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

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Road to Discovery - Emmaus – 4 December 2021, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)


 

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ND, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. 14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? (Luke 24:13-18)

 

            It is not uncommon in life for the very road that presents the greatest doubt and discouragement to become the road of greatest inspiration and joy. The difference is the perspective of faith in which we view the road. It is the same road, but in one case viewed in dismay, and in the second viewed in the light of truth. I have viewed events in my past ministry that seemed to spell disaster, but to learn later that it was the very best blessing possible.

 

            There are wonderful lessons to be gleaned from this account of the two travelers on the road to Emmaus, but we can only cover a few briefly in this devotion. There are also principles of preaching the Word that are inherent in the story.

 

            Jesus had served the Bread of the Communion of His Body and Blood just three nights earlier. Now He had been cruelly crucified in order that our sins might be washed clean. Though He had repeatedly explained to the disciples that this fate was necessary for His purpose of salvation, it was too inconceivable for them to grasp.

 

            It is Sunday afternoon as two men, one of which was Cleopas, were walking home to Emmaus. They were lamenting the events of the previous Passover Eve when their Lord had been laid in a borrowed Tomb. They spoke with forlorn hope and unbelief. We often cannot understand the great truths God has laid in our hearts through His Word, but later have our eyes opened by the strong preaching and studying of that Word.

 

            As they walked, suddenly, a third Person walked with them and it was Jesus though they knew Him not. Amazingly, at our most hopeless moments, we question ‘Where is God in all this?’ but The Lord is right beside all along in our troubles. The Lord inquired of the manner of their conversation. Cleopas asked if Jesus was only a stranger in Jerusalem not to know the horrific events of that day. Of course, the One to whom they talked had been the very center and purpose of all that happened. 

 

Jesus asked, “What things?” And they told him of their dashed hopes in One they presumed to be the Redeemer of Israel. Their words revealed their lack of faith and understanding of our Lord’s suffering. Jesus responded: “25 O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:" 26 "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?" 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” Just as the Law and the Prophets had been illustrated on the Mount of Transfiguration by the appearance of Moses (Law) and Elijah (Prophets), so Jesus teaches these two all things written about Himself in those two resources.

 

Finally, the three arrived at the disciples’ home at Emmaus. Jesus, always demonstrating the character of a gentleman, pretended that He would continue on; but the two insisted He abide with them that evening for it was drawing near night. Jesus acceded to their request, and when they sat down to bread, He took the bread, blessed it, and gave to them just as He had done the night of His Passion ere the Garden at Gethsemane. Immediately, their eyes were opened and they KNEW Him – not because of the nail prints in His hands, but by the removal of the spiritual scales from their eyes.

 

This is an example of the Communal Service in which we, too, are privileged to partake of the Body (Bread) of the Lord, and His Blood (wine) at His Table.

 

One great lesson to learn from this account is the importance of preaching and the Word. Had these two men understood and studied deeply the Words of Jesus in His ministry, their sorrow would have been turned to joy. But Jesus taught them the Words of Scripture from the Law and Prophets concerning Himself, and these Words had the power to open their eyes from darkness and despair.

 

            So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

Second Sunday in Advent - Propers with explanation – Rev Jack’s Sermon

 


The Propers are found on Page 92-93, with the Collect first:

 

The Second Sunday in Advent

The Collect.

 

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LESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

The Collect for the First Sunday in Advent can be found on Page 90:

 

The First Sunday in Advent

The Collect.

 

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LMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

 

¶ This Collect is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Day.

 

The Epistle for today came from Paul’s letter to the Romans, the Fifteenth Chapter, beginning at the Fourth Verse. 

 

Paul tells us the scriptures up to that time were written that we might have hope.  He now reminds us to treat each other the way Jesus treated those about him, to open our hearts to each other as Jesus opened His.  The promise of Jesus was not to Jews only, but to all people (Gentiles).  Paul tells us Jesus Christ was a minister of … the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people.”

 

He reminds us of the writing of Esaias, “There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.”  Paul leaves with the blessing, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

 

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hatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

 

The Gospel for today came from the Gospel according to Saint Luke, the Twenty-First Chapter, beginning at the Twenty-Fifth Verse.  In preparation for our recollection of the First Coming, the Nativity, we read St. Luke’s description of the Second Coming, “and there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.”

