Friday, February 28, 2014
Devotion on the Miracles of Christ (Feeding the Four Thousand) - 28 February 2014, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)
1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away. (Mark 8:1-9)
This miracle is recorded also in Matthew 15 and follows that of the feeding of the 5,000. There is some very interesting background that needs illuminating regarding this particular miracle. You may remember the casting out of demons from the demoniac of the Gadarenes (Mark 5:1-20)? The demons went into the swine of those gentiles of the land and they were destroyed. The healed demoniac wanted to follow Christ: “And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.” (Mark 5:18-19) Those gentiles of that land (Decapolis) begged Christ to leave their coast for fear of losing more swine perhaps – and He departed. Now, He has returned to Decapolis and was received by this great multitude. Does it not seem likely that these multitudes had heard the testimony of the healed demoniac (as Christ had instructed him) and now welcomed Christ to Gadara?
The text today has greater reach than a cursory reading will admit. It is about the graces and benefits that accrue to the believer from the One who is the Maker and Benefactor of all things to His Creation. Christ had no beginnings for He was with the Father from Eternity Past before the Foundations of the World were laid. Though He benefits His people with Bread and Manna, that Bread which we eat is not that Bread that comes down from Heaven, for He is that Bread of Heaven;
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. 34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. (John 6:32-35)
He is both the Water of Life and the Bread of Life. He satisfies both our Hunger AND our Thirst. Just as the Samaritan Woman at the noonday hour came for the perishable water beneath the streets of Sheckham, who received the heavenly water from Christ, so may we.
5 I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. (1 Cor 10:15-17)
When we partake of the Bread of Communion, Abp Cranmer reminds us that the bread is composed of many, even thousands, of crushed grains of wheat. All of these grains added together comprise the one loaf, or Body of Christ. We die daily by being crushed and maligned for Christ and His people, yet it was Christ who was first bruised for us. He is the TRUE BREAD.
Look at today’s text and read with understanding – a deeper understanding:
1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.
Christ has always had compassion for the multitude, but what is Compassion? Com = together, or jointly; and, passion = strong feelings of sympathy. Compassion: such depth of sympathy that moves one to act (as the Good Samaritan).
These multitudes had followed Christ for three days. They probably brought rations for one day believing that would be their time with Him. But they hungered more for His Word than for food. This was the True Bread from Heaven. The last days, they fasted from earthly bread.
These unlearned disciples still lack the fullness of understanding of their Lord.
“And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?”
They had with them the Maker and Creator of the worlds, but where could they get bread in the wilderness? “And he asked them, How many loaves have ye?”
God will not satisfy our needs unless we bring our all to the table. If we have nothing, that is enough; but if we have seven loaves, that too is enough.
“And they said, Seven.”
“And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.”
He commanded that the people be seated to receive the bread. When we come before God, we do not stand on our own feet and feed ourselves. Our works cannot suffice. We must be fed by Him and His ordained disciples.
Our Cup runneth over……..plenty for all!
“And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.” We must ask the blessings of God and return thanks for the morsels that we eat.
Christ fed 5,000 at the beginning of His ministry, and now the 4,000 at the ending of it. He feeds with both bread and meat (fish).
“So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.”
Just as twelve baskets were left over in the first case, we now have seven left over in this case - the remains of such a small beginning with God. There is always more left over with God than we first possessed without Him.
But Christ will have no waste. Take up what is left and feed others who are hungry in the way. “And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.”
We cannot always remain in such close presence of the blessings of Christ. The time will come when He must send us away – not from Himself, but out in the world to act as witnesses for him. If we begin at the feet of Jesus as did Mary of Bethany, the time must come for us to arise and enter the kitchen as did Martha. We cannot simply exhaust ALL of our time in learning. There needs to be a balance between learning and service. This is why Christ will send us out after teaching great promises.
The mother eagle, the Bible tells us, stirs up her nest so that the young eagles will feel uncomfortable and will venture forth to learn how to be an eagle. So the Lord does with His people. Are you still a baby eagle cowering in your nest, or do you soar to the heights of heaven in search of provender?
