Friday, June 29, 2018
WORSHIPthe Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. (Psalm 96:9)
The Holy Bible is filled with the most beautiful vocabulary of any book known to man. It is not only a book of history, of science, of romance, of spiritual complexity, but also a book of beautiful expressions of natural beauty. But before we delve into any aspect of that beauty which it proclaims, perhaps we should first define natural beauty.
There is really only one meaning of beauty and that comes down from the Father of Lights. Men may believe beauty is some vulgar presentation of a woman whose morals may, or may not, be Godly. Or of some crude amalgamation of lines and spheres on canvas that resemble nothing at all of natural origin. In fact, some modern concepts of art actually distort the natural beauty found in creation, and demeans the art of the Father whose fingers produced the original.
A great art critic named Frederick Ruckstuhl wrote the defining work on art and beauty in 1925 entitled, Great Works of Art and What Makes them Great. Ruckstuhl points out beauty is an expression of the perfection of God. True art mimics the beauty with which God has endowed his Creation whether animal, vegetable, or mineral. The beauty of any work of art is measured by the degree to which it resembles the natural object which it depicts. But no work of a man’s hand can fully depict the beauty of God’s original. A painting that wonderfully expresses the beauty of a rose cannot match the beauty of the original. A canvas painting is only two dimensional while the original is three dimensional. But, you may say, we are now able to copy a rose in three dimensional aspect and perspective. Still it falls far short of the original. A rose has life and inner beauty. It has fragrance and appeal which attracts the honey bee and the butterfly. Beauty is expressed in all of the works of God, and the best of man’s effort can only imitate that beauty. Picasso was a fraud. His deformed art actually is blasphemous to the works of God. True beauty is settled deep in the human heart. It is more like a ruby than a diamond.
All of the Godly works of man are imitations of the greater works of God. We seek His favor by our righteous works, but we yet sin. We try to adhere to His Commandments, yet we fail miserably in thought, word, and deed. We must still strive to express our love for Him in our living, our work, our art, our society, and, most importantly, our worship of Him. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. (Psalm 29:2)Have you considered Godly worship to be beautiful? If not, perhaps you need to examine your purpose and motive in worship. Worship is not man-centered, but God-centered. The music in worship must be Holy, not worldly. We do not make up allusions to worldly pleasures in song. We use Godly hymns and songs that glorify God – not man! Classical hymns are full of biblical truth and doctrine. They help us to remember God’s Word at all points of our awakening hours. It is not only the lyrics that must reflect a Holy reverence, but the music itself must evoke spiritual feelings of Heavenly import. Music can be reverential, or it can be immoral.
Do you remember the event in the Old Testament when Godly song was used to defeat a terrible enemy? 20 And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa: and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper. 21 And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever. 22 And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. 23 For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them: and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another. 24 And when Judah came toward the watch tower in the wilderness, they looked unto the multitude, and, behold, they were dead bodies fallen to the earth, and none escaped. (2 Chron 20:20-24)
God is due our most devoted reverence in all that we do, and especially in worship: Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. (1 Chron 16:29)
Our lives should reflect the beauty of the Lord shining through our frames of clay. There is a certain sweetness that one feels when first meeting another Christian. You KNOW the person immediately as a close friend. Being Christians, we must present an image of the One of whom we bear our being. We should be like Him in every possible gesture and deed for His countenance and manner is sweet: His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers. (Song 5:13)
We should have pure hearts that are attracted by pure expressions in worship. We are the white lilies of the field in purity. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. (Matt 5:8)True beauty radiates outward from the inward treasures of the soul.
The color of love is that of sacrifice – CRIMSON, as the red, red rose of summer. “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. (Luke 7:47)The rose is a symbol of love, and its thorns represent the sacrifice that attends love , much like the Crown of Thorns our Lord suffered. The measure of our love is evidence of our election in Christ.
Kindness is much like the beautiful and tender-petalled carnation. There are no thorns there, but fragrance and tenderness to the touch: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. (Eph 4:32)Kindness is merely another function of love.
