Friday, May 31, 2019
ND I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. 4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. 5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. (Revelation 5:1-5)
The Majesty, Grace, Power, and Love of our Lord Jesus Christ is impossible of human comprehension to describe or fully understand. The Bible employs a profligacy of human terms in order to make His Person and Nature more comprehendible to mortal man and, yet, even our human vocabulary falls short of that objective. One term used in referring to the majesty of our Lord is The Lion of Judah. In what ways may we consider our Lord Jesus Christ as a Lion of His people?
The Lion is majestic in appearance. He fears nothing and is feared by all under his purview. The Lion is the King of the Beasts just as our Lord Jesus Christ is King of Kings. An army of one hundred timid deer, led by a Lion, would be more fearsome than an army of one hundred lions led by a deer. He is born to rule and not to follow. One great leader can swing the fate of a nation. Example: Admiral Yi Sun Shin Commander of the Korean Navy during the Japanese invasion of the 16thcentury. The Korean Navy was almost non-existent, and the seaman were poorly trained and equipped. In 1593, Commander Toyotomi Hideyoshi landed with 250,000 troops on the Korean soil almost unopposed.
The Japanese navy numbered more than 130 well equipped warships while Admiral Yi had only 13 small ships called Turtle Ships (Kobuksan) which he personally designed – the first iron clad warships. The ship was shaped like a turtle with iron plating on top with sharp prods protruding from the surface to discourage the enemy from forced boarding. There was a great dragon head mounted on the bow of the ship from which cannon could be fired and dense smoke emitted. It also was equipped with cannon on the port, starboard, and stern. The Japanese were terrified. They believed this to be a fire-breathing beast. A fifty-foot ramming rod protruded from the bow below the surface unseen by the enemy. When approached by the Turtle Ship, the enemy vessel would mysteriously sink. Admiral Yi never lost a battle at sea, and his sinking of more than 30 enemy warships caused panic to spread throughout the Japanese land army as they stampeded to the coast to board transport for home. One man made the difference since the Korean Navy had no previous means to resist such a formidable landing force fielded by the Empire of Japan. Admiral Yi defeated the entire Japanese Navy.
An insight into the character of Admiral Yi (often compared with England’s Admiral Horatio Nelson - Encylopedia Britannica) is observed in his death by a gunshot wound in battle in December 1598: His last words, when the battle is at its height. Beat my war drums. Do not announce my death. So, one man’s great leadership vanquished an enemy of overwhelming men and resources with 13 strange-looking ships. How much greater the Son of God in vanquishing the mentor of all wars, all famines, all disease, and even death itself at Calvary.
One characteristic of the Lion is its ability to see in what we would call dark. Though ambient light does exist, it is not enough to see at night. The Lion has eyes fashioned by the Creator to enable it to see in very low-light conditions – even if only starlight. The same is true of the Lord. There is no darkness that can abide His presence: If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. (Psalm 139:11-12) Neither can the sinner, nor the devil, hide in the dark corners. Not only does the Lord see our outer physical forms in darkness, but He looks into the inner chambers of our hearts.
The Lion is a perfect warrior, courageous, persevering, and indomitable to the pain of suffering wounds. So is our Lord Jesus Christ: For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren. (Hebrews 2:10-11)
The Lion is very fierce when roused up by an enemy. Christ is not averse to exerting great measures to avenge the enemies of His people. There is one salient example of this in an incident occurring in the southeast of India in January 1999 to an Australian missionary, Graham Stewart Stains, who had been treating leprosy patients at Baripada for some 35 years. He had traveled with his two sons to a church at Manoharpur in eastern state of Orissa to attend an evangelical meeting. The three were stopped in a churchyard to take a nap during the trip. Soon, a mob of some 30 people doused their car with kerosene, held the doors closed with poles, and set the car afire burning the occupants to death. Unbeknownst to the mob, there was a Tsunami Wave forming across the Bay of Bengal and headed for that village. The entire village was destroyed by fifty-foot waves. I do not know if the offenders drew any connection between the two events.
