spirit is a gift to the child of God but we must choose to eat it and fall in love with its flavors— and it is an acquired taste!  If we would consume this fruit like our morning coffee we would be doing fine! 

Three More Matthew 16:21-26, Luke 22:31-34, John 21:4-7, 15-19

We spoke of the Spirit’s Love, Joy and Peace in the last lesson.  Today we look at three more  characteristics of God that we sorely need: Patience, Kindness and Goodness —when one exercises  patience —kindness and goodness will follow. God’s kindness and goodness is displayed in His patience which is intended to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4) —our exercising these three  things towards others will bring the same. 

The story of Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller (Autobiography: The Story Of My Life by Helen Keller, Movie: The Miracle Worker 1962 and 2000) is the epitome of patience, kindness and goodness in what appears to be an impossible situation.  Helen was blind and deaf due to the Scarlet Fever and prone to violent outbreaks until a blind teacher, Anne Sullivan, taught her how to communicate at age 7.  Helen Keller ( 1880-1968) went on to become a great American writer, activist, lecturer and leader who made great advances for the deaf and blind. She was also the first blind person to ever earn a bachelors degree. She and Anne Sullivan remained close friends throughout their lives, but Anne’s teaching methods were frowned on by Helen’s parents.  Their grief for Helen’s handicaps and their fear of Helen’s rages kept them from disciplining her.  Anne was a fiery Irish woman who would have none of that.  She was determined to teach Helen how to live in a world where no one gets everything they want and only work and determination bring happiness.  Where are teachers like Anne Sullivan today —God knows we need them!

Interestingly enough “kindness and Goodness” may not always appear as such to an onlooker, because both are focused on truth (true friendliness and moral righteousness). Sometimes Kindness is ruthlessly honest and goodness is harsh.  Patience is persistent in love and sometimes love is tough. Think of the tough love of Jesus for Peter when He said to him “Get behind me Satan”( Matthew 16:21-26). Was Jesus not kind or good to Peter?  Was He not patient with him?  Of course He was, but Peter needed to be “sifted like wheat” to be made ready for his calling into leadership (Luke 22:31-34). The fact that Jesus came back and re-confronted Peter after His resurrection shows His patience with His friend.  The goodness and kindness of Jesus  is also shown in how He confronts Peter— although ruthlessly honest and rather harsh (John 21:4-7, 15-19).  Peter never forgot the lesson!  Helen Keller never forgot the lessons from Anne Sullivan ether, of them Helen said :I was like an unconscious clod of earth. There was nothing in me except the instinct to eat, drink and sleep. My days were a blank without past, present, or future, without hope or anticipation, without interest or joy. Then suddenly… my brain felt the impact of another mind, and I awoke to language, to knowledge, to love… I was lifted from nothingness to human life”.  The kindness, gentleness, and patience of Anne Sullivan, although unorthodox, broke through to Helen and later opened her heart to Christ: Helen Keller’s religious instruction came from the great preacher Philip Brooks. He told her about God and what was done for us in Jesus Christ. She listened awhile and then said, “Mr. Brooks, I knew all that before, but now I know God’s name.” God speaks to us all—even through our deafness and blindness— if we will be still then we will know He is God (Psalm 46:10).  Kindness, Gentleness and Patience leads us and others to repentance — which leads to Christ and to the fruit of the Holy Spirit who fills us. 

“Don’t Be Anxious” Philippians 4:6-7

Believers— we are told to be anxious (impatient) for nothing, but in all situations, rather inflicted by self, by others or by fate, we are not to rage, wallow in self-pity, or fret— We are to pray, petition and thank God— To be still.  Rejoice, so that your gentleness is evident.  Let His Spirit rule you—Allow His peace  to come.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FATHER’S DAY: “Big Daddy”

HandTouchingHandMichelangeloPastor Barry/ The Gathering:  FATHER’S DAY: “Big Daddy” To watch this video message and others go to thegatheringhg.com and click on the youtube link to subscribe

Big Daddy & Bad Dads! Romans 8:14-17

Today I give thanks for “Big Daddy!”  That’s right, God is my “Big Daddy”, It says so in Romans 8:14-17.  The Greek word “abba” means “daddy”— and I’m adopted as His son and an heir to all He has.  All the other dad’s being honored this Father’s Day might have some merit too— even me, but no one holds a candle to “Big Daddy!”  To all those little kids fighting over who has the best dad, saying:  “My dad’s bigger than your dad!  My dad’s stronger than your dad! My dad’s smarter than your dad!”  I say, “my dad made the earth that your dad is standing on— and everything in it”.  “Big Daddy” wins all dads hands down!

