Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The Fourth Sunday after Easter.
ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The upheavals that attended the government of Great Britain under the Commonwealth of Oliver Cromwell resulted in a change of opening words of this Collect. The Prayer Book and Episcopacy of the Church of England were viewed with an unfriendly eye by the new regime. The wording of the Gelasian Sacramentary, and that of all previous Books of Common Prayer, had begun: “O Almighty God, which dost make the minds of all faithful people to be of one will….” The near-dictatorial government under Oliver Cromwell, designated Lord Protector for Life, was unfriendly to the Church of England and thus the wording was changed in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer to its current use. This was a pretended recognition that not all who call themselves Christians practice the faith and works of Christ. I personally prefer the wording recognized by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer cited in this paragraph and consistent with the Gelasian Sacramentary. It is in complete conformity with the Word of God that all Christians should be at one Mind with Christ.
We know that in the Providence of God, all things fall before the Mind and Will of god and will conform to that Mind and Will – even the sins of desperate sinners will be turned to the victory of the Lord and His Church. O ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men We all can recount experiences in our lives in which we have been harshly wronged, but later discover that the evil intended was turned to victory under the love and guidance of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even wicked men, such as Judas Iscariot – though they intend evil – are molded to serve the over-ruling will of God our Father.
John Newton was an evil sea captain who dealt in the disgraceful trade of slaves. He was a drunkard and a profane man whom, not only the slaves he mistreated, but his crew as well loathed and hated him for for his cruelty. Once on a voyage to England, the vessel he was aboard came under a withering storm and gales that threatened to destroy the ship. The main mast was broken, and the ships wooden hull threatens to collapse. It was in the midst of this peril and trouble that seemed sent from the very jaws of Hell that the best good was ever done John Newton. He went down into the depth of the ship and began, for the first time since he had sat at his mother’s knee, and prayed with all of his heart – not just for physical, but spiritual, salvation. The seas calmed, and Newton was spared for better things. As a result, John Newton became one of the most powerful men of God England has ever produced. The memorable hymn, Amazing Grace, was a product of that dark and stormy night on the sea. His Olney hymns still populate the traditional hymnals of all churches.
Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest Do you love the Commandments of God? Is it even possible to love God and hate His Commandments that reveal His nature and Character? Every Christian reading this devotion should be able to confess the words of David the King without equivocation: 111 Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. 112 I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end.
113 I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love. 114 Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word. 115 Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God. (Psalms 119:111-115) Only the true people of God can make this confession. Do you hate any of the Commandments of God? Are there secret sins that you harbor in your heart? What about bearing false witness or adultery – even imagined sins? 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:2-3)
“….and desire that which thou dost promise.” Do we masticate every word of the Lord’s Prayer which we repeat at every worship service, or do we simply roll the words past our heart from rote memory. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” Do we pray for HIS will to be done, as did Christ, or do we pray continually for our OWN wills to be done? Do you ask more of God than your daily bread? “Give us this day, our daily Bread.” Has He ever refused you your absolute needs, especially daily Bread? He has promised us to be with Christ in the Eternity Future. Is this your utmost desire? Here is the greatest of all promises: 2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:2-3) This is the end of all faith, is it not?
“….that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found We all follow after that which we love most. If we love God’s Commandments, we will follow them out of our Love of God and not out of constraint. Of course we fall short of perfect obedience, but with our hearts fixed on God and His Law, we shall surely improve our obedience with practice (sanctification). The General Confession for Morning/Evening Prayer epitomizes our plight: “We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders.” These offense best not become habitual. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me (Romans 7:19-20) The grace of God, through the working of the Holy Ghost, will amend our desires and characters continually in causing our characters to become ever more virtuous and our desires to obey to become ever more steadfast.
What is the greatest joy of our occupations? To love the very thing that our hands are paid to do. There is no more perfect profession than to love that profession by which one makes his living. There can be no greater joy in life than to love the guidance of the Guide whom you follow. This is the paradise which we may enjoy even in this world.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
The Fourth Sunday after Easter.
ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. 45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. (John 12:44-50)
We have often referred to Christ as the Light of the World and all that the Light means. A Light reveals the true path of security and righteousness. That is what Christ did for us, and He made it possible for us to have the scales removed from our eyes and hearts that we might be benefitted by that Light which He is. The Way itself is a Way laid out by God the Father. All that Christ did or said was in conformity to that commandment given Him by His Father in Heaven. His death and resurrection made the path available to us, as well.
It would be impossible to believe on Christ and omit the Father. That which the Father is, so is Christ; and that which Christ is, so is the Father. The Triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are truly One in Mind and Purpose. It would not be possible for Christ to act in a manner, or speak in a style, that was not in complete agreement with the Mind of God the Father. We believe in God the Father because we have believed on His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ – “… like Father, like Son!” He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. There is no line of separation, either in Power or Majesty, between God the Father and God the Son. Of no other man could this be said without blasphemy.
We are called Christians because we are, presumably, the children of God in Christ. Just as there are many who are not Israel who are of Israel, so it is true that there is a very large percentage who call themselves Christians but do not approach the qualifications to be so called. 45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. Do you KNOW God the Father? If so, are you bound to His Will by those iron-bars of love that compel obedience to His Commandments and reverence for His only Begotten Son? Jesus was so closely bound in love to the Father that He was precisely like the Father. There could not be daylight between His Will and that of the Father. When folks saw Christ, whether they knew it or not, they were seeing the selfsame likeness of the Father. This presents to us a great question: When people see us, are we so close in Mind and Purpose with that of Christ that they see Jesus? I read a touching illustration of a poor little boy who was standing before a storefront window admiring a pair of shoes. It was winter, and the boy had only wrappings for shoes. A kind lady saw the boy and invited him into the store. She bought him a new pair of shoes along with socks and gloves (it was winter time). When she bade the boy Godspeed and began to leave, he called out behind her: “Say, Ma’am, are you the wife of Jesus?” Should we not all behave in such a way that innocent little minds will think that we are very much like Jesus?
The Way is already laid out from Eternity Past. But who shall be blessed to find that Way in a sin-darkened world? 13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matt 7:13-14) Forgive me if I quote these verses too often, but the meaning is so crucial to our understanding that they must be emblazoned in blood on our hearts and minds. That Road that leads DOWN to destruction owes its ease and comfort to its downward plane. It is wide and filled with far greater numbers than the Narrow Way that leads up life eternal. Why would anyone desire to belong to a small and struggling conglomeration of churches called the AOC? They travel a difficult incline, and the Way they travel is considered, by the more sophisticated of the churches, as Narrow-Minded. Yes, we are Narrow Minded, and I pray that we can keep that Narrow focus on our Lord and savior and not opulent buildings, salaries, and prestige. Those are reserved for the Broad Way that leads down.
But the world is dark and gloomy. How can we find the Way that leads to life eternal? 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. Jesus came to us in love, and only to those in whom His love is finally reciprocated. He comes as a Light to SHOW us the Way. Those who reject the Light need no judge, for the darkness itself is an overwhelming judgment and relegates their eternity to the fires of Hell. Oh, sorry, Mr. Episcopalian and Mr. Joel Osteen follower – I forgot that the word Hell is a no-no. It makes people unhappy (Osteen). If we are lost in sin, no one can do us a better favor than to teach us of our depravity before God that leads to a remorseful unhappiness that can only be resolved by a direct fleeing to the Throne of Grace. If we have the Light of Christ to illumine our dark souls, then we will see the Way and will follow it.
