Who are we?

The center of the Traditional Anglican Communion; adhering to the Holy Bible (KJV) in all matters of Faith and Doctrine, a strict reliance on the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the Two Creeds, and the Homilies and formularies of the Reformation Church of England.

Verse of the Day

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Sweet Dreams of Sleep - a Devotion for 19 April 2018, Anno Domini

If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!

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Tis vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.   (Psalms 127:2)

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UTI would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words(1 Thess 4:13-18)

            It is a great challenge to imagine the sweet dreams of our beloved kin and friends who have fallen asleep in Christ. They are kept in perfect peace, and, if they do dream, those dreams would fill a lifetime of joys. Of course, for every head-side of the coin, there is a tail-side. I do not even wish to imagine the nightmares that must pervade the restless sleep of those who have died without the grace and mercy of the Redeemer.

            Sound sleep is a blessing, and so are many wonderful dreams which can only accompany such sleep. Sleep is a state of lack of consciousness and awareness of present circumstances; however, there is often a beautiful consciousness beyond the veil of wakefulness that is hidden from the world and known only to the dreamer.

            There are some interesting dreams recorded in history by remarkable fellows. One such dream was reported by John Wesley – I know not if a real event, or simply an illustration: Mr. Wesley wrote, “I dreamed I died and went to Hell. Standing without the ominous, iron-bound gate, I inquired of the gateman: Do you have any Methodist down here, to which the gatemen responded, Yes, many. I ventured to ask if there were any Presbyterians? Yes, many, was the answer. How about Church of England men? Oh, yes, many.” He then cited another dream that followed on the heels of the first. “I dreamed I died and went to Heaven. At Heaven’s gate I asked St. Peter: Are there any Methodist up here? Sorry, no Methodist here, responded St. Peter. What about Presbyterians? No, was the response. Are there any Church of England men here? No Church of England souls here, he replied. Then who do you have here, I asked? Only Christians, was the response.”

             In the Holy Scriptures, dreams were often employed to reveal scriptural truth to a chosen prophet or prophetess. The Canon of Scripture being complete in our time, dreams are no longer sent as enhancements of God’s Word. It is possible that God may visit a believer, or even an unbeliever, in a dream to call attention to truth once and for all revealed previously in Scripture; but none can say ‘amen’ to the dreams of another since they cannot be confirmed in Holy Scripture. The Bible is sufficient for us in faith. The same is true of random babblings and guttural outburst in churches from what some call ‘speaking in tongues.’ God is not the author of confusion, and His clarion call is forever clear and devoid of misunderstanding to the believer.

            The nature of sleep to the believer is identical to that of a blessed passage from earthly life into heavenly bliss. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed(1 Cor 15:51-52)I do not know the precise meaning of death at the moment of passage, but I do know that our Lord referred to the death of Jairus’ daughter and of Lazarus as a sleep. I remember those sound sleeps of youth following an evening of running and playing. I did not want to give up on the day, but my mother was stern in her counsel, “It is time for bed!” Spoken in this manner, there was no recourse. But I was usually more exhausted than I realized. Within seconds of getting to bed, I often fell into a blissful and happy sleep. But, almost immediately, I would open my eyes and the sun would be rising on a new day! The sleep was so very sound that it seemed that I had only blinked my eyes and morning had arrived. In actuality, several hours had passed. That may define the sleep of death to the child of God, but the soul does not sleep in a body of clay. It is carried at once by the angels to Paradise. There is joy always in Paradise.

            Some believers sleep before their time due to some besetting sin or unfaithful walk. Paul tells us: 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of thatcup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.  (1 Cor 11:28-30)

            Unfortunately, many Christian are spiritually asleep, especially in our modern day. They are either oblivious to the counsel of God in Scripture, or they have ceased to care, believing that modern social mores have replaced the biblical morality commanded by God. These will be awakened by alarming horror and guilt when the last Trump sounds. 

