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

Verse of the Day

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sermon Notes - Ninth Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 29 July 2018, Anno Domini


The Ninth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

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

J
ESUS went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.   And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law
commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?  This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.  So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.  And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.  And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.  When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.   (John 8:1-11)
  
This incident in the life of Christ provides the most beautiful and complete example of the free Grace of God. Our Lord knew this woman long before she knew Him. As her fate was being decided by the dialogue between those who despised her and wished her dead, and the only One who could grant her both temporal and eternal life, the Holy ghost was drawing her according to the purposes of God - she was drawn to know Jesus as her Lord and Savior as a fisherman draws his nets to shore.
  
The text begins immediately after Jesus has thwarted the plans of the Jewish rulers to have Him taken for the purpose of killing Him. According to the last verse of the previous chapter, every man, every man went into his own house.(John 7:53)  This is revealing of the austere existence our Lord led upon earth – He had no home into which to turn, so He went to the Mount of Olives to pray. The sins of the city grow more oppressive to the righteous heart during hours of darkness. The feast is on-going, and many sins proliferate when men and women collect at population centers, especially at holiday time. Perhaps the woman in today’s text was tempted at such a time.
  
            He generally prayed in private and most often on the higher ground: Example – 
  
And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone(Matthew 14:23)
  
And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart(Matthew 17:1)
  
And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.  (Luke 6:12)
  
            And many other times did Jesus resort to the mountain.
  
            Why mountains? Because of the solitude, the aloneness with God. Because it illustrates that genuine prayer occurs in a high place even if our feet are in Death Valley. The higher up to the peak we climb, the less world that surrounds us to distract us.  
  
Now to this most beautiful account of unbounded and unmerited Grace to be found between the pages of the Holy Bible. The woman said not a single word in her defense because there was nothing she could say. She was caught red-handed.  
  
And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
  
Note first of all the absent of the man who had committed precisely the same sin. If the woman was caught in the very act, why did they not take the man? Political correctness even existed at that day. 
  
            And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.(Lev 20:10)
          
 The muslims still practice this wicked punishment on women. Apparently their men are incapable of sin.
  
Judging….Who is judging here, and with what authority? Remember, if we admonish a friend for the mote in his eye, we must first remove the beam from our own eye. This was the failing of the Jewish leaders.
  
            What does God say about judging? “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Mt 7:1 This is the point that most sermons stop on the matter, but the context is important to garner the full meaning:
  
            For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you againAnd why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. (Matthew 7:2-5)
  
            The modern church claims that we must not judge, but is this a true command? We are even commanded to judge:  Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.(John 7:24)Righteous judgment is only those things revealed in Scripture. Therefore, not our word, but God’s, that judges.
  
So judging is not only necessary, it is also a command. But the judgment must be a righteous judgment.
  
            Why did these brigands bring the woman to Christ? To catch Him in a trap by having this woman stoned, or Christ caught in violation of the Roman law or the law of Moses. They cared nothing for the woman. They were merciless in their deeds. But those who desired the worst fate for the woman were the very ones who brought her to the only One who could bless her with life eternal.
  
What does the text say?
  
But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.” 
  
Why did Jesus do this? In the Middle East, it is a characteristic of a person, when embarrassed, to write upon the ground. Jesus felt, not only pity, but embarrassment for the woman and situation. But, I believe, He had a reason of far greater gravity. Jesus is God. God wrote upon the ground! 
  
What did Jesus write? We are not explicitly told, however, we may have a clue in Jeremiah 17:13 –
  
O LORD, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters.
  
            When the finger of God writes, the issue is important! But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you(Luke 11:20)
  
           The names of these evil men are not written in heaven – in the book of Life – so God writes there name upon their eternal graves – the ground! This is my interpretation. Wouldn’t you rather that your name be written in God’s Book of Life?  He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels(Rev 3:5)

            When we are sinful and hypocritical, God will blot our name out of the Book of Life by writing it upon the earth which will be our ruined inheritance.

