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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

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Hand – 16 October 2019, Anno Domini



B
ELSHAZZAR the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand. Belshazzar, whiles he tasted the wine, commanded to bring the golden and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken out of the temple which was in Jerusalem; that the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, might drink therein. Then they brought the golden vessels that were taken out of the temple of the house of God which was at Jerusalem; and the king, and his princes, his wives, and his concubines, drank in them. 4They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.   (Daniel 5:1-6)

            Physiologically speaking, the hand is probably the most important part of the body, second only to the brain, that differentiates man from beast. The hand is wonderfully engineered to perform tasks that cannot be achieved by any other in the animal kingdom. The hand enforces the commands of the mind in accomplishing whatever work is desired.. Most often when Scripture refers to the hand, it includes the arm as well as the palm and fingers. There are thirty-two bones in the hand from the shoulder to the tips of the fingers. These are intricately woven together by ligaments and tendons which allow practically universal movement. Nerves and muscles are also included with ingenious design to allow for eating, fishing, hunting, writing, and a million other things. 

            The right hand is our hand of authority, and it is this hand with which we swear national allegiance. It is also the hand to which we vow to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth while the left hand rests upon the Holy Bible. The Right Hand also symbolizes the power and authority of Almighty God. We may lead a rich life without our hands, but our freedom of accomplishing many tasks would be adversely limited. It is this right hand in which the Seal of God, or the Mark of the Beast is spiritually imprinted – to obey God or Satan!

            I will relate a story involving hands I heard as a boy concerning the great artist, Albrecht Durer, of Germany. Albrecht came from a family of fourteen. The father was not wealthy and found it difficult to put food on the table. Albrecht had an older brother named Albert. Both boys aspired to become artists  , but there was no source of income to afford the schooling. So, when the boys were of sufficient age to attend university, they decided upon a plan to enable both to attend art school in nearby Nuremberg. They would toss a coin. The winner would go to art school first while the other worked in the nearby mines. Once the first brother graduated, he would then work to pay for his brother’s schooling. 

            One Sunday morning, the young men tossed the coin. Albrecht won the toss and left for Nuremberg while his older brother, Albert, headed for the mines. During his stay at the art academy, Albrecht excelled beyond his teachers in art. He became quite well known even before he finally graduated four years later. Upon graduation, he headed back to his family in the village where he was raised. The proud father put on a feast at which the whole family was present. Albrecht was now able to ease the financial burdens of the family with his new found wealth. 

            As they sat at table, the father proposed a toast to the success of the younger son, Albrecht. Every family member proudly raised the glass except the older brother who had worked these past years in the mines. Albrecht took notice of this failure to lift the glass and feared his brother might have become bitter at his success. He went to the end of the table where his brother, Albert, was seated and said, Well, brother, now it is your turn to go to art school while I pay your expenses. With tears in his eyes, the older brother responded, No, Albrecht, it is too late for me to go to art school. After four years of working in the mines, my hands have been broken and ruined, and he held up his hands with crooked and deformed fingers. I could not even hold the glass up to toast to your success. Albrecht was overcome with sorrow at that news. He later did a famous pencil drawing in 1508 entitled, Praying Hands. A copy of that drawing was commonly displayed in most American homes when I was a youngster. It is currently on display in the Albertina Museum in Vienna. It is often referred to as the Hands of the Apostle, but tradition avers that these are symbols of the brother’s hands that labored so that Albrecht could finish art school.

            God has Hands, too. The Hand of God symbolizes His Sovereignty and Power. There was long ago another feast at which men were raising their drinks to toast the king. It was in Babylon at a great drunken feast of Belshazzar. He ordered the golden, consecrated vessels which were taken from the Temple in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar to serve as vessels from which he and his concubines drank. Suddenly, In the same hour came forth fingers of a man's hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king's palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Like a multitude of egregious sinners of our day, Belshazzar had sinned to the point of reprobation.  Later, Daniel the prophet interpreted the words, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin to mean: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom(Daniel 5:26-29)  That selfsame day was Babylon fallen and Belshazzar slain. 

            Have you ever wondered why Belshazzar named Daniel the Third Ruler in the Kingdom instead of the Second? This has been a cause for historians to disclaim Daniel as an inspired book since there was 1) no record of Belshazzar as king, and 2) if Belshazzar was king, it would be proper for him to have named Daniel the second ruler of the kingdom. But that disclaimer has been reduced to ruins in 1849.

