A note from Randy...
First of all, I want to thank all of you who had a hand in making the 2020 Gathering possible. You are the real heroes. Having never attempted to pull off something on this scale before, you all jumped in to help in so many ways. I am so proud of those of you who had never worked much with technology before but you bravely applied yourself and joined with us. But first, there were those who were fairly proficient with computers, internet, Skype and Zoom. How wonderfully you made charts, presentations and made yourselves available to the rest of us that we might all be together. But, in order to do that everyone needed to have the right technology, therefore “thanks” must be given to those who donated financially so that we could purchase all the necessary equipment, not merely for Life In The Spirit but for all those in every place who were in need of specialized “tools”. Among them needing this was our virtual worship leaders such as Bebe, Chris and Emee. Even last minute we were rushing around trying to ship specialty cords to some that were in desperate need of them if they were going to be ready on time!
Also, we were able to have so many more sharings with personal involvement thanks to those who volunteered to lead children’s meetings, workshops, tours, fellowship times, and special events. While there were only a few on location at the church building, concerning manpower, we had a greater involvement than ever before. Before the Gathering, we literally had people standing by phone or computer to help anyone who needed it. And we had Aimee and Debbie running around gathering all the essentials needed toward decorations. Every year these two hear from God concerning how the place is going to look and feel. It is always based on what will communicate Jesus’ heart to us, while at the same time ministering to Him.
I would like to extend a special thanks to the servant team, who worked continuously with all the teams with one goal in heart, to minister to the Lord Himself by putting His Spirit and others first. And then there was the team who were (for the most part) present at the facility. These are the ones who manned the soundboard, Skype, music, announcements, and live streaming. This includes Kelly, Lindsey, Raphaelle, Debbie, Robert, Jason, Mallory, Scot (who worked from home), with assists by Ben, Cassie, Isaac and Gideon. It was just so wonderful that we had no major glitches with the technology or with spiritual mishaps. Everything seemed to flow by the Holy Spirit. I believe that together we truly honored and adored Jesus. Thank you to those who shared sessions from your homes, Jim Allan, Robert, Tony, Deb, Raphelle, Geraldine, Maartje, Isaac, Ben, Chris, Mallory, Cassie, Bebe, and Emee. As well as our wonderful Young Adults who poured the Lamb into our young ones; Jason, Isaac, Maartje, working together with Raphelle and Kelly.
Concerning the finances, we were able to purchase and distribute what was needed for the task. We were so blessed to have received a widescreen television with all necessary attachments given by an anonymous donor. The hope is to soon get it hooked up whereby we might see all of your lovely faces on one screen and that we might better interact together. Also, this is your final call for receipts for anything you purchased for the Gathering with your own money. I desire to make sure that each of you are properly taken care of. In the process of carrying out the Gathering, we were able to discern some new ideas, methods, and tech that will better enhance our experience in the future. It just seems like a dream to think that next year's Gathering might have us all back together again face to face. Wow! So I can never fully express my gratitude to all of you for your love, help, prayers and selfless hearts toward Jesus and others. You bring tears of gratitude to my heart as I fondly remember how we all worked together to give Jesus specials days of glory and honor this past Thanksgiving.
In closing, I pray that our sensitivity of heart towards Him will continue to be fanned and not interrupted throughout our holidays as we enter the New Year!
Randy and Deb
Those who were in the Upper Room were expecting rejection and loss, but instead of rejection, Peter is talking about their sons and daughters, their young men and old men, and all flesh. “We are all going to see and speak forth His Word by the Spirit now!”
Look at Acts 2:23-24. This is Peter speaking:
“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have...”
Now, the “Failures” up in the Upper Room — remember, the eleven stood up with Peter, and he is talking to all of those people outside who wanted to kill them, or find them, or condemn them, or be against them, and to attack them. He speaks to them and says, “Him” — he has been talking about Jesus — “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel of God”
“...ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.”