Today’s miracle presents us with yet another glimpse of the mystery of the Lord’s Supper. In both miracles of the feeding of the multitudes, Jesus gave the people Bread. That bread represents the multitudes who will receive the fellowship of Christ across all ages. That which was missing was the Cup, but the Blood of Christ was yet to be shed at the time of this miracle. It shall come very soon after at a mount called Calvary.
The Body of Christ needs BREAD to sustain it and to give it nourishment. There can be no living Body without a Living Head – and that Head is Christ upon which the Body feeds. He is that bread which came down from Heaven – our Manna.
As we consider the compassion of Christ in feeding the multitudes, we observe that compassion means
1. “Seeing the needs” of those around us.
2. Using the resources available to satisfy the need.
3. Good order in rendering service.
4. Giving all, taking all, and using all that one has.
5. Being thankful for every morsel of Bread that comes from the Hand of God.
6. Being good stewards in saving, and not wasting, the gifts of God.
As we approach this Season of Lent, should we not be keenly aware of the need for Bread, and that we receive it only from the abundance of God’s provision in Christ?
Once fed, Jesus will send us on our way to share that Hidden Manna with others.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Devotion on the Miracles of Christ (Feeding the Five Thousand) - 27 February 2014, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)
After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh. 5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. 14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. (John 6:1-14)
This miracle is recorded in all four Gospels: (Matt-14:15, Mark-6:35, Luke-9:12)
The chapter before us is one of profound meaning, and with Sacramental implications, that lends meaning to the Bread of the Lord’s Supper. The first part of the chapter (1-14) finds Christ feeding the multitudes in signification of His feeding the Bread of Heaven to all who will come to Him. In verses 15-21, Jesus leaves the multitudes because they would have made Him king by force. He even sends His own disciples away to shelter them from the influence of the crowd just as He may do with us today. Herod has beheaded John the Baptist and so Jesus had passed over the Sea of Galilee so as not to unnecessarily fuel the passions of the Jews. The disciples perhaps basked in the warmth of public popularity until Jesus parted them from the crowd. They went from popularity to peril on the stormy night Sea. Though Jesus had fed the multitudes with spiritual and physical bread, they preferred only the physical bread and would have dreamed of a life of leisure under such a Sovereign. The whole chapter centers on bread, but more importantly, the Bread of Heaven. In the last chapter, Jesus satisfied the thirst of the Woman at the Well with the Water of Life. But He will also satisfy our hunger with the Bread of Heaven. Perhaps the salient point here is that the Water of Life is a door through which we once gain eternal life, but the Bread of Heaven is for daily consumption. If we truly love the Word and hunger for it, we will never be filled completely. It is a joyful hunger that drives us ever deeper into that Word. It is almost certain that a year has passed since the incident at the Well in Chapter 5.
“After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.” The crowds had been flocking to Jesus over the past many days so that he had no time for rest, or even for eating. It was for this reason that He withdrew to a desert wilderness. When amidst a constant roar of voices and traffic, it is a relief to go to a place desolate of such voices and traffic, and breathe air that is fresh and not laden with the odors of man. “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” (Mark 6:31)
“And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased.” An interesting contrast here between Christ traveling a great distance seeking a single soul, and now we see a multitude seeking Jesus. There reasons, however, were physical and not spiritual. He was the Great Physician whose services were free as well as sure.
“And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.” In a previous devotion, we discussed how mountains afforded us an environment more greatly surrounded by heaven and less encircled by the world. The higher you climb the mountain, the less of the world and its people we see around us. Even seclusion was impossible for the Lord. Not only did our Lord have no place to lay His weary head, but He could not even find a quiet place apart from those who constantly sought Him for reasons other than spiritual enlightenment. What percentage of members of the First Church would not be there was it not for the prospects of finding clients to improve their physical means and wealth? The mentality of the crowd forever seeks to manipulate the Lord for a personal, private agenda—to get something from Him rather than simply to be with Him.
“And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.” This is a discreet mention of the Passover so that we may better understand the full chapter dealing with Bread. “When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?” Though Jesus knew these people came to Him for the wrong reason, and would turn against Him in due course, He nonetheless took pity on them as a father for an erring lad whose ambitions are amiss. He viewed these multitudes as sheep without a Shepherd (Mark 6:31). The location is a wilderness mountain area. There are no villages conveniently at hand. A starving soul would become desperate in searching for bread in this place. Jesus knew what He would do, but He wanted to contrast between the lack of human ability to satisfy the need alongside His abundance of grace in doing so. “And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.”
“Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little.” If the disciples traveled a great distance to buy bread at the nearest village, it would cost a great deal of money and would still be insufficient to feed all. Those who DID receive would have received only “a little.” The need seems hopeless of satisfaction. Have you ever had a need that seemed hopeless of satisfaction? Did you ask our Father in Heaven for provision? Did He ever fail you?
“One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?” I like Andrew very much. He is one who seeks people out and brings them to the Lord. He brought Peter first to Jesus, and now he brings the boy with the bread and fish. There is something in the meager provision of the lad that, though Andrew knows will fail of satisfying the multitudes, he also knows that Christ is a Lord of surprises. His trailing comment: “…but what are they among so many?” is spoken with a sense of expectant apprehension.
We would do well to recognize in our ministries that it is not our bread that we serve, but the B read of Christ. He is the One who supplies; His servants are the ones who serve. “And Jesus said, Make the men sit down.” All things before the Lord must be done in good order. No matter how hungry a man becomes, he will always enjoy a meal more if seated at leisure. “Let all things be done decently and in order.” (1 Cor 14:40) No one seriously believes the small supply will meet the great need – perhaps only one or two people could receive a bite from such scarce supply. But Jesus knows what He will do. As He made a young boy victor over a great giants, a little girl the guide for Naaman, the Captain of the Hosts of Assyria, and a partially disabled lad to head a three hundred man army to defeat another of one hundred and twenty thousand in Gideon. We think we have not enough for our purposes, but look at what God can do with our small provision!
“Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.” That is a large number of men, but there must have been women and children there in addition. But five thousand alone is a great number to feed with only five loaves and two fishes. One drop of the blood of Christ would be sufficient in saving the whole world, were they to come, from their sins. There was not a molecule of water, mineral, or organism when God set out to create all that we know of the world. He can start with nothing and end with everything. He didn’t need the boy’s bread and fishes, but He was inclined to reward the great generosity of a small lad. He does not need tithes and offerings from us, either, but He takes what little resources we share and multiplies an hundred fold.
“And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.” Remember: the bread belongs to Christ! It is His provision to us. He took the bread (almost as if at the Last Supper), and gave thanks. How many meals are eaten every day in homes across America without a word of thanks to God for providing that meal? He handed the bread and fishes to His disciples to serve those seated on the ground. What an honor and privilege we have to be servants of God and discover the Bread of Heaven and the Water of Life to either great numbers, or even one soul! Each person got plenty to eat until they wanted no more. Have you ever read a particularly touching and inspiring bit of Scripture and find that you must stop for now and digest that which you have read?
“When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” In the economy of heaven, nothing is lost. We must be wise and careful stewards of those resources God has placed at our disposal. Our own administration will fall short unless it is watered with prayer and the counsel of heaven. Not only were five thousand (at least) fed with such a small amount, but there were leftovers!
“Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.” Baskets in those days were not like the little baskets a girl would use to gather the eggs. These baskets were more than bushels. There were twelve of these baskets left over – enough to feed another five thousand! I’m sure the little boy went home with more loaves and fishes than he brought to Christ. We all profit greatly from our investments of love and charity.
“Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.” No mere man could have performed the miracle these men witnessed. They knew, without a doubt now, that this was the prophesied Messiah spoken of by the prophets. I wonder why the learned Pharisees, seeing like miracles, could not believe for they saw as many as the disciples had seen?
When you look back across that long, winding road of your life, do you recognize that Christ was right there beside you even when you were being foolish and contemptible? Did you often feel shame at your disobedience knowing that the hedges did not hide your sinful acts? Do you remember that moment when you began to realize how utterly helpless you were to amend your own soul and felt the imperative to call upon the One who bled and died at Calvary just for YOU? Recall, if you will, the warm glow that filled your heart when you turned to Christ for succor. Yes, there does remain a Balm in Gilead, and that Balm is Christ:
There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin sick soul.
