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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sermon Notes - Easter Sunday - 31 March 2013, ANNO DOMINI!



Easter Sunday.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life; We humbly beseech thee that, as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end.  Amen.

The Gospel
W
HEN the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the Mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid. (St. Mark xvi. 1 - 8)
            It is pitiful to observe how afraid and fearful were the women who found and empty Tomb. It is absolutely the most beautiful thing that has ever happened for the benefit of man – that the Tomb of Jesus was empty! How often do we observe the wonder of the God's work and mistake it for a thing fearful and sad. Fear locks our mouth and stops our testimony. Is it not a wonderful thing to find an empty Tomb and a Risen Lord in lieu of a dead and lifeless body? Perhaps it was their fear and momentary loss of faith that prevented Christ from immediately appearing to them. But can we fault these courageous ladies very much? They lingered at the foot of the cross with John when many others of the disciples were in hiding. They were the ones who followed the body to the Garden Tomb (on loan from Joseph of Arimathaea) and watched there until the Tomb was made sure. 61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre. (Matt 27:61) Perhaps it was AMAZEMENT more than anything else that caused their reaction. How can we proclaim such an overwhelmingly marvelous thing?
            It is true that we often disregard even the counsel of angels in our fears. The great Angel spoke to them and, as usual, prefaced his words with "Be not affrighted." There was no cause for fear, but there WAS great cause for joy. Sometimes we tend to mix our emotions in the wrong way. When God's Hand moves to the healing of His people, should our hearts not brim with love and joy! But the circumstances simply overwhelmed the women. As my mother used to say, "They were beside themselves." NEVER did they expect to see what they found. First, the Stone was rolled back. It would take many strong men to perform that task. Fortunately, there were guards there to insure that no man's hand broke the Roman seal. But the great Angel rolled away the Stone with little effort.  Secondly, the women entered a Tomb that was not yet completely empty – there was only an Angel there to greet their fears. Thirdly, the Angel spoke kind words to allay their foreboding fear. Fourthly, the Angel told them that Christ was risen. Should we not believe an Angel when all evidence supports his claim? He even showed them the place where Christ had laid.
            Fourthly, the Angel told them something that demonstrated the sweet graces of the Balm of Gilead. You will recall that Peter has suffered for these three days the awful pain of having renounced the Lord his God before the court of the Sanhedrin. 56 But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. 57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. 58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. 59 And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. 60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:56-62) The look of Christ was not one of reproach, but of deep disappointment – that disappointment one feels when his best friend has ruthlessly betrayed him. How this look had plagued poor Peter. How he despised himself, and ached in the depths of his heart. If he could only take his words back! The Angel told the women: But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee. Did you catch the grace-laden meaning of this comment, friends? "…tell his disciples and Peter" Though His hands of mercy were driven through with iron spikes, His feet nailed to the cross, a crown of thorns for a crown, and the ridicule of the multitudes to welcome His gaze, the Lord knew the agony of Peter, and addressed it with love and forgiveness. The angel did not send news to the disciples ONLY, but specifically to Peter – the only name mentioned for the sake of emphasis.
            Though we should be pained by our sins, Christ addressed our failings on the cross in the same way that He sent word to the suffering Peter – "you have not been renounced by ME, though I was renounced by you. My heart is too great to harbor vengeance against one who loves me and hurts me out of fear." Though we know and love Christ, our sinful nature may often cause us to renounce Him through our weakened flesh. We carelessly may recite the Lord's Prayer and not mean a word of it. We may enter church as a social feast rather than as an occasion to worship in reverence for the One who bled and died for us.
            Our Roman friends have come to the Tomb in the same way the women came. They seek and worship a dead body on the cross. But He is no there. He is risen! They erroneously believe that Christ must be sacrificed anew at every Mass they celebrate. But the Lord's Table is not an altar, but the Table of the Lord whereby we are fed in the glorious elements of Bread and Wine to signify His spiritual presence in His Body and Blood. The great truth that may escape our understanding is that we, too, are a portion of His Body broken for the Kingdom. Both the Old, and New, Testament Church are the Body of Christ nourished by that Blood shed for us more than two thousand years ago. Abraham knew it, Isaac illustrated it, and all others who looked forward to the promise (as we look back to the accomplished fact) constitute the Body of Christ.
            The Gospel ends today a bi
t awkwardly, for it leaves, on Easter morning, the women fearful. But, thanks be to God, the narrative continues in the next several verses:
9 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. 10 And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. 12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. 14 Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. 15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; 18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. 19 So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. (Mark 16:9-20)
            I have added these verses for a purpose. First, because these verses alleviate our fears and give us hope in the sure knowledge of the resurrection of Christ; and, secondly, because, if you are using one of the phony new translations such as the NIV, those last nine verses are enclosed in parentheses. The authors of these errant bibles then stipulate, falsely, in the footnote that these verses do not appear in the more ancient and reliable manuscripts.  They refer, of course, to the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus which do not even agree in many points with each other and which leave entire passages blank on the manuscript page. These constitute only 5% of manuscript evidence while the Textus Receptus of the Reformation agree in all points and constitute 95% of all manuscript evidence. The Thirty Nine Articles require the commonly received text upon which the KJV, the Geneva Bible, and all Reformed Bibles are based.
            Question: Do you believe these last nine verses should be omitted, as the NIV and others suggest? If you do not know, find out!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Devotion for Holy Saturday (Easter Even) - 30 March 2013 Anno Domini