Does God judge a man and condemn him to Hell? God’s judgment is His Word. It is the Word that will judge us. God has very fairly and openly taught us of His Will in His Word. If we reject that counsel, we have chosen to make our beds in Hell. It was OUR decision! 47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The world was already lost when Christ came. He simply came bearing the fruits and wisdom of salvation. He came teaching us of the Way, and the Truth and the Life. If we choose to ignore that truth, we simply remain in our lost and damned condition. Even if the world, in its fallen state, were allowed to enter Heaven, it would be the most miserable of all conditions. The world could not obey and reverence the Lord who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They would still love their sins, and there would again follow war in Heaven. That war has already been fought and Satan was cast down along with his errant angels.
Isn’t it a sad state of affairs when you decide to invest in an enterprise against the anguished pleadings of your friends, and then lose all in the gamble? Your friends would have every right to say, “I told you so!” Jesus has, indeed, told us so. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. When we label an openly homosexual practitioner as a profligate sinner, whose judgment is that? It is the judgment of the Word of God and not our own judgment. God’s Word is a two edged sword to either convict of sin for the purpose of salvation, or to condemn of sin for the purpose of legal damnation.
Jesus came as an Emissary of Heaven. There were moments when He was so tired He could hardly lift another foot, yet He kept going from before sunrise until after sunset in teaching and preaching – souls were at stake! He was often thirsty and hungry, wet and cold, yet He kept going for us – all the way to Calvary’s crown. As an Emissary and Likeness of the Father, He came with all of the Authority of Heaven. Emissaries do not make treaties and agreements out of their own imaginations, but in accordance with the Will of the governing authority. In Christ’s case, that governing Authority was God the Father. 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. What commandment did God give to His Son that seemed different from the Ten given at Sinai? A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34) What function does this valuable essence of love offer? It writes all of the other Commandments upon our hearts in the red blood of love so that it is love that compels our obedience and not fear. 2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: 3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Cor 3:2-3) Did you catch that brilliant ray of streaming truth, friends? When the world looks at us, they should see the Word of God written upon our hearts. We are the letters (epistles) of God written. No longer written with an iron pen on Tables of Stone, but God’s Law is written with the ink of Love on the fleshy Tables of our Hearts. I love God’s Word, don’t you?
50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. Which single commandment leads to life everlasting? It is the same Commandment called ‘NEW’ given by Christ in John 13:34 above. Love is the one essence that survives death and is victor over ever hateful thing. Christ Himself is LOVE personified. He is our Ark against the coming calamity just as the Ark of Noah was for those eight souls spared from the ravages of the Deluge. Look with me, in conclusion of today’s sermon, at these beautiful truths given in Romans:
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:36-39) This tells us that the Holy LOVE of which Christ spoke survives every challenge – even death!
Saturday, April 27, 2013
20 My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: 21 Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. 22 When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. 23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: 24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. 25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. 26 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. 27 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? 28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? 29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. 30 Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; 31 But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. 32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. 33 A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. 34 For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. 35 He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts. (Prov 6:20-35)
If we consider that every word of Scripture is addressed to us personally, we might know that the opening term, My son, can relate to every son and daughter who reads these words – and we are all sons and daughters of God if we have sought mercy in the eyes of the Lord. We all have a father and mother of this world; but we also have a Father in Heaven.
I have heard it argued that there are two Tables of the Law (Commandments) which are written by the finger of God on facing Tables. This is true, of course, but the argument insist that the first four Commandments deal with man's duty and obligation to God; and the last six relate to man's duty and obligation to others in the world. While I agree with the latter proposition, I do not agree with the former. In actuality, I believe the first five commandments deal with man's duty to God. That Fifth great Commandment that promises the obedient "…that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee." (Ex 20:12 ) is written to cover both our Heavenly Fathers and Commandments, and our earthly father's and mother's commandments. Let us remember that the Christian is a stranger and a pilgrim in this wilderness called the world. We seek our true home in God. He has promised not just longness of days to those who love and obey the Lord our Savior, but an eternal bliss in the Presence of that Lord and Savior.
