Who are we?

The center of the Traditional Anglican Communion; adhering to the Holy Bible (KJV) in all matters of Faith and Doctrine, a strict reliance on the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the Two Creeds, and the Homilies and formularies of the Reformation Church of England.

Verse of the Day

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Devotion for Tuesday after Eighth Sunday after Trinity - 31 July 2012, Anno Domini



1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. 7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.  (John 10:1-10)

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

O
 GOD, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; We humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
  
     The Collect for today is extraordinary in its depth of meaning and its appeal to the absolute and unconditional sovereignty of God.
     Archbishop Cranmer re-crafted the introduction of this Collect to reflect that reformed view of the omnipotence of God Almighty in things heavenly as well as things temporal. It is also such a comfort to know that the One who "sticketh closer than a brother" shares that omnipotence in the Triune Godhead. All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. (Matt 28:18) God is never taken by surprise either in Eden, or in our own times. This Collect, like all others, is not intended for a limited application of collecting our thoughts before worship. It is a prayer that may be uttered every minute of every day with equal impact. Our mortal minds pray for those things, which in the wisdom of God are hurtful to us, to be put away from us – not merely those things which WE consider hurtful (there may be a difference). The prayer also appeals to God to grant us those things that are, in every way, profitable for our eternal souls and not simply those things that are glossy and well-decorated and that appeal to the world alone. Finally, we ask all these things be granted through Jesus Christ who loves us with such a love of whose depth we cannot comprehend. We love Him because He FIRST loved us.
     To attempt to present such beauty and meaning  with which God has imbued the Parables, especially the Parable of the Door and the Good Shepherd, is a daunting task, a humbling experience, and a challenging exercise of prayer and spirit. Regardless what we say in describing these parables, we leave so much out that should be said. The mark of a great writer is the gift to say very much with very few words. That is the distinguishing factor of the Author of the Word. God says so very much in one sentence that we poor men require a volume, or tome, to attempt to address it, and then only in part – and He says it with such touching beauty as we are put to shame in emulating His art. Please forgive my inadequacies and look to the underlying perfection of the Word that God has given.
     1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber  The main function of a door is to grant entrance to those without. It also serves to protect those who are within from those who may intend harm to all who enjoy the occupancy of the haven within. The Door Christ represents offers both an eternal admittance to those who accept His grace, and an eternal rejection for those who refuse it. Though the wicked attempt to take heaven by storm, they shall not gain admittance. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries. (1 Cor 16:9)  Those who are the Elect and Chosen of God have already gained entrance to the sheepfold. Christ does not emphasize their entrance because it has been decided in heavenly councils from time and eternity past. He does, however, mention those impersonating men and ministers who seek an alternate entrance other than through Him. The Door of Christ is one which no man can open, and no man can close.  Its opening and closing is solely at His prerogative just as was that great door of Noah's Ark.  And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath  the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;  I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. (Rev 3:7-8)
     2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The Door actually belongs to Christ. The sheep, too, belong to Christ – and so does the porter at the Door. There is a door of the heart at which Christ stands and knocks. Though all cannot hear His voice, to those who DO so hear His voice, He will come in to them and abide with them. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. (Rev 3:20) The walls and defences of God are sure and impregnable. Only His own shall be in the fold of Christ. The DOOR is the only means of entrance. I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6) It is by way of the DOOR that one takes possession of his estate. (In Christ)
     3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. The use of the DOOR is the sole discretion of the Lord. He closes the DOOR to predators and wolves, and opens to His beloved. His sheep have grown very accustomed to the voice of the Lord. How? Through constant and diligent study of His Love Letter to them (the Holy Bible). Any other voice to the Christian is as discordant as a counterfeit bill to a bank teller. 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. The DOOR is opened ONLY to those who follow Christ. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. (Eph 2:18) We dare not go out from our sanctuary of rest without the sure leading of our Shepherd. He is not only our SHEPHERD, but has taken on our own nature as the Lamb of God! He knows us. He has lived our hurts and pains. He loves us in spite of our infirmities. It is by means of the DOOR that we are privileged to view the inner beauties of heaven which the world cannot comprehend. But we cannot forever remain inside the comfort and beauty of the fold – we must go out to the place of grazing and fountains of water to be fortified in our faith. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.  (Rev 7:17)
     The ability to call others by name is a great power. Cyrus the Great is historically, or by historical courtesy, credited with the power of repeating the name of every man in his great army. "Wonderful", says De Quincey, "is the effect upon soldiers of such enduring and separate remembrance which operates always as the most touching kind of flattery." General Westmoreland also memorized the names of each man in morning formation along with the names of their close family. The common soldier in the 101st Airborne was deeply moved to have the general inquire about his wife and children by name.
     5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. Yes, that is true of the real sheep of the fold and not the pretenders. Though my opinion may offend some, I must say it nonetheless – it is likely that there are far more wolves occupying the pulpits of America than lambs. It is correspondingly likely that far more pretenders sit in the pews each Sunday than true believers. The evidence is obvious. Far more people attend church today than 150 years ago, yet please observe the unwholesome fruits of their worship in modern society.
     6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Our failure to grasp the simple things of God is often amazing. Jesus recounts this parable with clear language and articulate meaning, yet many did not understand His words. How many read a single passage of the Bible and construct an entire theological position based on a single verse taken out of context!
     7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. One way or another, Jesus will bring us to understand His meaning. We may be stubborn and self-willed, but He will bring us more and more profoundly to understand over time. Christ is the very DOOR of which He speaks and, not only the DOOR, but the Sheepfold itself. We are the sheep who are privileged to enjoy His benefits. In all of His care for us, He demonstrates His zealous love. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. (Psalms 23:2) The door is not only the entrance for invited guests, but also a resort for beggars who, knowing their great need, understand the privileges of a Great House.
     8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. Who came before Christ? In the economy of heaven, no one came before Christ. But men have crept in whose words were only deception and lies. These false prophets made fools of all whose hearts were not fixed on God. Even Adam and Eve opted to hear the voice of the Serpent when they tarried before that tree of ill winds in the Garden. It was to this tree they went first rather than that Tree of Life which stood for Christ. I shall never forget the voice of my mother though she has been with God these past two decades. It was soft and sweet. It never spoke to hurt but to comfort and instruct. I heard that voice every day of my life until I went away college. But the voice of Christ is even more constant, sweet, and of greater comfort. He whispers love. He whispers wisdom. He whispers faith. My mother's favorite hymn (and now mine) conveys the meaning sweetest in its words:
I Come To The Garden Alone Hymn