The Collect
Easter Even
G
RANT, O Lord, that as we are baptized into the death of thy blessed Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, so by continual mortifying our corrupt affections we may be buried with him; and that through the grave, and gate of death, we may pass to our joyful resurrection; for his merits, who died, and was buried, and rose again for us, the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35 And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. 36 For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 37 And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced.  (John 19:31-37)
THE GREAT SABBATH
In order to redeem us from or sins, it was necessary that Jesus be perfect in obedience to the Law of Moses. He never failked in that obligation and, therefore, remained the only One born of woman able to save us.  He never took His Father's name in vain, honored His Father (in heaven AND on earth) & mother, never told a lie, never stole, never killed or hurt, never committed adultery, never coveted, and always kept the Sabbath Day according to the Law. Jesus even kept the Sabbath during his time in the Garden Tomb.
We are told that the women were most faithful in remaining at the cross and then the Tomb on the eve prior to the Sabbath (Friday afternoon).  And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children. (Matt 27:55-56) We know that Mary, the mother of Jesus, and John even remained at the foot of the cross. These same women were courageous in following Christ, even in death, to the Garden Tomb. And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre . (Matt 27:61) These kept watch as long as possible prior to the beginning of Sabbath about 6 PM. (Friday evening). When the constraint of time dictated that they retire to keep Sabbath, they went to their lodgings. There they must have been tortured in their minds over the events of the crucifixion. Mary Magdalene must have remembered, with profuse sorrow and tears – for she had shed many in times past – on that very sad and mournful Sabbath Saturday.
            These women had watched every detail of the burial of Christ how two powerful men (Joseph of Arimathaea & Nicodemus of the Sanhedrin) had laid Christ in a new Tomb to conform with scripture prophecy.  The Tomb was, interestingly, hewn out of a rock with only one possible entrance – otherwise completely secure. Interesting also is the fact that the Rock of our Salvation Himself was placed in a tomb hewn out of a rock. Noteworthy as well is the fact that both Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus had previously been `secret' disciples, but now came openly in the face of danger to claim the body of Christ. In every instance from the moment that Nicodemus came to Christ under cover of darkness, the Scripture thereafter ALWAYS refers to Nicodemus at the one "which at first came by night." That is the emboldening influence of Christ on true believers. We assume a courage that we never had before.  Now, the women watched carefully and marked the Garden Tomb for a prompt visit as soon as Sabbath was past.
            There was much mischief afoot in Jerusalem in those days (times never change, do they?) , yet Mary Magdalene, a defenseless woman, made her way through those dark streets, outside the gates, and to the Garden Tomb while it was yet dark. It was an inexplicable love that drove her there. She went seeking a dead body to honor, but found a live Savior to worship! What do we learn of this love? Firstly, we learn that love comes EARLY! The human love of Mary was strong and early, but the divine love of Christ and His angels was even earlier. Though human love, touched by grace, is warm and sweet, it can never outrun the perfecting love of Christ. Secondly, Love is mighty and powerful. Though the love of a mother can move tremendous weights, the Love of God can move mountains, and open the rock hewn tombs of its object.
"Looking at some trouble lying
              In the dark and dread unknown,
    We, too, often ask with sighing,
            `Who shall roll away the stone?'