Humility may be expressed in the lowly violet. Its color expresses royalty – but not that royalty of its own, but of its Maker. Humility is rare among great kings, but it was profusely expressed by the King of Kings. Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:2-3)
“To put one's self on a level with those whom we exhort, gives weight to one's exhortations (compare 2 John 1:1,2) Peter, in true humility for the Gospel's sake, does not put forward his apostleship here, wherein he presided over the elders. In the apostleship the apostles have no successors, for "the signs of an apostle" have not been transmitted. The presidents over the presbyters and deacons, by whatever name designated, angel, bishop, or moderator, &c., though of the same order as the presbyters, yet have virtually succeeded to a superintendency of the Church analogous to that exercised by the apostles (this superintendency and priority existed from the earliest times after the apostles [Tertullian]); just as the Jewish synagogue (the model which the Church followed) was governed by a council of presbyters, presided over by one of themselves, "the chief ruler of the synagogue."- Compare Vitringa [Synagogue and Temple, Part II, chs. 3 and 7]).—Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
We all associate the color blue with loyalty. Being loyal to one another, we do not forget the duties of love, kindness, and protection that we owe others. That loyalty may be best expressed by the blue ‘Forget-Me-Nots’ that lovers flaunt as hints of fidelity. The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well. (2 Tim 1:16-18)
“The faces of some saints are like fresh flowers on a spring morning, while others resemble a damp fog on a November day. The latter chills, while the others cheer and gladden.” FE Marsh, Pearls, Points, and Parables(1908)
To be only a bud of clover in the House of God should be sufficient to our eternal bliss and joy.
Thursday, June 28, 2018
|If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!|
AKEheed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. 5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Matt 6:1-8)
We consider the Poinsetta to be a beautiful flower of Christmas with its bright crimson bracts and brilliant green leaves. But the flower we presume to adore is not a flower at all. It is an impostor! It looks like a flower, but the crimson petals are not petals of a flower at all, but crimson leaves that give the appearance of a flower. Its leaves are mildly toxic instead of emitting a pleasant fragrances such as a rose does.
Christians of our day are attracted to churches that are much like the Poinsetta – their worship and prayer is more contrived to entertain and attract attention than to worship and glorify God. They employ ‘market research’ to determione what to preach and what not to preach. Their members compare to the false flower of the poinsettia – they look like Christians, but have no pleasant savor to define them as Christians. They have adopted the unworldly music of the world whose lyrics are not biblical, but manmade to generate EMOTION. Their worship practices are man-centered with entertainers and limp-wristed ministers at the center of focus, and the Lord Jesus Christ rarely mentioned along with His Holy Word.
The Poinsetta Christian, like the Poinsetta plant, cultivates their physical features and quench any holiness that might attempt to break through. They are like silver-plated spoons whose true metal will wear through with time and service. But a true Christian is sterling all of the way through.
Christ has warned us about judging by appearances. Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment. (John 7:24)Unnoticed by most modern professors is the last clause of this sentence in which Christ uttered these words on judgment. That clause declares that we do have a responsibility to judge, but we must judge with RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT. What is righteous judgment? It is judgment that follows the very words of God. If we declare practicing homosexuals to be sinners, that is righteous judgment because it is God’s judgment and not our own. The notion that we cannot judge is a great deception that disarms the church from enforcing standards of dress and behavior. Church discipline thereby is made sterile.
The Rose of Sharon is a simple little flower that grows wild across the Jordan Valley. It grows in the wilderness as well as beside the trafficked byways. It represents Jesus Christ in its inward nature. I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. (Song 2:1)It is most often presented in blooms of pure white, though some are bright blue. It is the national flower of the Republic of Korea as well. What a happy nation to have such a national symbol! Since the resemblance to the father should appear in the features of the children, so should the Christian bear a likeness to their namesake in Christ! So we should be like Rose of Sharon Christians. We should sprinkle across the landscape our flowers of beauty and humility. The Rose of Sharon is a true flower and no pretender. You will not find the Rose of Sharon depicted widely in holiday commercials or on the tables of fine homes.
I will list a few of the characteristics of the Rose of Sharon Christian:
1. This kind of Christian places the will of the Father above every earthly consideration, trusting in God to supply all of his needs: But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matt 6:33)
2. This kind of Christian is not weighed down with worldly woes and worries: Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matt 6:34)He does not worry about surpassing his neighbors in possessions or apparel. These are the concerns of the hypocrites.
