FEAR NOT #3: Victory

VictoryPastor Barry/ The Gathering:  FEAR NOT #3:  Victory  To watch this video message and others go to thegatheringhg.com and click on the youtube link to subscribe.

 Preparing For War Ephesians 6:10-18

This pandemic that we are in has so much conflicting news and information that any thinking person is rightfully agitated if not downright angry.  Sensible people will agree that we are dealing with a real virus, but many disagree on the way that virus is being reacted to, how and why that virus was released and who is profiting from it. One thing is sure—the virus was meant for evil and it is doing far more than biological harm—and where there is evil there is the Devil.  

God’s word tells us clearly that our struggle is not against a virus (or an attack on flesh and blood) it is against the forces of evil and the powers of this dark world; therefore,  we need to be “strong in the Lord” and put on the full armor of God so that we can take our stand against the Devil’s schemes.  (Ephesians 6:10-18). 

The Apostle Paul uses the illustration of a Roman soldier in full battle attire to stand against the Devil’s advances on God’s children.  He describes “Faith” in Christ as a shield against the Devil’s “flaming arrows” ( attacks) and “Salvation” (helmet) as the covering for our mind and thoughts as fear is used in an attempt to control us.  He reminds us of our mission to walk about with the gospel of peace while carrying the double edged sword of God’s word to defend ourselves.  Our mission as Christians is always one of peace, grace and mercy—to bring peace and reconciliation with God to the lost sinner, but the Devil will always stir up foes against us for which we will need to defend  ourselves.  The Bible in the hands of a well read soldier can slay an army of demons and shut the mouths of arrogant men, but we must know our weapon to use it rightly.  As I said in our last lesson, we must know well what the Bible teaches of the “real Jesus”.  Christians! This is  no time to be   distracted by civilian affairs but to be soldiers of the cross —it is time to please the one who enlisted us into His service              (2 Timothy 2:2-4). It is time to prepare for war!  Be alert, watch and pray!  

Just before His arrest Jesus prayed for His disciples and said:  “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15).  This is how we are protected my friend.  Put on your armor and get ready for a fight!

 Meant For Evil 1 Peter 5:8-11

The Bible teaches that the Devil (Satan) is a real foe and not just a force or an allegorical tale.  He is a spiritual entity and he hates God and His children and has nothing but evil intent for you (1 Peter 5:8-11).  We are to be alert to that fact and stand on our faith with other believers in this world.  Satan’s personal  attacks on God’s people are recorded all throughout the scriptures from the fall of man in Genesis 3 to his temptation of Christ in Matthew 4:1-11 and his final temptation of man ending in his eternal judgment in Revelation 20.  All through scripture we can also see Satan’s evil work displayed in the wicked hearts of people who live against God.  In Genesis 50:20 we clearly see how Satan influenced the brothers of Joseph to throw him into a pit and then sell him as a slave.  Joseph goes through some terrible trials only to end up in an elevated position as second in command over all of Egypt.  In fact, God uses the evil intent of Joseph’s brothers for the ultimate good of  Joseph and all of Israel including those who tried to hurt him. Joseph later tells his brothers: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”. Genesis 50:20  Satan means to bring evil to God’s people, but when we resist him and stand firm in our faith God causes all things to work together for good (Romans 8:28) and turns it all around!

Satan surely means to destroy us with this coronavirus pandemic and our reaction to it.  Christians are now separated from fellowship, most are without jobs, locked in their homes alone or with their kids and spouse— maybe others.  We’re loosing all of our rights and freedoms, wearing masks to shop for food.  We’re cancelling  weddings, birthday parties, graduations, outreach events and funerals— yes, even funerals.  And our elected officials, news media, doctors and even many of our clergy are reacting in fear and negativity, but I am here to remind you… what the enemy meant for evil God will turn it for good!  Resist Him and stand firm in your faith! 

Victory Isaiah 54:17, 1 Corinthians 15:57-58

God promises His people in Isaiah 54:17 that “no weapon forged against us will prevail”.  God also told King Jehoshaphat who faced a mighty army:  “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s”.      2 Chronicles 20:15 — and then He led that king to victory! God also filled David with the faith and strength to take down that mighty giant Goliath in 1 Samuel 17:48-49.  He will give us the victory too and our giant will also fall!  Do you believe that? Then shout Amen!

There is power in the name of Jesus— the Devil dished out everything he had to take Him down and kill Him but Jesus raised up with resurrection power!  What the enemy meant for evil Jesus turned around and brought salvation and life to all who would believe (John 12:32).

There is power in the name of Jesus— and he is coming again and “every eye will see Him!” (Revelation 1:7) And every tongue confess that He is Lord: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  Philippians 2:10-11

Speak it out on faith in your darkest hour and shout it out loud over the clamor of the fake news and the negative headlines—”I’m gonna’ see a victory cause’ the battle belongs to the Lord!”  Stand firm and let nothing move you—Your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:57-58). ”We’re gonna’ see a victory cause’ the battle belongs to the Lord!” 

Overcomers 1 John 5:4-5, Revelation 22:12-13, 17, 20-21

Are you born of God this morning (John 1:12-13)?  If you are then you are an overcomer of anything and everything that the Devil throws at you.  Proclaim your victory in advance by faith! (1 John 5:4-5)

Skip ahead in the book to Revelation and see how it ends—you know how it ends! ”We’re gonna’ see a victory cause’ the battle belongs to the Lord!”  He is coming soon and His reward is with Him— is anyone thirsty for victory?  Then come and join us. The Lord is with His people!

 

 

 

 

  

 

FEAR NOT #2: Watch & Pray

Covid19PrayerPastor Barry/ The Gathering:  FEAR NOT #2:  Watch & Pray  To watch this video message and others go to thegatheringhg.com and click on the youtube link to subscribe.

Note:  Sorry for the late posting of this message our system was down.

Fooled 1 Peter 5:2-4,John 8:31-32

Have you ever been fooled?  I mean really fooled!  Not like by a surprise party or a pleasant deception, but deceived with an evil intent.  If you have then you know it is the worst feeling ever—  a crushing, crashing, hard to breathe feeling that lingers for a long, long time.  A feeling like the disciples must have had when Judas arrived with soldiers to arrest Jesus and then kissed him on the cheek in betrayal.  Of course, this was no surprise to Jesus.  He knew before hand that Judas was His betrayer.  He even told him at the dinner table that night to go and do what he was about to do quickly (John 13:27). Jesus knew everything— that religious leaders would plot his murder, that the Jews would reject him, that the disciples would scatter in fear, that Peter would deny him, that the Romans would crucify him and that he would rise from the dead.  Jesus knew the truth about every person and everything and He wove them all together into a tapestry that accomplished his good mission—to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). 