I come to the garden alone

While the dew is still on the roses

And the voice I hear falling on my ear

The Son of God discloses.

(Refrain)
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,

And He tells me I am His own;

And the joy we share as we tarry there,

None other has ever known.



He speaks, and the sound of His voice,

Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,

And the melody that He gave to me

Within my heart is ringing.

(Refrain)

I'd stay in the garden with Him

Though the night around me be falling
,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe

His voice to me is calling.

(Refrain)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sermon Notes for the Eighth Sunday after Trinity 29 July 2012 Anno Domini


Sermon Notes
Eighth Sunday after Trinity
29 July 2012, Anno Domini

The Eighth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

O
 GOD, whose never-failing providence ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; We humbly beseech thee to put away from us all hurtful things, and to give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
  
     14 Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. 15 And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? 16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. 18 He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. 19 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? 20 The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? 21 Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel. 22 Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the sabbath day circumcise a man. 23 If a man on the sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? 24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:14-24)

     Should the any man judge another? If so, should a Christian judge another? If so, by what measure should a Christian judge? It would be impossible to live in the world without exercising the means of judgment with which the Lord has imbued us. Our sense to judge right and wrong, expedience and foolishness, have been implanted in the minds of every human being created. We daily judge the kind of food that is needful for our bodies, the kind of places we frequent, and the kind of friends with whom we associate. We would be fools to choose people as friends whose values are diverse from ours as associates, would we not?
     There are really only two kinds of judgment – good and bad. If we judge wisely regarding our foods, our investments, our careers, our soul mates, we have prospects for a happy life. If we judge foolishly in these areas, we may find ourselves in great sorrow. Among other things, we learn how to judge from the words of the Lord in today's passage: Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. The modern church has been rendered sterile by an over-enthusiastic observance and misapplication of the words of Christ in another place – "Judge not that ye be not judged." (Matthew 7:1) This quote is most often taken completely out of context and stands the principle Christ is conveying on its head. Remember the fuller quote and meaning: For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.  And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?  Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. (Matt 7:2-5) In other words, do not judge others by a more stringent standard than you judge yourself, for it is by the standard you judge others that you, too, shall be judged.
     What does Christ mean when He commands us to judge with righteous judgment? How do we know the definition and standards of such righteous judgment? Do we not hold it in our hands – the HOLY BIBLE! Whatsoever God calls sin, we are obligated to call sin even if that sinner is a brother or sister. 24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. Men judge not only by appearance, but according to their own personal animosities as in the case of the text today.
     The occasion is the Feast of Tabernacles. If we read the first few verses of this chapter, we will discover that even the brothers of Jesus ridiculed Him and did not believe in Him. His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest.  For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world.  For neither did his brethren believe in him. (John 7:3-5) It is suggested by Scripture that even His own dear mother, Mary, did not comprehend fully who He was until after the Resurrection. They judged Jesus by the common appearance and not the Power of God that was in His Person.
     There is a new Presbyterian minister who has come to the Korean Presbyterian Church. As usual, the gossipers try to find something wrong with him instead of something right. He is the most qualified Korean minister to come to these parts from the standpoint of education and experience. He is a graduate of the Korean Military Academy, a retired Lt. Colonel, a graduate of the Presbyterian Seminary in Australia with a baccalaureate, from Fuller Theological with a Masters of Divinity, yet, the gossipers are busy. "Why would such a man so qualified come to a small church in Alabama? He must have something wrong with his character." It is almost amusing to consider what those same gossipers would have said of Jesus Christ….but wait a minute! That DID so scandalize the Lord Himself, didn't they?
     If you cannot challenge the message, then attack the Messenger! (an old established principle of detractors). 14 Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. 15 And the Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? Notice, they do not question the validity of His learning and teaching, but they question How did He come to KNOW it! If a man is too little trained, the detractor will question how does He know so much! If the man bringing the uncomfortable message is highly trained, they will question the truth of his sanity. Remember the words of Festus to Paul?  And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. (Acts 26:24)