            10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. 11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.   (Romans 13:10-13)

            There is a time to sleep and a time to work. We work while it is yet light, and sleep in the dark solitude of the night when no man can work. “6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”    (1 Thess 5:6-8)

            Who are the literal DEAD? Why, it is those who die in their sins. There are living dead; and there are those who are dead and buried eternally. The living dead are those who walk, talk, speak, and act while their souls are dead. These are Satan’s favorite ZOMBIES. 1 And you hath he quickened, who were DEAD in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were DEAD in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made ussit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  (Eph 2:1-7)

            I would rather be a dead corpse who lives, then a living soul who is dead. We must be alert to the call of the Holy Ghost just as Lazarus was dead and alert to the voice of our Lord in the tomb at Bethany. “14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”  (Eph 5:14)

            Are you alive in Christ, or dead in sin? Wake up before the long sleep!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

High Priest - a Devotion for 18 April 2018, Anno Domin

If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!

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also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; 10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec(Heb 5:5-10)

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HOU art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.  (Psalm 110:4)

            We have the perfect example of the High Priest given in Genesis 14 of a mysterious figure named Melchizedek to whom even Abraham paid tithes and offerings, and who blessed Abraham. We are told in Hebrews Seven Melchizedek was greater even than Abraham: 1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. 5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: 6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. 7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. (Heb 7:1-7)This High Priest was compared to the Son of God – he had neither beginning nor end. He was a High Priest that abideth forever.

            The central theme of this devotion is not about Melchizedek, but about the Personage whom Melchizedek represented as a forerunner thereof – our Lord Jesus Christ. He has become our High Priest forever. In the days of the Temple, the High Priest interceded for the people before the Most Holy in the Temple. He offered, first intercession for his own sins; and then the sins of the people. But our Lord as High Priest intercedes directly with the Father on our behalf and is guiltless Himself of any sin.

            You will recall the then-High Priest of Israel, Caiaphas, spoke unwittingly and yet prophetically (because he WAS High Priest) of our Lord before the Passion of Christ. After the raising of Lazarus at Bethany, the Jewish rulers were distraught to find an answer to their dilemma. It was obvious to them that only the Messiah could have done the miracles that Jesus did; however, they did not wish for a Messiah who would take their power and place: 47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad(John 11:47-52)

            It is also noteworthy our Lord was accused of vile sins and blasphemy before the High Priest, Caiaphas. One who was blameless stood before one who sinned overtly before His very face: 65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy(Matt 26:64-65)Why was the renting of his garment a sin for the high priest? Read, 10 And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes;  (Lev 21:10)Of course, Caiaphas was guilty of far greater sins than simply renting his garment. He was complicit in the pitched lies of a trial before which even Pilate pronounced Jesus innocent. He would have better rent his heart rather than his garment.

            Many misconstrue the duties and function of a priest in our day. They think back to the duties of the priest in Old Testament times. Worship underwent a change, not of purpose, but in means, at the coming of Christ. We still have priests and a High Priest, but the roles have changed owing to the fulfillment of prophecies. No longer does the priests offer up living sacrifices for the redemption of sin – they were never sufficient but merely a foreshadow of the perfect sacrifice to come in Christ. Instead of offering daily and annual sacrifices, the priest now offers only the Lord Jesus Christ as the Perfect and Complete sacrifice through both Word and Sacrament. 24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. 26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. 28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore(Heb 7:24-28)

            Here is an explanation of George Herbert on the duties of the priest: A PASTOR is the deputy of Christ for the reducing of man to the obedience of God. This definition is evident. And contains the direct steps of pastoral duty and authority. For first, man fell from God by disobedience. Secondly, Christ is the glorious instrument of God for the redemption of man. Thirdly, Christ being not to continue on earth, but, after he had fulfilled the work of reconciliation, to be received up into heaven, he constituted deputies in his place, and these are priests. And therefore St. Paul, in the beginning of his Epistles, professeth this ; and, in the first to the Colossians, plainly avoucheth that he fills up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in his flesh, for his body s sake, which is the church : wherein is contained the complete definition of a minister. Out of this charter of the priesthood may be plainly gathered both the dignity thereof and the duty; the dignity, in that a priest may do that which Christ did, and by his authority, and as his vicegerent. The duty, in that a priest is to do that which Christ did, and after his manner, both for doctrine and lifeA Priest to the Temple; .  George Herbert (1908)

            Every professing and believing Christian has some duty deriving from the priesthood: 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ(1 Peter 2:2-5)The priest in the church is the figure that directs worship according to biblical standards and not the free-license lack of standards of the modern church.

