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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

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Devotion on Proverbs 20 (Part Three, v21-30) - 31 July 2013, Anno Domini


21 An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed. 22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee. 23 Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good. 24 Man's goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way? 25 It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry. 26 A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them. 27 The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly. 28 Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy. 29 The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head. 30 The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly. (Prov 20:21-30)

            The wisdom contained in the example Jesus gave of the Prodigal Son is so full that its application keeps appearing throughout other writings of God’s Word. “21 An inheritance may be gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed.” The Prodigal Son desired his inheritance long before it was due. “A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. (Luke 15:11-14) It turned out to be a curse to him for several reasons, two of which were: 1) he asked for his inheritance before it was proper for him to receive it according to law; 2) he asked for his inheritance out of an immature desire to spend it on the wrong things. To receive any good thing out of season will never profit. We pray our prayers as if God were a waiter standing by for our order. We expect prompt answers. When God does not grant our petitions according to our time table, we are dismayed and disappointed. But God has a perfect timing for all things, and He will often withhold our prayer requests until the very perfect moment to grant them. “His ways are not OUR ways.”

            While it is true that every good Christian disciple must oppose wickedness at every turn and stanch the flow of the evil fountain, such active opposition must not deter us from the focus on righteousness and doing good in obedience to God. The fight itself must not become an obsession that shuts out the “still, small Voice of God.” “22 Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.” When the battle against evil becomes an obsession, our warfare becomes as unGodly as that of the enemy. Love for enemy is not a submission to him, but an act of restraint of action tempered by a strong desire to redeem him to the righteous cause. The Lord will always conclude the matter with righteousness, and He will always be there beside you to protect and defend. “Vengeance is mine saith the Lord.” He acts out of perfect righteousness while our actions are often tinged with emotion and wrong motives.

            “23 Divers weights are an abomination unto the LORD; and a false balance is not good.” See how God teaches us as little children, or as a loving mother the child whose mind must be taught with frequent repetition of purpose and meaning! God has made this point more than once throughout Scripture, and He reinforces the same principle three times in this very chapter of Proverbs. (see also verses 10 and 14). God repeats Himself to drive a serious point home. Unlike my mother who used to say, “Jerry, don’t make me repeat myself. Do as I asked you now!” God does repeat Himself for our own edification and learning. Governments that adopt dishonest monetary policies in wholesale printing of banknotes are prime examples in our day of the ruin that is fostered by breaking this principle. Skimming money from another’s bank account, or claiming false charges on an income tax return are ‘divers and false weights.’ Failing to reveal a hidden deficiency in a home or automobile we are selling is the same. Gods hates this behavior.

            “24 Man's goings are of the LORD; how can a man then understand his own way?” The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; however, man must take those steps in obedience to God. Do not question and query every commandment of God – simply obey. You may have fished all night with no success, but when the Lord orders you to cast your net just a few feet away from the previous casting “on the other side” what amazing results that obedience will garner. A young military recruit is trained vigorously to obey orders immediately and without question. This is designed to instill a discipline of obedience that comes from higher command that truly does know the situation on the battle field far better than the common soldier whose vision is reduced to a few yards in his front. When we walk by faith and truth, we shall never go into the ditch with the blind.

            Augustine (author of Confessions & City of God) was born to a devout Christian mother and pagan father in North Africa. Early in life, he abandoned the faith of his mother and went off into ‘riotous living.’ He played with harlots and by eighteen years of age was keeping a mistress. Having become a teacher of rhetoric in Carthage, Tome, and later Milan, Augustine had lived his life ‘his own way.’ But something was amiss, and Augustine knew it. He began to search for truth. He listened intently to the preaching of Ambrose and, later his mother came to Milan and prayed for him. Having forsaken the riotous living, Augustine was converted to Christ while reading Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. – in the solitude and beauty of a garden place in Milan. Later, a well-liked prostitute of his acquaintance saw Augustine on the streets of Milan. She called to him, but he would not answer her. Finally, she shouted, “Augustine! It is I!” Augustine responded, “Yes, I know, but it is no longer I.” When we march to the crispy notes of Christ, we march not unto ourselves, but unto God.

            “A deal is a deal,” was a governing principle in the mountains of Tennessee when I was a boy. Once struck, there would be no further challenge to the terms. “25 It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make enquiry.” Do we order a filet-mignon at a restaurant and then claimed that it was not properly cooked after we have eaten every crumb? Turning away from the God you once knew brings far greater terror than to have never known God at all. “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 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 2:20-22)

            Surely, we remember the old movies of the Roman chariots rushing through the streets scattering the pedestrians and running over some of them. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? But that is exactly what the King of Kings will do to the wicked. “26 A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.” The wicked are without names in Hell because they have no prospect for future service. Only those whose names are found in the Lamb’s Book of Life shall have a name, and a name well worth mentioning.