The roar of a Lion is an awesome sound. It reverberates throughout the jungle environment. Birds fly away, animals scurry for cover, and the leaves of the trees quake at the sound. The voice of the Lord can likewise be even more awful in its effect: The great day of the LORDis near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. (Zephaniah 1:14) and The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:16)
The Lion is a creature of severe justice. He is known to return offense for offense. If a predator harms, or attempts to harm, a cub of his pride, he will respond with overwhelming violence and force. He delivers justice without mercy. Those who have rejected mercy will likewise be treated with severe judgment by the Lord Jesus Christ. For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy (of drinking their own blood). (Revelation 16:6)Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double. (Revelation 18:6) In judgment, God is not a ‘tooth for a tooth’ kind of Judge. He will take the full set of teeth in retribution. His great love, scorned, becomes a firestorm of judgment.
The parental Lion will stand and suffer grievous wounds in defense of its young, even to the point of death. Great strength often is evidence of a great heart. Our Lord likewise has suffered stripes and wounds to His hurt for us. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5) And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. (Zechariah 13:6)
No prey can be taken from a hungry lion by any creature. So, it is with our Lord when His chosen child is placed in His protective hand – nothing can cause Him to lose that one from the security of His grip.
Though we have pointed out many points of similarities of the Lion and the Lord, there are also areas of disparity. By its nature, the Lion striking out in animal instinct, is cruel to all who are not of its kind, and is a tyrant in his rule of the jungle. But Christ, on the other hand, is forgiving and merciful in treating those who have offended him but have repented. His love is all pervasive and indomitable. That love of Christ is first sent forth to His Elect and is echoed back by the recipient – else we could not love Him.
Walk down a crowded New York City street with a great lion on your leash and you will find that no man will lay a hand on you. The same is true of the great Lion of Judah – walk with Him and no harm will defeat you. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!
Are you walking with the Lion?
Thursday, May 30, 2019
OR thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:13-16)
Our God is a Great Builder and an Architect of unparalleled expertise. He makes all things perfect from the beginning, yet the atrophy of sin begins to demean the beauty of God’s Creation owing to Adam’s Fall. In view of our lead text above, how do you believe God feels at the abortionist’s practice of tearing His crowning achievement of Creation (the human being at conception) from limb to limb and crushing its tiny cranial cavity? All life, animal or human, begins at conception. God grants that conception and spark of life. In fact, embryonic research reveals that there is actually a spark of light detectable by infrared microscope at the very moment of conception.
God is the Builder and Maker of all things – from the tiniest electron orbiting the nucleus of the Atom much as the planets orbit the Sun – to the most remote heavenly galaxies millions of light years distant. It is by the pervasive power of His might that holds these tiny and gigantic systems together in perfect gravitational balance at all times. Should He release His grip, even for an instant, all would collapse into an ethereal nothingness just as it existed in eternal ages before Creation – no Time, no Space, no Matter.
God is not a Builder that contracts out his work or builds for selling out His structures. He builds all things to manifest His Glory, Power, and Love. His mode of building is two-dimensional – both physical and spiritual. His love is infinite, and He has made man, and all living, for the purpose of echoing His great Love. God is love, but He also has the capacity to hate sin. He will not abide sin in His presence. He is Holy, and He expects His favored Elect to be Holy. God the Builder takes an intimate interest in His Creation and interacts with it which differentiates this Architect from all others who build and forget once the premises are past on.
He takes an even greater interest in those He calls His own. He has instituted the Church, which He built from the Promise made to Abraham until its final purchase by our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Book of Revelations, it is referred to as the Bride of Christ. In the Old Testament Church, God claimed it as being her Husband. He builds the visible things of the world as well as the invisible things of the Spirit. “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORDof hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” (Isaiah 54:5)
God is the One Builder who requires no building supplies to be ordered. There is a humorous little fable about a day when the devil approached the Lord claiming he could do anything the Lord could do. The lord responded, “Can you make a man?” The devil responded, “Certainly.” The Lord said, “Ok, Mr. Devil, you make your man and I will make mine.” The Devil stooped down to get a handful of dust and the Lord rebuked him saying. “No, no, Mr. Devil! You must use your OWN dirt!” God created all that we know or can conceive out of nothing. The evolutionists will freely admit that all things must have a beginning, and they claim must rest on the assumption that nothing can evolve without substance to begin with. That theory is an endless argument back in time to how the world could come into being by an accident or nature, orbiting at such a precise distance from the sun that life could be possible. And the evolutionists theory of the Big Bang falls on the lack of that tiny particle they claim to have been so dense and exploded to form all heavenly bodies. The question is still there – where did that tiny particle come from, and the space to allow its expansion?