 

As clear as the Second Coming will be, so was the First Coming to those who would see and hear it.  Once again, we are reminded that there are none so blind as those who will not see and none so deaf as those who will not hear.

 

Can you see Him?  Will you hear Him?

 

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ND there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.


Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold

Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California

Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

 


The Second Sunday in Advent

The Collect.

 

B

LESSED Lord, who hast caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of thy holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which thou hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

The First Sunday in Advent

The Collect.

 

A

LMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

 

¶ This Collect is to be repeated every day, after the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas Day.

 

The Collect and the Epistle and the Gospel all tell us we are to learn from Scripture and to place our hope and trust in God, not man. They tell us God provided Scripture so that we might learn from the history of old believers in the Old and New Testament. As the saying goes, if we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it. It is the same with Scripture; for much of Scripture is history.

 

Scriptures have been given to us as a tool for learning so we might become wiser through the Holy Spirit, whose guidance as we read and study Scripture will allow us to come to a fuller understanding of the meaning it should have in our daily lives. The key concept is learning, learning by growing closer to the concepts found in Scripture and finding out how to learn from the mistakes we have made.  Scriptures are here for our personal and spiritual development. The guidance of the Holy Spirit is necessary for us to read the Scriptures and implement the concepts found in them in our day to day lilves. 

 

We need His Influence in our hearts in order to understand what we are preaching; to live what we are preaching, in order for our faith to have any meaning.  Then we also have to live what we preach, other wise we become hypocrites. People will very quickly notice if our actions are not congruent with our professed belief. There are far too many people today who live in a hyopcritcal manner. We must not become like one of them. 

 

Following that point,  if we do not have understanding or act upon our preaching, how can we ask others to follow God, when we ourselves are not?  We can’t lead people towards and following God if we do not do that ourselves. It simply isn’t possible to lead people towards God if we aren’t following Him ourselves. We must strive to avoid hypocrisy, to live a geniune life following His commandments He has set for us and to be a beacon to guide others to Him. We are not an icon or image of Him, but merely pathfinders, and once we find the path, we guide others to Him. We do not posess any special powers as ministers of the Lord, except as we have the Holy Ghost within us, directing us. And that special power is not of our own to claim, but He who sent Him. We are merely being allowed to have Him within us and we should not boast of any deeds done with His Inspiration, but must simply point back to the source who sent Him. We cannot claim any credit on our own for the power He has bestowed upon us to perform great good works for Him.  He works not only in ministers, but in each and every member of the church.  For, each of us is an emissary of Christ to the world. 

 

He gives each of us in His Church special talents, so members of the Church may use these talents in conjunction with one another to bring people to Christ. As in a professional workplace, each member of the Church has a special talent, used in conjunction with other people with each of their own talents, which can be used together to bring people to Christ. We each have our function, just like each part of our body has a function and each individual part is needed for its specific function to work as a whole. If we all had all heads, it would not work out well for us. But like our body parts, we are each called to a separate talent to make up the whole church.

 

For when we all work together the Church becomes team, each and everyone in it, the clergy and the lay people all having the common goals of spreading the Gospel to those who are in need of it and tending to those who need help. We become an unstoppable force, doing good in His Name.  This is all made possible if we read and act upon the precepts of Scripture with the help of the Holy Ghost.

 

We must act upon the words of Scripture and the sermons we hear, so our faith will be manifest to all those watching us.  We will make mistakes and sin, as we are imperfect beings; if we admit our wrongdoings to God, and come back to Him, all shall be forgiven and we shall have a fresh slate on which to start anew. 

 

In the Epistle, Paul tells us Scripture was written so we might have hope, even in times of darkness.  Times like these with unbelievers in high places doing their best to defile and ridicule our faith can try our souls.  We must treat others as Christ taught us, with respect and humility, no matter our personal feelings/opinion on them and how they conduct their lives. If we are kind to them, we may plant a seed in their lives for the better, causing perhaps a change for the better in them. We do not know what impact our actions may have in the future; we can only hope they may influence an individual for the better. It may not be until way later we find out what measurable impact we may have had on these peoples lives. It takes a while for seeds to germinate and grow into  large and wondrous trees, it is the same with the seeds we plant spiritually. We have no idea what our actions will inspire others to do. That is also why we need to be extremely careful in how our actions influence others. We want to be a positive influence, rather than a negative one. 