            God made our spirits. It is the same spirit which He breathed into our souls at conception. Good or bad, that spirit does not belong to man, but to God. It is He who decides how long that spirit will guide and motivate our bodies. It reveals all things about us to the eye of God – even our innermost being. “27 The spirit of man is the candle of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.” No idea of man, no secretly held thought, no plan of his heart – is hidden from the All-Seeing Eye of God. God uses that spirit to search out our hearts and minds. It is like a GPS chip that informs God, not only of WHERE we are, but WHAT we are. That revealing candle can become a blessing to us if it burns for Christ. If we are the light of the world, we are the REFLECTED Light of the World which is Christ! “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt 5:14-16)

            “28 Mercy and truth preserve the king: and his throne is upholden by mercy.” We must cherish these two valuable assets of MERCY and TRUTH! If these two preserve kings, how much more his subjects! It is not LAW that upholds the throne of God, but MERCY. Law is a means of determining obedience and righteousness; but none are righteous apart from the healing sacrifice of a merciful Lord. It is His mercy and sacrifice that enables us to be forgiven and restored to our Lord and Savior. And all is accomplished through the knowledge of the truth – “the truth shall make you free!”

            A young man, strong in his ways and eager in life, may take many missteps, but is able to jump up and begin anew. He is strong in body and strong in spirit. Many errors may lie in his way, but he always, because of his youth, has opportunity to overcome these in faith and practice. But the old man has lived long and made many mistakes. If he has learned from those mistakes, as did Augustine, he will be wise and righteous before the Lord. It is the Lord and His wisdom that we have followed after forsaking our own. It is His righteousness that we claim and not our own. The gray head will have come to know Christ if he has not gone through life with his eyes closed. “29 The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.” Wisdom is beautiful!

            When we are struck on our bodies, a blue bruise appears. It is a mechanism of the body to bring blood and healing to the site of hurt. 30 The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly.” Eventually, the blood will carry the damaged tissue away and cleanse the wound of any damage. When we behave in ways that are not pleasing to God, we are chastised with many stripes. Though the stripes wound the outer body, the inner man is healed and restored to his place in God. Hard trials and challenges strengthen the inner man. Even when all around is in ruins, the inner man, devoted to God, can be an edifice of strength and hope to others. Though the devil may be able to destroy the body, he cannot touch the soul.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Devotion on Hymns (Leaning on the Everlasting Arms) - 30 July 2013, Anno Domini



"27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." (Deut 33:27)

            God minces no words in relating His Power and His willingness to care for those who belong to Him. This clause of verse 27 above is terse, simple, and yet full of promise and power. Such strong and simple verses, when combined with God-honoring music, constitute an invincible testimony to those whose very being is centered in God. He will never fail to care for His own; after all, do we not have the promise of the One who bled and died for us: "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." (Heb 13:5) If we COME to Him, He will NEVER LEAVE us or FORSAKE us.  Never is Eternity! We depend upon God's loving care and Providence every day of our lives - more truly, every second. "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." (Psalms 55:22) His hand sustains our lives moment by moment. God saw in the eternal vapors of the past that no man could be with Him except there be a Savior - and God provided Himself a Lamb for the sacrifice. (Genesis 22:8) "And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke." (Isaiah 59:16-17) This speaks of the Coming of Christ as Redeemer.

            The words of our hymn today (Leaning on the Everlasting Arms) remind us that in our most desperate sorrows and weakness, we shall not fall from God's protective arms. He keeps them outstretched always to defend us from any fall. "And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders. (Deut 26:8)

            Just a few miles south of Chatsworth, Georgia, where my grandmother lived, there is a small rural community of 673 souls named White, Georgia. About four miles north of this sleepy little village is, hidden by a railway overpass from view from the road, an old Methodist Church called Pine Log United Methodist Church. The church was constructed sometime before 1850.  This old church has experienced some vivid testimonies of the work of God in years past. In 1877, an evangelist was conducting revival there. On the last night of the revival, the preacher said, "O Lord, I have preached my heart out to these people to no avail. I have besought with pleadings. I have invoked the power of the Holy Ghost, but to no result.. If you will, Lord, reach down your mighty hand and shake this church to its foundations." Suddenly, there was an earthquake that did, indeed, shake the church to its foundations. Reports claim that all attendees were on their knees praying to the Lord for their salvation.....including the preacher.  I have a photo of a large stone out front commemorating this event.

            There was a second stone that commemorated another event that occurred about twelve years later (1889). A.J. Showalter, A Dalton (Georgia) businessman and lay minister was preaching another revival at Pine Log Church. He had just come from a revival in Alabama.  While at Pine Log, he received the sad news that the wives of two men of his previous engagement had tragically died. While writing his condolence letter to comfort the two men, this verse came to mind: " The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms." It occurred to him that this would be an excellent theme for a hymn. He immediately sat down and wrote the music and the refrain for this wonderful hymn. He then sent it to a famous old friend. Dr. Elisha Hoffman, in Philadelphia to add lyrics and to publish which this famous hymn writer did. I am told that this hymn went around the world in just a short few months without the aid of telephone or radio. It is the only hymn that Showalter wrote, I believe. His old Office Supply business is still at the old location in Dalton, Georgia, but is now called 'Dalton Office Supply.' I went there with my father often while growing up.