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters.  Psalm 24:1-2

 Dads are not all we are cracked up to be!  Even “great” men of history held in the highest esteem weren’t the greatest of dads.  Let’s just take the first most famous three fathers   mentioned in the Bible. Those so called “Fathers of Our Faith”: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob:

ABRAHAMCredited for:  Leaving all to follow God/ a man of faith!  Bad Dad: Genesis 16:1-6  He foolishly doubted God’s promise to give him a son through his aged wife and decided to procreate with his wife’s slave girl instead. In this brazen act of disobedience Abraham brought discord between two brothers and two nations for centuries (Jews and Muslims) and into the present day.  Abraham’s son Isaac failed too:

ISAACCredited for:  Obedience to his father even in the face of death. Bad Dad:  Genesis 25: 27-28  He and his wife played favorites with their twin boys.  As a  result mom taught Jacob, her favorite son, to lie and trick old blind Isaac into giving away his eldest son’s (Esau’s) birthright (Genesis 27:1-35). Jacob went right on lying about  everything throughout his life in order to prosper himself (be blessed).

JACOB (AKA Israel): Credited for:  Persistence in receiving a blessing from God. (Though by questionable tactics: Eventually God dislocated Jacob’s hip, causing him to confront his bad behavior so he could receive God’s real blessing for him and for the nation he birthed (Israel). Bad Dad:  Genesis 37:3-4  Played favorites with one of his 12 sons (Joseph)This brought  sibling rivalry of the worst kind and undue suffering into the boys life.  Jacob’s son Joseph; however, was elevated by his Heavenly Father to the highest place in Egypt and as a result saved all of Israel from extermination by famine.

Iniquity of the Fathers Exodus 34:6-7

We can see a biblical truth in these Fathers that we have just looked at.  The iniquity of the fathers was visited upon each of their sons for many generations.  When a father sins it carries over to their children by natural and spiritual law (Exodus 34:6-7).  And ladies stop nudging your husbands because your sin carries over too! 

What we have seen blowing up in our big city streets today is the result of bad parenting —generational curses— and I’m not just referring to the rioters, arsonists, looters, shooters, vandals and foul mouthed followers.  I’m talking about the greedy, self-serving politicians and big business billionaires that are funding and profiting from this bad behavior too.  The bigger picture here is the generational sin against God and the unrepentant hearts of men.

Saving Grace Psalms 27:10, Romans 5:12,15-17

There was one, and only one, saving grace that brought blessing through these men, and their son’s mistakes (and that same grace is ours as believers too). That grace is “Big Daddy!”  If it wasn’t for God in these men’s lives there would have been no good thing that came from them or their seed!  By God’s grace, Jesus Christ came through this line and He is our Savior and Redeemer!  God promises to love and care for us despite our parents faults. Even if we were utterly forsaken by both mom and dad God will not forsake us (Psalm 27:10).  No wonder Jesus said:

“Call no man ‘father’, for you have one Father and He is in heaven.” Matthew 23:9

Men…and women, there is only one thing that redeems our mistakes as parents.  That is the unmerited grace of God in our lives.  The difference between a good dad or mom is their  relationship with Christ.  Our original earthly father, Adam, made a mess of things and through his mistake brought condemnation to the entire human race, but God,  being rich in mercy, provided a sacrifice for our sin in Jesus Christ and now for those in Christ our sin is covered and a blessing comes where there once was a curse.  There is no Father like our heavenly Father.