     How proudly do many clerics boast of their diplomas and degrees, their superior learning and calling when the most humble of believers in the audience may have been taught more directly by God the truths of the Gospel! When shall we ever learn that the authority with which we speak the Gospel is not ours, but God's? Charles Spurgeon was converted by the preaching of an illiterate country deacon. The deacon clumsily spoke the truth of the Gospel to Mr. Spurgeon. It was not the eloquence, or lack thereof, of the deacon that touched the heart of that great preacher, but the authority of God inherent in the Word of God that the beloved old deacon spoke. Who cares how one comes by truth just as long as it is TRUTH? 16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. 17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself. 18 He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. If the truth of God is spoken by a devil, it is yet the truth of God. Remember the words of the ungodly High Priest, Caiaphas, who spoke the truth and prophecy of God even if unwittingly? And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. (John 11:49-52)
     When we, as ministers of the Gospel, preach sermons that may move many souls, can we lay claim to the power of that sermon? I think not, if the sermon comes from God. It is HIS sermon! The people of God are simply the vessels of gold, silver, stone, and wood in which the Bread of Heaven is served. The quality of that Bread is not dependent upon the vessel in which it is served.
     If a sermon is ever preached that does not point to the beauty and hope of Christ is only a man's sermon. 19 Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me? When my son, Michael, was four years old, there was a little game he loved to play on me. He would say in the morning, "Dad, today is 'opposites' day, OK?" I would agree to his silly game and forget the consequences. Later, he would ask to go to the market for `chocolate eggs' a Norwegian chocolate treat. If I said `No', he would say that meant `Yes' because today was opposites day. So I would relent and go for the treat. That was an innocent child's game, but it is also a deadly adult game as we see in the text today. They all considered themselves virtuous, yet none truly kept the Law of God. 20 The people answered and said, Thou hast a devil: who goeth about to kill thee? To the only one among them who was truly righteous, these fools accused of having a devil. Ironically, it was their own tongues that were possessed of devils.
     We constantly, by our natures, attempt to exonerate ourselves of sin by rationalization and redirection, but such tactics do not alter truth. It is always the other driver who is crazy while we are wise and prudent behind the wheel. It is the neighbor's child always who starts the fight and not our little fair-haired darlings.
     21 Jesus answered and said unto them, I have done one work, and ye all marvel. 22 Moses therefore gave unto you circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers;) and ye on the Sabbath day circumcise a man. 23 If a man on the Sabbath day receive circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the Sabbath day? If we will know the will of God, we must also know God to whom that will belongs. Look at the reason of God in all things. Do not disobey His perfect will by a hypocritical and superficial adherence to the letter of the law. The more weighty things of God supersede our faulty maneuvering around the demands of the law. If we are able to always place LOVE at the top, we shall do well, for it is upon love (the love of God and our neighbors) that all of the law and the prophets hang.
     24 Judge (apply God's judgment)  not according to the appearance (the outward form), but judge righteous judgment (based on God's authoritative Word). If we judge according to the world and appearance, we are judging amiss. If we judge with an application of God's Word, mingled with love, we judge not according to our own weakly senses, but His. AMEN

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Devotion for Saturday after the Seventh Sunday after Trinity - 28 July 2012, Anno Domini



      1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; 2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: 3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, 4 And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; 5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: 6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. 7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (Eccl 12:1-7)
The Collect
Seventh Sunday after Trinity
L
ORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
     These seven verses from Ecclesiastes are arguably the most beautiful combination of seven verses, for allegorical meaning and metaphorical impact, of all such combinations in Holy Scripture. They speak to the heart, the imagination, the soul, and to the mind by painting a picture of the great and urgent need to be right with God as early as the relationship can be sealed. Time is fleeting and opportunity wanes. Several reasons are apparent for early commitment of one’s soul to God: 1) Tomorrow is never assured. We may arise from our beds at morning and never return at the toll of even. 2) The youthful mind can more readily grasp the beauty of the truth of God. Once old, our sensitivities fade and wilt. 3) We have many profitable years to serve God and our fellow man when we have come as young babes to Christ. We are not left to beg pardon of the Governor on the night before our execution.
       1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. To remember a thing requires a conscious effort. Forgetting requires no effort at all; it is most often the result of carelessness. So God commands us to REMEMBER Him by a conscious dedication to the effort. We should do so before the trials and concerns of life in old age overtake us. Once we become concentered all in self by pains and failing health, we are less able to see beauty and loveliness. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. (Psalms 100:3)
     The young mind is perfectly suited to see truth and beauty, and will respond to that vision when it is presented to them by loving parents or friends. Old age dims the dreams of youth. Well did the poet of Naishipur, Omar Khayam, illuminate this truth in his poem the Rubaiyat:

Come, fill the Cup, and in the Fire of SpringThe Winter Garment of Repentance fling:The Bird of Time has but a little wayTo fly--and lo! the Bird is on the Wing.
---------------
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor WitShall lure it back to cancel half a Line,Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

