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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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

First Sunday after Christmas Day - 30 December 2012, Anno Domini




The First Sunday after Christmas Day.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. Luke 2:1-20
Today we shall observe three occasions in the Church Calendar – the continuing Christmastide, the Holy Innocents, and the coming New Year on Tuesday.
If we read the Bible as a strictly edifying historical work, we will miss the entire message of the Gospel, for the Bible is a Living Text that bears the same application to our lives today as to those of whom it has given account between its inspired and infallible covers.
During this Christmastide, we celebrate the coming of Light and Wonder into a dark world, and we do so both figuratively and formally; however, it would be wrong to believe that the Coming of Christ ended on Christmas morning. Christ is forever coming into our hearts if we have hearts that are open to His knocking. You will not find Him in churches that are not faithful to the Gospel, for He "stands at the door (without) and knocks." If the door to your heart has grown callous with rusty from years of hard living, and is not open to Christ, you will not even find Him in a Church strong in its Gospel message. But no thing is beyond the arm of the Lord to traverse, and He may haply force open the corroded and barred door of the most egregious sinner in His time, and cause a joyful welcome to be proclaimed from lips that only spoke vulgarity in times past. If you wake up on the morning of July 4th with a prayer for Christ to live in your heart that day, even July 4th becomes Christmas to you. Do you get it? Is there some cruel irony in singing "O Come all ye Faithful" in summer? Not at all. We grow too rigid in our hymn-singing at times. Christ seldom observed a strict formality, but behaved in ways that set the teeth of the Jewish rulers on edge. Naturally, we must be reverent and orderly in worship, but not so staid that we condemn even Christ for healing of the Sabbath Day!
God is all powerful and able to work in the hearts of even evil men to accomplish His purpose. Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, yet the prophecies proclaim that Christ should be born there. (see Micah 5:2) The foreshadowing of Bethlehem as the place of Christ birth is even alluded to in 1 Samuel 16:1 - And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. Jesse is the father of David and, so, Bethlehem is called the City of David.
These opening passages of Luke 2 are magically wonderful to my ears, for they were first repeated to me by my mother and, even then, they carried a charm and mystery to my young mind. I wonder how many young children in America today have been blessed by that experience? How nonchalantly does Luke refer to the occasion of Christ's birth: "And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered." And so it was? Yes, it certainly was so, and could have been no otherwise! God brought the power of Caesar into play to bring about  this Holy event. To all the world Jesus came as a Stranger and left as Redeemer. He was a Stranger to the woman at Jacob's Well at the noonday hour, but that woman left having found a Friend that loves her beyond all human measure. Have you met that Stranger of Galilee?
We often place our clergy on a pedestal and believe that they somehow stand in greater grace than we. A minister is simply a fellow who, hopefully, by the grace of God has been called and responded to the call of God to preach. A minister can be, and often is, fallible just as you or I can be fallible – and often are! You will note that The Holy Angels did not proclaim the great news of Christ's birth in the halls of government in Jerusalem, or even to "men of the cloth." He proclaimed this wonderful news to men whose ears were open to hear it – common shepherds of the field. These men had no other distraction than to gaze upon the endless beauties of God's star-studded heavens night after night. They understood, unlike most theologians, that there can exist mysteries in the Word of God which no competent theologian can define. They knew nothing of the conflicting teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees, or the subjects taught in the rabbinical schools by men such as Gamaliel, but they did know that God sat upon the heavens and created every bright point of light visible to them in that purple dawn canopy above them. So God chose the least among men to honor MOST with His Gospel News!