Thus we have the exhortation of Solomon to the darling of his heart: 20 My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother. The words are not limited only to the son of Solomon, but to the son and daughter of every man. Which commandments are we to keep? We are to keep the counsel and instruction of our Godly fathers; but also those of our Father in Heaven. If we have Godly fathers, their teaching will nurture us in Godly faith and living to obey our Father in Heaven, and the Father of OUR father in the flesh. Please observe that both the MOTHER and Father in the flesh stand in the place of God to us in our formative years. We are to obey BOTH father and mother as we obey God - the Father of us all. So the Fifth Commandment is a transition Commandment between our obligations to God and our dealings with our fellow man. It is part of the first, as well as the second, Table of the Law – in my humble opinion.
21 Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. Notice that we cannot bind the commandments of our Father and the laws of our mother just once upon our heart – but we must CONTINUALLY bind them there. The loose cords of human weakness become slack so that we must continually tighten and bind those laws and commandments to our hearts. I love the precise language of Scripture, don't you? They give no wiggle room for the sinner. Now, unless we are the forgetful souls that run off and forget our heads, whatever is tied about our necks will always be with us and before our eyes. If we do not love the Commandments of God, that rope with which we tie those laws and commandments about our necks will soon become the rope that hangs us from the pillars of disobedience.
The linguistic and divine beauty of these Proverbs must reverberate in the deep chambers of our hearts. 22 When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. With the righteous laws and commandments of our mother and father, and of God the Father, tied about our necks, they will lead us into lush pastures of comfort and joy. With those laws and Commandments bound (continually) upon our hearts, they will keep us in peace and solace even in the hours of our sound sleep. What of the speaking of wisdom and love we hear in our hearts in our waking moments? They speak to us even as we read these words of Proverbs. "….when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee" What a wonder that God's Words, stored in our hearts, talk with us!
23 For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life. When you are wondering in the dark, what a benefit is a source of light to which you may make use. You need the light on your path, not to show you the wrong way, but the right and safe way to go. The Commandments of God are a brilliant Sun Lamp to our path. A path must be followed step-by-step. The laws of God tell us precisely which steps, and how many, we should take on that Lighted Path. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalms 119:105) Power is required to generate light, but darkness exists in the absence of any generating power. God is our Power Source. Like the Sun, His Light is self-generating. When God chastens us, He is showing us the right way of living.
There is a prostitution of the flesh, and another of the soul. We may go whoring after beauty of flesh, or the cunning deceit of false gods. Both are whoredoms. 24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. 25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. The Commandments of God divide righteous behavior from wicked, the right way from the wrong way. Obedience to God will keep us from adulterous encounters as well as idolatrous inclinations. The flattering tongue of a strange man or woman is not unlike that flattering tongue of religions that tell us we can be our own gods. The eyelids of an alluring woman are not unlike those of the deceitful serpent that beguiled Eve at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. She paused before the tree, was transfixed by his gaze, and deceived by his words.
26 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. Pursuing ungodly unions will bring a man to want of bread. The adulteress, or adulterer, will search out every grain of wealth and take it from the foolish man who follows her. So will the idolatrous religion that places such premium on man and little upon God.
27 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? 28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? Can a man or woman harbor guilt of adultery and unfaithfulness to their mate, or to God, and not be burned by the senseless passions engendered in the bosom? The logic of walking on hot coals and burning the flesh from the sole of the foot is the same as that of the depravity of adultery – only one occurs quickly, the other gradually. The result is the same – a crippled spirit and body.
Dishonesty of purpose and action is not changed because of the nature of that being stolen. 29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour's wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. When a man and a woman are bound together in Holy Matrimony, they each become ONE flesh. The Oneness cannot be divided or shared beyond the bonds of marriage. Such sharing would be stealing. 30 Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; It is for this reason that Solomon pleads: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. (Prov 30:8-9)
Need I remind the faithful readers of this devotion that sin brings with it grievous consequences? I think not. The last five verse of this chapter bear this out: 31 But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. 32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. 33 A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. 34 For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. 35 He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts. Why wrestle with the dragon of adultery and sexual impurities when the benefits of purity in body and heart are so abundant?
