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Sunday, May 31, 2015
Sermon Notes - Trinity Sunday – Ordination of Edward Pressey and John Evetts - Saint George’s Anglican Church, Ventura, California - 31 May 2015, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)
We have gathered here at this time and place today to worship the Lord in Holy Communion, and to ordain in prayerful contemplation two men whom the Lord has called into His ministry of Holy Orders as priests.
In the United States, a commission grants authority to act on behalf of the Chief Executive Power – the President.
In the Church, the commission to preach the Gospel is granted to all whom the Lord has called into His Holy Ministry.
Acting on behalf of the Almighty Sovereign of all Creation, the ministry calls for men whose integrity is unassailable and whose faith is tried and proven.
Such men must never exceed the terms of their calling in God, but to preach His pure and unadulterated Word, and to quit themselves as men of an Holy disposition.
Reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew 28:19-20
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
The ministry of God is a sacred trust the violation of which will redound to the great detriment of the offender. For, as we read from 1 Cor 14:8 –
For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? (1 Cor 14:8)
An UNCERTAIN sound resounds throughout the world, and even the Church, today. Holy Scripture has been abandoned in favor of social issues to soothe itching ears. The teachings from the modern pulpit are influenced more by the values of the world than of the church.
As ministers of God, we are not to compromise on the Word of God to please social engineers or the wicked inclinations of those who are in rebellion against the Lord of Glory and His Holy Word.
As will be discovered from the Epistle reading for today, God has established orders for His ministers. The authority granted is not our own, but belongs solely to God. As ambassadors and emissaries of the Divine Power, we are to represent, in minute detail, the will and teaching of Him who sent us.
The labor of the ministry is not labor at all, but a blessed rest for the true ministers does not his own works, but the woirks of Christ are to be manifested throughout his life.
9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. (Heb 4:9-10)
Incidentally, the Greek word for ”rest’ in verse nine is Sabbatismos (referring to the eternal Sabbath we enjoy in Christ by allowing Him to work through us and suppressing our own works by the power of the Holy Ghost.
In the Holy Gospel for today (Matthew 9), we read of the plenteous harvest that awaits those who sow the seed of the Gospel near and far.
We are to sow indiscriminately on all soils. The germination oif those seed we sow is not our affair, but that of the Holy Ghost that nurtures and works in the heart of the earth to awaken the tiny seed to grow and to reach for the sun.
Unfortunately, there are far too many laborers today who work in darkness to sow seeds of deception and a false Gospel.
The minister, as a soldier of valor for God, must guard against such false doctrine and leavenous poisons that are so prevalent in churches today.
Trinity Sunday: What an auspicious day for ordination into God’s ministry!
The Gospel for Trinity Sunday is found in that beautiful 3rd chapter of the Gosepl of St. John;
It speaks of a man named Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night.
Nicodemus was a powerful man – a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin (the only member to speak in defense of Jesus). (John 7:50)
Yet, he came by night. Some have suggested that he came at night as a matter of convenience of a busy man. Others have suggested that he was fearful of condemnation by the other members of the Sanhedrin. I believe the latter to be the case.
On each of the two separate occasion in which Nicodemus is subsequently mentioned, John reminds us that Nicodemus was the one who came to Jesus by night! Why would he mention this unless it attached a defining significance to the name of Nicodemus.
Though Nicodemus came to Jesus at first by night, he never again hid his love and faith for Christ.
In the end, he publicly exposed himself to the hatred of the Jews, and of Rome, by appearing with Joseph of Arimethea to claim the body of Christ at the court of the Roman Prelate, Pontius Pilate.
As ministers, our faith may have begun as that of a grain of mustard seed, but all seed (to be productive) must grow. And so, as ministers, we must grow with the pure Word of god that we preach.
I congratulate, and caution, the men who are called to the Holy Office of priest today. Your calling is the most joyful and glorious a man can take up if he remains faithful and devoted toi Christ and His lambs.