Perhaps, if you have not met God, it may be because you are too lifted up in pride and arrogance., If so, God can lower you until you arrive at a level at which you can be taught of Him. There could be no greater blessing for such a one.
The coming of Christ into your life does not signal an end to trial and hardship. Au contraire, it may be just the beginning. It was the beginning of sorrows for many mothers in Bethlehem. It was the beginning of sorrows for Mary, the mother of Jesus. She failed, seemingly, to profit from His teaching until after the resurrection, but a sword pierced her heart at the foot of that crude cross at Calvary.
The recent tragic events at a school in Connecticut are heart-breaking, as well. What can be more tragic? There is something that is far more tragic! It would be that so many lives went into the darkness of eternity without the Light of Christ. What happened in Newtown is not related to the right to bear arms – every man has the right of self-protection. The tragedy of Newtown is the moral depravity into which America has sunk over the last several decades. When the Supreme Court made a law against school prayer, in contravention of the First amendment to the US Constitution, and continued to trample the religious liberty rights of the American people by outlawing Bibles in schools, Nativity scenes in public places, and legalized (immorally) the murder of millions and millions of little children – an event that dwarfs Herod's action against the children of Bethlehem – our religious leaders were eerily silent. When Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (a 1967 West Point graduate) had the courage to display the Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court building (much like that of the US Supreme court), his greatest opponents were the Southern Baptist Conference of Alabama. America rejected God, and in so doing, reject His Providential protection of our country. He may give us over to delusion and reprobacy.  We have come to calling that which God calls `good,' evil; and that which God has called `evil,' good. Majority opinions do not matter with God. God has only truth – NOT opinion!
So we see, on the Day of Holy Innocents, the intentional murder of small children by the sword. At least, their murder was most likely more abrupt than the burning death of little babies in their mother's womb by a "process of murder" we call abortion. 
18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. Gen 35:18 (KJV) (Son of my Sorrow) Rachel died that her child should live. 19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. Gen 35:19 (KJV) The City of David where Christ was born also. A sword would also pierce Mary's heart. 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. Luke 2:35 (KJV) 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. Matt 2:18 (KJV) 15 Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. Jer 31:15 (KJV)
Do we not hear those mother's voices still crying out in the streets of Newtown. When evil rules the land, even the innocent suffer. As we embark on a so-called NEW YEAR, let us be mindful that swords, guns, and bombs have no conscience. They can neither be righteous or wicked. It is the heart of the man holding the weapon that is guilty of sins committed by any device of killing. Were we to remove every knife, every sword, every gun from the hands of man, do you believe we would have seen the end of mass murder? Historically, how have states behaved who have wielded the only means of force and violence? How did Hitler's Germany behave, or Caesar's Rome? 
New Years Day is not a Christian holiday, but a secular one. The only New Year we can truly enjoy is that New Day, New Year, and New Life in Christ. Heed, America, the counsel of Isaiah if you wish for the comfort and peace of a Holy people: When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. 20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. 21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever. Isaiah 59:19-21 (KJV)
Men, called of God: Have you lifted up the Standard? Have you received the Word of God – not of man – into your mouth to proclaim? Have we taught our seed to know and follow that Light which came at Christmas 2000 years ago? If not, then Stand To, and do your duty now as a good soldier of the Cross.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. AMEN.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Day 2012, Anno Domini