Friday, April 26, 2013
1 My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, 2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. 3 Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. 4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. 5 Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler.
6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. 9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.
12 A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. 13 He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; 14 Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. 15 Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy. 16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Prov 6:1-19)
This chapter of Proverbs three major divisions and a number of subdivisions:
I. God’s Admonitions (6:1-15, 24-35) Under this division are four subdivisions of people being warned:
i. The thoughtless and impulsive person
ii. The shiftless (vs 6-11)
iii. The ruthless (vs 12-15)
iv. Those without virtue (24-35)
II. God’s Assurances (vs 20-23)
i. God’s Word will protect us (20-22)
ii. His Word will be a Light and Guide to our feet (v 23)
III. Seven Abominations that God hates in a person (v 16-19)
In Part I, we will undertake God’s admonitions revealed in verses 1 thru 19 of Proverbs 6, sort of the good, the bad and the ugly if we substitute “foolish” for good.
It is thoughtless to undertake responsibilities and commitments which we may be unable to satisfy. It is easy to make a commitment with one’s mouth, but altogether a different matter to satisfy that commitment. Of course, there is no sin in offering genuine support for a friend that you can surely perform, but lip-service is a characteristic of man with which the Lord is all too familiar. You will not have helped a friend in offering false hope in the same way that you will not have satisfied the Mercy of God by claiming His Son as your Lord and Savior with your mouth, and rejecting His holiness with your living testimony. 5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. (Eccl 5:5) The false professor of Christ places himself in great danger for he presumes that his false profession has satisfied the premises of Grace with God, but not so! 1 My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, 2 Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth. Truly, words have consequences. Our commitments to God offer freedom and liberty if we are sincere, but our commitments to man become a burdensome yoke if we find ourselves unable to meet them.
If we have created either a debt of money or of action with a friend, and find we cannot meet the terms of the debt, please do not hide your face from your friend. If we are honest with our friend, he will still remain our friend; but, if we simply avoid his face in silence, his friendship will turn cold. 3 Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend; go, humble thyself, and make sure thy friend. 4 Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. 5 Deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the hand of the fowler. Do not let an unsatisfied debt fester in the heart of a friend, or of a stranger.
6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. I often wonder if Aesop, an ancient Greek story-teller of wisdom (c. 620–564 BC), may have had access to the earlier writings of Proverbs since his Fables as so close to that given in Proverbs. Verse 6 is perfectly illustrated in Aesop’s account of the Ants and the Grasshooper: “THE ANTS were spending a fine winter’s day drying grain collected in the summertime. A Grasshopper, perishing with famine, passed by and earnestly begged for a little food. The Ants inquired of him, “Why did you not treasure up food during the summer?” He replied, “I had not leisure enough. I passed the days in singing.” They then said in derision: “If you were foolish enough to sing all the summer, you must dance hungrily to bed in the winter.” (Translated by George Fyler Townsend - Aesop's Fables) Please note that anyone who labors not for his bread and eats the bread of others is called, by God, a SLUGGARD. “…..if any would not work, neither should he eat.” (2 Thess 3:10) This principle is a far cry from that of our present day welfare state who boasts of giving away free cell phones to all comers. The all-nurturing welfare state leads to a constant upgrade in totalitarian principles and away from those principles of perfect Liberty offered by God and His Word.
9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep. Exorbitantly leisure leads to poverty in the same way that regular labor leads to strength of character. 11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. Your desires for what you lack will dominate your thoughts and impoverish your soul.
12 A naughty person, a wicked man, walketh with a froward mouth. For far too long, the American people have tolerated profane and uncouth language in all public places. The wicked have no restraint of morals on their speech, so the restraint must arise from decent society itself. If society remains silent, the public decorum will degenerate. 13 He winketh with his eyes, he speaketh with his feet, he teacheth with his fingers; If the tongue of the wicked is curtailed by civil circumstance, he will devise lurid signs by which to transmit his wicked intentions. 14 Frowardness is in his heart, he deviseth mischief continually; he soweth discord. Wickedness is not an impulse to the evil person, but an established habit. There are no moments of daily life in which he is not contemplating some wickedness against humankind. 15 Therefore shall his calamity come suddenly; suddenly shall he be broken without remedy.