            So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” Simply seeing their names written in the dust had no great impact on these rascals, but that which Christ writes next will condemn them to the bone! 

Often, when Jesus stands to speak, it is in terrible judgment. The men brought the woman for judgment, but they themselves receive the judgment.

            Had it not been for these evil men, the woman may never have come to Christ but THEY brought her wishing her woe, but the woman found grace and salvation instead. It was rather the Jewish rulers who left condemned in their own consciences.

            And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.  I believe the first writing was merely the names of the men who brought the woman to Christ, but it is likely that the second time He wrote upon the ground, it may have been the names of some other woman with whom those very men had committed adultery. 

What did Jesus write this time. We are not told, but whatever it was, it had a strange effect on those who demanded the woman be stoned. Perhaps a name, a date, a sin.

 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: It is a natural course of life that the older among us has sinned more. The most sinful departed first to the youngest.  

 . . . . and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. Only Jesus and the woman left alone. Every one of us will face that circumstance one day when we go before the Judge. We, like the woman, will stand before the Judge alone with Jesus. And the Judge is the Father of our Advocate. Our prospects are sure! 

If we have been called and chosen as the Elect of God, as the woman sinner, we shall be admitted to heaven. But if we are hypocrites and liars as the Pharisees, we will be sent away from God. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.(Matthew 7:21-23) 

When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? No man will stand in judgment against God’s chosen on that last Day. Only God has the power to condemn! 

Those wicked men had fled from the Lord, but this woman did not flee. She had come to know the Savior of her sinful soul. She came to know Him, by the enlightenment of the Holy Ghost, as LORD!

            Just imagine her terror and humiliation as she listened to the dialogue concerning her fate.

            She uttered not a word, and neither will the sinner at the last day, for our guilt will be revealed. We will have been caught, as this woman, red-handed until the question from Christ:  She said, No man, Lord.

            Now Jesus utters the most beautiful words this woman’s ears have ever heard: And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.  Please do not stop, as many modern preachers do, at the first phrase, Neither do I condemn thee.That would abrogate the justice of God. Remember always to add the last phrase.

Does Jesus condone adultery and other sins? Absolutely not, but He does forgive the repentant soul: 

Read the last phrase:  . . . . and sin no more.

And you, my friend, should do likewise as must we all who seek the Kingdom of Heaven!

Friday, July 27, 2018

A Heart of Gold - a Devotion for 27 July 2018, Anno Domini


L
AYnot up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  (Matt 6:19-21)

Themost important organ of the physical body is the heart. Comprised of chambers of the right and left Atrium, the right and left Ventricle, and an Aortic, Pulmonary,  Mitral, and Tricuspid valve among other features. Each of these is critically important to our continued life. If we are wise, we will guard our heart against such conditions as Congestive Heart failure (the cause of death of our Lord according to medical experts), arterioschlerosis, and a sedimentary lifestyle. At birth, your Maker assigns a specific number of heartbeats to your heart, the last of which will close your eyes in death. So, the heart is of a paramount, physical importance and interest to every living creature. 

But there is a heart organ of the Spirit as well which has no limit of beats. This heart is that of the soul.  In many ways, it is subject to the same maladies as the physical heart, only more crucial to our eternal being. The Chambers of the spiritual heart are filled with many false rumors about others, hatred, vitriol, deceit and a host of other sins that began to grow there the small seeds of childhood, and have now matured into full blown sins of both omission and commission. Our outward character will usually reflect our inward depravity. The wedges of gold (unrepented sins) that we have surreptitiously stored in the hidden chambers of our spiritual hearts are the poverty which we must bear as the outcasts of God’s Kingdom.