Christmas Message
Bishop Jerry L. Ogles

            It may seem odd to you that a two-year-old lad could remember some event that occurred at that tender age, but I do remember the end of the Second World War. I was just 25 days short of two years of age when that momentous news was broadcast on our radio on the morning of 7 May 1945.  My mother and older sister, Lynn, were most likely listening to Glenn Miller–style music (for I have always loved it from youth) when the NBC announcer interrupted the music with a special bulletin: "General Dwight D. Eisenhower reports that surrender documents between the Allied Forces Europe and the German High Command have been signed and finalized in Berlin this early morning." Following that announcement, the Star Spangled Banner was played followed by a day of martial music and other related news. In Europe, King George VI had made the same announcement to the people of London and all of England who had endured, courageously, so many years of war and devastation. Those remarks by King George IV were followed by the singing of God Save the King in perfect unison of a grateful people. I suppose the event was burned into my young mind by the irrational response of my mother and sister to the news. They began throwing magazines and newspapers up to the ceiling and dancing madly about proclaiming, "Daddy is coming home!" Psychologist would label that reaction that I had to the event as a "Significant Emotional Event."  Such an event never escapes our memory.
            On this wonderful Day of the observance of the most Significant emotional, historical, spiritual, and redeeming event that has ever happened in either Time or Eternity, let us remember with gratitude that surpasses any other conclusion of a state of war - the great Truce, Armistice, and surrender of all history – the Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to an obscure and quiet little village outside Jerusalem, called Bethlehem! No longer would all of the hearts of men be at enmity with their Maker, but reconciled by grace and faith to God the Father through the Redemptive and Atoning life of Jesus Christ, His only Begotten Son.
In the hard dark days of the remote past of antiquity, no one arose from their beds on this Day with the warm glow of love and fellowship that Christmas engenders. All was darkness and mildew until the Light of Christ broke, brilliant as the morning sunrise, upon a bewildered world. The penetrating beams of white light penetrated and dissipated the centuries, and even millennia, of encrusted hate and bitterness which had plagued a world ruled by the greed and selfishness of the heart of man. That darkness of the old world-that-was could not abide a single ray of the brilliance of the Light of Christ. The wicked world realized immediately that it could not continue in that new Light. So it attempted, and still attempts, to block that Light so that its wicked deeds and deceitfulness will be covered. Must I remind you that the effort is futile?
The amazing events of the first Christmas are all the more amazing for the manner in which the momentous event was revealed. There was no NBC radio news, or FOX satellite TV, in those days – only those poor and insignificant (in the eyes of the world) shepherds on the hills overlooking sleepy little Bethlehem.  They were men of simple hearts and minds, and of very small expectations, yet, tonight news more wonderful than ever would be revealed to them that had been denied to rulers and kings in their opulent palaces. The Mind of God is so far from that of men that we can barely grasp even the stark realities of God. Even the Wise Men disregarded the brilliant Star as they drew near to Jerusalem thinking that the King of Kings would surely be born in the palace of the king in the capital at Jerusalem. But they were wrong. It wasn't until they left the man-made lights of the city that they once again saw the Star and were glad. "……they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy." (Matt 2:9-10) Isn't it astounding how the ways of God so far outstrip the thinking of men – how those which we consider to be foolish and inferior vessels are often the very ones the Lord chooses through which to show forth His beauty and glory? Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.  (1 Cor 1:20-21)
            I am presently basking in the warmth of the wonderful atmosphere and spirit of our last evening on Christmas Eve of some of my finest and most beloved friends. They are teenagers and young college adults whom I have known from their early youth.  I consider them very important to my soul, and to the heart of God. Though young and unproven in the eyes of the world, I can see the light of God in their precious hearts. They make my autumn days of glorious colors in gold, and scarlet, and pale green. As I see the evidence of Godly faith glow as a flame of fire in their hearts, I can say that I, of all men, am moist richly blessed to have had the privilege to be their minister over these past years.
            Perhaps you are lonely and consider yourself too aged, too poor, too uneducated, or too unfortunate to attract the attention of God. If so, remember that special bulletin issued on the hills outside Jerusalem by mighty angels to poor and lonely shepherds. You may find that you, too, are looked upon as poor Hagar said in the wilderness at Beerlahairoi was looked upon by a loving God:   And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? (Gen 16:13)
            Just as our Beloved Lord looks upon, with high regard, the helpless and abused little girl of the Khyber Pass, so does He look with the eyes of love upon the poor, the aged, the downcast, and those that have sat in darkness – for He has sent a Great Light into the world at Christmas – even His only Begotten Son, Jesus!
Merry Christmas to you today, and every day of the rest of your earthly life!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Connecticut Shooting



There is good in the world, there is evil.  The good is lead by God, the evil by the devil. In the end, if you believe this or not it changes nothing in the world.  God is still there and so is the devil.   If you are not doing God’s work, you are working for the devil.  As we find our country growing further from God, be not surprised at the outcome.

Please take the time to read the following letter from Bishop Jerry Ogles, our leader.

Dear Friends and Family:

     This church is appalled at the senseless and cruel shootings that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut on this past Friday morning. Many innocent and very young children were sent to their deaths at the hands of a crazed gunman, not unlike the deaths of millions of unborn innocents murdered in abortion mills across America.

     There will once more follow a hue and cry for the ban of guns - the possession of which is protected (for a Reason) by the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution. It is a common ploy of those with a political agenda. A gun in the hands of a righteous person poses no threat to anyone. But in the hands of the lawless and maniacal, it, like an ax or a knife, is a deadly device. Instead of blaming guns, or cars, or the surgeon's knife, for unwarranted murders, why not admit that the deprivation of moral teaching to the young in our schools and at all levels of society has resulted in disastrous consequences? "Be not deceived, God is not mocked." This is a sober warning from our God. Shall we heed it, or will we continue to blame our wickedness on inanimate objects.

