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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

Monday, December 31, 2018


Sermon Notes, First Sunday after Christmas 30 December 2018 Anno Domini (2nd Part)

Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide



The Collect

The First Sunday after Christmas

ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.



1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. Luke 2:1-20



Today we shall observe three occasions in the Church Calendar – the continuing Christmastide, the Holy Innocents, and the coming New Year on Tuesday.



If we read the Bible as a strictly edifying historical work, we will miss the entire message of the Gospel, for the Bible is a Living Text that bears the same application to our lives today as to those of whom it has given account between its inspired and infallible covers.



During this Christmastide, we celebrate the coming of Light and Wonder into a dark world, and we do so both figuratively and formally; however, it would be wrong to believe that the Coming of Christ ended on Christmas morning. Christ is forever coming into our hearts if we have hearts that are open to His knocking. You will not find Him in churches that are not faithful to the Gospel, for He “stands at the door (without) and knocks.” If the door to your heart has grown callous with rusty from years of hard living, and is not open to Christ, you will not even find Him in a Church strong in its Gospel message. But no thing is beyond the arm of the Lord to traverse, and He may haply force open the corroded and barred door of the most egregious sinner in His time, and cause a joyful welcome to be proclaimed from lips that only spoke vulgarity in times past. If you wake up on the morning of July 4th with a prayer for Christ to live in your heart that day, even July 4th becomes Christmas to you. Do you get it? Is there some cruel irony in singing “O Come all ye Faithful” in summer? Not at all. We grow too rigid in our hymn-singing at times. Christ seldom observed a strict formality, but behaved in ways that set the teeth of the Jewish rulers on edge. Naturally, we must be reverent and orderly in worship, but not so staid that we condemn even Christ for healing of the Sabbath Day!



God is all powerful and able to work in the hearts of even evil men to accomplish His purpose. Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, yet the prophecies proclaim that Christ should be born there. (see Micah 5:2) The foreshadowing of Bethlehem as the place of Christ birth is even alluded to in 1 Samuel 16:1 - And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. Jesse is the father of David and, so, Bethlehem is called the City of David.



These opening passages of Luke 2 are magically wonderful to my ears, for they were first repeated to m by my mother and, even then, they carried a charm and mystery to my young mind. I wonder how many young children in America today have been blessed by that experience? How nonchalantly does Luke refer to the occasion of Christ’s birth: “And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.” And so it was? Yes, it certainly was so, and could have been no otherwise! God brought the power of Caesar into play to bring about  this Holy event. To all the world Jesus came as a Stranger and left as Redeemer. He was a Stranger to the woman at Jacob’s Well at the noonday hour, but that woman left having found a Friend that loves her beyond all human measure. Have you met that Stranger of Galilee?



We often place our clergy on a pedestal and believe that they somehow stand in greater grace than we. A minister is simply a fellow who, hopefully, by the grace of God has been called and responded to the call of God to preach. A minister can be, and often is, fallible just as you or I can be fallible – and often are! You will note that The Holy Angels did not proclaim the great news of Christ’s birth in the halls of government in Jerusalem, or even to “men of the cloth.” He proclaimed this wonderful news to men whose ears were open to hear it – common shepherds of the field. These men had no other distraction than to gaze upon the endless beauties of God’s star-studded heavens night after night. They understood, unlike most theologians, that there can exist mysteries in the Word of God which no competent theologian can define. They knew nothing of the conflicting teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees, or the subjects taught in the rabbinical schools by men such as Gamaliel, but they did know that God sat upon the heavens and created every bright point of light visible to them in that purple dawn canopy above them. So God chose the least among men to honor MOST with His Gospel News!



Perhaps, if you have not met God, it may be because you are too lifted up in pride and arrogance., If so, God can lower you until you arrive at a level at which you can be taught of Him. There could be no greater blessing for such a one.



The coming of Christ into your life does not signal an end to trial and hardship. Au contraire, it may be just the beginning. It was the beginning of sorrows for many mothers in Bethlehem. It was the beginning of sorrows for Mary, the mother of Jesus. She failed, seemingly, to profit from His teaching until after the resurrection, but a sword pierced her heart at the foot of that crude cross at Calvary.



