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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, September 30, 2018

Sermon Notes - Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - Enterprise, Alabama (USA) - 30 September 2018, Anno Domini

The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

L
ORD, we beseech thee, grant thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and with pure hearts and minds to follow thee, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

            The Collect is a fitting preface to the Gospel text for this Sunday of Trinity. The text on Matthew 22:34-46 is the final phase of a three-point attack on our Lord’s ministry by the  grant thy people grace to withstand the temptations of the world (Herodians), the flesh (the Sadduccees, the flesh), and the devil (the Pharisees). The lines of a great battlefield are three dimensional. The enemy attempts to penetrate the opposing line, to outflank maneuver his flanks, and to overwhelm his fortifications by many combinations of fire and maneuver. We have two more of these  attacks on our Lord in the previous verses to our text.
Pharisees. As the Collect reads,

W
HENthe Pharisees had heard that Jesus had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.  Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 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.While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he?They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.(Matt 22:34-46)

            The political intrigues and corrupt social mores of our day are perfectly reflected in those of the time of Jesus. It is without doubt that the Scribes and Pharisees (the religious leaders of the day) knew precisely that Jesus was the promised Messiah; but they will lie, cheat or steal in order to prevent recognition of that fact by the people. They feared, like the mainline denominations of our day, any challenge to their own authority and source of wealth which will provoke denial of Scriptural truth and disobedience to the Word of God. How commonly obvious is this truth reflected in the emphasis of building programs over personal stewardship, high salaried ministers over a regard for the needs of many whose meager tithes supply that salary, or the choice to compromise on biblical marriage for prestige, and abortion as a means of covering the sexual promiscuity of their members. 

            In order to full grasp today’s text, let us examine the preceding nineteen verses of this same chapter. 

            The Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadduccees were archenemies. Yet, these allied themselves together against the Lord whom they beheld as a far greater threat to themselves than each other. The Herodians were the legal arm of Israel under the lascivious King Herod. We see traits of Herod in our National Congress today. They have tax-funded resources to pay hush money to women whom they have sexually offended. His rule was ungodly and oppressive; yet, the Pharisees sought his supporters out to try and trap the Lord in His words: 

T
HENwent the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. 16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. 22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.   (Matt 22:15-22)

The Herodians
            The conniving Pharisees sent their ‘disciples’ the Herodians to confront Christ regarding MONEY. One of the major issues with false religionist is MONEY.  They sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians. Being very schooled in the art of tom-foolery, they felt themselves mentally and socially superior to this poor Carpenter preacher who was obviously unlettered and unlearned in their thinking. So they will attempt to draw a legal sanction against Christ much as Christians today are being legally attacked for refusing to compromise their consciences. Caesar was a powerful symbol to all of Israel. Their land was under the oppressive heel of Rome; and Herod was Rome’s willing vicegerent. So maybe they can bring Christ into conflict with Rome – that would settle their dilemma.  They asked: “ell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” This is a two-way trap. If Jesus answers ‘no,’ He will be branded as subversive to Rome’s taxing authority. If He answers ‘yes,’ He will enrage those of the multitude who despise Roman rule in their land. “But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?(Matt 22:18-20)

            Our Lord always sees the wickedness of a darkened heart – nothing is hidden from His view. He knew these were hypocrites speaking flattering words. The Lord asked a profound question: Whose is this image and superscription?What is the currency of Rome? It is those coins struck with the image of Caesar. What is the currency of the Kingdom of God?  It is those hearts struck and minted with the image of our Lord Jesus Christ!

            His very words were a muzzle to the mouths of hypocrites: They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. 22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way (Matt 22:21-22) 

            Just as Rome doubtess had her counterfeit coinage, so does the church of today – perhaps the counterfeits (hypocrites) far outnumber the legal tender. But here Jesus vanquishes the legalizers who today still attempt to bind the voice of Christians with frivolous and costly lawsuits.

The Sadduccees
T
HEsame day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, 24 Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. 25 Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: 26 Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. 27 And last of all the woman died also. 28 Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. 30 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. 31 But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, 32 I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. 33 And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine(Matt 22:23-33)

See how organized are the wicked against the Righteous One. The three groups are working together as a hand in the glove. They do the same today in our Congressional hearings. 