    Please join with me in praying for the families of these innocent young children who were so heartlessly murdered in their classrooms. I would hope that these young ones were able to call upon the name of the Lord in their fears and terrors, but where would they have learned His Name?

In Christ at Advent,

 Jerry L. Ogles
+Jerry L. Ogles, DD, Presiding Bishop
Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide & Chancellor, Faith Theological Seminary  

Article from Irene Teas by Christian Adams - Evil is to Blame

Pay close attention to what gets blamed for the Newtown school shooting. Evil is to blame for these horrific murders and nothing else. Listen closely to the rhetoric over the coming weeks. How often will evil be named as the cause of the horror?

Not often, I suspect.

Some dispute the existence of conscious, deliberate, unseen evil. Perhaps that's why blame for the murderous horror will fall elsewhere. Some consider the mention of evil in public discourse to be unseemly. Belief in pure deliberate evil can be inconvenient, because it includes other necessary beliefs.

Failing to name it evil lets evil flourish. If the sight of planes slamming into the World Trade Center towers wasn't enough to comfortably believe in evil, maybe the horror in Connecticut will be.

Denial of conscious, deliberate evil makes it easier to deny the existence of conscious and deliberate good. If deliberate evil exists, then deliberate good must also. Otherwise human history would be one long ruinous loop of Stalin's gulags and Pol Pot's murder factories. Thankfully, those black times are broken up by goodness.

Evil seeks to destroy human life, human dignity, and even civilizations. Goodness and light offer an alternative. The sort of world we have is determined by what you and those around you choose. A man in Connecticut accepted evil.

Conditions, rough upbringings, or worldly objects are convenient explanations when evil manifests itself for all to see. Find any news account today and inventory what is being blamed for the mass killing of children.

But the systematic and deliberate slaughter of innocents is not a new story. It happened once before, after the arrival of an alternative way. It was also featured in the industrial scale eradication of European Jewry.

Spare no child of light, and usher in an age of darkness.

How vile that the evil in Connecticut arrived in this season of light and season of lights. All of those innocent smiles and joyous expectations destroyed by a black wretched thing.

We'll hear lots of bluster about how to prevent more school house murders. Nearly all of it is meaningless. The only way to prevent such horror is to choose to love your neighbor as yourself, to respect the dignity of human life, and to follow familiar laws thousands of years old.

Easier said than done, right? How could the goodness in many prevent the evil in one?

A culture that values goodness is a necessary prerequisite to discouraging evil. A culture of light and life relegates evil to the diminishing margins. This is a story as old as time. A culture of violence toward life and toward the dignity of every human eventually produces violence toward life, period. What else would you expect to happen?

The Romans were dumbfounded by the strange stubborn Jewish sect that prayerfully martyred themselves to Roman savagery. The intoxicated and bloodthirsty roars of the coliseum could not overcome the transformational power of the new alternative. Rome crumbled while the philosophy of those martyrs transformed the world.

That's the story of this Christmas, and that's why the evil in Newtown must be called by its true name.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Devotion on the Book of Job (Chapter Nine) - 14 December (Ides of December in Advent Season) 2012, Anno Domini



The Second Sunday in Advent
The Collect.

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

The First Sunday in Advent
The Collect.