            In 1849, for instance, Sir Austen Henry Layard discovered the ruins of Nineveh and Sennacherib’s ‘Palace Without Rival’. Other important archaeological discoveries made in Nineveh include the famous ‘Library of Ashurbanipal’, and the palaces of several Assyrian kings. It was in the ruins of the library in which thousands of clay tablets were unearthed that a record made by King Nabonidas was discovered which read: I am Nabonidas, King of Babylon. I am visiting in Nineveh and have left my son, Belshazzar, as king in my stead. This is the reason that Daniel could only be named the THIRD ruler of Babylon because Belshazzar was temporary king in his father’s stead. Therefore, Belshazzar was the second ruler and could only name Daniel as THIRD.. Many of the modern, so-called higher critics have overlooked this bit of historical revelation and adhere to the former falsehood that the Book of Daniel is not Canonical.

            God has a powerful Hand. He is our Maker and He holds our lives, moment-by-moment, in His Hand. But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand(Isaiah 64:8) God’s Hand is a mighty Hand that shaped the worlds and cast the stars into their orbits. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together.

            There is another Hand of God that appears, in some ways, like that deformed hand of the brother of Albrecht Durer – it is the nail-scarred Hand of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. With that Hand, He purchased our redemption, and in the palms of those Hands were the names of His Elect graven as with a chisel forevermore. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.  (Isaiah 49:15-16)

            At the time of Isaiah’s writing (700 BC) it was unfathomable a mother would be so heartless as to forget, or even kill, her baby, but it has become an evil and wicked practice of our day due to a failure of love and compassion; however, our Lord has not forgotten nor forsaken us. He remembered us even from the cross at Calvary – our names were grafted into the palms of His Hands 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Hymns of the Church – Send the Light – 15 October 2019, Anno Domini


A
ND  this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.  (John 3:19-21)

            For untold centuries the people of God sat in darkness only comprehending points of light emitted from stars on a canopy of purple. But in the fulness of years, the bright beams of the Morning Star would burst forth on the barren landscape and guide the way to a greater joy in Christ and an eternally effulgent Light!

            This Gospel song was composed by Charles H. Gabriel in 1890 to the tune, also of his composition, entitled, MCCABE. It reminds us that there are millions today who still walk in darkness whose skies are clouded by superstition and false religion.

Send the Light

There's a call comes ringing o'er the restless wave,
"Send the light! Send the light"
There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save,
Send the light! 
Send the light!
Chorus:
Send the light the blessed gospel light;
Let it shine from shore to shore!
Send the light the blessed gospel light;
Let it shine forevermore!

We have heard the Macedonian call today,
"Send the light! Send the light!"
And a golden off'ring at the cross we lay,
Send the light!
Send the light! 
[Chorus]

 Let us pray that grace may ev'rywhere abound, 
"Send the light! Send the light!" 
And a Christ-like spirit ev'rywhere be found,
Send the light!
Send the light!  [Chorus]

Let us not grow weary in the work of love,
"Send the light! Send the light!"
Let us gather jewels for a crown above,
Send the light!
Send the light!
[Chorus]

There's a call comes ringing o'er the restless wave, "Send the light! Send the light" There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save, Send the light!  Send the light! I have written many times of the benefit of light – its quality to reveal truth otherwise unseen, its benefit in lighting the right path in life, and its dispersion of ignorance caused by the darkness of doubt and unbelief. We have churches in the islands of the sea which, only decades ago, had none of the Light of Christ to brighten their way but who now are stronger beacons of truth than many of our churches at home. The Iron Bishop of the Pacific, the Most Rev. Zephaniah Legumana, has labored under austere resources to build a beautiful church and building in the Solomon Islands which is an example to all in those islands. It was built by the hands of the people. He has even reached out to far away Santa Cruz Island, some 700 miles distant across the sea, to establish a church in the center of the village there. Bishop Zephaniah is a Light Bearer for Christ as we all should be.

