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Who are we?

The center of the Traditional Anglican Communion; adhering to the Holy Bible (KJV) in all matters of Faith and Doctrine, a strict reliance on the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the Two Creeds, and the Homilies and formularies of the Reformation Church of England.

Verse of the Day

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Saint Peter the Apostle superseding the Second Sunday after Trinity

 thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. … If He used Peter, why not you?
Today was a Red Letter Day, that of the remembrance of Saint Peter, that is 29 June, which falls on the Second Sunday after Trinity.  Thus, we use those propers, plus the Collect for the Second Sunday after Trinity, next week – On with the Endless Green Season.

On Point
Someone asked, where do the quotes come from?  The answer is from the people who uttered them.  But, how did you find them?  Oh, that.  Some from Bishop Jerry, many from Rev Bryan Dabney, a few from other places, some from Rev Geordie Menzies-Grierson, but overall mostly from Bryan.  He always has some great ones to share.  On to the On Point quotes –

Christ and ritualism are opposed to each other, as light is to darkness. The cross and crucifix cannot agree. Either ritualism will banish Christ or Christ will banish ritualism.
Horatius Bonar

The passion for ruling is the mother of heresy.
John Chrysostom
On self-suffiency
They [Adam and Eve] wanted, as we say, to “call their souls their own.” But that means to live a lie, for our souls are not, in fact, our own. They wanted some corner in the universe of which they could say to God, “This is our business, not yours.” But there is no such corner. They wanted to be nouns, but they were, and eternally must be, mere adjectives.
Jack Lewis
The Problem of Pain

Screwtape offers more techniques for confusing the Patient:
I have been writing hitherto on the assumption that the people in the next pew afford no rational ground for disappointment. Of course if they do—if the patient knows that the woman with the absurd hat is a fanatical bridge-player or the man with squeaky boots a miser and an extortioner—then your task is so much the easier. All you then have to do is to keep out of his mind the question ‘If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?’ You may ask whether it is possible to keep such an obvious thought from occurring even to a human mind. It is, Wormwood, it is! Handle him properly and it simply won’t come into his head. He has not been anything like long enough with the Enemy to have any real humility yet. What he says, even on his knees, about his own sinfulness is all parrot talk. At bottom, he still believes he has run up a very favourable credit-balance in the Enemy’s ledger by allowing himself to be converted, and thinks that he is showing great humility and condescension in going to church with these ‘smug’, commonplace neighbours at all. Keep him in that state of mind as long as you can.
Jack Lewis
The Screwtape Letters

The light of the righteous rejoiceth; but the lamp of the wicked shall be put out.
Proverbs 13:9

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
St. Luke 6:46

... I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
St. John 8:12

For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
Romans 14:7-8

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
II St. Timothy 3:1

If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.
Ronald Wilson Reagan
20th century American president

Sometimes violence, even murder, isn’t the worst thing you can do to a fellow human being. Stealing his soul, taking over the management of his conscience and his mind— those are worse... Once the State consolidates its power to order what you think, it will know no restraint. If someone else can decide what you believe, you aren’t human anymore; you aren’t even you. You are at best a child, with no power, no dignity, no autonomy. It isn’t even being done with legislation anymore. Who needs law, when anything a bureaucrat says, or a pressure group, has all the force of law?... Let Congress debate endlessly, to no purpose, while executive orders, bureaucratic fiats, and threats by special interest groups fundamentally transform America... The State’s satanic lust for power will never be slaked until the human race isn’t human anymore— just a herd of two- legged cattle to be driven wherever the rulers and the experts please.
Lee Duigon
20th and 21st century American novelist
When The State Owns Your Soul, 6-19-14

See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime. Then abolish this law without delay. If such a law is not abolished immediately it will spread, multiply and develop into a system.
Frederic Bastiat
19th century French economist and author

Regardless of the particular problem facing Americans today, too often the first question asked is, “When is the government going to save us?” At the most fundamental level, this question is a socialist response to private concerns. Free men in a free society do not look to government for solutions to private matters. Why? Because government is not God; it cannot “give” to one unless it first takes away from another. The “taking” mechanism of big government is that characteristic which tramples upon the liberty of its citizens. We do not live in a free society when the government can take our property in the form of taxes and give it to others.
Al Benson, Jr. and Walter Donald Kennedy
20th and 21st century American political commentators and authors
Lincoln’s Marxists, p. 48