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

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

            If we understand the Book of Job with the same mind of Job's three friends, it will be difficult to understand the truth expressed in the book. It is a common failing of man to judge the works of God by the wisdom of the world and not of Heaven. The arguments of Eliphaz and Bildad have shown that their so-called wisdom is based on worldly wisdom. They declare every pain and suffering of man to come from God and to be attributable to some hidden sin. All pain, suffering, and death is attributable to that Archenemy of our Souls – the Devil, not God! Moreover, do Bildad and Eliphaz consider themselves innocent? As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.  Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness (Romans 3:10-14) This well describes the friends of Job. They see the mote in Job's eye, but miss the beam of timber in their own eye. If they will give counsel, why no base that counsel in the Word and Love of God instead of some ancient and worldly knowledge? Do we not do the same? Our speeding on the highway is justified, but the speeding of others is foolishness? Our ills are sent to the blameless as to Job, but the illness of others comes as a result of some hidden sin (or so we think). Sorry, I am an unabashed defender of Job as a man righteous under the mercy and grace of God and not in his own right.
Job 9
King James Version (KJV)
Then Job answered and said,
I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?
If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand.
He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?
Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger.
Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble.
Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.
Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.
Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.
10 Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number.
11 Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not.
12 Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou?
13 If God will not withdraw his anger, the proud helpers do stoop under him.
14 How much less shall I answer him, and choose out my words to reason with him?
15 Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make supplication to my judge.
16 If I had called, and he had answered me; yet would I not believe that he had hearkened unto my voice.
17 For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause.
18 He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with bitterness.
19 If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong: and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead?
20 If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.
21 Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life.
22 This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.
23 If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent.
24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked: he covereth the faces of the judges thereof; if not, where, and who is he?
25 Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good.
26 They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey.
27 If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my heaviness, and comfort myself:
28 I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent.
29 If I be wicked, why then labour I in vain?
30 If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean;
31 Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.
32 For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment.
33 Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.
34 Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me:
35 Then would I speak, and not fear him; but it is not so with me.

            Job, in the opening verses of this Chapter, admits that he is not free of sin as charged. None are! The Job asks: "….how should man be just with God? (9:2b) Our righteousness is a filthy rags before God, so how are we justified? But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.  (Isaiah 64:6) Certainly, it is plain that we are not justified by OUR righteousness – neither Eliphaz, nor Bildad, nor Job, nor YOU! For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:23-24) Is it not amazing that our hope is always anchored in Christ even if we be Job? All of the Bible is centered on this One central Figure – the Lord Jesus Christ!
            Do we know God's Word, but disagree with what God has clearly said in that Word? Do we believe that we can prevail in an argument against the Almighty, the Omniscient, the Omnipotent, God? If he will contend with him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand. He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength: who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?  (9:3-4) Job knows that regardless the opinions of men such as Bildad, the wisdom of God is greater. Bildad's wisdom cannot hold a candle to that of God! We may wonder and inquire of God's purpose in all things, but, whether we know it or not, God's purpose is wise, good, and just.