 “THE SAME DAY” came the Sadduccees – one after another in their organized attempt to overthrow righteousness. The Pharisees belive in the resurrection, yet think themselves the only one’s with a personal invitation. The Sadduccees reject the resurrection. And the Herodians reject BOTH; but they are untied for this moment. To make a short answer to a longer story, let us simply see that these culprits bring an unbiblical definition of marriage before Christ. These are the fleshly so-called believers we see today who would destroy God’s perfect institution of marriage between one man and one woman. They did not even believe in the resurrection, so they asked the last question mocking that belief. But Jesus, having perfect knowledge, knew of their craftiness and was ready to give an answer. 

I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.Can you fathom the ocean of comfort in these last words to those who have lost loved ones in Christ. They are not DEAD! They are not Past Tense! They are alive in Christ today.

The Pharisees
            Finally, it is the Pharisees turn. They have cowardly sent others before to set their trap, but this having failed, they now ‘gather together’ as do most violet mobs and go to Him personally. 

B
UTwhen the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. 35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, 36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 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. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Many Bible scholars of our day promote these two Commandments as new commandments instituted by Christ, but they are not. Christ is simply quoting the Old Testament Commandments of Moses day:

A
NDthou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  Deut 10:12And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,  Deut 13: 1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, 2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; 3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. 5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. Lev 19:17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD(Deut 6:5)

Silences the Pharisees about the Messiah
Christ was always the master of every crisis and every challenge:

T
HENwent the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. 16 And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. 17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? 19 Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. 20 And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. 22 When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way. (Matthew 22:15)

This is one reason they (the Jewish rulers) literally hated Christ. He interfered with their money greed …… selling in the Temple…house of prayer, but a place of thieves. 

Now Jesus will also present them with a dilemma they should already have known being Masters of the Pentateuch: 41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. 43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, 44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? 45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?

1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. (Psalm 110:1)

David also said: Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him(Psalm 2:12)
Now these snails crawled away to plan how further they might have Him put to death.

L
ETthem melt away as waters which run continually: when he bendeth his bow to shoot his arrows, let them be as cut in pieces. 8 As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun. 9 Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath. 10 The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. 11 So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.  (Psalm 58)

Snails love darkness. They hate Light. They also hate salt.

Y
Eare the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5)

A
NDno man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions. 

            Please consider the relentless attacks on morality in our country today. Are they not similar to the same that these profligate fools waged against our Lord?

A common enemy always unites various sects and interests together against it. Jesus was a common enemy to the superstitions and power struggles of the Times, just as He is a common enemy of the political and economic structures of our time. 

Though politics and financial interests are not found in the same common bed in normal circumstances, they both ally themselves against the True Gospel of Christ.

Text books promote evolution. News outlets say we must respect the religious faith of Moslems, Buddhist, and Hindus, yet, with one voice, they press for condemnation of Christian Faith in our society.

Those who accept the biblical authority that condemns adultery, homosexuality, drunkenness, are considered smug and made to look ridiculous in movies and news specials. 

Nothing has changed in the world’s contempt for Christ since He first ministered as a boy in the Temple at Jerusalem. 

Have we, as a Christian nation, changed since the time we learned of Christ as young boys and girls; or as adults who were then able to recognize our depravity and hear the whispering voice of the Holy Ghost?

Saturday, September 29, 2018

On Death – 29 September 2018, Anno Domini



HMS Dreadnought

When we come into this world, it is with but one condition, we must leave. There is an old saw, “There are only two things that are inevitable, Death and Taxes.”  That is, of course, not true.  There is only one thing which is, on one level, inevitable, that is Death. At the same time, be aware that not paying your taxes may hasten your earthly death.  

As Christians, our Lord gave His earthly Life that we might have life eternal. You must understand eternal life starts the moment you accept it, not after the demise of your earthly body. From that time on you must live your life accordingly.  It is all not over when you leave this earthly existence, you continue on.  So live as if you will be accountable for your actions for eternity, for that is part of the gift.

Consider this brief letter from Jack Lewis, the Anglican writer, author of the well-known Chronicles of Narniato his friend Mary who is nearing her departure from earth:

To Mary Willis Shelburne: On how to rehearse for death and how to diminish fear.