God created Adam from the dust of the earth. He fell from grace before the seducing serpent of the tree. God has caused His Son to be incarnated in human flesh as the first begotten of the spiritual man. Adam was earthy, but our Lord Jesus Christ was divine and spiritual. “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” (1 Corinthians 15:41-50)
Just as that first institution of marriage was established by God in Eden as a type and figure of His Church Triumphant. Just as a woman or man may prove unfaithful to their marital partner in this world, so has the Church often proved unfaithful to her Bridegroom – Jesus Christ. Look at the false idols that have arisen in apostate churches across our land and across churches in the world. See the diabolical doctrines of Satan that are being propagated to a sleeping Church. We are now witnessing the opposite effect that the Gospel preaching had on the world in olden days, and the disgraceful damage being wrought upon the Name of our Lord by the churches today! It may be worthwhile to read the words of that great expositor of the Word, Matthew Henry:
Observe the low state of religion in the world, for a long time before Christianity was brought in. But by preaching the gospel, multitudes were converted from idols to the living God. This is matter of great rejoicing to the church. The bounds of the church were extended. Though its state on earth is but mean and movable, like a tent or tabernacle, it is sometimes a growing state, and must be enlarged as the family increases. But the more numerous the church grows, the more she must fortify herself against errors and corruptions. Thy Maker is thy Husband. Christ is the Holy One of Israel, the Mediator of the covenant made with the Old Testament church. Long he had been called the God of Israel; but now he shall be called the God of the whole earth. And he will cleanse from sin, and cause every true believer to rejoice in this sacred union. We never can enough admire this mercy, or duly value this privilege.” Matthew Henry (Concise Commentary) See what has been lost in the past several decades. The will of man has taken the place of dominance in today’s churches over the Holy will of God.
Of what has God wrought the stones for the spiritual building of His Church? He has chosen choice spiritual jewels of His Elect for the building – a void in the walls of that Heavenly City of New Jerusalem that can only be filled by that choice stone which you and I are when we are part of His Kingdom. “And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered. Then they that feared the LORDspake often one to another: and the LORDhearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORDof hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” (Malachi 3:15-17)
Every builder must lay a foundation stone from which all other lines of the building are measured and supported. What is the Chief Rock and Cornerstone of the Church which God has built? Is it not the same who was present at the beginning (and before) with the Father at Creation – the Lord Jesus Christ? “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” Isaiah 28:16 (KJV) What fulfillment do we find of that Cornerstone? Did Christ not come unto His own, and His own reject Him? “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.” (Matthew 21:42-44)
The Corner Stone has been made sure, and the building is being finished. The work shall continue until the last trump of the Lord, then shall the building be finished as descend as a Bride adorned for her husband. This is the Word of the Lord. Christ is the Rock upon which the Foundation is laid by God the Father. It is Christ who is the Foundation and not Peter, or any other. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11)
Are you a stone in God’s Temple, or a forlorn branch of driftwood floating aimlessly at sea?
Wednesday, May 29, 2019
UT when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Galatians 4:4-7)
As my own grandfather would have said, the subject of today’s lesson is of a right, smart importance. God the Father is the most important figure in Scripture alongside God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Mind, purpose, and Omnipotence of all three are indivisible. But the term, Father, suggests a certain preeminence in Scripture. God the Father is the progenitor of all life and all substance. He is included in the very first verse of the Bible though not in isolation to the other two members of the Godhead. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) So, you see no mention of the other two here? The term for God here used is in the Hebrew, Elohim, which is an unusual grammatical category peculiar to Hebrew. It means a ‘singular/plural – one Godhead – Three Persons. The next verse confirms the presence of the Holy Spirit: And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)
So, where is the Son at the moment of Creation, is He not mentioned? God has not elected to make the Son fully revealed to us until the Gospel Age, though He is made reference to in many points of the Old Testament. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 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 2:11-12) We must wait until His glory is revealed to find Him present at Creation:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Wordwas with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. . . . . 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-4, 14)
So all Three Persons of the Godhead are revealed in the first verse of Genesis. The Father is always referred to as God in the Old Testament, or derivatives of that term such as Eloah. We might consider God the Father to be the Architect of the Universe, God the Son to be the Executive Agent in making all things, and God the Holy Spirit as the Moving Power subduing all matter and space. They constitute the 3 infinite dimensions that encompass all the Universe. But we will focus in this devotion on the Father. How often we have appealed to Him in prayer! In fact, our most oft repeated prayer taken from Scripture begins with the words, Our Father. In community of worship, we do not claim Him only as ‘my’ Father since that would be narrow and inaccurate. In the Community of Christ, He is the Father of all assembled of faith – He is OUR Father.