"But before the way was ended,
           Oft we've had with joy to own,
             Angels have from heaven descended,
               And have rolled away the stone."

            Thirdly, we find that Love is comforting. Remember what the great angel said to Mary when she came to the opened Tomb? "Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified (Matt 28:5) The first word of angels to God's people is always, "Fear not!" They always bear messages of joy and evidence of hope: He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. (Matt 28:6) How difficult for human ears to believe the great hope of angels! But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre (John 20:11) Often our greatest sorrow comes when Jesus, unbeknownst to us, is standing at the ready by our sides. Fourthly, Love sends us outward to those who need to share in it. Mary Magdalene was the first to carry the full Gospel to the disciples. "Go tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead." Have  you experienced that kind of love – the kind that compels you to go out and tell others that Jesus has risen?
            Fifthly, Love gives promise. Love is overjoyed to tell of good news. "He goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see Him." Are you poor and without means? Christ has gone before you already for He "had not where to lay His head." Have you been betrayed by a friend, or deserted by your bosom companions? Christ has preceded you there. "All the disciples forsook Him." Have you been saddened by the passing of a friend or family member? Christ has preceded you there. "Jesus therefore groaning in Himself cometh to the grave." (of Lazarus). Are you faced with the nearness of the `shadow of death?' Jesus has preceded you there as well. "He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross."
            Christ died the death of the righteous. He arose on the third day and thereby made our way Light and Life. We no longer need fear death, for there is no death to those who love Christ. Today, we dress in the garb of a dark Sabbath. Tomorrow we shall wear the white robes of rejoicing. Are you ready?
Night in the Garden
By Bishop Jerry Ogles
Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons . John 18:3


Out of the darkest Halls of Hell
Came the marchers with torches raised.
Into the Garden quiet and still
They wandered forlorn and crazed.

Up to the Sovereign Lord of Love
Their spears shining bright in the mist
With arrogant air and a hateful shove
They took Him who wouldn't resist.

Now to the head of Scribe and Priest
Was the Savior led that night,
And to Herod's Court and Pilate's Seat
Where Right gave way to the Night.

To the craggy heights of the Lonely Skull
They took Him and laid Him down
And into His Hands of Love they drove
Iron spikes with a terrible Sound!

On His Brow a thorny Crown He wore
And His flesh was torn and bruised.
His Heart of Grace grew cold and sore
As the Spirit of Life was loosed.

The world of woe a Hope has found
In the Promise made sure by His Death
And the Saints of God with Faith abound
In the Fields that their Lord has blessed!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Devotion for Good Friday - 29 March 2013, Anno Domini



Good Friday
The Collect
A
LMIGHTY God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
A
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified; Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before thee for all estates of men in thy holy Church, that every member of the same, in his vocation and ministry, may truly and godly serve thee; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

