Tuesday, October 25, 2016
If you like there is and easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!
12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (2 Tim 1:12)
8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (2 Tim 1:7-10)
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
There are many mysteries of God’s nature that cannot be explained or fully comprehended by your dutiful minister or the ‘exalted’ know-it-alls of Oxford. One of those mysteries resides in the Law of Grace. Many who claim the benefits of Grace actually are only willing to accept a limited measure thereof – a limitation fixed by doubt of heart and lacking in the soul’s faith. Today’s hymn opens, appropriately, with the wondrous grace of God granted in the sacrificial and atoning death of Christ for His elect.
This hymn was written in 1883 by Daniel Whittle to the music of James McGranahan. It teaches us of the cherished and indispensable benefit of Grace (one of the Five Sola’s of the Reformation Faith) in redeeming us from death and hell.
I know not why God’s Wondrous Grace
I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.
But I know Whom I have believèd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.
I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.
I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing us of sin,
Revealing Jesus through the Word,
Creating faith in Him.
I know not what of good or ill
May be reserved for me,
Of weary ways or golden days,
Before His face I see.
I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.
I know not why God’s wondrous grace To me He hath made known, Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love Redeemed me for His own. None of us can know the depth of God’s wondrous grace in our salvation. We were yet asleep in the death of the transgressor when that Grace ignited the spark of Light and Life in our inner being. The eye of our spirit was open to the wonderful reality that Christ had died for us even before the foundation of the world – Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. Our mortal souls were marred by sin at Eden, and we were good as dead, unaware of our desperate circumstance and unable to do a single thing to revive our dead souls. 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 us sit 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. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:4-10)
But I know Whom I have believèd, And am persuaded that He is able To keep that which I’ve committed Unto Him against that day. A true profession of faith is not as simple as a profession of lip-service – but one of a heart informed of the dimensions of Christ as Redeemer, Savior, Lord, and Sovereign. Commitment in the faith is the key to a persevering security in Christ and knowing WHO He is. It is a full and unconditional surrender of the old self-will (read Free Will) of man to that of Christ – our All-in-All.
I know not how this saving faith To me He did impart, Nor how believing in His Word Wrought peace within my heart. There is a complacent faith that is only the partial measure of that which characterizes the soul that is willing to lay down it’s life for the faith. It may even be a knowing faith, but one which is not a committed one. No, we do not comprehend the nature of the deep wells of faith that mark the character of the believer because even that faith is imparted by the beck and call of the Holy Ghost through the agency of GRACE. You may be even so deluded as to believe that God loves you because you loved Him. No, just the reverse is true. You could never have loved Him without His love first drawing you to Himself. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 (KJV) 19 We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 (KJV) Why, again, do we love Him? Read again (1 John 4:19).
I know not how the Spirit moves, Convincing us of sin, Revealing Jesus through the Word, Creating faith in Him. Do you remember how the world was void and without form in the Beginning. It was dead to life and light until the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters: . . . . the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Gen 1:2) The Word of God is the Executive Power of Creation as realized in the Lord Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost is the Light that starkly reveals that Word to the fore-ordained of God. It creates faith when the soul is born out of the darkness of the one who is dead in trespasses and sin.
I know not what of good or ill May be reserved for me, Of weary ways or golden days, Before His face I see. It is true that we do not know the weather forecast of our fortunes in this life – whether sunny skies or stormy tempest. Those matters are in the Hand of God to mold and make us after His will and plan for us. But just as surely as the morning sunrise follows the long night of sorrow and darkness, so shall the most persecuted martyr of God see face-to-face the beautiful Personage of Christ at the Daybreak of Eternity.
I know not when my Lord may come, At night or noonday fair, Nor if I walk the vale with Him, Or meet Him in the air. No man knows the day or hour of the return of Christ despite the claims of those ten-penny novels written for filthy lucre, and read by fools, to the contrary. We close our eyes in the momentary sleep of death, only to open them in the twinkling of the eye to a glorious Dawn of Eternity with our Lord and His host of Heavenly Angels. Unlike the error-ridden claims of the dispensationalists, Christ is returning once and for all. At that time, we are invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb; but every attendee must be graced with a proper wedding apparel – that White Robe of Righteousness given and imputed to the believer. Have you secured your wedding suit?