The two Creeds of our Book of Common Prayer – the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed begin alike with tribute to the Father. I believe in God the Father Almighty(Apostle’s Creed) and I believe in one God the Father Almighty (Nicene Creed). You will observe that these differ from the beginning of the Our Father of the Lord’s Prayer. Why? The prayer is communal and it is true that God is the Father of all who worship Him in the beauty of holiness. But the Creeds are statements of personal faith of each individual present. We cannot express the faith of others – that is an individual responsibility
In three places of the New Testament, God the Father is referred to as ‘ABBA.’ Spelled forward, or backward, it remains the same for He is the first and the last, the Alpha and Omega. The word is a Syriac word derived from the Hebrew ‘Ab.’ Let’s examine its occurrences in the New Testament:
36 And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt. 15For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. and 3) 4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.Note that the Hebrew derivative for Father (ABBA) is used in conjunction with the Greek word for Father.. (ABBA, Father). Perhaps this is an allusion to the fact that the Gospel grace extended to the Gentiles as well as the Jews, as it is written; For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greeki.e., ABBA first (Jew) and Father second (Greek word for father is used).
We have a common reference to God in theological terms as being the father of all living. That is true in a humanly sense. Adam is the federal head of the human race, but above Adam is another Father who is the Almighty God. We read in the genealogical tables of the Gospel of St. Luke: Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God. (Luke 3:38) God was the father of Adam in a real physical sense since He created Adam from the dust of the earth. In a physical sense, God as Creator is father; but not the Father of all in a Spiritual sense. Only those who are redeemed may call God our Father. (see Galatians 4:5-6).
Remarkably, the spurious new versions of the Bible such as the ESV and NIV demean the identity of our Lord in many places but most prominently in John 3:16. Both the ESV and NIV make God out to be a liar in referring to Him as the only Son (ESV) and one and only son (NIV) since all of faith are sons and daughters of God. Those two versions imply that our Lord is not much different than the rest of us as sons and daughters; but Jesus is the ONLY BEGOTTEN SON as the Creeds state along with Holy Scripture. So what is the difference? The word for only Begotten in the Greek is (μονογενήςmono-genēs).That means our Lord is the Only Son of the same substance and issue of the Father unlike those of us who are sons and daughters by adoption. That is a profound distinction between our Lord Jesus Christ and those sons and daughters of adoption. So, you may begin to see a motive emerge in the new versions to cast our Lord to a lower rung on the ladder since He keeps getting in the way of a globalist religion. He is the One Person in religious faith who died for our redemption and who has risen to be with the Father. All other religions are religions of works – and quite often those best works will get you beheaded.
Our Bible is the oldest Book ever recorded, and the only one in which no errors are possible to be found. It is our Father’s gift to us. It is the Word of God which our Lord Jesus Christ personifies.
The attributes of God can be compared to an earthly father in a number of ways:
1. An earthly father gives being and substance to his offspring. God is the Father of our spiritual being. 18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. James 1:18 (KJV) andBlessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3)
2. An earthly father (should) make provision for the shelter, nourishment and training of his children. God our Father does the same in a greater sense: Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. (Isaiah 1:2) As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (1 Peter 2:2-3)
3. A father will love and cherish his own children even to the point of dying in their defense. He is always partial to his own and never fails in compassion for them. He will clothe his children with the best he can afford. God is likewise mindful of our apparel and shelter. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (Matthew 6:30)
4. A father cannot rest while his son or daughter is lost. He will search the fields and mountains to find them; but God the Father is different in this respect. Remember the prodigal son who left his father and went into a far country and spent all his inheritance. There was no point in time when the boy was without a father who loved him even at a distance; but the father did not go seeking after the boy. He knew he would not come to his senses if he were forcibly returned. So, he patiently waited. God will not go in the direction of sin – He cannot go with us into the fleshpots and cesspools of life; but He will wait until His son or daughter comes to their senses and He will then embrace them. When He sees them, even at a great distance, coming in the right direction, He will meet them and love them.