There is a healing Balm in Christ for our sin-plagued souls. Have you benefitted from that Balm, Friends?
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
On 16 March 2014, our own Rev. David Lilly of Alberta, Canada, will be receiving a service pin from the Royal Canadian Legion for his ministry as a branch chaplain in Alberta. This is in recognition of one year of service with the RCL. At the AGM in November, he was unanimously re-elected for year two of his ministry with this veterans’ organization which is a great honour. Presently, he is working on putting together a church service for the annual Metis gathering at Big Valley. He has done this for the past five years. They use an Anglican liturgy based on the 1928 BCP. The church services also continue on a monthly basis at Stettler. Rev. Lilly met with Bishop Garth Neel in Regina back in December and at that time renewed his commitment to serving with the AOC in Canada. We are assured of Rev. Lilly's continued prayers both for our churches in North America and around the world. May the Lord’s hand of blessing continue to be with our AOC family in the United States, Canada and around the globe.
We congratulate the Rev. Lilly on this continuing honour.
Jerry L. Ogles, D.D.
Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
Devotion on the Miracles of Christ (Calming the Seas) - 26 February 2014, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)
“Let not you heart be troubled” These very words of Jesus give us reassurance of who He is. It is the same reassurance conveyed by the miracle of Jesus which is the subject of today’s devotion. This miracle is recorded in two other Gospels – Mark 4 & Luke 8.
23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. 24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. 26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. 27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! (Matthew 8:23-27)
The heart of man, absent the power and love of Christ, is as a rudderless ship upon the troubled and tumultuous sea of doubt and unrest. The storms of life often overwhelm her bow, and the tempestuous gales rip at her sails. Her colors flown from her top mast are the colors of death and hopelessness. Before those seas can be calmed, she must run up a flag of surrender. Then the Ensign of love can be lifted on high and reign above her renewed hope and comfort. The consoling voice of Christ will penetrate the storm and bring a calm hitherto unknown. The Holy Ghost, as a boarding party, will take charge of her sails and re-fit her cluttered deck.
He who has the power to calm the turbulent sea has also the power to soothe and calm the troubled heart. Have you not known this? If you have known it, then this devotion will serve merely to encourage your hand on the helm. But, if not, this truth received, digested, and metabolized will nourish a dying body and convey a new life which is unending in Christ.
Just as storms and great winds disturb the face of the Sea, so do the constant struggles of life and winds of doubt trouble our hearts. But Christ gives the Word: “Peace, be still.” (Mark 4:39) ” and the tempest of our hearts are made calm. It is the storm WITHIN the heart, and not the one without, that will lead to certain shipwreck.
The sea that we confront is not imagined, but real. It is the world and all her cheap glimmerings. God has given us prescriptions, in His Word, for survival in making our vessel seaworthy in weathering the storm - just as He gave to Noah the blueprint for the Ark. But unlike Noah, we may not have followed the precise commandment of the Lord, and we find we are breaking upon the shoals. Actually, without Christ as the Captain of our Ship, and the Master of our Souls, there is no hope of navigating these dangerous waters of the world.
The disciples of Jesus felt quite confident in being with Jesus while He was astonishing the multitudes with His miracles of healing and love, but profound miracles do not occur with common regularity, so when they are upon the stormy seas, their confidence suddenly ebbs. He is with them, yet He is sleeping! He is not standing on the mountain brow commanding demons depart a soul, or sight to return to the blind – He seems to be unaware of the peril in which the entire ship is faced. He is not standing on the mountain, but sleeping in the hull of the ship. The faith of the disciples has not developed to the point of trust under all circumstances. They do not utter a prayer of great oratorical prose but simply, “Lord, save us: we perish!” A simple prayer is always preferred to a fancy one especially if the fanciful words are intended to impress those around and not appeal to the heart of God. Just a bit later, Peter was able to muster the faith to actually step out of the ship and walk upon the sea (as long as he kept his focus on Christ), but this moment of faith has not matured as of yet.