     2 While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain To grow old without the Fountain of Wonders available only to the children of God is a grievous tragedy.  I have known the very aged who have had far greater joy in Christ at ninety years of age than many children of nine who have not had the introduction. Give glory to the LORD your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. (Jer 13:16) There are NO dark mountains to those who love the Lord; even in advanced age. When we have lived long upon the earth, our eyes have been blessed to witness a million profound beauties of God’s nature. There is no artist who can compare with the Lord our God. He paints the most beautiful sunrises with colors that Van Gogh could never have even imagined. His scenes of mountain, desert, and meadow are perfectly balanced in color and bursts of unimaginable radiance.  These physical expressions of God’s beauty are everywhere and may be had, free of charge, by every soul who has the gift of sight. But what of the hidden Fountains of Life and Seas of Love that belong to God? Only the true heart can taste of these. When you are grown weary with age, and the sun is dimmed with failing sight, along with the moon and stars, what vision shall your soul have to sustain it at such a time? When the relentless rains and storms of failing health continually return, upon what shall your hope rest then? Have you stocked the Hidden Manna in your heart for that day?
     3 In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened. In its best sense, the aging process us just a drawing nearer to God and His Heaven. In its worst sense, it is a terrible dread of that which is to come upon one’s soul without God. Our hands begin to shake and tremble with age (the keepers of the house), and our legs become bowed and clumsy of gait (the strong men), and our teeth begin to fail us for their scarcity and poor state (grinders), and our eyes see less and less from our lids as the darkness deepens (those that look out of the windows). These can be very sweet and tender years for those who know the Lord and are certain of their reward. But what of those whose hearts are darkened and consciences calloused?
     4 And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low When men are very old, their mouths are kept shut tightly since there are no teeth to keep their lips apart. They do not crunch their food, but simply press it with their gums. Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. (Psalms 141:3) The elderly are fearful of many things. Amazingly, their ears can no longer hear music, but they are startled even by the chirping of a little bird. Without the knowledge of God, they sense the Angel of Death slowly advancing behind them.
     5 Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets It is true that the elderly must be very careful of stairs or other high places for their bones are brittle and easily broken. There seems to be a bogey man behind every bush. The almond tree is the only tree that blossoms in winter with white flowers even before the leaves appear. It then sheds its white leaves as the aged their grey hairs. Though walking itself is a burden, even a grasshopper would be a greater burden. Another point here illustrates the boney back and sharp knees of the aged which the grasshopper pictures. The long passed desires of youth are now forgotten. What shall replace those desires in the heart that knows not God? As we grow older, our friends and neighbors succumb to death with increasing regularity; the mourners go about the streets every day it seems. Age brings man unrelentingly to his long home; the grave (for the Rich man) and to the bosom of Abraham (for Lazarus).
     6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Perhaps Leonardo DaVinci could have profited from this passage before writing and drawing his renowned work, Anatomy. There is an excellent description of meaning in a Commentary I have of the Bible (JFB):
(1) A lamp of frail material, but gilded over, often in the East hung from roofs by a cord of silk and silver interwoven; as the lamp is dashed down and broken, when the cord breaks, so man at death; the golden bowl of the lamp answers to the skull, which, from the vital preciousness of its contents, may be called "golden"; "the silver cord" is the spinal marrow, which is white and precious as silver, and is attached to the brain. (2) A fountain, from which water is drawn by a pitcher let down by a rope wound round a wheel; as, when the pitcher and wheel are broken, water can no more be drawn, so life ceases when the vital energies are gone. The "fountain" may mean the right ventricle of the heart; the "cistern," the left; the pitcher, the veins; the wheel the aorta, or great artery;Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
     Though the wicked have nothing but an ever-declining hope, the righteous have a joy and an ebullience of anticipation on that which shall come to them at last: And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. (Gen 15:15)
     7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. We, at last, lay down our bodies before our fathers who gave them, and present our souls to God who gave it. Our soul is the only thing that we have ever owned on earth, Heaven, or Hell. God gave us an immortal soul that will not perish when the body returns to the dust of the earth. That soul will spend an eternity in either of two places; Heaven or Hell. If it is the kind of soul that has been reconciled to God and one to which He imputes the righteousness of His only Begotten Son, that soul is assured of citizenship in Heaven. However, if that soul has rejected God either in utterance or in living testimony, it shall not be admitted into Heaven (for God cannot brood sin). That soul has only one destiny for its eternity; Hell.  Ironically, it shall find its way there under its own steam. Have you booked passage for your eternal soul?

Devotion for Friday after the Seventh Sunday after Trinity - 27 July 2012, Anno Domini