LEANING ON THE EVERLASTING ARMS

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Refrain:
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Refrain

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Refrain

            There is no greater joy or peace than that which comes from the certain knowledge that God is our refuge and strength. We are not left alone to battle the Dark Angel. God is with us with His mighty outstretched Arm. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:7)

            Where is the Straight Way and the Narrow Way? It is illumined more and more to those who believe and seek Him: " O how bright the path grows from day to day," and we have NOTHING to fear as Christ is "a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother." "What have I to dread, what have I to fear, Leaning on the everlasting arms; I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,

            There has never been a people more zealously protected and cherished than those of God. " Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.  (Psalms 17:8) The "apple of God's eye is that little image that each of us make as a reflection in the very center of the pupil of His eye as He watches over us. "He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust." (Psalms 91:2) If we place not our trust in God, who is left to trust? "In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge." (Prov 14:26) The baby that awakes, terrified, in the dark of night is quickly consoled by his mother's strong arms. The bleating lamb, lost on the mountain ledge, is quickly comforted by the Shepherds strong staff of rescue. God is always near you. Need you fear any gloom of night, or mountain storm? How can a baby not love its mother? How can a lamb not trust its shepherd? How can a Christian not love and trust His Lord and Shepherd even if the foundations of the earth are loosed?

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Chaplain and a Cadet





The following interesting statement of facts was made by Bishop Mcllvaine (first Chaplain of the US Military Academy at West Point, and 3rd Chaplain of the US Senate). Bishop Charles Pettit McIlvaine was, at the time of this writing, the Bishop of Ohio (PECUSA). The occasion was the ordination of Leonidas Polk to the priesthood - later as Bishop of Louisiana. Bishop Polk later served as Major General in the Confederate Army and was killed at Pine Mountain, north of Atlanta.

It is now nearly thirteen years since a very remarkable work of grace occurred in the Military Academy of the United States. During a condition of almost universal indifference to religion, and of wide-spread infidelity, against which the efforts of the ministry of one man, set for the defense of the gospel, seemed for a long time to make not the least way, suddenly almost, in a very few days, many minds without communication with one another, and without personal intercourse with the minister, appeared deeply, and almost simultaneously interested in the great matters of eternal life. Officers as well as cadets participated in this, and to such an extent, that the minister's study was soon occupied every evening with assemblies, composed of both, for prayer and the exposition of the word of God; and a serious impression, more or less deep and abiding, was spread over a large part of the whole military community. Several became at that period very decided soldiers of Christ.

Many others received impressions then, which God has since ripened into manifest and energetic piety. Many more received the seed of the word, in whom, though it seemed to die, it has since, under the continued influence of the Spirit, sprung up and brought forth fruit. Some are still in military life. Others have been, long since, adorning the Christian profession in the ministry of the gospel.

The very first appearance of this work of grace, so remarkably and singularly the work of God, was the coming of a cadet, alone and most unexpectedly, to introduce himself to the chaplain, and unburden the sorrows of a contrite heart. All around him was coldness and skepticism. To speak decidedly in favor of religion was then so unusual in the academy, that it made one singular. To converse with the chaplain on that subject had not been ventured by any, except out of opposition to the truth. That anyone would appear there seriously seeking eternal life, even the chaplain was afraid to hope.

A cadet, however, did venture to come, in open day, to the chaplain's study, too deeply concerned to heed what would be said of him. He was personally unknown to the chaplain. His message he tried to utter, but could not. Again he tried, and again; but his heart was too full for speech. At length he said, " Tell me what I must do; I have come about my soul. I know not what I want; I am entirely in the dark. What must I seek; where must I go?"  Such was the first declaration of one who, for some days, had been awakened under the preaching and reading of the truth. A sermon preached on the Scriptures, and a tract, sent at a venture from the chaplain's study, to whomsoever it might meet, had been blessed to his soul. Doubts and cavils were all abandoned. Implicit submission seemed his engrossing principle. From that moment the young man appeared to take up the cross, and to stand decidedly and boldly on the Lord's side.

The singular and very prominent evidence of the hand of God in this case, was very greatly blessed to others. After graduating at that institution, and leaving the army, he passed through a regular course of study for the holy ministry, and was successively ordained deacon and presbyter. Many years have since elapsed.

The chaplain has since been called to a higher order in the ministry, and more enlarged responsibilities in the church. The cadet, meanwhile, after many vicissitudes of active duty and of disabling ill health, supposed he had settled himself for the rest of his life as a preacher and pastor to an humble and obscure congregation of negroes, whom he had collected together from neighboring plantations; to whom, living entirely upon his own pecuniary means, he appropriated a part of his own house for a church, and to whose eternal interests he had chosen cheerfully and happily to devote himself, as their spiritual father, with no emolument but their salvation.

But such was just the true spirit for the highest of all vocations in the church. To be a servant of servants is the very school in which to prepare for the chief ministry under Him who " took upon himself the form of a servant." The church needed a missionary bishop for a vast field, for great self-denial, for untiring patience, for courageous enterprise. Her eye was directed to the self-appointed pastor of that humble congregation. With most impressive unanimity did she call him away to a work, not indeed of more dignified duty, but of more eminent responsibility; not indeed of more exquisite satisfaction to a Christian heart, (for what can give a true Christian heart more exquisite satisfaction than to lead such of the poor to Christ ?) but of severer trials, and vastly greater difficulties and hardships. Counting the cost, he has not dared to decline it. Regarding the call as of God, he has embraced the promised grace, and is now ready to be offered. And thus the chaplain has here met the beloved cadet again, seeing and adoring the end of the Lord in that remarkable beginning.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sermon Notes - Ninth Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 28 July 2013, Anno Domini




The Ninth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

G
RANT to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as are right; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
  
     11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry 25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. 29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. (Luke 15:11-32)

     We take up today the third in a trilogy of lost things in Parables – the Prodigal Son! Due to the length and intrinsic beauty of this Parable, we shall study it in two parts, over two days. The first part involves the coming of age of a son, his rebellion to the Father, his departure and descent into debauchery, and finally his awakening and return to the Father. In the second part, we shall study the reaction of his brother to his homecoming.