God is slow to anger but quick to forgive. He abides in patience until the iniquity of a person or nation is full, then He lowers His strong Arm of Judgment with it's a final indictment of the sinner. There is a point at which the sinner becomes reprobate – not because the Holy Ghost ceases it’s beckoning – but because the conscience of the sinner has become hardened as a wound seared with a hot iron. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron (1 Tim 4:1-2) The sin may be so egregious that God will give them over to a reprobate mind as with the sin of homosexuality: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (Romans 1:27-28) I fear for our beloved Land when I recognize that our very own political leaders are calling for the acceptance of this filthy sin.
Now we come to the six things that God hates in the character of man, and even a seventh: 16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. God often adds, by traditional language, one additional matter as an emphasis to the total number of seven. The first thing that God hates in man is a PROUD LOOK. Those who put on airs of false wealth or accomplishment are repugnant to God. Pride is a terrible sin when it exceeds legitimate bounds. It is natural for a mother to be proud of her children, but pride of station and profession often incur the wrath of God. There is a great example of pride that led to much of the pain and suffering on this earth. Lucifer was lifted up with pride and decided that he would be like unto God Almighty! For this rebellion, he was cast out of heaven along with his following of unfaithful angels. We owe our every benefit to God and His grace. We can claim no accomplishment of our own except our sins.
God hates a LIAR! We are told that there was a man named Ananias, and his wife, Sapphire, who lied to the Lord and to His people. The sorrowful account is given in Acts 5:1-10. The lives of both were demanded by the Lord the selfsame instant. Now, friends, consider seriously that next characteristic that God hates: “Hands that shed innocent blood.” Can you imagine any blood more innocent that a child who is deprived of glimpsing his first sunrise by a mother who aborts the child for convenience only? Is America about to experience a hard judgment for our depravity?
What of the “HEART THAT DEVISETH WICKED IMAGINATIONS?” What percent of the people of America today sit before a constant panorama of pornography and bloody images? Has not our nation become a purveyor of pornography and violence around the world? Will God exact a price for this sinful propagation? If He doesn’t, perhaps He will feel obligated to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. Do not the feet of many Americans today run to the scent of mischief? How many are killed on our highways by drunken drivers, or overdose on some sensual narcotic?
The worst form of the LIE is a FALSE WITNESS whose lies lead to the ruin of the innocent. The False Witness is, disgracefully, heard in the chambers of our national Congress more frequently than on the streets of the ghetto. How did we come to this state of affairs? Did we not reject morals and justice long ago when prayer was deprived our children in public schools in contravention of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights? Am I getting too political for you? Good, then you are the one to whom I address these words. Have morals improved, or degenerated, among our youth since that time? Have Christians become like skunks with a yellow line, instead of a white one, running down their limp spines? When did we first begin to fear to speak out against immorality sponsored by government and education?
What of those who seek influence by creating division in the church and society itself? Are such not “he that soweth discord among brethren.” What of those who would divide a church body over the color of carpet or drapes? What of those in government, which should reflect the justice of God, who pit race against race and wealthy against poor? When we survey these offenses against God, it seems that it is a detailed description of modern day America. Perish the thought. I pray that the Holy Spirit will once again move upon the “Face of the Deep of America” and say, “Let there be Light!” and the Light of Christ will become our Day Star if that day comes soon.