Our tongues are merely the organs that may reveal what is in our hearts. Vile and unsubstantiated gossip flow freely from the unregenerate tongue. It is the conduit of the heart whereby our dark sins are made manifest. Though not as crucial as the heart in survival, it is the most powerful in doing great harm to others and revealing our future eternity. The Book of James provides strong proverbs about the evil potential of the tongue:

F
ORin many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. 3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. 4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. 5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.  (James 3:2-12)

All hearts shall be opened on the Judgment Day. What filth and shame may they expose of our treasures. Perhaps we have lived a life of dignified sophistication, and have gained the respect of society; yet, we have harbored the most sinister of thoughts in the dark chambers of our hearts. All will be revealed on that Day unless our sins have been remitted. 

There is a telling story of how the tongue takes charge of its owner as told by a native of the Aniwa tribe of Vanuatu (Coral Sea) named Titonga. It is related by FE Marsh in Points, Pearls, and Parables (1908): 

A native of Aniwa, named Titonga, recently gave the following sound advice to his brethren: I see many things among us that are not right. There is often bad talk. When you hear a whisper of scandal, you bendforward your ear, and exclaim, 'Say that again: say it again, that I may hear it well !' and then you take it and put it in your heart, and go about looking for someone to tell it to. You come to church and take the Word of Jesus, and open it and read it and then you shut it and leave it there. You go to school in the morning, and open the Word of Jesus and read it ; then you shut it and leave it there. You go to your work and forget it. You do not
lay it up in your hearts. My friends, this is not right; we must close our hearts and ears to bad talk, and openour ears and hearts to the Word of Jesus.

            We can carry none of our ill-gotten treasure to heaven. The only treasures we may possess must be on deposit there when we arrive.

A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil thingsBut I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matt 12:35-37)

            Instead of being so consumed with the faults of others, why not take a long, deep look into the treasures of our hearts and see what may be lurking there. Before we scold our neighbor for the mote in his eye, let us first remove the beam that is in our own. Then we shall be of right mind and vision to point out our neighbor’s failing. (Matt 7:5)

                Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God(2 Cor 7:1)Paul, of course knew that we could not cleanse our hearts under our own force of will. We must rely upon a Will that formed the earth and stars, that built the mountains and molded the valleys. We must take upon ourselves that Mind that was in Christ Jesus if we will be found perfect. It is His own righteousness, not ours, which He imputes to us.

                The heart is a Garden enclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.   (Song 4:12)It is the only thing we bear in our breasts beyond Jordan Banks.  It must be protected from rodents, foxes, insects, weeds, and all manner of worldly mischief. The water of the heart must be the pure, living water of life. We must protect it at all cost: My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.  (Prov 4:20-27)

                American society, and even the whole world, is fraught with sinful thoughts and actions that were not even mentioned by hardened soldiers only a few decades ago. We live in a time very much like the days of Noah. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years(Gen 6:3)Man’s natural heart has not undergone any improvement since that day. In fact, we are turning to perversions that may blush the pre-Deluge multitudes. What does God do when the whole world turns to such abominable sins? “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.(Gen 6:6-7)         

                God has already predestined an end to all things as we know them. He destroyed the old world before with floods of water – but He will destroy the world that now is with such heat as the elements will melt and their atomic structure violated. 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)

            Where will your treasure be when that day arrives – in Heaven or upon the world that then was?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

We hold these Truths - a Devotion for 26 July 2018, Anno Domini



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OR therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness   (Romans 1:17-18)

            I am afraid the above text from Romans will result in a great misery and grief for those who KNOW the truth, PREACH the Truth, but HOLD that Truth in unrighteousness. 

            There is no exemption from knowing the truth since God tells us: Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.(Romans 1:19-20).  All of Creation are witness to the great works of their Maker. God did not excuse the aborigine or the jungle savage from acknowledging the truth which is made overwhelmingly obvious in the created being. 

            For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel(Romans 2:11-16)

            God does not take note of our righteous living from a mere snapshot in church on Sunday morning. His eyes run throughout the Universe to witness both righteous and unrighteous living – not just on Sunday’s at church; but every hour of a man’s life. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.  (2 Chron 16:9)

            In time past, I have been accused of being self-righteous in pointing out these offending articles of God’s law; but, believe me, I am the last one to claim righteousness. Often as I sit alone, with only the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts and my words, I have a keen awareness that these words condemn me in the same sense as those who read these devotions.