M
ERCIFUL God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor desirest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all who know thee not as thou art revealed in the Gospel of thy Son. Take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy fold, that they may be made one flock under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
            As we turn down the bright lights of the Sanctuary in reverence to the great sacrifice that was made for us, let us not forget to "Let the Lower Lights be Burning." In our acknowledgement of ourselves as the Lower Lights, we are acknowledging that Christ – the Light that was briefly extinguished on this day – is the Greater Light; in fact, the Light of the World, and we are His disciples and Lower Lights. That brilliant Light that burst forth out of the Tomb on Easter morning will never be extinguished!
So what is so good about `Good' Friday? Was it not a day of horrible suffering and pain for our Redeemer? Yes, it was that. His virtue and modesty were violated in addition to the terrific pain He bore. He even tolerated the dogs of avarice to ridicule Him while He hung naked there on that instrument of torture called the cross. What forbearance He displayed in not calling down the armies of Heaven (as most of us would have done had we the power as He had). Being lifted up as the Brazen Serpent in the Wilderness, He drew all men to Himself who had been stung by the fiery serpent and Prince of the Air. He lingered there for hours in the heat of the sun, and to the shame of the multitudes. He was so thirsty that His tongue clave to the roof of His mouth. Yet, His heart of Mercy was not stopped from expressing forgiveness and reception even to a thief on an adjacent cross.
So why is Friday of the Crucifixion considered so `Good?' It is because the greatest good that has ever been done to humanity was given at the greatest cost that has ever been paid. As He hung there, His eyes of compassion blurred by pain, blood, and clammy perspiration, His great heart swelled with all of the hurt and guilt that you or I have ever felt. Not only did His heart contain all of that hurt for the present generation that had crucified Him, but for the millions and billions of people from eternity past to eternity future. His weary eyes looked out on a horizon that was far too distant for the Roman soldiers and the cruel multitudes gathered there to see. Never doubt that He saw your face from that high vantage point of the cross.
What do you suppose was forefront in His Mind as He beheld His executioners dividing His garments by lot at the foot of the cross? When He heard the scribes, priests, and Pharisees deriding and mocking Him, what do you suppose was in His heart of Mercy?  Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34) This is the first of seven words, or utterances, expressed by our Lord from the cross that day at Calvary.  This utterance is consistent with my own belief that the mind of a sinner is maddened and crazed by sin. He truly does not know the great ramifications of sin. He cannot at all help himself. He must be drawn, as a net the fish, to Christ on the cross. And because of that shameful event on Calvary, 2,000 years ago, the net of the Holy Ghost has been drawing men to Christ on the cross ever since. But the story does not end at the cross! It is only after we have taken grips of that rough-hewn cross that we bear it to an open tomb.  Just as Christ needed only a borrowed Tomb, so shall all who take up that cross daily and follow Him. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. (Luke 9:23)
Do you ever wonder why Christ pronounced those words of request to the Father – did He not have power to forgive sins? Yes, Jesus had power to forgive all sins; however, this particular sin was not against Him alone, but was also directly against God the Father. It was the only Begotten Son of God who was being crucified. The forgiveness of the Father was also necessary to forgive such an egregious sin against His own beloved Son. `FORGIVENESS'. Let us forever remember that this was the first word Christ spoke from the cross for, without forgiveness of our sins, there is no remission of sin; and, if there is no remission of sin, then do we believe in vain. (Romans 3:25, 1 Cor 15:1-2, et al) And for whom did Christ plead forgiveness? For the most murderous malefactors imaginable (and that would include you and me, Friend).
They laid Christ down upon the cross and drove nine inch spikes into His hands and feet. What a terrible thud that must have been!  They then, without the slightest compassion for their victim, lifted the cross up and slide it into the posthole which had been prepared. This caused a shocking and penetrating pain in the body of Christ from head to foot as the cross fell into the posthole with the force of all its weight. The sudden impact may even have caused the shoulder sockets to be pulled out of place further reducing the Lord's ability to lift Himself in order to breath. (see a deeper account of the horror of the cross in Psalms 22). The purpose of that cross was to inflict the greatest pain while prolonging the life of the victim as long as possible so that the duration as well would be greatest. Yet, the first words of Christ was a plea for forgiveness for those who "knew not what they did". We have not such a heart of forgiveness. If another hurts us with the slightest offending word, we remember it to our graves. How much different is Christ!
You will remember that on the night previous to His passion, the Lord prepared a Table for us in the presence of our enemies. This is the Communion Table whereby we draw near  by faith in regular observance of our salvation in His shed Blood and Body broken for us. Our cup runneth over as we observe the service of the Cup symbolizing His Blood, and Bread, His Body broken for us.
You will recall that Christ pronounced six other utterances from the cross: the second word was Salvation (Today shalt thou be with me in paradise – spoken to the repentant thief on the adjacent cross); the third word is LOVE – "Woman, behold thy Son….Behold thy mother – spoken to John and the mother of Jesus, Mary; the fourth word is ATONEMENT – "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Jesus took upon Himself the sins of the world. God, the Father, could not behold sin. He turned His face away as darkness fell upon all the land. I like to think of this quality as being "at-one-ment" with God. His death reconciled us to God through the remission of sin. Without that propitiary death, we would still be without hope. This was an expression, by Jesus, of spiritual suffering. This was the greatest hurt of all.
The fifth word was a word of `physical suffering.' "I thirst." Our physical suffering may even be useful in making us thirst for the Word of God and the hope it holds forth. Perhaps we are justified to weep at the tender thought expressed in Psalms: O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; 2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. (Psalms 63:1-2)
Next comes the sixth word -  considered the greatest single word ever uttered: "It is finished!" Had Jesus not uttered this word, it would still not be finished. In the Greek, this utterance is, indeed, a single word - ôåôá½³ëåóôáé. The sacrifice, established in the Councils of Heaven from before the foundations of the world, had now been consummated.  ALL that was required for the salvation of the soul of man had been done. Now the dimensions of time are constrained to that single moment that follows. The seventh word from the cross: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost. (Luke 23:46) His giving up of the spirit enabled the Comforter to come and soothe our pains and hurts of sin.  Had Christ not given up the Ghost, the Holy Ghost would not be with us to teach and lead us into all truth about Christ (for He speaketh not of His own).
Now, having reviewed all seven of those words, let us not forget the foundation of all that followed the first word – FORGIVENESS.
Have you been forgiven this Good Friday. If not, all the other works of Christ are of no efficacy to you, Friend.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Good Friday & Easter Greetings!