However, the words of the Apostle Peter are most apt as a warning, not only to the laity of God, but most directly, the ministers:
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. 10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. 11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:8-11)
Friday, May 29, 2015
Devotion on Firsts of the Bible - First Master of Joseph in Egypt - Potiphar, 29 May 2015, Anno Domini
… Don’t take the first step …
1 And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. 2 And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. (Gen 39:1-2)
Joseph was brutally betrayed by his brethren in Canaan, cast into a well, and sold for twenty pieces of silver by them to the first passing caravan bound for Egypt. To his credit, Reuben (the eldest brother) attempted to save both the life and the liberty of Joseph.
In his treatment by his brethren, his going down into Egypt, his ill treatment by being imprisoned, his marvelous ascension from the prison cell to a position of power in Egypt all parallel, in a physical sense, the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, Joseph is the strongest Type of Christ in the Holy Scriptures. Like Christ, he was treated roughly by his brethren and sold into the hands of strangers. Christ was betrayed by Judas (one considered to be His brethren) and was sold into the hands of His enemies. Joseph was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife. Christ was falsely accused by the Jewish rulers. Joseph was imprisoned in Egypt; so was Christ placed in Pilate’s jail with sinners awaiting His crucifixion. Joseph, too, like Jesus, was favored above all others in H=his father’s affections. Joseph rose to the number two position of power in the kingdom of Egypt. Christ was elevated to the right hand of the Father as the second Person of the Trinity. Joseph became a savior for his people during the great famine and redeemed them from poverty. Christ, as savior, both saved us from our sins and redeemed us from those sins by ‘purchasing’ us out of Egypt. There are far too many parallels to cover in this devotion, however, let is satisfy the reader to search out those further likenesses. It will feed the soul and refresh the spirit in those discoveries.
Joseph was highly favored by his father, Jacob, for a reason. Other men will also see that reason when they look upon Joseph’s and such favors of character and worth will eventually be rewarded. It is important to remember that the same favors of grace with which Joseph was endowed and which gained him ultimate acclaim in Egypt by Potiphar and Pharaoh are the very same that provoked those of less worth to persecute him. It is the same for every living Christian today. Sinners are highly offended by the Gospel of Christ. When they see evidence of Christ in the life of a Christian, it is not the Christian that they hate, but the Lord who works through them. This is not a casual hatred, but a demonic and persistent one. Though the enemy may strip us of outward vestiges of favor, he cannot deprive us of the faith and character that lie at the heart of the faithful.
In considering Potiphar, we may judge him as a man who failed to stand on justice. But I believe that is harsh since Potiphar had the power to put Joseph to death for the accusation made against him. Potiphar was a wise and strong man of military prowess. He was Captain of the Guard for Pharaoh – a position requiring great trust and ability. He was wise in the oversight of his estate, and placed a man (Joseph) in a position to care for matters of matters estate. He, too, recognized character and ethical demeanor in Joseph, and put those attributes into good use for his own benefit. Wisdom is required in a man to recognize that wisdom in others.
Potiphar’s wife, whether consciously or not, was a handy piece of the devil’s work. She was unfaithful to her husband in the case of Joseph, and she was likely unfaithful on other occasions. This may have been a sinful nature of which Potiphar was aware when accusations were later made against Joseph. Potiphar and all that he had was blessed by the Lord through Joseph’s wise administration. The grace of God is shed abroad on all people of a nation when the Church remains faithful to the Lord. As faithful Christians, we are also a blessing to all around us though they may despise that faithfulness. The world wants us to be just as they are, and no different. The world insinuates itself into the Church itself through immoral music, false doctrine, and lack of solemn reliance and reverence for the Word of God.
Potiphar’s wife saw goodness in Joseph, too, however she desired to employ that goodness in satisfying her lust. Joseph had done all things for Potiphar; surely, she thought, I can seduce such an innocent one. 7 And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. 8 But he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; 9 There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? One of the greatest attributes of character is LOYALTY.