            I must admit that there are a great majority of churches that do not even preach biblical living; however, there are others who do indeed preach biblical righteousness. But one would get the impression, from the lives led by both minister and laity, that such preaching was merely a formality. “Let’s not get carried away with the sermon’s counsel” they seem to think. Those who know the truth profoundly, and live it not, are in enormously greater danger than those who are mere orphans to the Gospel. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.  (James 4:17)

           What of those whose minds entertain the question of in what truth consists? They are on firm ground to question truth. God will provide whatsoever truth we seek in righteousness. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

            But what of those who ask trivially of truth? Remember the Roman Procurator, Pontius Pilate: Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all.  (John 18:38)Pilate certainly asked of the appropriate Person – the Lord Jesus Christ! It was a GOOD question and had Pilate patiently waited for an answer, he might have been richly blessed; but he did not. Instead of hearing from the Fountain of all Truth, he immediately returned the “generation of vipers’ who were the authors of lies. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.  (James 1:6-8)

            Each of us holds an abundance of truth in our hearts but, unfortunately, we have mixed there a fair share of poisonous deceit. We have heard lies which we may believe. We have read false and immoral things. We have lingered at the alter of false gods. And we find, out of all those possessions of the heart, we are unable to distinguish truth from lie. Man’s heart is not a fair arbiter of truth and righteousness. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.(Gen 6:5)Do you believe that man’s heart has ‘evolved’ from the wicked fountain to be a source of truth and righteousness in our day? No, man has the same old sinful and fallen heart that he possessed before the Great Deluge. Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things(Romans 1:21-23)

            Truth may be found in its unadulterated form in only one source – the Holy Bible. When we are bold to receive the Author of Truth and Righteousness into our hearts as Sovereign of that organ, we shall know true Liberty. 

            The second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence begins: “We hold these TRUTHS TO BE SELF-EVIDENT, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

            Our very founding document acknowledges the Creator God. It allows that all of our natural rights descend from God. The Declaration of Independence is the founding document of the American Republic – the U.S. Constitution merely codifies those principles put forth in the Declaration. But neither the Declaration, nor the US Constitution, grants any rights. The rights of man descend from God. The Founders acknowledged those rights as do good men of faith everywhere. It is self-evident to all that there is a great Creator God. All men – even atheists – know this in their hearts. If they deny, it is out of a rebellious heart that refuses to acknowledge any righteous government of its thoughts and actions. LIFE is a gift of God (along with the right of self-protection). Liberty is a gift of God (though it cost our Lord His life’s blood to purchase). And the gift of Pursuit of Happiness is a gift of God which allows us to worship as we please, meet with whom we please, and speak as we please. 

            There are thousands of valiant men and women who have given the last full measure of devotion in defense of those liberties granted by God. But true liberty dwells in righteousness, and the One righteous Lamb of God purchased our Liberty on a cross at Mt. Calvary. Now, that liberty must be watered and nourished by the blood of those who will take up their crosses and follow the Author of our Liberty – our Lord Jesus Christ. 

            But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed(James 1:25) 

After all, why did Christ come to us? The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound .  (Isaiah 61:1)

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Civil Government and the Authority of God - a Devotion for 25 July 2018, Anno Domin


The Words of David the King

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OW these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, 2 The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. 3 The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. 4 And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.  (2 Sam 23:1-4)

            The Government of God is not a democracy but rather a Monarchy of the highest order. All righteous government and its laws descend from God. If civil government enacts laws contrary to the Law of God, they are not binding on Christian people. 

            Of course, all governments of man must be exercised by civil laws. But these laws should comport themselves with the spirit and intent of Divine Law. We have rules and laws galore that do not contradict the Law of God. Imagine a baseball game in which there were no rules, or a bank in which there were no accounting responsibilities. But banking laws, and even sports rules, do not contradict the government of God. In fact, banking laws are in compliance with the Commandment, “Thou Shalt not steal.”

