Who are we?

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

Verse of the Day

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Why Hymns for Worship - a Devotion for 25 April 2018, Anno Domini

If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!
A
NDwhen they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives
(Matt 26:30, Mark 14:26)

            Have you considered the difference between the ancient and classical hymns of the Church and the light and often frivolous ‘kum–bah-yah’ songs of the modern Church? Do you not feel a spiritual difference when such light songs are sung in the solemn worship of the Lord? 

            A few months ago, I was invited to a Wednesday prayer service by a close friend. The church was a Baptist church, so I presumed the music and sermon would be based on reverence and biblical doctrine. Well, one out of two is not bad! The sermon was indeed very biblical and reverential – it was even based upon the Received Text of the Bible. But the musical portion of the service lacked much to be desired. For each ultra-modern ‘gospel’ song that was sung, a young lady came up to “lead” the singing. The lyrics were projected upon a wall in the front of the church. But the music director was the only one who knew the songs and made any effort to sing them. As a result, all of the singing was done solo. 

            As I looked around at the worshippers (who averaged 60 years of age and older) I saw a vacant look on the faces of the people. In the pew rows were excellent copies of the Baptist hymnal containing many great old hymns; yet, this was not used. It seemed obvious to me that the congregation would have loved nothing more than to sing the beautiful old and meaningful hymns of the church rather than simply sit idly in the pews and listen to the meaningless (and I mean meaningless) songs being sung by the leader of music. I wondered why such frivolous songs came to take the place of the powerful hymns of the past. Perhaps it is due to a decline in spirituality and reverence in religion; or maybe it is due to the lack of copyright profits that are not available in the use of the ancient hymns. The modern songs that pass for worship today are the very product of a generation that has turned its back on serious bible study and teaching in preference for ‘feel good’ songs that just happen to make a handsome profit for the creator of such cheapened songs. 

The best example of a hymn in Holy Scripture is the Psalms of David. In fact, these were the only hymns sung in some churches of the Reformation. After all, who could find fault with singing the Word of God? But there also arose a practice of singing hymns that were intended to reinforce doctrine and biblical faith. These hymns rely upon direct points of doctrinal truth outlined in Scripture.  But in the more modern setting of the past one hundred and fifty years, another genre of spiritual song came into existence. Most of these were quite spiritual and personally meaningful to the singer; but these were directed inward to the soul and not, as a hymn, outward to the praise and worship of our Maker.  Below is an example of a classic hymn. Can you discover Biblical references in this hymn? I have pointed out just a few:

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty!
God in three Persons, blessèd Trinity!

First Stanza (above)
Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)
“. . . . early will I seek thee.” (Psalm 63:1)
“ . . . . thou art a gracious and merciful God.” (Neh 9:31)
“ . . . . our God, the great, the mighty.” (Neh 9:32)
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (1 John 5:7)

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore Thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee,
Who was, and is, and evermore shall be.

Second Stanza:
The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.” (Ex 15:2)
4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 5 And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. 6 And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind.(Rev 4:4-6)
8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Heb 13:8)
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.”(Isaiah 6:1-3 )

            We could continue with the remaining two verses of this great hymn, but you can see the point in just these two verses.

            The purpose of worship is to praise God and render due worship to Him – not men! A hymn serves that purpose. It is directed toward God. But a gospel song, though it may be of comfort and spiritually encouraging, is directed toward the worshipper and not the One being worshipped. Below are the first two verses of a modern gospel song. Choose whatever profound truths from this you may detect other than the elementary nature of God:

God is so Good

God is so good,
God is so good,
God is so good,
He’s so good to me!

He cares for me,
He cares for me,
He cares for me,
He’s so good to me!

            This kindergarten song has become a mainstay in the liberal churches, and it represents a dumbing down process in worship. While it is true that God is good, and He cares for the little children, should mature worshippers not focus on the deeper truths of the Gospel concerning the nature of our Triune God? I have witnessed this song being sung, ad infinitum, in charismatic worship services as the standing congregation, with uplifted arms, sway to and from with the singing for nearly 30 minutes. It essentially becomes a mantra rather than a song of worship among mature congregations. The song is attributed to Velna A. Ledin who wrote only the first verse in 1933 to keep the children occupied during long drives by automobile. Many have been added by desperate parents.

            Notice that every verse (there are dozens) ends with the word, ME!