The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. 28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. 29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. 30 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. 31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33  This he said, signifying what death he should die. (John 12:23-33)
Good Friday
The Collect
A
LMIGHTY God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for which our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given up into the hands of wicked men, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
Easter Sunday
The Collect
A
LMIGHTY God, who through thine only-begotten Son Jesus Christ hast overcome death, and opened unto us the gate of everlasting life; We humbly beseech thee that, as by thy special grace preventing us thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.
GOOD FRIDAY
            Death is an ordeal which confronts all living souls. It is a passage through which we must all pass. There is only one of two possible means of living this life – either through the Door (which is Christ), or through the pit which is Hell. One or the other awaits us all. Christ, too, chose the shameful death of crucifixion to redeem us of our sins. He was the DOOR, and it was a passage through which He Made THE PASSAGE for all who follow Him. He forces none to follow, but affords a time of decision during which we may know Him as Lord and Savior, or be eternally lost. His death is one upon which we cannot help but look with joy and gratification for, had He not died in our stead, we would face a dark eternity. So, Good Friday was a blessing to us, but a dark and painful day for Christ. We do not mourn the death of Christ because Christ did not remain dead – He arose gloriously on the third day from the Garden Tomb. Now, believing that those who die in Christ shall enjoy that same resurrection, grief and mourning at the passing of a loved one is irrational and pointless, isn't it? His dying on the cross was the momentous and immeasurable price He paid for our sins. His resurrection on Easter morning sealed the reward of that salvation offered by His death to all who believe. Those who die in Christ are difficult for the officiant at funerals for he knows that they are actually not dead.  Good Friday holds out the hope, and not the reality of Resurrection to eternal life. Easter is the seal by which the hope and promise realized. It is this realization that makes Easter so gloriously filled with joy. Not only do we have assurance of our own salvation and eternal life, but we may take hope in the same for those whom we have loved dearly in Christ.
EASTER SUNDAY
            The purpose of the crucifixion of Chris was to HEAL us of our sins the wages of which are death.  Just as the brazen serpent was lifted up on a pole to heal those who looked to it bitten by the fleshly serpent, so was Christ lifted up on the cross to heal all who will look to Him for salvation from their sins. The old Serpent of the Garden has bitten all who dwell upon the earth, and the remedy is Christ. Christ drew many to Himself that Good Friday on the cross, but when He was lifted up to Heaven on Ascension  Day, He was lifted so high that all men since look unto Him for salvation. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
            It is noteworthy that Jesus tells us that it is He that draws us to Him. We do not, as many charismatics seem to believe, draw Christ to us. We draw near to Christ, by faith, because the faith He has implanted in our hearts, by the agency of the Holy Ghost, draws us to Him. As the Prayer Book Invitation reads: "…Draw near with faith.."  The disciples were drawn to Christ on the mountaintops and by the sea; in the Temple and along the roads. They were drawn to Him in the Garden, and later at the foot of the cross. Then, on the morning of the Resurrection, they were drawn to Him in the Garden beside an empty tomb.  Then, there were two men on the road to Emmaus to whom Christ drew near.  They were forlorn with fear and disappointment believing they had lost their Lord, yet, He walked by their very side. When Christ broke bread and gave to them, their eyes were opened to know Him. Is it not so at the Communion Table. Do we not have the Risen Christ beside our very persons as we take the bread and Cup? Do we know Him better by partaking that spiritual body of Christ and that spiritual blood of His suffering?
            What of Easter Sunrise Services? Many churches have adopted the pagan practice of sunrise services on Easter. Is this biblical? Did Christ rise at sunrise? Not at all – He rose before sunrise. The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. (John 20:1)  There is something about this unbiblical observance that sounds very much like the abomination mentioned in Ezekiel: 15 Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these. 16 And he brought me into the inner court of the LORD'S house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east. (Ezek 8:15-16)
              This Easter, be drawn near to Christ and not toward a rising sun. He is the Day Star, the Sun of righteousness – and there is no other!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