            The Lord Jesus Christ, as our High Priest, commissions and appoints subordinate duties to his priests and ministers. If a man is not called of God to preach, he can in no wise do the work of the Lord. An officer in the military is not a self-made officer – he must be commissioned by Presidential authority. The same is true of the priest or minister in the church.

            The Lord Jesus Christ, being our High Priest, must find a Bride that is virtuous and without spot or blemish. Where shall He find such a Bride. The Church is to be the Bride of Christ, but how shall she appear spotless and virtuous when she presently condones the most vilest of sins and abominations? The Book of Leviticus clearly tells us of the High Priest: 13 And he shall take a wife in her virginity. 14 A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.(Lev 21:13-14  Today’s church scarcely fits that demand. Our High Priest is worthy of much better than we offer in both worship and faith today. A drastic and epic change is necessary either through an awakening conscience, or through harsh tribulation. The Marriage Supper is being prepared as I write. Should the Bride not be preparing herself as well? 1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband(Rev 21:1-2)

The adornment of the modern church is as filthy rags. Best assume the White Robe of Christ to cover our sins – and very SOON!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Hymns of the Church - Wonderful Peace– 17 April 2018, Anno Domini(In the Year of our Lord)

If you prefer, an easy to read and print READER version is RIGHT HERE!
The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace.
(Psalm 29:11)

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid(John 14:27)

Wonderful Peaceis a hymn more characteristic of soulful meditation than communal worship. Lyrics were written by Warren D. Cornell in 1889 and the musical score, by same title, was written specifically for the hymn during the same year of 1889. It is not included in the 1940 Hymnalperhaps for its tone of solitude rather than of public worship; but the hymn evokes deep spiritual emotion and a drawing of the soul into the deep and silent waters of the Holy Spirit. The hymn was first sung at a Methodist Camp meeting in West Bend, Wisconsin.

Wonderful Peace

Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight
Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm;
In celestial strains it unceasingly falls
O’er my soul like an infinite calm.
Refrain
Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above!
Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray
In fathomless billows of love!

What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace,
Buried deep in the heart of my soul,
So secure that no power can mine it away,
While the years of eternity roll!
Refrain

I am resting tonight in this wonderful peace,
Resting sweetly in Jesus’ control;
For I’m kept from all danger by night and by day,
And His glory is flooding my soul!
Refrain

And I think when I rise to that city of peace,
Where the Anchor of peace I shall see,
That one strain of the song which the ransomed will sing
In that heavenly kingdom will be:
Refrain

Ah, soul! are you here without comfort and rest,
Marching down the rough pathway of time?
Make Jesus your Friend ere the shadows grow dark;
O accept of this peace so sublime!
Refrain

Far away in the depths of my spirit tonight Rolls a melody sweeter than psalm; In celestial strains it unceasingly falls O’er my soul like an infinite calm.When we are fully submerged in the Spirit, we are absent from the world and present with the Lord as Paul says. That is a tremendous distance from the world to the place of God in the Spirit. The only way to fully taste the delectable flavors of the spirit is to become fully submerged therein. The depths of the spirit that is devoted to God cannot be fathomed. The beauty of this melody of the Spirit is that it transcends words – even Psalms since it is simply the words of the Psalmist set to music. Like a blanket of golden fleece, the Spirit of God often covers us with gentle love and sweet caresses and speaks to our soul, Be Still and Know!

What a treasure I have in this wonderful peace, Buried deep in the heart of my soul, So secure that no power can mine it away, While the years of eternity roll!The depths of our converted spirits is safely ensconced in the heart of God – a secure resting place indeed. Now, it is quite logical that if our heart is in Christ, that we are in possession of our great treasures which are on deposit in Heaven. No evil can enter even the most remote perimeters of the Spirit. Only those things pleasing to God will be found there. The deep into which our spirits rest in Christ has no limit, and is more secure than any known safe. In his Christmas message to the English people in 1939 as the specter of world war lay before the nation, King George VI quoted from Minnie Haskins poem, The Gate of the Year, thusly: I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year,‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be better than light, and safer than a known way.’