Thanksgiving and Continued Healing
Casey Anna Reid, (granddaughter of Rev Rick Reid, Rector of St Peter's), had successful surgery on Friday morning 26 April 2013, at Catawba Valley Medical Center to have her skin tag removed. The surgery was a success and she is resting at home. Please give thanks for the surgical team paying attention and doing their very best. Give thanks for the great result and for rapid healing with no ill effects from the anesthesia.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. 16 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. 17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee. 18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. 19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. 20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? 21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings. 22 His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. 23 He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray. (Prov 5:15-23)
Fidelity to the Woman or Man to Whom you are Wed
Long ago, so long ago that no one remembers just how long ago it was, God created man and woman after His own image. He endowed them with mental and physical attributes unparalleled in the animal kingdom. Man was His crowning achievement of all of creation, and rightly so, for man was made in the image and likeness of God. God created woman for man, and man for woman – no exceptions, please! Before He instituted the Church, God instituted marriage between a man and a woman. The very first recorded Commandment of God to man was: "And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it (Gen 1:28). As you will know from logic derived from this Commandment, there is no fruit from sodomy or homosexuality. It is for this egregious abrogation of the Creation Model of God that Homosexuality is such an abominable and filthy sin in the eyes of God.
So, you may ask, what has this to do with today's lesson? It has everything to do with today's lesson on a man's responsibility of fidelity to his wife. The two great institutions God established for man are marriage and the Church. Every institution has a head. That head should be dedicated to keeping the institution safe, secure, and fulfilling its purpose. For the marriage, the head is the husband. For the Church, the head is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is Crowned Head of the Church. As its head, Christ loved the Church more than His own life, and gave that life to purchase the Church. The fact is Christ loved the Church before the Church loved Christ! We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19) The Head is the source of direction and love when it is governed by the heart of love. That relationship of the Church as the Bride of Christ, and of Christ as the Bridegroom, is the perfect example of that first institution of marriage in the Garden eastward in Eden. God intended that man would love the wife as his own body and even lay down his life for his wife. If he were that kind of husband, the wife would, as the Church, reciprocate that love. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. (Eph 5:25)
We now come to the Wisdom lesson today in the 2nd half of Proverbs, Chap 5. Please bear in mind that every principle that applies to the relationship between Christ and the Church also applies equally to Man and Wife. 15 Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well. Wells are sources of life-giving waters. Marriage, in a sense, is also like unto a well. The precious children born to parents are the waters of that cistern of marriage, or well, that is own by both husband and wife in the bonds of marriage. If a man digs his own well, he will know the source of his water, and he will know if it is safe to drink. If he goes to the well of another, he will be drinking uncertain waters. If a man or woman is a philanderer, he or she exposes themselves to danger of disease, shame, and the wrath of God.
16 Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. The source remains constant, but the waters flowing from the well of marriage are children who are the cherished fruits of the fountain. 17 Let them be only thine own, and not strangers' with thee. Let those waters (children) come from your own well (marriage) and not the product of a diverse fountain (whoredom).
There is no more sorrowful sight than to see a widow in her old age abandoned by the husband of her youth in favor of a younger woman. All of her life has been devoted, faithfully, to one man; and when her wrinkles proliferate, his unfaithful head is turned to a pretty face. 18 Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Good marriages do not occur by chance. They require great investment of patience, time, and especially love. When the shadows lengthen, and the autumn leaves begin to fall, we have the blessing to reflect upon the beauty of spring, and an abundant summer of marriage, with a kindred heart over whom we may rejoice. It is those fond memories - both of trials and triumphs – that will see us through the bleak winters of our years.