 

This is where applying the love thy neighbor as thyself concept plays a big part. For if we follow Christ’s Summary of the Law, our actions are more likely to cause a positive impact on others around us.  If we follow ourselves instead of the Holy Ghost, we are more likely to cause a negative impact to others around us.

 

Turning to the Gospel, Saint Luke describes the signs of the Second Coming and how we are to prepare for it.  We are not to be caught unaware of the signs; if we read the signs, then we shall be prepared to meet our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  At the same time remember Christ’s words in Matthew 24:36 - But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.  This means every day we have to be active in our faith, and not brain and faith dead like so many around us today. We have to be spritually aware of our spiritual surroundings, much as a good and safe driver/motorcyclist must be aware of the cars around him and possible hazards in the road at all times.

 

We have to use the tools given to us by God; Scripture, our faith and our friends in the faith to combat the evils of this world.  They are given to us for learning the faith and for defending the faith from the multiple assaults of the wicked one. We must do our best to make this world the best place we can.  If we study, digest and use Scripture in faith, we will have hope in these times of darkness; we will go forth and spread the Good News, which will give us satisfaction and hope for people; therefore renewing our spirit and vigor and the knowledge that in the end we will triumph, will fill our hungry spirits. It will renew our sense of purpose and redirect our focus outward instead of inward.

 

Our hungry spirits can only be satisified by God’s Goodness and His Word and His Love, of which He has infinite capacity; nobody is stealing anybody else’s share, as God has more than plenty to go around for all of us!  In fact, the more of God’s Love you take, the more there is for others!  So we must concentrate then on sharing the Gospel and God’s love, so others might finally find true happiness, as we find ours, in serving the Lord for the rest of our days. We also have to concentrate on living a genuine Christian life and not a shallow Christian life; showing the way to Christ for others to see and follow.

 

The common theme through the Collect, Epistle and Gospel is that if we have hope and trust in God, we must dread naught, and carry on, empowered through them in our daily lives here on Earth until we are called to our heavenly home.   These are actions we must take; not mere thoughts or words, actual actions!

 

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

Friday, December 3, 2021

Mercy on the Downward Road to Jericho – 3 December 2021, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)


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ND Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?   (Luke 10:30-36)

 

            The Jewish people were quite self-righteous believing they were the only ones walking in the favor of the Lord their God. They despised the Samaritans as a mixed race and arrogantly looked down on them. They would not deign to even touch a Samaritan believing them to be unclean – almost considering them in the same light as a leper.

 

            Our narrative today is the Parable of the Good Samaritan. There were at least four men on that road in our narrative – three going DOWN, and One going UP. I guess this is the same kind of Road our Lord referred to as the Broad Way that leads down to destruction. It can even be the same Road depending on the direction we are headed. The Straight and Narrow Way is uphill; but the Lord cares little of how far away we are as long as we are coming to Him (ascending) and not going away (descending). Three men were going DOWN. Had it not been for the One man coming UP, we could have no one to follow with our crosses. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23, for that Samaritan represents our Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

            Both the priest and the Levite coming down to Jericho had likely been ritually cleansed at the Temple ere embarking on their journey. They would not stoop to soil their hands or garments with blood – even that of a helpless fellow traveler and Jew. But the Good Samaritan only saw a man who needed help. The injured man  could not help himself any more than you or I could have saved ourselves without the intercession of the Holy Ghost to bring us to God. The man was stripped of his clothing, robbed, beaten, and left at the point of death.

 

            Like Jesus, the Good Samaritan had compassion on the man. Compassion is the kind of love that compels action! The man resembles nothing more than refuse cast off beside the road, but suddenly, up comes the Samaritan. What did he do? Now comes a Samaritan UP the Road to Jerusalem. Unlike the priest, the Jew, and the Levite, this man is traveling in the RIGHT direction. (Psalm 1) Note the actions of the Good Samaritan:

 

1.     came where he was As Christians, we must GO to where the need is greatest, not relax in opulence in our parlors. 