But we are not like Christ in this way.  After all, it was He who even called us “sheep” (John 10:27) — Like Sheep we are easily distracted, very emotional, quick to follow and easily led to the slaughter by a skillful herder. Actually, a herd of sheep trustingly follows a trained animal to the slaughterhouse called a “Judas Goat” — so appropriately named. Who are the “Judas goats” leading the herd of American sheep towards the slaughterhouse of socialism today?  How is it that we and the rest of the world are so easily distracted by distressing news and emotional rhetoric?  Why do we continue to follow the herd into economic disaster while distancing ourselves from the ones we love? In fact this distancing is ironically killing many of the people we love. Why do we continue listening to the many herdsmen who have lied to us so many times to us before?  Christians– why don’t we turn and run into the threat that confronts us like David did against the mighty giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17). Why don’t we arm ourselves with the promises of God and hurl that stone of faith– into the face of that blasphemous foe and cut off its head?  Are we so afraid of dying that we refuse to live by faith? 

Have we lost the patriotism of our founding fathers like Thomas Jefferson who wrote the Declaration of Independence and served as our nation’s third president?  Who said: “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have”, or that revolutionary patriot, Patrick Henry, who once said, “Give me liberty or give me death”? How about the greatest revolutionary leader of all who said:  “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”. That would be our Lord and Savior—Jesus who was quoted in Matthew 10:34 in regards to the loyalty that He expects from His followers.

Many of you this morning may already not like this sermon.  To you I say “stay with me and hear me out!” I have studied and prayed long and hard before presenting this word to you this morning and I welcome anyone who wants to fact check me after I’m finished.  This is a Shepherds cry to his flock and I truly desire to live out my call according to 1 Peter 5:2-4.

My cry to you this morning is for spiritual discernment!  My cry to God this morning for myself and the leadership here is for spiritual discernment!  We are not like Christ in this way—  Jesus knew the truth about every person and everything… we do not!  We are confused by alarming and contradicting statements and instructions.  We are aghast at the things that global leaders have done and are doing.  By nature we are not spiritually discerning, and most of us feel like lost sheep in this present time, but Jesus said: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”.  John 8:31-32     Let us pray to that end this morning—

 Sheep John 10:1-18, 2 Timothy 2:15, 1 Timothy 4:16

How well do you recognize Jesus? When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees they did not understand him, but then again they were so intent on proving that he was a counterfeit that they overlooked the obviousHe fulfilled all the prophesies in the Torah that they should have known so well.  The lesson to learn here is that we will not see what we refuse to see and this is true irrespective of ones    education or social status.  The Pharisees did not want to be led by anyone so how could they     understand Jesus referring to Himself as a Shepherd and a sheep gate?

Federal agents don’t learn to spot counterfeit money by studying the counterfeits. They study   genuine bills until they master the look of the real thing (uscurrency.gov/educational-materials/training-course) .

In the same way anyone who claims to be a Christian must study Jesus through the Bible because there are many counterfeits in our world today— “thieves and robbers.” The “gatekeeper” (God) only opens the gate to the Jesus described in the Bible and genuine Christians (sheep) will only   follow Him. This Jesus called all spiritual leaders that came before Him “thieves and robbers”.  He defined Himself as the only way, truth and life—”no one comes to the Father (God) except through Me”( John 14:6).  Jesus also defined Himself as the only one who willfully laid down His life for the “sheep,”  and in verse sixteen He made it clear that  he would bring both Jewish and Gentile believers together as “one flock” under Him. How well do you recognize the Biblical Jesus?  We can not spiritually discern truth without Him.   This is why the Apostle Paul admonished us to handle the word of God correctly (2 Timothy 2:15) and to watch our life and doctrine closely  (1 Timothy 4:16).

 Divided John 10:19-21, Matthew 25:31-39, Matthew 10:26-39

At hearing Jesus the Jews were “divided”.  Some dismissed him as demon possessed and others considered his miraculous works.  Jesus divided believers (sheep) from unbelievers (goats) then as He does today—He will also rightfully do this in judgment too (Matthew 25:31-33), but  He told His “sheep” (we who have received Him and believe)  “not to be afraid”  (Matthew 10:26-33).  He will make all things Known to us  and as He reveals such things we are to proclaim them publicly  without fear of those who can only kill the body.  We are called to divide truth from a lie and expose the enemy to all who will listen and thereby come to the Shepherd of their souls. 

Yes, Jesus came to bring a “sword” (Matthew 10:34-39), and we must be willing to bear a cross of persecution if we are to follow Him, but take heart! We are those who believe in the Biblical Jesus— the resurrected Jesus who will also resurrect us who believe! (John 11:25-26)

“Watch and Pray” Mark 14:38, Matthew 24:42-44

Spiritual discernment, and boldness will only come to real “sheep” who recognize the real Jesus.

When Judas fooled the disciples with his betrayal it was only because they did not listen to Jesus and “watch and pray” as He told them (Mark 14:38) —their “flesh was weak.”  Let us keep watch as we trust in our Good Shepherd’s promises.  Let us live by faith, learn from God’s word, and “watch and pray” as we look for His coming— and His truth will set us free! 

 

 

 

FEAR NOT: STAY

CoronaVirus Pastor Barry/ The Gathering:  FEAR NOT:  STAY  To watch this video message and others go to thegatheringhg.com and click on the youtube link to subscribe.

Note:  Sorry for the late posting of this message our system was down.

After the Resurrection Matthew 6:9-10

Last week Christians celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead—       what that meant to the first disciples of Christ was everything:  Jesus’ resurrection          validated all that He had taught them (everything we find in our Bible). It proved that He truly was “the way, the truth and the life” and no power on earth or in Hell could  stand against Him.  It erased all fear and doubt in the disciples and filled them with confidence as they eagerly waited for directions from their risen King.  So what does  Jesus’ resurrection mean to you today? It should mean the same things.  If we are calling ourselves Christian then we must believe in Christ and all that He said is true.  We must believe unwaveringly that He is the only “way”, “truth” and “Life” and that there is no way to the Father (God) except through Him (John 14:6).  Our fears and doubts about life and death should be cast to the side and with confidence in Christ we should eagerly desire to serve Him on this earth—but sadly today many so called “Christians” are Asleep In The Light as singer/ songwriter Keith Green once sang :

The world is sleeping in the dark,                                                                                                        That the church just can’t fight,
’cause it’s asleep in the light!
How can you be so dead?
When you’ve been so well fed                                                                                                        Jesus rose from the grave, And you—
You can’t even get out of bed!
Oh, Jesus rose from the dead—
Come on, get out of your bed!                                                                                                        Keith Green, Asleep In The Light (No Compromise 1978)

This classic song from the late 70’s rings loud and clear in this 2020 coronavirus “new  normal.”  I know most of you can’t work, can’t fellowship, and can’t congregate but you are still “Christian” and Jesus wants us to “wake up” and do something for His kingdom in this world gone mad.  