          11 And he said, A certain man had two sons – not just ‘any’ man, but a ‘certain’ man. The father in this Parable is illustrative of God our Father in Heaven who has two peoples (Jews and Gentiles) to whom have been offered the most beneficent of blessing – the salvation by grace through faith in His only Begotten Son. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. Please bear in mind that the younger son, though of tender years, has come to the age of accountability. He is like a Christian who is born of God, has lived as a son of God, but finally rebels against God his Father. In this respect, he differs from the Lost Sheep who was not mature, and not well learned in the means of grace or of pasturelands. He also starkly differs from the Lost Coin which was dead – just as dead as the lost sinner is dead in trespasses and sins. The Lost Sheep, because of its lack of vision and maturity, does not intentionally leave the Good Shepherd. It gets lost because it lacks the sense to follow closely on; but, once lost, it is incapable of finding itself because it lacks the deep root of faith which typifies a well-nurtured child of God. So the Good Shepherd must seek out the Lost Sheep. The Lost coin, being inanimate of spirit, is lost wherever it is and, if found, must be found only by its rightful owner who is God, and by His Sovereign Will and Grace.

        The young son desires to be out from under the watchful, though loving, eye of his father. From the moment of his birth, he has lived according to the law of his father. He feels now that he is grown up and become the wisest of ten thousand - he believes can do better. He is a child of God by circumstance of a (new) birth and not by persistent faith. Bear in mind, too, that according to the laws of inheritance, the father is not obligated to ‘divide his living’ to the young man. In fact, the young man was impertinent to even make the request. But, even though the son desires to part company with his father, the father loves his son and realizes that the argument of logic and reason will not benefit at this early point of the young man’s maturity (or, rather, immaturity). Our Father God compels none to abide under His beneficent care. Even nations who opt to abandon God do so oblivious to the danger and peril  to which they subject themselves. God does not intrude where He is not wanted for He is a perfect gentleman, and we are left to the wiles of the Devil without His over-watching care and protection.  We see this being demonstrated across the landscape of America today.

        13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. How eager are the youth of our day to remove themselves a far distance from the watchful eye of the parent! When freedom looms bold, the child will hurry to get away and enjoy what he believes will be nothing but joy and plenty. Anytime one departs from his Father God, he will be going into a ‘Far Country’ where the famine will certainly arise for him. Being separated from God in spirit, as well as distance, will lead to depravity of conduct and a waste of the wealth God has given. Without the benefit of the Holy Ghost as our heart’s compass, it is impossible to live a life pleasing to God.

        The good father watched the darling of his heart depart on that long, dusty road. He watched every move his son made until, at last, his visage disappeared on the distant horizon. How often would the father sit for days, months, and perhaps years,  through the warm summers, amber autumns, dreary winter months, and through the promises of spring, watching that same road for any sign of his son’s return. How often would he inquire and receive word back that his son was wasting all – not only his wealth, but his health and humanity as well. Yet, the father never sent for his son or begged him to return. Why not? Because any amount of reasoning with a rebellious son will yield no victory until that son has learned (often the hard way) for himself the cruelty of a world without his Father’s loving care. Have we learned that lesson, reader?

        14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. A Christian who departs from the presence of God will lose all in the process of riotous living. His life, begun in pleasures of lust, will come to mighty famine of spirit, body, and soul. The Dark Angel will take all that you have, and then some more. The time will always, and with great certainty,  arise when you will begin to be in want. With some, this is the moment of awakening for the need of your Father; but with others, more suffering and desperate want is necessary. So it is with our Prodigal – too proud to return to his father, and too desperate to even remember the abundance which he has left behind at the end of that dusty road, he lingers on in peril of his soul forestalling the inevitable.

        15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. If we are not joined with God our Father, we shall surely be joined to a stranger who gives not a whit for the well being of our souls. If our companions are not citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, they shall be citizens of that Far Country. The stranger to whom we are joined when apart from God will only use us and destroy us. He will place us in unsavory circumstances and filthy habitations.  If we labor not in our Father’s Fields, we shall labor for the Destroyer of Souls. Imagine the hurt in the soul of a young Hebrew lad who was raised in plenty in his father’s house now having to feed swine.

        16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. When you are out of the company of God, no man will care for you. You end up eating food for the soul that is like unto the food of pigs. Of course, he remembered that his father still loved him regardless of how far away he drifted, but his tortured mind had lost the ability to see and understand clearly in this Far Country.  He was lingering in a state of reprobation.

        17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! It should be noted that any Christian who departs from the Presence of their Lord is not in his right mind, and this poor youth is no exception. He has travelled a great distance from the love of his father, but his father’s love knows no distance. His tortured brain had undergone a process of gradual deprivation and debauchery during this time of licentious living. It was necessary for him to suffer much, long and hard, in separation from the benefits of his father in order to penetrate his stubborn heart and spark his calloused spirit. But, he DID come to himself. He finally was forced to admit that all his dreams and fantasies were in ruins. He came to view, as we all must do apart from God, what a deplorable condition he had arrived at in his rebellion. Even the smallest little soul in our Father’s House has plenty of daily bread, and more; yet, we who believed we could do better in a Far Country, are perishing without that Bread of Heaven common in our Father’s House.