Sunday, October 23, 2016
|If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!|
Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction and are all tied together. Today’s propers really put to lie the concept of the hermit Christian. When we talk about them, look how the Collect talks about the Household of God, what Bishop Cranmer styles as the Church, and how Paul speaks of the benefits of fellowship and joint prayer. If that were not enough, see how Jesus reminds us of the need for forgiveness and patience, things you only need if you interface with others.
Consider these words from the Collect:
… keep thy household the Church in continual godliness; that through thy protection it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to serve thee in good works, to the glory of thy Name …
In the Collect we ask the Lord to keep His household (that would be us) in continual godliness (that is to keep Him as our leader and follow Him), so that with His Help we can have as smooth a path as practical and serve Him in happiness.
Saint Paul follows this same thought in his Epistle when he thanks the Philippians for their fellowship and talks about how they in the bond through Christ have strengthened his faith as a result which enabled him to continue doing his good works for the Lord. In this same way our friends in the AOC strengthen our faith as we tell others about the good news of our Lord and the faith in which we all share. The more we love the Lord, the more it will show through in our actions and our judgment. So, let us keep loving the Lord, so our actions and judgment will align His!
Which brings us to the point of the Gospel, in which Christ tells Peter about forgiveness and how we must be ever patient with our fellow humans, and if they are repentant grant them that forgiveness, no matter how many times they might err and vex us. It doesn’t matter if we want to or not, if they are repentant then we must forgive them, regardless of how we want to do otherwise. If they are truly sorry for their sins, then God will forgive them, so must we forgive. For if we hold the evil of non-forgiveness in our hearts, it is to our own detriment.
Holding non-forgiveness in our hearts is as bad for us as holding a grudge against an individual, it hurts our hearts souls and minds. It also goes against Jesus’ words of never let the sun go down on our anger. If we hold non-forgiveness against an individual that is clearly penitent, then we are not acting like a Christian, but like our old unsaved selves. So clearly the message is to forgive those who are penitent, regardless if you like them or not, for if you do not forgive, then it will only hurt you in the end.
We can only forgive those sins against us, for those that are against God, only God can forgive. When one sins against a fellow creature, they sin against God also. When we say we forgive them, we are not forgiving them ourselves only, but informing them God has forgiven them for their sins. Remember, we can forgive them for personal trespasses against us, but through God’s power, only He can grant absolution of our sins, not us. I do not see anywhere in Scripture where Christ tells Peter humans have the power to forgive sins, like the Roman Catholics claim they have, but rather God must forgive sins, but we can tell others God has forgiven them. In the concept of priests not having special powers, this is one of those powers we do not have. We can only pronounce God’s forgiveness. We don’t have God’s power of forgiving, but God has done the actual acting of forgiveness, but it falls upon us to tell people about it.
The parable illustrates what happens to those who are forgiven, but yet turn around and do not forgive their neighbor (in this case, a debtee) for their sins and have thus abused their forgiveness from Our Lord. If we follow this person’s path, we will find ourselves in a poor spot in eternal life. Let us not be like that fellow, but let us forgive our neighbor, if he is truly sorry and willing to repent and re-start the friendship, and turning a new leaf so to speak.
If God has been so good to forgive us, why should we not inform others God can and will forgive them of any sins against Him or us for that matter? It would be truly selfish not to do so and to go against what He has commanded us to do, in spreading the Word to all nations. This is why the Gospel is called the Good News, because God has forgiven us for our sins and sent His Son to die for us, that we might have eternal life instead of eternal damnation. This is the ultimate forgiveness, accounting us as perfect, when we are anything but. The lessons today speak of the power of Our Lord in forgiveness and how we must remember our bond with our fellow Christians in Christ, especially in times of great sorrow or trouble and use that to strengthen us in our day to day lives. We must always remember there are others in our heavenly family who are struggling along with us, stuck together with the mighty ultimate, stronger than Gorilla Glue, glue of Jesus Christ and God the Father. With the help of the Holy Ghost and our bond with Christ, we shall not fail.
The Collect’s prayer, Epistle and Gospel tie together, laying out, detailing and reinforcing the same message, ultimately. We have to be willing to forgive others, tell them about God’s forgiveness, and not turn around and commit the grave error of not forgiving others as God has forgiven us for our sins. We have to act more like God each day, though we are not and never will be perfect. If we try our utmost best, that is all we can do.
Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail. The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.
The time is now, not tomorrow. The time has come, indeed. How will you ACT?
It is by our actions we are known.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God
Saturday, October 22, 2016
|An easier to read and print READER version can be found RIGHT HERE!|
1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. 3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. (Heb 13:1-3)
The reality of the interaction of angels with God’s chosen people, as well as those who are lost in trespasses and sin, is well recorded in Holy Scripture. Hagar met with the Angel of the Lord twice in the Wilderness. The Angel of the Lord stayed the hand of Abraham to spare Isaac from sacrifice. The same Angel appeared to Moses at the Burning Bush and Passed Over the Chosen of God in old Egypt. There are too many instances to enumerate in a simple devotion, but I would be remiss if I did not mention that important visitation of the Angel Gabriel to the young virgin, Mary, 26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:26-33)
In the case of Abraham on the plains of Mamre (Genesis 18:1-8) three angels appeared to Abraham, and one of these was the Lord. The Greek word for angel is ‘Aggelos,’ meaning a messenger sent by God – or an envoy of God. The definition does not restrict angels to heavenly beings for they often appear as men. But I believe that each of us can be messengers of God to the needy and hurting around us.
I like to relate an incident that happened to me 55 years ago in the Tennessee foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains which I shall never forget.
One Friday night in the Fall of 1961, I had a date with a really nice and pretty young lady to go to a ball game in Copper Hill, Tennessee. I was a high school student and didn't really know my way around much - but thought that I did. I borrowed my mother's car and picked up my date.
We had to drive about 50 mile through the mountains of East Tennessee to get to the game. It was a really lonely and desolate drive, the moon was out in its brilliance and reflected off the waters of Lake Ocoee as we drove. The mountains stood brooding and joyless on the opposite side of the road.
When we reached the halfway point in our travels, I had a flat tire. No problem. I went to the trunk to get the spare and there WAS no spare. Later I learned that my mother had left it at a service station for repair and forgot to pick it up. An automobile would pass by only about every 10 minutes. I did not know what to do, and I was also concerned for my date.
Finally, I began to signal any car that came by for help. At last a pickup truck stopped full of hunters. I offered $20.00 to them to take me the 20 miles to Copper Hill to get the tire repaired (it was all I had). They declined saying that they had been away from home for 3 days and wanted to get back to their families - as if 40 minutes more would have made a difference.
They acted sad to leave us - but they did! After a few more minutes I saw a car coming around the mountain slopes in the distance. He was really driving fast, but in desperation I signaled him to stop. It was a rough, older model car. The occupants were two of the roughest looking men I had ever seen. They had long sideburns (which was unusual at that time -1961 - in East Tennessee) and several days growth of beards. They were dirty to boot. Now I wished I had not stopped them. They asked gruffly, "What's the problem, boy?"
I asked if they would take me to Copper Hill, Tennessee (about 20 miles) to fix the flat. I offered again the $20 bill if they would take me. They looked gruffly at each other and said, "Get in!" I asked if my fiancée could go, as I was afraid to leave her on the desolate road. They shook their heads affirmatively.
I felt very uncomfortable as we began to drive off. I was fearful that they might just kill me outright and rape my fiancée. All sorts of possibilities filled my young imagination. Then as they began driving 70+ miles an hour around the mountain roads I began to be concerned less about them and more about being killed by plunging headlong down the mountainside.
Finally we arrived at a service station in Copper Hill. They got the tire from the trunk for me and had it repaired, for which THEY paid. They bought my date and me a coke. And we headed back.
Arriving back at my mother's car, they replaced the tire onto the wheel themselves and waited to see if the car battery was not drained from the flashing caution lights we had left on. The car started and I got out to pay the two rough-riders for their trouble. When I offered the money, they looked at each other and the driver said, "No. You keep your money, son. Our reward will come when you find someone who needs help and you give it." That was all. They drove off to see their own families that had been waiting one month to see them at Gatlinburg. They were big, strong railroad workers and came home only once each month. They also had very BIG hearts.
I learned a really valuable lesson that night - angels can be bright and shiny, but they can also appear as dirty, grimy workmen, and . . . you can't judge a book by its cover!
These two taught me early in life to stop and help when someone needs it regardless of my own schedule.
Thanks for reading my true story.
©Jerry Ogles, 1998 and 2016