            Please see how ell Job knows and loves the majesty of God: Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: which overturneth them in his anger. Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars.  Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea. Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.  Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. (9:5-10) Even in his torments, Job sees God's great power and beauty. He knows that the tiniest flower is fashioned by God, but also the great expanse of space with its innumerable heavenly bodies. Job knows God better than the men on the Road to Emmaus that day after the Crucifixion. They knew not that God was with them in Christ, but Job does, indeed, know. Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not (9:11) He knows God is near to him even if he cannot see Him with his physical eyes – much like the blind Fanny Crosby whose beautiful hymns speak so often of seeing the Face of Christ.
            Behold, he taketh away, who can hinder him? who will say unto him, What doest thou? (Job 9:12) Can any question God and His doings? All that we see, know, have, and lose was created by Him. There is not a single breeze the blows that did not come from His gentle blowing.
            How much less shall I answer him, and choose out my words to reason with him?  Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make supplication to my judge (Job 9:14-15)  Even if we consider our ways righteous, we must fear the face of the Lord and His Holy righteousness. He is the great Sovereign of all sovereigns whose displeasure we cannot risk by attempts to reason with His purposes. How could a grain of wheat argue with the sower over the depth of its planting? God is NOT our equal – He is our Judge and Maker!
            Please read these words of Job to see if you fully agree: For he breaketh me with a tempest, and multiplieth my wounds without cause.  He will not suffer me to take my breath, but filleth me with bitterness.  If I speak of strength, lo, he is strong: and if of judgment, who shall set me a time to plead? If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.  Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my soul: I would despise my life. (Job 9:17-21) Do you believe that God does anything without cause – without purpose? Do you believe we have a helter-skelter God? Nonsense! Do you believe that God will not suffer Job to take a breath? Do you know that every breath Job takes comes by grant of God? Job is correct that he is condemned by the words of his own mouth, if he were condemned at all. But God has not condemned Job. He is allowing the champion of his choice to prove his faith to us. Even human perfection fall so far short of the glory of god that we must despise that perfection when contrasted with the perfection of God.
             This is one thing, therefore I said it, He destroyeth the perfect and the wicked. If the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent. (Job 9:22-23) God  has not ever destroyed a single soul. Souls are created for immortality. They shall never die. The only great difference is the circumstances of their Eternity – either with God in Heaven, or with Satan in Hell. Job would be right if he makes reference to troubles befalling both the righteous and the wicked, for they do indeed. Do you really believe that God laughs at the trials of the innocent? God grieves that man (Adam in the Garden and every other to be born) brings upon himself such destruction of hopes through sin. At bottom of the balances, all have sinned – there is none righteous. Justice is perverted by the wicked, not by God.
            Now my days are swifter than a post: they flee away, they see no good. They are passed away as the swift ships: as the eagle that hasteth to the prey. If I say, I will forget my complaint, I will leave off my heaviness, and comfort myself: I am afraid of all my sorrows, I know that thou wilt not hold me innocent. If I be wicked, why then labour I in vain? (Job 9:25-29) The plain truth is that Job is using the same measurement for the cause of his torments as his two friends have used. His days, like ours, are fleeting as the morning mist. He KNOWS that God will not hold him innocent? He is wrong! God holds him in the imputed righteousness of His Son, Jesus.
            If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; Yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me. For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment.
(Job 9:30-32) Job, like us, cannot wash his hands of sin – only God can forgive, redeem, and impute righteousness. We do not hold negotiation with God over our sins. He is the sole Sovereign and Judge.
             Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both. Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me: Then would I speak, and not fear him; but it is not so with me. (Job 9:33-35)Job is wrong here, too, though he will know by faith that there is, indeed, a daysman (mediator) betwixt him and God – the man, Christ Jesus. There is no other who can absolve from sin other than Christ the Lord. It is understandable that Job's faith is shaken and affected by his suffering. This is not abnormal, but normal. The great test comes in overcoming our doubts and fears in persevering in faith and trust toward God. I have had more occasion than Job to quibble over what God's will is for my life, and why God allows certain hard experiences to fall my way. Looking back from the top of the great mountain of years I have traversed, I can clearly see God's perfections, and my shortcomings, at all those points. God taught me through those trials, and He teaches you, too.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Devotion on the Book of Job (Chapter Eight) - 14 December 2012, Anno Domini