Dead Bury The Dead!” Matthew 4:18-22, Luke 9:59-60                                                            Of course, God wants us to honor our mother and father…it’s the 5th commandment and has a promise of long life attached to it, (Exodus 20:12)  but no one should ever be elevated above God and His plans for us…not even dear old Dad!   The Jews had so much respect for their fathers that it was a son’s obligation to work with him as long as he lived—putting his own plans on hold until the old man was buried (by the son), but Jesus reminded them of the greater command: “You shall have no other gods before me” (1st commandment: Exodus 20:3). “FOLLOW ME”  He said it to Peter and Andrew, James and John.  Good ole’ Jewish boys fishing with their fathers.  “They immediately left the boat and their father” (Matthew 4:18-22). Jesus’ plan is more important than tradition, more important than earthly duty and respect, and even more important than dad!  “Big Daddy” calls those who follow Him to be fishing for the souls of men (Luke 9:59-60: the dead can bury the dead.) Nothing is as important as following Jesus, and dad’s, no lesson is worth teaching more than following Jesus. Be a fisher of men and start with your children! A man can teach his children many earthly things, but if he doesn’t teach them to follow Jesus he has given them Hell as their inheritance.

Greater Love! 1 John 1:9-2:2, 3:1-3 

What kind of a father are you—or have you been? Perhaps you have made some grave mistakes— confess them to God (1 John 1:9-2:2) and follow Jesus. “Big Daddy” can work all things for good (Romans 8:28) just look at Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Live your faith out loud men until He comes— because no love is stronger, no aim is higher no God is greater.  Who’s your Daddy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POWER#3: Love, Joy, Peace

SummerOfLoveNonsense2020

THE SUMMER OF LOVE: SAN FRANCISCO 1967/ THE SUMMER OF HATE: SEATTLE 2020

Pastor Barry/ The Gathering:  POWER 3: Love, Joy, Peace To watch this video message and others go to thegatheringhg.com and click on the youtube link to subscribe

 “All You Need Is Love”

What became the Beatles’ signature song  (written by Lennon & McCartney) was created as an international message of love, that could be easily understood by all people of the world and reflected the feeling of the youth during what is historically called “The Summer of Love” in 1967.  At that time Hippies (flower children) converged on San Francisco in record numbers presenting a drug induced message of love and peace that was to bring joy to the world!  The song was performed by the Beatles during the first live global television show “Our World”. Over 400 million people from 25 countries watched that broadcast on the 25th of June 1967.  The song shared a simplistic message:  “All you need is love.”  But the “free-love of that counter-culture movement didn’t save the world or our nation.  In fact, it did more to move us toward the failures of today.  That is because the human brand of love— which is simply a “comfortably numb” feeling without the bonds of commitment or responsibility is really not love at all— and not at all what   anybody needs.  Now, over 50 years later hate is what we have pouring into our cities like lava from a spewing volcano destroying everything in it’s path. What we needed then and what we needed before that and what we need today is Christ—and the love that comes from the Holy Spirit of God.  True love comes only from Jesus and His joy can only come to the one who has made peace with Him. To know peace is to know Christ and where there is No Christ there is no peace—there is no Love and there is certainly no Joy… Christ is all we need!  Christ is all we need.  Christ is who we need.

 Fruit of the Spirit Acts 2:38-39, 2 Peter 3:8-9, John 14:15-21, Galatians 5:22-25

As we learned in the previous lessons in this series, The Holy Spirit of God is a promise from Jesus and given only to those who REPENT of their sin and are BAPTIZED into a new life in Christ (“Born Again”: John 3:3).  The promise of the Holy Spirit is for you and your children and for all who are far off (all over the world)—for all whom the Lord our God will call (Acts 2:38-39). Who has God called?  2 Peter 3:9 tells us that He wants “all” to come and none to perish, but we must repent of our sin in order to respond to His call.

 Jesus made it clear— If we love Him we will keep His commands (John 14:15-21) — then God will give us the Holy Spirit as our advocate (our helper).  He will, not be near to us or even upon us, but He said He will be “in” us.  Jesus said that the world cannot know the Holy Spirit— but only the one who loves Christ can know Him. Love” as defined by Jesus, not that human brand of “love”— which is simply a feeling without the bonds of commitment. “God’s love” is defined as a responsible and deliberate act of discipleship: As the Apostle John said: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and truth.”  1 John 3:18  Jesus shows Himself to those who love Him.  Do you love Jesus?  Then keep His commands.  Do you love your wife or husband?  Then don’t cheat on them.  Do you love your friend?  Then be a loyal one.  Do you love your neighbor? Then do unto them as you would have them do unto you.  Love must be committed and responsible.  That is how God loves us.  Love is a verb and  requires action.    Do you love Jesus?