There are many more ways that God is like the best Father. Can you name them?
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Hymn 519 - Once to Every Man and Nation – 28 May 2019, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)
NDElijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. (1 Kings 18:21)
Has the heart of man changed since the beginning of time? No, not as long as it remains in his ownership and will; but the heart of man assumes an altogether different nature when it is owned by the Lord Jesus Christ! That ownership is transferred from man to God by the secret and silent urgings of the Holy Ghost in the deep and unseen chambers of the heart. The Elect are drawn as if by an iron hook in the jaw to the shores of salvation by the mighty Fisherman of Galilee. There is a time for decision, and that time is ALWAYS NOW! When you consider what point in time we own, it is a razor thin sliver on the dial that represents merely the exact PRESENT. After saying that, the moment has already moved into history and we are at the next point of the present that has arrived and is gone into another instant. The very next second may be forfeited by death. So NOW is always the time for decision on matters of such great import as a man’s soul. As the apostle Paul counsels, . . behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.(2 Cor 6:2)
Today’s hymn stands among the greatest ever written. It gravely warns of our lost condition and the remedy therefor. If improvement were not possible or desirable, what point would there be in a warning? The glorious truth stands as a monument at the door of our hearts: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.(Matt 11:28-30)
This hymn was written by James Russell Lowell in 1845. It is sung to the tune, Ton-y-Botel (Ebenezer), Yn y glyn by Thomas J. William in 1890. Lowell wrote the poem, The Present Crisis, from which the words for the hymn were taken. This poem was written to protest issues of slavery leading up the the Mexican-American War. Later, particular verses were extracted to build the great hymn. Though written more than a century and a half ago, this hymn stands as a cutting reminder of the Hand that rules the history of men and nations, and the One who will ultimately write the final chapter of this present world and which, in fact, has already written.
Once to Every Man and Nation
Once to every man and nation,
comes the moment to decide,
in the strife of truth with falsehood,
for the good or evil side;
some great cause, some great decision,
offering each the bloom or blight,
and the choice goes by forever,
'twixt that darkness and that light.
Then to side with truth is noble,
when we share her wretched crust,
ere her cause bring fame and profit,
and 'tis prosperous to be just;
then it is the brave man chooses
while the coward stands aside,
till the multitude make virtue
of the faith they had denied.
By the light of burning martyrs,
Christ, thy bleeding feet we track,
toiling up new Calvaries ever
with the cross that turns not back;
new occasions teach new duties,
ancient values test our youth;
they must upward still and onward,
who would keep abreast of truth.
Though the cause of evil prosper,
yet the truth alone is strong;
though her portion be the scaffold,
and upon the throne be wrong;
yet that scaffold sways the future,
and behind the dim unknown,
standeth God within the shadow,
keeping watch above his own.
Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide, in the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side; some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight, and the choice goes by forever, 'twixt that darkness and that light.One salient point of this hymn is the burden that it places, not only upon the individual man, but upon nations as well to obey God and to honor His Law. If decisions to obey God are made in the hearts of the people of a nation, that nation will also follow in like obedience to that Law. If we find that our beloved nation today has gone from following God to following after the world, it is because our ministers and churches have failed to call her citizens to repentance. When we begin to see national laws that forbid sin to be repealed, and those laws converted to the side of evil, then we shall know the extreme danger of our national condition. There is only one great decision – to follow God! All others are subordinate to that one immutable principle and subsist in the degree of faith with which we follow. As long as life continues, that choice remains operative, but when the curtain of life descends, our condition as either saint or sinner is fixed. There is no ambiguity about which is right, Heaven or Hell, for one is marked by abject darkness, and the other by brilliant light.
Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust, ere her cause bring fame and profit, and 'tis prosperous to be just; then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside, till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.We enjoy an extraordinary measure of liberty in America, but that liberty was not cheaply purchased. It came at the cost of the blood and treasure of our beloved Founding Fathers who gave us a nation ‘conceived in liberty’ and which recognized that all legitimate laws descend from God. This is the ‘wretched crust of truth’ which must be purchased at great cost ere the rewards become abundant. The man of the world will not stand for right and truth. He will shrink from any responsibility that places his personal safety in danger. The man of the world is, quite frankly, a coward. He knows no obligation to God or his fellow man, so he considers his own hide of far greater worth on earth than it shall be in Hell. Shakespeare says, in Julius Caesar, A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.