            I suggest that our classical worship has been dumbed down by both modern and light-hearted singing as well as deviant Bible versions that attack the divinity of Jesus Christ as well as to sterilize the Church against discipline and judgment. Political correctness has rendered the Church sterile in the area of condemnation of sin and the polemic defense of cardinal biblical doctrines.

            The Church underwent a serious Reformation five hundred years ago. Perhaps we should now exert our efforts to a Restoration of the pure doctrinal and biblical truths achieved during that Reformation. This cannot be achieved by a shameful and effeminate clergy and laity – it will require strong and courageous propagation of the Truth once delivered to the saints by men and women of faith – by fathers and mothers who love their children ardently. If we burn, so be it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Hymns of the Church – Shepherd of Souls– 24 April 24, 2018, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)

If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!

I
is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God
(Luke 4:4 (KJV)

I
 AMthat bread of life49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world(John 6:48-51)

            The name of the tune for this hymn is noteworthy – Saint Agnes. Agnes is depicted in art with a lamb, from the Latin word for lamb, agnus. However, the name Agnes is actually derived from the feminine Greek adjective hagnē (γνή) meaning chaste, pure, sacred. She is also shown with a martyr's palm. This young virgin girl of fourteen years was martyred for her absolute devotion to Christ and the moral character required of His followers. It is said she was a beautiful young girl of aristocracy who was reported to authorities for her Christian faith after being reported by would be suitors who felt slighted by her refusal to succumb to their seductions. She was sentenced to be dragged through the streets of Rome to a brothel naked. (304 AD) Owing to several unusual cases of her persecutors being struck blind, she was later tied to a stake and beheaded. The tune is composed by John B. Dykes to go with another hymn, Jesus the very Thought of Thee in 1866.

           It seems Christian virtue was much more fervent in the days of the cruel Diocletion than in our own time. The author of the lyrics to the hymn is anonymous though Charles Wesley wrote a hymn with almost the same wording and claimed it as his own. This hymn is my favorite Communion hymn next to Panis Angelicus.

Shepherd of Souls

Shepherd of souls, refresh and bless
Thy chosen pilgrim flock
With manna in the wilderness,
With water from the rock.

We would not live by bread alone,
But by that Word of grace,
In strength of which we travel on
To our abiding place.

Be known to us in breaking bread,
But do not then depart;
Saviour, abide with us, and spread
Thy table in our heart.

There sup with us in love Divine;
Thy body and thy blood,
That living bread, that heav'nly wine,
Be our immortal food.

Shepherd of souls, refresh and bless Thy chosen pilgrim flock With manna in the wilderness, With water from the rock.  The words to this hymn borrow heavily from the types and metaphors of Exodus. As  you see in this verse, we see three major representations of the Exodus in the pilgrim flock (Children of Israel), Manna in the Wilderness, and the Water from the Rock. These beautiful terms should not seem odd to us since we experience the very same nature of God’s works in our lives today perhaps under different forms. The Christian adherent will immediately confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is the true Shepherd and Bishop of his soul. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls(1 Peter 2:25)

            We would not live by bread alone, But by that Word of grace, In strength of which we travel on To our abiding place. We are pilgrims and vagabonds in this world. We are a people who seek to find a Holy City. . . . . they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 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 11:13-16)A long and arduous journey demands sustenance for the way. Our sustenance is, of course, bread for our bodies, but more importantly, the Bread of Heaven for our souls. How tragic to travel such a distance with a healthy body and arrive with a famished soul at the last. Our abiding place is that place at which we abide together with the One who abides in our hearts.

            Be known to us in breaking bread, But do not then depart; Saviour, abide with us, and spread Thy table in our heart. We have an excellent counsel on the breaking of that bread by Paul: 23 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24 And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body(1 Cor 11:23-29)The breaking of bread in the Holy Communion is the best reminder that where two or three are gathered together in His Name, He is there among them. His presence is real, though spiritual, at the Lord’s Table. It is His Bread that is Broken (Body) and His Cup (Blood) of which we  partake. Just as a family sups together (or should), so does the family of God gather, with one mind, around the Lord’s Table to sup with Him and with each other. The Sacrament of Holy Communion is ‘an outward and visible expression of an inward and spiritual grace.’ The Table of the Lord from which we are served the Bread and Wine must mirror that same table in our hearts at which we dine daily on Bread and Wine of Heaven with the Lord.