The recent tragic events at a school in Connecticut are heart-breaking, as well. What can be more tragic? There is something that is far more tragic! It would be that so many lives went into the darkness of eternity without the Light of Christ. What happened in Newtown is not related to the right to bear arms – every man has the right of self-protection. The tragedy of Newtown is the moral depravity into which America has sunk over the last several decades. When the Supreme Court made a law against school prayer, in contravention of the First amendment to the US Constitution, and continued to trample the religious liberty rights of the American people by outlawing Bibles in schools, Nativity scenes in public places, and legalized (immorally) the murder of millions and millions of little children – an event that dwarfs Herod’s action against the children of Bethlehem – our religious leaders were eerily silent. When Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (a 1967 West Point graduate) had the courage to display the Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court building (much like that of the US Supreme court), his greatest opponents were the Southern Baptist Conference of Alabama. America rejected God, and in so doing, reject His Providential protection of our country. He may give us over to delusion and reprobacy.  We have come to calling that which God calls ‘good,’ evil; and that which God has called ‘evil,’ good. Majority opinions do not matter with God. God has only truth – NOT opinion!



So we see, on the Day of Holy Innocents, the intentional murder of small children by the sword. At least, their murder was most likely more abrupt than the burning death oif little babies in their mother’s womb by a “process of murder” we call abortion. 



18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin. Gen 35:18 (KJV) (Son of my Sorrow) Rachel died that her child should live. 19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. Gen 35:19 (KJV) The City of David where Christ was born also. A sword would also pierce Mary’s heart. 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. Luke 2:35 (KJV) 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. Matt 2:18 (KJV) 15 Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. Jer 31:15 (KJV)



Do we not hear those mother’s voices still crying out in the streets of Newtown. When evil rules the land, even the innocent suffer. As we embark on a so-called NEW YEAR, let us be mindful that swords, guns, and bombs have no conscience. They can neither be righteous or wicked. It is the heart of the man holding the weapon that is guilty of sins committed by any device of killing. Were we to remove every knife, every sword, every gun from the hands of man, do you believe we would have seen the end of mass murder? Historically, how have states behaved who have wielded the only means of force and violence? How did Hitler’s Germany behave, or Caesar’s Rome? 



New Years Day is not a Christian holiday, but a secular one. The only New Year we can truly enjoy is that New Day, New Year, and New Life in Christ. Heed, America, the counsel of Isaiah if you wish for the comfort and peace of a Holy people: When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. 20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. 21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever. Isaiah 59:19-21 (KJV)



Men, called of God: Have you lifted up the Standard? Have you received the Word of God – not of man – into your mouth to proclaim? Have we taught our seed to know and follow that Light which came at Christmas 2000 years ago? If not, then Stand To, and do your duty now as a good soldier of the Cross.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Sermon Notes • First Sunday after Christmas • 30 December 2018, Anno Domini



The First Sunday after Christmas Day.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTYGod, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Amen
Spirit ever, one God, world without end.

The Epistle Galatians iv. 1.

N
ow I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: but when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. 

A
NDit came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (Luke 2:1-20) 

Today we shall observe three occasions in the Church Calendar – the continuing Christmastide, the Holy Innocents, and the coming New Year on Tuesday.

If we read the Bible as a strictly edifying historical work, we will miss the entire message of the Gospel, for the Bible is a Living Text that bears the same application to our lives today as to those of whom it has given account between its inspired and infallible covers.

During this Christmastide, we celebrate the coming of Light and Wonder into a dark world, and we do so both figuratively and formally; however, it would be wrong to believe that the Coming of Christ ended on Christmas morning. Christ is forever coming into our hearts if we have hearts that are open to His knocking. You will not find Him in churches that are not faithful to the Gospel, for He “stands at the door (without) and knocks.” If the door to your heart has grown callous with rusty from years of hard living, and is not open to Christ, you will not even find Him in a Church strong in its Gospel message. But no thing is beyond the arm of the Lord to traverse, and He may haply force open the corroded and barred door of the most egregious sinner in His time, and cause a joyful welcome to be proclaimed from lips that only spoke vulgarity in times past. If you wake up on the morning of July 4th with a prayer for Christ to live in your heart that day, even July 4th becomes Christmas to you. Do you get it? Is there some cruel irony in singing “O Come all ye Faithful” in summer? Not at all. We grow too rigid in our hymn-singing at times. Christ seldom observed a strict formality, but behaved in ways that set the teeth of the Jewish rulers on edge. Naturally, we must be reverent and orderly in worship, but not so staid that we condemn even Christ for healing of the Sabbath Day!

