350px-GW_BridgeAs a Special Gathering member sat on the George Washington Bridge that links New Jersey to New York City, she and her parents were irritated.   A terrible traffic jam was delaying their tour of the World Trade Center.  They had planned to be in the building before 9AM so that they could avoid the people coming to work.  Instead the three of them sat on the bridge like many of the employees who worked in the famous building.

The date was September 11, 2001 and that traffic jam saved their lives.

There are occasions that miracles appear as negative influences or occasions interrupting our lives and plans.  Later, we realize that God was working out these things for our good by allowing us to be caught in a traffic jam, to miss a plane or to forget an important appointment.

I’ve lost several “dream jobs” by a whisper because of one unavoidable circumstance or another. Yet, my true dream job was planned in the future when the Lord introduced me to The Special Gathering and our amazing members.

Paul and King AgrippaThe Bible shares many times that God works miracles through negative circumstances.  Paul was arrested and stayed in prison for several years paving his passage to Rome. Through the rough years when he remained behind bars, he encountered kings and governors who would have been out of his reach as a missionary.

While it’s hard to sit patiently in stalled traffic and even harder to imagine lost opportunities for advancement and promotion, we can be sure that if we have placed our lives in the hands of a faithful and loving Father, He can turn these negative experiences into megative miracles.

calming story

In the fourth chapter, Mark records a miracle that astounds the followers of Jesus.  In fact, their perplex reaction makes this encounter noteworthy to many observers and critics.

The men were traveling by boat across the unpredictable and often tempestuous Sea of Galilee when a terrible storm blew over the waters.  The men were concerned for their lives; but Jesus slept in the front of the boat.  They woke Jesus and rebuked him, “Is it nothing to you that we are going to die?”

Once awake, Jesus spoke to the wind and waves and told them to be calm.  The weather obeyed his command immediately.  The wind stopped and the sea became as smooth as glass.

Recording their reaction, Mark writes the disciples were terrified by Jesus and asked each other, “Who is this?  Even the wind and waves obey him.”

When Jesus slept in the front of the boat, the men felt apprehension.  In fact, Jesus uses the word that means timid, cowardly  or fearful to describe their fear.

However, after Jesus calms the storm, Mark describes their emotions.  He says they were “greatly terrified.”  The two Greek words used in the manuscript could be translated “had a holy reverence to the point of terror.”

After seeing the strength of Jesus’ power to mold circumstances and events to his will, the Son of God’s companions were more afraid of their Master than of losing their lives.  There will be miracles in our lives that will demonstrate God’s awesome power in such a magnificent way that we will mutely stand more terrified of God than the circumstance that lead to the revelation of His might.

At that moment in time, we stand in amazed wonder acutely aware of our own finite existence contrasted with God’s magnificent ability to bend time, space and nature.

on kneesWhen was the last time, you knew of anyone who was terrified by the awesomeness and power of  God? Too often, we trivialize the work and omnipotence of God.  Yet, there is a transforming, supernatural authority which can throw us instantly to our knees in holy terror.

 

photo by michaelwalden.com

Paul arrestedA Good Man’s Faith

Central Theme:  God uses faith to accomplish his will in our lives.

You know about Jesus from Nazareth, that God gave him the Holy Spirit and power.  You know how Jesus went everywhere doing good and healing those who were ruled by the Devil, because God was with him. (Acts 10:38)

 Introduction—There are many things in our lives that we think we cannot control.  As I first typed this message on Microsoft Word, I worked on the format for almost 2 hours.  It’s an upgraded program and it does lots of things I don’t want it to do.  I seems to have no control.  But I can learn how to use the new program and then I’ll be able to make it do what I need.  There is one key to living a good life—that is faith in God.  Have a member read Acts 10:38

I.    Paul came to Jerusalem to tell the elders of the church the great things God was doing wherever the gospel was taught.   (Acts 21:15-36; 22:30-23:10).

A.    The elders were happy but they wanted Paul to do something to prove that he was not teaching Jewish people to forget about following the law.  They told Paul to take four other men and perform a seven-day cleansing ceremony with them.

B.    At the end of the seven days, some people from Asia recognized Paul and they started a riot.  It was terrible.  The Jews were trying to kill Paul.

C. The Romans came to stop the riot.  They had no idea what had happened. So the arrested Paul.  But Paul said that he did the things he were prescribed in the Bible and they were right to do them.

II.    Paul had done the right thing.  He had obeyed the people God put over him. But he STILL got in trouble.  Now he was in jail and all he did was obey.

A.    We expect to get in trouble when we do wrong.  But there have been times that we do the right thing and we still get in trouble.

B.    I was the president of an organization once.  My board made a decision I didn’t agree with but it was my job to carry it out their decision.  The right thing to do was to do what my board said.  But it was an unpopular decision and many people got angry with me.  The odd part was that my board who were the people who made the decision were the main people who got angry with me.

III.    Paul did not blame anyone.  He saw it as part of God’s plan for him.

A.    God’s plan may be different from our plan but God is always right.

1.   Think about Jesus’ life and death.

2.   People still don’t understand why God chose to have Jesus born and die the way he did.  But it was God’s plan and God was right.

