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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, August 31, 2014

Eleventh Sunday after Trinity


Today we celebrated the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity. 

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 –

On pleasure
[The demon Screwtape writes:] [God, the “Enemy,” is] a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade. Or only like foam on the sea shore. Out at sea, out in His sea, there is pleasure, and more pleasure. He makes no secret of it; at His right hand are “pleasures for evermore.” Ugh! Don’t think He has the least inkling of that high and austere mystery to which we rise in the Miserific Vision. He’s vulgar, Wormwood. He has a bourgeois mind. He has filled His world full of pleasures. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least—sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying, working. Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us. We fight under cruel disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side.
Jack Lewis
The Screwtape Letters

The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail.
Thomas Jefferson
A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1775

God in our lives
Everyone has noticed how hard it is to turn our thoughts to God when everything is going well with us. We ‘have all we want’ is a terrible saying when ‘all’ does not include God. We find God an interruption. As St Augustine says somewhere, ‘God wants to give us something, but cannot, because our hands are full—there’s nowhere for Him to put it.’ Or as a friend of mine said, ‘We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.’ Now God, who has made us, knows what we are and that our happiness lies in Him. Yet we will not seek it in Him as long as he leaves us any other resort where it can even plausibly be looked for. While what we call ‘our own life’ remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him.
Jack Lewis
The Problem of Pain

For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
St. Matthew 10:35-36

For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
II Thessalonians 3:7-10

There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.
Blaise Pascal
17th century French mathematician, philosopher and author

The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institution may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances be made subservient to the vilest purposes. Should, hereafter, those incited by the lust of power and prompted by the Supineness or venality of their Constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to shew, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction and sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other."
George Washington
American patriot, president and hero
fragments of the Draft First Inaugural Address, 1789

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

Sociopaths are masters at presenting themselves as heroes with high morals and philosophy, yet underneath it they are the true criminal minds in society who steal, undermine, deceive, and often incite emotional chaos among entire communities. They are masters at turning one group of people against another group while proclaiming themselves to be the one true savior. Wherever they go, they create strife, argument and hatred, yet they utterly fail to see their own role in creating it. They are delusional at so many levels that their brains defy logical reasoning. You cannot reason with a sociopath. Attempting to do so only wastes your time and annoys the sociopath.
Mike Adams
21st century America health commentator and libertarian

Propers
Each Sunday there are Propers: special prayers and readings from the Bible.  There is a Collect for the Day; that is a single thought prayer, most written either before the re-founding of the Church of England in the 1540s or written by Bishop Thomas Cranmer, the first Archbishop of Canterbury after the re-founding. 

The Collect for the Day is to be read on Sunday and during Morning and Evening Prayer until the next Sunday. The Epistle is normally a reading from one of the various Epistles, or letters, in the New Testament.  The Gospel is a reading from one of the Holy Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  The Collect is said by the minister as a prayer, the Epistle can be read by either a designated reader (as we do in our church) or by one of the ministers and the Holy Gospel, which during the service in our church is read by an ordained minister.

The propers are the same each year, except if a Red Letter Feast, that is one with propers in the prayerbook, falls on a Sunday, then those propers are to be read instead, except in a White Season, where it is put off.  Red Letter Feasts, so called because in the Altar Prayerbooks the titles are in red, are special days.  Most of the Red Letter Feasts are dedicated to early saints instrumental in the development of the church, others to special events.  Some days are particularly special and the Collect for that day is to be used for an octave (eight days) or an entire season, like Advent or Lent.

The Propers for today are found on Page 204-205, with the Collect first:

The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.
O
 GOD, who declarest thy almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity; Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle came from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, the Fifteenth Chapter beginning at the First Verse.  Paul tells us he is delivering the message he received, the Good News of the Saving Grace of God through Jesus.  He points out that if he, who had been Saul the Persecutor of Christ’s Church here on earth could be saved by the Grace of God, then salvation was open to all who would act on their wishes.  Thus all who believe on the Name of the Lord Jesus will be saved, if they do not depart from that course.