"For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (2 Cor 5:21)
The Collect
Seventh Sunday after Trinity
L
ORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
     Has ever a convicted man gone to the gallows in innocence? Certainly, the judiciary of earthly government has erred more than once for, unlike God, they are not infallible. There is a story of such miscarriage of justice that occurred about thirty minutes from where I now sit writing in Newton, Alabama. William Sketoe, a Methodist minister from Spain and who had moved with his father to Alabama, was brutally hanged by a local Home Guard of the Confederates who wrongly believed he had deserted the Army of Northern Virginia. Sketoe had, in fact, hired a substitute to take his place (a legal practice) in the ranks while he returned home to care for a sick wife and eight children. He was summarily hanged on December 3, 1864 without a shred of evidence to convict him. Asked if he had last words, the minister asked to pray and, instead of praying for his own soul, prayed for his executioners. This enraged Captain Breare, an Englishman, who spooked the horse to run leaving Sektoe to die at the end of the rope. His relatives still live in the area and a city marker commemorates the man's unlawful hanging. It is said that every men involved in the hanging died "mysterious deaths." The substitute for Sketoe rendered little help in giving him life, but the substitute we have in the Lord Jesus Christ will give more than mortal life – He gives life eternal!
      One of the requirements of a legal substitute of the governments of the world is that the substitute be acceptable under the terms of the law. Christ fully met that requirement for us. "God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law." (Gal. 4: 4, 5) "He took on Him the seed of Abraham." (Heb. 2:16) Another point regarding a lawful substitute is that the substitute must not be subject to the duty which the one for whom he substitutes is bound. Not only did Rome grant Him a substitutionary role (knowing Him to be innocent according to the declaration of Pontius Pilate) but He was also deemed a worthy substitute by the Father in Heaven. (see Gal 4:4-5 above). Once the substitute has been accepted by the government (i.e. of heaven or earth) then the beneficiary is free to go in liberty. As far as the governing power is concerned, we are now dead to the terms of the law for the substitute has paid for our guilt. "Brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ." (Rom. 7:4)
     To quote the words of the Rev. Robert L. Dabney: In God's kingdom, we are not only subject to duty for life, but already guilty of rebellion and desertion. "All we like sheep have gone astray." Isa. liii.6. "Every mouth is stopped, and all the world become guilty before God." Rom. iii.19. And the penalty is eternal death! "The wages of sin is death." Rom. vi.23. The court has already set, the sentence is passed, and mercy alone stays the execution for a time. "He that believeth not is condemned already." John iii.18.  Now, could a criminal under a human government hope, in this case to find a substitute? He must take the criminal's place for his whole term of service, to bear his toils, dangers and sicknesses, and at the end he must die for his crimes. Could money buy such a sacrifice? Could love persuade to it? But this is what Christ undertook for us. "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." Gal. iii.13.
     "And the death He died for us had the bitterness of spiritual as well as bodily death. Oh wondrous love! Christ "commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners He died for us." Sinner, will you not henceforth say, "The love of God constraineth me?" 2 Cor. v.14. And this suggests: If you were a soldier and had not deserted the colours of your country, an accepted substitute would free you from all service and punishment. You are guilty of desertion toward God, and are also bound to pay a service to which sin utterly disables you through your own folly and fault. From these obligations Christ frees you, but it is only to bind you to His service more firmly by love. Now you should follow the Captain of your salvation with all your might, longing to follow Him better, not from fear of being shot for desertion (that danger is gone if Christ died for us), nor from fear of losing emoluments (they are already earned for us by our Substitute, and paid in advance to true believers), but because He asks us to follow Him. And now, if we love Him, we would die for Him were it necessary, because He died for us. If we do not love Him, it is proof that He never became our Substitute. "Now are ye My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." John xv.14. (end quote)
     Do you know, reader, that Rev Dabney was wrong on one point: a hardened criminal did, indeed, find a substitute under Rome to die for him. Perhaps we are repulsed at reading the account of the hardened criminal and murderer, Barabbas, who was the most violent man in the custody of the Roman prison at Caesarea. He deserved to die for his bloody sins. But he had also been caught and captured red-handed. What would you do with this man? Frankly, the reader (and so the writer) who reads (and writes)  these lines is that very same Barabbas! We are unworthy and fall very short of His glory: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God (Romans 3:23-25) We are no less caught in the "very act" than that poor and fearful woman taken in adultery. (John 8:1-11)
       Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. And there was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them. And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? And they cried out again, Crucify him. Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. (Mark 15:6-14) Poor, compromising Pontius Pilate. Would he not make a dandy national politician today – able to allow injustice by appearing to oppose it?
     Little did the madding crowd know that they called for their own release and redemption in calling for the release of Barabbas! Christ did, indeed, die a substitutionary death for Barabbas, and Barabbas represents legions of sinners who benefitted from that substitution if they have believed, received, and persevered. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8) How full of love and comfort are these two verses. I am so glad that they were written, aren't you? Mr. and Mrs. Barabbas have been released from the bondage of sin by that same blood that paid for their murderous ancestor (Barabbas) if they have believed.
     Knowing that we DESERVE death, how grateful and full of joy should we be that another, who was worthy in that He was without sin, has agreed to pay the wages of our sin. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 6:23) We may hang our hope and comfort upon this one verse if upon no other, friend. We must remember that a gift is not actually a gift until the intended recipient has received it. A young man may purchase a gem at great cost for his intended bride but, if the gift is refused, there is no wedding. Our God is a God of Covenant. He is also a Gentleman! (Jesus es el Senor). He forces Himself upon no one, but for those who receive Him to abide in their hearts, He will respond with love beyond measure. Have you accepted the Ring? Have you received the gift of the Substitute and Redeemer?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Devotion for Thursday after the Seventh Sunday after Trinity - 26 July 2012, Anno Domini