The great lesson from [the Republican Primary Runoff in] Mississippi is that Republican means, more or less, that if elected the party will reward its major donors, who are just different than the Democrats’ major donors. Policy differences are about different donors, not an actual agenda to shift the country in a different direction... [the] staffers and lobbyists [who] are so invested in keeping their gravy train going... will, while claiming to be Republicans, flood a Republican primary with [Democrat] voters to ensure their gravy train continues... But this becomes a longer term problem for the [GOP]. Its core activists hate its leadership... But its [leaders] are dependent more and more on large check writers to keep their power... [and these] are further and further removed from the interests of both the base of the party and Main Street... It is a system that cannot perpetuate itself... A [tea party conservative] win would have disrupted the flow of money and redirected a crony capitalist agenda through which many make millions. The establishment had far more to lose than conservatives had to gain and it showed... Unfortunately... as grassroots activists feel further and further removed and alienated from the party, it will become harder and harder [for the GOP] to win... I’m just not sure what the Republican Party really stands for any more other than telling Obama no and telling our own corporate interests yes. That’s not much of a platform.
Erick Erickson
21st century editor of
The Marionettes Remain Uncut, 6-25-14

As the observance of the Red Letter Day of the remembrance of Saint Peter, that is 29 June, falls on the Second Sunday after Trinity, we use those propers, plus the Collect for the Second Sunday after Trinity, Saint Peter’s propers are found on Page 244-245, with the Collect first:

Saint Peter the Apostle. [June 29.]
The Collect.

 ALMIGHTY God, who by thy Son Jesus Christ didst give to thy Apostle Saint Peter many excellent gifts, and commandedst him earnestly to feed thy flock; Make, we beseech thee, all Bishops and Pastors diligently to preach thy holy Word, and the people obediently to follow the same, that they may receive the crown of everlasting glory; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Collect for today the Second Sunday after Trinity is found on Page 191:

Second Sunday after Trinity.
The Collect.

 LORD, who never failest to help and govern those whom thou dost bring up in thy stedfast fear and love; Keep us, we beseech thee, under the protection of thy good providence, and make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Epistle for this morning comes from the Twelfth Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, beginning at the First Verse:

BOUT that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own ac- cord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

The Holy Gospel for this morning comes from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, the Sixteenth Chapter, beginning at the Thirteenth Verse:

HEN Jesus came into the coasts of C├Žsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
We are oft fortunate to get copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.  Today is one of those Sundays.  Today’s sermon starts off with the collect, and like always, it will give you a lot to consider in your heart.

Second Sunday after Trinity
29 June 2014 Anno Domini
St Andrews Anglican Orthodox Church

Second Sunday after Trinity.
The Collect.

 LORD, who never failest to help and govern those whom thou dost bring up in thy stedfast fear and love; Keep us, we beseech thee, under the protection of thy good providence, and make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

   15 And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. 16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. (Luke 14:15-24)

This parable of today’s text was given at the home of one of the chief Pharisees who had invited Christ to supper. It is doubtless that the invitation was made out of a cordial courtesy, but out of a contemptuous curiosity to learn more of how they might entrap the Son of God.

The comment that precedes the parable is noteworthy of the casual piety with which many regard the means of salvation. Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.  The one posing the comment doubtlessly considered himself to be one of those blessed ones who would eat of that Bread in Heaven.  Many of us simply assume that we shall be among the number and smugly look around at those whose destiny we may consider in doubt. The comment of Balaam seems to best describe this lot: Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!  (Num 23:10)

     The statement, of course, is a profound truth, but the way in which it is viewed from the personal perspective may be profoundly in error. Instead of concerning ourselves about our PRESENT righteousness, we are too focused on the end of the play – how we shall DIE! We must not occupy our time with undue emphasis on End of Time matters, but rather with those issues of life itself as it exist in the here and now. In order to walk from Jerusalem to Damascus, we must take EVERY step in between. Every step is as important as the last for, if one be missing, we shall not reach Damascus.