Loyalty to the wrong thing is loyalty abandoned, but loyalty to righteousness makes a man impervious to invasions of sin and lust. Joseph possessed this attribute in essence of the loyalty he paid to his Lord. To sin against Potiphar carried a higher level of transgression – to sin against our fellows is, more importantly, to sin against God. Perhaps loyalty, being a complement to wisdom and faithfulness, was another of the reasons that Potiphar placed his possessions in Joseph’s care. To a military leader such as Potiphar was, loyalty was an essential mark of his chosen subordinates.
10 And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her. 11 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. 12 And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out. Observe the strength of character of the youthful Joseph in resisting the strong temptation to lust. The devil tempted Christ to greater degrees in the Wilderness, yet He succumbed not to his temptations. The temptation to in is of a gradual and escalating nature . Day by day, Joseph was tempted. Temptation will escalate to a crucial moment when its object either yields, or forbears. This moment has occurred for Joseph with Potiphar’s wife.
It is better to leave all possessions and go out into the world naked than to submit to ungodliness. Joseph did just that! 13 And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, 14 That she called unto the men of her house, and spake unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice: 15 And it came to pass, when he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled, and got him out. 16 And she laid up his garment by her, until his lord came home. 17 And she spake unto him according to these words, saying, The Hebrew servant, which thou hast brought unto us, came in unto me to mock me: 18 And it came to pass, as I lifted up my voice and cried, that he left his garment with me, and fled out.” It often happens that our righteous acts are employed against us as evidence of false accusations. Joseph had conducted himself in admiral righteousness in dealing with the wife of Potiphar, but his actions in fleeing temptation was used against him to accuse him of adulterous desire. The world always seeks to pin the penalties for its sin upon the righteous.
19 And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spake unto him, saying, After this manner did thy servant to me; that his wrath was kindled. 20 And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. Be not surprised when your good works are made to appear as evil by the world. Today, Christians are accused of intolerance for refusing to conform to the fashionable sins of the world such as homosexuality, abortion, and promiscuity. We are labeled as narrow minded and radical. The world does not mind our calling ourselves Christians as long as we do not uphold the righteous law of our Namesake – Jesus Christ! You will note that, instead of putting Joseph to death, Potiphar, perhaps mindful of his wife’s many past indiscretions, placed Joseph in the best part of the prison – where the king’s prisoner’s were accommodated.
Joseph never uttered a word in his own defense – neither did our Lord. As Christians, we must be resigned to the role of “pilgrims and strangers upon this earth seeking after that city not built with hands.” Every painful scar the devil inflicts will redound to our good. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. It is a marvelous joy observe how well the Lord turns every ill-intended act committed against His faithful people to their ultimate great good. Even prison keepers will recognize the goodness in Joseph and elevate him where he is.
The great joy of the believer resides in his certain knowledge that the Lord “will neither forsake nor leave him” whithersoever he goes. (see Heb 13:5) There is no better company in an Egyptian prison than the Lord Himself! “23 The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.” He will remain with you as well if you remain faithful to His Holy Word in LOVE.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
5 Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. 6 He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. (Hab 3:5-6)
Many readers may never have heard of this dignified and reverent hymn, but it is one of my favorites of all time. There are two hymns sung by the Cadet Glee Club at West Point which rank among my top ten favorite hymns – ‘In the Mansions of the Lord’ is one, and ‘On Great Lone Hills’ the other. The author of the lyrics is one who has his reward in Heaven for no one knows his name on earth. The musical score is taken from Finlandia by the Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius, written in 1899. The music itself is powerful and compelling and fits perfectly well with the magnitude and force of the lyrics.
Try, if you will, to imagine this great hymn being sung by the strong and youthful voices of the Cadet Glee Club accompanied by the powerful notes and strains of the music being played on the largest pipe organ in the world located in the Cadet Protestant Chapel at West Point. It is worth the time to go online and search out this great performance of the hymn under study.