God is all powerful and able to work in the hearts of even evil men to accomplish His purpose. Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, yet the prophecies proclaim that Christ should be born there. (see Micah 5:2)The foreshadowing of Bethlehem as the place of Christ birth is even alluded to in 1 Samuel 16:1 - And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. Jesse is the father of David and, so, Bethlehem is called the City of David. 

These opening passages of Luke Chapter Two are magically wonderful to my ears, for they were first read to me by my mother and, even then, they carried a charm and mystery to my young mind. I wonder how many young children in America today have been blessed by that experience? How nonchalantly does Luke refer to the occasion of Christ’s birth: And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And so it was? Yes, it certainly was so, and could have been no otherwise! God brought the power of Caesar into play to bring about this Holy event. To all the world Jesus came as a Stranger and left as Redeemer. He was a Stranger to the woman at Jacob’s Well at the noonday hour, but that woman left having found a Friend that loves her beyond all human measure. Have you met that Stranger of Galilee?

We often place our clergy on a pedestal and believe they somehow stand in greater grace than we. A minister is simply a fellow who, hopefully, by the grace of God has been called and responded to the call of God to preach. A minister can be, and often is, fallible just as you or I can be fallible – and often are! You will note The Holy Angels did not proclaim the great news of Christ’s birth in the halls of government in Jerusalem, or even to “men of the cloth.” He proclaimed this wonderful news to men whose ears were open to hear it – common shepherds of the field. These men had no other distraction than to gaze upon the endless beauties of God’s star-studded heavens night after night. They understood, unlike most theologians, that there can exist mysteries in the Word of God which no competent theologian can define. They knew nothing of the conflicting teachings of the Pharisees and Sadducees, or the subjects taught in the rabbinical schools by men such as Gamaliel, but they did know that God sat upon the heavens and created every bright point of light visible to them in that purple dawn canopy above them. So, God chose the least among men to honor MOST with His Gospel News!

Perhaps, if you have not met God, it may be because you are too lifted up in pride and arrogance., If so, God can lower you until you arrive at a level at which you can be taught of Him. There could be no greater blessing for such a one.

The coming of Christ into your life does not signal an end to trial and hardship. Au contraire, it may be just the beginning. It was the beginning of sorrows for many mothers in Bethlehem. It was the beginning of sorrows for Mary, the mother of Jesus. She failed, seemingly, to profit from His teaching until after the resurrection, but a sword pierced her heart at the foot of that crude cross at Calvary.

The tragic events at a school in Connecticut are heart-breaking, as well. What can be more tragic? There is something that is far more tragic! It would be that so many lives went into the darkness of eternity without the Light of Christ. What happened in Newtown is not related to the right to bear arms – every man has the right of self-protection. The tragedy of Newtown is the moral depravity into which America has sunk over the last several decades. When the Supreme Court made a law against school prayer, in contravention of the First amendment to the US Constitution, and continued to trample the religious liberty rights of the American people by outlawing Bibles in schools, Nativity scenes in public places, and legalized (immorally) the murder of millions and millions of little children – an event that dwarfs Herod’s action against the children of Bethlehem – our religious leaders were eerily silent. When Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (a 1967 West Point graduate) had the courage to display the Ten Commandments in the Supreme Court building (much like that of the US Supreme Court), his greatest opponents were the Southern Baptist Conference of Alabama. America rejected God, and in so doing, reject His Providential protection of our country. He may give us over to delusion and reprobacy.  We have come to calling that which God calls ‘good,’ evil; and that which God has called ‘evil,’ good. Majority opinions do not matter with God. God has only truth – NOT opinion!

So we see, on the Day of Holy Innocents, the intentional murder of small children by the sword. At least, their murder was most likely more abrupt than the burning death oif little babies in their mother’s womb by a “process of murder” we call abortion.  