24 March 2013 - Special Prayer Requests


Departed
Lynn Hatler, Bishop Jerry’s sister, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, passed away the night of 23 March 2013, after complications during knee surgery. Please give thanks for Lynn’s time here on earth and pray for comfort and strength for those she leaves behind. Please pray her family might keep all their trust in the Lord and let him carry their worry and concern on the temporary separation.

Travel
Jerry is with his sister Lynn’s family in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Lynn passed away the night of 23 March 2013, after complications during knee surgery.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

23 March 2013 - Special Prayer Requests


Healing
Lynn Hatler went into respiratory arrest following knee replacement surgery on 23 March 2013. She is presently on life support.  Please pray for guidance for the medical team treating her that they might make the right decisions and take the right action, for her family who are terribly worried and for her brother Jerry traveling to be with her.  Please pray all involved might put all their trust and all their worry with our Lord.

Travel
Jerry is traveling to be with his sister in Chattanooga, who is on life support after complications during knee surgery.

Devotion for Proverbs (Chap 1:20-33) - 23 March 2013, Anno Domini



The Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called
Passion Sunday.
The Collect.

W
E beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Due to the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ may we repeat with John Donne the following lines of his immortal poem, Death Be Not Proud:
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;

For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,

And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well

And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally,

And death shall be no more, death, thou shalt die.