     16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: God is the ‘certain man’. The Great Supper is Heaven itself. Those ‘many’ invited are the fullness of the Will of God for those to fill His Heaven at last. We do not know the number, but God certainly has a fixed knowledge of it. God has invited a great many to that Supper. Though an invitation may be received, it will benefit the recipient nothing at all if he fails to respond to the invitation. (“many are called but few are chosen” (Matt 20:16)

Certainly, if you hear these words and have read the Gospel, the invitation has been extended to you. But what will you do in response to the invitation? Are you presently too busy to come? Have you properties to look after that forbids your coming? Are the trifling concerns of the world preventing you? Compared to the salvation of your soul, every other consideration is trifling.

17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. Jesus is speaking to the Jewish guests who have early been invited to the Great Supper. They have not yet, at this point in His ministry, rejected Him officially. Those hereditary descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – not because of bloodline and DNA, but because of geographic affinity – have been invited first to the Great Supper. “All things are made ready” in the great I AM – the Gift has been presented in the coming of Christ, the life of love and labor has been completed, the sacrifice of the Great Passover has been killed, and the first fruits of God in the Resurrection fulfilled. All is ready at great expense of the “Certain Man” who has extended the invitation. He is speaking, first, to those who have already received the invitation.

     18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. Not a few, but ALL began to make excuse with one consent. It brings the fearful image to mind of all the Jews gathered  on the paddock outside the balcony of Pontiius Pilate screaming Crucify Him! Crucify Him! “His blood be upon us and our children.” (Matt 27:25) …and so it has been, and is today. Of what worth is a piece of ground which belongs to a dying world whose coming fiery death is a stark reality of prophecy? The surgeon has scheduled you for an appointment for surgery to remove a cancer that will certainly kill you soon if not removed. Afterwards, he is leaving for Africa for many months. What happens if you miss the appointment? Will an acre of ground loom more importantly to you than the life-saving surgery?

     19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. Certainly, oxen may be more important to the depraved of faith than coming to the Great Supper in Heaven. How can one night of nuptial bliss surpass the eternal joys of heaven. Did not God give the oxen, the land, the wife? Yet, we have no time for HIM! What is it truly that prevents inquiring men and women from coming all the way to Christ? It is the deceitfulness of riches: He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.  (Matt 13:22) Remember the ship is like the Church. It is made for the sea just as the church is made to be in the world. But when the sea begins to get into the ship, and the world into the church, the resulting shipwreck will be tragic. Those who simply do not desire to serve will always have SOME excuse to delay. The longer the delay, the greater the thorns that choke away the remaining life until…it is too late!

     Bear in mind we do not discuss any ordinary invitation – it is issued by the King of all Kings. Is it wise to refuse? 21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. The purpose of God in bringing the full number of His Elect into the Kingdom will not be abrogated by the small wills and weaknesses of men. He will fill His Supper with those who respond in earnest to His invitation. – even if He must enlarge the list of those invited. So here, in accordance with His foreknowledge and providence from the beginning, He sends for those who will genuinely respond, outside those first invited: the poor, the crippled, the suffering, and the blind. We all may easily fit into this last category. Before we knew Christ, we were absolutely blind. Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? (John 7:48)

22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. The angels have expanded the list, yet still there remains room for others. Thank God that there does remain room for others, for those others are those who read, and the one who writes, these sermon notes. The maimed, the poor, the halt, and the blind have responded to the invitation ahead of those prominent ones who were privileged to come and have rejected the invitation. There is STILL room – even today!

23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. God sends His ministers into the four quarters of the earth seeking those who will respond to His gracious invitation. God will have His House filled with those who desire Heaven more than the riches of this world….not half-full, but wholly full with His predetermined number. The net is cast in the darkest depths of the sea where hope was forlorn and depravity beyond measure. The Gospel will go out to the heathen and the Gentiles. In fact, all of the Household of Israel – those who are Children of the Promise in Abraham. These does not require a blood heritage except the blood of Christ. It is doubtless that the Pharisees gathered around Christ understood fully His parable and were enraged by it. How could those vulgar Gentiles be placed ahead of them in gaining the privilege of Heaven? How, indeed? By faith!