Conclusion—There will be bad things that will happen in your life.  You may be asked to do something by a person who is over you.  Then you could get in trouble for doing it.  Remember God’s plan isn’t our plan and we should do what we think is right.

photo by freebibleimages.org

camp agapeDon’t miss

Retreat and Camp Agape

a Christian retreat experience for the mentally challenged community

Memorial Day Weekend–Friday, May 23 to Monday, May 26

at Life for Youth Campgrounds

Vero Beach, FL

The cost depends of the functioning life style of the person attending and ranges from $190 to $240.  We will provide transportation from Brevard County from four pick up points.  To request an application, call Linda Howard at 321-773-2691 or email at lhoward@specialgatherings.com.  Or you may leave a comment.  You will be directed to the correct person with whom you need to speak.

If you would like to attend, act quickly.  The available spaces are filling up quickly.

stormIn the life of a Christian, it is often at a time of crisis that God lifts his hand from the natural order he ordained to do a miracle.  As we remember, a miracle is when God intercedes to do something supernatural.

While riding from a prayer breakfast with a group of Christians yesterday, the conversation turned to a young mother who received many miracles during the birth of her child.  The baby’s head came quickly but the shoulder became stuck on the mother’s pelvis.  While shoulder dystocia is rare, the shoulder can usually be dislodged by repositioning the mother.  The child’s shoulder could not be dislodged.

However, miraculously, the baby suddenly was dislodged but he was stillborn.  The medical personnel worked feverishly to enable the baby to breathe.  Nothing worked.  After they declared the little one stillborn, the child suddenly breathed with no help from any medical staff.  The nurses and midwife believed that his revival was a miracle.

tornadoMost of us can point to a time in our history when a miracle occurred.  Messy times of emergencies, God breaks his own rules to bless his children.

Miners survive for weeks after a coal mine explosion.  There is a plane wreck and no one is killed.  An explosion occurs and everyone dies except one man.  There is no explanation except that God interrupts his laws and gave a miracle.

Each of us can point to a time when we experienced a miracle.  Nevertheless, can we expect God to do miracles in our lives as a matter of routine?  Perhaps that smacks of presumption.  However, the Lord has promised the believer that God works all things for our good.  Prayer is asking God to break his own rules and do miracles in our lives, families, our nation and the church.  It should not be assumed it is presumption but a matter of routine.

John in prison

I stumbled on a wonderful new (to me) resource that I think is amazing. This is the only place I’ve found that you can download–for illustration purposes–Bible pictures.  It is freebibleimages.org  from a small core of volunteers.  Starting with five men, they desire to make the entire Bible available in picture form.  The photos and illustrations are amazing.  If you are needing Bible pictures to help illustrate your Bible lessons, devotions or sermons, this is a gold mine resource.  

005-jesus-anointedThese are extremely gifted men and women who are donating their artistic work.  Let’s be sure that we don’t abuse this free gift the Lord and these men and women are giving to us.  They are to be used only for Biblical illustrations. There is a place to donate on the website.  This resource is worth our giving our contributions.

images from freebibleimages.org

angelA higher functioning person in Special Gathering wanted to know how to get in touch with a medium so that he could speak with his dead relative.  Because of the teachings in the Scriptures about angels appearing to people, he had become confused.  In addition, a member had been medically dead for a very short time and he had reported that he had gone to heaven. This was my explanation to him regarding this important.  

A Brief Explanation of Angels

Part of the problem may be a misunderstanding of who angels are.  It is the popular misconception that when people die they become angels.  Even though it is commonly accepted by modern culture, this is not true.  And it is not supported anywhere in the Scriptures.

Angels are not human beings and people don’t become angels.  Angels are a separate creation by God who predate human beings.  There were angels before there were humans.  They are similar to humans in their form; but they are not humans.  They have supernatural powers that we do not have.

The Bible does not speak of angels as male or female.  They appear as large, strong males most of the time.  However, in modern and ancient cultural pictures, they are depicted as babies with wings or in a more feminine form.  In the Scriptures, angels are given what we in the Western Culture would call male names.  However, they are non-sexual because they do not reproduce.  They are spiritual heavenly beings who live forever.  In the Old Testament, Jesus is spoken of as The Angel of the Lord.

When the angel Lucifer sinned against God (He wanted to be equal with God), he was thrown from heaven and it is indicated in the Bible that Lucifer was given dominion over the earth.  It is believed that Lucifer totally destroyed the earth to such a point that God reclaimed the earth and gave dominion to Adam to “keep”  (the Hebrew word used means safeguard and protect) the earth.  When Adam sinned, the effect was that Adam gave dominion of the earth back to Satan.

When Jesus died, he took dominion over death and hell.  He reclaimed the earth for God and for man.  His resurrection sealed the defeat of Satan.  That is why Satan killed Jesus.  Satan did not understand that Jesus would pay the price for our sin and be resurrected.

When we are born, we are spiritual beings because we are part of God’s creation.  God breathed into Adam a human spirit.  After the fall, we are still part of God’s creation and spiritual beings but we are part of the Kingdom of Satan until we make a free-will choice to accept Jesus as our Savior.  Then we are children of God.

It does not matter whether we are born-again or not, attempting to speak with the dead is forbidden.

Jesus told us in the New Testament that we all have an angel that is with us at all times.  They are there to protect us.  They are not the Holy Spirit who is our guide and teacher.

These are not things that would be taught in a Sunday school class at Special Gathering.  But they are things which the Bible teaches.  Much of what we know about angels is found in the Old Testament.  When Jesus speaks of angels and the New Testament speaks of angels, it is always in the context of what we know about angels from the Old Testament.

Again, trying to speak with a dead person is forbidden.  You want to stay as far away from any hints of this kind of practice.