He recounts the death and resurrection of Jesus; noting the various witnesses to the resurrection, including himself.  He goes on to say, if he, who he categorizes as the least of the apostles, not even meet to be called an apostle due to his persecution of the Church of God, can be forgiven and work the Work of God, who cannot?

B
rethern, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.”

Today’s Holy Gospel started in the Eighteenth Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke, beginning at the Ninth Verse.  Jesus tells a parable to an audience which apparently consisted of some self-righteous people, which likely fits each of us.  The parable is that of a Pharisee[1] and a publican[2] both of whom pray in the temple.  While the Pharisee might well have been a “better” man than the publican, he clearly was not the man he thought he was, for he “prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”  Quite the holy fellow.  The publican, quite aware of how much he fell shot of God’s perfection stood “afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.”  Jesus told his audience, “this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”  None of us is truly good, we can only strive to be better and look to our Lord to help us.  Only through Christ will we be accounted as just before God.

J
esus spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.

Consider the words from the Collect, wherein we ask God … who declarest thy almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity; Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; …

Once again, this Collect is kind of a follow-on to the last few weeks’ Collects.  First, we acknowledge God’s power which is manifested not in terror but in mercy and pity on our failures.  This is important to note; with all the power in and of the universe, God chooses to manifest His Power in showing infinite mercy and kindness to us, not in causing us more tears. He is far kinder to us than we could ever possibly deserve. We would expect Him to be otherwise, given our fallen nature. B  Rather than be unforgiving and unmerciful, He is there to comfort and help us.  He does not act as a human would in His position, but rather being a merciful and mindful God to us. He realizes our struggles and gives us resources to us to help with those struggles. Thus, the Collect goes on to ask His Help in following His Commandments that we might gain the good that comes from that following.  And we would hope that we recognize the good that comes from that following and choose to repeat doing the following as opposed to going astray such as our tendency is.

As imperfect creatures of free will, the norm is to choose what we want, not what we need and come to calamity.  We are each grievous sinners, some worse than others, none better.  Yet, we come before God all equal.  In equally big trouble, some more, none less.  It is only through faith we are saved. 

This is the point Saint Paul is making when he says that first he gave unto us[3] that understanding he got directly from God as to the role of Jesus Christ.  He recounts some of the factual information about Jesus’ time here on earth after the crucifixion, the descent into hell and the resurrection.  He notes the various witnesses, still alive or recently passed away.  He makes the point that we must spread the gospel so that others might believe.  He tells us we are saved by faith alone.

Our faith?  Partly, but not chiefly and not first. Then whose faith is it that we are saved by?

We are saved by the perfect faith of Christ, our only mediator and advocate before the Father.  It is not by our faith, but the faith of Him who dwells within us, that of Chirst. Without Christ, we could not have any faith to begin with. The perfect faith of Christ allowed a single sacrifice to be made at one time, to right the account the sins of all mankind for all time.  This is the faith that saves us and our faith in Him allows Him to operate in us.  One of Paul’s points in today’s Epistle was that if he, the previous Chief Persecutor of the church could be saved by Jesus’ that option was available to each of us.  All we need to do is repent and follow.  Thus, we need to Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way towards Christ and God’s grace.

The other point is that Jesus is real, He is Who He says He IS.  He is not a fictional character, he is not a great teacher.  He is THE SON OF GOD and He came to save us: body, heart, mind and soul.  There is no other way to view Him that makes as perfect sense as this. Just as we are real sinners, He is a real Savior.

If that is not enough to turn your heart, consider the parable of the publican and the Pharisee related by Saint Luke.  The man who was proud of his performance was not the example Jesus chose for the one justified, rather the one who acknowledged his failures and asked God for forgiveness and help. Think of these examples and who would we rather be like, the publican, or the Pharisee?  Remember, the Pharisee’s job consisted of finding clever ways around the 613 Mosaic Laws.  The publican was looking for help in actually following two:

Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith.