I am resting tonight in this wonderful peace, Resting sweetly in Jesus’ control; For I’m kept from all danger by night and by day, And His glory is flooding my soul!There is no sweeter rest than that which resides in a heart of Jesus. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matt 11:28 (KJV) The Godly soul works during the daylight hours, and sleeps during the hours of darkness. It is during those moments that the Lord keeps a particular watch of protection over us. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. John 9:4 (KJV) There is no danger in sleep when the night is pitch black, but there is danger in carousing about the streets in a drunken stupor when one should be home sleeping with his family. There are moments for the Christian when the vessel of his soul cannot contain the joy and glory of the Lord’s fellowship. In a manner of speaking, we were beside ourselvesas Mark tells us of Jesus. It is better to be beside Jesus, and without ourselves, than the other way around, friends.
And I think when I rise to that city of peace, Where the Anchor of peace I shall see, That one strain of the song which the ransomed will sing In that heavenly kingdom will be:I am reminded of the hope and faith we have in the power unseen which shall be realized in broad sight at the Last Day. Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil. Heb 6:19 (KJV) Were you ever ransomed? Was your soul ever before held hostage by the power of sin and the devil?  Yes, most certainly; and the Lord Jesus Christ redeemed the hostage and set you free. If you think the Choir of St. Paul’s Cathedral sings beautifully, just wait until your ears are graced with the glorious singing of the angels!

Ah, soul! are you here without comfort and rest, Marching down the rough pathway of time? Make Jesus your Friend ere the shadows grow dark; O accept of this peace so sublime! Make sure that your pathway is the pathway of our Lord for He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The pathway to the abyss is not always strewn with stones. It may not be so rough, and it leads always DOWN! Instead of stones and debri, it may be strewn with fleshly delights that ruin the soul. But if our Lord is our Friend, Brother, and Savior, we need not worry about the Broad Way that leads to destruction; because traveling with Him, His feet will never tread that path. In this life, the shadows invariably lengthen as we approach the sunset of life. But in Christ, those shadows are merely variances of the beams of light that emanate from Heaven. Shadows have no force or substance. That is why we can say, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me(Psalms 23:4)To the redeemed in Christ, death is only a shadow without power or substance. 

Refrain
Peace, peace, wonderful peace, Coming down from the Father above! Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray In fathomless billows of love
! Just as the unseen dews condense to form visible droplets on the morning rose, so shall the peace of God gently surround His favored Child. The Manna of God will be formed in that peace that passeth all understanding. The persistent tides sweep the sands of the ocean seas, but never cease in their waxing and waning. The tides of God’s peace never wane, rather grow with steady intensity as the soul is drawn into the deep of His Love which is bottomless. As we have sung that glorious old verse of the Love of God: Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made, Were every stalk on earth a quill, And every man a scribe by trade; To write the love of God above Would drain the ocean dry; Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

AOC Sunday Report

The entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Happy Second Sunday after Trinity!

The AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE! 

There are really good sermons from Bishops Jerry and Roy, as well as Revs Jack and Bryan.  Each is different, but each is really really great.  You will enjoy them.

There are a lot of people who need your prayers, please take a little time to pray for them.  Start with Shamu, Bob and Doug and work out from there.

Have a great week ahead.  It can be, you know.  All you have to do is accept the wonder God offers.

Godspeed,

Hap
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, CA

Sermon Notes - Second Sunday after Easter - 15 April 2018, Anno Domini

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
The Second Sunday after Easter.
The Collect.

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LMIGHTYGod, who hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life; Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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 AMthe good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13  The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd(John 10:11-16)

            
I was impressed during my years of living in the Middle East that the shepherd has a name for every one of his sheep; and each one knows its name and responds to the shepherds voice. They know his voice, and he knows his sheep. Here are a couple of interesting observations by others about this unique relationship between the shepherd and his sheep:

            A STRANGER THEY WILL NOT FOLLOW — Let any passing traveler try, as I have often done, to imitate the shepherd's voice. At once the sheep will pause, toss up their heads, and then scamper off to huddle close to the shepherd, so completely do they realize their dependence on him.  — Canon Tristram.