        18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. Once we have come to the reality of our loss, we must resolve to return to our Father and confess our sinful disposition and living. We must face the reality that we are the most unworthy of all under God’s Heaven. We are certainly not worthy, nor have we ever been, of being a son or daughter of the Most High God. Sins against our earthly fathers are also reckoned as sins against heaven. We will then be happy to be accepted as only hired servants in the great house we deserted. But God has no “hired servants.”

        20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. It is not enough to KNOW to do right – we must follow that realization with ACTION! We cannot make amends for our faithlessness in a Far Country – we must RETURN to the presence of our Father and confess our sins. The good father has felt the hurt of his son’s absence deep in his heart as he has watched, day after day, that same dusty road upon which his son departed.  Once, perhaps as evening shadows begin to fall, he spots a lonely fellow coming on that road. Though his eyes have grown dim with age, he unmistakably recognizes that this fellow is his dear son! He knows his gait and carriage even though the fellow is not riding a charger or dressed in the silken blouse he wore when he departed. He is rather dressed in rags and is filthy in his person. Even from a great distance away, he recognizes his son. God always recognizes those of us who wander from Him when He sees us on the road of return. Is that not a blessing of great joy? God will always have compassion on us when we return no matter how long our delay. Even though we are filthy in our sins and exude the terrible stench of the pigpen, He will embrace us and greet us with a Holy Kiss. Only a Father could love such a child, and He has done so for you and me.

        21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. Here, the prodigal satisfies the demands of love and conscience. He confesses, not only his sinfulness, but his complete unworthiness. None are worthy to be the son or daughter of God, but we shall certainly be if we have received that saving Grace of Jesus Christ. We see that there has taken place a four-fold undertaking in the prodigal’s return: 1) he came to himself and recognized his depravity; 2) He resolved to return to his father; 3) he arose and returned to his father in answer to his resolution; and 4) he confessed his dreadful behavior and worthlessness to his father. So must we do when we have separated ourselves from our loving Father!

        22 But the father said to his servants (as if he did not hear his son’s comments), Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: That ‘best robe’ represents the White Robe of Righteousness offered by Christ to all who come to Him. He will cover our sins and nakedness with that Robe which He has purchased with His own precious Blood. That ‘ring’ which the father gives the son is the same as that Signet Ring of Authority that a Sovereign gives to a subject to act in His Name and on His own Behalf. The Christian has great authority granted in the power of the Holy Scriptures themselves. What of the shoes? In ancient times, the first thing taken from prisoners captured on the battlefield was their shoes. Their shoes were taken to prevent their escape. Shoes represent liberty and freedom. In Christ, we have perfect Liberty. “…..where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Cor 3:17) God our Father has covered our sins with that White Robe of Righteousness offered in Christ,  given us Authority as believers to act on His behalf (having that same mind and will of the Father in our hearts), and given us perfect Liberty in Christ. The children of the Father have the complete free run of the home He offers.  23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry There will always be a feast of celebration in heaven at the return of a prodigal. There was joy in heaven at the recovery of the little Lost Sheep; there was joy in heaven over the recovery of the Lost Coin; and there was exceeding joy in heaven over the return of the Lost Son. How great worth we are as children of God. He will never forget us, nor will He give up watching and waiting when we depart from Him in rebellion.

        24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry It is in the nature of a heart to lament the loss of a thing once owned far more than the failure to acquire something much desired. It is sorrowful for a woman to desire a child but remain barren of children; but it is of far greater anguish to have a child and lose it. In a Far Country, away from God, we are dead as much as before we were ever born in Christ. But God is joyful at our return. He cannot bring us home in our state of sin and rebellion – that is a decision that the heart of the wanderer must make  - to come home to God, to confess our sinfulness, and be restored. He will not own us in a Far Country, but He will never disown us when we have come home to Him.
        The question that this Parable raises is too apparent to deny: have you wandered from your Father’s home? Have you spent all of your resources in riotous living? Have you sunk to the level of the pigs in the sty? Have you come to the realization of your grievous apostasy? Have you resolved to return to you Father and confess your faults? Have you followed through with your resolution? Have you?

THE ELDER SON:

            Today’s text covers the last half of the rich and memorable Parable of the Prodigal Son. There have been mixed and varied interpretations of its meaning and my own interpretation will not satisfy every facet of its meaning – for, like a well cut diamond, there are many facets to this portion of the Parable and each may be as true as the next.  The hands and minds of men are vulgar and insensible when compared to the infallible and Holy Word of God, so we each will benefit in taking no man’s word for meaning or measure without resorting to the Crystal Stream that flows from the Fountain of Living Waters – the Holy Bible itself, and with the Holy Ghost as an interpreter thereof.

     At the outset, we might agree that the principles that rule in the Kingdom of Heaven are not worldly. There is no seniority of time and labors in that Kingdom. God is more concerned about the DIRECTION we are going and the PRESENT condition of our hearts than in the tireless amounts of labors performed by men’s hands.