Are you just staying up all night watching NetFlix and sleeping all day?  “Wake up!” Jesus has risen! Maybe you’ve just set your mind on Jesus coming again so that you can get out of here, but how about asking His Spirit to fill you up so that you can bring others with you when He comes?  Now is the time to reveal that we are the church even without a building!  Let us all be about the business of bringing His Kingdom to earth (Matthew 6:9-10).

“Greater” & “Anything” John 14:5-18, Matthew 28:18-20, James 1:6-8

In John’s gospel we read the words of Jesus to His disciples on the night that He was     arrested. He sought to prepare them for the dark days ahead.  He said that He was going away (to death) to prepare the way (Salvation) for them.  Thomas and Phillip didn’t understand and so Jesus made things clear to them and to all who would be His disciples thereafter. Jesus proclaimed that: 1.)  He is one with God and the only way, truth and life. 2.) He proclaimed that He proved who He was by the works He did (and would do through the resurrection), 3.) He also proclaimed that those who really believe in Him will do “greater things” and ask “anything” in His name and “He will do it!”  4.) Lastly, He proclaimed that He would give those who keep His commands The Spirit of truth to be with them forever—He will not leave us as orphans!

In regards to “greater things” we must ask ourselves what is the greatest thing that Jesus ever did on this earth.  No miracle, including His resurrection,  overshadows the fact that the greatest thing that Jesus ever did was to offer Himself up in love as a sacrifice for the sin of mankind.  He said of His own mission: “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus provided the way to salvation for mankind, but we (His “children”: John 1:12), have been commanded to do  “greater things” which is to “Go and make disciples(Matthew 28:18-20). that will walk down that path into eternal life.

In regards to “asking anything in Jesus’ name” we are instructed to ask in His will. The name “Jesus” is nothing like the word “abracadabra!” His name is His reputation—all that He is.  When we ask for something then it must be in line with who He is.  He has      revealed Himself throughout the scriptures; therefore, we must pray accordingly and expect His answer.  The apostle James said to ask we must believe (James 1:6-8).

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo , who calls himself a Catholic Democrat, said Monday that people, not God, are responsible for the fact that COVID-19 cases in his state have plateaued.  His state by far is the most affected by the pandemic and prayed for by Christians everywhere. Cuomo stressed that the number of new cases is down “because we brought the number down.” “God did not do that. Faith did not do that. Destiny did not do that.” In an interview with CNN the next day, Cuomo reiterated his claim. “Our behavior has stopped the spread of the virus,” he said. ”God did not stop the spread of the virus. And what we do, how we act, will dictate how that virus spreads.” “We changed the trajectory of the virus by our actions.”  Evangelist Franklin Graham, of Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian charity that operates a field hospital in New York City’s Central Park, urged Gov. Cuomo— “we always must be careful what we take credit for.” “don’t dismiss the power of prayer and the ability of God to work in this crisis and in the ones we will face in the future. He is our hope, and we continue to pray for His mercy on our nation.”  Friend, If you are going to claim belief in Jesus then act accordingly, live and pray like a believer and give Him glory when He acts— or the time will surely come that He acts against you.  “America, America—God shed His grace on you…”

“Stay” Luke 24:45-51, Acts 1:6-11

After His resurrection, Jesus appeared many times over a 40 day period to His disciples  (1 Corinthians 15:4-7) to both prove that He had risen and to instruct them in the things to come. His last appearance and instruction was recorded by Luke in his gospel and in the book of Acts. Before Jesus left them He told them to STAY until they were clothed with power from the Holy Spirit that He had promised (John 14:16).  They, like many of us were thinking that it was a good  time to “restore the kingdom.”  Jesus reminded both them and us that this is none of our business.  What is our business is to bring His kingdom to earth!  Be filled with His Spirit and be His witness now and until He returns— or we return to Him.  Friends—”fear not!” Do “greater things.” “Ask anything.” “Wake up!” Don’t stay in bed or stand looking into the sky   “He is risen”—let us bring His kingdom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter: Where O Death Is Your Sting?

TombWatercolorPastor Barry/ EASTER SUNDAY: “Where O Death Is Your Sting?”   To watch this video message and others go to thegatheringhg.com and click on the youtube link to subscribe.

Note:  Sorry for the late posting of this message our system was down.

Hiding In Fear Matthew 14:22-33, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, 5:1

What are your fears this Easter Sunday 2020—this fourth Sunday apart from the fellowship of believers?  What are the fears of our nation and the fears of the world in this Covid 19 pandemic?  What fear has our schools closed, our businesses shut down and our economy moving towards a depression? What fear is it that causes people to stop embracing one      another in care and human compassion?  What fear has us locked away from visiting those languishing in hospitals, prisons, rest homes, and other institutions?  What fear has caused Americans to so willingly lay down our first amendment right?  What fear has caused Christians to “temporarily forsake” the command of our King of kings who said:  Feed the hungry, give the thirsty something to drink, invite the stranger in, clothe the naked, look after needy and visit the sick and imprisoned? Matthew 25:35-36  

The fear of death is a powerful force isn’t it?  We can certainly see that in our world and in our country today.  It has always been a powerful force, in fact it is the driving force behind every failed government and people.  One of our founding fathers, Ben Franklin, said:  “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

There was great fear of death in the followers of Jesus before that first Easter Sunday. The evil of the religious and political establishment in Jerusalem had prevailed, the Roman guard had arrested Jesus, his disciples had fled in fear and he was illegally tried and convicted in a kangaroo court of the wicked. Protesting masses of people ordered him crucified before a weak and crowd pleasing governor and he was brutally whipped until his flesh hung like bloody ribbons from his naked body.  He was forced to carry a cross through the streets in a sick and twisted parade for the sneering wicked and the apathetic hopeless. The disease of death plagued Jerusalem that cruel day as Jesus’ hands and feet were nailed to a cross and he was lifted up and dropped with a thud into the earth below.  From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. At the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema  sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”…   Mark 15:33-34   Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Father, into  Your hands I      commit My Spirit.” And when He had said this, He breathed His last. Luke 23:46  A spear then pierced His heart, He was taken off the cross and buried in a tomb. By all appearances Death was victorious—wickedness had won—hope was gone and the disciples went into    hiding for fear that death would come knocking at  their door next.  Are you like them this morning— afraid that Death will come knocking on your door?  To you Jesus says: “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

 Peter and all of the disciples would have done well to have remembered those words from Jesus in the dark days after His crucifixion and death.  The context of this passage was in a time where Peter almost drowned because he doubted Jesus.  The disciples were terrified when they saw Jesus walking on the water—they thought He was a ghost!  Once Jesus identified Himself Peter boldly and willingly walked out to Him in the storm.  But when he realized that he was going against the norms of earthly reality he feared and began to sink. Fortunately for Peter, he knew enough to cry out for Jesus and he was saved, but Jesus rebuked Peter for his lack of faith and asked, “Why did you doubt?”