3. This Christian looks to the inward self, rather than the outward sins of others, in making his lifestyle. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1 Cor 9:27)
4. He looks upon the sins of self with the eyes of an eagle, and at the sins of others with the eyes of a mole – not the other way around. The only true character that we can know with certainty is that unseen character of self. No man can know with certainty the heart of another. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor 4:18)
5. Paul says of Abraham: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.(Heb 11:10)He says that we, too, are pilgrims who seek a city “not made with hands.” A pilgrim does not travel burdened with nonessentials. He travels light and does not make himself at home in the way. His purchase is on high and not on the wilderness trail. Of such, Paul says, These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that 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)
6. The treasured riches of the Rose of Sharon Christian is their fixation on the treasures they have stored beyond the Gates of Splendor. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who isour life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Col 3:1-4)
7. The Rose of Sharon Christian prays to God the Father, and not for the attention of others, or with HIMSELF like a Pharisee! Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:10-14)Would we not rather be the humble publican instead of the proud and hypocritical Pharisee? The Rose of Sharon is found where the Living Rose of Sharon is found, and they walk with God: And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. (Gen 5:22)
It is my fervent hope that the Reader will look at these points and take a careful and discreet look inward and see which Christian best describes him described above. I do not like what I see in my own heart, and pray God to sanctify me fully for His Name’s Sake. What do YOU see?
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
|If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!|
If one watches TV any time at all in the winter months, you will be bombarded with advertisements for various kinds of comforters to keep you warm during the cold, wintry days. Comfort is important to add joy to our lives during the snows and blustery winds of winter. How pleasant to crawl onto your sofa with a down blanket with a good book, a cup of tea, and a fire in the fireplace.
There are different kinds of comforters – warm blankets on cold days, a cold drink in the heat of summer, and a great meal on Thanksgiving Day. Even the memories of these are comforts to us. In his wonderful book, Pearls, Points, and Parables, (1908) F.E. Marsh gives us this little account:
A poor woman, who was not able to get out to a Church service as she was wont, sent her little boy with the instruction that he was to bring home as much of the sermon as he could. When the boy got home he had forgotten all he had heard.
"Well, do you remember the text?" queried the mother.
"Yes," the text was, "God says, He is going to send us another bed quilt."
An additional bed quilt was sorely needed, for the only one the mother had was worn and thin, and it was not sufficient to keep her and the boy warm. The mother could not remember such a text as the boy mentioned, so she asked one who was present at the service what the text was, and she replied, "I will send you another Comforter." The boy knew the bed quilt was a comforter to him when he was cold, so he concluded the Comforter was a bed quilt.
What a number of believers there are who need this bed quilt, namely, the comfort of the Comforter. They are cold because He does not possess them in power.
This worn, old globe has grown colder as the warmth of love has gradually faded in the hearts of its inhabitants. We need a Comforter to awaken us from the nightmare of the modern age and point to the beauty of God’s Sunrise. I have often prayed that God would send that same Spirit to brood over the face of the waters of the deep of America just as He had done on the first day of Creation in Genesis: “1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 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.” Gen 1:1-2 (KJV) Only the Holy Spirit can illuminate the darkness that is descending upon that formerly glorified nation founded by God in the days of our ancient fathers. Only the Holy Spirit can put Light in the place of darkness. The darkness in our nation, and in fact the world, is smothering and quenches the fires of love and compassion. How do we reverse this insidious darkness? We cannot! It is a work of the Holy Spirit moving in the hearts of the people.
If you will remember your ancient history, there was little compassion on any other than the members of one’s own family. The most barbarous murders of innocents occurred routinely through invasions and migration of masses of people and tribes. It was during this excess of terror, that our Lord was born in the fullness of time. His death divided Eternity Past and Eternity Future at the very Crux (root word for cross) of Time. His coming had a calming effect and influenced the world toward a more gentle society. Before Christ, there were no orphanages or hospitals. There were no schools available to the public. There were no charitable organizations to care for the disadvantaged. This may seem like a gift of civilization, but that would be a mistaken assumption. In nations that have not been touched by the grace of Christ, these atrocities still occur. No one cares for widows or orphans. Stoning of women and the severing of limbs still occur in the dark religion of Islam.
How important is the Holy Spirit, whom Christ sent following His ascension, to you?15 If ye love me, keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:15-17)
In the formerly blessed Nation called America, daily school prayer, a reading of the Psalms, a posting of the Ten Commandments, and the Pledge of Allegiance were daily fare from the days of the Founders until the early sixties. Suddenly, the ‘Supreme Horde’ decided that the Founders who wrote the Constitution did not mean today what they had approved in our ancient founding as a nation. God was expelled from every public place and forum. Look at the downward spiral our nation has experienced since that time!
WHO IS THE HOLY GHOST (COMFORTER)?