       25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. Can you sympathize with this faithful son who has remained at his father’s side while his younger brother fritted away half the wealth of his father in consorting with harlots and false religion (for harlotry is compared in God’s Word to Idolatry)? He has not even heard that his younger brother has returned, so he is astonished at the sound of music and revelry coming from his father’s house. No one even showed him the courtesy of sending for him to partake in the celebration. Examine your own heart at this moment and answer: “Would you, too, not be offended?” He has labored throughout the heat of the day (and years). He has sacrificed much of his young years on his father’s behalf. He is tired and weary, but now he hears the sound of celebration and party! 26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. At the present, he is only curious, but soon he will be outraged. Would we not be as well?

     27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. As we have stated often before, love is not divisible. It is whole cloth and cannot be divided between siblings. A mother loves the eldest just as dearly as the youngest and will never make a choice between the two. Her love is increased in exact amounts, and never diminished, to cover each child equally in showers of blessing. The same is true of fathers. The father has not killed the fatted calf in honor of his prodigal son, but in expression his own joy at the son’s recovery. Please recollect the Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin and the joy in heaven over their recovery. But here is revealed the joy of a father at the recovery of a LOST SON as if restored from death. Can you even imagine the great joy in the heart of the old man? Can you even imagine the joy in Heaven at the recovery of a son or daughter of God, who has wandered afar, yet returns in sorrowful contrition and repentance?

     28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated him. I am afraid that I would have responded PRECISELY as this elder son. We are constantly mindful of unfair treatment, especially from those we cherish the most.  Our hearts can never be as large as that of our Maker and Redeemer who bore all for miserable sinners. The marvelous thing is that God understands, and makes allowances for our weak spirits and faltering love. I find one salient and inexcusable fault with the elder son: he should also have been able to subdue feelings of jealousy and unfairness for the moment of reunion with a lost brother whom he has not seen for many, many days. The event of greatest importance (more importance than personal jealousy if familial love is the concerned) is that a lost BROTHER has returned. When I was a lad,  I certainly resented the partial treatment extended to my younger brother for his tender years but, if he had gotten lost for ANY reason, I would have had at least as much joy at his being found as my mother and father would have had. Just as my father often explained to me of the reason the younger son must be treated with a special affection because of his youth, so the father here comes to the elder son with that same love that prompted the celebration to explain to him his feelings and reasons for joy. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 4 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. (Psalms 103:13-14)  It is such a comfort that God understands even our weaknesses and cares for us nonetheless.

     29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. It is altogether reasonable that the elder son, in view of worldly principles, would be taken aback by this expression of attention given an unfaithful son. It is not so much the love showered on the prodigal that bothers the elder son, but the seeming slight of love shown to one who has been, beyond doubt, the more faithful of the two in times past.  The feeling of slighted treatment was comparable to that which the early Jewish believers felt when the gates of mercy and grace were thrown open to the Gentile nations. The Hebrews had been first to take up the Word of God – not by virtue of their own goodness, but by the foreordination and will of God in establishing His people upon the earth. The Hebrew people had been privileged to maintain the oracles of God, to field prophets called by God, to build the Temple in Jerusalem. They could easily see their present blessing, but were blind to the greater plan of God in not limiting the promises of Israel to a single race of people. His plan was decided long before there was a Canaan, an Abraham, or even a Garden eastward in Eden.

     The elder son is hurt to the core. His father has killed the fatted calf, the choice of his stock, for his prodigal son who has returned home. But the father has not so much as killed a kid goat for his elder son who has remained faithful.  Please look beyond the limits of our selfish concerns and see the great generosity and grace of God in forgiving, always and fully, our past transgressions and rejoicing at the present contrition of a heart that returns to Him. We always look at the outward evidence, but God ALWAYS looks at the inward motive. “………the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart. (1 Sam 16:7) Is it not possible that the One who made the heart can also repair the heart that is broken? It is a strangely wonderful truth that God loves the broken heart more than the whole: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. (Psalms 51:17) 

     We all enter in this life with a heart full of imperfections. If we fail to confess those imperfections, we shall bear them to our graves, but only that which is broken needs fixing. This, the Pharisees failed miserably to grasp and placed themselves, for the most part, beyond the bonds of mercy. Have you known of your heart needing fixing? Have you taken it to the Master Heart Maker who only can restore that heart? My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. (Psalms 57:7) Please remember the depth of sin into which David, a man after God’s own heart, sank; yet see what David can say after a trip to the Master. A heart, sure of itself and unaware of hidden imperfections cannot be ‘FIXED.’ Only a heart that is BROKEN can be FIXED! Do you have a broken heart that has been FIXED by God, our Maker?

     31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. The good father, who loves his elder son every bit as much as the younger, acknowledges the elder son’s faithfulness and devotion.  I can imagine that he spoke with deep regard and affection as he placed his arm over the shoulder of the despondent one, just as God our Father comforts us when we believe we have been wronged. The elder son has lost NOTHING by remaining faithful to the father. In fact, all that the father has remaining belongs to the elder son. Not only has he retained his original inheritance from his father, but much has been added by years of labor and improvement. The younger, on the contrary, is destitute of any inheritance. He has squandered it away in a Far Country separated from his father. There is a stark lesson here for us. Even though we are pardoned by God and warmly received back into His loving care, our sins and disobedience have consequences of eternal impact. We are often unable to restore the loss and pain we have caused by our sins. Though forgiven, sin leaves scars. Look at the terrible scars of the whip, nails, and lance that our sins caused on the body of our dear Lord and Redeemer – and these were only the outward evidences of a terrible anguish He felt in His Spirit for us.