16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. 17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: 18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. 19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. (John 19:16-20)
The Collect
Seventh Sunday after Trinity
L
ORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
     When we consider the sacrifice of missionary Christians many of whom gave their lives for God and His outcast ones we must consider if we have half a heart for such sacrifice; but when we consider that sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, the perfectly innocent who died for the perfectly unrighteous, we are filled with tremendous wonder. The question that every Christian must come to embrace is the WHY?  We can only know the WHY? when we come to see our own depravity and wickedness reflected in God¯s Word. His Word is a mirror to point to the perfect righteousness of God, and the deplorable wickedness in our own hearts. When we realize that we are irreparably lost, it is only then that we can be eternally saved. As we have pointed out before, a heart that is not broken (as was the hearts of the Pharisees) cannot be fixed by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. It is only through admission that we are NOTHING and He is ALL that we can become like unto Him and receive that Mind that was in the Lord Jesus Christ. The old self must die and become as nothing so that the new man can be reborn in us.
     God is all-wealthy and owns our hearts as well as our hairs. It is good to recall an event in the life of Alexander the Great: An indigent philosopher at the court of Alexander The Great sought relief at the hand of the sovereign ruler. Alexander gave an order to his treasurer to give any sum the philosopher should ask. When the treasurer returned, the philosopher immediately demanded ten thousand pounds. The treasurer was demurred at the extravagant amount; but Alexander  replied, “Let the money be instantly paid. I am delighted with this philosopher’s way of thinking. He has done me a singular honor. By the largeness of his request, he shows the high idea he has conceived of my wealth and munificence God is honored in like manner.”
     Heed the words of the Apostle Paul: And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (2 Cor 12:7-10) We all have our thorns and our grievous weaknesses. It is Christ who overcomes those in His perfect power to deliver from all such afflictions. His power is made even more evident when contrasted with our mortal weakness. Christ is all-powerful while we are weak as water. Have you considered that Olympic athletes have failed many more times in their sport than a lackluster athlete? Why is this so? Because it is through failing and persistent effort in trying again until the maneuver is perfected that the Olympian eventually proves his colors as a world-class athlete.  Our trials and struggles as Christians only serve to strengthen our lax muscles of faith.
     Without struggle and sacrifice, there is no worthy reward without the Cross of suffering and deprivation, there is no Crown of Glory. Christ bore His cross to seal His Redemption of Believers. He came by miracle of Virgin Birth. He lived a sinless life. He worked miracles in healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, and raising the dead from stone tombs of darkness. Yet, in the end, the cross that He had ALWAYS borne for us was literally thrust upon His able shoulders. He never hesitated nor questioned the injustice, but bore that burden of OUR sins all the way to Golgotha. 16 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. 17 And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha 18 Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. Christ died in the midst of sinners whom He had come to save and, yet, was buried in the Tomb of the wealthy, for He owns the cattle of a thousand hells.
     19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20 This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin
      The entire life of Christ during His earthly walk was a sacrifice. Who would desire to leave the glories and riches of Heaven to live in the slums of this world? But Christ did come and live among us the perfectly just among the perfectly unjust. He tolerated our ignorance and our lascivious living. He views us in ways that no one else does. He looks not upon the outward appearance but the heart. When He looks at our persons, He does not see us for what we presently are, but as what we may become, by faith, when we come to Him.
     You will observe the title placed above the head of Christ on the Cross. It was placed there by unwitting hands, but the Title is true! If it fails, it fails by falling short of the whole title of Christ. He is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Redeemer, Savior, and Prince of Peace (among many other titles). What title shall appear above your head at the end? Will you even have a cross upon which to affix a title? Without a cross, there shall be no crown. As Jesus says: If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. (Luke 9:23-24) Do we intent to follow Christ? If so, what is the prerequisite for that following? We must DENY those petty desires of our fleshly hearts, TAKE UP our crosses (and that DAILY) and FOLLOW Him. For those who lay down their lives before the throne of Grace and say: ¡°Take my all, Lord. My all belongs to you, and I acknowledge the Owner. It is not my tenth of increase, nor my tenth of time and devotion, but MY ALL that I now offer unto thee.¡± What reward shall await such professors of faith? They may declare with Paul the immortal truth: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Tim 4:8)
     It might be of some profit to calculate what KIND of crown you will bear beyond the veil. Will it be of gold, of silver, of wood, or, perchance, of rabbit fur? The lyrics of an old song may give pause for thought:
Will There be any Stars in My Crown

I am thinking today of that beautiful land

I shall reach when the sun goeth down;

When thru wonderful grace by my Savior I stand,
 
Will there be any stars in my crown?



(chorus)
Will there be any stars, any stars in my crown 

When at evenin' the sun goeth down
 
When I wake with the blest, in those mansions of rest, 

Will there be any stars in my crown

?