18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin(Gen 35:18)(Son of my Sorrow) Rachel died that her child should live. 19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem(Gen 35:19) The City of David where Christ was born also. A sword would also pierce Mary’s heart. 35 (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed(Luke 2:35) 18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not(Matt 2:18).  15 Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not(Jer 31:15)

Do we not hear those mother’s voices still crying out in the streets of Newtown. When evil rules the land, even the innocent suffer. As we embark on a so-called NEW YEAR, let us be mindful that swords, guns, and bombs have no conscience. They can neither be righteous or wicked. It is the heart of the man holding the weapon that is guilty of sins committed by any device of killing. Were we to remove every knife, every sword, every gun from the hands of man, do you believe we would have seen the end of mass murder? Historically, how have states behaved who have wielded the only means of force and violence? How did Hitler’s Germany behave, or Caesar’s Rome?  

New Years Day is not a Christian holiday, but a secular one. The only New Year we can truly enjoy is that New Day, New Year, and New Life in Christ. Heed, America, the counsel of Isaiah if you wish for the comfort and peace of a Holy people: When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. 20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. 21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that isupon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever. (Isaiah 59:19-21)

Men, called of God: Have you lifted up the Standard? Have you received the Word of God – not of man – into your mouth to proclaim? Have we taught our seed to know and follow that Light which came at Christmas 2000 years ago? If not, then Stand To, and do your duty now as a good soldier of the Cross.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sermon Notes - Christmas Day – Early - Anglican Orthodox Church Worldwide - 23 December 2018, Anno Domini


The First Sunday after Christmas
The Collect

A
LMIGHTYGod, who hast given us thy only-begotten Son to take our nature upon him, and as at this time to be born of a pure virgin; Grant that we being regenerate, and made thy children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed by thy Holy Spirit; through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen

            It is a remarkably important matter to recognize our Lord as the “Only Begotten Son” and not merely as the ‘one and only son’ as the new corrupt bible versions (NIV, ESV, etc) do. What is the significance of these terms. The first rightly names our Lord as the very issue of the Father; the second makes the Scriptures falsely claim that Christ is the ‘one and only son.’ He is not for we are all sons and daughters of God that believe. But the fact that Christ is Begotten of the Father means that He is Divine. We, on the other hand, are adopted sons and daughters. The subtle lies put forth in these new versions attempt to demean the divinity of Christ and make Him just another mortal as are we. Everything about Christ is miraculous – His prophetic claims, His conception, His birth, His providential protection of the Father in going down into Egypt, etc. We become sons and daughters by an act of grace and by no works of our own. 

Luke 2:1-20 THE PEOPLE WHO WALKED IN DARKNESS
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.”(Isaiah 9:2) There is an important distinction made in this verse that may, at first, escape notice. It involves the grammatical nuance of tense. Those who walked in darkness “HAVE SEEN”. It does not say, saw, or did see, but have seen. This tense can apply to all of faith both living and dead, yesterday and today!

The ancient prophecies foretold the coming of Christ in the place and manner in which He was actually born hundreds of years after the prophets had died. Abraham looked forward, by faith, to his redemption in Christ in the same way we look back to the historical and accomplished fact. His coming was Providential and decided in the Council of Heaven in the remote Eternity Past before the world was made. 

You will recall that before the Fall of Adam, there was no death or disease. But, because of Adam’s sin, an innocent animal had to die to cover their sins (nakedness). This innocent animal was most likely a lamb that would perfectly prefigure the Promised Messiah. “21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Gen 3:21)

Hundreds of years, and millennia passed, and Israel found themselves in bondage in Egypt. After Pharaoh suffered ten devastating curses from God, he agreed to let Israel go. But not before an innocent lamb was sacrificed by the Children of Israel, and its blood smeared above the door and along the lintels of their homes. When God’s angel of Death visited Egypt that night, He passed over every house that had the blood of the innocent lamb applied. This symbolizes that final Passover when we who believe will not see spiritual death when God sees the Blood of the Lamb of God covering our hearts.

The Old Testament is filled with more prophecies of the coming Messiah than time will allow, but it is interesting that the last OT prophet (Malachi) uttered his last prophecy some 400 years before the birth of Christ. During that 400 years, there was absolute silence from Heaven – the prevailing darkness was stifling. In fact, the last word of the OT is the word CURSE for the Law is a curse to us without the Grace and Mercy of God. 

