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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

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Devotion for Sunday Evening 1 May 2011 Anno Domini Shadows of Communion with Christ - “Open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.” ( Pro

Devotion for Sunday Evening 1 May 2011 Anno Domini Shadows of Communion with Christ - “Open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.” ( Prov 20:13)
A good friend on one of the AOC forums gave me the insight to write upon the necessity, in this devotion, of taking the Lord’s Supper and “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25) The counsels of the devil are always conceived by him for our ruin. – “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Gen 3:5) Yes, their eyes were opened and they began to know good from evil, but they did not become as God. Their eyes were opened now to their sin and depravity – their nakedness and in need of a covering for it. “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. (Gen 3:7) Unfortunately, fig leaves, or any other man made device, were not sufficient to cover neither their nakedness nor their sins. “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Gen 3:21). There had been no death enter the Garden until Adam sinned. His sin brought on death to all living things. God sacrificed an innocent animal (perhaps a lamb) to cover the nakedness (or sin) of Adam and Eve. This is a foreshadowing of the necessity for a Redeemer in the form of the Lamb of God. Their eyes were opened to sin – how much more joyful when they are opened to the Bread of Life.
There is an account in the Book of Genesis of the eyes of another being opened to salvation. Those were the eyes of poor Hagar, the servant girl of Sarah, who had given birth to a son for Abraham. This son was Ishmael and not the promised Seed which God had promised to both Abraham and Sarah. Sarah, seeing that Ishmael was jealous of Isaac, demanded that Abraham send the child and his mother, Hagar, away. This matter grieved Abraham, but God told him to do as Sarah said. So he sent her away with bread, and a bottle of water, and she wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba until the water was exhausted the child was near death. “And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.” Only a mother can appreciate the pain and grief of Hagar’s heart – and the Lord does as well. When the water is spent and hope fails, we lift our voices in despair. Do you believe that the God who allows not a sparrow to fall to the earth without His knowledge does not know when one made after His image falls into despair? He will come to you in your moments of greatest need. Often He waits till the need is great to show forth His great Glory and Grace. Though it was Hagar who wept, it was the voice of the innocent child that the Lord heard: “And God heard the voice of the lad where he is.” If we are earnest but know not the way to find the Lord, He will find US. “And the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar?” God wants to hear our confession of our predicament though He knows it already. This is for our own good and understanding. “Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand.” We pray for those we love. We, too, must be a party to their coming to Christ as His Lower Lights. “And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.” (Gen 21:14-19).
Hagar’s eyes were opened to the water of life in Beersheba. The well of water had always been there, but she was blinded to it by her tears. Often God provides the very answers to our distress but we fail to see it due to our blinding tears. God is definitely in the business of opening eyes, but He desires that we make appeal and hear His Voice. He opened the eyes of Balaam to an Angel. (Num 22:31). He opened the eyes of the servant of Elisha to see a host of bright angels protecting them from the enemy host. He blinded the eyes of the enemy to allow their defeat and capture, and He opened their eyes to observe their defeat by God’s people. (2 Kings 6:15-20). But to God’s people, He opens their eyes to beauty and great wonders: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.(Psalms 119:18). As we studied in the morning devotion from the Gospel of Luke 24:13-35, God opens our eyes through our partaking of the Bread and Blood of Life symbolically and actually present in the elements of the Communion. We saw how the eyes of the two men of Emmaus were opened when “he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.” What a wonderful allusion to the Lord’s Supper! Their eyes were opened and they KNEW Him! They knew He was with them and, even though He vanished from visual sight, He was present in spiritual form with them and abode with them as He does with us. Does your heart burn within your breast when Christ has revealed Himself to you? “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” When He talks with us by the way, and opens to us the Scriptures, do we not KNOW He is with us? The Sacrament of Holy Communion is an essential aspect of our love and worship of Christ. More than this, it is a commandment of the Lord that we do so: “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.” Our eyes are more opened to His presence among us when we receive, aright, the Bread and Wine of the Communion. It does represent, powerfully, His Body and Blood given for us. “Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20). Receiving the Communion is not a casual favor you pay to God; it is a duty and a means of Grace. Would you have your eyes opened on Galilee’s shore? Receive the Bread of Life. Would you have your heart burn within your breast at His Loving presence? Make your heart His abode at Emmaus, or wherever your feet wonder. As He called Bartimaeous, He calls to you: “Be of good comfort, rise; he calleth thee.” (Mark 10:49)

Devotion for Sunday, 1 May 2011 Anno Domini

Devotion for Sunday, 1 May 2011 Anno Domini
13 And, 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? 19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. 22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; 23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. 25 Then he said unto them, 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. 28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. 30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? 33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, 34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. 35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread. (Luke 24:13-35)

This account today regarding the two men travelling to Emmaus has profound sacramental implications. Space will not permit a full study, but we shall use what space we have.

These two disciples are travelling from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the day of the Resurrection and they are despondent over what they perceive to be the conclusion of their walk with Christ. “And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.” Jesus Himself and they did not know Him! How often we suffer nagging doubts and believe God is far from us while He walks right at our side! They were discussing ‘all these things which had happened in the last three days: “What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?” Cleopas responds, “Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?” Amazing! ALL THESE THINGS are all about Christ, and these two ask Him if He is a stranger in Jerusalem? There is much spiritual irony in that question. “What things?” God asks us to be precise in our prayers. What troubles thee? Tell me so we can turn your sorrow to joy! “And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him, But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.”

These men were looking for a temporal deliverer to free them from Roman rule. Because they had not correlated the Old Testament prophecies with all that Christ was, and said, they were looking for the wrong thing. If we listen intently, and study the scriptures diligently, it will be less likely that the words of any lover of filthy lucre can deceive us. “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” Had they not listened? Had they not believed what He Himself told them, or at least, what the prophets had said concerning Him? “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” ALL the Scriptures give testimony of Him. He is in the first verse of the Book of Genesis and the last verse of Revelations – and all in between!