If we are WITH Christ, and IN, Christ, what safer Ark of Salvation can we afford? It is said that “when Caesar was crossing the rough waters of river, the rowers were becoming frightened. He encouraged them by saying, ““You are carrying Caesar: you need fear nothing.” ”These are the proud and vain words of a mortal potentate, but they become starkly true when compared to the immovable North Star of our Faith – Jesus Christ. So whatever soul carries Christ need not fear the worst storm of trouble or temptation which ever assailed man.” – Caesarem Vehis.
The Voyage of Life, painted by Thomas Cole in 1842, is a series of paintings that represent an allegory of the four stages of human life: childhood, youth, manhood, and old age. The paintings follow a voyager who travels in a boat on a river through the mid-19th-century American wilderness. In each painting, accompanied by a guardian angel, the voyager rides the boat on the River of Life. The landscape, corresponding to the seasons of the year, plays a major role in telling the story. In each picture, the boat's direction of travel is reversed from the previous picture. In childhood, the infant glides from a dark cave into a rich, green landscape. As a youth, the boy takes control of the boat and aims for a shining castle in the sky. In manhood, the adult relies on prayer and religious faith to sustain him through rough waters and a threatening landscape. Finally, the man becomes old and the angel guides him to heaven across the waters of eternity. The angel is unseen during the rough tides of life by the man, yet He is there nonetheless just as Christ is with us always. (Suggestive Illustrations)
When we examine the background of this miracle, we see that Jesus has just performed a series of amazing miracles. The multitudes witnessed the miracles, yet one man claims a desire to follow Christ, but begs leave to bury his dead first: “Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” (Matt 8:21-22) And who, pray tell, are the dead? They are all the lost and wandering souls who know not Christ as Lord and Savior – and follow Him. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins ……. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:1,5-6)
If we look closely, we see that the disciples followed Jesus into the ship, but the crowd behind did not! If we will belong to Christ, we must follow wherever He leads. “And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.” Those footprints of Jesus lead by the peaceful and exhilarating waters of the Sea of Galilee and of the Fair Banks of Jordan Waters; yet, they also lead along the bloody way of Dolorosa to a crude wooden cross on Calvary’s brow. Let us abide by the words of the old hymn, “Where He Leads Me, I will Follow.”
Following Christ does not assure us of calm seas in life. “And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.” With, or without, Christ, storms will always arise in our lives; yet, with Christ we are assured of shining through to the Haven of Rest. God does not forever exercise the power of His presence by our sides. He often will test our faith as a father a child whom he teaches to ride a bike. As we grow stronger in the knowledge of His constant presence, He will gently release His hand from our shoulder to be sure we can proceed without falling. Even when the seas of the world overwhelm our decks and topple our Main Sail, He will see us through to Calm Seas.
“And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.” The inquiry of Christ provides the answer as well. The disciples were fearful due to their lack of faith. I wonder at the courage and manly conviction of the Reformers who stood boldly in the burning flames rather than deny a single line of Holy Scripture. Where are those men today? Where do we find these faithless wonders of modern error who dominate the pulpits of America and of the world, and who have received the brazen brand of “COWARD”: on their foreheads?
Jesus rebuked the “winds and the sea” and there was not only a calm, but a “GREAT Calm.” That same majestic Voice that had penetrated the Halls of Eternity from before the world was formed; had penetrated the stone sarcophagus at Bethany of Lazarus and the dead tissue of His heart; had spoken to the dear maiden, daughter of Jairus, with the simple words, “Talitha Cumi,” (meaning: Damsel, ARISE), and she immediately arose – THAT Voice! The same that is the last voice the unrepentant sinner shall ever hear uttered from the Throne of Judgment.
Mortal man can never comprehend the marvelous powers of God, but he can accept the Savior who wields those powers! “But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!” Our modern theologians do not wish to admit that any scriptural truth is beyond their understanding. They parse and decimate the Word of God until it is truly like their own words and without a single hint of mystery; yet, God remains Immutable in His Power, His Truth, and His Righteousness. The godly man or woman will forever marvel at the power of Christ – in the natural world, and in the spiritual.
Oftentimes, our hearts are troubled with doubts for the future. “What will become of us?” Our hope lies not in the absence of danger, but in the Presence of Christ.
CROSSING THE BAR
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,
But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.
Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;
For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.
But the Master of the Sea, and the Master of our Hearts, gives us peace by saying: “ In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2)
Have you reserved your accommodations there, my friends?