This is true to the letter. These are so tame and so trained that they follow their keeper with the utmost docility. He leads them forth from the fold, or from their houses in the villages, just where he pleases.

The shepherd calls sharply from time to time to remind them of his presence. They know his voice, and follow on; but if a stranger call, they stop short, lift up their heads in alarm, and if it is repeated, they turn and flee, because they know not the voice of a stranger. This is not the fanciful costume of a parable; it is simple fact. I have made the experiment repeatedly.— Wm. M. Thompson.

What a wonderful subject is today’s text after the sorrow of the cross, and the glory of resurrection morning! It encourages us to know that our Good Shepherd has been over all the rocks and crannies of life, the well springs of rivers and seas, and through the dark valley of the shadow of death. He suffered all that His lambs can ever imagine, even death of the cross. Yet, He walked up to the gate of death and hell and battered down the door freeing captives that were held by the bondage of sin – you and I among them!

            So, the sheep may feel complete confidence and satisfaction in that Good Shepherd who knows the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and is, Himself, that Way – that Truth – that Life. He knows the mountain trails because He has made the mountains. He knows the still waters for He is the Water of Life. He knows the place of resting peace and safety for His sheep for He is the very Ark of security and salvation. 

            Our Lord Jesus Christ confirmed all that God had promised in long ago prophecies of a Redeemer. He is explicitly described by the aging King of Israel, David, in the 23rd Psalm. It matters not to you or me how Good Jesus is as a Shepherd unless He is our Shepherd; and David KNEW Christ to be his Savior and Shepherd. The Good shepherd will see that His sheep lack nothing that is essential for their health and wellbeing. He knows better than they the good way, and He will urge them from the dangerous and treacherous mountain gorges with His gentle staff and cajoling Voice. All of His sheep may proclaim with David: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want!”

            The leading verse of our text reiterates an often overlooked and grand truth of the Gospel – Jesus is the Great I AM! He is David’s Shepherd as much today as when David, under the tutelage of the Holy Ghost, penned those lines of the 23rd Psalm. He was as much your Shepherd yesterday and today as He shall be in a million years or more. He dwells in the eternal Presence.

            The preceding verse of John 10 relate another great truth: Jesus is the Door by which all must enter into the fold. There are no other doors to the sheepfold. Not only is Jesus the Way, the Truth, and the Life, He alone is that Way, Truth, and Life. In our day, a different Jesus is being preached from the greater number of pulpits of the world – a Jesus who is lax on sin, and who seems less divine than a member of the Triune Godhead should be. There are several reasons for this downgrade of faith, I believe.

  1. Many clergymen today have chosen the ministry as a career field rather than having been effectually called of God. If they are not called of God, they lack authority – and it shows! Their sermons are sterile and worldly, and they lack any reproach for sin.
  2. Many men who ARE called to the ministry delay their response far too long than is efficacious to take advantage of the many years wasted by their hesitation. God chases them over hill and dale until they finally surrender, or are taken out of the world. Such men are a waste of spiritual enlightenment.
  3. Compromise with the world is a leading cause of the luke-warm condition of the modern church. The old classic hymns, so reaffirming of biblical faith and doctrine, are relegated to the dustbin while the light and unscriptural little ditties of the modern composer of rock music has taken their place. It is not only the words that lack spiritual truth, but the music itself which is sensual enough to be very much like that which is played in bars and night clubs. This is referred to by the sponsors of such music as ‘relevant.’
  4. New Bible versions are pointing away from the central figure of the Good Shepherd, as Lord, and made Christ simply a fairly good teacher lacking divinity. The commonly received text of the Bible upon which the courageous Reformers relied is replaced with spurious manuscript evidence that lacks credibility on the face of it. A diminishing respect for the Truth and Holiness of God’s Word has clearly led to many grave shortcomings of the modern church.
  5. Consumerism and profit motive are also big players in the diminishing faith of our age. False and deceptive ministers have made the House of the Lord a house of merchandise instead of a House of Prayer. Enlarging the monetary treasury of the church has become far more important than repentance and contrition of the sinners heart. Those who give the most money are viewed as the most righteous. This is not always the case since many who lack the wealth of others do so because they have shared their wealth with the widows, orphans and destitute of means.