We have heard the Macedonian call today, "Send the light! Send the light!" And a golden off'ring at the cross we lay, Send the light! Send the light! As the Macedonian beckoned for Paul to bring the Light of Christ thither, so do countless peoples of varied tribes and tongues make the same call to us today. “And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” (Acts 16:9-10)  If we have no light, neither do we have vision to see and know our Lord. “Where there is no vision, the people perish:” (Proverbs 29:18a) “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)  

Let us pray that grace may ev'rywhere abound,  "Send the light! Send the light!"  And a Christ-like spirit ev'rywhere be found, Send the light! Send the light!” Grace and knowledge are resources that are no different in their dispersion than that Love of God overflowing in the heart of the Christian believer. The greater the flow, the larger the reserve. Love can never be exhausted by sharing. There is always more of the ‘oil of love’ left in the pot to satisfy the hunger of all neglected hearts around us. The Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of Truth and Life. True sources of the beams of light have no limit in distance but travel the extremes of the universe until impacting some recipient thereof. But Light, unlike darkness, is a force that requires generation. The great Generator of our Light comes from the Sun of Righteousness and our Day Star, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us not grow weary in the work of love, "Send the light! Send the light!" Let us gather jewels for a crown above, Send the light! Send the light! Love is only a work if it is the work of Christ and not of our own doing. We merely share the love of God for He is the source of ALL love. We may be dark in our souls and black in our hearts. Black always absorbs light. But white reflects every ray of its colors. We ‘send’ the light by means of reflecting that Light from the Sun of Righteousness as the Moon reflects the light of its sun. I could care less for the jewels on my crown in Heaven. My desire is to serve God here and now, and I will be satisfied with whatever my lot as long as I can be in the presence of my Lord at the end of days.

Chorus
Send the light the blessed gospel light; Let it shine from shore to shore! Send the light the blessed gospel light; Let it shine forevermoreOur Lord is the Light of the World; and He is also the WORD Incarnate. The Word of God is also that Light to which our Lord refers. The Gospel Light is that Good News Light that “brightly beams from His Lighthouse ever more.” 

Consider these verses
 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:1-5) Once the Light falls upon a heart, that Light will either reflect light or be absorbed in darkness much as a Black Hole in space is so greedy as to consume all that comes within its gravitational field so that even light cannot escape its dark powers. But the True Light will overcome every such darkness for darkness is not a force. It is only the absence of light. “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9)

“Say, friend, do you have a Light?”

Sunday, October 13, 2019

AOC Sunday Report - Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity



The AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!

Sermon Notes - Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 13 October 2019, Anno Domini


The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

L
ORD, we pray thee that thy grace may always prevent[1] and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

            Just as the Cloud by Day, and Pillar of Fire by night, both led and followed the Children of Israel across the Red Sea, so does God’s continuing love and grace both lead and follow His people in our own day. It did not end at the banks of the Red Sea. Being continually imbued with that love and grace of our Lord, our works are manifested in goodness through His perpetual care and guidance.

The Gospel
(Luke 14:1-11)

A
ND it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. 2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. 3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? 4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; 5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will
not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? 6 And they could not answer him again to these things. 7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, 8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. 

F
OR precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: 11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. 12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. 13 But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken. (Isaiah 28:10-13)

            Today’s Collect reminds me of a fundamental principle of learning – there are others, but this one is applicable to today’s  Collect. That principle is “repetition aids retention”. It was one of those laws with which I became intimately familiar and one which I employed to great effect in my career in the training and education of military aviators. A maneuver often repeated will be remembered easily. A certain rule of meteorology, or of aerodynamics, often repeated and tested, will be retained over the lifetime of the military pilot. The Bible itself is a monument to this principle. We see the same principles of salvation, redemption, sanctification, etc, featured in multi-faceted accounts throughout the Holy Bible, and much to our profit. The same is true of the Collects which are, themselves, based on scriptural truths.

            I once read of an event in the ministry of the great Charles Spurgeon in England. Mr. Spurgeon had given the exact SAME sermon four Sundays in a row. Frustrated and a bit indignant, one of the congregants asked him if he was aware that he had given the same sermon four Sundays running. “Yes, I am aware of it,” responded Spurgeon. “But why the same sermon four times?” asked the congregant. “That is simple to explain,” replied Spurgeon. “When you begin to heed the sermon, I will go on to the next.”

            LORD, we pray thee that thy grace may always prevent and follow us It is a mighty comfort to know that God’s grace not only follows in the wake of our service as the people of God, but even PRECEDES (another meaning of prevent) the Elect in his/her daily walk. We do not worry about walking down a darkened path upon which the Lord has set our foot, because we KNOW that He is ever both BEHIND and BEFORE us. He is as the Pillar of Cloud by Day, and Pillar of Fire by Night, to both lead and follow His people in the Wilderness journey of this world. If God places our feet on a path, we must go the distance in faith no matter the utter desolation along the way. I am reminded of a quote by the scientist, Robert Jastrow (an agnostic at best) who ironically wrote in his book, God and the Astronomers: “For the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

            “…..and make us continually to be given to all good works.” How can we be “given to good works?”  It must have become a feature of our changed nature at the moment of conversion, and the sanctification that is to follow that conversion. It is the empowering genius of the Holy Spirit. Certainly, our salvation is none of our own doing, but the pure and whole work of grace; yet, the evidence of our salvation is the good works and purity of life that follows the soul’s salvation.