24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. Heaven will not be a home-delivery proposition. IN order to taste of its delicacies, we must come to it by way of the Householders Son. He has bought and paid for your invitation with His own Blood. He is the “ Way, the Truth, and the Life” and none comes to the Father but by Him. How shall you trample His Blood underfoot by refusing the gracious invitation to come?

Jesus has sealed your invitation with these words: 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)

How have you responded?

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
The weekly service for the Church of the Faithful Centurion was actually held on Saturday evening due to the presence of the Thomas Family (plus Scott) from Okinawa and the propers used were those for the Second Sunday after Trinity.

Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.

Consider these words from the Collect:

who never failest to help and govern those whom thou dost bring up in thy stedfast fear and love; Keep us, we beseech thee, under the protection of thy good providence, and make us to have a perpetual fear and love of thy holy Name

We must acknowledge God will help and lead us if we will look to him for that help and leadership.  We need His Help, in the form of the Holy Ghost, to direct our hearts, minds and souls to look to Him for that Help in our time of need.

Speaking of time of need; when do we need God?  Only when we are falling short of perfection.  That would be all the time, 24/7/365, all 52 weeks of the year. We always need God's help, sometimes we recognize the fact, and sometimes we do not. We pray to God that we will always recognize the fact and act upon it.

The Epistle is a great illustration of why we need guidance from the Holy Ghost all the time.  If we want God’s love, we have to love those around us.  That is pretty easy.  It is easy to love people.  The problem is that we actually have to act on that claim of love, not just say we love them.  That is slightly harder, but still very doable, with God's help. We have to give of our time and effort to help those around us who have problems. We have to give our 110% in our time and effort to help those around us. John tell us “And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.”

So how far do we have to go to fulfill our obligation to love our fellow beings?  We have a leader, Jesus Christ the righteous; and he is not only the Propitiation for our sins[1], but who set the standard for our performance.  As John reminds us, “He laid down his life for us.”  So, too much work or I don’t have time are probably not valid excuses. We should not go straightaway to offer excuses, but put our minds and souls and bodies to work into actually loving our fellow beings.

Speaking of time, many times people put off church for other “more important” things, do you?  Like the certain man who made a great supper, the Lord sets aside a time every week for us to worship with Him.  Actually His time is pretty flexible.  The Lord’s worship can be done at times other than 1000 on Sunday morning if you really do have to work, you have weekend duty, you are on alert or something you really cannot get out of.  But, where are your priorities?  Is a football game, a fishing trip or just plain sleeping in the “reason” for your failing to show for the great supper?  When you fail to plan ahead, you plan to fail.  Always plan ahead, planning ahead is a plan to success.

The Gospel is about more than just going to church, it is about priorities.  We need to put the things that are really important in the list of things to do above the things that are not really important.  We need to think about what is important to us and to God.  Sometimes they are different.  Then, we need the Holy Ghost to get our priorities in order.

People do what is important to them.  When they feel guilty they come up with excuses, but in reality, they please themselves. We should seek to please God and not ourselves.

So, what we need to do is ask the Holy Ghost for help to make God’s agenda ours; thus when we please God, we please ourselves.  A win – win situation.

If we do not make time for God, how do we expect Him to make time for us?  If we will not diligently study the lessons He has left for us, how can we expect to know what He wants us to do?

Do you recall the words of GK Chesterton:

“Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.”

We need to come to church and read the Bible so we can find out what God wants.  But, the idea is not to find out what He wants so we can work around it or live with it, but rather live in it.  That is a rather difficult concept for a lot of people. Think about the 613 Mosaic laws and the Pharisees who made a good living telling people how to comply with them to the letter and still do just what they wanted to do. 

If we find out what God wants and decide to actually do it instead of avoid it, we are still faced with an often huge problem of where do we get the strength to accomplish this task.  The answer is circular, from God, the Holy Ghost.  He never asks us to do anything we cannot do good enough for Him if we rely on Him.  Never. 