  Those who do love Jesus will be filled with the Holy Spirit— Let’s get over the silly notion that one can be filled with the Holy Spirit and not dedicated and committed to Christ.   The one filled with the Holy Spirit will demonstrate the characteristics of the one who they are filled with—who is God.  These will be the ones who have willingly “crucified their flesh” and who “keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).  We will love like God only when we are filled with His Spirit.  We will only be filled with His Spirit when we choose to love God! Likewise— we will only have the Joy of Christ when we experience a love relationship with Him. We will only have peace with God when we live in Love with Christ.  The fruit of the Spirit comes from a love relationship with Jesus.  Do you love   Jesus? Then make it your priority to keep His commands— Follow His teachings. 

Love 1 John 4:7-21, Matthew 5:14-16

The Beatles wrote a musical masterpiece with “All You Need Is Love”, but that was the best they could do because that’s all the love they could muster without Christ.  On the other handLook at what God did with love through Jesus Christ who became a sacrifice for the sin of all who would repent and become born again!  It is no great thing that we should love Him for all that He has done for us— It should be expected! Our debt of gratitude is to love others with the love He pours out on us.  He gives us His Spirit so that we can do just that! The active work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Christian makes us “like Jesus” in the world.  We become “the light of the world” because of the active work of the Holy Spirit in our life (Matthew 514-16).  We can have power to love like Jesus because He is in us. Do you want power to love like Jesus?  Then love Him and keep His commands! Live according to His word and He will fill you up with His supernatural love. 

Joy John 15:9-11

The Joy that one has in Jesus is not circumstantial. As He told the woman at the well: “…whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:14 We who get our water through a faucet can’t appreciate this verse, but for those who had to labor for their daily  ration of water it was a whole other thing.  Water is refreshment, cleansing, rejuvenating—without it we dry up and die.  Joy is like water.  Think of how much money is spent and labor is involved in feeling joy.  The Holy Spirit is like a constant, free supply of Joy welling up from within the believer up to eternal life. That supernatural Joy comes only from a love relationship with Jesus—which makes our joy complete. Do you want Joy like Jesus promised to the woman at the well?  Love Him and keep His commands and you will know the power of His joy!

Peace Romans 5:1-5, Matthew 11:28-30

When one is in a right relationship with God then what can stand against you?—even death gives way to life everlasting.  Hope in Christ gives us calm in any storm.  This peace is also a gift of the Holy Spirit as a result of God’s love for us (Romans 5:1-5). 

Do you have these supernatural gifts—this love, joy and peace?  Do you want this power from on high?  “All You Need Is Love”  Turn your towards Jesus.  “Yoke” yourself to Him. Love Him and keep His commands.  It’s easier than you thought— “All You Need Is Love”. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POWER#2: TRUTH

BLMRiots2020Pastor Barry/ The Gathering:  POWER 2: TRUTH To watch this video message and others go to thegatheringhg.com and click on the youtube link to subscribe.

 “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

In the 1992 Classic American legal drama, A Few Good Men, directed by Rob Reiner and starring Jack Nicholson as Colonel Nathan Jessup and Tom Cruise as the inexperienced Lawyer, Daniel Kaffe, there is what has become an unforgettable scene for me. Young Kaffe orders, under oath, that the old embattled patriot Jessup tell the truth about what happened to a  soldier under his command.  Nicholson gave one of the great signature speeches of his career— which began by shouting at the top of his lungs: “You can’t  handle the truth!”  Jessup then goes on a tirade revealing the agony of a soldier who lives and dies by a code to provide freedom for spoiled, entitled Americans who have no appreciation for their sacrifices.  What Jessup orders in the film is awful, but his rebuke of Kaffe and all entitled Americans is right on!  That is why the movie is so powerful!

