Happy Birthday America

AmericanFlag2HAPPY 244TH BIRTHDAY AMERICA: JULY 4, 2020

Origins:   Red Skelton, a veteran comic who played a sentimental clown figure in vaudeville and radio, delighted television audiences for twenty years playing characters he had perfected on radio — Clem Kadiddlehopper, Freddie the Freeloader, and the Mean Widdle Kid — on his weekly variety television program, The Red Skelton Show.” On 14 January 1969, he offered his television  audience his memory of an incident from his schoolboy days in Indiana.  Mr. Lasswell, Skelton’s teacher, felt his students had come to regard the Pledge of Allegiance as a daily drudgery to be recited each morning at school; they had lost any sense of the meaning of the words they were speaking. As Skelton related the story, Mr. Lasswell told his class: “I’ve been listening to you boys and girls recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester and it seems as though it’s becoming monotonous to you. If I may, may I recite it and try to explain to you the meaning of each word?”  I have taken the   liberty of tweaking just a few of Red Skelton’s words in order to remind us of the same things on this day before America’s 244th birthday. 

I: Me, an individual, a committee of one.

PLEDGE: Dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self pity.

ALLEGIANCE: My love and my devotion.

TO THE FLAG: Our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there should be respect because of the loyalty and sacrifice of her people who shout: “freedom is everybody’s job”.

OF THE UNITED: And that means that we have all come together.

STATES OF AMERICA: Individual communities that have united into 50 great states. Fifty individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose; all divided by boundaries yet united to a common purpose, and that’s love for a country that is free!

AND TO THE REPUBLIC: A state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people, and it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

FOR WHICH IT STANDS, ONE NATION: One nation, “together we stand, divided we fall”

UNDER GOD: That is through Jesus Christ, who died for the freedom of everyone’s slavery to sin

INDIVISIBLE: Incapable of being divided, as long as we keep these truths evident

WITH LIBERTY: Which is freedom, the right of privilege to live one’s own life without threats, fear,  shaming, or some sort of retaliation.

AND JUSTICE: The upheld principles, qualities and laws of dealing fairly with others.

FOR ALL: For all— which means, all American people, it’s as much your country as it is mine.

And now, will you please STAND, Place your right hand over your heart, and let me hear you recite the Pledge of Allegiance?

Happy Birthday America!

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

POWER 1: FILLED

Penticost

Pastor Barry/ The Gathering:  POWER 1: FILLED To watch this video message and others go to thegatheringhg.com and click on the youtube link to subscribe.

PENTECOST & POWER Acts 2:1-13, 14-21  2 Timothy 3:1-5

Today we celebrate the birth of the church!  The coming of the power promised by Jesus as recorded in Acts 1:8 when He told His disciples: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Translated into the American Christian vernacular we could read: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Hawaiian Gardens, and in all of California and the United States, and to the ends of the earth.”  Today we    celebrate God’s  people filled with the Holy Spirit.  Today we lift up a shout of victory For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7   Today we celebrate the open doors of the church to any who call upon the name of the Lord as the scripture says: for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13  Today we give thanks and praise to the Lord for This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24  Amen! 

One can clearly see through the reading of Acts 2:1-13 that something supernatural had occurred among those believers gathered in that upper room.  They heard and felt the mighty wind and saw for themselves flashes of fire swirling about the room and flickering upon them. Their worship of the Lord in Hebrew tongues intensified and broke out into the tongues of the many nations present in Jerusalem that day.  Every onlooker heard the praises of Jesus in his or her own native languages!  Many were amazed and perplexed (puzzled, utterly baffled) but others were just plain stupid and actually chided, “they’ve had too much wine”:  FAKE NEWS! Pagan pundits! Celebrity air heads! Aristocratic, self-important fools and apathetic masses— in the midst of a miracle but refusing to see God in it.  Friends, these foolish people are all around us today too—mocking the church and the moving of God’s Spirit.  Hating believers and the values we espouse— written in God’s mighty word.  Labeling the church non-essential—discounting the contributions of Jesus to this nation and to this world. Discounting His people’s voice, vote, prayer and praise.  The Apostle Paul warned Timothy of such people in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 and they are also among us now.