            So, what does this have to do with the text today? It has everything to do with it! We have failed to follow the Good shepherd in our day. His Voice has not changed since the day we first heard Him call our names, yet we have forgotten to recognize that loving Voice. One problem may be that we disagree with the Voice of our Lord. When He calls us from the sinful and dangerous way, we believe that we are safe and continue to seek grass in places where wolves and predators lurk. He has defined sin in the most serious and clear terms, yet we have called good evil, and evil good. 

Our Lord’s definition of a good shepherd is one who will sacrifice even His life for the lowly sheep: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.There are far more under-shepherds who are willing to lay down their lives on the foreign mission fields of the world than we have today in America; in fact, it happens often is countries today that are hostile to the Good Shepherd. If the under-shepherds are not willing to die for their flocks, how does our Lord classify them? But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.It is a fact that we have an exceeding number of hirelings today, and too few true shepherds of the flock of Christ. The sheep are left to wander in barren places and are kept only for the fleecing of their wool, or the consumption of their very souls.

The Good Shepherd was promised by God most profoundly in Jeremiah 23: 1 Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. 2 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD. 3 And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. 4 And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD. 5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.(Jer 23:1-6)This passage is both a prophecy of the Good Shepherd, but also a condemnation of the hireling shepherds that populate the churches as those demons that live in the branches of the Mustard Tree. 

An earnest seeker of the Word of the Lord is more likely to learn a false gospel in the modern church than the pure and unadulterated Word of the Lord. 16 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you(Jer 23:16-17)

The great contrast of our Lord as Good Shepherd with the false pulpit dandies of our day is this: Our Lord is a Shepherd who is completely GOOD. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.Our Lord and shepherd knows our simple hearts thoroughly, and far better than we, ourselves, know them. HE KNOWS US! There is no question, either, in the heart of the sheep of the Goodness of their Shepherd, for His sheep also KNOW Him! None other has laid down His life for us – the sinless for the sinful – as our Good Shepherd has done. This the world cannot comprehend. Why would a rational Shepherd die such a horrible death for mean and lowly sheep? The trade-off to the world does not make sense. Well, truly, it does not make worldly sense; but it makes abundant heavenly sense when the great love with which our Lord has loved us a His sheep is taken into consideration. Love is a quality that is unknown to the world. It cannot weigh it, spend it, or measure it. So it remains unknown to the world.

Our Lord delivered this counsel of His role as the Good shepherd to the Jews gathered about the Temple in Jerusalem. 

A small number believed, but a greater number hardened their hearts against our Lord and the words of His Father which He spoke. It will always be the case. The number of believers that Christ claims at His return will be woefully few. Remember that only eight souls were saved out of the millions who died in the Great Deluge of Noah’s Day. Thank God that there are sheep of the Good shepherd’s other than those few to which He spoke. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. It is my prayer all who hear the words of this sermon are a part of those other sheepof the Lord’s. He has a pitiful few in every land and nation, but when gathered from the four quarters of the world, they will constitute a happy fold – perhaps that Camp of the Saints to which John the Revelator makes mention. The devil will gather the armies from all over the world to destroy the people of God, but he will suffer a blistering (literally) defeat: And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them(Rev 20:9)

I hope to see you there, friend.

Second Sunday after Easter

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California
Todays sermon ties the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.  

We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter and the following four Sundays, until we get to Rogation Sunday.  This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ.  

Consider these words from the Collect:

… who hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample of godly life; Give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life 

To understand the importance of Jesus’ sacrifice, it is critical to understand He is the only begotten Son(John 3:16) of God.  He is also referred to in places as The Word, the means by which God is given to the world.  But, more than that, 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.   (John 1:1-3)  Though the corrupted versions of the Bible (NIV, NKJV, RSV, etc) have attempted to erase His Divine Status and the role He plays in our salvation, that does not change the reality of Who He is. He is in simplest terms, the great I AM.  He was the one who brought light into this World. He has been there since before the beginning of time, before the beginning of what we know as our Universe. He created this world, it is by rights His; not the rightful belonging of the Prince of this World.  It was not Satan’s to give away, which Jesus knew when Satan failed miserably to tempt Jesus with his false promises in the wilderness.  He whom is begotten of the Father is who was sent to give His earthly life that we might be accounted as perfect at our own final accounting.  We ourselves, so oft serve only as bad examples, need the One who is the ultimate perfect example. Jesus has provided that perfect live for us to do our best to follow in our day to day lives.  He came to provide a new and perfect new covenant that is far superior to the old covenant. The way He acted and conducted Himself on this Earth was left as an example for all of us Christians to follow. He is the ultimate role model for us, who we should strive to be more and more like every day. The Collect makes this point very clear, we need the Holy Ghost in our hearts to more closely follow that perfect example in our daily actions.

