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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 30, 2014

Sermon Notes - Fourth Sunday in Lent - 30 March 2014, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)


The Fourth Sunday in Lent.
The Collect.

G
RANT, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that we, who for our evil deeds do worthily deserve to be punished, by the comfort of thy grace may mercifully be relieved; through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

And due to the rubric, the Collect for the Day is followed by the Collect for Ash Wednesday, which is found on Page 124:

The first day of Lent, commonly called
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.

The Epistle
Galatians iv.21

T
ELL me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not: break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

            When we read and study the matter of salvation, we are drawn to observe that Grace is the very key that opens the Door of Heaven. Grace precedes faith and profession. The Galatian Epistle for today bears this out in stark fashion (along with a host of other Bible passages). Yes, we are saved by grace, but that through faith. As we read in the Epistle to the Ephesians: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:8-10) If any component of salvation was keyed to some goodness in our own souls, then there might be place for boasting, but such is not the case. Grace is a component of God’s Mercy and not of our worthiness. Good works in no way save, but Grace saves unto good works. We are accounted good, and are able to do good and pleasing works, as a result of the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ issuing from His Love.

            Please remember two particular young men of Abraham’s day – Ishmael and Isaac. God had promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, yet, Abraham was without child. When God promises, the flesh tries to takes God’s place in fulfilling the promise. This was the case with Sarah who, in her advancing age, began to doubt that God was able to provide progeny for Abraham that He had promised – at least, not in the ways and means of grace. In Sarah’s mind, God needed a bit of help. So she gave her Egyptian servant maid, Hagar, to Abraham for the purpose of bearing him a son. Well, Sarah’s willful breach of faith worked in gaining for Abraham a son – Ishmael, the father of the Arab tribes. This was not at all in accord with the will of God, but was an act of free will of the flesh of Sarah. Sarah attempted to bring about the seed of promise by her own deed and not that of waiting on God. From that moment until today, there has not been peace among the Arab peoples, nor of the neighbors that are scattered about them in the Middle East.

            When the seed of promise was granted Sarah in her advanced age (99 years), he came truly by miraculous birth. He was a type and shadow of that coming miraculous birth of the Father’s own only Begotten Son, Jesus. Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness. From that sorrowful journey to Mount Moriah for the purpose of sacrificing his own only Begotten Son (by Sarah), God was demonstrating to those of the faith of Abraham that that sacrificial Lamb without Blemish would be provided by God to redeem us from our sins.

            It should be noted, too, that Isaac had no volition about being the child of the promise while he was yet in his mother’s womb. It was a thing foreordained by God. Can you fathom the deep and mournful sorrow of Abraham as he traveled to Moraih with Isaac? Though it may have been a most desponding trip for Abraham, yet he knew that God does all things well, and He would make the sacrifice a blessing in the end.
As Abraham and Isaac stood at the base of the mount of sacrifice (the same range upon which the Lord Jesus Christ was later sacrificed), “. . . Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.” (Gen 22:7-8) Only in the Received Text Bibles is this truth revealed so powerfully. In the sentence structure, God is the subject, provide is the verb, and ‘Himself’ is that object receiving the action of the verb. “A Lamb of the sacrifice” is a modifying prepositional phrase for the pronominal object…..i.e. (to be, understood) a Lamb for the sacrifice).

            We learned from Abraham’s Mt. Moriah experience that God would not, and could not, take the son of Abraham or of any other man, as redemption for our sins. Out of His unmerited Love, God would, rather, provide His own Son as a Lamb for the Sacrifice. This He did on the mountains of Moriah 2,000 years ago.

            The Galatians may have been influenced in their thinking by Judaizers that they must obey the Law and not place their full faith in the grace of God. But if not, it is still in the nature of man to believe that he must save himself through good works. Truly, even a fervent Christian cannot do any good works at all. Whatever good we do is not our own works, but those of Christ working in, and through, us. Paul asked: “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?” It must be said that Jesus was, indeed, perfect in His obedience to the Law. But only He among all the sons of men was able. He even saved us through the Law in the sense that the justice of God was satisfied for us in His atoning sacrifice and death – for the wages of sin is death. Jesus took our sins upon His own sinless soul and died in our stead at Calvary. But He paid the penalty of the Law that we might be spared. The Law kills, but grace makes alive.