 

2.     he saw him How many needs go unseen every day though our eyes cannot avoid the observance of that need? 

 

3.     he had compassion on him Just as our Savior, Christ, this Samaritan, though hated by this Jew, felt the man's hurt so keenly that he took measures to help the man of his hurt (just as Christ has done for those of us who have come to Him). 

 

4.     And went to him His first coming to where the man was at the time was, to us, happenstance, but surely to God, our steps were ordered. After coming to a person in need we do not simply stand and watch. We GO to the victim so that we may render assistance. 

 

5.     and bound up his wounds Just as Jesus practices the triage of treating the most critical need first, so does this Samaritan by binding up the man's wounds to stop the bleeding. Has Christ not found us with our own blood flowing from our souls and given us life? And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.' (Ezek 16:6) When we see our neighbor strangers perishing for grave want, have we forgotten the great mercies granted to us? 

 

6.     pouring in oil and wine. The only resources the Samaritan had to treat the man was the expensive oil and wine which he not only `applied' but `poured' into the man's wounds. He spared no personal treasures in helping his charge. Do you not love this Good Samaritan?

 

7.     set him on his own beast The Samaritan would rather walk in order that the wounded man might ride. This is `mercy' combined with `sacrifice' – the kind of combination that the Lord loves. 

 

8.     and brought him to an inn The Samaritan is not concerned about his tight schedule. He takes time to take the best care of the wounded man. This is an expense as well, but he does not even consider it an expense. It is an obligation before God. 

 

9.     and took care of him I wish I had many friends as kind as this Samaritan Stranger. Actually, I do have ONE, and perhaps others of my friends who love that ONE. He continued, even at the end, to take time and trouble to treat the man. 

 

10.  And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him Apparently being convinced that the man would be well after rest and gentle treatment, the Samaritan departs to care for his pressing business in Jerusalem. But he does not forget the responsibility he has shouldered for the Jew. He PAYs even the innkeeper to continue caring for the Jew. He doeth all things well

 

11.  and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Had you ever considered ALL that the Good Samaritan did for this wounded Jew, or for that wounded soul that resides in your own heart? Even if it costs me more, I will pay. I will pay to the uttermost. Says the Good Samaritan, and thusly says our Lord Jesus Christ to you!

Thursday, December 2, 2021

The Jericho Road of Faith – 2 December 2021, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)


 


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ND they came to Jericho: and as he went out of Jericho with his disciples and a great number of people, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the highway side begging. 47 And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 48 And many charged him that he should hold his peace: but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me. 49 And Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called. And they call the blind man, saying unto him, Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. 50 And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus. 51 And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 52 And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.  (Mark 10:46-52)

 

            Yesterday, we studied how Saul (Paul) was struck down on the Damascus Road with blindness for failure to believe in the Son of God and for persecuting His Church. Today, we learn of a man, Bartimaeus, who was instead healed from blindness as a result of his faith. 

 

            The Lord had known Bartimaeus from the days of his birth (and before). He was aware that Bartimaeus would be encountered on His last trip to Jerusalem to be crucified. He had seen Bartimaeus begging day after day by the Jericho roadside. Now was the hour for Bartimaeus to be healed. Bartimaeus had doubtlessly heard all the reports of healing miracles of Jesus long before that day arrived. He had longed to plead for his sight from Jesus but, being blind, he had no means of travel or finding Him. For those who yearn to see Him, Jesus will come to them.

 

            As Bartimaeus pounded his tin cup on the sidewalk to attract sympathy, the surrounding chatter suddenly changed. There was a bustle of footsteps coming up the road toward Bartimaeus. It was an excited and animated chatter that attracted his attention. Inquiring of others about him, Bartimaeus was informed that it was Jesus and His disciples. Could it be true? Is Jesus passing by this very place at this moment?

 

 

            Years of yearning for this moment boiled up in the soul of poor Bartimaeus! Nothing else mattered now. He must not allow this opportunity to pass by. He began to cry out, and say, Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me. Bartimaeus had heard bits and parts of truth about Jesus – enough to know that He was the promised Messiah for he called Him the Son of David. Bartimaeus made only one initial request: Have mercy upon me. When the Lord has mercy on us, it is not a half-hearted mercy, but a mercy that answers our every need.