If we have not experienced silence, we can never appreciate the voice of angels. If we have not known utter darkness, we can not appreciate the coming Light of Christ. So, when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,  To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ(Gal 4:4-7)

I. v. 1-5 We find a PROVIDENTIAL DECREE that came by the power of God:
(Caesar Augustus issued his decree for the taxing, not as a lucky coincidence that resulted in Jesus being born in Bethlehem. Neither was it a mere inconvenience for the people of Israel. Rather, it was divine providence that caused this imperial decree.)

A
NDit came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) 5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. 6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. (Luke 2:1-6)

The power and authority of mighty Rome and her imperial Caesar was brought into play by God to accomplish the amazing birth at Bethlehem. Why was this amazing? Here is the most striking prophecy of the location of Christ’s birth:

B
UTthou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting(Micah 5:2)

God has told us that Jesus would be born in a remote little town scores of miles away from the home of His mother and Joseph in Nazareth. How could Jesus be born in Bethlehem when His parents had no reason to go to Bethlehem - - - - until Christmas? Caesar ordered it!

The prophet said Messiah would come from Bethlehem, but Joseph and Mary were living in Nazareth. It probably never entered into their minds top go to Bethlehem. (Ill. Travel was hard and treacherous in those days. An 80 mile trips would have been terribly hard on an expectant mother.)(Ill. Joseph was of the house of David, Luke 1:27, Bethlehem was the city of David. God arranged all these things to ensure that His Son would be born in the right place at the right time.) (Ill. He even used a pagan emperor to do His will)

It is worth noting Jesus is the Bread of Life for us: And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.  (John 6:35)the name, Bethlehem means, in the Hebrew, House of Bread – so it is quite appropriate that Jesus would be born in the House of Bread. Bethlehem was also a village that raised sacramental lambs for sacrifice at Jerusalem. Jesus was the Lamb of God that was sacrificed at Jerusalem. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world(Rev 13:8)

The Place Of His Birth–  The manger, a wooden feeding trough for feeding of beasts.And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn(Luke 2:6-7)

The King of Kings was born in a manger! Why? 

Two Reasons.
 1.) The immediate reason: That some old shepherds might find Him. 
2.) The eternal reason: That some old sinners might be able to identify with Him and approach Him for salvation!  No room in the Inn – Speaks of the rest of His life – John 1:11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

Many still have no room for Him in their lives today! Do you? – John 1:12-13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God

The Picture In His Birth–  SwaddlingCloths – Swaddling = "bandage". These baby wraps prefigure His death and burial. Why did Jesus come? He came to die for you and me!

The Purpose In His Birth – (John 19:37) The purpose in this birth was the salvation of the soul of man. Jesus was a baby born to die. (He had been the expectation of mankind since the fall in the Garden of Eden – Gen. 3:15. Every lamb, ram, goat, bird, etc., that had been sacrificed down through the ages pointed to this special birth.) (He is why: Noah built an Ark, Abraham built an Altar, Moses built a Tabernacle, Solomon built a Temple, God built a hill called Calvary!) (He came down to be our Savior –There was a great purpose – YOU!

What was the Scene? In this remote little town of Bethlehem, all were sleeping soundly this first Christmas Eve – everyone except Joseph and Mary, and their beautiful baby boy! But here were others who were widely awake as well. These were poor shepherds on the hills overlooking Bethlehem – the same hills over which another shepherd named David kept watch over his father’s sheep. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and we are His Father’s Sheep. Jesus was no born in the palace at Jerusalem, but in a lowly stable. He came to live the life of the poorest that the poorest, and the richest, might KNOW Him.

The Power Of God’s Grace – 
A
NDthere were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger(Luke 2:8-12)

Imagine the terror of the shepherds when a bright and brilliant angel appeared over the skies of Bethlehem!

Shepherds were outcast by society as vile and filthy; outcast by religion as defiled and unfit to worship. However, they were chosen by Almighty God to hear the first birth announcement. How appropriate that the very men who raised the lambs for the Temple sacrifices were the first to meet the Lamb of God.  The angels did not appear to the rich and powerful, but to poor shepherds. God came there first because of pure grace – (Eph. 2:8-9)

The Power Of God’s Glory – 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men(Luke 2:13-14)

Do you know which is the oldest hymn in your hymnals? It is this: “Angels we Have Heard on High” It is number 125 in the Korean Chang-song-ga. “Gloria in excelsisDeo” is taken directly from verse 14 in the Latin.