17 June 1963

Pain is terrible, but surely you need not have fear as well? Can you not see death as the friend and deliverer? It means stripping off that body which is tormenting you: like taking off a hair- shirt or getting out of a dungeon. What is there to be afraid of? You have long attempted (and none of us does more) a Christian life. Your sins are confessed and absolved. Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.

Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round—we get afraid be- cause we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?

Of course, this may not be the end. Then make it a good rehearsal.

Yours (and like you a tired traveler near the journey’s end) Jack
CS Lewis
The Collected Letters of CS Lewis, Volume III


Jack Lewis is telling his friend she has nothing to worry about, there is nothing to fear in death.  He often alluded to what we will find in heaven by referring to the earth as the Shadowlands.  Just as Paul wrote in Chapter 13 of his first letter to the people of Corinth, For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. This earth is merely a shadow of the real world that we call by the term Heaven.

We know we cannot get into Heaven unless we are accounted as perfect in the final judgment.  Yet, we can never be perfect.  We are imperfect creatures with free will, a combination which clearly precludes perfection. Yet, through Jesus’ one sacrifice, made one time, for all time, for all mankind, we are accounted as perfect. His sacrifice is the only possible way for us to enter into Heaven.  Nothing else will make it happen.  No other way than by the sacrifice of the Son will you get into Heaven.  Has God made arrangements for other religions? Consider once again the explanation of Jack Lewis:

I have been asked to tell you what Christians believe, and I am going to begin by telling one thing that Christians do not need to believe. If you are a Christian you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main point in all the religions are simply wrong all through. If you are an atheist you do have to believe that the main poinin all the religions of the whole world is simply one huge mistake. If you are a Christian, you are free to think that all these religions, even the queerest ones, contain a least some hint of the truth. When I was an atheist I had to try to persuade myself that most of the human race have always been wrong about the question that mattered to them most; when I became a Christian I was able to take a more liberal view. But, of course, being a Christian does mean thinking that where Christianity differs from other religions, Christianity is right and they are wrong. As in arithmetic—there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong: but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others. (CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, page 43)

But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him. But in the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is remain outside yourself. (CS Lewis, Mere Christianity,page  65)

The real point of all this is that we do not know what arrangements, if any, God has made for other people.  We know what arrangements He made for us when He sent His Son to give His life that we might live.  We don’t want to take any chances, look at what Jesus himself said:

John 14:1-6

L
ETnot your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.  And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.  Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?  Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.   (BCP 331)

So, once you die, how long until you show up in Heaven?  Again, look to the source, Jesus on the Cross speaking to the thief, as related by Luke in Chapter 23, Verse 43:

43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

When the time is near, have no fear.  Our Lord has gone before us and a place is ready for each of us.  What will it be like?  The only one hundred percent certain answer is, You won’t be disappointed.  I think Jack Lewis hit it right on the money when he referred to earth as The Shadowlands.  

Trust in God and dread nought
Rev LTC Hap Arnold

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sermon Notes - Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 23 September 2018, Anno Domini



The Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

L
ORD, we pray thee that thy grace may always prevent[1]and follow us, and make us continually to be given to all good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

            Just as the Cloud by Day, and Pillar of Fire by night, both led and followed the Children of Israel across the Red Sea, so does God’s continuing love and grace both lead and follow His people in our own day. It did not end at the banks of the Red Sea. Being continually imbued with that love and grace of our Lord, our works are manifested in goodness through His perpetual care and guidance.

A
ND it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him. 2 And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy. 3 And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day? 4 And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go; 5 And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? 6 And they could not answer him again to these things. 