T
HOU shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.    BCP Page 69

And, just as importantly, he was not looking for ways around those two laws, he was looking for help to follow God and forgiveness when he fell short. 

Let us ask God for the help we need to follow His Will.  For we must have His Help to act as we must here on earth!

Action counts.  For by their actions ye shall know them. 

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:

Christ in Psalm 33
Psalm 33:12
Twelfth Sunday after Trinity
August 31, 2014

Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord JEHOVAH; and blessed are the folk that he hath chosen to him, to be his inheritance. (Psalm 33:12)

            These words from Psalm 33:12 use a literary device called “parallelism.”  It was a favourite of the psalmists of Israel.  It divides a verse into two parts.  The first states an idea; the second reiterates the same idea using different words from a little different view.  The key word in the verse is “blessed.”  The first part says “Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord Jehovah.”  The second repeats the idea of blessedness, saying, “Blessed are the folk that he hath chosen to him, to be his inheritance.”  You will find this in many Psalms, and, if you want to spend an enjoyable evening, turn off the electronic babysitters, gather around the Bible and  look for “parallelisms” in the Psalms. Read them to one another and, very briefly, identify the repeated idea.

            Verse 12 actually has two parallelisms. The first is the idea of blessedness, the second is the idea of the people of God.  The first part talks about the people “whose God is the Lord,” the second part restates the idea calling them “the folk that he hath chosen to him, to be his inheritance.”

            The people whose God is the Lord, whom He has chosen to be His inheritance refers, first, to the Old Testament nation of Israel.  She is the people He has elected and called to Himself.  Throughout the Old Testament we see many examples of the blessedness of Israel, when she walked with the Lord.  You might spend another enjoyable evening looking through the Bible for God’s blessings on Israel.  A less enjoyable, but equally profitable evening might be spent looking at the misery of Israel when she departed from God and reaped the natural results her sin.

            In another sense, this Psalm refers to all whose God is the Lord.  I have often heard people quote this verse in the King James Version, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”  They usually quote it in reference to the political entity in which they live.  This is a legitimate application, because God does bless those who call upon Him. There is a general graciousness of God toward all people, so that a general life-style of doing right avoids many of the moral, social, political, and, even economic problems that have plagued all people and all nations since the Fall, and which continue to plague us today.  Doing good is its own reward.  Psalm 19:11 brings this out beautifully: speaking of the commandments and judgments of God, it says, ‘in keeping of them there is great reward.”

We see this on the national level in God’s mercy on Nineveh.  Ninevites were Gentiles.  They were not part of the Covenant people.  They were not Israel, and, by definition, they were under God’s wrath and curse.  Yet, when they repented of sin and embraced God as their God, He forgave them and blessed them.  Any nation can have the same blessings as Nineveh by repenting and embracing God as the Ninevites did.  It is equally true, that to return to sin, as the Ninevites did, brings the removal of God’s blessings, and the return of His wrath.

Ruth is an example of this on the personal level.  She, too, was a Gentile, lost, under the wrath of God for her sins.  Yet, she turned to God, and God received her into His grace.

So, in this sense, the Psalm applies to all people, and all groups of people at every level. “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy, like the wideness of the sea,” says Frederick William Faber’s great hymn.  “There is welcome for the sinner, and more graces for the good. There is mercy with the Saviour; There is healing in His blood.”

In yet another sense, the people whose God is the Lord looks forward from David’s time to the New Testament Church.  In the Church we see Israel expanded and advanced.  In the Church, all the promises of the Old Testament are being fulfilled.  In the Church we live in the Latter Days, the Day of the Lord, the age of fulfillment.  The Church is the Old Testament Israel without borders and without ethnicity.  In her, Jew and Gentile sit together at the Table of the Lord.  In her there are no nations.  In her the things that divide the people of the world disappear.  The Church does have one border, Jesus Christ.  All who are in Him are in her.  The Church has one King, Jesus Christ.  He is our King above all human kings and queens and parliaments and congresses and courts and presidents.  To Him the Church’s allegiance is bound.