 Peter addressed these hecklers with a power he had never felt before (Acts 2: 14-21).  This man who once cowered in a crowd and denied he knew Jesus three times            (Matthew 26:69-75) rose up in boldness and perfectly quoted a prophecy once written by Joel (Joel 2:28-32). As in most prophetic writings its fulfillment covered more than one time period.  Joel’s prophecy was partially fulfilled in the first century birth of the church (as Peter quoted) but will have its total fulfillment in the “last days” of the Church on earth in you!  This prophecy is ours to own Church… God is pouring out His Spirit in these days!  Are you ready to stand up and be bold like Peter in the midst of haters?  Are you willing to be filled with the Holy Spirit to do the will of God in these “last days?” 

 A NEW LAW Romans 3:23-24, 5:1-2, Jeremiah 31:33, 2 Corinthians 3:2-3  

To the Jews, the yearly celebration of Pentecost was not what I just described. It was one of the three pilgrimage feasts of Israel during which each adult male was required to be present in Jerusalem (Exodus 23:14-17). The Jewish feast of  Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot shav-wote) was a thanksgiving for the first-fruits of the wheat harvest—a time where the Jews thanked God for bringing them into the promised land and vowed to give Him their very best. Later, Pentecost was associated with a remembrance of the Law given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai— once again, to give God one’s very best would be to keep His law which promised to lead Israel into God’s rest (Psalms 95:10-11; Hebrews 4:9-11).  Of course the Jews and all people have failed miserably to give God our very best at all— let alone to keep God’s law (Romans 3:23-24) —so   Jesus came to be a perfect sacrifice for our sin. It is now Christ who gave His best for our rest. Only in Christ we have peace with God (Romans 5:1-2). 

Pentecost was the perfect day for the Holy Spirit to come upon the church because to receive the Holy Spirit is to be filled with the promised peace (rest) of God!  For the Christian Pentecost celebrates what Jesus did to keep the law we broke, to be the perfect offering we neglected to bring, and to secure the peace with God that we do not deserve but is given by His grace to all who believe.  We see the giving of a new Law on Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, written “not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33, 2 Corinthians 3:2-3).  We are God’s letter, known and read by everyone, written by the Holy Spirit!  

“Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads.”William J. Toms

BE FILLED! Acts 2:36-41, 1 John 2:15-17

Be Filled!  Be filled with the Holy Spirit!   This is not about your ability.  This is about His ability to accomplish His purpose in you for such a time as this.  You “rest” in Him while He “rests” on you!   Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord   Almighty (Zechariah 4:6).  He has done it and He will do it again!   When Peter   concluded that first Pentecost preaching people “were cut to the heart!”  He told them to “repent and be baptized” and they too would “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”.  The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off— Do you hear God calling?  Then receive this message and “save yourself from this corrupt generation!”  Sinner be saved and Christian be filled to accomplish all that God desires in you. 

Be filled with the Holy Spirit and not full of the foolishness of this world — the world is passing away.  The Holy Spirit birthed the Church in the first century and He is empowering the Church again in these “last days.”  In the weeks ahead we will learn about this power ready to be unleashed in us…and we will practice it in these “last days”.

 

 

Memorial Day: LOVE

MemorialDay

In Memory of the Freedom Fighters  Memorial Day 2020

 LOVE… this four letter word seems to be the main event of living.  Millions of songs about it have been recorded all over the world and they comprise the main subject of all songs ever written, recorded or listened to world-wide.  Love, in some fashion, is also the most written about subject in poetry, playwrights, novels, and on screen scripts.  All human beings seem to be preoccupied with the glory of it, the search for it, the struggles with it, the hope of it, and the damage from the lack of it.  Studies have even shown that all human beings need love.  Without love human beings do not develop properly and can actually die.  Today we remember the love demonstrated to us through the service and deaths of countless soldiers.  Without their combined acts of love America would not be free and its people would be enslaved.  Likewise, without the selfless love of Christ, who was tortured and died on our behalf, we would all perish in our sins and be eternally separated from God.