7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, 8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; 9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. 11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 14:1-11)

Three Feasts
            I will stress some particulars of the feast in today’s text first since those are the points we must avoid as Christian people. Of course, the underlying warning of the text is sinfulness of pride and arrogance. Underlying the Lord’s counsel is the imperative to love and charity. The motive for inviting our Lord to the house of the chief Pharisees was not one of cordiality or generosity, but an uncharitable envy of His Person. In all His walk prior to this dinner, the Lord has attracted multitudes of people to hear His message of grace, and to enjoy the benefits of healing and comfort. This enraged the Jewish leaders in the same way that the large mega-churches of our day would likely reject Him if He came to threaten their nest eggs of filthy lucre. It will be more spiritually gratifying if we also cover the two subsequent feasts that follow today’s text (in the same chapter) in order to glean greater meaning, so I will begin with that of our primary text:

The First Feast, One of Malice
And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.Every word of the Bible is pregnant with meaning, and these are no exceptions. The casual reference to And it came to passseems so very casual and coincidental, but it is not. This event had been foreordained by God from the first beam of light which gleamed at Creation. Nothing that happens in the Lord’s work is accidental. 

Do you suppose the chief Pharisees invited Jesus out of a high regard for His ministry? That would be an absolute ‘NO!’ These fellows hated our Lord. They sought every means possible to entrap and destroy Him. This occasion is no exception. Note, first of all, that this was the Sabbath Day. How often did these boogers condemn Jesus for doing works of mercy on the Sabbath! No coincidence! Secondly, note the phrase, “they watched Him!” Why do you suppose they watched Him? It was not out of a Godly curiosity to hear what teachings He might utter, but rather out of what He might do to incriminate Himself under the Law of Moses. 

These men had envisioned a scheme to entrap Jesus, not for wrong doing, but for doing works of mercy on the Sabbath whereby they intended to charge Him. Jesus, being a Person of great consideration, never refused an invitation from either friend or foe. He always attended in order to open sleeping ears and eyes. It matters not if His word is well-received or rejected – it yet serves its purpose to either convict, or to condemn, its subjects.

Thirdly, notice the unusual guest who is at the dinner! And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.When such an important social and religious personage as the chief Pharisee invites others to a dinner, do you, in the slightest instance, believe that he would invite the halt, the lame, and the dying! No, that is not in the character of any Pharisees with whom I am familiar save the good man, Nicodemus. So why is this man, afflicted with dropsy, invited? Dropsy is a serious condition usually caused by cardiac failure such as congestive heart failure. According to a medical definition, it is  “An older term for generalized edema, most often associated with cardiac failure.” Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary© Farlex 2012. 

            So, what is the victim of dropsy doing at the Pharisee’s dinner? He is the bait by which they intended to spring their trap against the Lord. Knowing the compassion of the Lord for those who suffer, these degenerates conceived their plan to use this good quality against the Lord. Look around – it happens in politics every day!

But the Lord was aware of their wicked plan from millennia past. He disarms them by asking a simple question which they dare not answer: “And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?” What could they have said? The Lord put the onus immediately at their own feet. If they answer ‘No,’ it would contradict the law of love and also of Moses since the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.  And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go.  The wicked are very adept at ‘holding their peace’ when the politics of the moment are disadvantageous for a response. “And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day? 6 And they could not answer him again to these things.” Observe that Jesus healed the poor man, and let him go. He was not invited for the purpose of participating in a dinner – he was merely the trap that failed just as did many others of the Scribes and Pharisees to trick or tempt the Lord. 

The Second Feast, One of Importance
            Knowing their evil intentions, the Lord tells a short parable to reveal their false pride and arrogance: And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them, When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;  And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.  But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.  For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

            First of all, do not presume on your own importance. We are more or less honored, not by the opinion we hold of ourselves, but by what others have formed about our track records. When a great man is humble, the Lord will make him great. When he is proud, the Lord will make him as an ant among elephants.

            When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just(Luke 14:12-14)Anonymity is the truest form of charity. It is so because there can be no reward in popular approval or repayment for acts of kindness. Take heed 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. 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. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly(Matt 6:1-4)The political crowds of the First Church love to invite doctors, lawyers and other politicians to their churches and social gatherings. Why? Because there well likely will be a valuable reciprocation in the form of money or goodwill. This second kind of feast will most closely resemble the will of God and the kind of Feast He will make for His people, who, like the man with dropsy, have been healed from that deadliest of diseases called sin. Our feasts of love should not be based on pride of social or financial status, but simply charitable intentions of kindness.