            Though Heaven makes all things new, there is nothing new under the sun of man’s fallen state. The same old cruelties and excesses cultivated by decades of hate and malice are practiced as a matter of the course of nature – and naturally it is a course of nature in a fallen world in which nature itself has been distorted by evil intentions of men’s hearts, and the Sovereign and Author of nature is not acknowledged in every venue of our existence.

            The Founding Fathers of this good land were intent upon inculcating God’s Moral Law into our government, and to institute safeguards to insure the nation established under the favor of a Beneficent God were righteous and fair. Their intent was to establish a nation whose leaders would surely be men and women of moral fortitude and disposition. He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.” Such leadership brings joy to men and divine justice to the courts of the land. “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn(Prov 29:2)The American government followed after the divine design of biblical government. When the twelve Apostles are to judge righteousness, so would twelve members be required of a jury to judge guilt or innocence. We have one Federal government embodied in three branches – the executive, the legislative, and the judicial. And we also have One God whose nature and character are defined by Three Persons of the Godhead – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.  

            We also have laws of bankruptcy in which an individual can declare bankruptcy every seven years. We see this practice initiated in ancient Israel under the Sovereignty of God: 1 At the end of everyseven years thou shalt make a release. 2 And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the LORD'S release(Deut 15:1-2)

            What an extraordinary loss of memory we have undergone in seven decades as an American Republic. Under biblical law, all offenders were treated precisely the same. Under the modern corruption of American republican principles, we have special interest groups and minorities that are treated with special awards based, not on merit, but on accident of birth. This never helps the recipient of a free handout, but rather makes them more dependent upon the handout and less likely to gain their independence from government. They simply become slaves of the Ancien RĂ©gime

            In today’s politically correct society, great care is taken not to hurt the feelings of the ignorant. Best to leave them in darkness I suppose! Is that a legitimate manner of life in a free society. We gain knowledge and understanding in questioning the righteousness of government and social policy. Without an outlet for that curiosity through public discourse, the society decays and becomes a distortion of what right society and government should be. The university becomes an echo chamber of shamefully weak minds and voices.

            There is almost a maniacal opposition to any mention of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in our day. He is shunned in every public forum. You may mention Buddha, the Hindu gods, Allah, or Ahuramazda; but for heaven’s sake, never mention Jesus! Why do we suppose this to be the case? I believe it is because the Lord Jesus is the only exclusive God. If we accept that He is Lord, our lives MUST change or we are damned. There is no middle road, and He is the only means of our salvation. We are either with Him, or we are against Him. His name is an indictment against modern, hedonistic society. So “please,” the devils scream – “do not mention Him who has come to torture us before our time under the sun.”

            Many decades ago, the evolutionists humbly came to the public schools and begged to teach evolution alongside Creation Science.  They insisted that they did not desire to squelch the teaching of biblical Creation; they simply wanted an equal forum. (see Scopes Monkey Trial) They received that public forum and have now grown to such audacity as to demand that even God’s name not be mentioned in any public forum. 

            Can a Christian man or woman remove their robes of salvation at the door of government and take upon themselves the robes of the secular humanist? I think not, and neither did our Founders. Space will not permit me to provide the many quotes of the Founders on the importance of biblical faith in maintaining the Republic which they gave us at the hand of God. But the Revolution of 1776 was the product of strong Biblical preaching from the pulpits of the Colonies in an appeal to the Author of Liberty Himself who is God. There was no equivocation or hesitation even at the cost of persecution. 