In the strength of the Lord let me labor and pray,

Let me watch as a winner of souls; 

That bright stars may be mine in the glorious day, 

When His praise like the sea billow rolls



(chorus)


O what joy it will be when His face I behold,

Living gems at His feet to lay down;

It would sweeten my bliss in the city of gold,

Should there be any stars in my crown

     If your stars are of ancient souls, or little children, what matter in a Heaven of timeless and eternal design. The little child may be the very brightest star of all for it burns with the fuel of love. Are their stars that you can presently claim there?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Devotion for Wednesday after the Seventh Sunday after Trinity (Saint James the Apostle) - 25 July 2012, Anno Domini



     13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (James 1:13-14)
The Collect
St. James the Apostle
G
RANT, O merciful God, that, as thine holy Apostle Saint James, leaving his father and all that he had, without delay was obedient unto the calling of thy Son Jesus Christ, and followed him; so we, forsaking all worldly and carnal affections, may be evermore ready to follow thy holy commandments; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
     I have chosen the verses from the Book of James to commemorate the example and service of that great Apostle. The drawing away from God suggests a parable of how the fisherman's catch is drawn away from the place that best suits them and the only place in which life is possible. But, first, let us examine the COLLECT for this day.
     The Collect asks for no personal gain in material or wealth, but for the CHARACTER of obedience, steadfastness, and rejection of the things of the world exhibited by this Godly man.  James obeyed the invitation of Christ "without delay' evening leaving his father and servants to gather the netting of his boat.  He followed Christ all of the way by prizing the company of Christ above every other consideration the world had to offer.  His descriptive nouns and phrases in the Book of James are beautiful beyond compare which, I believe, is evidence of his taking on that One Mind of Christ. The death of the Apostle James is the only one given account in Holy Scriptures of the means of death of an Apostle. James was beheaded by Herod, according to Acts 12:1-2: Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. (Acts 12:1-2) The calling of James is found, among others, in the Gospel of St Matthew: And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him. (Matt 4:21-22)
     13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. While it is true that God cannot be tempted, nor does He tempt any man to sin, God does, as in the case of Abraham's presumed sacrifice of Isaac, try the faith and steadfastness of His people. Many of the unjust and painful experiences of this life God allows to sound out the depth of our faith.  Our own church, the Anglican Orthodox Church, has experienced hard trials and wondered about God's plan for us. As we remained steady at the helm, the fog of doubt cleared and the harbor lights of god were bearing straight ahead. There are times in our lives when faith is the ONLY thing, but in the end it is always the most reliable after all.
     14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed Have you ever considered that Christ is not the only Fisherman? The devil is also a fisherman. He knows well the habits and desires of the fish. He does not catch fish to save them (as does Christ and His evangelist), but to devour them.  At the very first, let us emphasize that this fisherman cannot hook one of the darlings of Christ – in fact, he can hook no one who has not allowed him unwise access to his heart. The Fuller Brush man used to go from house to house in Tennessee. He became equivalent to a friendly neighbor to most households. However, there was another kind of salesman who came to the door and would not take "No" for an answer. He would thrust his foot between the door and it's facing to prevent its being shut in his face. Once the foot was in, the whole ungainly man usually followed. The devil is of like character. He may knock. It is best to leave his knock unanswered. If the door is opened to him, and he gets his foot in the door, you may count on having the most dangerous of guests in your home.
     The devil loves low light levels. He chooses the hours of low light for fishing so that his visage may not be recognized from the water. He wears subdued clothing to conceal his presence. He baits his hooks with the most delectable and appetizing treats that fish love. Once the bait is taken, and the hook is set in his jaw, the fish may desperately fight against the line; but he will be drawn to shore and eaten nonetheless. I have seen many young people, left to their own judgments, fall for the bait of Satan. They have been tempted to `try' a bit of cocaine, or to be promiscuous. It is all very innocent pleasure, you know. Once they have bitten, the hook is set and their lives may be ruined. Satan is very good at his profession, and he never takes leave of it. Men love vacations, but Satan never takes one.
      Satan, we are told, is the Prince of the Air. As long as he remains in the `air' he can harm no soul. The damage and danger comes when he is taken into the heart. Once admitted, he will make a shambles of it. Only the limitless grace of Christ could ever recover such a heart. Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience (Eph 2:2) Even as children of disobedience, we may be amended and made new creatures in Christ. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:4-7)
     Please observe that something must happen first before we are subject to Satan's temptations: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. When we began to desire the fruit of the forbidden Tree, it is then that we come into Satan's lair. He abides in the branches of that forbidden Tree – the same before which Eve tarried unwisely and was beguiled (seduced). When we place ourselves in the place of temptation by diverting our minds to those things which are not wholesome, we shall be tempted for certain. At first, we are only drawn TO the hook; and later we are drawn by the hook in our capitulation to temptation. Drawn away means to be drawn near the hook. Enticed means drawn BY the hook. The first is invisible and spiritual; the second is cruel and physical in nature.
     The art of Satan in fishing for our souls is two-fold: the first involves openly displaying his enticing and attractive bait; the second concealing himself and the hook with which he intends to enslave. By this means, souls are drawn from the place of deep cover into the place of slaughter. Satan does not need to go into the bush or the murky waters to find us; we draw near to him by the impulse of our fleshly desires. He uses our own energy and desires to destroy us. Is he not cruel above all else? Are not the sweet breads of heaven far more delectable and soul nourishing than Satan's dirty allurements of a worm with a hook in it?
     There are two tremendous episodes of struggle when the fish, or sinner, is first hooked by swallowing what he presumes to be a delicious meal. Before he first feels the hook cut into his flesh, the fisherman has been in hiding. He has remained very quiet and gentle in positing his hooked treat. But once the fish has swallowed the bait, how cruelly does the fisherman reveal himself on the shore or in the boat. He stands up boldly and jerks and pulls on the line sinking the hook ever deeper into the tender flesh of the poor fish. He shouts and cries aloud in victory as his catch is certain. The fish, feeling the first pains of the hook, fights with all his strength. He then, realizing to fight against the hook only increases his pain, follows the slow draw of the hook to the shore. He seems resigned to perish. But when drawn near to shore, he realizes with certainty that he is doomed. He then truly fights again against the inevitable and is at last netted and flayed without mercy. The yoke of Satan is a painful and tortuous hook. But the yoke of the Lord is light and, actually, a joy and comfort to bear. Which do you choose – the hook of Satan or the yoke of Christ? One draws, the other lifts.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Devotion for Tuesday after the Seventh Sunday after Trinity - 24 July 2012, Anno Domini