Why do we doubt Jesus and the supernatural things that He can do and has done according to the scriptures that we say we believe?  Why are we more likely to believe in the power of ghosts, aliens, the Devil and wicked men over the one who has conquered death?  Why do we sink in our fears rather than walk in faith when Jesus says we can do so?  This Easter I am challenging you to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)!  Stop doubting and believe! 

As He Promised! 1 Corinthians 15:3-8,  John 20:1-23, John 11:25-26

The gospel resurrection accounts are not just an Easter story.  They are eyewitness accounts of a historical true life happening. The apostle Paul said of these accounts in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8  that he passed this information down after hearing first hand accounts for himself (in 55-57 AD. when the epistle was written). At the time of his writing most of those eyewitnesses of the resurrection were still living.  Even the most scholarly of atheists today believe in the historicity of the Apostle Paul’s writings —and Paul believed in the gospel accounts of eyewitnesses and passed them onto us!  (He says so here!)

As we read the resurrection account in John, there are no earthly heroes here.  Mary, Peter, John, the hiding disciples, “doubting” Thomas…they were all fearful that they would be the next to die and certain that Jesus was dead gone—until He proved He had risen!  Jesus had told His disciples multiple times that He would die and raise up again (Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31-33, 9:31,Luke 9:22-23, John 12-17), but they didn’t really believe Him—until He resurrected!  Jesus said He is coming again to rule and reign (Matthew 24:30-31) do you believe that?  They believed because they saw Him—but blessed are those who have not seen and believe, said Jesus.  “Blessed are” you and me!  These things are written that “we” may believe and have eternal life in His name!  Jesus keeps His promises.  He walked on water and He raised from the dead and He promised that He will raise us up too if we believe (John 11:25-26).  Do You?

 Victory In Jesus 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, 1 Corinthians 15:55-58

The entire hope of Christianity rests in the resurrection of Jesus Christ—without real belief in the resurrection of Christ our faith is futile—  1 Corinthians 15:12-19 

Is your hope real today?  Then walk by faith not by sight.  Live your faith in Christ out loud…like He may be coming back tomorrow.  The reality of death is always with us.  Rather it be in the threat of the coronavirus, or something else—death is among us but so also is Christ who has overcome it.  Pray to receive His gift of salvation today if you have not yet done so.  Then you too can say:  “Where, O death, is your victory? Where , O death, is your sting (I Corinthians 15:55-58).  Our victory is in Jesus!

 

“Good” Friday

SufferingServantPastor Barry/ GOOD FRIDAY   To hear this devotion and join our Live Stream Good Friday Concert @ 6PM go to thegatheringhg.com and click on the youtube link to subscribe.

That first night after Jesus died and was buried in a tomb was not a “good Friday” for the disciples— or so they thought.

Locked away in solitude, surely each of them numbly pondered the events leading to their master’s gruesome death.   No doubt– Judas was hated by them all for his betrayal — he was dead by then too– hanged by his own doing. Jesus had said “one at the table will betray me” (Matthew 26:21). Jesus knew!

Surely, each of them grieved over their own actions in His time of need.  When He was arrested they all hid themselves away except for Peter who followed at a distance.  Jesus had said “you will all fall away on account of me”. (Matthew 26:31). Jesus knew!

Peter, no doubt, especially grieved remembering his denial of Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest —surely he could still hear the rooster crowing in his mind after he cursed the one he had once called “the Christ, Son of the living God” (Matthew 26:69-75).  Jesus had told Peter that he would deny him three times before the rooster crowed (Matthew 26:34). Again, Jesus knew!  

What a terrible “Friday” that was – or so the disciples thought.

On that one awful day, Jesus was arrested, beaten, tried in an illegal court, lashed at a whipping post, mocked with a crown of thorns and forced to carry his cross through the city and up to a hill called Golgotha before a hateful crowd. There his hands and feet were nailed to that cross and he was crucified between two thieves and then he died.  Surely all of his disciples remembered that Jesus told them that he would go to Jerusalem, suffer many things at the hands of the Elders, Chief Priests and Scribes and be killed. (Matthew 16:21).  Jesus knew all of this and yet he still came to that place. 

Only the disciple John, with Jesus’ mother and three other women, could recall the last words of Jesus before he died: “It is finished”, he said– and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit on that great and terrible day… (Matthew 19:25, 30).

And the sky grew dark and the earth shook as the soldiers proclaimed in great fear: “Surely this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54). 

Then a soldier pierced his side and they took him down from the cross and buried him in a rich man’s garden tomb. (John 19:34, 41)  Just as the prophet Isaiah had foetold it 700 years earlier. (Isaiah 53:9)

On that great and terrible Friday did any of those regretful disciples recall that Jesus had said that He would rise again on the third day (Matthew 16:21)?  Did any of those grief filled disciples recall the words of the prophet Isaiah in chapter 53 of their Torah?  Did they recall the prophecy in verse 11 that read:  “After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities”.

They did not recall that, but Jesus did!

Jesus knew that this terrible day for Him would be a Good Friday for any– ever after — who call upon His name for forgivness of their sin. This terrible Friday was necessary to redeem repentant men and women from all their sin and failures by a God that never fails.For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. For those first disciples and for you and I.

He offered up his body and blood as the atoning sacrifice for our sin—once and for all (Romans 6:10). No power in Hell can stand against what He has done for those who trust in Him for deliverance and salvation.  The body of Christ given for you…  The blood of Christ shed for you…  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. I Corinthians 11:26

A BLESSED “GOOD” FRIDAY TO ALL WHO PARTAKE!

Under The Sun #13: The Conclusion of the Matter

Hosanna1Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church  Under The Sun #13 (Ecclesiastes): The Conclusion of the Matter  To hear this message and others Plus Sunday live-stream download our free app at The App Store by searching gatheringconnect.

Jesus Is Just “Alright” Luke 19:29-40, Zachariah 9:9

Jesus Is Just Alright” is a gospel song written by Arthur Reid Reynolds and first recorded by Reynolds’ own group, The Art Reynolds Singers, on their 1966 album, Tellin’ It Like It IsThe song’s title makes use of the American slang term “all-right”, which during the 1960s was used to describe something that was  considered ‘cool(lit. awesome/ great). The song has been covered by a number of bands and artists over the years.  The Doobie Brothers‘  version of “Jesus Is Just Alright” was first released on their second album, Toulouse Street, in 1972.  The band first heard The Byrds version and loved the musical “roller coaster ride” of the sound and “just had to add it” to their album.   It went on to become a U.S. hit, peaking at No. 35 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February 1973.  Although none of the individual band members were religiously inclined, the song went on to become very popular among Christians during the early 1970s, particularly those within the hippie counter culture that were involved with the Jesus movement.                             