On Great Lone Hills
On great, lone hills, where tempests brood and gather,
Primeval Earth, against primeval sky,
We, faring forth, possessed by fervent longing,
Have found a throne, eternal and high,
Have knelt at last in wordless adoration,
Till fire and whirlwind have both gone by.
With ardent song we greet the golden morning.
By faith upborne, remember not the night.
The whole wide world, triumphant hails the dawning.
God walks abroad in garments of might,
The hills, behold, are now a path of splendor,
Transfigured all, and all crowned with light.
On great, lone hills, where tempests brood and gather, Primeval Earth, against primeval sky, We, faring forth, possessed by fervent longing, Have found a throne, eternal and high, Have knelt at last in wordless adoration, Till fire and whirlwind have both gone by. It is not in the ditches and gutters of society that great decisions are made, but in the halls of the Parliaments and Congresses. If man could learn the important lesson that those decisions made on High are forever the prevailing decisions by which his life is ordered, perhaps he might stumble less on the stones of failure and the ruts of ruin. God is alone in His Heaven. The Three Persons of the Triune Godhead constitute One Mind - for all who are agreed in perfection constitute One Mind. There are no other heights from which divine decrees are issued, but from these exalted heights of Heaven. The storms of the earth are conceived there on those Great Lone Hills of the Father’s Mind. When the spiritual horizon is dark and brooding, you may be sure that a storm is brewing on High to rain on the debauchery and decadence of those who have long neglected the worship of their Maker.
Mr. Merriam Webster defines PRIMEVAL thusly: “of or relating to the earliest ages (as of the world or human history): ancient, primitive.” Of course, the word itself is self-explanatory. Prime means the earliest or very first. Primeval relates to all first things and causes. God is the First Cause that existed in the eternity before even the primeval earth was made by His Hands. We fare forth as seaman on the sea of life, or as pilgrims crossing the wilderness of this world. We have a Chart and Compass to steer our course – the Holy Bible and the Holy Spirit. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (Heb 11:14-16) Are you, friend, seeking a heavenly country as a pilgrim tormented by the sins around you; or have you “pitched your tent toward Sodom?” Have you, as Abraham and his spiritual progeny, “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” (Heb 11:13b) The interest of a spiritual pilgrim seeking that City of God is not a casual or complacent interest, it is one born of fervent longing and patient desire.
By and by, the pilgrim ends his journey, but not until he has found the source of his longing and desire – the Throne of God, His Sovereign and King. Just as the sinner will stand speechless before the Judgment Seat of God, the Godly pilgrim will also stand dumb before His Maker – not out of shame or fear, but out of boundless adoration and awe. The pilgrim shall endure the coming storms and fervent heat that is coming upon the earth in the last days because he is secure in the Ark that is his Defense – the Lord Jesus Christ!
I can just imagine in my memory the rapturous notes building to a crescendo in this last verse: “With ardent song we greet the golden morning. By faith upborne, remember not the night. The whole wide world, triumphant hails the dawning. God walks abroad in garments of might, The hills, behold, are now a path of splendor, Transfigured all, and all crowned with light.” There were thunderous outbreaks of flooding waters both from the heavens and the Fountains of the Great Deep during the Deluge of Noah’s Day. The whole earth was awash with the devastating waters of the flood. Those who were without the closed door of the Ark perished with the wild beast whose natures were more like their own. But one Spring Morning, on the first day of the month (Nisan), Noah and his company departed the Ark. This 1st day of Nisan was the Hebrew New Year and First Day of Spring. What a spring morning that was for Noah and his family. What a spring morning awaits all who eagerly anticipate the sounding of the trumpet as the sky is rolled back as a scroll. The brilliant Light of Christ shall herald the first day of Spring in Heaven for those who are the called and elect of God. The cold, somber days of December and January are no longer remembered on the first day of spring. The beauty of the flora and forest, the music of the birds and turtle dove, resound in our ears as a choir from on High. No, we shall not remember those days of hard labor and misery of our pilgrimage for the glory of heaven shall overpower these musings.