            “For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.” Agar is the Greek pronunciation for Hagar. Even today, the children of Hagar (Arab peoples) are in bondage to the Law. They suffer amputations of limbs and stoning for the most meager of sins. Those Jews who practice their Old Testament obedience to the Law are no better in terms of salvation. Those who reject the benefits of Christ are in no wise chosen people of God. Only those who believe and receive the faith of Abraham are the true children of the promise. The Elect of God are born of the Free Woman (Sarah) by terms of grace and faith – the faith of Abraham. The fleshly DNA of Abraham is not a factor – only the faith that Abraham exercised. God does not place any credibility to race or blood in calling His children. All are condemned already in Adam; but all are made alive who accept the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are made bond-servants naturally through the Law, but we are made free only through the faith that Abraham possessed in looking forward to the ultimate Seed of Promise which was Christ.

            “For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.” It is a remarkable evidence of the veracity of God Word that the two faiths that depend upon obedience to the severity of the Law BOTH hold their heritage in present-day Jerusalem. I pray to be accounted a citizen – not of that filthy and treacherous little town called Jerusalem – but that immaculate and amazing City of Peace called New Jerusalem which descends down from Heaven. Dr., Schofield has deceived untold multitudes in his mischaracterization of this truth. Yes, and those, like Sarah, who are desolate, will have many more children of promise than Hagar who had a child through the works of sinful man and not of God.

            Who, then, are the chosen of God? Is it those who came by the way of the flesh and schemes of men, or those who receive that same promise given to Abraham of the Promised Seed (Jesus Christ)? “Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.  But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.” The Jews erroneously believe that they are saved by the blood that courses through their veins and through their strict obedience to the Law. They find our reliance upon the grace of God abhorrent. They are yet in bondage. The Moslems are no different. They are dependent upon that blood that flowed through Ishmael’s veins to identify themselves as the chosen of a false god (allah). They are the true descendents of Hagar in whom there was no promise. Where are Christians persecuted more egregiously than anywhere else in the world? It is in the Moslem nations – the descendents of Ishmael of whom God said to Hagar: “And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.” (Gen 16:11-12) This prophecy of God has been perfectly fulfilled. The Arab nations flock together today in the Middle East. They are constantly at war. If they are not fighting an enemy from without, they are fighting each other. You will note that the natures of both Ishmael and Isaac were foreordained of God ere these two saw the light of day.

            Here follows a deep thought expressed by Paul in the Book of Romans. It runs counter to the prevailing opinions of modern man: “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.  That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.  For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son.   (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) (Romans 9:11)


            Note the result of Sarah’s indiscretion in providing Hagar to Abraham. Ishmael was saved in the flesh in the Wilderness. Isaac was saved in the spirit atop Mt. Moriah. Having been lain on an altar (all that touches the altar belongs to God), Isaac was saved as the special seed of promise to Abraham to walk in the ways of faith of his father Abraham – just as we are today. The Old Testament Church of Abraham was saved by that same faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as we are saved today.  They looked forward in faith to the redemption made available by the Son of God as we look back to the accomplished fact. Their faith had to be made of a sterner stuff than ours today. We have history AND faith to confirm our profession – they had only faith and promise. It was enough! “Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.” Are you still in bondage to sin and the Law; or have you accepted the adoption made available by Christ into that Elect Family of God?