            I have said that one of my intentions in these sermons is to show Christ in the Psalms.  He is certainly in Psalm 33.  Verses 17 and 18 can only be fulfilled in Christ.  After saying the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him (vs. 17), it says, “To deliver their soul from death” (vs. 18).  This refers first to physical death, which we know has been overcome by the resurrection of Christ.  “The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible” says 1 Corinthians 15:52.  “I believe in… the Resurrection of the body: And the Life everlasting,” says the Apostle’s Creed, which we just recited a few minutes ago. But the Bible also speaks of another death, a second death, a living death, in which the wicked dwell in perpetual sorrow in the lake of fire and brimstone.  We who are in Christ have been delivered from this second death.

            Two verses from the New Testament explain this.  First, Revelation 2:11, “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”  Second, Romans 8:37, “we are more than conquerors through him [Christ] that loved us.”  In the original Greek, “overcometh” and “conquerors” are forms of the same word.  We get our English Name, “Nicholas” from it.  Those who overcome will not be hurt by, meaning, will not experience, the second death.  How do we overcome? We are overwhelming conquerors through Christ who loved us.  It is actually Christ who conquers the second death for us.  By bearing the cost of our forgiveness, He suffered death in our places.  He overcame it for us, and delivered our souls from it.  The Lord Jehovah is our God only because Christ died for our sins and enabled us to repent and embrace Him like the ancient Ninevites. 

So, as with all Scripture, Psalm 33 ultimately points us to Christ.

Roy Morales-Kuhn, Bishop and Pastor - St. Paul's Anglican Church - Anglican Orthodox Church
Bishop Roy is pastor of the biggest AOC parish West of the Mississippi and is in charge of the Diocese of the Epiphany. 

Eleventh Sunday after Trinity
31 August 2014
Ps 124,125 • Isaiah 26:12-16,19 • Romans 8:26

O
 GOD, who declarest thy almighty power chiefly* in showing mercy and pity; Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

12 Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.
13 O Lord our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.
14 They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.
15 Thou hast increased the nation, O Lord, thou hast increased the nation: thou art glorified: thou hadst removed it far unto all the ends of the earth.
16 Lord, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.
-----
19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
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26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

                                            Does He ordain peace to His own?

What a wonderful Lord and Savior we have.  In times of trouble and confusion we can know that God will give us peace, He will protect and secure us, maybe not entirely in the physical, although that does happen, but definitely in the spiritual sense.  In the Old and New Testament lessons today we read where God gives real security even in times of chaos.  How close is that to our world today?  With the twenty-four hour news cycle we have constant information, mostly bad, coming in to our homes. We read or see on our televisions reports of pestilence, wars, droughts, famines, earthquakes, tempests and a general sense of total chaos going on all the time, all over the world.    Wow, it seems as if we cannot find any peace.

Yes, God will ordain peace in us. The passage from Isaiah gives us the beginning of that promise and the passage from Romans chapter 8 seals it.  Why does God give us peace? Because we are His.  When Isaiah wrote the words we read today, he was pointing to two different concepts. One, being those who are God’s own, will be resurrected. Those who are not, will not come back, at least to the peace that is written about in verse 12.  Another concept is the foreshadowing of the coming Christ, notice verse 19. ‘...Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise...’ In that sense of knowing that we will live again, spiritually and in a new body, that can give us peace. A real sense and presence of peace.    Now on to Romans

Let us look at chapter 8 of Romans. There is so much being explained in these last couple of verses in that chapter.  A cardinal point we find in verse 28. ‘....And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose...’   No matter how confusing, discouraging, uncertain these days are, we can read that verse and find the such comfort for ANY of our temporary world issues.  If you are a child of the King, if you have given your life to Christ Jesus, if you are a follower of Jesus, you have this promise.  All things, ALL THINGS work together for good.  Notice the verse reads ‘good’. We sometimes confuse that verse and thing all good things will work together for ...them who are called according to his purpose.’   That is not how that reads.   Who’s good are we talking about here ?  God’s good.  Remember, He hold the future. When you dovetail that into the last part of the chapter we read that Christ Jesus intercedes for us, he is there through all the chaos that this world can throw at us.  Health, wealth, civil, social, spiritual chaos, all that is covered by the Intercessor, he who advocates for us, because NOTHING can separate us from the love of God which is manifested in the perfect sacrifice of His Son, Christ Jesus.