And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.” The Spaniards have a beautiful way of referring to Christ – Jesu es el Senor! Jesus is a gentleman! And so He is! He will not impose on our liberties, but He will certainly provide us the only true Liberty to be had. The men, marveling at His words, insisted that He “Abide with us.” Isn’t that EXACTLY what Christ does when He comes to us – not as a casual visitor, but He comes to abide (live) with us? So He came into the home of the two disciples. “And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.” Yes, BREAD! Here is a striking allusion to the benefits of the Holy Communion! He took bread, and blessed it, and break it, and gave to them. What are the benefits of the Communion? We partake, in a most powerful way, of the Presence of Christ Himself. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24). Our eyes are more opened to know His presence at Communion, and He has commanded us to do it. And though “…He vanished out of their sight.” He still was with them – abiding! We may not see the physical Presence of Christ at Communion Hour, but He is there with us as much as with the men of Emmaus. The grain which fell into the earth and died was our Lord Jesus Christ. The fruit from that grain has produced, and is producing, thousands of grains. The Communion of the Lord’s Supper is a close Communion with Christ and, too, all those who are the fruit of that single grain. Do you have the nature of that Grain? Are you, too, producing fruit?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Devotion for Saturday, 30 April 2011 Anno Domini

Devotion for Saturday, 30 April 2011 Anno Domini

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? 21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. 23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? 24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. (John 21:15-25)

In order to fully grasp the meaning of the text today, we must consider the events that have preceded. Jesus informed His disciples on the night of the Last Supper that He will be offered up and that they will be greatly offended (troubled) by these events. Peter protests that he will not be offended even if ALL others (including the present disciples) be offended, but Jesus tells him: “Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.” (Matt 26:34-35) Peter is not being deceptive here. He truly believes what he says. He doesn’t know his own heart as well as Christ knows it. Peter did, indeed, deny Christ three times before the cock crowed, and we read an account from Luke about the last denial. Peter was gathered with others around a fire at the court of Caiaphas when the third charge was made that Peter was a disciple of Christ: “And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:60-62)

Please consider how bitter were the tears of Peter. Peter was not, by nature, a coward. While in the direct presence of Christ in the Garden, he was willing to resist with the sword the entire armed contingent sent to arrest his LORD. But now, he was separated from Christ’s presence, and his courage failed him. Of course, Satan was stalking Peter to devour him just as he stalks every child of God. “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32). Peter was not yet fully converted prior to the crucifixion, and our weakest moment comes when we are not fully converted.

“The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” (Deut 29:29). Though there be obvious gems of mystery included in the text, the LORD gives us enough discernment to discover wonderful truths through diligent study of His Word – not a good man’s opinion of it, but His Word. When the women were at the Garden Tomb and discovered it empty, the Angel told them, “But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee.” (Mark 16:7). How marvelous that Christ would have Peter specifically told! It must have given great comfort to Peter on hearing those words after the anguish he had felt over his denial.

Now, Peter is sitting around another fire, but with Jesus this time. It was on this same shoreline of Galilee where Peter first followed Christ. (Matt 4:18). As they sit around the fire, Peter must have remembered standing around another fire at the court of Caiaphas at which place he had denied Christ the third time. The memory of that look Christ gave him on the third denial had tortured his conscience ever since. Peter had proudly boasted that he was the one who would never deny Christ even if all the others did. Now Christ asked: “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” In other words, “do you love me more than these other disciples love me? They denied me not during the long night of trial. Do you love me more than these?” Peter no longer boasted of being more committed than the others. He simply responded, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” Indeed, Peter had come to realize that Christ DID know all that was in his heart! Jesus responded, “Feed my lambs.” (Feed my innocent ones who need to be led).
Christ asks Peter three times in all if he loved Him. The last time: “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” Peter had denied Christ thrice, and now Christ asks this revealing question thrice. Peter knew that Christ knew all things, hidden or unhidden. Christ then tells Peter in what he manner he shall die: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.” Peter’s claim would be partly true – He would die with Christ in this life.

Christ tells Peter to follow Him at this time. Peter does so. As he turns to look back, he sees the disciple that Jesus loves (John) following. John’s heart is so full of love for the Shepherd that he must always follow whether invited or not! Peter also love John. They have labored together to catch the fish of the sea and the fish of the world. Peter may hae been concerned that his friend not die a cruel death as Peter himself would do. “Lord, and what shall this man do?” “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.” And the Gospel of John ends with these two close disciples following Christ as they had done since the first encounter on the shores of Galilee. Are you still following the one who saved you by His Grace and Mercy?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Devotion for Friday 29 April 2011 Anno Domini

Devotion for Friday 29 April 2011 Anno Domini
1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. 2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. 6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. 8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. 9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. 10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. 11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. 12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. (John 21:1-14)

The modern observance of Easter is very different from that of the real Easter 2000 years ago. There were neither pagan trappings nor allusion to bunny rabbits and eggs. It was a time of serious contemplation, danger, and joy as well. The Apostles were uncertain of their duties following the crucifixion. At a time of uncertainty, Peter decided to return to an activity with which he felt comfortable. “Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee.” They have returned to the Sea of Galilee (Tiberias) to conduct their fishing. The Jordan River flows from the snowy heights of Mt Hermon to the north, enters the Sea of Galilee on the north side and emerges from Galilee on the south winding its way through fertile bands of green. The bed through which the river flows would be barren except for the river. It winds its way down, and down, to the Dead Sea where it dies in a wilderness of desert salts. The Jordan is a relatively short river – about one hundred miles in length, yet every where it flows, it brings life. The Sea of Galilee is a stir with life and rich in fishes. It is a rich sea because it gives up on the south all that flows into it from the north. But the Dead Sea has no outlet. It gives NOTHING up and it is dead! The course of the River Jordan is much like the life of Christ – short in duration, giving life everywhere it goes, and dying in the wilderness of our sins.

The disciples fished all night to no avail. Joy so often comes at the morning hour! When dawn began to break, the disciples were near to shore. They beheld a stranger standing on the shoreline who cried out to them, “Children, have ye any meat?” They answered “no.” “And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.” This must have seemed somewhat ridiculous that a stranger, not even engaged in the trade of fishing, should give suggestions on where and how to fish, but they obeyed. We are unable to do the works of the Lord with the arm of flesh – we must do so under His power and His authority. A long night of labor may yield nothing, but five minutes following Christ leads to overwhelming success! “They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.” This reminds us of another episode of fishing at Christ’s command which yielded an overwhelming abundance. (Luke 5). John, the beloved disciple said to Peter: “It is the Lord.” Strong affection is more likely to recognize its bounty than simple acquaintance. Peter, ever the impulsive one, was naked; yet, he girded himself up with a fisher’s coat and plunged into the sea without delay. It would have made more sense to remove extra clothing before swimming. He had much to amend, he may have felt, after his denial of Christ three times in one night. The others followed in a boat, dragging the huge net of fishes.