So Peter is pointing out their failures, too! “You guys are drunk!” “Well, you crucified Christ.” He points out, “wicked hands,” and “crucified,” and “slain.” “You did this to Jesus, but there is a resurrection!” See, he did not turn on them. He showed the failures of those outside just as much as their own personal failures, but he said, “There is a resurrection and a life”!
“For David speaketh concerning him…”
Oh, glory to God! David speaks concerning Christ crucified! David! “For David spoke to us concerning Him.”
“…I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope.”
“After all our failures and fears!” These are the words coming out of Peter's mouth to them! “This is for all of us, after being locked up in a dark place for fifty days…” It is one thing to be locked up in a place for fifty days. It is another thing to be locked up that long with fear and darkness and doubt and worry. It is worse to be locked up in a dark place in your own mind and your own spirit, in that dark place of your own thoughts and feelings. But Peter is now saying, “You did this. Just like we failed Him, and we have His Spirit, you failed Him by crucifying Him. But now, we can — you, us — we can have the Lord always before our face! We can be with Him and with His Spirit! He said, ‘And not be moved!’ And our heart can rejoice, our tongue can be glad, our flesh can rest in hope!”
What kind of deal is this, that we fail so miserably, and yet He comes back stronger and more precious? Acts 2:28 is it! This is why all this good comes to those who deserve the worst. Why would all this good come to those who deserve the worst? The very next verse explains it:
“Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.”
—The ways of life! Not the ways of religion. Not the ways of New Creation Fellowship. Not the ways of the teachings that any one of us has. “The ways of life that You have made known to me”; but that wasn't all. “Thou shalt make me full,” meaning, “You have made me full of joy at thy countenance, because we are getting to see Your face!” This came to the ones who felt like they had no hope! They had failed Jesus so miserably from Passover to that day.
Let’s look at Isaiah 61:1-3. Remember, we are looking at what Peter said on the day of Pentecost, the day of the new journey, the day of the Holy Spirit being released to begin to speak these things. Isaiah 61:1-3, though not quoted by Peter, embodies the Spirit of what was happening on Pentecost and what Peter was declaring.
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek.”
This perfectly describes Peter as he is preaching. Where does this strength come from? We know the broken heart of Peter, weeping bitterly. He probably was the main one within that Upper Room who was continually breaking down and crying for his failure of Jesus, of not eating the Lamb, and of not being with the Lamb when he should have been. He would break down and cry. And then, of course, that would spur others, and they would break down and start weeping, and then the whole place was just weeping and mourning.
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good things. He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted…”
That is us! We are the brokenhearted, and then we are also those referred to in, “He hath anointed me to preach this good news.” It is one thing to preach it because it is a message. It is another thing to have been so totally a failure to Him and to His heart, and He brings His Spirit upon you to begin to move in this thing in this way. And a new journey is set! It is not going to be like it was before, and it is not meant to be like it was before. And you are not supposed to dwell on what was before! You are supposed to receive!
“He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives…”
—To the captives in that Upper Room! To those captives who crucified Jesus! They crucified their very answer!
“…and the opening of the prison to them that are bound…”
I do not know what that Upper Room looked like. That is where they celebrated Passover together. That is where Jesus sat with them. That is where Jesus said, “This is My Body. Eat this, take this. This is My blood. Drink ye all of it.” They are there. I do not know what is there. But here it is now in Acts chapter two where the Spirit has come, and Peter stands up, and then it says the eleven with him. I am picturing a balcony up there, and Peter is up there, letting fly with life and freedom! And nobody can preach freedom for the captives like a captive that has been set free — made free! The truth will make you free. Nobody can do it like that. Nobody can preach it like that!
“…And the opening of the prison to them that are bound…”
—Bound up! And someone walks over, unlocks that prison, and says, "Come on out. We are going to take those bonds off of you by the Spirit of God.”