Powerful stuff here.  I recommend reading this passage any time we feel abandoned by everyone.  And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to read that passage from Romans 8 when we are not experiencing any issues of the above mention chaos.   Why you ask?  It could be in the same sense as counting your blessings, see what God has done.  It seems sometimes we are waiting on the Cosmic Bellhop to fulfill our every demand. Instead, look at verses 26 &27.

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

We don’t really know what is good for us. The Holy Spirit does, as God the Holy Spirit works in us, He searches our hearts.  He knows what is good for the saints (us) according to the will of God.  That aspect of God is so hard for us to wrap our mind around...’according to the will of God’.  Why is that ?   Usually because we want to do it our way.   Questions about that, then look at the next three verses.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

 “I don’t believe in predestination.”  Ok, I don’t think those last three verses were written for you to believe, they are a stating a condition we don’t seem to have much control over.   After stating all the facts of verses 28-30, then Paul asks an interesting set of questions.  Verse 31 tells us that instead of concerning ourselves with the questions of predestination look at the fact that these last three verses make us sure that “...if God be for us, who can be against us?”

That is the real testimony.  All this according to the will of God.

Can you now understand why doubters and skeptics do not like the writings of St. Paul?  He argues like a lawyer. He points out facts about God and his love towards us that should make us stop and ponder the last seven verses of chapter 8.

God did not spare his Son, that very Son is at the right hand of God the Father interceding for us, he advocates for us, being sinful and yet being sanctified by the death and resurrection of the same Son, Jesus the Christ.    Now Paul wraps up the whole message with those glorious verses that give us an assurance of everlasting life and that assurance that He Christ Jesus will never leave us or abandon us, no matter how bad things may get.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Beloved, in this time of great confusion and chaos, this time of strife and tribulation, we have that promise that nothing, NOTHING shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Is He your Lord?

Pray and ask Him to come into your life and save you from all that which can separate you from God.

 Let us pray:

O
 ALMIGHTY God, Who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, That they may love the thing which thou commandest, And desire that which thou dost promise; That so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, Our hearts may surely there be fixed, Where true joys are to be found; Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

G
RANT to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as are right; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

G
OD be merciful unto us, and bless us, * and show us the light of his countenance, and be merciful unto us;
That thy way may be known upon earth, * thy saving health among all nations.
Let the people praise thee, O God; * yea, let all the people praise thee.
O let the nations rejoice and be glad; * for thou shalt judge the folk righteously, and govern the nations upon earth.
Let the people praise thee, O God; * yea, let all the people praise thee.
Then shall the earth bring forth her increase; * and God, even our own God, shall give us his blessing.
God shall bless us; * and all the ends of the world shall fear him; these things we pray in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

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.

Eleventh Sunday after Trinity

In today’s gospel, our Lord rebuked those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others (St. Luke 18:9). In his parable of the Pharisee and the publican, our Lord made plain God’s disdain for those whose lack of humility led them into arrogance before his throne.
The particulars of this parable are these: two men entered the temple to pray. The former was a Pharisee and the latter was a publican, or tax collector. The former stood before God and recited a litany of supposed good things he had done for the LORD; while the latter stood afar off, having judged himself a sinner, and smote his chest as he sought God’s pardon. Our Lord then closed the parable with his appraisal of these men and identified the publican as having left the temple justified because he had humbled himself before God while the Pharisee had not.