            There sup with us in love Divine; Thy body and thy blood, That living bread, that heav'nly wine, Be our immortal food. The Cup from which Christ drank was a Cup of horrendous proportion. He would have preferred to allow that Cup to pass from Him; yet, He came to do His Father’s will and He received the Cup with an obedient heart. We, too, have that Common Cup from which to drink. It is for that reason that we observe the Communion with the one Cup for all: Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized(Mark 10:39)Besides the Blood and Body of Christ, what one word might summarize his terrible suffering and sacrifice for us? Is it not the word, LOVE? Love is able to sacrifice all for the object of its affection. It can perform miracles on its own behalf. Christ represents the truest form of LOVE in its virgin state. He loved us while we were yet enemies. He loved us first before we ever could love Him. That kind of love survives death and is not subject to death. He feeds us with His Word. We feed on Him because He IS the Word. 

            At times of reflection on my life, my memories often go back to the glimmering dreams of childhood when, engaged in outdoor games with my little friends, I would hear my mother call my name. She called it in a special way and with a peculiar accent reserved only for the occasion of supper. Jereee! Come to supper. I knew to drop all other interest and head for the table to be fed on the choice foods of my heart – my mother could prepare a table fit for a king! But God calls us now to a Table PREPARED BY A KING, and fit for His sons and daughters! The call should immediately cause us to forfeit all other interest to be drawn into that Communion of Holy Bread and Wine of the Holy Spirit – and without delay. 

Our hearts must be staid on Him alone – ALWAYS!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

AOC Sunday Report

The AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!

Happy Third Sunday after Easter!

The AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!

Bishop Jerry is traveling back from his granddaughter's wedding, so we have superb sermons from Bishops Roy and Dennis, as well as Revs Jack and Bryan.  As is pretty much always the case, they are great and different.  Like every time, the come with a money back guarantee!

There are a lot of people who need your prayer, please start with Shamu and Bruce and work out from there.

Have a really great week.  There is one out there for you, you just need God's guidance to find it!  One of the sermons talks about that, figure out which one!

Godspeed,

Hap
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, CA

Third Sunday after Easter

If you enjoy this, the entire AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!
Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.  


We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter and the following four Sundays, until we get to Rogation Sunday.  This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ.  

Consider these words from the Collect:

… who showest to them that are in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; Grant unto all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s Religion, that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same

God is a Triune God; Father, Son, Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost’s job is to open our souls, hearts and minds to God’s Will.  It is to help us see where we are in error and how to fix those errors.  Thus, to open our “ears” to His Voice so we can listen and make our improvements based on His Words..   As is oft the case, the Collect really asks us to let the Holy Ghost in so He can change us.    Consider this quote from Jack Lewis out of Mere Christianity:

“When He said, ‘Be perfect,’He meant it. He meant that we must go in for the full treatment. It is hard; but the sort of compromise we are all hankering after is harder—in fact, it is impossible. It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

It does not matter if it is hard for us to listen to the Holy Ghost, we must do it.  If we will listen to Him, God will always provide the light to show us where “We have erred, and strayed from His ways like lost sheep. Wherewe have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. Wherewe have offended against His holy laws. Where we have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done[1]…”   He will shine His Light onto the dark areas in our heart and souls so we can focus on eliminating that darkness from within us. He does this so that we can turn to the path which brings us to His World.  For without that guiding light, we will be forever lost on the path to darkness.

Then we can shine that Light for others to see, to lead them to that Light, that they might pick up their torches and bring His Light into the darkness of the world, be it the Western Civilized Word or the Eastern World. First, we have to let His Light into our hearts before we can shine it to others that they may see the works of His Light. We cannot lead others to a Light we do not have within us. So, we must first make sure we have the Light of the Holy Ghost within us before we can think of leadings others to that Light.

We can start in our own little corner of the world and work our way outward. We are always striving to work towards total transformation of our area to the light. However, we will always find opposition from evil. If evil is thwarting our efforts then we all must put in 110% to stop evil and combat it across the world wherever it is. We must never, never, never, ever give up on this fight.  

We must fight evil wherever and whenever we run across it. Evil anywhere is Evil everywhere to paraphrase one of my favorite books, Lord of the Rings. We must not let the little and big evils in this life get us down or defeat us. We must rely on the guiding power of the Holy Ghost and God’s unlimited grace to save the day. His Grace can help you out of any horrific situation; only if you ask for and accept His help, which is a universal theme in our sermons here, because it is a truth and one that Jesus preached, that is that we have to accept Him into our hearts, if we are to become truly Christians. 