It was the Sabbath Day.

 “We have been thinking and speaking of a miracle done on the Sabbath. It is evident that our Saviour had a preference for the Sabbath as a time for working miracles. How, then, is it with respect to ourselves — we who, many of us, would be glad to have a miracle wrought on our behalf, and yet have no right whatever to expect one? It is just thus — we are waiting for the Sabbath. In other words, it was intended, no doubt, to be taught us by our Saviour’s practice, that there is a special time of rest coming, when all the various troubles that hamper and injure us will be utterly removed — our burdens unbound; our fevers cooled for ever; our weakness changed to strength; all our heaviness lightened; our blind eyes made clear; our deaf ears unstopped; our feet filled with vigorous leaping blood; and all that is within us lighted up with joy, even as the house was lighted up, and music and dancing sounded in it, when the prodigal came home. There is a Sabbath coming; and as Christ wrought His cures upon the Sabbath, when He was upon earth, we are taught to look on to a day of cure that is coming — that Sabbath, namely, of rest, into which we hope to enter hereafter. It may be needful for our perfection, and the perfection of our friends, that we should still be burdened; but we are quite sure that, after the round of the six days, there will come the seventh; we are quite sure, when the time of trial has ended, the boon of health will be granted.”  (the Rev T. T. Lynch.)

Jesus has been invited to the house of a prominent Pharisee one of the chief of them, we are told. 

 “And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.”

Many other of the Pharisees were doubtless there for “they watched him.” How greatly would they have benefitted if they had watched Him to learn instead of to find fault. 

Why was Jesus invited by one of those who hated Him and were constantly trying to destroy Him? They had invited Jesus to catch Him in an act of disobedience of the Sabbath – it was a ‘set up’ in the popular vernacular.

Why do you suppose Jesus accepted the invitation?  Jesus was no recluse – He came to help all who would hear Him.  He loved to be in social gatherings where men would listen – ALL men…even Pharisees.

 “And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.”

The cunning mind of the Pharisee bypassed no opportunity in providing a means of entrapment for Christ. Seemingly, just by coincidence, a man with a grave and serious malady is present – a man who probably had not been invited had it not fit comfortably in the plans of the Pharisees to present Jesus with a temptation.

These men are ruthless. They will use even the kindness and compassion of Jesus to try and condemn Him.They have seated the man with the dropsy (congestive heart failure) in a place BEFORE Jesus. They know that He loves to heal and to do good regardless the occasion, but today is the Sabbath! They will use this as an occasion to condemn Christ of violating the Sabbath by doing healing works on this day.

But Jesus knows the heart of men, and He knows the evil thoughts of the hearts of those who sit watching Him.

 “And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?

Jesus sets the circumstances to turn the tables on these miscreants. The question restated might read: “Is it ever unlawful to do good?” Did God provide man with the day of rest for the purpose of omitting even deeds of kindness?

The Pharisees and priests of Jesus day had added so many cumbersome proscriptions to the Sabbath observance and every other aspect of the law, that men could not bear them without misery – just the opposite of what God had intended.

Jesus was continually tempted in every way that we are tempted, but Jesus never gave into temptation except in certain cases. 

What were those cases? When tempted to do good, as in the present case, Christ could not resist the temptation to act out of His compassion to heal and to comfort. This was not a temptation to sin, but a temptation by sinful men of Christ to do good. He always did!

You and I are tempted, on the other hand, to do bad things not pleasing to God. But in every temptation to do evil is found an opportunity to, instead, do good. Jesus sets the example for us in every case.

Because they have set their trap, the Pharisees do not respond to the pointed question of Christ: “And they held their peace.” Men will most often speak out when they can condemn or hurt, but will less often speak out on the part of righteousness. Political correctness restrains them from speaking righteousness but tends always to wickedness.

So Jesus poses the simple question which they decline to answer so as not to give away their plot. How many clergy, as well as laity, remain silent on issues of great importance?  I have observed the silence, even on discussion groups of the church, remain stony silent on matters on which they should have strong opinion. The silence of those is like a scream in the night.