 

            As the blind man cried out, those around Jesus tried to silence him. Isn’t that the case in many churches today? Those who are closest to the Lord often try to keep others coming too near to the Lord or from having any role in the Church except tithing! But Bartimaeus would have none of it. This was his only opportunity and he would not allow it to pass. With each attempt to silence him, he cried out even with greater vehemence. Should we not all persevere with our pleads to the Lord and ignore any who would interfere with those prayers?

 

            When Jesus heard the earnest pleas of Bartimaeus, He stopped and command him to be brought to Him. When our prayers are sincere, they will cause the Lord to Pause and hear us. Whenever Jesus stops, there is something very important about to happen whether beside a bier at Nain, or a dusty road at Jericho.

 

            What a joy to hear that Jesus calls for us! That is what Bartimaeus heard: Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee. When Jesus calls for us, we must discard every incumbrance and go to Him without delay: And he, casting away his garment, rose, and came to Jesus.

 

            The Lord asked the blind man, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? Please do not think Jesus was ignorant of the desires of the man’s heart for He knew with absolute certainty even before He passed through Jericho. The question was intended to allow the surrounding company to witness the faith and healing of Bartimaeus. Bartimaeus responded The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight. 

 

            The Lord responded, Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole. No longer would the formerly blind man need someone to escort him. He was made free in body AND spirit, for when the Lord makes whole, He makes whole in every way. What was the response of Bartimaeus? Did he proceed on his WAY home? Not at all. His was the response of all who have been redeemed from the death of trespasses and sins. He followed Jesus. That was the NEW way of Bartimaeus. And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

The Rebellious Road to Christ – 1 December 2021, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)


 

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ND Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest,  And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.  And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:  And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.  (Acts 9:1-6)

 

            How many believe they have heard the voice of the Lord call them to a ministry but desire to know what benefits are provided first? That is not evidence of a calling in Christ. The example of Paul (Saul) is a perfect example of the genuine call to service of the Lord. There are several aspects of the calling that should be understood.

 

1.     Paul was in no wise worthy of the Lord in his present state of mind. In fact, Paul was persecuting the Church of Christ and its followers with threats and even slaughter. He had overseen the stoning most recently of Stephen – the first Deacon of the Church. His resumé would in no way qualify Paul to be a servant of the Lord in the eyes of any Church board; however, whom the Lord calls to service, He will make able to perform it. The Lord called Paul, not because of WHO he was at present, but by what he would become under the Lordship of Christ.

 

2.     The calling of Paul was stark and profound. Perhaps the greater the terrible works of a man to be called, the more profound must be the calling. We have many such examples in the history of the Church such as the culprit, John Newton, who became a great minister and hymn writer in England after a life of degradation; or of Charles Spurgeon who was led to the Lord on a stormy night by an illiterate old deacon who pointed a bony finger a Spurgeon and proclaimed – “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothing to do but look and live!" When our hearts have already been cultivated by the Gospel in our youth, perhaps such a profound call is not deemed necessary by the Lord but, believe me, it will be issued with such authority and emphasis that we shall have no choice but to submit at last.

 

3.     Paul was struck by LIGHT. He was stopped in his tracks and knocked to the ground. At that very moment his wicked intentions were doused by the Water of Life. His plans, his aims and purposes, ceased at that very moment. Though He knew not what the Lord would demand next, he was now a ready student to learn. Jesus queried Paul as to why his designs against Him were evil? We see in this that any attack against a Godly church and people is equivalent to an attack against the person of Christ.

 

4.     Paul was immediately convicted by this face-to-face meeting with the Lord. He is the only Apostle to be called by the ascended Lord. It was the Lord’s very question that convicted Paul. In life many questions arise. Those very questions are often used of the Lord to draw us to His bosom. Our questions in life are too often ‘WHY?’ and not ‘WHAT’ would you have me to do? 

 

5.     Paul’s calling was not immediately specific. Though Paul knew the Lord had called unto him for a purpose, at the moment of the calling, the purpose was less important than blind obedience – and his obedience would have to be blind since Paul was struck with blindness by the light and scales over his eyes. 

 

6.     The calling of Paul was a direct calling to him and none around him. Each of us, as believers, are gifted with a calling, but that calling is directed to us alone. We cannot act on another’s calling.