Funny thing…  The Doobie Brothers just did the song cause’ they liked the groove but it became a hit because people loved and wanted to praise Jesus!  That reminds me of a line that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees with when they told Him to shut up the crowd that was praising Him as He entered Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday over 1,983 years ago:

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” 

So… If the Doobie Brothers didn’t make that song a hit then the Rolling Stones might have done so (pun intended).  What I’m saying is that if the King of kings wants praise He will have it no matter who or what it comes through!  So give your King praise church right where you are— in America and throughout this world —rather the church buildings are closed down or not—people of God cry out praise —because Jesus is more than “alright!”  He is King of kings, Lord of lords and maker of heaven and earth.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and Last, the beginning and the end, The Chief Shepherd and Savior of our souls, the Rock of our salvation and the Lion of the tribe of Judah.  Praise him!  For He the Resurrection and the Life, the soon and coming King, and He alone will judge the nations!  Praise Him church!  Praise your King! 

As we read the scripture about that historical and glorious day, we see that Jesus orders the days events: He sent his two disciples ahead to find a colt and He told them what to say, because He is King of kings— regardless of what king Herod of Jerusalem thought of himself.  There is a lot of godless entertainers, pundits and politicians, scientists and educators, movie makers and book writers, billionaires and kings, magistrates and masses who think a lot of themselves today too. There are many who hate Christians, our Bible and the all-powerful Jesus we serve.  Some so called “Christian theologians” (Jesus  Seminar and other progressives) even attempt to strip Jesus of His deity, but they forget that Christ is the Eternal King.       

The events he ordered that day were to fulfill an 520 year old prophesy in Zachariah 9:9:  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is   coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. NKJV  They threw their cloaks on the road and waved palm branches because that was the cultural way to welcome a king.  They shouted “Hosanna” (lit. Greek: “save us”) because they needed a savior (John 12:13). God knows we need a King and Savior today too!

A King and a Savior Ecclesiastes 12:9-14, John 3:16– 17, John 1:9-12

Now, I have not forgotten, today we finish our 13 week study in the book of Ecclesiastes which ties in beautifully with our need for a king and a savior.  Solomon was a good king—for awhile.  Solomon was a wise king, the richest and wisest king that ever reigned (1 Kings 10:23-24)—for awhile, but Solomon was a man who lost his way like all of us (1 Kings 11:1-6, 9-11).  Of himself at the time of his writing, he said: “The teacher was wise, imparted knowledge, found just the right words that were upright and true…for the people”. Solomon described his wise directions for the people as “goads” (a corrective stick used for driving cattle) and “firmly embedded nails” (which hold an object firmly in place) given by “one shepherd“ (king).  He lovingly called his readers “my son” and warned them not to add to his writings or to study anymore on the subject of what he wrote—the meaning of life.  The further study of such things would just “weary the body”.  He knew this well because he lived all that he wrote.  But just as a child never follows all the wise advice of his parents, or the animal its good master, so the sinner goes his own foolish way despite good advice.  Solomon’s conclusion to his readers is simple:  “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” for in the end He will judge all things. But we don’t like that conclusion do we?  Especially we “self-made Americans.”  But the fact is we are not self-made.  God made us and His commands are given for our well being. You see, all the earthly kings from Saul to Solomon,  from Jeroboam to Zedekiah, failed to keep God’s commandments and therefore lost the people and the land God gave them— and so goes America and the rest of the world— but God so loved the world (John 3:16-17) that He came down to show us truth and to save us from our own sin and rebelliousness.  

On that Palm Sunday, God wrapped in human flesh, ordered the days events to be rightfully proclaimed the prophesied Messiah (anointed one of God) and King, but He also came riding on the back of a “beast of burden” to be a “lamb for slaughter”, a sacrifice for our sin— a savior for all who would call upon His name (John 1:9-12). 

Jesus Weeps Luke 19:41-44, John 3:18-21, Philippians 2:8-11

While the crowd paraded around Jesus He wept over what was “hidden from their eyes”.  He knew the same crowd would shout “crucify” in only a few days because that is what a sinful mob does when rallied by the Devil they refuse to believe in.  Jesus wept over what would  happen to the Jews for their actions.  There are always grave consequences to rejecting God as He has revealed Himself. In 70 A.D. Rome would build an embankment around Jerusalem and destroy the city and its great temple—not leaving “one stone upon another”.  

God so loves the world that He provided one way out of sin’s punishment, but those who reject Jesus will be condemned (John 3:18-21). One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that He alone is Lord (Philippians 2:8-11).  The coronavirus is physically concerning,  but sin is a virus that has eternal consequences that will absolutely take the life of every person on this earth who is without the remedy —who is Christ Jesus alone.  “Cry out” to Him!

 

Under The Sun #12: Oh Very Young

ButterflyChild2Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church  Under The Sun #12 (Ecclesiastes): Oh Very Young  To hear this message and others download our free app at The App Store by searching gatheringconnect.

Invest Your Life Ecclesiastes 11:1-8, Hebrews 10:23-25, Matthew 25:14-30

As we move now towards the conclusion of our study in the book of Ecclesiastes we read   Solomon’s wise advice on the subject of investment.  An investment is a valuable thing acquired with the goal of generating more. In an economic sense, an investment is the purchase of goods that are not consumed today but are used in the future to create wealth. In finance, an investment is a monetary thing of value purchased with the idea that it will provide income in the future or will later be sold at a higher price for a profit. In the spiritual sense, an investment is the personal practice of religious, moral and ethical living that will   provide well being, inner peace, and hope in ones future (i.e. blessings) and provide eternal insurance after ones earthly death. Solomon’s advice in the first part of chapter eleven can be applied to all three of these, but it is the spiritual investment that God is concerned with. 

Solomon advises the reader to “ship their grain across the sea” and invest in “seven ventures or even eight.”  Economically and financially he encourages one to spread their investments out rather putting them all in one place.  “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. This is sound   advice because “you do not know what  disaster may come upon the land”, the market, the business or the  object of your investment.  You may loose one or two things (to the “rain” or “falling tree”) but gain somewhere else. We should spiritually invest this way too. Share Christ with many and do not be discouraged by those who show no growth. Others will grow and become the “good seed” that Jesus referred to in His Parable Of The Sower. (Matthew 13:23)

Solomon also warns us about the folly of not investing in anything at all.  He that obsesses over the wind will never plant for fear of the seed blowing away.  He who obsesses over the clouds will never reap because he is afraid of rain ruining the harvest.  He who obsesses over being rejected will never share his faith!  He who obsesses over earthly things will never do anything spiritually.  To invest one must take risks.  In fact God commands us to do so trusting only in His promises: “He who has promised is faithfulGod expects us to take Him at His word!   Jesus makes this clear in His Parable Of The Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30 where three servants are entrusted to invest their masters talents (a measurement of gold or silver).  Two servants invest those talents and double their masters  money while one servant, mistrusting his master, hides the talents in the ground and makes nothing at all.  We notice that the master gives them differing measures of talents, but rejoices equally in the fact that they invested what they had and made more.  The master, however, is angry with the servant that mistrusted him and hid the talents in the ground.  That servant is harshly rebuked and thrown out of his presence where he is left weeping and gnashing (grinding) his teeth in regret! The message is clear:  God expects His people to invest what He has entrusted to us.  What has God given to you?  Has He given you wealth?  Then you better invest some of that wealth in His kingdom!  Has He given you talent and skills?  Then you better be using those gifts for His work.  Has He given you strong arms and good health?  Then you better be reaching out in His name to the less fortunate.  Has He given you smarts? Then don’t be dummy and squander that gift on selfish pursuits but use that mind to advance His kingdom.  It is His kingdom we are to advance and not our own:  “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”. (Matthew 6:10). 