Those who are legalist often forget that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.(Mark 2:27) 

The failure to accept the Sabbath in the manner and purpose for which it was given nullifies its benefits. The Christian Sabbath is not a once per week observance but a daily one. Christ has given us an Eternal Sabbath (Rest).

 “And he took him, and healed him, and let him go.” The whole will of Christ was to heal the man and not to make a spectacle of him. So Jesus, instead of having the man remain standing by for show, releases him to go his way. How different from the Pharisees who heartlessly brought the man to tempt Christ.

 “And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?

Had they forgotten the counsel of Proverbs 12:11 -  “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” 

An ox or a donkey were precious to men who depended on them to produce income. If one of the Pharisees own precious animals fell into a ditch on the Sabbath, he would certainly have rescued the animal, if not out of kindness, then out of greed.

He thus shuts them. Up to this startling alternative: "Not to do good, when it is in the power of our hand to do it, is to do evil; not to save life, when we can, is to kill" 

 “And they could not answer him again to these things.   7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,” 

Righteous words will shut the mouth of the wicked. 

Jesus is an observer of men and women. He watched as the poor widow cast her all into the Temple treasury, and He has observed here how the guests of the Pharisee came into the room and chose the best seats and provisions.  They sought to have their seating lend them honor when they should have allowed their honor to determine their seating. They lacked humility and were filled with false pride.

So, Jesus tells them a story (Parable) to which they can relate in common life:

W
HEN thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.

All of the counsels of Christ are full of spiritual and uplifting truths. This short Parable is no exception.

Jesus begins the story with a delicate allusion to a type of gathering that would be different from that of his present host of whom He has been invited. The venue is a wedding feast, but still a feast so that the same principle will apply.

When we are invited to a special event, do not exalt your importance by finding the highest place, or most visible place, to stand or sit.  We will inevitably to be embarrassed by our presumptive pride when we are told, curtly, to move and surrender your place to one having greater honor than you. The only place left at that time will be the place of least honor – the lowest room. “And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.”

He has given an example of how not to behave, but He does not leave us in doubt as to how we should behave: “But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.” 

Notice the host refers to the man who is humble and takes the very lowest place of honor as Friend. He did not refer to the man who took the highest place as Friend. Men despise false pride and arrogance in others.  If we humble ourselves, men will always elevate us in esteem. But greater is the reward in Heaven!

A college professor once hosted a tea for his graduating students.  When they all presented themselves at his home, the professor had all the cups, in the right number, assembled on the table. The cups were all of different kinds. One was of stone, one of crystal, one of clay, and some were shaped curiously different from any before seen.  When the professor invited the students to take a cup, the first took the crystal, the next the glass, the next the stone, the next the clay, and so forth.

As the professor watched them drink their tea that he had poured for them, he observed that they had each chosen the best cup at the table; but the purpose of a tea was not the kind of cup one drank from, but the tea which the cup contained. The quality of the tea is not changed by the quality of the cup which contains it. So with our worthiness before God. It is not some superficial position or appearance that is important, but what is inside. 


[1]                Prevent is a word that has many uses, and at least one has fallen out of general usage as time has gone on.  This is one of them.  In this case the word prevent means to go before.  Before you object to archaic words, consider this is a current word, it just has a use you may not have been aware of and now you are!  What a bonus for this week!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Beethoven’s Latter Wine – 11 October 2019, Anno Domini



Symphony No. 9
Ludwig van Beethoven
Jerry Ogles, Bishop Anglican Orthodox Church

S
O the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. 13 He had also seven sons and three daughters. 14 And he called the name of the first, Jemima; and the name of the second, Kezia; and the name of the third, Kerenhappuch. 15 And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job: and their father gave them inheritance among their brethren. 16 After this lived Job an hundred and forty years, and saw his sons, and his sons' sons, even four generations. 17 So Job died, being old and full of days. (Book of Job, Chapter 42)

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ND the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. 4 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7 Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. 9 When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, 10 And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now. (John 2:1-10)


The great composer, Ludwig v. Beethoven, is possibly the greatest musical composer of all time. Yet, he met with many hardships and misfortunes in his lifetime that would have devastated one of lesser metal. The period between 1814 and 1824 were years of professional famine for Beethoven. Having lost the one gift that makes the joy of music so ebullient - his hearing - the man of joyful music also lost many of his friends as his financial fortunes took a serious plunge.