 

7.     Finally, Paul’s calling in the ministry required further preparation. “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” When we are called by God, He may delay our knowing the details of the calling until we are prepared to hear and understand them. God had a plan for Paul’s life long before Paul had any knowledge of his calling. Instead of seeking believers to persecute, Paul had now become a target for persecution by his former Jewish perpetrators of persecution. 

 

Much changed in Paul’s life once He knew his calling in Christ. Were it not for merely physical appearance alone, his former associates would not have recognized him. Like Paul, we should all be new creatures in Christ once our election is sure.

Come unto Me – 30 November 2021, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)



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 OME unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  (Matthew 11:28-30)

 

            Just as God called Noah and all his family to come into the Ark: And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark(Gen 7:1), so does the Lord Jesus Christ invite His elect to come unto Him as the Ark of their salvation in the last days  - Come unto me.

 

            How similar these two invitations are! What benefit did Noah and his family expect by entering the Ark? 

 

1.     They enjoyed the benefit of being obedient to the Lord God. 

2.     They would enter a secure Ark of protection from the coming calamity of the Deluge. 

3.     They would have provision to sustain them throughout the floodwaters.

4.     They would enjoy the blessing of becoming the new Creation on the other side of the Flood. 

 

All, and more, are the benefits of the Elect in Christ. By entering into the Heart of Christ, we enjoy the benefit of being obedient to our Sovereign Lord; we enjoy perfect security for our souls; We have the provision of the Bread of Heaven to sustain us; and, finally, we are blessed to be born anew into a life eternal with Him.

 

Of course, this is the Advent Season – a time of the Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ at Christmas, and of looking forward to the time of His second coming in power and great glory. It must be Christ comes to us first before we can come to Him. In coming to Him, we become One with Him; and if One with Him, then One with the Father and with the Holy Ghost because He is One with the Father and the Spirit. We are called by Him out of the death of sin into the everlasting life He has ordained for us to walk in. 28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  (Romans 8:27-28)

 

            It is important to observe we do not rest on our laurels after our union with Christ. As Paul says in the above text, the calling is issued with a qualifier: . . . . to them who are the called according to his purpose.  

 

            Our Lord has often called us for a purpose in His Word. Following His resurrection, our Lord hailed His disciples who were fishing on the Sea of Galilee; Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine.  (John 21:12) This was an invitation to a final dining of fellowship with His disciples ere His ascension. In that repose, He shared more profound truth to His disciples, especially Peter who had denied Him. But the Lord invites us today to Come and Dine on His Word and fellowship at His Communion Table. A table of dining is a place where one relaxes and enjoys the fellowship of the gathering. That is what our Lord invites us to partake of in His Church, and even in times of lonely desolation. It is a time of grace and love.

 

            At that last circle of dining on the shores of Galilee, the Lord demonstrated His great grace in forgiving and saving. Peter had wept bitterly for the three days following his denial of the Lord at the court of the Sanhedrin, but, now, the Lord tenderly leads Peter in understanding the level of love expected of a disciple. Peter, as a result, never again weakened of courage. Among His last counsels to Peter and the others was the responsibility they bore in feeding – not eating – His sheep.

 

            Jesus is forever inviting His elect to Come unto Him. After His baptism by John the Baptist, two disciples of John followed after Christ and asked where he dwelled. If we are to have a close friend and brother, it is only natural that we know where he lives. Jesus turned: He saith unto them, Come and see. (John 1:39) One of those disciples was Andrew. The moment he came to know Jesus, he immediately went out and sought his brother Peter to come as well. That is part of our duties and blessings of being a disciple – to invite others to come and see.

 

            Once Christ issues the invitation to come and follow Him, the power of the Holy Ghost to bring that meeting to fruition is irresistible. Even if we are dead in trespasses and sin, and unable to hear or see truth, or to do anything at all to save ourselves, we will respond to His invitation to Come unto Me! Lazarus of Bethany had no life at all. He was dead for four days ere our Lord Jesus Christ came to the door of his stone tomb and called out, Lazarus, Come Forth! Lazarus came forth. Even the dead will hear that voice and obey. Have you heard that invitation? Have you obeyed?