6 Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. 7 He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. (Psalms 112:6-7)
The Collect
Seventh Sunday after Trinity
L
ORD of all power and might, who art the author and giver of all good things; Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name, increase in us true religion, nourish us with all goodness, and of thy great mercy keep us in the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

     The opening of the Collect (using Gelasius translation) formerly used the honorific: O Lord of Host as its introductory opening; however, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer referenced the Lord as described in James 1:17 - Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
     This Collect asks four things of God, which we are incapable of doing ourselves:
1) Graft in our hearts the love of thy Name;
2) increase in us true religion
3) nourish us with all goodness
4) keep us
We can neither receive, nor retain, the love of God’s name without the efficacious working of the Holy Spirit therein. We are helpless to supply a thing of which we can claim no ownership. The love that permeates our hearts is from the overflowing Fountain and Source of Love, which is in God through Jesus Christ. Like our bodies, we cannot add a single inch to the stature of our spirits and souls. All of the increase we enjoy in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding comes from that same Source from which the Love of God overflows. Our nourishment is forever from God if it is wholesome and good. We daily partake of the Bread of Heaven given by that Giver of all good things found in the Word of God, which is preserved for us as a gift to all who believe. Who is our Keeper? Why, it is the Lord Himself. He is our Good Shepherd to keep us in the good way. He is the Rock of our Salvation to keep us from drifting. He is the Ark into which we flee for salvation in the day of ruin. And He is much more, so much more that we cannot mention all in the scope of a short devotion. Since He is the Word in total, He is also the Author and Giver of Life itself, and the Preserver of Life in Love.
     Surely he shall not be moved for ever: the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance. The righteous of the Lord are steady as a well-steered ocean vessel on the seas of life. The Captain knows well the course, and His Compass is true to the North Throne of God. Those who are everlastingly remembered by God cannot be moved from that faith and grace which has saved them, and preserved them.
     He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD. The immovable North Star has long been used by seafaring vessels as a constant reference and guide across the vast oceans. The navigation of the vessel is based on clear vision and physical sight; but there is a means by which the soul of the Christian may be guided in both light and darkness by means of an indwelling compass of the heart. That compass is the Holy Ghost. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (Isaiah 26:3)
     I hope you will remember the immortal lines of a poem by Minnie Louise Haskins, titled GOD KNOWS:

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.
And he replied:
 Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.
And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

     As an illustration of the unseen change in the character of the heart of a Christian when they have received Christ as Lord, I took a metal rod of 36 inch length and oriented it to magnetic north. I also deviated the point to align with the magnetic axis of the earth at the 30 degree parallel. I struck the rod sharply with a hammer. The rod became sufficiently magnetized to attract the needle of the compass to a far greater extent than previous to being so stricken. The object was to demonstrate that there is a fundamental change in the nature of the heart when God comes in through faith and the grace of Christ. Though it is composed of the same cell tissue, it has a different nature following such an experience. I also took metals of various elements and scattered on a table. Those made of iron were attracted immediately to a strong magnet I swung over the table. Those metals of copper and lead remained unmoved. God recognizes His own nature in the natures of the hearts that have been ¡®magnetized¡¯ by His Love.
     A sailing vessel may be many hundreds of tons. It may carry a large cargo and take on a great draught of water. Its sails are extremely important for they provide the vessel with the means of movement based on prevailing winds. When errors in navigation are discovered, the sails, like our motivations, can be adjusted to correct to a right course. The ship’s structure is also vitally important. It must be made of sturdy materials and its design commensurate to cutting through the blasts and billows of the storm.
     But there is one device on the ship that is of far greater importance than the quality of canvas comprising the sails, or the species of timber defining its hull. That device is the magnetic compass. Though the captain of the vessel may use a sextant under clear skies for navigation, it is worthless under a cloudy sky. But the magnetic compass performs under every condition of weather or light. It may temporarily deviate when attracted by a large mass of metal on a passing ship, or by the electrifying impulses of the lightning from a storm, but it will always move back to magnetic north. That magnetic compass is so very similar to our Conscience with which God has equipped us. It may be attracted temporarily to the passing things of this world; or it may deviate from true course briefly in the storms of life; but it will always return to its true reading and point the way to safe harbor of the soul.
     When our hearts are fixed and trusting in the Lord, we may waver at moments of temptation. But that will only be a rare and temporary deviation.  Our hearts, as did David’s and Peter’s, return to the true course of our love and safety in Christ. A heart whose foundation is that Rock of Christ is stayed and immovable. It may shake with the blast of ill winds against its walls, but it is fixed in place and cannot be moved. Do you have such a heart, reader?