Ten years past between his last symphony, the Eighth, and his memorable Ninth Symphony in D minor. Imagine the despair of Beethoven as he attempted to write this masterpiece from 'imagined sound' since he was deaf. 

The Ninth Symphony finally was completed and premiered in 1824, not long before its creator's death. The resident conductor invited Beethoven to conduct his new work that night of the premier. Beethoven stood apprehensively as he conducted the last movement. At the concluding notes of the final movement, 'Ode to Joy,’ the composer stood in forsaken silence, certain that his masterpiece had failed. He could not hear the thunderous standing ovation of the audience behind him. Suddenly, the resident conductor, recognizing Beethoven's bewilderment, gently turned the musical genius around so he could witness the joyful response of the crowd. What overpowering joy must have entered his heart as he saw the awe-inspiring response. God had saved the best wine in Beethoven's life for last - and he gleefully took his bow. 

Just as Christ provided the best wine for the last at the marriage at Cana of Gallilee, so God frequently saves the best wine for last in the lives of those whom He loves. Maybe He is saving YOUR best wine for last! 

In the Ninth symphony, the deep emotion and great passion of this master composer is fully brought to light. It seems that he poured his heart and soul in among the notes of this great work.

The Ninth Symphony is the last one written by Beethoven, but it stands out as the shining Sun among all other such works and has endured the centuries, and will doubtless remain forever, as long as the Sun rises and sets, as the crowning achievement in musical beauty, harmony and simple grandeur. 

The beauty of sound, technical merit, and popular appeal of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony remains today as one of the world’s greatest masterpieces and sets a high standard for any aspiring composer whose hopes and ambition are to achieve the heights. 

Whatever work God has called you to, remember that even old age may not prevent your being blessed with you best wine at the last.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Time – 10 October 2019, Anno Domini



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EMEMBER now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;  While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain:  In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened,  And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;  Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets:  Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.  Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.  (Ecclesiastes 12:1-7)

            My friend, do you have time to read this devotion today, or to study your Bible regularly on a daily basis, or time to devote to some oppressed stranger along your way? The answer to that question is ‘yes’ and ‘no’.. You see, time is a limited commodity. It is a resource whose value is beyond measure, but it cannot be purchased or sold. When the world was an empty morass of mud and confused waters in eternity past, there seemed to be an unlimited amount of time when the Lord God divided the waters and made the dry land appear. But the time allotted for the earth to stand as it was on the completion of the sixth day is known only to God, and not something we must concern ourselves so much about because time, for us, is limited in years and not centuries. 

            Time is three dimensional reflecting the character of the Triune Godhead. There is time past, present and future. Time past is relative to the perspective of the one who measures it. World history would rightly begin eastward in Eden and continue to the present. American history, however, would begin with the voyage of Christopher Columbus, Admiral of the Ocean Seas, who discovered our continent. But history is always capable of further divisions into childhood, puberty, adulthood, and maturity. These are not guaranteed, mind you, but they are commonly accepted indicators of the lifespan of man and woman. We do not control the length of our years, that is reserved to the One who has numbered the very hairs of our heads and established a planned pattern for who we will become in the DNA at conception. The present time is really all we can lay claim to since time past has already been spent, and time future is not assured.

            In the normal life expectancy of man, we may live to a rich old age of 100 years. Some may even exceed that age by only a few years; but the average is closer to seventy. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.  (Psalm 90:10)

            God Almighty, on the other hand is TIMELESS. He is forever the I AM of the Past, of the Present, and of the Future. We can measure earthly time and the lives of creatures in the three-dimensional sense, but God is not subject to our scale of measurement. Certainly, He is past, present and future; but, in reality, He transcends those measurements. You may ask, How? God is measured in time past in eternity. He has always existed. He is measured in the eternal present as well. He is ALWAYs present in the NOW which, to God, is Eternally present. God was I AM yesterday. He is I AM today; and He is I AM tomorrow. The Three Time Dimensions of God are not measured in units of time, but in the three Eternities which, like the Godhead, are truly one MEASURE (Eternity). 

            There are Christian writers of questionable sincerity who make a fortune in selling error-filled books predicting the exact time of our Lord’s return. When their calculations fail, they simply change the color of the cover and sell a new one with different outcomes – always in the near future to draw the highest degree of attention. Why not plan for the Lord’s return today. If, like the five virgins who were always prepared for the Bridegroom, we are always watchful, alert, and ready to receive His coming, we shall not be surprised and left out of the marriage feast. In other words, live each day of our lives as if it were the last. Then priorities become crystal clear. 