A minister friend from Asia recently asked me to help him to understand, in English, one verse of 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. (Eph 2:8-9) The prepositions were the bugger-bears that plagued him. He wondered if it would not be the same to say, “By faith are ye saved through grace.” Of course, that misses the point of this verse. Faith does not save us, but it is the means of our knowing and believing the grace that is made available to us through the redeeming death of our Lord Jesus Christ. If we are dying of thirst, it is not the finely crafted crystal glass that will save us, but rather the water that is in that glass. Grace is the WATER, and faith is the GLASS! That FAITH must be centered in the right truth as well. A glass of salt water will not save a famishing pilgrim. Faith must be centered on truth. That faith in the Redeemer is what bears us up and makes us forget the night of agony and deprivation.
Having been baptized with fervent fires wherein every unclean thing has been burned away, the whole earth rests in the peace that only God can make full and complete. God walks again in garments of Light and Might as He did in the Garden at Eden of our primeval parents. We shall no longer regard the hills as impediments, but sources of help and strength: 1 I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. 2 My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. (Psalms 121:1-2)
The hills and mountains no longer are dark and brooding, but rather crowned with halos of light and splendor. The hills are literally crowned with light, and so will be every saint who finishes his pilgrimage without fail.
Monday, May 25, 2015
Bishop’s Letter for Memorial Day Observance 25 May 2015, Anno Domini (in the 239th year of our Declaration of Independence)
Bishop’s Memorial Day Letter
Memorial Day, 2015
The cost, in blood and treasure, of our liberties in America is beyond measure; but this cost points to a principle of the American psyche that has existed from the beginning and prompted our fore-fathers to risk all, including their “lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor”. (from Declaration of Independence – last line) Yes, honor is a sacred trust as well as the lives of the men who placed such a premium upon it that they were willing to give their lives to defend our freedoms.
Memorial Day is a day devoted to the honor of those who gave the last great sacrifice in defense of a nation highly favored by God. As long as men and women of honor continue in that tradition, our nation will remain free; however, a key component of freedom is a reliance on the Providence of a Beneficent God that is the Guarantor of Liberty. If we ever forget that gracious Hand that has fed, guided and defended our the peoples of our far-flung shores, we will find that we have also lost our liberties along with our memories.
I have put together a few lines of poetry to commemorate this day of remembrance and sacrifice entitled, “Call to Arms”. It reflects my sentiments for the day, and I hope yours, too:
Call to Arms
The call to arms resounded
From sea to shining sea.
The soldier packed his knapsack
And took his final leave.
He left behind a family –
A daughter, son, and wife,
And made his roll-call muster
And then he gave his life.
The dirge sounds slow and muffled
As his comrades bear him on –
The flag-draped casket jostles
As the Caisson rolls along.
He may have been a youngster
In his early manhood bloom –
Or she may have been a doctor
Near the battle’s crash and boom.
But one and all stand honored
Amid the cross and star
As heroes of the nation
Who gave their all in war.
The Blue Star mother mourns –
The young wife bides alone –
As the nation pays its tribute
For the seeds of freedom sown.
On distant shores celestial –
The trumpet sounds the call
As freedom’s angels gather
To greet the soldier home.
Bare-headed, I salute every combat soldier, sailor, airman, and Coast Guardsman who gave his/her all for me, and for you, and for you, and for YOU - on this Memorial Day in America of 2015 (in the Year of our Lord)!
Sunday, May 24, 2015
Pentecost, commonly called Whitsunday- St Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 24 May 2015, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)
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Pentecost, commonly called Whitsunday.
GOD, who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
¶ This Collect is to be said daily throughout Whitsun Week.