Article XII of our Articles of Religion states in part: “. . .that good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow after justification, cannot put away our sins, and endure the severity of God’s judgment. . . “ And Article XIV states: “Voluntary works besides over and above, God’s commandments ... cannot be taught without arrogancy ... for by them men do declare, that they do more for [God’s] sake than of bounden duty is required: whereas Christ saith plainly ‘when ye have done all that are commanded to you, say, We are unprofitable servants.’ “

Our Lord was often chided by the scribes and Pharisees for his teachings because they conflicted with their understanding of God’s word written. These gatekeepers of the truth had insulated themselves from the very thing they were supposed to protect and espouse before men, and they did so via the traditions of their fathers (St. Matthew 23:1-39). Proverbs 16:5 states, Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD. Also Proverbs 20:6 says, Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find? And again in Proverbs 22:4 we learn that, By humility and fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life. And our Lord said (St. Matthew 18:4), Whosoever therefore will humble himself ... the same is the greatest in the in the kingdom of heaven. And where was their humility? Clearly, they had none. They saw no need to do those things which Moses and the prophets had called on them to do in order to preserve their own souls as they were only interested in defending their traditional understanding of things (St. Matthew 15:7-9).

Today, we find that the disease of phariseeism has infected many within the modern church. The modernist Pharisees will offer up to God their lists of “look- at-what-I-did-for-you-today” never once realizing that all their works are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Their particular station within the church might serve as a restraining influence; but not for their good if it keeps them from humbling themselves before God. And so it should not be surprising if they resemble the Laodicean Church who also believed themselves to be rich and in need of nothing (Revelation 3:17).

By contrast, the proper Christian when presented with such thoughts of self- sufficiency and self-aggrandizement will fall to his or her knees in humble reverence acknowledging the very God who made such wealth possible. Sadly, the numbers of those who might be termed a “proper Christian” are dwindling daily.

If one examines our society’s present condition with regard to God and his worship, you will find a disturbing absence of humility. There are several characteristics which illustrate this point such as, pretentiousness in worship; an over abundance of self-centeredness; a rising tide of assumption about what God expects from his people that is not based upon Scripture; and an ever-increasing quantity and quality of deception which has played a large part in the corruption of Christian doctrine. Let us now examine each of those charges in turn.

To begin with, the lack of humility with in many churches is troubling because God has called his own to worship him in spirit and in truth (St. John 4:23-24). Arrogance is forbidden as all who would come to God must humble themselves before him (St. Luke 18:14). Consider the position that Moses took at the burning bush in the wilderness. God told him to take off his sandals and then Moses hid his face, likely in a face-down position (Exodus 3:1-6). Psalm 95:6 calls on us to ...come let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. Kneeling as we do in our worship is a posture of humility. Still, we all have witnessed those who will kneel in arrogancy desiring to be seen of others as humble. Nevertheless, those who assume a godly posture devoid of a godly purpose will net themselves nothing in the long run. They may have the immediate satisfaction of appearing humble before men but their true selves are not hid from the Almighty.

There is also much pretense in worship today especially where the church mirrors that of a concert hall. “Let’s Pretend” Christians hold that entertainment is more important than humbleness in the presence of the Almighty. To these errant souls, worshipping the LORD in reverence “does not do it for them.” They are into “feeling” and not faith. However, feeling what they perceive as the Spirit of God may be nothing more than a pleasing sensation that they might have experienced while watching a love story on tv, or while listening to a popular song on the radio. To them, the soulful “I feel good” qualifies as being touched of God rather than the positive feeling of pouring out to him their sins and trespasses along with keeping their focus on him.

The over abundance of self-centeredness goes hand in hand with a lack of humbleness in worship. Truth be told, their worship is more an elevation of themselves; and, on account of their narcissism, they have also earned the moniker of “selfies.” So it should not be surprising that they are too busy taking care of themselves to give God what he desires most: their undivided attention.