A couple years ago, I met a Navy SEAL in Guam, who gave an excellent sermon to the point we must be on the offense in the battle against Satan, never defense. The SEAL noted Paul did not describe any sort of back armor whatsoever, showing us Christianity was an offense based, not defense based religion.  We must never our back towards the enemy, but rather face forward and attack. The best defense is a good offense as in every case. We must never cease our fight against Satan, for he is powerful here on earth, tricking many. We are often outnumbered in the fight.  Numbers matter not.  We must always fight with all we have every time.  We must carry on; we must storm the beaches of Hell itself and keep on persevering in good times and in bad.

Peter tells us our actions need to be consistent with the principles of Scripture and of Jesus’ message. In short, we need to be good citizens, be good neighbors, take particular care of our Christian family. In short, do what Christ would do, as far as it is in us. We need to cling to the good and reject the evil thoughts and actions of our old sinful selves.  Let us do our best to think, in hard and trying times, what would Jesus do in our situation, and then act in a manner most like Him. In order to make the world a better place, we first have to start with our selves then work out word, applying the principles of Christ to our lives. God does not ask us to be perfect; He does ask us to do our best to try to be perfect, to follow Jesus’ lead to the extent we have it in us.  Each of us is different, some are in truth less bad than others.  God holds us each to the same standard, that is to do our best.  Not to be better than any other particular person, but to do our best to follow His Instructions.  Being better than someone else is of no account, what is of account is following His Instructions to the best of YOUR ability.  

Don’t think of trying to be better than your neighbor, think of being better than you are. We are not competing against anyone. We are just striving to be better than we were yesterday. If we do this, then we will improve day by day, year by year.

In the Gospel according to Saint John, Jesus tells of His impending bodily death and resurrection.    He reminds us if we have eternal life, sorrow, even the sorrow of death is transient, for He has conquered death. It is a very minor thing in the long term view the sorrow of a temporary parting of a loved one. For that is all that is, if we put our trust and hope in God and do our very best to follow Him.  have to keep this in mind throughout our travel along the straight and narrow upward path. His One Sacrifice, made One Time, for All Mankind, for All Time is that joy that no man can take from us.  But, if we want to share in that eternal life, we need to see the error of our ways in the Light of His Light and take actions to follow Him.

Often it seems much easier to take the path of least resistance, to quit our work at the first sign of effort, to goof off when “no one” is looking.  But in the end, the right thing to do is always the easiest, the most profitable. The one that will result in happiness. It might seem hard, but it will not be as hard as doing the “easy” thing.

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

It is by our actions we are known.

As we go off on our business, please recall this quote from GK Chesterton:

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

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God


[1]General Confession – BCP Page 6

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Father of Eternity - a Devotion for 20 April 2018, Anno Domin

If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!

F
ORunto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.   (Isaiah 9:6)

The Third Sunday after Easter.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTYGod, who showest to them that are in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; Grant unto all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ’s Religion, that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Christ is the light of the world, and all who believe in Him, shall' not abide in darkness, but shall have the light of life. The light of truth is given to the faithful, and enjoyed only by those who are born of the incorruptible word of truth, which abideth for ever, and as "the path  of  the just is like the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day," we daily sup­plicate the grace and guidance of the Spirit of truth, that we may be delivered from every de­scription of error, and follow those things which are consistent with our high and heavenly calling.  Reflections on the COLLECTS of the Church of England (1854)

            My favorite of all hymns (forgive me Army comrades) is the Navy Hymn, Eternal Father Strong to Save. It is the most powerful to me spiritually of all hymns both in lyrics and in the sense of the accompanying tune. It reinforces the supreme doctrinal truth that God is our Father in Eternity, and His arm is not shortened to save us in becoming His sons and daughters. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty(2 Cor 6:17-18)

            You will note the Fatherhood of God is not universally granted. There is that stipulation that we must come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing. From whom should we come out? We depart from the eternally dark night of the children of perdition whose father is the devil and . . . . lead a new life following the Commandments of God and walking from thenceforth in His Holy Ways.” Invitation to the Lord’s Table, 1928 Book of Common Prayer.

            Like every family since Eden, all children have a Father – even the children of perdition have a father. Remember that there are only two families on earth, and every person born of woman belongs to one or the other.