HEN the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilæans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judæa, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. (Acts 2:1-11 KJV)
Today’s text is about prayer as much as it is about Pentecost, for the matter is all wrapped up together in the wonderful manner of the working of God by agency of the Holy Ghost.
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” This is an example to us of how a church should be – one accord, one place. If we are One with Christ, we will be One with each other. Christ is not divided against Himself.
The common prayers of the Apostles were joined together as one voice, and that voice was also the Voice of God for, if we pray in His Will, the prayer is a repeat of His Word for us. Common prayer is strong in its effect and reception by God. How can we ere when we pray the very Word of God?
Prayer is not unlike an echo. It rises to Heaven and, if it be a Godly prayer, is resounds from Heaven with a thunderous echo.
Prayer truly is an echo, only the echo is not God’s. It is our spirits echoing, in humble prayer, the will of the Lord. He thunders and we echo that thunder in our hearts.
Our truest prayers are but the echo of God’s promises. And our echoed prayer is answered with echo after echo from God – very much like two mirrors facing so that the resulting image advances into infinity.
We are now about to witness in the text an illustration of the working of that Spirit called Holy – the Holy Ghost! Please note from whence the sound of His Voice originates:
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
From Heaven. No will of God originates on earth, but from heaven. That is why our prayers must ‘echo’ the will of God for us.
A rushing might wind: A symbol of the Holy Ghost, almost always working in the silent chambers of the heart, here is so powerfully present in its coming that it resembles a mighty gushing wind of tremendous force. There is no corner of the house that is not filled with it.
It is like the wind in at least four particulars:
In His —
1. Secret coming.
2. Powerful shaking.
3. Purifying blowing.
4. Soft refreshing.
Like the morning dew, no one can observe its coming, but the evidence of its presence overwhelms the company.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Notice the Holy Ghost is like a FIRE!
In His —
1. Bright shining.
2. Genial warming.
3. Destructive burning.
4. Rapid spreading.
As Matthew Henry notes: “The Spirit, like fire, melts the heart, burns up the dross, and kindles pious and devout affections in the soul; in which, as in the fire on the altar, the spiritual sacrifices are offered up.”
Pentecost began with fervent prayer in the Wilderness, and so does the same occur here at our day of Pentecost following, by forty-nine days, the events of Holy Week.
And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: 16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD. (Lev 23:15-16)
This is the seventh week (or 49 days of the morrow) following the Sunday of Resurrection! Once again, fervent prayer is offered and the Holy Ghost answers that call.
We note in the events of this moment that the Holy Ghost had the efficacious benefit to change the hearts of men instantaneously to believe on Him whom they had pierced.
Let us examine this effect:
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
What do these other tongues mean and how were they manifested to those around?
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
There were present representatives from every known nation at Jerusalem. They all spoke in ‘foreign’ languages. This must have been a confusing moment?
Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
They were confused, not because they could not understand the words spoken by the Apostles, but because they COULD!
And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
I am sorry to tell you this, but all those so-called churches who teach that these tongues were utterances of ecstasy no one else could understand are teachers of false doctrine. They are heretics or unable to read and comprehend the clear meaning of Scripture!
If a man or woman stands up in a church and begins to speak in a babble that no one can understand, does that edify the church? Does it please God? The word babble comes from the Tower of Babble which, because of their sin against heaven, God confused their languages so that each spoke a language the other could not understand. It sounded like babble, babble, babble, or the language of Babel.
The Holy Ghost will not come to you with an uncertain sound.
Paul describes this practice in 1 Cor 14:8-9
For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.
Does God intend confusion to be a reverent manner of worship?
Again Paul says: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Cor 14:33)
The Holy Ghost is an agent of peace, goodwill, love, and obedience. If you hear His Voice, you will not hear the voices of false friends calling you to dress in sexy or inappropriate ways. You will disregard the voices pleading you to go where you should not, or do things you should not do. Do you truly love God? Then obey His Holy Spirit in your daily lives!
Do you hear the Echo?