The Third Feast, The Divine Feast
            A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consentbegan to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper(Luke 14:16-24)

            We are all familiar with the tired and vain excuses men and women make to us to justify not fulfilling a social obligation of a friend. Look closely, please, at these excuses: I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. There are many points about the Jewish psyche that I admire – the foremost of which is wise investment strategies. I was raised in a town that had its share of Abraham’s descendants. You may believe me when I tell you that no Jewish person I have ever known would buy a piece of ground before examining the property thoroughly. Likewise, no self-respecting Jewish person would buy a beast of burden without first looking in its mouth. What ridiculous excuses men make! The third excuse total obliterates the other two – I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. Obviously, the wedding has already occurred, and the man is at leisure when the invitation was tendered! No wife is so terrible that the husband cannot meet his social obligations to a friend.

            Christ did not come for the proud Pharisee who is blind to righteousness and truth. He came for those who need a physician of the soul – and know it; who are in great thirst for truth; who have suffered a famine of heavenly bread; who have sought healing without result, and now have found the Great Physician who extends that invitation to come for all of the needs of body and soul. These were chosen from the foundation of the world, and they will heed the invitation! Now is the hour to make your salvation certain. The key to all is LOVE! The Love of God enables us to Love others. Without that unconditional love, imputed to us by our Father in Heaven, we are, like the Pharisees, incapable of love. Do you love those who are helpless to return any measure of benefit? Consider this point, friend, and govern thyself accordingly!


[1]                Prevent is a word that has many uses, and at least one has fallen out of general usage as time has gone on.  This is one of them.  In this case the word prevent means to go before.  Before you object to archaic words, consider this is a current word, it just has a use you may not have been aware of and now you are!  What a bonus for this week!

Friday, September 21, 2018

If I were the Devil– 21 September 2018, Anno Domini


Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil(Gen 3:1-5)

            What would be on top of the agenda for you if you were the Devil? Personally, I think I would be very happy to continue to head the Islamic religion as it best fits the cruelty and hatred that I would espouse. We could note from the introductory text that the Devil is quite cunning. He chooses his gullible targets well in 

Eve. Eve is tender hearted and trusting, so he approaches her with a question. Satan always begins with a question – “Hath God said?” He causes us to question our faith, our values, our traditions, and our God. Even as he begins with a question, he always ends with a frank denial of God’s Word – “Ye shall not surely die!” This is his ultimate objective in destroying the Man and woman that God has made.

            Many readers of the devotion may remember the wonderful devotions of Paul Harvey, aired daily on radio. Below is such a devotion which, though a bit quaint for the modern mind, nevertheless holds up eternal truths:

If I were the Devil!
            If I were the Prince of Darkness, I would want to engulf the whole world in darkness. 

            I’d have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population (a rather conservative figure), but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple of the tree. 

            So I should set about, however necessary, to take over the United States and Canada.

            I would begin with a campaign of whispers.

            With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.”

            To the young, I would whisper, “The bible is a myth.” I would convince them that “man created God,” instead of the other way around; I’d whisper that “what is bad is good and what is good is square.

            In the ears of the young married I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be “extreme” in religion, patriotism, in moral conduct.

            And the old I would teach to pray – to say after me – “Our father which art in Washington.”

            Then I’d get organized.

            I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull and uninteresting.

            I’d threaten TV with dirtier movies, and vice-versa.

            I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing, less work. Idle hands usually work for me.

            I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could, I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction, I’d tranquilize the rest with pills.
            If I were the Devil I would encourage schools to refine young intellects, but neglect to discipline emotions; let those run wild.

            I’d designate an atheist to front for me before the Highest Courts and I’d get preachers to say, “She is right!” (Madalyn Marie O’Hara)

            With flattery and promises of power I would get the courts to vote against God and in favor of pornography.

            Thus I would evict God from the courthouse, then the schoolhouse, then from the Houses of Congress.

            Then in His own churches I’d substitute psychology for religion and deify science.

            That way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them,

            If I were Satan I’d make the symbol of Easter and egg  . . . . 

            And the symbol of Christmas a bottle, or some old man. . . . 

            If I were the Devil I’d take from those who have and give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. Then my state police would force everybody back to work.

            Then I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines and objectors in slave-labor camps. 

            If I were Satan I’d just keep on doing what I am doing and the whole world would go to Hell as sure as the Devil.