“As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.” These men had labored all night and were obviously famished. What a kindness of Christ to consider their physical hunger as well as that spiritual hunger which had lingered sin that night in the Garden. He has a fish and perhaps a loaf of bread. With Christ, that would always be enough since He was able to feed more than 5,000 with only two fishes and five loaves, but He desires that we bring our reward with us, too. We are fishers of men, and we must not return to the Lord empty handed. “Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.” There were 153 fishes in the net, and this time, the net was not broken as before. There is much speculation about the number of fish representing every nation then extant at the time. This I do not know and therefore cannot say with authority. But the work of Redemption by Christ had been finished at Golgotha and the Garden Tomb. So the net held THIS time!

Jesus gave the same invitation He gives to believers today: “Come and dine.” All knew this ‘stranger’ to be the Lord. We still must recognize Him by our side in our struggles, on the shore of our night labors, always working His will in our lives and ALWAYS with us! “Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.” A wholesome bite of bread must come from a larger wholesome loaf. Christ is our Bread of Life. He is the Word and the Truth. But bread is even more appetizing when we have our fishes to go with it. We carry the Bread to the seas of life, and we catch fish for the Lord and bring them to His presence – whether by the Galilean Sea, or the shores of the Mississippi. He will then give us to eat of our reward. And we must remember: our reward is not gold and silver, but fish from the seas of life. So, friend, you have labored long and prospered nothing. The stranger on the shore, which is NOT a stranger, beckons to cast your labors in another direction. Our labors have been marked by greed and infidelity. Will you hear the voice from the Shore?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Devotion for Thursday, 28 April 2011 Anno Domini

Devotion for Thursday, 28 April 2011 Anno Domini
24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.
26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:24-31

The text today regards one called Doubting Thomas. He doubted for only hours, but the reputation has adhered across the centuries. One remarkable indiscretion or doubt by a child of God can have an impact for longer than we desire to think. Thomas seems to have been quite encouraging and bold back before Christ raised Lazarus. When Christ announced that Lazarus was dead and that he must go to him, Thomas said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16) This act of courage we dismiss from our memories and only recall specifically his doubts.
If any man tells me that he has never had doubts, I must question his honesty. We all are confronted with doubts and worries. When we have done what we consider to be the biblical approach to preaching and teaching, doubts may nonetheless arise when there seems to be no response among those to whom we have preached. It is at such times that we must recall that we only plant the seeds in the soil. It then becomes the role of the Holy Spirit to cause those seeds of Truth to germinate in darkness. One day, perhaps when we have moved on, the plant may burst forth into the glorious sunlight despite our former doubts.
Perhaps to Thomas, the reports of Christ’s resurrection were so full of the potential for joy that he feared to believe lest the reports were false and his disappointment too enormous to bear? We cannot say because only God can see into the depths of another’s heart. “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” It is most likely that Thomas was not altogether truthful here for it seems that when Christ appeared in the midst, Thomas did not consider it necessary to delve his fingers into the nail prints, or to thrust his hand into His pierced side. He believed on appearance! “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.” Christ knows the heart without words. He knew of Thomas’ doubts and was willing to satisfy them. “ Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” This must have been a most painful rebuke to Thomas. There is no record of further doubts in the life of Thomas. If we were so faithful after a single doubt, we would be strong in faith, indeed.
Without further delay, Thomas immediately believed: “My Lord and my God,” he proclaimed to Christ. He presumably did so without further investigation. Too many of us need visual, instead of spiritual, proof of God’s dealing with us.
“Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Thus Jesus describes the faith of our present generation, but also the myriads of people who lived in the days of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! I call to record two witnesses: “Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.” (Luke 20:37-38), and: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” (John 8:56). The faith of Abraham must surpass the faith of us all in that Abraham looked forward to the coming of Christ by faith! We, today, on the other hand, look back upon the accomplished historical fact! But the issue remains that belief and faith is a condition of the heart and not visual science. Christ tells us of Abraham’s response to the rich man in hell when he conversed with poor Lazarus: “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)
If we do not believe Moses and the prophets, as well as all that is recorded in the Gospels and Epistles, neither shall WE believe though One (Jesus Christ) rose from the dead. The modern and casual Christian seeks signs and wonders – something beyond the biblical account! How sad. The hearts of such false professors are blinded by the stony deposits which have accumulated as a covering over their hearts. They cannot believe because they WILL not believe.
The admonition of Christ rings loud and clear: “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Matt 12:39-40) That is it! You need no more proof for faith than that. Christ died for our sins, and He rose again according to the Scriptures. This truly is an evil and adulterous generation, so be satisfied with the faith of Abraham and all the Apostles! Are you?

Devotion for Wednesday 27 April 2011 Anno Domini

Devotion for Wednesday 27 April 2011 Anno Domini
19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. (John 20:19-23)

“Then the same day at evening” that is, the first day of the week, the same day when the women had gone early to find the vacant tomb. The time was a time of growing darkness (evening). The disciples, though they had hearsay evidence of Christ’s resurrection, it was not as certain to them as a first hand witness. When the hour grows dark, the LORD may surprise us with Light!

“When the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews,” there comes an unexpected joy! Men tend to gather around common fears in time of trouble. These men were fearful of the same evil men as those who crucified our Lord. They were in reclusive retreat. Do not judge them harshly for we would, beyond doubt, be of the same frame of mind under similar conditions. But here they had gathered quietly and inconspicuously. There was no singing and no praising. Despair was in the air. They had shut and secured the door against ALL comers.

“Came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” The disciples had certainly not expected this ‘intruder.’ “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them!” (Matt 18:20). Jesus always provides that which is most needful. These men feared for their lives and yearned, beyond measure, for peace. At just such a time, Christ the “Sun of Righteousness arises with healing in His wings.” (Mal 4:2) He stood in the very midst of them so that all could equally view His presence and know it to be Him. No doors will separate Him from His people for He, Himself, is the Door to the Sheepfold!

“And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.” Though we may hide ourselves from man and God, He will not hide Himself from us when we gather in His name. He never comes in a doubtful fashion, or as an imposter. He proves Himself by the terrible wounds of His crucifixion. This could leave no doubt in the minds of the disciples as to His identity. They were well aware of the cruel ten inch nails driven through His Hands and Feet, and of the terrible pierce made into His side which made an opening in His heart for those of us of later ages to enter therein. They were glad when they saw the LORD. Should we not be glad also? We may be made glad by seeing Him through His Word, for He is the Word. And the Comforter will always point to Him if we seek Him.

“Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” Do not believe that I come bringing more fears and trouble than you presently have had. Jesus reinforces His greeting of peace by reiterating it. Anything which comes to us, the believers, from the Father will always be for our good. The Father has sent Christ to us! We often reflect on the great love of Christ in suffering for us on the cross – and that love is, indeed, beyond any which we can imagine. But how often do we consider the immeasurable love of the Father in sending us His Well-Beloved and Only-Begotten Son to suffer the insults, offences, and torture of the cross for us. You may take it as a given that the Father suffered every whit as much as the Son (and maybe even more). The Father, in His abundant Love, sent His Son Jesus, to die for us - but not to die only, also to rise as well from the Tomb for us. Jesus was the perfectly obedient and loving Son. He did all that His Father had required. And He, too, acted out of an abundance of love which mortals cannot comprehend! His dying paid the price for our redemption. His resurrection assures us of a home in Heaven!
But we must know that love is the great power which drew Christ to the Cross. That love gift from the Father in sending His Son is now to be our own model in being sent by Christ into the whole world to preach the Gospel to all nations, tribes, and tongues.

“And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.” This act was to impart the breath of God (inspiration) to the Apostles to carry forth the evangelizing Gospel and, in so doing, act with heavenly authority.

“Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” What meaning do we associate with this counsel of Christ? Does the priest or minister possess power to forgive, or forego forgiveness of sins? Not at all. But having received the breath and inspiration Christ, we may clearly act in accordance with His Word to declare the forgiveness of sins which God has assured all who forsake and repent of sin. The best explanation I have seen is that of the great Bible scholar and teacher, Matthew Henry:
“He said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost, thus showing that their spiritual life, as well as all their ability for their work, would be derived from him, and depended upon him. Every word of Christ which is received in the heart by faith, comes accompanied by this Divine breathing; and without this there is neither light nor life. Nothing is seen, known, discerned, or felt of God, but through this. After this, Christ directed the apostles to declare the only method by which sin would be forgiven. This power did not exist at all in the apostles as a power to give judgment, but only as a power to declare the character of those whom God would accept or reject in the day of judgment. They have clearly laid down the marks whereby a child of God may be discerned and be distinguished from a false professor; and according to what they have declared shall every case be decided in the day of judgment.”

Do we bear these marks?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Devotion for Easter Tuesday, 26 April 2011 Anno Domini

Devotion for Easter Tuesday, 26 April 2011 Anno Domini
1 I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me. 2 O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me. 3 O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. 4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. 5 For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
6 And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved. 7 LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. 8 I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication. 9 What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth? 10 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. 11 Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; 12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever. (Psalms 30:1-12)

“I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.” How often are we made low by the tongues and blows of our enemy, and we think all is lost; but it is the patience of the saints to wait upon the Hand of the Lord in all our trials. He will always bring things right. Though we may be hard pressed by the foe and seemingly conquered, the Lord will surely lift you up out of the mire and place your feet on solid ground. He will not allow the enemy of the saints to rejoice for very long at a presumed victory. Suddenly, they discover that they have not fared well and the saint is lifted up.

“O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me.” Crying out to the Lord is not done meekly and in low tones. We must unashamedly call upon Him when the conflict becomes too bold. As Peter, when he was bade to walk upon the sea and saw the wind boisterous, began to sink into the depths. He had no leisure for sophisticated words and terms in prayer. He cared not how the prayer sounded to his companions in the boat, but he was concerned for his own survival. At such a time, nothing else matters but a desperate prayer. Christ was his only hope – just as He is OUR only hope. He cried out a three-word prayer, “LORD, save me!” The Christian life is not comprised of smooth seas and gentle breezes. Often we must confront great dangers with faith and courage. But the battle belongs to the LORD and He often reminds us of that need to call upon His name even in urgency.

“O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.” The moment of our birth, our lives begin a march toward death. We are born as good as dead, for without an intervention, death is a certainty to all men. But there remains to us, by the unmerited Grace of God, an intervention that will spare our lives from eternal death. “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” (Col 2:13). All who know not the Grace of God are already dead in their sins, but He has given all who call upon His Name the great blessing of eternal life through the grace of Jesus Christ.
“Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.” Yes, the Christian has cause to sing! Cause, because of the joy he has attained in his salvation, and joy in the act of singing those praises at the remembrance of the goodness and mercy of the LORD.
“For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Here, we have one of the most beautiful passages in Scripture! First, the anger of the Lord toward His people is not a withering anger – it is the kind of anger a loving father feels for an erring child. It looms large to us, but passes over in a moment. Our walk in this world is very like a walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. We face great sorrows, but also are blessed with the certain knowledge that, to the People of God, death is not real, but only a ‘shadow’. We have ever with us as a comfort the Lily of the Valleys (note the plural form from SS 2:1). And we have above us the Bright and Morning Star to be a star of promise of the coming Day Star! It broods over our heads all through the night of our walk, and is the last star of heaven to disappear as the Day Star arises. Just as the tears of sorrow the disciples shed during the long night while Christ was in the Tomb, so may our tears be. However, when the night is past, and the morning begins to dawn, we discover that our tears were not warranted. The joy of daybreak consumes us!
“And in my prosperity I said, I shall never be moved.” When we most believe that we are doing well by our own works, God will remind us that our works have not profited. Pride of position will lead to dismal failure. It is the work of Christ IN us that we must covet. “LORD, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.” The favor of God is always greater than His anger. His anger is temporary, but His favor is forever. God cannot look upon a proud look, or a sinful heart. He turns His face away, and we are troubled. “I cried to thee, O LORD; and unto the LORD I made supplication.” Sin has separated us from our Fountainhead of Life. But we repent in earnest, seek His face, and He will hear us and restore us to His precious favor.
“What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?” No, our blood also becomes dust in the grave. Our blood cannot avail. But there is a saving blood that endures eternally – the Blood of Jesus Christ shed for us!
“Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper.” The moment this prayer is uttered, mercy begins to flow down to us. When I was a little child, I remember telling my father not to help me when I undertook some project which was clearly beyond my ability to complete. I wanted to prove that I was grown up enough to perform it without his assistance. When I came near to ruining the whole affair, I meekly went to my father and asked, “Dad, could you help me complete this?” My father never once said “No,” but smiled and rolled up his sleeves to help me. God has a better Father Heart than any earthly father is able to have.
“Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness.” He does all things well including reverses our sorrows, our mourning, and sad countenance into joyful dancing and gladness.
“To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.” God will loan us glory in our dark despair. He will gladden our hearts to the point that they cannot be silent. They will burst out in praise and singing to the Lord who made us. How long does David say he will give thanks? FOREVER! Not for the simple years of a man’s life, but FOREVER – both on earth, and in Heaven! We can merit no mercy from God, but He grants us ‘unmerited’ Grace and Mercy which makes us to know that we may always flee to Him in all our struggles. Can you do this today, my friend? Perhaps you need to draw nearer to Him today!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lenten Devotion (Easter Even) for 23 April 2011 Anno Domini