An old friend of mine, though he has been dead for 150 years, wrote: A painter lays down a dark ground to lean his picture on, and thereby bring its beauty out. Such is the method adopted in this portion of the Word. The pure delights of the family are about to be represented in the sweetest colours that nature yields — wedded love mirrored in running waters; surely we have apples of gold in pictures of silver here. And in all the earlier part of the chapter the Spirit has stained the canvas deep with Satan's dark antithesis to the holy appointment of God. The Lord condescends to bring His own institute forward in rivalry with the deceitful pleasures of sin. How beautiful and how true the imagery in which our lesson is unfolded! Pleasures such as God gives to His creatures, and such as His creatures, with advantage to all their interests can enjoy — pleasures that are consistent with holiness and heaven, are compared to a stream of pure running water. And specifically the joys of the family are "running waters out of thine own well." This well is not exposed to every passenger. It springs within, and has a fence around it. We should make much of the family and all that belongs to it. All its accessories are the Father's gift, and He expects us to observe and value them. But because the stream is so pure, a small bulk of foreign matter will sensibly tinge it. The unguarded word, neglected thoughtfulnesses, or slovenly and careless ways. But careful abstinence from evil is only one, and that the lower, side of the case. There must be spontaneous outgoing activity in this matter, like the springing of flowers, and the leaping of a stream from the fountain. All the allusions to this relation in Scripture imply an ardent, joyful love. Husband and wife, if they are skilful to take advantage of their privileges, may, by sharing, somewhat diminish their cares, and fully double their joys. But we must take care lest the enjoyments of home become a snare. God is not pleased with indolence or selfishness. If the family is well ordered, ourselves will get the chief benefit, but we should let others share it. (W. Arnot, D. D.)
I have learned much from old friends such as William Arnot, Bishop J.C. Ryle, Matthew Henry, Bishop Dees and others. They are all old friend whether living or dead, and I trust that I shall see them for a happy reunion at some point of God's own choosing. We have a wonderful friend in Wisdom, and in Solomon who is relating its essence to us in this lesson, do you agree?
19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. In the first days of marriage, it is possible that physical attraction overwhelms the attraction of true spiritual love; but as the years mount up, a deep love and reverence for the marriage partner will begin to build so that the physical attraction seems to have been only a passing fancy. My wife and I continue to argue and disagree over the most ridiculously minor issues, but deep in our hearts, we love each other with a love that will transcend each other's death in this flesh. When I am in a crowd of people, I love to suddenly hear my wife's voice either speaking to me, or to another. I realize what tremendous debt of gratitude I owe her for loving a scoundrel such as me.
20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace the bosom of a stranger? This circumstance develops when sensuality overcomes every charm of wisdom a man has left. Reverting to the nature of the brute beast, he lays aside his humanity and becomes very much like a dog or a pig – the very kind made reference to by the Apostle Peter: But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2 Peter 2:22 & Proverbs 26:11) There is no righteous profit to be had in a stranger to thy bosom.
21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and he pondereth all his goings. You may hide your sins from other men, but you will hide not the slightest vice from God Almighty. His eyes are continually upon the righteous (Psalms 34:15) and His face against all who do evil. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (Gal 6:7)
22 His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. Every deliberate or careless sin is a strand in the web with which we are bound as slaves. The snare we lay for others will be the snare of our own demise. Sin is a heady wine. It is not the wine that makes joyful, but leaves the dregs of sorrow in the heart. 23 He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray. He will die, as do all sinners die the death of eternal darkness, because they have rejected instruction. Perhaps there was a time when Frank Sinatra believed that he "did it MY way", but I am sure his opinion has changed by now:
And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
I've lived a life that's full
I traveled each and ev'ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
Sinatra's song ends with these woeful and arrogant words:
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!
Have you, friend, done it your way; or have you conformed your soul to the image of the Lord who made you?
Casey Anna Reid, (granddaughter of Rev Rick Reid, Rector of St Peter's), will have surgery on Friday morning 26 April 2013, at Catawba Valley Medical Center to have her skin tag removed. Although it is considered minor surgery, due to where the tag is located and because she is a one year old baby, there is always concern by the doctors because anesthesia is required. Please pray for the surgical team to pay attention and do their very best. Pray also for the entire family to let our Lord carry thier worry. And, pray for a great result and rapid healing with no ill effects from the anesthesia.
Sarah wife of Rev Geordie (AOC – UK) is currently undergoing test to diagnose if she is afflicted with a type of cancer. She and her family are waiting for the full diagnosis and treatment plan. Please pray for guidance for the medical team treating her and for strength and trust in the Lord for Sarah and her family.