            In His harsh, and not politically correct, admonition of the Jews, Christ said:  If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of yourfather the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.  (John 8:42-45) And at another time, He again condemned the Jewish rulers: Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell(Matt 23:33)Can you imagine the outrage at CNN if that were a Trump Tweet!

            My father was an amateur musician who used to sing to me with his guitar at night when I was experiencing, what our physician labeled, ‘growing pains’ in my shins. It reminds me now of the Eternal Father who also gives us songs to endure the dark hours of our lives: “Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night; Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?” (Job 35:10-11)  Our God is a Father who will never leave or forsake us. He is forever a strong defense for us against the world. And He is with us through the darkness hours of the night.

            We are children of Light and we are to walk in the Light of our Father’s countenance: “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.” (Psalm 89:15)But the children of darkness hate the light as the snail hates the sun. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19)That LIGHT is Christ! “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” (John 1:4-5)That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” (John 1:9)

            It should not seem strange that we are the reflected Light of Christ in this world,. (Matt 5:14)because Jesus is the Source-Light of the World. (John 8:12)If our God is the Father of Lights, and we are His Children, surely we must be light-bearers of Christ while in the world.“ Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the FATHER OF LIGHTS, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17) 

            Before the first beam of light, or the first atomic particle, there was God. He brooded over the expanse of darkness that covered what would become, at His Word, the earth. His first Creation in the world that was then standing in darkness was not rocks or sand or mud which are all tangible; but He created Light as His first Creative work of art. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.”  (Gen 1:1-5)

            From that first creative act until today, God has been creating light where darkness has pervasively haunted the hearts of men since Adam’s shameful Fall. 

            You are aware, I am sure, that the Triune God was present at the beginning (and end) of Creation! God the Father spoke, and the Word responded with action. The Holy Spirit moved upon the face of the waters, and The Word brought the Light of the World to rule over Creation (our Lord). There is much more, such as the meaning of the word for God (Elohim) used in verse one which is a Hebrew peculiarity that means ‘more than one, in One’. 

            Christ did not come into existence at Bethlehem, or earlier in Nazareth at conception. This was the outward expression of His incarnation; however, the Lord Jesus Christ has existed with the Father throughout the aeons of eternity past. He is the Alpha and Omega – the first and the last of the Greek alphabet (and every word in between). But He is also Alpha to Zulu (A to Z) in the English alphabet, and every other of the tongues of men. “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.” (Matt 23:34-35)

            Our Lord is the Ancient of Days, and created Day itself. He created all things by the power of His Word – and He is the WORD! (John 1:4)He is the Ancient Landmark which must not be moved at all else every property line becomes corrupt. Being the WORD Incarnate, every feeble and wicked attempt to translate the Lord as the only Begotten Son of God out of the specious and salacious new versions is a direct attack upon the Person and Divinity of Christ. Amazingly, these new versions are based on the same errant manuscript evidence as the Christ-denying New World Translation of the Jehovah Witnesses. “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” (Prov 22:28)

            The Fatherhood of God existed in eternity past before the worlds were made. If our faith and religion is not primitive, it is not of God, for God is eternal in past, present, and future. Our ways must be the ‘Old Ways.’ Our paths must be the ‘Old Paths”.

            Our Beloved Father has a message for our nation today, and to every nation upon the face of the earth: “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.” And how do we respond? I am afraid we have responded in the same vane as Israel of old: “But they said, We will not walk therein.” (Jer 6:16)

            Most days of the week, I endeavor to write devotions based on God’s Word.  I do not write to advance my own intents and purposes, but believe I am led by the Holy Spirit in writing. Yet many could care less for God’s Word. The pot is too busy to hold the nourishing water of the Potter who has so gloriously molded the pot. We are hurtling through space at light speed, and our time on earth is comparable to our speed. Soon, there will be no more time for those who chance to read this devotion. Remember, friends, this solemn counsel of God: “All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” (Isaiah 40:6-8)

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Sweet Dreams of Sleep - a Devotion for 19 April 2018, Anno Domini

If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!

I
Tis vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.   (Psalms 127:2)

B
UTI would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words(1 Thess 4:13-18)

            It is a great challenge to imagine the sweet dreams of our beloved kin and friends who have fallen asleep in Christ. They are kept in perfect peace, and, if they do dream, those dreams would fill a lifetime of joys. Of course, for every head-side of the coin, there is a tail-side. I do not even wish to imagine the nightmares that must pervade the restless sleep of those who have died without the grace and mercy of the Redeemer.