“…To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD…”
I wonder if we can apply that from Pentecost through 2020? The dreaded year 2020 could end up being that acceptable year of the Lord! “Acceptable” is a word that was used for an offering that rises to the Father of the Lamb. This is such an acceptable year of the Lord! And we could say of the first part, "We were not acceptable. We proved we were failures. We proved we will never make it. We will never be enough! We will never get it! We will never learn it! We will never have it!” “But” — this is Peter coming out now — “But the Spirit of the Lord is on me. And I am going to stand up, and I am going to preach. And I am going to bring Joel out of the Book and I am going to say, ‘This is that’! Every generation before us, this was not that because they never experienced it like this! But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel. The acceptable year of the Lord spoken of by Isaiah.”
“…and the day of vengeance of our God…”
Well, He takes vengeance. He took it on us. He brought us unto the death with the Lamb and then He gave us the Life of the Lamb!
“..to comfort all that mourn…”
Oh my goodness, these disciples up there, and Mary the mother of Jesus being up there also, and so many more, all mourning! And yet the Spirit of the Lord is upon them to comfort them now that mourn.
This day of Pentecost marks a new journey, and it is just beginning. It is the early going. Peter is saying, “The Lamb has been slain. We didn't understand it. We ate it, we did all this stuff, and then the Lord said, ‘go’! So we went out, we fumbled around all through the wilderness, and we failed God. And, my Lord! How can He love, how could He care for us at all?” He cares for His Son, and the Spirit has come! Jesus would not declare Himself like He needed to be declared. So, Jesus goes away and shows Himself as a Lamb, and the Holy Spirit rushes into the vacuum to declare the acceptable year of the Lord, the year of eating the Lamb and letting it rise to the Father!
“…To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion…”
Those who mourn in Zion! We should not be mourning in Zion, but we did not understand. We did not understand.
“…To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes…”
“Here, give me the ashes of your failures. Give Me the ashes of your failures! Give them to Me!”
Then He says, "the joy,” “…the oil of joy for mourning...” “Give Me your mourning; give Me your broken-heartedness over your failures. Give Me your weariness with failing!”
“…The garment of praise for the spirit of depression.”
“Give Me your depression. I will give you this: a garment of praise. Give Me your ashes, and I will appoint this to you: beauty! Mourning, the oil of joy. Let Me pour this over you. Let me pour this anointing of oil of the Holy Spirit, and let it just wash away your mourning, your fifty days of mourning."
Can you imagine if the Lord said, "Wait for the Holy Spirit. He is going to come in fifty days," and every day they just mourned and wept? They cried and went, "Oh no, we are not getting it! I don't know! What is supposed to be happening?" “Here, I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh. The Spirit of the Lord will be upon you to do this, to show them Who He is.”
“…that they might be called trees of righteousness…”
—Trees of righteousness. Let's hold that. He is calling us trees of righteousness. The planting of the Lord! We did not do it. The Lord planted the Seed in us, and He is calling us trees of righteousness because we are the planting of the Lord — not of us knowing how to do this thing!
“…the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified.”
That is the end of those verses! “That He might be glorified.” How many of you want Jesus to glorified? How many of you want His heart in this manner? How many of you are willing to give up your ashes and your depression and just receive of the Holy Spirit? I am not necessarily talking about being baptized in the Holy Spirit as much as the Lord saying, “My Spirit will dwell in you!” And the journey will begin, and we will do this in line with the Sabbath of Pentecost! And we will do this in line with what He hoped for in the Passover. But the disciples failed, and Israel failed, and everything failed to reach Pentecost in the way that would glorify God. Still God didn't hold back! He didn't hold back then, and He won't hold back for you, or me, or us. He won't!
In the name of Jesus, I will pray for you! Just admit, if you are one of those, just admit you do not really understand this. They did not have a clue what was about to hit them. But God spoke to us 50 days ago and told us of an incredible journey that He had in His heart, and this is how it begins. And guess what? This is the day that it begins: Pentecost Sunday. How many of you are willing to say, “Spirit of God, in the way that You want to begin to move in me, I want that. I want a change of my approach. I need to get out of my failures and get into Your Spirit! But I can't do that on my own.” Amen, Amen.