Devotion on the Miracles of Christ (Second Miraculous Catch of Fish) – 29 March 2014, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)

Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.
1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. 2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. 6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. 8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. 9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. 10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. 11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. 12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. (John 21:1-14)

            We read in this glorious miracle of the resurrected Christ a special glimmer of the abundant provision God has in store for those who love Him; and we also see that we are to add our own resources to those for which the Lord has made special provision. We see, too, the power of LOVE to recognize that object of its affection even at a distance (i.e. the disciple John whom the Lord loved recognized the Personage on the shore of Galilee as the Lord).  Jesus once walked on the stormy Sea of Galilee in the midst of His ministry; but now He stands on the shore - His labors and Passion having been fulfilled.

            "After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself." It may benefit us to look into the circumstances which led up to this glorious miracle - glorious for its effect as well as for the post-resurrection occasion of it. Just as the changing of water into wine at Cana of Galilee was the Lord's first visible miracle, here is the last of His ministerial miracles in changing an empty net of souls into a full one. There is no greater miracle of benefit to the soul of man than the salvation of his soul from the bonds of sin and the fires of Hell. This final miracle symbolizes the salvation of untold numbers of souls through the work of evangelism and obedience to God.

            Peter has not looked into the eyes of Jesus since that horrible and humiliating moment on the night of Jesus' trial when Peter denied the third time. "And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 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. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly." (Luke 22:60-62) It is very likely that Peter has had no peace of mind since that moment until now. The Lord was fully aware of Peter's misery and even in the first moments of His resurrection, He sent word to comfort poor Peter. The Angel of the Tomb said: "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." (Mark 16:6-7) You will note that the great Angel distinctly pointed out Peter to be notified based on the great anguish of soul Peter was experiencing.

            Peter has always been the impulsive one. There is a certain virtue, though there can also be calamity, in the nature of impulse. One who acts on impulse does not calculate the political fall-out. " There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing." The Lord is no longer visibly at their side. They are at a loss for what action to take. Of course, the Lord knows precisely where they are and how to find them. After fishing all night, the little band had caught NOTHING. It must be admitted that the Lord may empty, as well as fill, our nets for His purpose. He often deprives us of a good catch for a time that He may reward us later with an abundance of fish after we have demonstrated faith in His Word.

            "But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus." You will recall that chilly night into which Peter fled and wept bitterly? True is the Psalmist's words: ". . . . weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." (Psalms 30:5) Now the fishermen have fished all night to no avail. Now comes the morning! The disciples did not recognize Jesus walking on the sea those years ago, and they do not now recognize Him standing on the shore. How often do we also fail to recognize the Lord of Love, in our moments of greatest despair, extending those nail-scarred hands to us?

            In His glorified body, Jesus shares a meal with us. To those who labor in the fields for the white harvest, He will provide a literal "Marriage Supper of the Lamb" at the close of time. "Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat?" The question was rhetorical just as it is often with us in testing our faith. He has meat of which we know not, and our meat is not the common fair of the world either.

            "They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find." Not recognizing Jesus, it seems incredible that these men, who have fished futilely all night, would so easily take the seeming illogical advice of a stranger on the shore - but often, that stranger on the shore is the Lord. If we follow the Lord in perfect obedience - even when we cannot fathom the logic - He will see that we are rewarded with a handsome result for our efforts.

            "They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes." It was a great profit to catch so many fine fish, but the Lord was teaching them that they would catch untold numbers of men in the net of the Holy Ghost in time to come. The abundance of the Lord is always more than we can measure in human terms. "Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord." It is interesting that none of the disciples recognized Jesus except for that disciple whom Jesus especially loved - John. Jesus had a special love for John, and John for Jesus. Love will inform where intellect of the mind may fail us.

            "Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea." Peter is overjoyed at the prospect of reconciliation with his Lord since the night of his denial. Impulsive, but honest, Peter can wait no longer. He will swim to shore rather than taking the more commodious means of the ship. He once before, during the storm at sea, asked to be invited by Christ to come to Him on the sea; but he now cannot abide formalities. He JUMPS IN!