Jesus said: Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13  Let us also remember as Christians and Americans that Jesus also said, From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded… Luke 12 :48b 

 We must never forget that freedom is never free.  A great price of love was paid to secure both America’s freedoms and your eternal security; however, you are expected to reciprocate that love.  It is our duty to both God and man.  Remember, someone died for your rights as you enjoy a barbeque today.  Remember also, that someone died for your sin as you munch down a chocolate covered egg each year at Easter time. Freedom isn’t free!

So many Americans abuse their freedoms bought by the blood of soldiers?  In fact– in this Covid19 pandemonium Americans have given them up to fear.  Many are beginning to protest now that government has far over reached in the name of “science” and “safety.” Still, so many Americans just don’t get it.  Some are spoiled and ungrateful– always expecting more and more rather than appreciating what they have been given.  Wouldn’t it be great if Americans were truly thankful and took up the attitude of the Late President John F. Kennedy who said:  “Ask Not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”  President John F. Kennedy

Just as Many Americans abuse their freedoms bought by the blood of soldiers, so do many “Christians” abuse their spiritual freedom bought by the precious bloods of Christ.  Above all, Christians should be cognoscente of the fact that we have been rescued from so much more than the physical enemies of our country.  We have been rescued from the chief enemy of our soul, the devil, through Christ’s willing sacrifice.  We were once a casualty of spiritual war but are now set free.  What will we do with our spiritual freedom bought at such a price?  Will we be like so many Americans and use our freedom for evil?  The Apostle Paul urges us not to use our freedom to indulge in the sinful nature but to serve one another in love:

13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. 16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:13-16 

The amazing, heroic love shown to us through the sacrifices of God and the soldiers we memorialize today should prompt us to return such love to others. The best way to memorialize a soldier is to be a patriot, exercise your rights, and secure them for your posterity in love and service to others.  The best way to memorialize Christ is to love Him according to His own inspired word:

15 “If you love me, keep my commands”.  John 14:15

18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.  1 John 3:18

Dear Jesus, We give you thanks for all those soldiers who have given up all they had for the rights that we as Americans possess in our Bill of Rights.  Thank you for those in the armed forces today that continue that fight.  Thank you for those Gold Star Families who have lost the loves of their lives for the hopes of ours.  May we live a life worthy of these sacrifices.

Dear Jesus, may we follow you with unwavering gratitude for your sacrifice made to pay the eternal debt of our sin.  May we live this short span of life as agents of your mercy, grace and love.  May the actions and truth of our living be pleasing to you.  Amen.

FEAR NOT#5 (Conclusion) ANTICIPATE

AnticipationCrowd

Pastor Barry/ The Gathering:  FEAR NOT #5 (Series Conclusion) ANTICIPATE              To watch this video message and others go to thegatheringhg.com and click on the youtube link to subscribe.

Ascension Sunday Acts 1:3-11, Philippians 3:18-21, 1 Peter 1:3-6

Ascension Day is traditionally celebrated in the church on the 40th day after Easter Sunday, in our case the Sunday closest to that time frame which is today!  Today we remember Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven as      recorded in Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-53 and Acts 1:3-11!   Ascension Day reminds us that the glorious and triumphant return of Christ is nearAre you anticipating His promised return today?

Ascension Sunday is a reminder that we are citizens of the of the Kingdom of God which is now within our hearts but will soon be our destination (Philippians 3:18-21). It is a reminder of that great and fulfilled promise of Christ to send the Holy Spirit to His people (John 14:16-17)—who now watches over us, empowers us and protects us as we spread the light of the gospel truth throughout the world Acts 2:1-4). The fact that Jesus was resurrected from the grave and ascended to the right hand (place of honor) of the Father is the great hope of our faith (1 Peter 1:3). We know that those who belong to Christ by faith will one day both see His return on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:3-4) when He defeats His enemies and we will be with Him forever.  Are you anticipating that  promise todayFEAR NOT this present time of Covid19.  FEAR NOT the so called “New Normal!”  FEAR NOT the present state of affairs or the future prospect of your health.  FEAR NOT what man can do our what man has said—for Christ is risen and has ascended into Heaven and He is coming back again! —And as God’s word proclaims in the last two verses— in the last chapter— of the last book in our Bible— Revelation 22:20-21: He who testifies to these things says, Yes, He is coming soon— Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.  And the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.  Are you one of “God’s people” today?Then FEAR NOT!