Entitled Americans expect our military and police to protect them like gladiators with their lives and then turn on them collectively when a handful of them fail.  I am disgusted with the behavior of the officers responsible for the death of George Floyd, a black man.  As a mayor in the City of Hawaiian Gardens, I was also disgusted with the behavior of the officer responsible for the death of Johnny Anderson, a Mexican.  I was also disgusted a week later with the      behavior of the officers responsible for the death of Lakewood resident, John Berry, a white man, suffering with schizophrenia.  All of these unarmed men were brutally killed by police without justification, but I am not convinced that it was racial in any of these cases. What I do believe is that we have overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, disrespected men and women who have to deal with the constant barrage of the most negative and hazardous of humanity day after day. In fact, about 70% of incidents in which deputies use force involve people suffering from some form of mental illness or substance addiction. And yes, the 20-page autopsy report on George Floyd revealed that he had fentanyl, marijuana, and methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death, but that has never been revealed by the status quo who have another obvious agenda.  Now the protester’s cry is “Defund the police!”  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has since dropped to his knees and cut $100-$150 million from police funds — after activists rallied outside of his home. New York city council candidates are now demanding that 1 billion dollars be cut from their 6 billion dollar police budget.  This money mind you could be designated for police training in dealing with people suffering from mental illness or substance addiction, but “no” another term for liberal politicians is more important!

Strange isn’t it, that the narrative of Covid-19 shut down the economy, closed down churches, released convicts and arrested pastors and business owners who defied the orders of liberal governors and mayors, but gave way suddenly to protesters and violent looters and arsonists yelling “Black Lives Matters!” Hundreds of people attended funeral services for George Floyd but thousands of funerals have been denied for many American families due to coronavirus, including people in our own church!  Where did Covid-19 go?  Where did doctor Fauci and Brix go?  There is a new narrative now people— get on board the propaganda machine!  The social and main stream media will tell you exactly how to believe and what to do.  Just follow orders like stupid sheep to the slaughter.  Does anyone want the truth anymore?  “You can’t handle the truth!”

 TRUTH Matthew 7:13-14, John 14:6, John 10:8-10, Matthew 16:24-26, John 15:18-25

Only God’s true children who are filled with His Spirit can “handle the truth”, but it is not pretty, nor is it easy to tell!  The truth of God is narrow and separates the believer from the main-stream world.  Jesus said, “Narrow is the way that leads to life…” (Matthew 7:13-14) and then He defined it by saying, “No man comes to the Father except by me(John 14:6).  Later He went further by saying “All that came before me are thieves and robbers(John 10:8-10). Finally He said, anyone who wants to be his disciple must pick up his cross and follow” Him (Matthew 16:24-26) and that the world will hate us on account of Him (John 15:18-25). “Christian, if you think that following Jesus will make you popular on social media or win you a bunch of friends you’ve got another thing comin’!  “Can you handle the truth?”

FIRST SIGNS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT Acts 2:11b, 14, John 8:31-47

When the Holy Spirit first fell on the church in Acts chapter 2— two things  happened         immediately. 1.)  All people of all races and languages heard the wonders of God (Acts 2:11b) and 2.) the truth was proclaimed (Acts 2:14). These are the first two signs of the Holy Spirit at work in a person’s life. 1.) God makes one keenly aware that you are a part of the international family of God (He removes racial boundaries in your heart)  and 2.) you are filled with a zeal to know and live for truthIf you are truly one of God’s children, led by His Holy Spirit, then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!  

The Jews were angry when Jesus made this truth clear to them in John 8:31-47.  Perhaps I am making some people angry now! The crowds argued with Jesus claiming that they had some kind of spiritual superiority over Him and His teaching because they were Jews—the chosen race! Imagine, God, creator of all things, wrapped in human flesh and standing before them yet they were full of self-righteousness!  Their prideful response to Jesus’ proclamation of truth was: “We have never been slave of anyone!” These stupid people didn’t even know their own history— like many Americans! These Jews had forgotten that they were once slaves in Egypt and that God brought them out and moved them into a promised land that they lost because of their own unfaithfulness to Him  (Listen up American infidels)!  Jesus’ didn’t bother to correct their ignorance of history, He simply reminded them that they were slaves of sin, illegitimate children, operating in the spirit of error and not in the Spirit of God. The reason that they could not hear Jesus is because they did not belong to God.

SATANIC PROPAGANDA Matthew 7:15-20, Galatians 5:19-25

Today we are living in a nation and world full of lies and Satanic propaganda which use identity politics to divide and conquer people— A true child of God will not fall for these lies while those around them will wallow in them! We must be filled with the Spirit of God or we will not stand.  We can know who is of God by the “fruit”—the characteristics of God— that shine in a believers life as they yield to the Holy Spirit.  Beware— there are false prophets and false   believers — Accept no substitutes because Jesus does not!  God’s people will not use the race card and they will always walk in biblical truth.   Be filled with the Holy Spirit and keep in step!