            A few years back, I wrote a short poem to describe our understanding of time as relates to the ancient hour-glass:

Time in a Glass

The sands of time are passing fine,
each grain a matchless treasure.
But doleful man can ne'er opine
to make a useful measure.

How sadly do the hours fly on,
with golden blessings laden,
At last to wing their ways beyond
and find their ancient haven.

A speck of dust on Time's far shore
is all that mortals merit.
But human souls may find the Door
and Heaven's gold inherit.

The shining glass conceals the score
of sand left in the balance,
And man nor beast can yet discern
the cost of Time in Talents.
by Jerry Ogles
Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Church
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
(John 8:32)
©Jerry L. Ogles 2008

            Indeed, we know not how many grains of time remain in the upper chamber of the glass. That is an act of mercy and grace on the part of our Creator. How tremendously sad and stressful would life be if we knew from birth precisely the allotted time of our death. If I judge human nature properly, I would say that the youthful person, knowing he would live to an age of eighty, would probably waste his early years in riotous living and, as the latter years approached, spend the remaining years in dread and foreboding. But God has kept that secret from our ears. He will take us to Himself at the time of His own discretion, and God does all things well – so it will be the very best time for us.

            As Autumn has begun to manifest itself in my hometown, I love to sit in the shade of the trees and reflect on my life from early childhood to the present. Amazingly, though I felt like I was harshly challenged many times, I cannot remember any sorrowful moments that have not been used by God for my betterment. I remember the beautiful colors of mountain flora of Tennessee and North Georgia; I recall friends long parted; I remember my mother teaching me on her knee about our Lord; and my father working long hours to feed and clothe a family of seven children. But these all are precious memories of my allotted time that God has granted me. Time is valuable. A dying man of great wealth has been heard to offer his fortune just for one more day of life. But such time cannot be purchased. When the thunder calls from Heaven, we must answer the call. 

            How much time do you have? Do you know? The time to follow in the tracks of the Lord is NOW. At the beginning of this devotion, I asked if you had time to read it? That question was rhetorical because, if you have reached this point, of course, you had time to read it. Our allotted time is used according to our priorities and our discretion as to what things in life upon which to place our emphasis. Since eternity is so long, and life on earth so short, why not invest your time wisely in learning of the Way, the Truth, and the Life so eternity is our return.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Compelling Grace – 8 October 2019, Anno Domini



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OR whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.  (Romans 8:29-30)

            The above passage flies in the face of those who advocate an Arminian[1] interpretation of Holy Scripture. But the meaning is precise and immutable. God knew His own elect before they were ever conceived in their mother’s womb, and He draws them by the agency of the Holy Ghost to His bosom. Undeserved, unmerited GRACE is the means by which God draws His children. 

            The unsaved soul exists in a state of spiritual death until awakened by the Holy Ghost and called to Christ. Lazarus knew nothing at all while he lay in the mountain tomb at Bethany. He could neither think nor move. He was DEAD! There was no decision he could make to save his soul just as the spiritually dead can make no such decision in their own behalf. The sinful heart is without any merit at all to think or do good. Just as Lazarus was made alive instantly by the Word of our Lord, so are sinners quickened (made alive) by the Voice of the Holy Ghost. Until that point, they remain in a state of total depravity.  I refer the reader to the clear and unmistakable words of Paul:  

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ND you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;  Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:  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.  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,  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:  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  (Ephesians 2:1-9)

The heart of man can work no righteousness apart from the prevailing Spirit of god working in and through him. Even the plowing of the wicked is sin in the eyes of God. (Proverbs 21:4) And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  (Genesis 6:5)

The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion are the authoritative expression of the Doctrines set forth by the Reformation Church of England. Though some modern Anglicans disregard the Articles in favor of a more permissive gospel, Reformed Anglican churches, true to their faith, adhere to the Articles explicitly. There is one Article, the XVII, that is a hard pill to swallow for some, but it is based upon the precise language of Biblical Truth and has been a great comfort to all those who have believed in precise, plenary interpretation of Scripture. Every minister ordained in Holy Orders in our Church must not only ascent to these Articles, but also accept them as a matter of faith and doctrine. Below is the Article on Grace and election:

ARTICLE XVII. Of Predestination and Election
Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to ever-lasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God’s purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by  God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity. As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wrethchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation. Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God.