Lenten Devotion (Easter Even) for 23 April 2011 Anno Domini
38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.39 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.42 There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand. (John 19:38-42)

Pilate was, by the common standard, a fairly decent fellow, but he feared the Jews and lack courage. He turned to political correctness in the time of judgment instead of righteous judgment. Unfortunately, the common standard does not qualify for salvation. In the end, Pilate was a lost soul. Knowing Christ to be innocent, he nonetheless allowed injustice to be done when he had the power to disallow it.
Christ languished on the Cross until the ninth hour (3 PM) at which time He gave up the ghost. The Sabbath would begin at sundown, so the Jews prevailed upon Pilate to have the bodies removed prior to that time so as not to defile the Sabbath.

“ And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.” (John 19:38-39)
We may observe that Joseph of Arimathaea was a good man and a counselor. He had also been a secret follower of Christ since his position would have been in jeopardy had the knowledge of his discipleship become public. But now, at the moment of greatest danger, he no longer remains a secret follower, but a public one. He even goes to the Roman administrator, Pontius Pilate, to beg the body of Christ which was granted. Another came with him, by name, Nicodemus – the one who previously came at night, but now openly. When our faith becomes strong, we are no longer ashamed to proclaim our faith in Christ. He was buried in the grave of the wealthy.
“Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.” (John 19:40-42)
All things concerning Christ were prophesied hundreds of years earlier – His birth, His Life, His death on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection:
“6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. (Isaiah 53:6-9)
On this particular Sabbath, two thousand years ago, Christ did indeed rest in the Tomb. Even in death, He obeyed and fulfilled the Old Testament Sabbath Law that we might enjoy an eternal Sabbath rest in Him, for He is not only our Passover, but our Sabbath as well.
There is an old saying that the greatest silence is just before the storm. I believe it. The greatest event in the history of the world is about to transpire around the silence of a Tomb! Who would suspect that the Tomb, being a place for the dead, would become the source of Life Eternal through a risen Savior? The disciples, fearful and devastated, are in hiding. All there hopes were centered on a limited knowledge of who and what Christ was. Soon those doubts and fears will turn to joy and courage beyond anything the world has seen before. We wait and watch. The Great Gift is about to be Given……….

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lenten Devotion (Evening) for Thursday 21 April 2011 Anno Domini

Lenten Devotion (Evening) for Thursday 21 April 2011 Anno Domini
1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. 9I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:1-26)
Covering this beautiful prayer of our Lord in one short devotion, I must admit, is a rather daunting undertaking. Its rich expression and majesty of meaning is expressive on a level far above that of mankind to communicate. But I shall do my best.

The prayer, to which popular reference is made as the ‘Lord’s Prayer,’ found in Matthew 6:9-13 should more properly be called the disciples’ (or Apostles’) prayer, for it is the kind of prayer Christ has instructed us to make as a model for all our prayers. Moreover, that prayer is a ‘communal’ prayer. It begins with ‘Our Father’ and not ‘My Father.’ The prayer of the lectionary text today is more properly the Lord’s Prayer because it is the kind of prayer that could only have been uttered by Christ and none other. He is about to suffer a most hateful death, yet He asks the Father to keep from evil and to sanctify those whom the Father has placed in His hand; and not them only, but all who, by the Grace of God, may believe, in future times, the testimony of the Apostles.

There is an amazing preponderance of love expressed by Christ in this prayer – love for the Father, but also an incredible love for those who have believed His Word and WILL believe His Word. The love of Christ for us is not confined to His own Heart, but also is manifested in the Heart of the Father. “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.” To know Christ is to know the Father. To love Christ is to love the Father. To be known and loved by Christ is to be known and loved by the Father for they are One without division of love and knowledge.

“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” If we belong to Christ it is because the Father has drawn us and placed us in His Hand. He chose us – we did not choose Him! Judas was never, in fact, chosen. Being the ‘son of perdition’, his soul was eternally damned. He was never called nor chosen to be in the kingdom. He was chosen with the full knowledge of Christ that He was a devil in order that all things might be fullfilled. (John 6:70). Each of us, being called and chosen, is set apart (or anointed) by God to fulfill His will in our lives. We must be diligent to discover that calling and be actively seeking to perform His purpose. Unfortunately, Judas had a black heart which was never a friend of Christ.

“As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.” Christ sends us into the world in the same way that the Father sent His Son. This is a sobering truth. How much like Christ are we to the world? Are we compassionate to the wretched sinner in seeking his amendment and salvation? Do we abhor false prophets and the hypocrisy of ministers in search of filthy lucre? Do we love, above all else, Truth?

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” Just as surely is God’s Word involved in judgment is it involved with sanctification. The truth is a purifier of hearts and a revealer of sin. His Word is truth and there are no other words of men which can compare. Truth will set us free, or condemn us.

“That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” Even though there were eight souls and a conglomeration of animal life on the Ark, still it is referred to as the Ark – not the Ark with each creature aboard. When we are in Christ, we are likewise ONE with Him and, if ONE with Him, then ONE with the Father. This is such grace that we can be privileged to be one with the Father and the Son.

Time will not permit a fair study of this Lord’s Prayer in the context of a devotion, but its beauty is beyond measure even if time were available. Consider the great and profound Words of Christ in this prayer and ask you soul, “Am I striving to live up to the expectations which Christ has measured to me?”

Lenten Devotion (Morning) for 21 April 2011 Anno Domini (Maundy Thursday)

Lenten Devotion (Morning) for 21 April 2011 Anno Domini (Maundy Thursday)

18 I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. 19 Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he. 20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. 21 When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22 Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. 23 Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. 25 He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? 26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. 28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. 29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night. 31 Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. 34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
36 Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards. 37 Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. 38 Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice. (John 13:18-38)

After washing the disciples’ feet, the Lord says that they are clean altogether if their feet of travel are clean, but He adds: “Ye are not all clean.” (John 13:11) There are times when an entire church is blessed beyond measure, but there are some present whose hearts are full of treachery. As whited sepulchers, they appear beautiful and varnished, but are rotting inside. Christ continues: “I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.” There is one Judas Iscariot whose feet Jesus lovingly bathed even knowing what was in his heart to do. Christ always KNOWS His own! Though there may be many wolves in sheep’s clothing lurking about the sanctuary, Christ knows sheep from wolves. He tells them beforetimes so that they will remember and believe all that He has spoken to them.