He is our Friend and Counselor! Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. (John 16:13)
He counsels us to make up the deficiency in our spiritual character: And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. (Eph 5:18)When one is filled with the Holy Spirit, his joy may appear groundless to those who do not believe. How can a bag lady on the cruel streets of Harlem be filled with joy? They wonder. We know a secret do we not? It is our Lord who is in fellowship with us through the agency of the Holy Ghost.
The major function of the Holy Ghost is to conform us to the image of God. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30)Though we were created in that image in the Garden at Eden, that image was marred by sin. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. (Gal 5:19-26)
The Holy Ghost will mold us into One Body which is the Body of Christ. When we are One in Christ, we are One in God the Father, and God the Holy Ghost. When we are all One in Body, Mind, and Soul, there will be not the slightest division in the Church. 12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. (1 Cor 12:12-14)
The Holy Ghost purifies and cleanses us in sanctification: For our God is a consuming fire. (Heb 12:29)The process occurs over time as one grows in spirit and in truth.2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: 3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Mal 3:2-3)
It is the Holy Spirit that makes alive and feeds that life: It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)While we were yet dead in trespasses and sins, and unable to decide or reject, we were chosen in Christ and made alive by the Spirit. 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 us sit 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. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:1-9)
When did God choose you? 13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thess 2:13-14)This is the Word of the Lord! Do not doubt it: Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. (John 15:16)You may not agree with these scripture verses, but beware about disagreeing with the Lord.
As the cold world grows even more cold, gather the Comforter to your breast as Preserver, Protector, and Counselor, and about your soul, and feel joy even in times of bitter deprivation in the world.
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
|If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!|
HOSOEVERbelieveth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1-5)
What is the one thing that fuels faith, which is an act of Grace from God? It is love, and love comes from God to us as an eternal resource.
This lively hymn was composed by John H. Yates (1891) and the music is the composition of the renowned Ira Sankey. The only victory we have comes by faith, and faith comes from a grant of grace by God.
Faith is the Victory
Encamped along the hills of light,
Ye Christian soldiers, rise.
And press the battle ere the night
Shall veil the glowing skies.
Against the foe in vales below
Let all our strength be hurled.
Faith is the victory, we know,
That overcomes the world.
Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory!
O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.
His banner over us is love,
Our sword the Word of God.
We tread the road the saints above
With shouts of triumph trod.
By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath,
Swept on o’er every field.
The faith by which they conquered death
Is still our shining shield.
On every hand the foe we find
Drawn up in dread array.
Let tents of ease be left behind,
And onward to the fray.
Salvation’s helmet on each head,
With truth all girt about,
The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread,
And echo with our shout.
To him that overcomes the foe,
White raiment shall be giv’n.
Before the angels he shall know
His name confessed in Heav’n.
Then onward from the hill of light,
Our hearts with love aflame,
We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night,
In Jesus’ conqu’ring Name.
Encamped along the hills of light, Ye Christian soldiers, rise. And press the battle ere the night Shall veil the glowing skies. Against the foe in vales below Let all our strength be hurled. Faith is the victory, we know, That overcomes the world. An encampment, to this old military mind, brings to light the memories of long marches and, finally, encampment at some suitable resting place. The Bible is filled with references to military terms such as trumpets, rolls, marches, commands, armor, swords, etc. We are, in fact, an Army on the move for Christ. We travel light, and we adhere to the old battle axiom – “the best defense is a fervent offense.” We move continually against the darkened ramparts of the enemy. We march in the open much like the British Redcoats of old. We also occupy the high ground which gives advantage of light and of vision to spot the enemies movements. Faith is a product of a first-endowed grace: Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; (Eph 2:5)The carnal mind has trouble receiving the truth of his salvation not being of his own volition; but we were all dead in trespasses and sin ere the Holy Spirit made us alive in Christ. The dead know nothing at all. We are saved by GRACE unto FAITH.
His banner over us is love, Our sword the Word of God. We tread the road the saints above With shouts of triumph trod. By faith, they like a whirlwind’s breath, Swept on o’er every field. The faith by which they conquered death Is still our shining shield.Love is a mighty banner, and it is the strongest of banners. The gilt-edged and highly adorned banners of the enemy may enjoy a short victory, but then comes death. Loves knows no death. It survives death according Romans 8. The sword we wield is a mighty sword which cuts two ways – to either convict, or to condemn. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Heb 4:12)Not only do we follow in the tracks of the saints, but also of our Lord. We take up our crosses daily and follow Him; and we drink from the same Cup from which He drank.