            We in the Anglican Orthodox Communion will not compromise on the Articles of Religion or the biblical authority which underlies them.

            Both our Lectionary, Daily Readings, and Collects reinforce Grace as the underlying means of our Salvation and not any works, or even thoughts, of man. This upcoming Sunday is the 17th Sunday after Trinity. Please examine the Prayer of Collect and its meaning for that day:

The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

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ORD, we pray thee that thy grace may always prevent[2] and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

            This Collect reminds me of a fundamental principle of learning – there are others, but this one is applicable to today’s  Collect. That principle is repetition aids retention. It was one of those laws with which I became intimately familiar and one which I employed to great effect in my career in the training and education of military aviators. A maneuver often repeated will be remembered easily. A certain rule of meteorology, or of aerodynamics, often repeated and tested, will be retained over the lifetime of the military pilot. The Bible itself is a monument to this principle. We see the same principles of salvation, redemption, sanctification, etc., featured in multi-faceted accounts throughout the Holy Bible, and much to our profit. The same is true of the Collects which are, themselves, based on scriptural truths.

            I once read of an event in the ministry of the great Charles Spurgeon in England. Mr. Spurgeon had given the exact SAME sermon four Sundays in a row. Frustrated and a bit indignant, one of the congregants asked him if he was aware that he had given the same sermon four Sundays running. Yes, I am aware of it, responded Spurgeon. But why the same sermon four times? asked the congregant. That is simple to explain, replied Spurgeon. When you begin to heed the sermon, I will go on to the next.

            LORD, we pray thee that thy grace may always prevent and follow us It is a mighty comfort to know that God’s grace not only follows in the wake of our service as the people of God, but even PRECEDES (another meaning of prevent) the Elect in his/her daily walk. We do not worry about walking down a darkened path upon which the Lord has set our foot, because we KNOW that He is ever both BEHIND and BEFORE us. He is as the Pillar of Cloud by Day, and Pillar of Fire by Night, to both lead and follow His people in the Wilderness journey of this world. If God places our feet on a path, we must go the distance in faith no matter the utter desolation along the way. I am reminded of a quote by the scientist, Robert Jastrow (an agnostic at best) who ironically wrote in his book, God and the AstronomersFor the scientist who has lived by faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.

            …..and make us continually to be given to all good works. How can we be given to good works?  It must have become a feature of our changed nature at the moment of conversion, and the sanctification that is to follow that conversion. It is the empowering genius of the Holy Spirit. Certainly, our salvation is none of our own doing, but the pure and whole work of grace; yet, the evidence of our salvation is the good works and purity of life that follows the soul’s salvation.

            Our revered and martyred Archbishop Cranmer translated this Collect from the Sacramentary of Gregory. The Latin word from which he translated the word ‘continually’ is uigiter. This Latin word means  like an overflowing stream. The grace granted to us to be called the sons and daughters of God is that same ceaseless grace that enables and directs our paths in righteous living. It is a sanctifying grace that continually refines our souls as the Refiners Fire. It never ceases, never becomes inadequate – but is ALWAYS profuse and wonderful in abundance. Lord, gives us that grace that inspired the early church to stand against a world of ignorance and superstition. Is the world so different today from that of the first century Romans?

            An army in the field needs certain provision. It needs, first of all, a logistical train that follows in its path. But even more important: it needs a leader to go before. The Captain of the Corps sets the standard in courage, resourcefulness, perseverance, and conduct. We have the resources of heaven upon which to call for our supply and logistical base, and we have the Lord Jesus Christ as the Captain of our souls who has already scouted out, mapped, and led the way to the field of battle. He stands as the Ensign at the extreme edge of the Battlefield urging us, not to go, but to FOLLOW Him! What a wonderful God, and magnificent Lord who both leads and follows! Have you called upon that abundant provision of God? Have you looked to the Field Commander as your inspiration and courage to advance against the enemy (Satan and his legions)?


[1] Arminian  - relating to the doctrines of Jacobus Arminius (Latinized name of Jakob Hermandszoon, 1560–1609), a Dutch Protestant theologian who rejected the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. His teachings had a considerable influence on Methodism.

[2]                 Prevent is a word that has many uses, and at least one has fallen out of general usage as time has gone on.  This is one of them.  In this case the word prevent means to go before.  Before you object to archaic words, consider this is a current word, it just has a use you may not have been aware of and now you are!  What a bonus for this week!