This brings us to Peter’s point in the Epistle, Christ serves as a perfect example for the conduct of our lives.  There again the Epistle and the Collect tie together amazingly well. He conducted His ministry as examples for us to follow in our times of trial and tribulation, that we might see His light in our darkest moments.  If we are wrong and suffer for it, there is little honor; for we were wrong.  But, if we do right, that is follow God’s Will, and suffer for it, there is in fact glory, laud and honor there.  Jesus went to His death on the Cross for our failures that we might be accounted as perfect.  He who is, was and always will be perfect suffered great pain that we might live life eternal.  If He did that for us, should we not follow that example and follow His Direction, counting the cost only after the work is done? He himself had to go through suffering that the miracle of His Resurrection would occur; if we have to suffer, we can be at least rest assured that He suffered too and He underwent far more pain and misery than we ever will in our lifetime.

We are after all much like sheep, following the lead of those around us, somewhat like lemmings, it seems.  We have great need of a shepherd to lead us back from the edge of The Pit and to life, back to those verdant pastures and still waters. This Shepherd never will fail to lead us back to the pastures, we just have to pick up the guidance from the Holy Ghost and follow the path that He has set for us. 

As Peter referred to Jesus as a shepherd, so does John.  There is a reason for this constant reference to Jesus as the Good Shepherd; He is.  He leads us to green pastures and to beside the still waters. He restores and comforts our souls and drives the enemy from out of our souls and minds, if we let Him. This is a universal theme throughout the various Epistles of Paul, Peter and James. In order for us to have spiritual growth, we need to let Him into our hearts. He will lead us towards the path to Heaven, we just have to make the conscious decision to follow His Directions and etch them into our hearts.

In order to follow His Directions, we have to let go of our pride, vanity and arrogance and accept His Guidance and teachings of humbleness and humility into our hearts. We have to realize that We cannot do this alone. And also that we cannot save ourselves and that we need God’s influence in our lives.. And the best way to let Him in is to accept His Teachings and act upon them. Continually reading the Scriptures and not only reading, but learning and digesting is the best way to grow as a Christian. To digest means to absorb.  The best way to absorb these teachings is not only to read the Scriptures but to put the concepts into practice every day. 

Acting is the key word here, not just talking about it, but acting. It isn’t good enough just to read the Scriptures and go on our merry way and act like we did before we read the Scriptures. We have to apply the key principles of the scriptures here in our lives and shine the light of Christ to those around us.

The Gospel notes the difference of ownership. Our true owner will, and I might add, has, given His Life so we might be protected from the ravening wolves of this world, the Prince of this World.  We are cautioned to 8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:(1 Peter 5:8)  But, sobriety only gets you so far; sheep do poorly against wolves and lions.  We need one who is experienced in protecting our souls against the spiritual wolves and lions of this world. Jesus is that experienced protector we need.  Make no mistake, we need the help of that Good Shepherd.  That Good Shepherd calls to each of us, we need the Holy Ghost in our hearts to hear the call.  Regardless of what you have been told by those of this world, there is only One God, One Lord, One Savior.  Thus, there is only One Flock; there are many ways to follow Scripture, but they must all have the same general plan.  That is the reason for the creeds, the reason we tell all to compare what is preached against what is in Scripture.  We need to daily work towards doing a better job of following God’s Will.

We need help, He provides it, we need to accept it.

The key is action, in this case our action. We need to actually accept the offered help; like the life ring thrown to a drowning person, we must grab God’s proffered help, else we profit nothing.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Friday, April 13, 2018