     32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. It is always right and meet that we should rejoice in the reunion of one separated from his loved ones of the One who loves more than heart can know. The elder son has done that which is expected and proper in serving his father these many years, yet, the son, who was lost, has come home. THIS is a true cause of  rejoicing! We do not make a fuss over a friend who is continually by our side through hard times and good, but we DO make a fuss over a friend who has returned after a separation during which we believed him to be dead.  Do we realize that we are all in a state of death and dying when apart from our Father God? Do you?           

28 July 2013 - Special Prayer Request


Major Disaster
Eighty people were killed as the result of a train wreck in northern Spain, Bishop of Spain Eduardo Dominguez Vilar asks the entire Anglican Orthodox Communion to join him in prayer for those who have lost their lives and have been injured in this tragedy, as well as for their families who are deeply affected by their family members deaths and injuries.  Please pray for the full and speedy recovery of those injured, for the families and friends of the departed who remain behind and for those who are involved in the rescue and cleanup efforts.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Devotion on Proverbs 20 (Part Two vs. 11-20) - 27 July 2013, Anno Domini



11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right. 12 The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them. 13 Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread. 14 It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth. 15 There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel. 16 Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman. 17 Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel. 18 Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war. 19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips. 20 Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness. (Prov 20:11-20)

            The keeper of the orchard is focused more upon the development of the young trees than he is the maintenance of the older ones.  Why is this so? It is because the old tree has matured and grown to its fullest. It will not easily change in its fruitfulness or its stature; but a young tree is yet tender and will be affected greatly by weather phenomena such as winds and water erosion. It will also be more susceptible to parasitic infection. But if the wind blows the young twig so much that is no longer vertical, that bend in its character will remain throughout its growth if not quickly corrected by the keeper of the orchard. Sometimes, too, a young tree will put forth what the keeper of the orchard calls a ‘runner’. This is a secondary growth that emerges near the host and from the same root of the host tree. If allowed to remain, the runner will produce no fruit, but it will deprive the fruitful parent of needed sap to produce its fruit. The young man or woman needs prompt correction when the winds of social depravity blow against their tender branches. If some secondary interest develops (as a runner) which will not profit them but rather lead to a fruitless life, it must be removed from the living root. “11 Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.” Early in life, a child exhibits traits and characteristics that will mark their adult character later in life. If some behavior appears that is undesirable, it is much easier to address that unwanted behavior early and thoroughly. If left to grow, it may sap the strength from the young person and result in their becoming moral runts. But once a child, or a tree, has grown to maturity, there is no question or doubt as to their nature to either produce good fruit, or no fruit at all. If no fruit is produced, the orchard keeper will cut it down.

            “12 The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.” It is true that these two organs of the senses are the most beneficial of all for learning. But suppose the ear does not hear, or the eye does not see? That would be an unfortunate tragedy. Unfortunately, many ears are dumb by choice of the owner to the things of God; and many eyes are blind to the wonders of His creation and truth. “Having eyes, see ye not? and having ears, hear ye not?” (Mark 8:18)  Of what purpose is a piano that doesn’t play and a light that does not shine? The most important purpose for which the ear can be employed is in hearing the Word of God. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17)  How can we fully appreciate the majesty and beauty of God without seeing His righteousness outlined in His Law? Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” (Psalms 119:18) Should we not be at least as alert to God as the pagan prophet, Balaam: “And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness. And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him. And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said:  He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open.” (Numbers 24:1-4)

            Many men’s ears and eyes are open to that which is outwardly rewarding in the way of morality and decency, but completely deaf and blind to the greater needs of the soul spoken through the Voice of Mercy and Grace. They are like spiritual statues.

            “13 Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.” Sleep is a pleasure and a necessity that must be balanced for good effect. Eight hours of sleep seems to be a happy norm though many can only endure 4 hours per night (Napoleon, for example).  But those who exceed 8 hours sleep often discover that they are drowsier throughout the day than after nights of less sleep. Laziness is infectious. There is a spiritual as well as physical application of this verse. If we open our eyes and ears to God’s Word in diligent study, and to prove all things thereby, it will become the very Bread of Heaven to our hearts and souls. There is a necessary and Godly rest, but also a slovenly sleep that is excessive. The sleep God gives should be spent as money – not wasted.  “It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.” (Psalms 127:2)

            “14 It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth.” We are ready and willing to lie to get a bargain and, then, more than willing to brag of our clever dealings with the seller. I was once invited to a dinner party in Esfahan, Iran, by a friend whose wife was Iranian. Another American guest inquired about a lamp the hostess had on a night stand. He commented that he had purchased an identical lamp with cut-glass shade at the bazaar only yesterday. He boasted of his knowledge of the Iranian custom of bargaining. The merchant wanted 2500 rial (about $40) for the lamp. But he lingered with the merchant over tea and pita bread. He left the merchant and returned again after 30 minutes. He was finally able to get the merchant to come down on his price to 1500 rial. He commented that the merchant “had tears in his eyes” when the guest had purchased the lamp at such a bargain. He then asked the Iranian hostess what she had paid for her lamp? His face changed a bit when she responded, “300 rial!”