God expects a return on what He has given to us.  “And to all who have called upon His name He has given the right to be called the children of God” (John 1:12)— We who have received that “right” are commanded to tell others (Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20).  Are you?

 Christians …”We do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb”.  “We can not understand the work of God”, but “we are to sow our seed in the morning and our hands are not to be idle” in the evening.  “We do not know which investment will   succeed”, but we are to invest what the Lord has given us.  Let us make no mistake about that!  Solomon instructs mankind to enjoy all the years of our lives, but we should remember that life has many dark days— so we must invest while we can making use of every opportunity.

The Line that follows says Everything to come is “meaningless” in the NIV translation.  We have seen this word used 34 times in Ecclesiastes and we will hear it four more times before we are done. The Hebrew word is actually “hebel” which means “vapor”. This word is translated “vanity” in other translations (NASB, KJV, ESV, ASV) but The Message version of the Bible gets much closer by translating the word as “smoke.” The context is that this life is here and then gone. It is not, however, “meaningless” as the NIV so poorly translates. The Bible has a consistent message that we have great meaning in Christ and so do our investments.     

Oh Very Young 1 Timothy 4:12-16, Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:8, Matthew 6:19-21, 1 John 4:7-11

Investing the life that God gives us is not just advice for adults.  God’s word is clear that the young are expected to do the same.  The apostle Paul exhorted young Timothy regarding this in 1 Timothy 4:12-16 and Psalm 8:2 says, From the lips of children and infants You have ordained praise on account of Your adversaries, to silence the enemy and avenger.  I have attended and conducted many funerals in my life. Some of the young that were buried did far more for the kingdom of God than many of the adults (i.e. Joe & Stacy).  Their examples challenge us still. 

Solomon addresses the young in the concluding verses that we read today.  He encourages them to enjoy their youth but to live righteously before God.  Youth do not get a free pass on judgment as some foolish people assume.  Young people should enjoy their vitality, but remember their creator in the days of their youth and invest their lives wisely before days of trouble come.  They should store up for themselves spiritual treasures (Matthew 6:19-21) rather than wrath for the day of judgment (Romans 2:5). “Remember Him—before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken… This poetic reference to the breakdown of the body and eventual death will come to us all— make your contribution to life now! 

Oh Very Young” was a song composed by singer-songwriter Cat Stevens that was first released in 1974 and reached number 10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and number two on Easy Listening.  The song calls the young to invest their lives and help this “world to see a better day”. To “carry the words of love” with them until they go to Heaven.  This is a perfect closing song for this message.  As Christians we know that true love comes from God in Christ Jesus (1 John 4:7-11).  Let us invest our lives in Him and live His love out loud to others. We are only “dancing on this earth for a short while”Let us live wisely in such a way as to lead others to Heaven. 

Under The Sun #11: Fool’s Wisdom

BibleReadPastor Barry/ The Gathering Church  Under The Sun #11 (Ecclesiastes): Fool’s Wisdom  To hear this message and others download our free app at The App Store by searching gatheringconnect.

A Light To My Path Ecclesiastes 10:1-3, Psalms 119:97-105

The passages we read today in chapter ten are a collection of proverbs assembled by Solomon about wisdom and folly.  Some of them are complete thoughts and others seem to simply be random statements, nonetheless we will seek nuggets of truth from each of them.

“The teacher” begins by reminding us that on the scales of life a little folly outweighs a whole lot of wisdom and honor. Consider this fact from those that God had called:  Noah was a righteous man and wisely built an ark (Genesis 6:9-14) but after the rains came and went he foolishly got drunk and naked (Genesis 9:21). Abraham (Abram) wisely left his country and people and went to a land that God showed him (Genesis 12:1-4) but later acted foolishly by having a son through a concubine rather than his own wife as God had promised (Genesis 16:1-2). Moses wisely listened to God and led the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land (Exodus 12:31-36) but acted so foolishly in his anger that God denied him entry there himself (Exodus 32:48-52). Solomon’s own father, king David, wisely    followed God to defeat the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17:45-50) and was later declared king of Israel leading the Israelites righteously and valiantly, but later acted  foolishly by having sex with a soldier’s wife and then having him killed to cover up her pregnancy (2 Samuel 11:1-17). Even Solomon himself would fulfill his own words by wisely asking God for    wisdom to lead (1 Kings 3:7-14) and later acting like a fool by amassing for himself 700 wives and 300 concubines who led him away to worship other gods  (1 Kings 11:1-6). Like dead flies in perfume their folly outweighs their wisdom and honor     doesn’t it?  These facts cause skeptics to wonder, “are these the great leaders of the Bible?”   To this I would say of course not…God almighty is the only great leader in the Bible!  As Hannah once said: There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:2).

 In the Bible “right” and “left” refer to spiritual and earthly, honor and dishonor. Note that Jesus is at the “right” hand of God (Ephesians 1:20-21) and in Jesus’ parable of the sheep and goats His sheep (children of God) are on the right and the goats are on His left (Matthew 25:31-46).  When Solomon writes “The heart of the wise inclines to the right but the heart of the fool to the left” he is saying that a wise person will always incline to the ways of the Lord.  As we “walk along the road” (or the path of life) let us not “lack sense and show everyone how stupid we are.”  Let us always incline to the “right”( Psalms 119:97-105) making God’s word a light to our path. 

Wise Forethought  Ecclesiastes 10:4-11, Philippians 4:6-9,13, Psalm 121:1-8

It is said “hind sight is 20/20”.  That is to say that knowing what an outcome would be beforehand would make one see perfectly and therefore act perfectly. We usually don’t have that advantage because  people most often react to situations rather than thinking things out beforehand.  Solomon gives us some wise advice about thinking before we act:  Firstly he   reminds us to stay calm even in the heat of a “rulers” rebuke—”calmness can lay great offences to rest”.  In this life we have two choices. We can go along with the temperature of our       environment  letting our mind and emotions be led by the twists and turns of the ever-changing scenarios of life, or we can set our hearts and minds on Christ. The inclination to the “right” or the “left” is always ours to choose.  Let us wisely choose to trust God and let Him make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).  Thanking God for what we have, praying and keeping our mind on praiseworthy things prepares us for rough roads (Philippians 4:6-9, 13). Remember—we can do all things thorough Christ who gives us strength. 