             "And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread." You will note that Jesus already had prepared His own fish and bread for the disciples. Though the Lord will provide for our shortcomings and necessities, He expects us to come to Him bearing what fish we have caught as well. "Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught." It is a sorrowful fact to acknowledge, but in the Day of Judgment, many fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters will come to the Lord empty handed with no fish of their own to show for the great grace and mercy extended to them. Where are you sons and daughters, or husband or wife, He will ask. What will you answer Him?

            There has been much speculation about the number (153) of fish that were caught, but the scriptures do not reveal that meaning to us with our present understanding. Be it enough to say that these were such a great number of fish to be extraordinary and unexpected. At the first episode of a great draught of fish, there was a singular difference in the phenomenal catch described here. What was it? In the first catch (Luke 5:1-11), Jesus was physically present in the ship. In this present case, He is not in the ship, but directing from the shore. As we struggle upon the sea of life, Jesus is directing those who will hear His Voice from the shore of Heaven. His physical Presence is with the Father, but His spiritual Presence is with us always. If our lives are directed by the Master of the Seas, then it shall be well with our souls. God owns all things, but He desires that we share our 'catch' (resources) as earnest of our faith.

            There is another difference that is distinctive. At the first catch of Luke 5, Peter and the others were fishermen of the fish of the sea. Now, Jesus will place His seal on them as He promised early in the dawn of His ministry, when He found them by the waters of Galilee: "And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matt 4:18-19) On the occasion given in Luke 5, you will remember that the fish were so many that the net broke, but not now. Why not? "Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken." We are specifically told that the net was not broken on this occasion. The great number and size of the fish symbolize the souls of men and women saved in the Net of Salvation. The Eternal Security of a soul who truly comes to Christ is demonstrated in the fact that God will not lose them by a broken vessel. In the first instance, the net broke because by the power of man, souls cannot be held in security of salvation; but in the Resurrection Christ, no soul that comes to Him shall He cast out.  The finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ has assured a security that the world cannot give - "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." (John 10:28-30)

            "Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord." This invitation is made to all who surrender their old Free Wills of sin and accept the Will of God for their lives. We wrongly call that old will 'free' for it was in bondage to sin and the devil. Now, in Christ, we are subject to that perfect Law of Liberty that our Lord offers all who come to Him. Our wills are never 'free' until that will has been supplanted by the "putting on of Christ." The disciples had seen the physical bread by the fire - but they also recognized the Bread of Heaven in Jesus Christ. Just as the Person of Christ is revealed to us symbolically in the Communion of Bread and Wine, so is His spiritual presence with us most forcefully revealed to us when we are in close communion with Him. They KNEW Him by the fires at Galilee.

             "Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise." Many fish come by our obedience to the Lord and our hard labors in His Vineyard; but He will add a bonus of His own fish to those we have taken in the Sea of Life. These are those for whom we have not labored but whom Jesus brings by the power of His Holy Spirit. They are drawn as if by a hook to come to His Table. This meal is the last physical meal of Christ with His beloved disciples while His physical Presence was with them; yet, we enjoy a continual meal of that Bread of Heaven which comes with the ease of the Morning Manna upon our hearts. Do we love Him as did John? If so, we shall know Him at every beckoning call. His voice whispers on the winds of the desert and the mists of the mountain: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt 11:28-30) We truly bear no burdens for the Lord - it is He that bears them FOR us!


Friday, March 28, 2014

Devotion on the Miracles of Christ (Healings and Exorcising of Demons) – 28 March 2014, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)


40 Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them. 41 And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ. 42 And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them. 43 And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. 44 And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee. (Luke 4:40-44)

                It should be noted that the events of this account of healing and casting out of demons occurs after sunset – the time of advancing darkness and the ideal moment of the activity of demons. They love darkness for it hides their wickedness from common view. By contrast, the people of God do their works in broad daylight for all to see. “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” (1 Thess 5:5-8)

            “Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.” Men have forever neglected the greater needs of the soul in seeking the outward healing of the body exclusive to the more efficacious INWARD healing of the soul. Jesus was able to heal thoroughly and completely that disease of the heart that is more deadly than leprosy or any other ailment. Yet, men always sought Him out for a temporary relief of the body rather than an eternal comfort for the soul. It is happening today across many churches (most) in America and around the world. But the compassionate Jesus overlooked their ignorance and healed them every one.