So it follows that any church which engages in a form of worship dominated by self-centeredness will lose their sense of decorum and be overtaken by a rising tide of assumption about what is acceptable, godly worship. The Devil’s plan all along has been to destroy true Christian worship. He has utilized man’s senses to lure as many Christians as he can from a wholesome and true worship of the Godhead into a state of sensuality and carnality. Just as God is not honored in the worship of any pagan deity, so he is not honored by worship practices that do not give him all glory, laud and honor he rightly deserves.

Without a doubt, the aforementioned points will have a direct impact on their understanding of the doctrines of the Christian Church. How can they know the truth of the gospel when it is being withheld by ministers whose primary purpose has been to lure the unsuspecting into their slaughterhouses of falsehood and deceit? To paraphrase a character from “The Outlaw Josie Wales”: “They have been decently entertained carnally, and they have been decently slain spiritually.” Their capacity for godly discernment has been seared with the hot iron of sensation and excitement rendering them willing accomplices in the crime of arrogance— offering God what feels good to themselves. In that condition, they are no different than the Pharisee who stood up and extolled himself before God.

Juxtaposed to the Pharisee in the parable was the publican. He sought and received forgiveness because he humbled himself before the LORD. It is only when we come before God’s throne of grace pleading with him to take away our sins that we are made fit to experience his love for us. As with the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, so will our heavenly Father graciously receive and pardon all who come to him if, and only if, they come with a heart seeking his forgiveness. For only those who truly seek after God will be made right with him through private confession and amendment of life. Only those who offer him the true sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart will be forgiven. Only those who worship him in spirit and in truth and without pretension or assumption will have their prayers received and their worship accepted.

And so two men who entered the temple to pray. The Pharisee came with pride, while the publican came in humility and regret for his actions. The Pharisee came to extol himself, while the publican came downtrodden and abased himself before God. The Pharisee sought to justify himself, while the publican sought God’s pardon and mercy. The Pharisee treated God as if he had done him a favor, while the publican sought God’s favor through his act of self-judgment.

I pray each of you will seek a closer walk with the Godhead; that you will ask the LORD to forgive you of your sins and trespasses; that you will come before his throne of grace seeking his pardon with humble and contrite hearts. There is no reason to lay before him in pridefulness those things we have done in his service. So let us draw near desiring his forgiveness, and then seek his guidance. Only afterward, are we to stand and rejoice for we know that he is just and faithful to cleanse us in the name of his beloved Son. May our good and gracious God be pleased to send his most holy Spirit to comfort, guide and keep you in Christ Jesus this day and forever more.

Let us pray,

F
ather, grant to us grace sufficient to bring ourselves: our souls and bodies, into humble submission to thy will and pleasure; that we might have a more perfect fellowship with thee in this life as well as for the life to come; for this we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+



[1] Pharisee - One of a sect or party among the Jews, noted for a strict and formal observance of rites and ceremonies and of the traditions of the elders, and whose pretensions to superior sanctity led them to separate themselves from the other Jews.
[2] Publican 1. (Rom. Antiq.) A farmer of the taxes and public revenues; hence, a collector of toll or tribute. The inferior officers of this class were often oppressive in their exactions, and were regarded with great detestation.

Literally a Publican is one who farmed the taxes (e. g., Zacchaeus, Luke 19: 2) to be levied from a town or  district, and thus undertook to pay to the supreme government a certain amount. In order to collect the taxes, the publicans employed subordinates (5: 27; 15: 1; 18: 10), who, for their own ends, were often guilty of extortion and peculation (defrauding the public by appropriating to one's own use the money or goods intrusted to one's care for management or disbursement; embezzlement). In New Testament times these taxes were paid to the Romans, and hence were regarded by the Jews as a very heavy burden, and hence also the collectors of taxes, who were frequently Jews, were hated, and were usually spoken of in very opprobrious terms. Jesus was accused of being a "friend of publicans and sinners" (Luke 7: 34).
[3] Though Paul was writing to the people of Corinth, the information is just as applicable to us, perhaps more so now than ever before.