 FEAR NOT!

As we conclude our short series on “Fear Not” —let me take us through a quick review: God commanded the disciples to STAY where they were and to bring His kingdom to earth rather than to get ready to leave it.  Are you with me Church?  Make no mistake about it, I’m ready to go— but I am willing to stay and bring God’s kingdom to earth as He so    desires, and I will Fear not because He is with me.  Stay Church… Fear not, He is with us! While we stay we are told to WATCH & PRAYWe are careful to follow the “real Jesus”, the Biblical Jesus,  our “Good Shepherd”— FEAR NOT “little sheep”—Watch and pray— He will lead us in truth.  We are to FEAR NOT—What that “Lion”, the Devil intends for evil because God will bring it to good (Romans 8:28). We are to put on the full armor of God (dress for success and read Ephesians 6:10-18). Resist the Devil Church! No weapon forged against us will prosper. Read to the end of the book brother and sister in Christ…Fear Not!  Cause’ we’re gonna’ see the VICTORY for the battle belongs to the Lord! Last week we learned to  WAIT for the Lord and be patient for Him to bring what He promises.  While we wait we are to watch out for bad company and bad things that can take our minds off of our mission.  FEAR NOT your anxious thoughts— and stay awake in your righteousness.  WAIT for the Lord Church—FEAR NOT and ANTICIPATE  the promise of God’s power from on high.  Are you anticipating what God has waiting for you and the Church in the days ahead?

 Anticipate The Spirit  Micah 7:7-9, Hebrews 12:1-3, 1 Corinthians 1: 18, 2:6-10

After Jesus ascended the scripture tells us that the apostles returned to Jerusalem, went upstairs to a room and joined together “constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:12-14) They were anticipating (looking forward with pleasure) the promise of Jesus that they would receive power—especially since many of them were weak and weary from the roller coaster ride of emotions that they had been on in the previous weeks.  How about you…are you feeling weak and weary from these past months?  Could you benefit from some supernatural power from on high right now?  Are you anticipating the promises of God today or are you just barely getting by?  Look up Christian… fix your eyes on the Lord!  The “Author and perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-3)— and do not grow weary in your waiting! 

Proverbs 13:12 says, Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But desire fulfilled is a tree of life. God wants us to anticipate His promises like the apostles did!  The prophet Micah knew this anticipation as he encouraged a broken Israel to hope in the promises of the Lord. His encouragement was to watch, hope and wait for the Lord—He will prevail!

The apostle Paul once said, that his preaching was considered foolishness by those who the world considered wise (1 Corinthians 1:18) but God filled him with the Holy Spirit and that made the difference (1 Corinthians 2:6-10).  The rulers of this world are coming to nothing for they refuse to hear or see the work of God.  The Church is considered non-essential in this Covid19 pandemic—But we know better—will anticipate and declare God’s wisdom, because we know what He has prepared for we who love Him.  These things we will know by His Spirit.  The power we will work in is His Spirit.  The preaching and teaching and reaching that we will do will be in His Spirit.  Power will come  upon us when we anticipate His promisesAre you anticipating His promises today?

A New Thing  Isaiah 43:18-19

FEAR NOT— the Lord will bring the power as you open up your heart to receive what He will bring!  Are you anticipating God’s power?  Do you want that power in you?  Jesus has ascended into Heaven but He has descended into His children.  Are you ready to receive His supernatural power? Anticipate with me— a great revival of the Church is coming and the Holy Spirit will be released anew— God is doing a new thing and fulfilling His ancient promises!  (Isaiah 43: 18-19). 