            We should also understand that the cause of every disease is sin, and Satan is the author of sin. He sold his depraved goods to the couple in the Garden at Eden, and all of their descendants have inherited that deadly disease of the blood that is incurable by man, but removed by the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice at Calvary. “And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.”Long before the Jewish leaders and common people knew Jesus as Christ, the devils knew. They know scripture better than we do for they were once in Heaven with God long before the Fall in Eden. “And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.” (Rev 12:3-4) “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Rev 12:9) The devils are not prescient, but they are constant observers of our strengths and weaknesses. They are ready to employ just those precise temptations that will break down our walls of defense unless those walls and High Towers are the Lord.

            The devils also know Christ, but have rejected Him just as many so-called atheist. By the way: it is my opinion that there are NO true atheists. Sir Francis Bacon said of them: “Atheism is rather in the life than in the heart of man.” All know of the existence of God but adamantly deny Him for to admit of the existence of God would force their hand to accept His authority – an admission they cannot make and continue in their wicked ways. So they are rabid to remove all mention of His Name from every public forum. In this way, they are just like the devils: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:19) Do not sell the Devil short. He and his minions have great powers, but his powers are without effect for one who is in the Ark of Christ who has finally and completely vanquished the Devil and his minions.

            The Presence of Jesus is better than the best hospital or most elaborate funeral home. Hospitals cannot find sick patients when Christ is around, and the funeral homes cannot keep people buried since they keep popping back up from the grave. So the people wish to keep Jesus with them for His physical blessings, but disregard the greater spiritual blessings He came to offer. “And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them.” Jesus has labored ALL NIGHT without sleep, yet He is now ready to continue His tiring journey over dusty roads of the hill country to bring Light and Healing to the people. The people desired that He not depart from them. They saw and understood the benefits of His Presence. Had they known the glori0us salvation made available to all who keep Jesus as a constant Friend and Companion in the heart, how much more forcefully would they have begged His departure be delayed? Have we, too, thirsted for Christ to abide constantly with us and in us?


            “And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.  Being the Great Physician, Jesus always practiced medical and spiritual ‘triage’ in treating the most life-threatening illness or injury first. What is the most deadly affliction we can have (and all have without Christ)? Is it not the disease of sin with which we were born? Are we not born with that old sinful nature of our primitive parents – Adam and Eve? Far more important than treating the frailties and pains of the flesh is the healing of man’s eternal spirit through the preaching of the Gospel and, of course, every Word that Jesus spoke was the Gospel! He was sent a Light into the world to reveal truth and the secret Love of God to our hearts – the hearts of all whom are the called according to His purpose. So once He has disposed of the illnesses and evicted the devils from their comfortable abode in the souls of the people of Capernaum, He was now anxious to get on with the more important aspects of His Coming – to preach the Kingdom of God in other cities. We, too, should feel that burden warmly, and do it while it is yet day.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Devotion on the Miracles of Christ (Restoring the Servant’s Ear) – 27 March 2014, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)



47 And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. 48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? 49 When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? 50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. 51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? 53 When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. (Luke 22:47-53)

            Today’s miracle covers a broad spectrum of issues – both inspirational and practical. We may wonder at the treachery in the heart of Judas, yet, we may harbor the same in our own hearts and dismiss it as logic. We note, as well, that the disciples (especially Peter) had at least one sword. It may surprise some of us that Christ had counselled them to acquire a sword for protection against the rabid persecution that would envelope Jerusalem that night and the next day. “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” (Luke 22:36) God certainly justifies self-defense. The purpose of a sword is to inflict grievous injury on an enemy, and Christ has sanctioned its use as a defense. The same is true of the Constitutional guarantee of gun ownership. “And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.(Luke 22:38)

            The disciple who used the sword to defend Christ acted out of a righteous motive, but also out of a lack of understanding. It must happen that Jesus would suffer on the cross if He would satisfy His purpose of redemption of those who would believe. Sometimes, our motives may be pure but unwise, or based on an incomplete understanding of the Word of God. Solution? Search the Scriptures diligently day and night. Jesus knew that the servant of the High Priest actually did not know better than to obey the High Priest’s orders. Jesus took pity even on those who were used as pawns against Him.