“When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” When one has traveled through many adventures with another purporting to be a close friend, imagine the pain of heart in realizing that the one for whom you have loved and done many kindnesses, beyond measure, will betray you. If you will again recall daVinci’s painting of the Last Supper, you will note that Judas sits to the right of our Lord clutching in his right hand the money bag. All faces are reflecting light from the torches except that of Judas. His face is in shadow. The salt shaker has been turned over on its side. To spill salt was a bad omen in the olden days. Peter holds a knife pointed away from Judas’ back. This signifies that Judas will die by violence, but not at another’s hand. Our Lord has said that it would have been better for Judas had he never been born. (Matthew 26:24).

“He it is, to whom I shall give a sop.” Jesus leaves no doubt regarding the man of perdition. “And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And after the sop Satan entered into him.” Who keeps the door to your heart? If you are truly Christian, Christ is the Door! But the door to the heart of Judas was open to Satan to come and go as he pleased. ‘When a strong man, well armed, keepeth his house, his goods are secure. But when a stronger than he comes, he will take the house and spoil his goods.’ Our goods are filthy rags apart from the righteousness of Christ. Christ can drive out the interloper and take possession of the house (heart). But Judas made no such provision to invite Christ as his heart’s doorkeeper. Christ handed the sop to Judas! “He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.” Please consider this deeply for your own soul’s benefit. Having known and received the blessings of God, dare we betray Him by our conduct? Judas, a most tragic figure, went out from the Supper “and it was night!” Such an Eternity of night in Hell did Judas go out into. He went out into the darkness, and he came again under cover of darkness, to the Garden with guards in tow to betray Jesus. What a terrible indictment and predicament for such a one as Judas.

“Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.” It is likely that the diciples would not want to come there with there present state of faith. Christ now re-emphasizes His overriding commandment: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” We are to love one another as Christ loved us. Husbands, do you love your wives as Christ loved the Church? More so, do you love each believer with a like kind of love?

“Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” Peter presumes much of himself: “Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.” When Peter was in the presence of Christ, he did, indeed, have great courage. It was Peter who thrust his sword at the guard in the Garden and severed his ear which Christ restored. But once he no longer enjoyed the presence of Christ, he became just another coward. He denied Christ three times during the night before His crucifixion. Yet, Christ loved Peter in spite of knowing his every weakness. That is how He loves you and me. It is not because of our goodness, but in spite of our weakness in living. “Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.” I wonder if Peter at the time could even imagine how precisely that prophecy would be fulfilled. A newsman once asked the great British evangelist, Charles Spurgeon, if he possessed the grace to die for his Lord, to which Spurgeon responded, “No, I do not have the grace to die for Christ.” The newsman, with astonishment, replied, “But Dr. Spurgeon, you are the most renowned minister in England. If you have not the grace to die for your Lord, who does have?” Spurgeon said, “I trust when the time comes for me to die for Christ, He will give me the grace at that time.” Have you the grace?

Lenten Devotion (Morning) for 20 April 2011 Anno Domini

Lenten Devotion (Morning) for 20 April 2011 Anno Domini
1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. 2 They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. 3 And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? 6 But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. 8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: 9 Of sin, because they believe not on me; 10 Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; 11 Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. 12 I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. 13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. (John 16:1-15)

The Lord Jesus Christ, not wanting us to be taken unawares, informs us of the hard persecution that many will suffer for our testimony of Christ. He tells us in advance so that we may be armed for the trials. This is much unlike the false hope offered by those proclaiming that the saints will be “raptured’ out of the world prior to the onset of the tribulation. “They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.” This has been happening for quite a long time, and its frequency is increasing today: witness the Islamic radicals beheading those of the western world simply because they identify the West as Christian (O Lord, that it truly WAS Christian). They do so in the name of their false god, Allah! “But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.”

“But now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou?” Amazingly to our ears, none of the disciples bothered to ask where Christ would go when He told them the many times that He must go away! It may be that they had not listened attentively to all of His Words. Or they may have believed that He would die a final death and not rise from the grave until the last trump. But it seems to me that they should have at least inquired further into such a profound mystery. Perhaps we, too, like them, stop short of a fuller inquiry into the mysteries of God contained in Scripture. God wishes to more fully reveal Himself to us if we will only hunger for greater understanding through diligent study.

“But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart.” This statement reveals the ignorance of the disciples to the intent and purpose of Christ’s going. They were ‘sorrowful.’ If we truly know that our loved ones who pass from this life are in better estate, why do we profusely mourn and sorrow? But the purpose of Christ in dying for us is far greater. He must purchase our estate with God by redeeming us from sin with His Own Blood!

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” The Holy Spirit is our Comforter, but He also comes to Reprove of sin and to Judge. This word the world, and many in the church, do not wish to hear. There remaineth a judgment. Please do not dismiss this thought! If the prince of this world (Satan) is judged, how much more his followers in the world! The sinful are being judged even as I write this devotion. It is God’s Word that judges, and the Holy Spirit executes judgment according to that Word.

“ I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” This is also true today. Christ has many things to teach us as Christians, but we cannot bear all at one sitting. We grow through daily sanctification and learning.