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Devotion on Hymns of the Church (Blessed Assurance) - 25 February 2014, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)
And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Blessed are all who enter into the fruitful Arbors of the Lord, and blessed is the assurance that attends our faith in Christ! This thrilling hymn is the most popular of all of those written by the dearly beloved Fanny Crosby out of her more than 9,000 hymns written. It is noteworthy that Fanny was the most prolific hymn writer ever to put pen to paper, yet she did not begin to write hymns until above fifty years of age. It is true that God saved Fanny Crosby’s best wine for last. It is a disappointment that this great hymn is not included in the 1940 Hymnal.
Text: Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915 Music: Phoebe P. Knapp, 1839-1908 Tune: ASSURANCE
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
angels descending bring from above
echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with his goodness, lost in his love.
Perhaps the most comforting aspect of being a disciple of Christ is we have no need to doubt our salvation and His provision to keep us in His loving Hands. We have full assurance of our state of grace in Christ. Everyone who reads this devotion will know that his/her father or mother would never lift a finger to harm him. They mean only good to their children. How do we know this? It is because we KNOW our father and mother well enough to never doubt their love for us. If we have a saving faith in Christ, we, too, will not doubt His love and intentions toward us. We must KNOW Him because we have our being IN Him!
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine! Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.” Just as the Shulamite maiden said of her beloved, so must we say of Christ. “My beloved is mine, and I am his…..” (Song of Solomon 2:16) He is OURS, and we are HIS! We love our Lord because He first loved us. Did you first love your own mother, or did she first love you long before you were capable of loving? We were conceived in the heart of God long before we were conceived in our mother’s womb. Living in the abundant grace of our Lord, we do, indeed, have a foretaste of that glory which is to come. We are heirs of the Kingdom and joint-heirs with Christ by the purchase of God at Calvary. Of course, flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and we were ONLY flesh and blood sinners before the new birth when a new Spirit entered into our hearts and gave us a new and eternal life. Being washed by the blood of Christ, we are clean altogether in the eyes of the Father. We are first made clean in the inner man by the Holy Spirit of God; and then we are made altogether clean (inside and out) and justified by the washing of the blood of Christ. This is true to the Psalm: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalms 51:7) If the heart is clean and pure, the outer man will also appear so.
“Perfect submission, perfect delight, visions of rapture now burst on my sight; angels descending bring from above echoes of mercy, whispers of love.” You will observe that the perfect delight follows that perfect submission to the will of God. The shining angels of our souls are constant in their utterings of mercy and love to us as we follow the Narrow Way that leads up to God. Even in this mortal flesh, we are pleased to have glimpses of the Immortal.
“Perfect submission, all is at rest; I in my Savior am happy and blest, watching and waiting, looking above, filled with his goodness, lost in his love.” Our eternal Sabbath (rest) follows, again, upon the heals of our perfect submission to the will of God. Our hearts must be unconditionally surrendered before the Armistice of Heaven can bring a silence on the battlefield. With our eyes fixed on our Lord, they are necessarily focused away from the rags and false gems of the world. As Peter walked upon the briny sea as long as his focus was on Christ, so may we walk upon the glassy sea of the world as long as our gaze is above and not upon the turbid waters of the world. We are literally lost in the vastness and infinity of the Love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We have no goodness in and of ourselves, but being filled with His goodness, we are accounted righteous before God.
We discover that the refrain to Blessed Assurance is a double one which emphasis (twice) the same lines. “This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long; this is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior all the day long.” May our song always be of praise to our Lord both in the heat of the day, and during the silent night watch. “I call to remembrance my song in the night: I commune with mine own heart: and my spirit made diligent search.” (Psalms 77:6) Our story must be His Story, and that story must be one of Living Praise. We do not reserve our songs of praise for the daylight sun, but also during the dark night of sorrows. Remember: a day consists of 24 hours!
It seems a burning truth that the Holy Spirit laid claim to the heart of Fanny Crosby in her darkness and blindness. Though she could not see the world, she could see Heaven with uncommon clarity. May we likewise possess that single eye toward God and a blind eye to the corruptible things of the world around us.