            Jesus exposes the Jewish rulers for what they are – craven cowards who come under cover of darkness. I wrote a poem some years back to depict the scene:

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!
© 2008 Jerry Ogles
               
                “And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.” The very one whom many considered the bosom friend of Jesus was the very one to lead the multitude that was bound, in their hearts, to destroy the Lord Jesus Christ. Such betrayal of a friend on a matter of such enormous importance must have grieved our Lord to His very soul even though He knew it would occur. Make no mistake – Judas was not forced to do evil. Evil came naturally to the man whom Christ had already labelled a devil early in His ministry: “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?(John 6:70) and near the end of His ministry Jesus said of Judas: “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” (Matt 26:24) So ends the argument that Judas was an innocent victim of God’s predestinate will. It is not at all uncharacteristic of a traitor to betray with a kiss – it is part and parcel of his character. How many today draw near to Christ, not to follow and obey, but to betray through their luke-warm worship and irreverent singing.

                But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?How cheaply does the world sell its soul! Judas could have enjoyed all the benefits of a child of God had his heart not been filled with demons. But it was, and he didn’t attain that son ship or those benefits. I think it of benefit to include the perfect description of the situation from God’s Word: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22 Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. 23 Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved. 24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake. 25 He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it? 26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. 27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. 28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him. 29 For some of them thought, because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30 He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.” (John 13:21-30 (KJV) To those who desire to justify the treachery of Judas, beware of ever attributing the works of Satan to God. Judas left the Upper Room into an eternal night. He never again witnessed a brilliant sunrise, and never shall.

            “When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.” Though Jesus had explained many times, the disciples did not comprehend the enormity of what was about to happen, and MUST happen, for our Salvation. They believed themselves in the right while they were, at the same time, opposing the Will of God. We often do that in our zeal to serve God. We start with the best of intentions in building a church fellowship. Then, we wish to gain credibility by building a respectable church building. But the “other denomination down the road” has built a larger building that puts ours to shame. We undertake to build an even more imposing structure. Laden with debt and the concerns of maintaining such an edifice, our hearts forget the Lord for whom we first began our labors. We become debtors to the ‘church building’ built – not by God – but by hands.

            “And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.” “Allow this to happen, Peter. It is necessary that I be lifted up just as was the brazen serpent in the Wilderness.” “Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?(John 18:11)

            It must be pointed out here that Jesus was born in an enclave for the feeding of beasts of the field – poor and lowly. He was ALONE in the Wilderness into which the Spirit had driven Him at the early start of His ministry. He was often ALONE on the mountain where He resorted for prayer and fellowship with the Father. He had now been ALONE in the Garden at prayer while His most trusted disciples slept on. He would now suffer the humiliation of Rome and Judea ALONE, and would die on the cross ALONE!

            It is a horror to contemplate that DARK NIGHT into which Judas had walked, and the smothering darkness in the Garden where the traitor and his cohorts had wandered with such ill intent: “Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and stavesWhen I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” Jesus had done all labors in the brightness of the sun, yet these ‘recalcitrants’ come under cover of the midnight darkness. Truly, darkness is the hour and nature of all evil doers. Jesus is the Light of the World, and Light is a force that requires generation. But darkness is no force at all. It is only the abject absence of Light. The Light of the Sun of Righteousness can dispel darkness from all quarters, but even the candlelight of a single Christian can dispel darkness that crowds in on their darkened room. The One who breathed the breath of life into us can heal our sinful hearts, restore the Light and vision of our souls, and can even restores ears that have overgrown with the sounds and lies of the world.

Do you know Him?