Paul Harvey

POSTSCRIPT: Most of the Devils objectives have been, or are being, achieved as we speak. He has subverted the morals of the United States and Canada calling into question the foundation stones of our Republic. He has even gone further than Mr. Harvey could imagine in putting to death millions by use of illegal drugs and diseases of sexual origins. He has created wars around the globe that are unending destroying many of God’s crowning achievement in Creation – mankind. He has promoted abortion to the point of actually murdering children not only before, but AFTER, live birth. He has managed to have the Bible and Prayer removed from public schools and every public place. He has convinced the ignorant hordes, created by an education system gone from educating to indoctrinating, to destroy our statues and memorials of the past that remind us of our national journey. (just like ISIS did in Syria and Iraq). He has corrupted our morals to the point that we scarcely can tell the difference between the sexes. He has subverted the Holy Institution of Marriage and promoted the abominable sin of homosexuality. He has promoted wicked men and falsely accused the best of our public servants who would rise to power. Don’t you believe that Satan so far has had great success? But fear not: I have read the end of the book. Satan loses!

 “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

Thursday, September 20, 2018

57 Cents that built a Church – 20 September 2018, Anno Domini


A
NDJesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. 42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. 43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: 44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. (Mark 12:41-44)

            The modern church has become engrossed in the building of an institution and, in the process, has forgotten the PURPOSE of the institution. The monied class are well received and the poor and destitute are little regarded. “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)The once-and-for-all sacrifice has already been made. Our righteousness is not measured in dollars and cents, in gold and silver, but upon the imputed righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. What can we give the Lord that is not already His – only one object of value – our hearts to be His Temple.

            In the early part of the last century, a great minister named Russel H. Conwell delivered a speech to a men’s group entitled, Acres of Diamonds. That speech become so popular that Dr. Conwell delivered it across the United States more than six thousand times and finally recorded it in a book of the same title. He later became chaplain of Temple University in Philadelphia. The following story is true and involves Chaplain Conwell and a poor and destitute little girl whose small offering built a church.



Fifty-Seven Cents that built A Church[1]

            A sobbing little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it was ‘overcrowded.’ “I can’t go to Sunday School,” she sobbed to the pastor as he passed. Taking her by the hand, he found a place for her inside the sanctuary. The child was so touched that she went to bed that night thinking of the children who had no place to worship Jesus.

            Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the tenement buildings, and the parents called for the kindhearted pastor to make the funeral arrangements. Beneath her pillow he found a crumpled purse rummaged from the dump. In it were 57 pennies and a note scribbled in childish handwriting. “This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday School,” the note read.

            For two years she had saved for this offering of love. When the pastor read that note, he knew instantly what he would do.

            Carrying this note and the cracked, red pocketbook to the pulpit, he told the story of her unselfish love and devotion. He challenged his deacons to get busy and raise enough money for the larger church – plain and simple, not a cathedral.

            A newspaper learned of the story and published it. It was read by a realtor who offered them a lot worth many thousands. When told the church could not pay so much, he offered it for a modest figure and said he would take as a down payment “exactly 57 cents.”

            Church members made large subscriptions. Checks came from far and wide. Within five years the little girl’s gift had grown to $250,000.00.  Her unselfish love, like the widow’s two mites, had paid large dividends. 

            When you are in the City of Philadelphia, look up Temple Baptist Church, with a seating capacity of 3300, and Temple University, where hundreds of students are trained. Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a Sunday School building which houses hundreds of Sunday scholars, so that no child in that vicinity will ever need to be left outside at Sunday School time. 

            In one of the rooms of this building may be seen the picture of a sweet face of the little girl whose 57 cents so sacrificially saved made such remarkable history. Alongside of it is a picture of her pastor, Dr. Russell H. Conwell. 

Postscript:
            Please note it was not the amount of money that began construction of the Sunday School auditorium at Temple, but the love behind the 57 cents that gave impetus to the hearts of many to proceed to do a work for the Lord. If a little twelve year old girl, poor and without adequate means in her home life, can make such a difference, what is holding each of us back from making a difference in the lives of many? 

W
HENthe Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matt 25:31-46)




[1]A true story of a real event written by William S. Deal and published by Old Tracts Society of Shoals, Indiana