Our new series on the Holy Spirit begins next week on Pentecost Sunday. The Church is breaking out with power and I hope you will join with us! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FEAR NOT #4: WAIT

WaitPastor Barry/ The Gathering:  FEAR NOT #4:  WAIT  To watch this video message and others go to thegatheringhg.com and click on the youtube link to subscribe.

 Impatience Philippians 4:5-7, Romans 8:31-39

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling very impatient right now.  I don’t agree with the new “stay at home” mandate that governor Newsom just placed on 40 million Californians (now until July). To make matters worse I didn’t vote for him and I don’t trust him.  I believe  that our state and nation’s response to shut down schools, churches, and the economy for Covid19 is an outrageous over-reaction to inflated national and world statistics.  And before anyone judges me, let me just say: “I’ve been fact checking every bit of news that I get”—have you?  CDC numbers reveal that the coronavirus stats include presumptive deaths from the virus.  That is to say that any death with symptomatic similarities to the disease are labeled death by Covid19 without any confirmed lab reports. The reason being is  that “there just isn’t enough time or resources to do that”.  So what we are saying is  that deaths from Asthma, COPD, Emphysema, Bronchitis, Lung Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis, Pneumonia, Heart attack, Stroke, Cigarette Smoking, and  Type A and B Flu (just to name a few) are now being largely called death by Covid19 in America. No wonder the numbers are so high! 

I believe that powerful proponents of socialism and the mainstream media are purposefully using the public’s fear of Covid19 to take away rights in order to create a more subservient people to govern.  Our Constitutional Amendment Rights are being violated in the name of Covid19: 1.) Our freedom to peaceably assemble as a church is being violated. Many public protests have been prohibited. Much public information that disagrees with the status quo has been removed from the internet or is kept from news sources.  Social pressure has been applied by media sources against such views calling the people that espouse them as hateful, murderous and selfish. People have been fined and jailed for assembling against stay at home, social distancing or mask wearing orders. 2.) Our right to bear arms (or should I say buy arms) has been shut down due to the forced closure of “non-essential” stores that sell ammunition and guns. 4.) In the name of Covid19 our 4th amendment rights may soon to be in jeopardy with the passing of bills such as H.R. 6666 ( see: congress.gov).  Which would make a law to conduct diagnostic testing for COVID–19, and “related activities” such as contact tracing, through mobile health units and, “as necessary”, at individuals’ residences, and for “other purposes”… 5.) 5th Amendment rights are being violated as property owners are forced to shut down because they are not deemed “an essential business.”  They are being deprived of life, liberty, and property without due process of law; and are loosing their private property which the government has restricted from public use without just compensation.   No Stimulus check can count as payment for lost businesses! 8.) In the name of Covid19 excessive fines have been    imposed and one could certainly argue that cruel and unusual punishments have  been inflicted. 9.) And how about  our 9th Amendment right against being “disparaged” or devalued by my government or others for my choice not to wear a mask?  I can no longer buy or sell without one— or even walk along the beach!  A mask that the U.S.   Surgeon General publicly denounced on February 29, 2020: “Seriously people—STOP BUYING MASKS! They are not effective in preventing the general public from catching #coronavirus.”  The masks that all scientific sources say (Check them yourself!) should not be used improperly or they will increase ones chances of getting sick: Masks should not be reused unless frequently washed, they should not be taken on and off, they should never be handled except by the straps, etc.  Scientific sources also say that breathing  Carbon dioxide (CO2: exhaled breath)  over extended amounts of time can be dangerous to your health!  Re-breathing CO2 can lead to increased blood pressure, headaches, muscle twitches, rapid heart rate, chest pain, confusion, and fatigue. In extreme cases, if left untreated, it can lead to organ damage and even have long standing effects on the brain. So why are we now mandated to wear masks?  I think it is to give an invisible disease a face.  It is a way to keep the fear and the  government control alive! 