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. Please observe herein that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth. The Way has already been established by the Immutable Word of God, but the Holy Spirit will be our guide in revealing the fullness of truth in God’s Word. Here, again, observe that the Holy Spirit will not “speak of Himself.” All of the new so-called revelations of modern religionists who claim the Holy Spirit has revealed a new word apart from that given in Scripture prove themselves to be false prophets. Those claiming to have visited Heaven and returned, or claiming to have been to hell and back (Hell would certainly have kept them), or fixing the hour and day of the return of Christ – all these claims are extra-biblical and, therefore, false. Yes, a spirit has spoken to these wonders of false prophecy, but certainly not the Spirit called Holy! “And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” (John 3:13) If you believe God before men, then why be deceived by these ludicrous claims? Do you believe God? Then believe only Him. “…Let God be true, but every man a liar…” (Romans 3:4) Please let us agree, at least, on that point.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lenten Devotion (Evening) for 19 April 2011 Anno Domini

Lenten Devotion (Evening) for 19 April 2011 Anno Domini
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another. 18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. 23 He that hateth me hateth my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause. 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:17-27)
“These things I command you, that ye love one another.” Here in this verse again we find the direct commandment of Christ for us to love one another. He stresses this over and over again. That lends the commandment a critical importance to the life of the Christian. The world, doubtless, will hate us but we should certainly not hate each other – we should love one another with a deep and abiding love. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” The world loves its own, but the world also instinctively recognizes that the practicing Christian is not of its camp and allegiance. It perceives the Christian as the enemy of all that it represents and, therefore, hates the Christian and his Church. “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” How will the world recognize, with assurety, that we belong to Christ? Hear the words of Christ: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. “ (John 13:35)
The Scriptures teach us that, once we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, we may have an easy ride of it, right? WRONG! The world offers many presumed privileges to its own, but it withholds privilege to the Christian. It actively seeks to smother faith in Christ, and this process begins in the life of the Christian at the moment of conversion. “The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.” Why does the world hate you with such intensity? Because Christ turned the tables of the money-changers. He forbids buying and selling in the name of religion! He brought into existence a new standard and a new way that is very unlike the way of the world. He established His Church to stand in stark contrast to the sinfulness of the world. Christ is our Master, the Captain and Bishop of our souls. We follow His Will and, therefore, the world sees Christ, their enemy, in you.
“If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.” Willfull disregard for God’s Word is a mighty sin. They cannot claim ignorance before the law for Christ has clearly told them who He is and why He came. They have no cloke of fig leaves to cover their knowing sin and any attempt to cover them is futility. “He that hateth me hateth my Father also.” Like Father, like Son – like Master, like follower. It is easy to make an unknown god into an ally in every vice, but a known God cannot be re-invented by man. He is immutable and all-sovereign. When Christ revealed the nature of the Father though Himself, the world did not like what it saw. This was a God who had all authority and could not be manipulated for profit or power.
“If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.” If they had not seen with their own eyes the mystery of God in Christ, they may have had some resort to ignorance, but having seen and known, they willingly rejected Christ knowing Him to be the Son of God. To once know God and turn away from Him is a grave breach of faith for which God will bring judgment. This is a cause of great concern for America who has been blessed above every nation on earth for the early righteousness of her people. But modern America has turned to the unclean and immoral things of the world and has called that which is good, evil; and that which is evil, good! Our only refuge is found in 2 Chron 7:14. The principle stated therein does not dictate that all America repent and pray, only those “who are called by My Name!” Christ has performed many marvelous works in America, and we have, finally, rejected the Fountain of Living Waters. (Jer 17:13).
“But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.” The Father is a God of Justice. He leaves no doubt of guilt in the sinner. THEY know it, and HE knows it! And without a cause does the world hate Christ – the news media of America hates Christ. The education establishment hates Christ. The government hierarchy hates Christ. And so does all the world of power and pomp hate Christ. He keeps getting in the way of their plans. He is the Stone of Stumbling, but has become the Chief Corner Stone of the Building!
“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” The Holy Spirit has come to us! He will confirm truth to us, and will testify of Christ. Many modern, lucre-seeking ministers believe that they can manipulate the Holy Spirit and appropriate His power unto themselves. They are deceived, and so are their unfortunate followers. The Holy Spirit gives comfort in truth of all that Christ has told us. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.” Sadly, we observe much spirit to the detriment of truth in today’s worship. The Spirit and Truth must be joined as One in order for reverent worship to occur. It is my prayer that our churches across America, and the wider world, would again worship in Spirit AND in Truth! Are you, my friend, very conscientious to insure you worship in the proper spirit of reverence and in the absolute certainty of Truth?

Lenten Devotion (Morning) for 19 April 2011 Anno Domini

Lenten Devotion (Morning) for 19 April 2011 Anno Domini
1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. 12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. 16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:1-16)

The beauty of the metaphor and allegory of these verses surpasses our ability to fully grasp. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.” The vine emerges from the soil into which it has sunk its roots for sustenance. Christ is both the source of the sustenance of the roots as well as the vine which transports that living sustenance to the branches of the vine. We are those branches and we must have a like nature to Him. The Father has been referred to earlier as the owner of the Vineyard who went into a far country. The Father must necessarily be far removed from us for we cannot behold His Glory and yet live. But He has sent His Son to us who has the same nature and substance of the Father that we may know BOTH. The overly grown branches which bear no fruit are pruned, not as punishment, but for the purpose of causing them to bear fruit.

“Abide in me, and I in you.” This statement is stronger than first thought. Christ does not make reference to a casual visit, but an abiding, or living, in each other. We live not unless we live IN Christ. And we serve not unless Christ is IN us working His Will. When a branch is severed from the vine, it at once ceases to live. It can produce no further fruit. When we make a separation from Christ in our lives, our good fruit immediately ceases and we can do no good thing. Our righteousness lies solely in our relationship to Christ – our Vine.

“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” The withered branches are like unto any of us who are separated from our life-source in Christ. We are merely dead branches and will be gathered at the last day by the Holy Angels and cast into the fire. “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” If we continue not in the love of Christ, we are most miserable creatures. Love cannot go without reciprocation. Do we love Christ? Then our lives must give evidence of that love. “10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.” We keep His Commandments that have been written in our hearts through His love. We learned of this in the Morning Devotion. The commandments of God are not given to curb our joy, but to make that joy possible. “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” Can you imagine the fullness of joy we have with the joy of Christ in our hearts!

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” Strong Commandment, this! We must truly, not merely symbolically, love one another with the same love which Christ holds for us! This is His Commandment to us! We may not permit one of our number to suffer deprivation while we enjoy the means of alleviating that need. Do we do this?

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” True, indeed, and no man has greater love, or even equivalent love, as Christ who did lay down His life for His friends – for you and me! Note the term ‘friends’. He has called us His friends. If a mighty sovereign of this world called me a friend, I would consider it an high honor. But to have Christ call me friend, it is beyond my ability to comprehend in its impact. We hear often the modern TV evangelist claim that he is a ‘slave’ of God. Really? If so, then he is not a son, or a friend, of God. Christ calls us friends, and not servants. He has shared all things with us. A slave follows by force; a friend follows by a desire to share. “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends.”