Our Lord did, indeed, defeat death and Hell at Golgotha, did He not?
20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: 21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, 22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? 23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. 28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: 29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: 30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. 32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. 33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. (Prov 1:20-33)
            In reading every verse of the Proverbs, we are getting a deeper glimpse of the Mind of Christ as revealed to us through the ministry of the Holy Ghost. I hope and pray, Friend, that you will cherish and value each word so much so that you savor  it prior to consuming it, then chew well so that your spiritual enzymes can best extract the full flavor of them, and then rest on them after swallowing them into your heart – digesting them into every spiritual cell of your soul -  that they will become a part of your very being in Christ. This, my friends, is our daily bread for which we pray at every moment of worship.
            On the night of April 18, 1775, the hero-patriot of the American Revolution (Paul Revere), rode from Charlestown to Lexington to warn the Colonial militia and others at Lexington, and all along the way, that the British Army was on the march.  "The British are Coming!" was the warning that he broadcast with great alacrity throughout the course of his midnight ride. We learn an example from this of the importance of sounding the warning loud and clear. This is precisely the point of verse 20 of today's text: 20 Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: 21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words If we are owners of wisdom, we too must proclaim the warning that will save and redeem! The warning is a general warning to all who will heed. This leaves the evil-doers without excuse. They will never be able to claim at the Judgment Seat, "No one ever told me!" On that fateful night of Revere's ride, only ONE man new the danger. At the end of his ride, all along the way to Lexington had heard the warning. Sharing the Gospel begins with one soul, but is fulfilled in the ears of many.
            We note the personification of Wisdom here in the text. It is made to appear as a Person crying out – and it truly is a Person and Forerunner of the Voice of the Son of God of the Gospel message. The Holy Ghost gives utterance and testimony of the Word that is fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? 23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you How pitiful that the most simple minded among us often consider themselves of great and brilliant mind. They proclaim great theories that go unproven, and expound upon great opinions against the Creation-Model of God; yet they are truly fools who are blind to wisdom – not because they are made so by nature, but because they prefer to believe a lie to believing the Truth of God.  But the dread and fear that lurks deep in the silent clefts of their hearts does not go away. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:22) Their false claims do not invalidate true science but only distort true science to their own ends: "….keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called. (1 Tim 6:20) The Holy Ghost is not characterized by a closing of the doors, but an opening of the flood-gates of Mercy. If every man will only heed the warning, turn from mischief, and listen to the Words of Life, then shall the Holy Ghost share that Spirit that is His and reveal wonderful mysteries to your heart. Verse 23 is an appeal to revival of heart and mind. God has not stopped your ears from hearing – it is your own sinful nature that has done so. God is not telling you that you must EARN your salvation through good works, but rather that, if you allow the Spirit of wisdom to work in your members, it is His work of Redemption and Righteousness that will save you. "…….work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Phil 2:12-13) We must constantly remind ourselves that our good works are not ours, but they belong to Christ who works through us. We may lay sole claim to the works of unrighteousness which we do.
            Let us examine the next five verses in the context of our sowing disobedience and reaping judgment. 24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; 25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. 28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me
1.     God visits, in Mercy, a rebellious generation (and, certainly, our own generation) by means of:
a.     The Call (vv 24) –  Humanity, with practically unanimity, have turned their backs on God. Please do not consider modern day churches in a different light from the greater multitudes – they are even greater offenders. But God speaks from the earthquake, the burning inferno, and the Whirlwind, if necessary, to get His truth across. Whether accepted or rejected, it nonetheless serves its purpose as a two edged sword cutting in one direction to convict of sin, and in the other (of those who heed it not) to condemn.
b.    God not only issues a clarion Call, but He accompanies His Call (vv 24) with an "outstretched hand." You are sinking in the quicksand of sin. God commands, "Be still so as not to speed your peril, and "Look up to my outstretched arm to save you – even NOW!"
c.     The Counsel of the Lord has been given (vv 25). Many will look up in desperation and grasp the outstretched arm. Others will look up to the open gates of Mercy and procrastinate reaching up for they feel the opportunity of salvation will always be open (yet they perish). Others of vulgar spirit simply disregard both the Counsel and the Arm of Salvation.
d.    God has issued a reproof of those who foolishly neglect so great a salvation (vv26). Judgment stands with a drawn sword, but Mercy pleads the case of fools. Mercy begs a reprieve of time to allow greater consideration for those slow of hearing. Wickedness flares up before the eyes of the Lord and He will destroy, yet His heart of Mercy says "Wait, perchance they will repent." Remember in the days before the Deluge, Noah was in the Ark for seven days before the fountains of the deep were broken up, and torrential rains descended from Heaven. But there comes a time when the Lord says, "No Longer!" and the HE closes the door of the Ark to save those within, and to destroy those without. How the multitudes who had scoffed and ridiculed at Noah must have hammered at the door of the Ark when their doom became apparent, and in the midst of vicious wild animals seeking the same refuge.
2.     A wicked and adulterous generation, such as we are today, neglects and resists the grace of God.  A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. (Matt 16:4) What greater sign need we than that which has already been given, for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. He died and rose again. Do we require a greater sign than THAT? It is not that this generation has not heard the counsel of God, but far more seriously have they rejected that counsel. God forbid! How sad when the desolation falls in darkness rather than in seeing joy rise as the Sun. What terrible fear and anguish await the foolish sinners. Is it not sad that a season of sin is so much more valued by this world than an eternity of joy?
3.     Those who reject God's Counsel shall eat the fruits of their own sins. 29 For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: 30 They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. 31 Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. 32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them Thank God for King David, the murderer and adulterer, who found grace in the eyes of the Lord; or the promiscuous Samaritan woman who came to Jacob's Well at Noonday; and for the Woman taken red-handed in the sin of adultery. Why? Because, like John Newton (the treacherous slave-trader-turned-clergyman), save for the grace of God, go I.  When God brings the torrential blasts of the stormy seas against our sails, or the lingering miseries of old age, or the fears of a thousand wicked remembrances, or the quakes and fires of nature – there comes at the end, a stillness and silence. It is then that the sensitive ear can discern that still, small voice of God. It was ever there, but the storms generated by our sins have blotted out the voice.
The volume of wisdom, on mercy and grace, is not a tome, but the essence of simplicity: 33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil. Blessed quietness is the plight of the saved in Christ. Do you have that "quiet from fear of evil?"