Rather you agree with me or not, we are all entitled to our own opinions, and this is mine—and such an opinion has ominous Biblical significance.  Which makes me very  impatient— quickly irritated, annoyed, snappy, anxious, restless and ill-at ease.  Perhaps you are too—Like the disciples once were —after the government and the religious leaders of their day killed Jesus.  After He resurrected and reappeared for forty days all over the place but never stuck around.  After He said “WAIT” and then ascended into heaven.  Are you impatient like that today? I know what the Apostle Paul said about “being anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:5-7)… and  “peace” does come.  I know that we are “more than conquerors” in Christ (Romans 8:31-39) yet … I’m anxious again… maybe it’s the mask! 

Watching & Waiting Acts 1:3-12, 1 Corinthians 15:33-34, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 4:1-5

I am sure that the disciples were very anxious after the roller coaster life that they had been living in.  Think of it: “Oh Happy Day” —Jesus is lauded as King of kings in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  One week later he is arrested, falsely charged, brutally beaten, and carries His cross down the same streets to be crucified! He dies and is buried , but three days later rises from the dead!  For forty days  Jesus randomly appears and speaks, eats and teaches them—only to vanish into a cloud from the mount of olives after saying “WAIT” for the power promised… “You will be my witnesses.”  And we think that we have stress!  No wonder they joined together constantly in prayer (Acts 1:14).  They needed the “peace” of God as they were waiting… so do we.  

What are you doing in this time as you are waiting on God?  Looking at trash on the internet?  Drinking that third bottle of wine or drinking that second six pack?  Mindlessly scrolling through Tik Tok, Instagram or Facebook? Bing-watching Netflix or the nasty news? Maybe your to busy for all of that because you’re an “essential worker” or “locked down” as a teacher with your kids—maybe both!  Still, even if you are doing all of that— when your waiting for that Amazon gift to arrive you are  always checking that front porch until it comes, aren’t you?  Are you waiting as God says?  Are you waiting for what He promised?  Are you watching and waiting or just foolishly wasting time? 

When the New Testament commands us to “watch,” it is usually the translation of one of two Greek words which mean —to “stay awake” and to “be sleepless.” Their usual meaning is spiritual —to be on guard, fully awake, aware, alert and intently focused. This is how God’s people are commanded to “wait”.  Paul was writing to the church at Corinth and said, “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin” (1 Corinthians 15:34 KJV). Even Christians can be spiritually asleep to varying degrees. The NIV version of this same passage says “Come back to your senses as you ought and stop sinning”.  Upon further inspection the passage advises us to avoid bad company (2 Timothy 3:1-5). Have you “lost your Christian sense” in this waiting period?  Stop sinning!  “Wait” for what God will do,  be alert in prayer, join other believers and read God’s word. Preach the word and be prepared! “WAIT!”

 

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day: Ordinary Mary

Mary&BabyJesusPastor Barry/ The Gathering:  Mother’s day: Ordinary Mary  To watch this video message and others go to thegatheringhg.com and click on the youtube link to subscribe.

Hug A Mother!

This morning is mother’s day.  If you have yours with you today then get up and give her a hug right now! If she has passed on then look up to Heaven and give God thanks for her— right now.  Thank God that you were born!  Without your mother you wouldn’t be here.  In this world of demonic madness and sanctimonious selfishness , thank God that she didn’t abort you!  Thank God this morning for Grandma’s also— if you have one with you then give her a hug too— for the blessing she has been and because grandmas are the mothers of our mom’s and dad’s— Happy mothers day to all of you wonderful ladies, and especially to those of you this morning who are pregnant with your first child or are locked down with a flock of them.  And God bless you mothers with heavy hearts today— those who have wayward children or children who have passed on before you.  May you feel the loving embrace of our Heavenly Father  today and know that He loves you so.  I am also aware that some mothers today may be feeling low because of mistakes that they have made with their children— May you know and feel the  loving forgiveness of Jesus Christ and be emotionally and spiritually healed this morning.  We love you mothers, and we give thanks for you today!

 Ordinary Mary Luke 1:46-55

No one needs to explain that a mother is not perfect.  We are all well aware of that fact, but what makes a good mother great is that —mixed with her constant human effort to raise her children as a charge (or mission) from God. 

Contrary to many traditional church teachings, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was also far from perfect.  She, like every mother, was an ordinary person.  She became extraordinary as she yielded herself to God’s will— and like all of us, she grew in her faith as she humbled herself and became accepting of God’s will and plan for her life…and her supernatural son’s mission.