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you.” Are you surprised at these words of Christ? This is a mystery of whose depths we have little understanding. But we must know them to be true because Christ has spoken them. Our XVIIth Article of Religion is consistent (as it must be) with this statement of Christ. Ere we knew Christ, the efficacious working of the Holy Spirit drew us like a hook in the jaw to Christ. Our decision was based upon His first calling and choosing. How marvelous to know that we are not children at random chance, but by the explicit choice of Christ! “Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” When we ask in the Father in the name of the Son, we are asking on the Son’s authority. We must be careful to ask that which is right and acceptable in the eyes of Christ. It should actually be that which Christ wills for us before we ask it. Think on this! As we pray now, and forever, let us always be conscious to ask, “Thy Will Be Done both on earth and in Heaven – in my present life as well as the life to come. Do you do this?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Lenten Devotion (Evening) for 18 April 2011 Anno Domini

Lenten Devotion (Evening) for 18 April 2011 Anno Domini
15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. 20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. 21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
25 These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. 28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. 30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. 31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence. (John 14:15-31)

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” This is the cardinal rule of obedience. Love of Christ entails love for His creatures of every stripe. If we love neighbor as much as our own, we will not lie, cheat, or steal from them. The Commandments God wrote with His own finger at Sinai have in no wise been abrogated, but remain in full force. But those Commandments were written in stone! Christ has changed that record so that they are now written in soft sinews of our hearts. Obedience resulting from love is much different from obedience out of fear and compulsion. “After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jer 31:33)
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” The disciples would travel to the far reaches of the globe in spreading the Gospel message. Christ, being in a physical body, could not always be with each of them in His mortal body – so He will not leave us without a Comforter which is the Holy Spirit who, indeed, can be all places and at all times. “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.” Christ will be in the tomb for three days and nights. He will not be seen for that time, but shall appear again at the Resurrection and, because He has risen, we shall live also in Eternity. We already studied in the morning devotion how the Christian must be IN Christ and Christ IN the believer. None of our works of righteousness can we lay any claim upon for they are the works of Christ IN us. Those shameful and dark deeds which we do belong only to US. “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” What father cannot love the friend of our child who loves that child in earnest? And why do we love Christ? “We love him, because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19).
Judas Iscariot asked how Christ can manifest Himself to His disciples and not the world? It is of foremost importance, apparently, to Judas that Christ be manifested in His power and glory to the world for the world is the choice part for Judas. Judas is not concerned with the spiritual, but he worldly. “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.” To his own demise, these last words of Christ escape the dark understanding of Judas. Please note also that the Holy Ghost does not make utterances on His own behalf, but teaches of all things from the Word which Christ brought. So this demonstrates that the Holy Spirit is not on a mission to speak words that do not belong to Christ and which Christ has not uttered to us, the decadence of modern-day charismatics notwithstanding. “ Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Here again, our Lord, facing a terrible death on the Cross in just hours, gives us words of comfort. He would not have our hearts troubled. He will allow His own magnificent Heart to suffer trouble for us.
The disciples, though loving and faithful, cannot grasp the enormity of the events to follow: “Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.” They do, indeed, love Him, but cannot rejoice over a death whose meaning fully escapes their understanding. Such understanding will not come until the Tomb is found empty on Easter morning!” And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.” Once Christ is risen, their memories will be pricked to remember His Words.

“Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” The moment of Satan’s own humiliation is imminent. Believing that arranging for Christ to be brutally murdered, he will inherit all powers; but he is WRONG! Even Satan is victim to the Provident Hand of God in arranging for the Redemption of those whom Satan has cruelly appropriated to himself. Have you made sure your election in Christ and thus made sure your Redemption in Him?

Lenten (Morning) Devotion for 18 April 2011 Anno Domini

Lenten (Morning) Devotion for 18 April 2011 Anno Domini
1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. 5 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.
12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. 13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
(John 14:1-14)

“Let not your heart be troubled.” If any heart should be troubled, it is that of Christ. He is relieving our hearts of the troublesome burden of sin but, at the same time, assuming the sins of the world upon His loving Heart. His concern is greater for us than for Himself: “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.” (John 12:27). Because Christ suffered the troubling, we are excused from the same.
“I go to prepare a place for you.” For whom? For His Bride, the Church. Just as was customary among Hebrew families, when a boy and girl were betrothed, after diligent search for a suitable mate by the father, they met and shared the same cup of wine if the matter was sealed. The son then went to his father’s house and prepared a living place for his bride under the father’s supervision. The period might be one year, or even two years, but the prospected bride must be in waiting a ready for the son to return to take her to the marriage feast be it midnight or midday. When all was ready, the bridegroom would send one of his groomsmen to sound a trumpet near the dwelling of his bride. That was all the warning given that the groom was coming to take his bride. The same parallel applies to the Coming of Christ for His Bride! “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matt 24:31) The work of Christ is ongoing with the Father today! He intercedes for us and prepares a place for us in the many mansions of His Father.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Sorry, if we accept the authority and veracity of Scripture, we must admit of no other way of coming to God except through His Son Jesus Christ. Mohammad is not the Way, the Pope is not the way, Buddha is not the way, the Hindu gods are not the way, Voodoo is not the way – only ONE WAY to the Father and that is through the Son. This must be a troublesome passage for the Roman pontiff. Christ is God’s only vicegerent on earth. Christ is the exact likeness of the Father. It has been so from the beginning. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Gen 1:26) We were created in His own image and likeness! We are triune to the extent that we have body, soul, and spirit. However, through the fall of our father, Adam, that spirit and soul were marred by sin. We must be cleansed and regenerated through the sacrificial Lamb of God.
“Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.” The Son and the Father are One in purpose and in nature. Christ would have us be One with Him as well, and we must be so to be the Elect of God. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:20-21) When we take on ourselves the Mind that was in Christ, our thoughts and prayers will always be ONE with His Will. “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” This last quote does not mean that we can ask all our desires of Him. Christ has relinquished no sovereignty here, but established that Will of His in our hearts that whatsoever we ask (IN HIS NAME), it shall be granted. If we ask amiss, we shall not receive. (James 4:3). If we regard iniquity in our hearts, God will not hear us. We may not ask the favors of God from a bad motive, or sinful premise. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalms 66:18) We can never “claim a word of faith” in defiance to the will of God as many modern charismatics wickedly proclaim. God is Sovereign and shall be so in Eternity. Rather than dwelling on our own presumed needs, we should ask all according to God’s will to grant it and, finally, “Not mine, but they Will be done!” If God’s perfect will is demonstrated in our lives, that will always be more than sufficient for us. Strive to seek His will in all things.