On every hand the foe we find Drawn up in dread array. Let tents of ease be left behind, And onward to the fray. Salvation’s helmet on each head, With truth all girt about, The earth shall tremble ’neath our tread, And echo with our shout.” When Israel pitched there camp in battle array against the formidable Philistines by the Valley of Elah, it seemed that there was no hope of victory; yet a young boy volunteered to face the fierce giant, Goliath, when none of the hardened veterans of war would chance it. It was faith that drove David to the fight. It was God that directed the stone to the giants forehead! David left the heavy accoutrements of war behind and took only a sling shot. He gathered five smooth stones just in case the four sons of the giant might join the battle.(see 2 Samuel 21)
To him that overcomes the foe, White raiment shall be giv’n. Before the angels he shall know His name confessed in Heav’n. Then onward from the hill of light, Our hearts with love aflame, We’ll vanquish all the hosts of night, In Jesus’ conqu’ring Name.The overcoming saint is the one whom God has called and chosen from eternity past. Like an iron magnet proves the metal of its object, so does God foreordain the chosen of His flock. Just as the prodigal son was given a robe to cover his filth and nakedness, so will the saint be given a White Robe of Righteousness purchased by the blood of Christ. The name of the saint is confessed in heaven long before he goes there. We are the children of the Day and of the Light. We march against the sinister forces of darkness – but darkness fades in the presence of light. Darkness is no power at all – in fact, it is the complete absence of power. Light is power, and darkness has no claim on it.
Faith is the victory! Faith is the victory! O glorious victory, that overcomes the world.Christ has overcome the world, therefore, in Christ, our Victory has already been declared.
Sunday, June 24, 2018
Sermon Notes - Nativity of St. John the Baptist, superseding the Fourth Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 24 June 2018, Anno Domini
OR, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. 3 And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts. 4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 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 4:1-6)
Chapter 4 of Malachi is one of the most important chapters of the Old Testament - for it is the last before an interregnum silence of the Voice of God to His people for a period exceeding 400 years. It is the seal and benediction on the efforts of man to gain favor with God through the agency of the Law, but it also is an opening of the Veil of Grace on the forthcoming and long-awaited Messiah. The curtain will fall at the close of Malachi and the manmade darkness of blindness will reign during the intervening years. It is a time of anticipation and preparation of hearts to the coming Light of Christ - of eyes that have grown too blind by perpetual darkness to see but whose scales will fall away if the heart responds to the Good News that is coming. God overlooks no detail in His Message. The very last Word of Malachi is a fitting conclusion to the Old Testament Law and Prophets - CURSE - which I shall discuss later in this sermon. We all have experienced a period of smothering darkness ere the Light of Christ has dawned upon our repentant hearts.
God issues His "Stand at the Ready" command in the very first verse of Chapter 4: 1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. Ours is not a God of vain words. He commands that we prepare our hearts - BEHOLD. What is published by General Order that we must watch out for? ". . . the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven." This is not a tentative prophecy, but one of certainty. There is DEFINITELY such a day coming. It is not simply coming at the destruction of Jerusalem when the city is trodden underfoot by the Gentiles in 70 AD (as the Preterists aver), but a Day far in advance of time that shall destroy 'with fervent heat' all that is not considered Holy - including man. This is the Last Day, but it also portends the coming of Christ to begin that Judgment that shall follow and offer the Ark of Salvation (Himself) to all who believe. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)This is far more than a mere spiritual purification - it describes a literal destruction of the physical elements.
ALL of the proud of ALL times that have done wickedly shall be consumed with the All-Consuming Fire of God. "For our God is a consuming fire." (Heb 12:29)There will remain no hidden root or branch to sprout beneath the ground that was cursed at the Fall of Adam. ". . . cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life."(Gen 3:17)There will, at some point as well, be a purification of fiery nature that is also related in Malachi 3:2. "But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap." The coming fury of fire and flames will not mar the true metal, or the elect of God. For more scriptural evidence of that day that will burn as an oven, I refer your attention to Isaiah 24:6, Joel 1:19, Rev 8:7; and Rev 16:8-9.