While the kings of the earth slept, the Hosts of Heaven announced the coming of the King of Glory.

Response of the shepherds:
“And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us(Luke 2:15)They immediately resolve to go and see what the angels have announced! What has been your response to the Good News of Christ?

We may learn a great lesson from the simple shepherds – we must first find Christ to learn of Him; we must worship Him once we have learned of Him; and we must proclaim Him whom we have come to know as Lord and Savior.

They ACTED on their spiritual resolution – not slovenly, but with hasteAnd they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.(Luke 2:16)Have you hurried to find the Lord of whom the Bible speaks and your pastor preaches?

The shepherds immediately proclaimed the Good News of Christ whom they had foundAnd when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child(Luke 2:17)To whom have you proclaimed your discovery of Christ?

RESPONSE OF OTHERS: And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.(Luke 2:18)  Have you wondered at the Word of Christ? Imagine, all wondered at the words of poor shepherds. There conversation formerly meant nothing, but now they spoke with the authority of faith!

Mary, even after hearing the news of her Son being born of God still pondered these things in her heart. Her human love for her Child may have blinded her to the heavenly love required of her to reverence her Son. “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) Have we allowed our human attractions to blind us to the greater reality of God and His dear Son?

Have you glorified God in the knowledge of your salvation? And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.  (Luke 2:20)

Have we, too, glorified God for all of those things that we have seen and heard of Him?

Christ came that we might KNOW Him personally, for without knowing Christ, we cannot know the Father.

He came that we might become One with us as He is One with the Father. We can only be One with Christ when we have replaced our human self-wills with His divine and perfect will. If we are all One in Christ, we cannot be fighting each other in the Church of Christ. 

His coming was proclaimed by Light – the Light of the Star of Bethlehem and the Light of the Angel of the Lord. He is the Light of the World (John 8:12)He is the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2)And He tells us that we, too, are the Light of the World (Matthew 5:14). Is that a contradiction? Not at all. We have all seen the light of the moon, right? But the moon has no light. It only reflects the light it receives from the sun. So do we have no light in ourselves – only the light of Christ which we reflect in our lives. If anything comes between us and our Sun of Righteousness, then our light is eclipsed and we are in darkness. We dare not allow the world and its cheap allurements to come between us and Christ!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Bishop's Christmas Letter - 2018


25 December 2018 Anno Domini – 

And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
 (Hebrews 9:22) 
           
The modern world cannot brood even the mention of the name of Christ even if they are forced to acknowledge His birth by the calendar year of 2018 which signifies His birth that long ago. The world desires no Governor to rule over their unrestrained behaviors. The atheist knows full well that there is a God in Heaven; yet, he refuses to admit the fact and even rebels at the reminder that there is One who will sit in judgment over him.

           
 Cain desired to worship, too, his own way to the abandonment of truth. He brought fruit from the ground – the ground which was cursed in Genesis 3:17. But Abel brought a proper sacrifice – a lamb, for without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. (See Hebrew 9:22)

            As I was driving home this yesterday from a wonderful observance of Christmas Communion at St. Peter’s in North Carolina, I listened to programs on an ‘oldies’ station that presented stories and carols from the days of World War II and the Korean Conflict. I was struck by the constant theme of Christ in these old Christmas programs even of secular programming. Some of those which were centered around Christ at Christmas were ‘Johnny Dollar,’ ‘Dragnet’, and ‘Gunsmoke.’ The music, though secular, could almost be considered spiritual music today for its absence of immoral lyrics. Naturally, I heard more than one storied theme on “A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens who put love, charity, redemption and faith back in the center of our Christmas observances. 


            Old Ebenezer Scrooge was transformed, not by the outer trappings of Christmas, but the inner beauty inspired by the very subject of the occasion – Jesus Christ. Read one of Ebenezer’s quotes in the story: “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”  Please note the burning light of this quote – we observe Christmas – not in one day out of 365 – but every day of our lives under God’s Heaven.


The writer of this wonderful Christmas tale wrote:  “For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”   Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol


The thrill of Christmas began in our hearts as children. As long as we can return to that blessed thrill of love and hope, we shall be young, but more than this, we shall be blessed in the heart of our Lord. Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 18:3)

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERY DAY OF YOUR FUTURE LIFE!