As I pray, I just ask you in your heart or out loud, wherever you are at, to be praying for one another and let this Spirit be released in a manner that can truly, truly penetrate all of that depression, all of that mourning, all of those ashes, all of those things that stand in the way.
Father, I just come to you in the name of Jesus. And Father, we have failed again! But Father, we are in a different place. You spoke to us of the journey, coming out of our Egypt, coming out of our sheltering place, as it were, to be able to preach the acceptable year of the Lord. Father, we are talking spiritually but we ask You, and Lord it is no coincidence, that at the very same time, right now, right about this time, people are opening up all over the United States. Texas is opening up. Well Father, we do not just want that kind of an opening. We want this kind of opening up. We want to go this journey with You! We want to be feasting on the Lamb, the whole journey, by the power of the Spirit of God.
So Father, first of all, we say we are sorry for the failures. We are sorry for the depression. We are sorry for the mourning. We are sorry for the indifference — All the things where we have missed You. And we want to move past that, Father. We want to grab hold of the hope that You are talking about. So we ask You, Father, in the name of Jesus, that this Spirit that You put upon me to share this, this Spirit that You put upon us on Passover, when we talked about these things, that that Spirit that You manifested in the Bible in the New Testament on the Day of Pentecost, that the Spirit of God would bring a new journey of a walk in Him!
Father, that the Word of God from the Old Testament and the New Testament would be proclaimed as Christ, and it would be the boldness that Peter had when he should not have had any boldness. Father, it was not pride. You got hold of him! A man who was so broken, You got hold of him by Your Spirit! And from that day, You began Your journey with Peter to teach him the Lamb in ways that many others would never know. But he would continue to teach them.
Father, let it be so in us. Father, let the prayers of Your saints right now that are sheltered in place in other countries, in other cities, in other states, let the prayers be rising as incense to You for one another — not just for ourselves, not just praying for ourselves. What You did on the Day of Pentecost was not even just for those who were sheltered in place in the Upper Room. It broke out to those who were around! Father, beyond us. Us, yes. But beyond us, reach Your hand of the Spirit right now. Move on them, in the name of Jesus. In the name of Jesus! In the name of Jesus! Amen.
A Response in Prayer from a Member of the Body:
Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, we don't have words, but we do have hearts and they are beating hard right now within us. We hear, and more than hear! Right now, we receive. We are receiving the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit, with one heart, one mind, one accord, let the Lamb of God be in us in ways He has never been in us, a way we have never experienced before, a way which makes everything new! Holy Spirit, we do that now. Just like those people did in that Upper Room on that day where they were of one heart and one mind, they opened up, and You came and filled them and breathed into them the Lamb in ways that was not teaching. It was not ministry, or leadership, or words! It was Nature and Life and hope and a future of God having His Son.
And Lord, we do it now! We do it now with all of our hearts, and all of our faith, with all of our agreement! We say “yes” to the Holy Spirit! We say “yes” to the Lamb and to new beginnings! We say “yes” to the mercies of our Father, and we partake! We say “Amen!” with every fiber of our being. And Lord, we say “yes” to paths of God.
It is God and the movements of Heaven and the movement of our earth where the Dove and the Lamb have gotten brand new ground. We are the house that is being flooded with new Life. It is Lamb Life, and we are His One body and One mind. We are not comparing ourselves, we are beholding the Lamb in new ways, in experience. So Father, we count days now from right now, a new beginning!
Lord, we pray that the blood of Jesus will cleanse and remove even the remembrance of the past so we can be focused and filled — failures that are filled with the Lamb in living ways. Do all that is in Your heart, Father. Continue now, the Spirit of God is moving. Bring forth the Lamb. Let it be for Your glory through Jesus Christ in Your Church. It is in His holy, precious Name, we pray, in Jesus' name, Amen.