Here follows one of the most wondrously glorious verses in all of Scripture: 2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. I have heard all of those shallow arguments that attempt to deter the meaning of this "Sun of Righteousness" away from the Lord Jesus Christ. I conclude they are in gross error, for this is fully descriptive of Christ! Just as the sun is the light of the physical world, so is Christ the Sun and Light of Heaven. I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)Jesus is forever that Great Light which came to the "people who walked in darkness." (Isa 9:2). This is the salient hope held out by Malachi in this last revelation prior to the Coming of Christ. Christ is not only the Bright Sun of Righteousness that shall arise in the Eastern sky, shedding its brilliant beams abroad, dispersing the darkness of sin; but He is the Lily of Hope of the Valleys (not singular but all valleys). (SS 2:1)He is that Bright Star of Hope that follows at the onset of evening shadows and follows us all the night long to the rising of the sun, or, as the scriptures tell us, "I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star." (Rev 22:16)He is above us shedding His gleaming rays across our forlorn spirits as we traverse the dark night of our soul. As that Bright, Morning Star leads us to the eastern horizon, He is transformed into the Day-Star - or the Sun of Righteousness for which we have long waited in hope and faith. "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts." (2 Peter 1:19)His effulgent beams of truth will vanquish every dark sin, and heal the New Creation which He heralds.
The wicked people who have abused the people of God shall become far less than footstools - they shall become ashes under the feet of the righteous. The "easy-believism of a watered-down gospel" being taught in modern churches will be the incubators whereby many are lost. The Coming of Christ at the last shall be a day of horror for those who have taught false doctrine. Instead of coming as a Savior, the Lord will return as a Judge in that day. 3 "And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts."
4 "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. 5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD." God does not overlook a single hair of the head when He sends out His Word. Please observe the peculiar nature of the two witnesses mentioned in these two verses - Moses and Elijah! Remember the Mount of Transfiguration at which Christ was transformed into His glorious manifestation? (Matthew 17, Mark 9, & Luke 9:30) Of what significance is this to the Last Day? You will recall that Elijah was taken by a fiery chariot into Heaven. He did not die. Moses, on the other hand, died on Mt. Nebal by and was BURIED by God. Do you see the significance of this scenario? When Christ shall ret6urn, the graves shall be opened and the dead in Christ will arise first (those who are dead as was Moses) and those who are alive at His coming shall be caught up to Him (those who are alive as is Elijah).
Both living and dead in Christ shall be kept for the Master's Table! Moreover, we are commanded to remember the Commandments given to Old (and New) Israel. The Commandments of God are immutable. They are more stringent upon the believer today than even in the days of Moses. In Moses' day, they were Laws graven in stone to be kept to perfection. In our day, they are written in the soft sinews of our hearts and to be obeyed out of love and not constraint. Love bears a far greater responsibility than does legal constraint. Christ did not nullify the Law of God, but confirmed and fulfilled it.
You will recall the Great Commandment? Remember the lawyer's question to our Lord? Master, which is the great commandment in the law? (Matthew 22:36)Please examine carefully the Lord's response: Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matt 22:37-40)If you barely passed the course in English on literary analysis, you will recognize that Jesus is not nullifying the Ten Commandments, but hanging them upon LOVE for God in the first five, and LOVE for man in the last six. But, you say, there were only TEN. True, but Commandment Five is directed to our earthly fathers and mothers and also to our Heavenly Father. The Fifth Commandment is a transition between our duty to God and our duty to our fellow men. It has a double application since God, too, is our Heavenly Father. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. (Ex 20:12)
Now comes a crushing finale to the Book of the Law and Prophets (Old Testament). 6 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. John the Baptist was a unifying force for the truth of the Coming Christ. He prepared the ground and sowed many seeds, but the Master of the Vineyard (Christ) would be the culmination of all the Law and the Prophets from Abel to Malachi. He would be the One of whom John spoke. His Gospel is one of that unifying love which constrains our obedience to God and love of our fellows. The love of the fathers would be turned to the children, and the children to the fathers. Absent this response of love, the only recourse is judgment. It is quite fitting that the Book of the Old Testament should conclude with the word CURSE since all under the Law are cursed. No one can live righteously apart from the imputed righteousness of Christ. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them (Gal 3:10)There is no division in purpose between the Old and New Testament for it is One Book from Genesis to Revelation. Had God not known that Adam would sin, He would have had no need to prepare for us a Savior from the Foundation of the World. The greatest lesson we learn from the Old Testament is two-fold:
1. We can never be righteous in obeying the Law of God on our own merits. We will fail just as did Old Israel (with exception of those such as Abraham who look forward in faith to the coming of a Redeemer).
2. The Law was our school teacher to show us that we cannot be righteous, but the New Testament of Jesus Christ offers us an imputed righteousness through the grace and shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Have you, dear Reader, availed yourself of that great salvation?