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Bishop Dennis Campbell’s Sermon
Bishop Dennis is a brilliant speaker.  He is able to take biblical precepts and make them perfectly understandable, even to me.  Oft he provides the text of his sermons and I take the utmost pleasure in passing them on:

Healing for Souls
Psalm 23, Acts 15:11
Feast of Saint Peter
June 29, 2014

There is sickness in our souls.  Every one of us is afflicted with this sickness.  Its symptoms and effects are everywhere.  We see them in the daily crime and war reports we call “news.”  We see them in the way people talk, in the way they drive their cars, and in the way they treat one another.  Few people will dispute the idea that the world would be infinitely better if people simply lived according to the commandments and principles found in the Bible.  Yet it seems fewer still have any intention of even a half-hearted attempt to live by them.  Such people are not always overtly evil, according to the standards of the world.  They may even appear to be good.  Yet a serious look into their psyches will reveal that they live for themselves rather than God.  From the beginning they break the very first commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods.”

Why do people do this?  It is because of the sickness of the soul we call sin.  We are terminally ill with sin.  And this illness causes us to do evil as surely as the flue causes us to run a fever.  Sin is the disease; sins are the symptoms, death is the prognosis. “Death” as used here means separation from God.  It means to be separated from Him now in this life, and to be separated from Him forever in eternity.

Separation from Him here is often recognized by a general feeling of dread, meaninglessness, and a deep, deep sense of discontentment in the soul.  It is also expressed in the self-destructive ideas, and habits that harden into a life-style which increases our discontent and dread.  The philosophers called this “existential angst.”  The Bible calls it being without God in the world.  It calls it “darkenss” and it calls those in that.darkness, “lost.”  This is what I mean by the sickness of sin.

Separation from God in eternity is called, “hell.”  It is a place of suffering, where the fire never stops and the worm never dies.  Terrible as that is, it is as nothing compared to the knowledge that, “I could have had Heaven.  I could have had God.  I could have gone to that place of eternal joy instead of this place of eternal sorrow.  All I had to do was trust Jesus.”  According to the Bible, those in Hell are eternally “lost.”  So, today, at the very start of this emphasis on healing, I want to strongly emphasise the very single most important and absolutely necessary foundation of all healing.  That foundation is the atoning life and death of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

There are millions of people who are willing to trust Jesus for this life but unwilling to trust Him with eternity.  By that I mean they trust God to provide for their physical needs, but think they are going to get into Heaven by the merit of their own goodness.  This is folly.  Imagine yourself standing in front of God trying to convince Him to let you into Heaven by telling Him how good you were in life.  Take your time.  Time is meaningless there.  You can take a decade or a century, though I doubt you will need it.  Do your best to show yourself in the best light possible.  After you are finished, imagine an angel coming before God with a Bible in his hand.  Imagine him opening that Bible to Exodus 20 and reading the Ten Commandments.  Now imagine another angel coming to stand before God. This angel opens another book and begins to read a list of all the times and all the ways you have neglected to keep, or flagrantly broken each one of these commandments.  These angels are like witnesses in a courtroom, and every time the second angel speaks, the fantasy of your own goodness is crushed by the reality of your sins.  When he is finished, there can only be one conclusion; you will never enter Heaven on the merit of your own goodness.

The only way to enter Heaven is to let Jesus get you in.  Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”  He is the way to Heaven because He gave Himself for your sins.  You have heard much about how Jesus took your sins on Himself and suffered your sentence on the cross.  But that’s only half of the Gospel.  The other half is that He put His righteousness on you.  So God spiritually speaking, no longer “sees” you sins.  When He looks at you He sees only the righteousness of Christ, and you are welcomed into Heaven just as you would be if you had never sinned at all.

So the first part of spiritual healing is the healing of your soul from the penalty of your sins.  You receive this healing by trusting what Jesus did on the cross to get you into Heaven.  It is simply a matter of believing He is God in the flesh; that He died in your place for your sins, and you are forgiven and regarded by God as completely righteous and holy.  We call this “faith,” and I have just described the Biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone.  It means we can’t earn it by our good works.  We simply trust God to give it to us through Christ.  The Apostle Paul described it better than I.  He wrote, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.”