            Sound sleep is a blessing, and so are many wonderful dreams which can only accompany such sleep. Sleep is a state of lack of consciousness and awareness of present circumstances; however, there is often a beautiful consciousness beyond the veil of wakefulness that is hidden from the world and known only to the dreamer.

            There are some interesting dreams recorded in history by remarkable fellows. One such dream was reported by John Wesley – I know not if a real event, or simply an illustration: Mr. Wesley wrote, “I dreamed I died and went to Hell. Standing without the ominous, iron-bound gate, I inquired of the gateman: Do you have any Methodist down here, to which the gatemen responded, Yes, many. I ventured to ask if there were any Presbyterians? Yes, many, was the answer. How about Church of England men? Oh, yes, many.” He then cited another dream that followed on the heels of the first. “I dreamed I died and went to Heaven. At Heaven’s gate I asked St. Peter: Are there any Methodist up here? Sorry, no Methodist here, responded St. Peter. What about Presbyterians? No, was the response. Are there any Church of England men here? No Church of England souls here, he replied. Then who do you have here, I asked? Only Christians, was the response.”

             In the Holy Scriptures, dreams were often employed to reveal scriptural truth to a chosen prophet or prophetess. The Canon of Scripture being complete in our time, dreams are no longer sent as enhancements of God’s Word. It is possible that God may visit a believer, or even an unbeliever, in a dream to call attention to truth once and for all revealed previously in Scripture; but none can say ‘amen’ to the dreams of another since they cannot be confirmed in Holy Scripture. The Bible is sufficient for us in faith. The same is true of random babblings and guttural outburst in churches from what some call ‘speaking in tongues.’ God is not the author of confusion, and His clarion call is forever clear and devoid of misunderstanding to the believer.

            The nature of sleep to the believer is identical to that of a blessed passage from earthly life into heavenly bliss. 51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed(1 Cor 15:51-52)I do not know the precise meaning of death at the moment of passage, but I do know that our Lord referred to the death of Jairus’ daughter and of Lazarus as a sleep. I remember those sound sleeps of youth following an evening of running and playing. I did not want to give up on the day, but my mother was stern in her counsel, “It is time for bed!” Spoken in this manner, there was no recourse. But I was usually more exhausted than I realized. Within seconds of getting to bed, I often fell into a blissful and happy sleep. But, almost immediately, I would open my eyes and the sun would be rising on a new day! The sleep was so very sound that it seemed that I had only blinked my eyes and morning had arrived. In actuality, several hours had passed. That may define the sleep of death to the child of God, but the soul does not sleep in a body of clay. It is carried at once by the angels to Paradise. There is joy always in Paradise.

            Some believers sleep before their time due to some besetting sin or unfaithful walk. Paul tells us: 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of thatcup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.  (1 Cor 11:28-30)

            Unfortunately, many Christian are spiritually asleep, especially in our modern day. They are either oblivious to the counsel of God in Scripture, or they have ceased to care, believing that modern social mores have replaced the biblical morality commanded by God. These will be awakened by alarming horror and guilt when the last Trump sounds. 

            10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. 11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.   (Romans 13:10-13)

            There is a time to sleep and a time to work. We work while it is yet light, and sleep in the dark solitude of the night when no man can work. “6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”    (1 Thess 5:6-8)

            Who are the literal DEAD? Why, it is those who die in their sins. There are living dead; and there are those who are dead and buried eternally. The living dead are those who walk, talk, speak, and act while their souls are dead. These are Satan’s favorite ZOMBIES. 1 And you hath he quickened, who were DEAD in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were DEAD in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made ussit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.  (Eph 2:1-7)

            I would rather be a dead corpse who lives, then a living soul who is dead. We must be alert to the call of the Holy Ghost just as Lazarus was dead and alert to the voice of our Lord in the tomb at Bethany. “14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”  (Eph 5:14)

            Are you alive in Christ, or dead in sin? Wake up before the long sleep!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

High Priest - a Devotion for 18 April 2018, Anno Domin

If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!

S
also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; 10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec(Heb 5:5-10)

T
HOU art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.  (Psalm 110:4)

            We have the perfect example of the High Priest given in Genesis 14 of a mysterious figure named Melchizedek to whom even Abraham paid tithes and offerings, and who blessed Abraham. We are told in Hebrews Seven Melchizedek was greater even than Abraham: 1 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. 5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: 6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. 7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. (Heb 7:1-7)This High Priest was compared to the Son of God – he had neither beginning nor end. He was a High Priest that abideth forever.