Mary’s birth experience was unusual of course.  She and Joseph both knew that Jesus was no ordinary child— after all there was the angelic pronouncement that she— a virgin—would give birth to a son (you know, the whole Christmas story).  Mary knew from the beginning that she was bringing the promised Messiah (the anointed one of God) into the world.  The “savior” for her and her people.  We get a glimpse of Mary’s overwhelming revelation in her song recorded in Luke’s gospel (Luke 1:46-55).  Mary certainly knew that her mission was to raise up the promised Messiah but she and Joseph knew very little of what that entailed.  Mary’s song is profound, but the greatest quote of Mary’s life was in her instructions to others regarding Jesus.  She said, “Whatever He says to you, do it!” (John 2:5).  Anyone who follows those directions will be changed forever!

For The Record, here are some facts about Mary that prove that she was ordinary:

  • Mary did not stay a virgin. After the birth of Jesus she had other children

Mary had at least six children.  Four sons (James [the writer of the book of James in the new testament], Joseph, Simon and Judas) who are named in Matthew 13:53-57.  Mary also had two daughters are more although they are never named, the plural form is used in reference to them.

  • Mary and Joseph lost the boy Jesus for three days.    Luke 2:41-50
  • Mary doubted Jesus’ mission and purpose (so did his family) Naturally, Mary was concerned for the welfare of “her son” especially as crowds with mixed reactions to what he preached grew around him.  It had been 30 years since her miracle birth.  She forgot, as all humans do, the supernatural plan for life.  She believed , along with the rest of the family, that Jesus was “out of his mind” and came with her sons to bring him home. (Jesus didn’t go home.) Mark 3:20-21, 31-35
  • Mary did not go to the tomb and see the resurrected Jesus  There is no record of Mary, mother of Jesus at the empty tomb.  The gopel account says it was Mary Magdalene and “the other Mary” (“the mother of James” the apostle).

Mother Mary was probably at the apostle John’s house.  The fact that Jesus put Mary in the charge of John ( John 19:26-27) assumes that his own family still did not believe in him at his crucifixion;  (We know of course that James, his half brother eventually did believe.)  furthermore, the fact that Mary or any of the disciples were not sitting in wait for Jesus’ promised resurrection at the tomb is proof they didn’t believe it would occur.

  • Mary did not ascend into heaven There is no Biblical record of such an event.

 Extraordinary Mary  Luke 11:27-28, Luke 1:46-55

The facts are obvious.  Mary was not a super saint.  She struggled with her faith just like we do. She had problems letting her son grow into his purposes too; but what Mary lacked in her humanness she made up in her willingness to be surrendered to God and His will.  Like Peter, she attempted once to redirect Jesus’ mission, and just like Peter she was sharply rebuked for it. (Peter: Matthew 16:21-23/ Mary: Mark 3:21, 31-34).  Unlike Peter, Mary was never recorded as failing Jesus again.  She is written of only two more times: 1.) standing near his cross (John 19:25-27) and 2.) waiting and praying in the upper-room for the Holy Spirit Jesus promised: along with her four sons who now believed… and Peter.  (Acts 1:12-14,2:1-4)  

 In  Luke 11:27-28 we read of a woman who cries out to Jesus from a crowd.  Her intent was to give Mary praise for nursing the Christ.  Mary’s correction of that woman stands as her greatest lesson for mankind.  We are not to praise Mary as the “eternal mother”, but to obey Jesus as our Saviour and Lord (Master).  Are you obeying our Lord—  as a mother, a father, a sister or brother?  Are you obeying His word?  “Whatever He says”…do you do it?

Ordinary people become part of God’s supernatural plan when they humble themselves and accept His will for their life.  Mary did just that.  Not always understanding, but always yielding, not always full of faith, but always trusting.  (Proverbs 3:5-6)  Mary is a fine example of motherhood but of a true disciple of Christ.  Not only did she willingly birth the object of our faith, but she kept that faith herself as well.  May we do the same.