            “15 There is gold, and a multitude of rubies: but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.” The thoughts of man are not the thoughts of God. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8) Though the lips of knowledge are accounted the choice currency in heaven, in the world they are not valued at all in comparison with gold and rubies. Men are eager to deceive and defraud to gain the currency the world values to the detriment of their souls. “Augustine mentions a somewhat ludicrous, but significant, story. A mountebank published in the full theatre, that in the next entertainment he would show to every man present what was in his heart. An immense concourse attended, and the man redeemed his pledge to the vast assembly by a single sentence—‘Vili vultis emere, et caro vendere’—‘You all wish to buy cheap, and to sell dear’—a sentence generally applauded: everyone, even the most trifling (as Augustine observes) finding the confirming witness in their own conscience.”  De Trin. Lib. xiii. c. 111. If the conscience has not been “seared as with a hot iron’” it will be always a silent witness to the voice of God within our souls. Unfortunately, we often file that Voice so remotely that it is not easily evoked.

            “16 Take his garment that is surety for a stranger: and take a pledge of him for a strange woman.” It is not wise to lend to a stranger without collateral property.  And a man who is prone to immoral living must pledge his freedom to get money to finance that life-style. We should be aware that “the love of our neighbor does not involve the forgetting of our own security that wisdom has taught us. The path of godly prudence is the safest for all parties. It never can be wise to assist, where kindness only gives advantage to hurry on to ruin. The refusal may be an exercise of self-denial. It is well that it should be so. Let it be clearly seen to be the sacrifice, not the indulgence, of self-prudence, not selfishness. This grace is one of the combined perfections of Immanuel. Let it not be wanting in the profession of his people. It is necessary to the completeness of the Christian profession, and to avoid many occasions of offence to the Gospel.” Charles Bridges.

            “17 Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.” The most convenient place of separating the chaff from the wheat may not be the most profitable to taste. The platform must be clean and smooth. If the winnowing is conducted on a sandy or gravelly surface, the bread product may have a sweet taste, but the gravel will break the teeth. The devil makes his counterfeit look delicious, but its constitution is not good for the soul of man. For every profound truth of God, Satan has a profound counterfeit. So, how can you tell the difference? You do so by studying the genuine – not the counterfeit. Being perfectly familiar with the true currency of God’s Word, you will immediately detect the counterfeit.

            “18 Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.” When making important decisions, do not rely upon your own limited knowledge. The rope is stronger that has many cords twisted together. Seek advice from all friends who may have had some different experience in the matter.  Certainly, nations should not go to war without considering every possible aspect of the necessity and outcome.  Hitler made a great miscalculation in following the Napoleonic example of the invasion of Russia. History is prologue.

            The Overture of 1812, by Peter Tchaikovsky, was written to celebrate the consecration of St Katherine’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg in 1879 (I believe). The lilting opening notes suggest a mixture of the French Marseilles intermixed with the Holy Russian anthem, “Save us O God.”  The Russians were ill-trained and poorly equipped to resist such a formidable army as that of Napoleon – numbering more than half a million. So they could only depend upon God for their salvation. After a dearly purchased victory at Borodino (outside the perimeter of Moscow) Napoleon proudly marched into the city to take possession. It was the bleak cold of a Russian winter and Napoleon needed the resources he would gain in the city to feed his troops and war horses. Unfortunately, all provender and shelter had been burned or evacuated. Napoleon was stuck in a cold, desolate Moscow with no hope of staying. Not only did he need to withdraw back across the vast and frozen Russian frontier for practical reasons, but to save himself. In the Overture, it is at the point of Napoleon’s retreat that the Church Bells are wrung in celebration and the live cannon fire is introduced to convey the total victory of Russia (with God’s help) over a tyrannical invader.  Napoleon arrived back in France with only 10,000 of his 500,000 man army.  Napoleon did not consider the diligence of the Russian people nor their reliance upon a merciful and just God. “….with good advice make war.” There is no better advice than that which comes through the wisdom of God’s Word. The spiritual war is far more intense than the physical. Satan never withdraws completely from the field. But the Captain of our line is Christ and He never loses. "Blessed be the Lord, my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight!" (Ps. 144:1)

            “19 He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.” If we will remember that all interactions in life with others must be based in love, we will be better people. Even the rebuke of Christ to the Pharisees was out of a greater love of their souls than any regard for their outward appearance. One person you may always depend upon as being shallow and unreliable is the flatterer. His flatteries and devotion are always to the stronger hand or the most opportune climate. Those who carry rumors and gossip about your enemy will also carry tales about you to that enemy. The gossip knows no loyalties. His whole body is subjugated to a lying tongue.

            “20 Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.” If the punishment for such behavior is darkness, perhaps darkness is also the cause of his sin. Nature itself offers strong counsel against such ingratitude of a sibling against a parent who has been the author and preserver of his existence. Any offense at all against a parent is a curse. If we owe such reverence for them when they are dead, how much more so while they are living? The sons of the Rechabites set the standard for the honor due parents even in death: “And I set before the sons of the house of the Rechabites pots full of wine, and cups, and I said unto them, Drink ye wine.  But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever:  Neither shall ye build house, nor sow seed, nor plant vineyard, nor have any: but all your days ye shall dwell in tents; that ye may live many days in the land where ye be strangers.  Thus have we obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab our father in all that he hath charged us, to drink no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, nor our daughters;  Nor to build houses for us to dwell in: neither have we vineyard, nor field, nor seed:  But we have dwelt in tents, and have obeyed, and done according to all that Jonadab our father commanded us.” (Jer 35:5-10) Do thou likewise.