The Anglican Orthodox Church Worldwide Communion









Jerry L. Ogles, DD, Presiding Bishop

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sermon Notes - Third Sunday in Advent - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 16 December 2018, Anno Domini


The Third Sunday in Advent
The Collect.


O
 LORDJesus Christ, who at thy first coming didst send thy messenger to prepare thy way before thee; Grant that the ministers and stewards of thy mysteries may likewise so prepare and make ready thy way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, that at thy second coming to judge the world we may be found an acceptable people in thy sight, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

A glance at this prayer shows that the author (probably it was Cosin, Bishop of Durham; at all events his name stood at the head of the Commission appointed to revise the Book of Common Prayer 1662) followed as his model rather the Collects framed at the Reformation in 1549 than those of the early Office books. This Collect, like those of the Reformation, is longer and fuller than the earlier ones; unity of idea is not so much studied in it; but this particular Collect cites the words of Holy Scripture, instead of making covert allusions to it. It reminds us of the biblical theme of this Advent at the preaching of John and the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, appeal is made to fulfillment of prophecy being enacted at the very occasion. The Triune God is invoked as a seal to the Prayer of Collect.

N
OWwhen John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.6 And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.7 And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? 8 But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.9 But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.14 And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.15 He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, 17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil19The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children(Matt 11:2-19)

John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod Antipas shortly after the beginning of our Lord’s ministry and after the first Passover. John was imprisoned for a terrible crime – that of proclaiming the truth. He had told King Herod that to live in concupiscence and adultery by marrying his brother, Philip’s wife – Herodias. Can you imagine? Today, John would be accused of that disarming act of being “too judgmental” yet John simply proclaimed God’s judgment from His Word! We walk daily among many Herods and Herodiases who would, if they could, cast us into prison for revealing their sinful lives to them. For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not: For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. (Mark 6:17-20)

 If you cannot abide the message, then by all means kill the messenger. The messenger is killed today by accusations of being too judgmental; thus the church has become sterile and impotent in dealing with sin. Instead of being salt and light to the world, the church has heard the world and agreed not to judge against the sins of the world.

We may see parallels of John’s treatment in our won day when wicked men and women are calling for the prosecution of ministers who proclaim God’s Word concerning the reprobation of homosexuality and abortion. 

What is the first characteristic of John the Baptist that comes to mind when his name is mentioned? For me, I think of a Voice Crying in the Wilderness – For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight(Matt 3:3)What is this Wilderness?

Wilderness - a wild or uncultivated state. (Webster’s 11thCollegiate Dictionary) The greatest and most desponding of wildernesses is not geographic, but spiritual. Bread and water are in short supply in a geographic wilderness, but so, too, in a spiritual one – there is lacking the Bread of Heaven and the Water of Life on the neon-lit streets of most American cities. As one walks those streets, he sees a wanton decadence and lust in the vacant faces of those he meets. There is no one with which he can fellowship concerning the riches of Christ for all are spiritually penniless. On those streets, the only mention of Christ is as a ‘Voice Crying in the Wilderness.’ For those proclaiming biblical values today, America has become a vast wilderness. 

The text today falls into two sections. The first: reveals a faltering faith of the great witness (John) and Christ’s gentle response to this man of faith. (Verses 2-6)The second: Christ provides a witness to John of the truth of His ministry. We are not to consider John weak in faith for that is clearly not the case. John has been imprisoned and treated with dishonor. His life is in peril daily, yet he continues to believe under harsh conditions that exceed our ability to comprehend. But any of us have moments when we need a reassuring word, and this is the moment when John sends for confirmation.

Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? This is not for the benefit for John’s disciples, but for his own comfort of reassurance. He is giving his very life on preparing the way for Christ’s ministry, so a reassuring word under these circumstances is reasonable. John is in prison in the gloomy fortress of Machaerus that Herod had built to serve as a sinful pleasure house and an impregnable fortress in the savage hills of Moab. The halls of pleasure and impregnable walls have collapsed, but the dungeon area is still discernible with the holes in the masonry to serve as witness of the chains of its victims (John included).

Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me. Christ gently gives counsel to John’s disciples to go and give testimony of all that has been prophesied and fulfilled in the ministry of Christ. Christ would have men to judge only of him and of others by their works. This is the only safe way of judging. A man is not to be credited because he professes to know such and such things; but because he demonstrates by his conduct that his pretensions are not vain. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert(Isaiah 35:5-6)  The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound(Isaiah 61:1)These are prophecies written seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, so we are emboldened in our faith to see their complete fulfillment – so was John. I love that phrase from Isaiah regarding the proclamation of Liberty to the captives. As a nation, God has favored our founding and our place as a nation among the nations of the world; but He has also made available to every man and woman of every land this Liberty from the captivity of sin if they will but come to Him. Jesus tells these things to John’s disciples so that John will have his faith confirmed, but to us, too!

And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet?yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.These are all questions whose import is every whit as directed to us today as to the disciples around Jesus. When we go to prayer service, do we go to see some amazing performance of a man preacher? These services are seldom called prayer services today, but more often ‘Celebrations” or “Festivals.” Such terms describe experiences intended to uplift man, prayers and worship uplift Christ! Do we expect our clergy to wear the latest fashion in clothing? My father told me that nay man given to frequent changes of fashion in attire is also likely to be blown about by every wind of doctrine. We have evangelists today clothed in $2,000.00 suits, wearing great diamond rings, and sporting gold, Rolex watches appealing for “seed money” from widows and elderly who barely can supply their pantries with bread. I can almost smell the scorched fires of their punishment to come. John is no mere prophet, but the chosen messenger of God to herald the coming of His only Begotten Son!

For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he(see also Malachi 3:1)Christ extols the virtues of Jon after his disciples depart. He desires that no honor be lost of John’s character in sending his questions to Christ. The character of Christ is quite different from that of men: Christ gives acclaim to the Baptist after his disciples have departed. Man gives flamboyant acclaim to men to their faces, but often critical stabs to their backs. Though John stands high above the mark in the company of men, he is well short in the Kingdom of Heaven to which he aspires – as are all of us.

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.  The battle is hot and the mournful cries of the battlefield are full of the painful suffering of the saints. The path to the Kingdom is not a self-willed, demonstration of manly power (as is today in the modern church), but a gentle following of that Great Shepherd of the Flock. The wolves stalk the flock seeking every remunerative opportunity to shed blood and get advantage. This describes the Kingdom of Matthew 13:31-32. Those ‘birds’ lodging in its branches are demons, and they most often win the higher positions of honor in the tree.

And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear” Christ is generous in sharing great mysteries to those whose ears are open in humble faith to hear. Amazingly, the worldly wise can never grasp the simplicity of truth uttered by Christ. But if we have ears (open ears, believing ears, trusting ears, hearing ears) to hear (not just the Words but the Spirit speaking) understand these mysteries. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.  (Mal 4:5-6)Please note the last word of the Old Testament: CURSE. The law is a curse to those who do not believe. Note the last word of the New Testament: AMEN (hearty approval).  Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.(Rev 22:20-21)There is a glorious difference in our prospects from the Old to the New Testament. Jesus Christ makes ALL the difference!

But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.Donald Frasier wrote (Metaphors of the Gospel) that Jesus “pictured a group of little children playing at make-believe marriages and funerals. First, they acted a marriage procession; some of them piping on instruments of music, while the rest were expected to leap and dance. In a perverse mood, however, these refused to respond, but stood still and looked discontented. So the little pipers changed their game, and proposed a funeral. They began to imitate the loud wailing of Eastern mourners. But again they were thwarted, for their companions refused to chime in with the mournful cry and to beat their breasts.” These non-participating children are non players. They never like the tune or the narrative, but stand jeering on the sidelines. Have our churches become such dead events of observation?

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.The world will always find cause to condemn the people of God and to kill the prophets. Either they are too pious, or they lack piety; either they are too hot, or they are too cold; either they are too bold, or not bold enough; either they are too spiritual, or not spiritual enough. If we are the Children of Wisdom, we shall have ears that hear and know. We dare not stand on the sidelines jeering, but become active responders to the pipe. The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back(Isaiah 50:4-5)Are we rebellious children jeering those who labor, or are we those who, taking to the plow, never cast an eye right, left, or back, but plow a straight row for Christ?(Luke 9:62)