            I encourage each reader to acquire the full sermon delivered by the Rev. Samuel Cooke to the royal Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1770, entitled, THE TRUE PRINCIPLES OF CIVIL GOVERNMENT. His sermon began with the same quote from 2 Samuel that is the header for this devotion:

The True Principles of Civil Government 
by Rev Samuel Cooke(an excerpt)

The solemn introduction to the words now read, respectable hearers, is manifestly designed to engage your attention and regard, as given by inspiration from God, and as containing the last, the dying words of one of the greatest and best of earthly rulers, who, by ruling in the fear of God, had served his generation according to the divine will.  Transporting reflection of when his flesh and his heart failed, and his glory was consigned to dust.

 From this and many other passages in the sacred oracles, it is evident that the Supreme Ruler, though he has directed to no particular mode of civil government, yet allows and approves of the establishment of it among men.

            The ends of civil government, in divine revelation, are clearly pointed out, the character of rulers described, and the duty of subjects asserted and explained; and in this view civil government may be considered as an ordinance of God, and, when justly exercised, greatly subservient to the glorious purposes of divine providence and grace: but the particular form is left to the choice and determination of mankind.

             In a pure state of nature, government is in a great measure unnecessary.  Private property in that state is inconsiderable.  Men need no arbiter to determine their rights; they covet only a bare support; their stock is but the subsistence of a day; the uncultivated deserts are their habitations, and they carry their all with them in their frequent removes.  They are each one a law to himself, which, in general, is of force sufficient for their security in that course of life.

It is far otherwise when mankind are formed into collective bodies, or a social state of life.  Here, their frequent mutual [...] [interrelationships], in a degree, necessarily leads them to different apprehensions respecting their several rights, even where their intentions are upright.   Temptations to injustice and violence increase, and the occasions of them multiply in proportion to the increase and opulence of the society.  The laws of nature, though enforced by divine revelation, which bind the conscience of the upright, prove insufficient to restrain the sons of violence, who have not the fear of God before their eyes.

A society cannot long subsist in such a state; their safety, their social being, depends upon the establishment of determinate rules or laws, with proper penalties to enforce them, to which individuals shall be subjected.  The laws, however wisely adapted, cannot operate to the public security unless they are properly executed.  The execution of them remaining in the hands of the whole community, leaves individuals to determine their own rights, and, in effect, in the same circumstances as in a state of nature.  The remedy in this case is solely in the hands of the community.

            Should we not have many more such men of God to preach in our churches of America today.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Hymns of the Church – All Creatures of our God and King – 24 July 2018, Anno Domini


I
 WILLpraise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. 31 This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs. 32 The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God. 33 For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners. 34 Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein.   (Psalm 69:30-34)

            I received a suggestion this morning from Cinder Carroll, our National Secretary, that I might write on this beautiful and wonderfully uplifting hymn. I was surprised to learn that I had not previously written on it since it is one of my top ten favorites. So, I am happy to write on this hymn today.

            This classical work praising the Creation of God in its full dimensions was written by Francis of Assissi shortly before his death in 1225. The lyrics were not widely published until 400 years later. Music is the German composition, Lasst Uns Er­freu­en,  by Peter von Brachel (1663). The tune was harmonized later by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1906. 

            The story of Francis of Assissi is fascinating in itself, but this devotion will be primarily limited to an assessment of the hymn which so gloriously reflects his faith and love of all creatures of God. He rightly considered every creature of God’s making a thing of great value: All things of creation are children of the Father and thus brothers of man. ... God wants us to help animals, if they need help. Every creature in distress has the same right to be protected.Francis


All Creatures of Our God and King

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam,
Thou silver moon with softer gleam!
Refrain
O praise Him! O praise Him!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice,
Ye lights of evening, find a voice!
Refrain

Thou flowing water, pure and clear,
Make music for thy Lord to hear,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou fire so masterful and bright,
That givest man both warmth and light.
Refrain

Dear mother earth, who day by day
Unfoldest blessings on our way,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
The flowers and fruits that in thee grow,
Let them His glory also show.
qRefrain

And all ye men of tender heart,
Forgiving others, take your part,
O sing ye! Alleluia!
Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,
Praise God and on Him cast your care!
Refrain