            The central theme of this devotion is not about Melchizedek, but about the Personage whom Melchizedek represented as a forerunner thereof – our Lord Jesus Christ. He has become our High Priest forever. In the days of the Temple, the High Priest interceded for the people before the Most Holy in the Temple. He offered, first intercession for his own sins; and then the sins of the people. But our Lord as High Priest intercedes directly with the Father on our behalf and is guiltless Himself of any sin.

            You will recall the then-High Priest of Israel, Caiaphas, spoke unwittingly and yet prophetically (because he WAS High Priest) of our Lord before the Passion of Christ. After the raising of Lazarus at Bethany, the Jewish rulers were distraught to find an answer to their dilemma. It was obvious to them that only the Messiah could have done the miracles that Jesus did; however, they did not wish for a Messiah who would take their power and place: 47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad(John 11:47-52)

            It is also noteworthy our Lord was accused of vile sins and blasphemy before the High Priest, Caiaphas. One who was blameless stood before one who sinned overtly before His very face: 65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy(Matt 26:64-65)Why was the renting of his garment a sin for the high priest? Read, 10 And he that is the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured, and that is consecrated to put on the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor rend his clothes;  (Lev 21:10)Of course, Caiaphas was guilty of far greater sins than simply renting his garment. He was complicit in the pitched lies of a trial before which even Pilate pronounced Jesus innocent. He would have better rent his heart rather than his garment.

            Many misconstrue the duties and function of a priest in our day. They think back to the duties of the priest in Old Testament times. Worship underwent a change, not of purpose, but in means, at the coming of Christ. We still have priests and a High Priest, but the roles have changed owing to the fulfillment of prophecies. No longer does the priests offer up living sacrifices for the redemption of sin – they were never sufficient but merely a foreshadow of the perfect sacrifice to come in Christ. Instead of offering daily and annual sacrifices, the priest now offers only the Lord Jesus Christ as the Perfect and Complete sacrifice through both Word and Sacrament. 24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. 26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. 28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore(Heb 7:24-28)

            Here is an explanation of George Herbert on the duties of the priest: A PASTOR is the deputy of Christ for the reducing of man to the obedience of God. This definition is evident. And contains the direct steps of pastoral duty and authority. For first, man fell from God by disobedience. Secondly, Christ is the glorious instrument of God for the redemption of man. Thirdly, Christ being not to continue on earth, but, after he had fulfilled the work of reconciliation, to be received up into heaven, he constituted deputies in his place, and these are priests. And therefore St. Paul, in the beginning of his Epistles, professeth this ; and, in the first to the Colossians, plainly avoucheth that he fills up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in his flesh, for his body s sake, which is the church : wherein is contained the complete definition of a minister. Out of this charter of the priesthood may be plainly gathered both the dignity thereof and the duty; the dignity, in that a priest may do that which Christ did, and by his authority, and as his vicegerent. The duty, in that a priest is to do that which Christ did, and after his manner, both for doctrine and lifeA Priest to the Temple; .  George Herbert (1908)

            Every professing and believing Christian has some duty deriving from the priesthood: 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ(1 Peter 2:2-5)The priest in the church is the figure that directs worship according to biblical standards and not the free-license lack of standards of the modern church.

            The Lord Jesus Christ, as our High Priest, commissions and appoints subordinate duties to his priests and ministers. If a man is not called of God to preach, he can in no wise do the work of the Lord. An officer in the military is not a self-made officer – he must be commissioned by Presidential authority. The same is true of the priest or minister in the church.

            The Lord Jesus Christ, being our High Priest, must find a Bride that is virtuous and without spot or blemish. Where shall He find such a Bride. The Church is to be the Bride of Christ, but how shall she appear spotless and virtuous when she presently condones the most vilest of sins and abominations? The Book of Leviticus clearly tells us of the High Priest: 13 And he shall take a wife in her virginity. 14 A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.(Lev 21:13-14  Today’s church scarcely fits that demand. Our High Priest is worthy of much better than we offer in both worship and faith today. A drastic and epic change is necessary either through an awakening conscience, or through harsh tribulation. The Marriage Supper is being prepared as I write. Should the Bride not be preparing herself as well? 1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband(Rev 21:1-2)

The adornment of the modern church is as filthy rags. Best assume the White Robe of Christ to cover our sins – and very SOON!