Those who trust Christ to heal them of the disease of sin have a different prognosis.  We are going to live.  There is still much therapy to endure.  There is still medication and surgery to be done on our souls.  But we are on the way to wellness.  We are healed in our souls.  It is that medication and therapy and surgery that I want to talk about next Sunday, for these are the means by which God works healing in your soul.

I hope you have let Jesus heal the disease of your sin.  I hope you have asked Him to take your sins, and to give His righteousness to you.  I hope you have consciously decided to stop trusting your own works, and to let His sacrifice on the cross make you acceptable to God.  There will never be any further healing of your soul until you trust Jesus for eternity. You may drug away some of the pain of life.  You may mask it through drugs like material wealth, worldly pleasures, self-indulgence, and other things that make you temporarily forget you are sick.  But those things merely hide the symptoms.  They don’t cure the disease.  In the end, you die in your soul, that eternal death I spoke of a few minutes ago.  But there is no reason to allow this to happen to you.  Trust Jesus.  He will heal your soul.

Rev Bryan Dabney of Saint John’s Sunday Sermon
We are fortunate to have Bryan’s Sunday Sermon.  If you want people to come to The Truth, you have to speak the truth, expouse the truth and live the truth.    This is really a good piece and I commend it to your careful reading.

Second Sunday after Trinity

The gospel was the parable of the great supper (St. Luke 14:16-24). The Rev. Matthew Henry noted that this parable illustrated our Lord’s presentation of the gospel message to the Jews of his generation. He bade them come to his supper that they might enjoy the benefits of the gospel and become what God had intended for them to be: the sons and daughters of God and co-heirs with Christ in glory.

We also learned from this parable that most would not accept, so our Lord then sent his servants to call those who were poor, the maimed, and the halt and the blind. Now these characteristics were not meant to be understood only in their literal sense, though our Lord does extend his calling to persons who are so afflicted.

Those whom he referred to as being poor match the description of those identified as such in the Beatitudes: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (St. Matthew 5:3). To be made fit for the kingdom of heaven, we must rid ourselves of those earthly desires and passions that conflict with the Christian life. Our Lord said, No man can serve two masters... (6:24a) which clarifies the point being made. Before we can truly know the love of God, we must first establish a relationship with him in Christ Jesus. To be poor with regard to the spiritual aspects of this world opens the way for us to be filled with the Holy Ghost. How many people who bear the name of our Lord are so poor in their spiritual life precisely because they are filled with the spirit of this world?

A maimed person is one who has been rendered unable to walk and must crawl to get around, or else have others assist him. The maimed are those who realize that their lives have been crippled by sin and are seeking to be relieved of their handicap by the Great Physician and Healer of men’s souls. Jesus Christ offers us spiritual healing which we cannot get anywhere else. He also can heal us of our physical ailments as well, if it is within his purposeful will so to do. How many so-to-speak Christians are crawling through this life because they will not heed the Master’s call and thus finding rest and healing for their souls?

The halt, or limping, are those who, though technically crippled, are able to get around. While having some capacity, they nevertheless see the need for a Saviour to assist them. How many Christians-in-name-only are so crippled in their faith that they simply hobble along through this life as they refuse to accept our Lord’s calling to follow his path and keep his commandments and be healed?

The blind are those who have not the ability to see their way to spiritual happiness but desire to have a guide to God. They will come to our Lord’s supper only if the true servants of God will lead them. How many who claim to know Christ are blind to him because they have placed their trust in false teachers and ministers: who have convinced them that God’s word is flawed, or some how too vague for them to understand?

Those initially called might well be classed as spiritually poor, maimed, halt and blind much as the members of the current Laodicean church are, wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind and naked (Revelation 3:14-19) . One’s spiritual condition is therefore determined by whether or not one truly has a heart for God and desires to do his will as expressed in his word written. Is the Lord inside your heart, or is he outside knocking to come in?

Now let us consider the excuses of those who did not come the great supper. The first person called responded with, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it. As the Rev. Matthew Henry noted concerning this man, “His heart was so much on enlarging of his estate. Those that have their hearts full of the world and [are] fond of laying house to house and field to field, have their ears deaf to the gospel invitation.” St. Paul once admonished, For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called, but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty, and the base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence (I Corinthians 1:26-29). While there is nothing unbiblical in a person acquiring property; the real message here is: if you are putting the acquisition of earthly things ahead of communing with God, then you have no heart for him.