Secondly, we must remember that “fools” are always among us and often in high positions. Those who are “rich” in wisdom usually occupy the lower ones. “Slaves” to ruling fools are also often lifted up (on horseback) while “princes” (God’s people) “slave” under them.  Yes, we live in a fallen (sinful) world, but stay calm and guard against your anger because God will ultimately prevail (Romans 12:19)!  Those who foolishly react in the moment may “fall” into a pit, get “bitten by a snake” be “injured” or be “endangered” by their rash actions.  We must remember that the “ax is dull” or that the people we deal with aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.  We live in an imperfect world with imperfect people and we are imperfect too.  More strength is needed to see success and My strength comes from the Lord (Psalm 121:1-8)!  Remember— if you want to see success stay calm or the “snake” (circumstances) will bite you.

Watch Your Mouth!  Ecclesiastes 10:12-15, James 3:9-12, 17-18, 4:7

Oftentimes when we loose our calm we don’t think about what we say but just “barf” out destructive words in frustration or anger. The apostle James admonished us about our use of the tongue and said, “this should not be” (James 3:9-12) .  This reaction tears down relationships and adds stress to an already bad situation.  We need to seek out the “wisdom that comes from Heaven” and “submit ourselves to God”. It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. “Word barf” never accomplishes anything it just wears out the fool who toils in them.  We will never find the way to town (healthy relationships) unless we pray and choose our words carefully.

Who Is Your King?  Ecclesiastes 10:16-19

Solomon concludes his proverbs on wisdom and folly by contrasting a people ruled by a child or a king of noble birth.  The NIV version poorly translates the Hebrew word naar נַעַר] (nah’-ar) Lit. a boy, lad, youth] to “servant” which does not express the authors intent.  The “woe” is in the understanding that an immature (“child”) leader will be inclined to the “left”—worldly and concerned with his own needs and wants to the detriment of his subjects.  His princes “feasting in the morning” meaning that no work is being accomplished in such an administration.  The “blessed” land (or people) is ruled by the king inclined to the right—spiritual and honorable, whose princes (administration) exercise strength and not drunkenness.  Laziness and idle hands compromise the house in which we live.  The idea that feasting, drinking and money is the answer to everything is foolhardy.  “Woe” to the people ruled by such a “child”.  Their roof is bound to leak and eventually cave in!  Who sits on the throne of your life?  Who is your King?  If it is not Jesus then a jester reigns!

Fool’s Wisdom  Ecclesiastes 10:20, 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

We can judge and curse the earthly leaders and the rich who rule over us, but our own actions and inclinations to the “right” or “left” will judge us.  Our wisdom should come from the Word, our king is Jesus, our actions to reflect His light—foolishness to the perishing—life to the wise! 

 

 

Under The Sun #10: Everybody Hurts

CoronaPsalm91Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church  Under The Sun #10 (Ecclesiastes): Everybody Hurts (Hang on)  To hear this message and others download our free app at The App Store by searching Gathering Connect.

Everybody Hurts (REM)

Most of the song Everybody Hurts (released on the band’s 1992 album Automatic for the People) was written by R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry who quit the band in 1997 to become a hay farmer in Georgia.  He had had a very public aneurysm in 1995 (literally onstage) and that inspired him to do some heavy thinking; in the end he just decided that he was sick and tired of the business: the tours, the interviews, the press releases and the television appearances. The thought of going out on tour to support an album filled him with such dread that walking away from an 80 million dollar contract to grow hay just seemed more appealing to him than touring about the world in a bus or a private jet.  Berry and the band wrote this song for young people who might be contemplating suicide.  Ironically, Berry wrote most of the song but he did not actually play the song for the recording.  A Univox drum machine took care of that for him.

On many R.E.M. songs, Michael Stipe purposefully sings indecipherably. He sang very clearly on this one though, because he didn’t want the message getting lost. “I still kind of can’t believe my voice is on this recording. It’s very pure”, he said. “This song instantly  belonged to everyone except us, and that honestly means the world to me”, said Stipe. The band was proud to have created a song that actually saved lives.  Stipe said, “It saved a few, people have told me. And I love hearing that. That’s my Oscar, that’s my gold on a shelf right there… that something we did impacted someone’s life in such a   profound way. That’s a beautiful thing.”

Hang On John 14:27

I selected Everybody Hurts as the illustration for today’s lesson in the book of Ecclesiastes because chapter 9 can seem to be such a dismal passage.  In fact, one who dwells on such thoughts could easily contemplate suicide if they were prone to depression. To that person I would echo REM and say “Hang on!”  There is hope in my message today!  There is also a lesson in Bill Berry’s turn from a life of anxiety into living a more simple sort of life.  “Simplify”, most of what we obsess and stress over is not necessary.   

With hindsight of this weeks news on the Coronavirus I might have better chosen REM’s song It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (and I feel fine). Yes, there is a virus spreading out there so we take healthy precautions, but we should not freak out!  Anxiety only weakens our immune systems and depletes the planets supply of toilet paper and hand sanitizer!  This is the time that we exercise our faith in Jesus Christ and remember that we are God’s children.  This can actually be a time for us to “share the hope within us”  (1 Peter 3:15) with those who might otherwise not listen at all.  It is also a time for us to  listen to God and know His peace through the Bible and prayer (John 14:27).  Read Psalm 91 and believe it!

Reflections Ecclesiastes 9:1-6, Ephesians 2:1-10, John 10:14, 1 Peter 2:9-10

Negative reflections on life, like Solomon’s, can leave us flinching at whether love or hate awaits us in this life of chance (“everybody hurts”).  Seeing everyone’s destiny (the righteous and the wicked) as death without the promise of eternal life is a crushing blowSometimes the world and living in it can seem wearisome and even pointless —for a   person without the hope of salvation and purpose found in Christ it surely is.  

At this point in our scripture reading I must say once again that the book of Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s rhetorical writings on the road to find out.  The end of the book (its conclusion) justifies the means to getting there.  His musings are intended to make us ask questions that we might otherwise neglect in our life “under the sun”.  Asking these questions without the direction of the gospel (lit. Greek: “Good News”) is detrimental.  Asking them in the light of Christ brings salvation, hope, purpose, faith and direction. 

A good example of this is found in verse four where Solomon makes an interesting      comparison between a “live dog” and a “dead lion”.  A dog was considered an unclean animal in both the old and new testaments and references are most often    negative and used as slurs to sinful men  (Revelation 22:15, Philippians 3:2,   Proverbs 26:11).  A lion on the other hand  always refers to power, strength and might—Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5, Hosea 11:10) who is King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).  Is a live dog (a sinner) better than a dead lion?  According to the    gospel a living sinner is a dead man walking and that “dead Lion” (Jesus) rose from the grave and gives any “dog” new life and purpose (Ephesians 2:1-10) when we call on His nameWe are no longer dead and our name is forever remembered by our “good    Shepherd” (John 10:14). We have purpose both on this earth and in the life to come (1 Peter 2:9-10)!