The Second Sunday in Advent
The Collect.

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

The First Sunday in Advent
The Collect.

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

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

Job 8
King James Version (KJV)
Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,
How long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind?
Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?
If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression;
If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty;
If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous.
Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.
For enquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers:
(For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow:)
10 Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart?
11 Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?
12 Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb.
13 So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish:
14 Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web.
15 He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure.
16 He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden.
17 His roots are wrapped about the heap, and seeth the place of stones.
18 If he destroy him from his place, then it shall deny him, saying, I have not seen thee.
19 Behold, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall others grow.
20 Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers:
21 Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing.
22 They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought.
            Eliphaz was gracious in his accusations against Job in comparison with those of Bildad in this chapter. The interchange between Job and his three friends are profitable to us in understanding the failures so apparent in human logic and reason. In many cases, reason and logic contrasts with the grace and mercy of God. Were we God, I am sure our harsh judgments would have taken care of the alleged overpopulation of the world. We would snuff out lives, left-and right, of those whom WE considered evil and without merit of forgiving or redeeming. Bildad, like Eliphaz, mentions many cardinal points of human logic and wisdom of ancient times, but antiquity does not establish right. Regardless of how remote in antiquity an idea is advanced, if that idea is wrong now, it has been wrong from the beginning. It is not the wisdom of the wisest and most brilliant philosophers of the world that lights our path, but that wisdom only that descends to us from God. If a principle of life is based on God's Word, properly interpreted, then it is our fine gold of purposeful living. (The wisdom of the so-called Purpose Driven Church is not God's wisdom, but the wisdom of a corrupt and decadent old man named Rick Warren).
            For Bildad, and men like him, the only measure of God's anger finds its expression in sickness, poverty, or depression. He is quite sure of himself in calling to the bar ancient wisdom as well as presumed Godly counsel in condemning Job for his calamity. He does not know, as we know, the ending for this Book, so he rambles on with the energy from the winds of ignorance that fills his sails. Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and saidHow long wilt thou speak these things? and how long shall the words of thy mouth be like a strong wind? Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice? (Job 8:1-3) It is not contrary to reason that those whom we love most, and who know our hearts best, can deliver the most hurtful darts to our souls. Remember the words of Mark Antonius in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar regarding the wound of Brutus delivered to his `friend' Caesar: "For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel. Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar lov'd him! This was the most unkindest cut of all; For when the noble Caesar saw him stab, Ingratitude, more strong than traitors' arms, Quite vanquish'd him: then burst his mighty heart…"
            You will see now how gifted is Bildad in piercing Job's fatherly heart over the death of his sons and daughters: If thy children have sinned against him, and he have cast them away for their transgression; If thou wouldest seek unto God betimes, and make thy supplication to the Almighty; If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase. (Job 8:4-7) See how God's poetry surpasses that of Shakespeare? Though fully meritorious of beautiful prose, it possesses the added authority of pure truth. The heart of Job grieves more for his sons and daughters than it does for his present misery. Bildad accuses not only Job for past sins, but also his children. He attributes to God the fault that belongs to Satan alone. What blasphemies we may incur out of pride and ignorance of God's truths! One major fact Bildad and Eliphaz have omitted is the precise sins of Job that have led God, according to their presumptions, to send these terrors upon him.
            We see, in these next three verses, the attempt of Bildad to establish his point by appealing to the established wisdom of the ancients:  For enquire, I pray thee, of the former age, and prepare thyself to the search of their fathers: (For we are but of yesterday, and know nothing, because our days upon earth are a shadow :) Shall not they teach thee, and tell thee, and utter words out of their heart? (Job 8:8-10) Instead of appealing to the ancient fathers and denouncing the present wisdom, perhaps Bildad would have profited more in appealing to the wisdom of God and not that of man. If antiquity made us wise, surely Adam (the most ancient of all men) would have had better sense than to partake of the forbidden fruit in disobedience to the commandment.
            Bildad compares the life of Job to that of the rush plant or the water lily. These are like the wicked that grow up suddenly from the marshes and swamps of Egypt, and perishes even in its greenness before all other (righteous) plants. Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water? Whilst it is yet in his greenness, and not cut down, it withereth before any other herb. So are the paths of all that forget God; and the hypocrite's hope shall perish: Whose hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider's web.  (Job 8:11-14) This is a clear case of the "pot calling the kettle black." Who is the hypocrite here? It is not Job!
            Bildad grasps at the vaporous pillars of the air to blame Job (who is blameless before God). He shall lean upon his house, but it shall not stand: he shall hold it fast, but it shall not endure. He is green before the sun, and his branch shooteth forth in his garden. His roots are wrapped about the heap, and seeth the place of stones. If he destroy him from his place, then it shall deny him, saying, I have not seen thee. Behold, this is the joy of his way, and out of the earth shall others grow. (Job 8:15-19) Again, Bildad speaks without specifics – only eerie gestures of sin. The spider builds by webs that are sinewy and of enough substance to hold himself up, but not enough to hold up Job. He clings desperately, according to Bildad, to his house, yet it falls miserably. He compares Job's tenacious hold to his belongings (perhaps out of Bildad's former envy) to that of a spider whose web is over come by weight of his catch.  An old Arab saying goes: "Time destroys the well-built house, as well as the spider's web."
            Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help the evil doers: Till he fill thy mouth with laughing, and thy lips with rejoicing. They that hate thee shall be clothed with shame; and the dwelling place of the wicked shall come to nought. (Job 8:20-22) Here closes this episode of Bildad's unwarranted disclamations against Job. Finally, Bildad, perhaps by chance alone, hits upon a true principle of God's Word. Bildad, quite rightly, considers Job to be a righteous man who has fallen into sin from which he has not repented. He is right in the first instant and wrong in the second. All who hate the righteous will come to shame – many even in this life. Those who hate the righteous man also hate his LORD. "…Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD. (2 Chronicles 19:2) Do you help the ungodly and love those who hate the LORD?