Many souls who bear the name of Christ know who he was, but not who he is. They go through this life bowing before the gods which hold their interest and their hearts. They have so compartmentalized their lives with everything they have to do to advance themselves during the week on one side, and a smidgen of time on Sunday (and maybe on Wednesday evenings) which is reserved for God on the other. God is not considered apart from the appointed time on their schedule and they rarely apply godly principles in their commercial interests much less their private moments. They do not understand that all of life is subject to God. What a rude awakening they will have on Judgment Day when they hear the words of our Lord, I never knew you, depart from me ye that work iniquity (St. Matthew 7:23b).

But before you take the position that such a view is too harsh, consider Article XIII of our Articles of Religion which states in part that, “Works done before the grace of Christ, and the inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ... “ Just because one did a good work in the name of Jesus Christ does not mean that such a person is in fact a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. The unregenerated person’s works possess no salvific qualities for no man can be saved by the works of the flesh apart from a lively faith in Jesus Christ, and a heart to do his will. Our Lord said, If ye love me, keep my commandments (St. John 14:15).

The second excuse given was that of a man who had purchased a yoke of oxen and had not tried them out. What could be more important for our spiritual health and well-being than our fellowship with the Lord? When other things are more important than spending time with the very person who suffered in our place— who made it possible for us to have eternal life— one would have to question that person’s relationship with the Godhead. We should follow the example of David who said, I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD (Psalm 122:1). What greater joy is there? Who better than the King of kings and Lord of lords should we desire to break bread with? How can anyone who claims to love God, refuse such a wonderful offer? And yet, many who bear the name of Christ do so every day by rejecting God’s word written because they want to live life on their terms and not on God’s. They will miss heaven because they refused the calling of God’s Son to come and feast with him.

At every administration of the Holy Communion, we obey the Lord’s commandment to break the bread and drink from the cup of his table until he comes. We do so in remembrance of his sacrifice for us. And we rejoice in his offering of grace to us, for it is by means of his grace that have that blessed hope of eternal life in his kingdom. But in order to gain admission to his place of rest and reward, we must respond in the affirmative to his calling because his all sufficient grace is made available to whosoever will not “whosoever won’t.”

The third excuse was made by one who had just taken a wife. The Law said that such would serve as an excuse for a man going to war (see Deuteronomy 20:7). But the issue at hand in our parable is incongruent with this excuse as one is being called to attend a feast and the Law did not excuse a man from his religious duties if he had recently taken a wife. As the Rev. Matthew Henry noted, “[The man] pretends that he cannot [come] when the truth is, he will not.” Our Lord said, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple (St. Luke 14:26). What he meant is clear: he that would not love the Lord more than all else is not worthy to be called his disciple. We have to put the Lord first in all things.

When our Lord communicated this parable, he revealed the true spiritual states of those who were listening. Not many were willing to accept him as the Messiah much less follow his teachings because they had other plans in mind. The Devil loves to insinuate in our minds “other plans” that we would forget our true purpose which is to have fellowship with our Saviour. For it is only through such that we are freed from the tyranny of Satan’s grasp. We are thus enabled to join the feast and fellowship with the very person who came into the world to save us because he first loved us, and laid down his life for us— taking the punishment that we rightly deserve— so that we could have a place in his kingdom forever.

We Christians have been redeemed from sin, death, Hell and the grave by the blood of Jesus Christ. So when he bids us come, we ought to, out of pure gratitude, drop what we are doing and come to him with praise and thanksgiving in our hearts for that is what a true child of God will do. May God touch your heart today to do his will and walk in his paths always.

Let us pray:

oly Father, you have given to us the gift of eternal life by means of the shed blood of thine only begotten Son, Jesus Christ ; may it please thee to inspire us to grow daily into his likeness; that being so transformed, we might be made more effective witnesses for thee in this sin-darkened world; and this we ask in his most precious name. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+