Chance & Grace Ecclesiastes 9:7-12, Colossians 3:23-24, 1 Peter 1:3-9

Solomon reminds his reader to live life with a joyful heart to God—He has approved (officially agreed) of your being alive so be right with Him (be clothed in white) and set yourself apart for His service (anoint your head with oil). Love what God has given you (enjoy your wife).  Do the work that is yours as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23-24).        Solomon’s  chiding remark in verse ten about no work to do in the realm of the dead is for those who scoff at living for God.  The fool says in his heart there is no God (Psalms 14:1). 

Life is flinching chance for those who live apart from God. “Time and chance    happen to all…and people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them… like Coronavirus!  But the grace and mercy of God is not to the swift, the strong, the wise or the wealthy or learned either.  It is for any who call on His name (Romans 10:13).  In God’s “great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope” through Christ and an inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade (1 Peter 1:3-9). Rejoice, even though now you may suffer— “Everybody hurts…Hang on” Joy comes in the morning (Psalms 30:5)!

 

Quiet Words of the Wise Ecclesiastes 9:13-18, John 3:16-18

Solomon closes this chapter with a picture of a poor, quiet wise man who saves a city but is forgotten.  We live in a world where a poor, quiet wise man named Jesus laid down His life to save a world lost in sin.  Let us not forget: His words are “more to be headed than the shouts of a ruler of fools”.  “Hang on”—Be still and know He is God (Psalm 46:10).

 

 

 

 

 

Under The Sun #9: Hand In The Hand

HandPastor Barry/ The Gathering Church  Under The Sun #9 (Ecclesiastes): Put Your Hand In The Hand  To hear this message and others download our free app at The App Store by searching Gathering Connect.

Gene MacLellan (Put Your Hand In The Hand)  

Gene MacLellan was a  Canadian country, pop and gospel singer-songwriter, guitarist (February 2, 1938— January 19, 1995).  His songs “Snowbird” and “Put Your Hand in the Hand” won Grammy Awards in 1971.  Ocean was the Canadian gospel rock ( 1971-1975) band that made that song a million-selling 1971 hit single, earning a gold disc in the United States from the Recording Industry Association of America.  The single peaked  at No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and reached No. 4 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. The song was recorded first by Anne Murray and has since been recorded by artists such as  Elvis Presley, Bing CrosbyRandy StonehillFrankie LaineJoan BaezAnita Bryant, Loretta Lynn, The Oak Ridge Boys and others.  Gene MacLellan was a shy Christian man who mostly avoided the spotlight for more intimate settings, performing instead at churches, penitentiaries and retirement homes. He performed on gospel broadcasts, and also provided counseling to prison inmates. Gene’s daughter, Catherine MacLellan is also an excellent singer-songwriter.  Her latest recorded release is COYOTE(2019). Check it out on Spotify.

“Obey The King” Ecclesiastes 8:1-6,  2 Corinthians 6:1-2, Matthew 11:28-30

I chose MacLellan’s song “Put Your Hand In The Hand” as a springboard for today’s     message because “the teacher” expresses how wisdom brightens a persons face and changes ones hard appearance.  A good sing-along song certainly does this too, especially if it is a song about the King of kings and the wisdom found in following Him.  “Obey the king’s command”, wrote king Solomon…  “Put Your Hand In The Hand of the Man from Galilee” wrote MacLellan.  Jesus is the King of kings and He is the one we must obey. Christian… ”you took an oath before God” to follow Him.  “Do not be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence.” 

Could a song with lyrics like this ever hit the top 10 on U.S. Bilboard today?  Well, Kanye West’s “Jesus Is King” opened at No. 1 in October 2019… It is good to know that a        recognized king of rap knows who the King of kings is.  Let us pray that he is not in a hurry to leave the king’s presence to “stand up for a bad cause”.  Pray for Kanye, Christians and pray that prayer for one another and you too.  “Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm…the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.”  The time is now for salvation (2 Corinthians 6:1-2) says God’s word and the procedure of salvation is clearly laid out in the gospel!  It has always been here since Christ proclaimed it.  It has been  expressed in different times through different vehicles but the truth remains the same and is found in “the holy book” (the Bible).  Are you weighed down in misery?”  Then come to Christ. (Matthew 11:28-30). “Obey the King!” “Put Your Hand In The Hand…” 

Fear God Ecclesiastes 8:7-13, James 1:13-15, Revelation 20:11-15, Romans 1:18-2:4

The teacher once again dwells on the fact that no person really has any power.  No one knows the future, just as no one can contain the wind or determine where it blows.  No one knows when they will die or has the power to change their fate.  No one that        practices wickedness can deliver themselves from it— they are bound in it like a prisoner of war.  A man may rule (lord it over) over others but he cannot control the fact that they may rise up and hurt him one day.  In reality… no person has as much power as they may think!  Only God is all knowing (omniscient) , all powerful (omnipotent) and all present (omnipresent). 

The teacher also “saw the wicked (Verse 10) buried”  Those evil ones who fooled others into praising them by looking outwardly righteous — in the end they proved to have no power at all.  They were buried!  The teacher continued to reflect on such people and why they go from bad to worse.  When people get away with wrongful schemes they are    enticed to do more.  The Apostle James put it this way:  “each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:14   A wicked person may get away with many crimes and even live a long time in this unjust world but he is a fool to think that he has the power to get away with it… We can not fool God.  He knows and will judge all things (Revelation 20:11-15).  He alone is powerful and a wise person will  fear Him.  In fact, to fear the Lord is the very beginning of wisdom and not the conclusion of it:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10

God’s wrath will be revealed against all people who suppress the truth that He has so graciously revealed in Jesus Christ (Romans 1:18-32). Obey the King!  And while we are at it… don’t we dare play God and pass judgment on others (Romans 2:1-4).  “His kindness is intended to lead you (and others) to repentance”.  “Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently… put your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee”. 

Enjoy Life! Ecclesiastes 8:14-17, Romans 1:16-17

We see it on the news all the time— good people getting what the wicked deserve and the wicked prospering.  “Meaningless”, says the teacher!  But “the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure (Ecc. 8:5b).”  The time for   salvation is now and the procedure is to follow the gospel: “The righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).  God wants us to enjoy life— ”to eat and drink and be glad”.  Stop loosing sleep over the injustice of this world and leave it to God!  “The righteous will live by faith.”  Look what He has done.  Look at what He is  doing!  Despite all of our efforts to search things out we can never comprehend it.  Some, proclaiming to be wise may claim to know it all but they can not.  Some, proclaim to have great power and might, but in reality they do not.  But “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.”  “Obey the King!”  Fear God and enjoy life and Put Your Hand In The Hand of the Man who calmed the sea!