And thou most kind and gentle Death,
Waiting to hush our latest breath,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Thou leadest home the child of God,
And Christ our Lord the way hath trod.
Refrain

Let all things their Creator bless,
And worship Him in humbleness,
O praise Him! Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son,
And praise the Spirit, Three in One!
Refrain

            All creatures of our God and King Lift up your voice and with us sing, Alleluia! Alleluia! Thou burning sun with golden beam, Thou silver moon with softer gleam! All creatures! It might be of benefit to recall that those wonderful creatures God created in the Garden were free from sin until the one whose responsibility it was to care for them fell from grace in the Garden at Eden. It was an innocent creature of the animal kingdom that was the first to die in order that Adam and Eve’s nakedness could be covered. This was the first shadowing type of the Lamb of God who was to come and die as a sin-covering for man. (Genesis 3:21)It is worth noting that these animal creations of God still bear an innocence above that of man.

THE REFRAINO praise Him! O praise Him! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!Every verse of this hymn is an invitation to Praise our Creator and King. Even the moon, stars, and sun praise Him who flung them into their orbits with a single whisper: O praise Him! O praise Him!Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! -  4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy(Job 38:4-7)

            Thou rushing wind that art so strong Ye clouds that sail in Heaven along, O praise Him! Alleluia!   Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice, Ye lights of evening, find a voice! There are winds capable of destroying the most formidable structures of men’s hands. The clouds depict the fine art of God in the heavens. Even the distant stars have been found to emit high frequency sounds now detectable by our technology. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. (Psalm 148:3-5) 

            Thou flowing water, pure and clear, Make music for thy Lord to hear, O praise Him! Alleluia! Thou fire so masterful and bright, That givest man both warmth and light. The River of Life flows freely, pure and pristine, beyond the Gates of Splendor. Blest will we be to drink from that life-giving stream. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.(John 7:38)And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb(Rev 22:1)Yes, and even the Tree of Life, long past removed, is even now watered by the River.

            Dear mother earth, who day by day Unfoldest blessings on our way, O praise Him! Alleluia! The flowers and fruits that in thee grow, Let them His glory also show.We are children of the earth in the sense that we are all made from the womb of the earth and its mantle of dust. 1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. 2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. 6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof(Psalm 19:1-6)

            And all ye men of tender heart, Forgiving others, take your part, O sing ye! Alleluia! Ye who long pain and sorrow bear, Praise God and on Him cast your care!  In relationship to time and eternity, our pains and sufferings are brief indeed. Even life itself upon this green earth is brief. All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field: 7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. 8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever(Isaiah 40:6-8)But the soul of man is immortal. It does not perish. The soul has its long home in mansions above or in dungeons below.

            And thou most kind and gentle Death, Waiting to hush our latest breath, O praise Him! Alleluia!  Thou leadest home the child of God, And Christ our Lord the way hath trod. Why do Christians so dread passing through that DOOR that leads to eternal joy and bliss which is DEATH? It is a door without a hallway or foyer. It is a brief passage – so brief as the edge of a Gurkha’s saber. It is a DOOR to Heaven for the Elect, and a DOOR to Doom for the reprobate. 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. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks beto God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.(1 Cor 15:51-57)This passage has been the comfort of countless Christians through the centuries since Christ.

            Let all things their Creator bless, And worship Him in humbleness, O praise Him! Alleluia! Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son, And praise the Spirit, Three in One!If God has blessed all of His creatures, and He has, should we not be good stewards and caretakers of these. Remember, the life of an animal is as dear to the animal as our lives are to us – and perhaps more so since animal life is mostly brief. An animal (which is always innocent) suffers pain just as much as we do, and it is the mark of an evil and pitiless heart to cause these precious creatures of God to suffer needlessly. I do not elevate animal life to the level of human life; however, I do know that God expects us to show love and compassion for these. 

The underlying message of this great hymn is that of love for all that God has made, and a reverence and humility before God in considering our appreciation for His wondrous works of Creation.