Once valiant men have purchased liberty at the cost of blood and treasures, the multitudes then may meekly follow for a while until they discover that they may vote themselves rewards from the public treasury. Then greed supersedes their claim to faith and righteousness. Stand with the Lord, and Liberty is assured. He is that Spirit of Liberty. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (II Cor 3:17)
By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, thy bleeding feet we track, toiling up new Calvaries ever with the cross that turns not back; new occasions teach new duties, ancient values test our youth; they must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.Liberty is a grant of God and not of governments. Righteous government can only recognize that Sovereignty, and not impede the will of God for their citizens. How many pulpit-dandies, or TV evangelist, can you count that would go to the burning fires that the bodies of Cranmer, Hus, Ridley, and Latimer fueled in defense of a single issue of biblical truth? Not many, for most are in the business of extinguishing that truth in every manner imaginable. Our beloved Lord Jesus Christ bore a cross that was not truly His, suffered shame and humiliation that was ours, and died a horrible death that we should have died by right of law. He never wavered in His fervor to perform the full measure of sacrifice that was essential for our salvation. Did He not tell us to take up our crosses daily and follow Him?Have we done so? Have we suffered an iota for righteousness and faith? If not, it is time for serious introspection. The pursuit of truth and righteousness is no bed of red roses, but that Via Dolorosa (Way of Suffering) upon which Christ trod two thousand years ago. It is a never ending road as long as earth and shadow remain. The light lit by the martyrs has grown to a bright and burning beacon for our day. Do we see that Light, or do we avert our eyes to the world-side of darkness?
Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong; though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong; yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown, standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.Are the people of the nation joyful when the wicked (like unto their own hearts) rule? No. Even the wicked mourn wicked rule and suffer. When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. (Prov 29:2)When the wicked rule, even the wicked mourn for justice. Classical art, music, and literature are called classical because they possess an enduring nature of beauty and meaning. True art extols truth and virtue, as well as imitates the great beauty of God’s Creation. If any form of art distorts that beauty, it is not art, but mere obscenity. It must always be a comfort to the elect of God that God sees their suffering in faith, but He also sees their valor and steadfastness in the face of threatening and seemingly insurmountable challenges. He stands at the far edge of the Battle Line and watches the valiant and courageous Christian push on to the great objective set before him by the Captain of His soul. He also sees the flagging and fearful souls who shrink from the line of battle and fall into headlong retreat back to the unprofitable sanctuary of the world.
America has turned her back on God. Yes, there remain SOME faithful, but their numbers have shrunk fantastically from those of four generations ago. It is never too late to make a decision to follow God. Do we have the intestinal fortitude to do so – as men and women, as boys and girls, as a Church, and as a nation? There is a simple remedy for the proliferation of sins and misery in America – turn back to the God of our fathers. If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (II Chronicles7:14)America must ask herself a question – a very OLD question: And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.(Joshua 24:15)
Dear Christian and American: can you hear that charge of Joshua echoing down the centuries and millennia to our hearts. Whom will you and YOUR house serve?
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
Sunday, May 26, 2019
The Collect for The Fifth Sunday after Easter,
commonly called Rogation Sunday.
LORD, from whom all good things do come; Grant to us thy humble servants, that by thy holy inspiration we may think those things that are good, and by thy merciful guiding may perform the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
NDin that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. 25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. 26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: 27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. 28 I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God. 31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? 32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:23-33)
The Collect for today makes reference to the people of God as humble servants. We should be so, and especially those who wear the color of clergymen. The ministers of God are intended to be servants, not potentates. The Holy Inspiration mentioned is acquired by diligent and spiritual study of the Word in allowing the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and ears to the beauty of Holiness. The Holy Spirit, not the believer, leads into light and truth by means of the Word rightly received.
Language itself is an essential tool in learning and communications. Many today advocate to a downgrade in biblical literacy to the level of the street. But Christ teaches an aspiration to higher understanding and wisdom than common street language can afford. He spoke in parables and proverbs as a beginning point to 1) separate the vulgar goats from the eager lambs; and 2) to teach in similitudes and allegories those great heavenly truths that His hearers could not understand without deep thought and further learning. But He gave them a starting place through the use of parables and proverbs. As a good Teacher, Jesus taught from the known to the unknown – not from the unknown to the unknown as many modern theologians attempt to do out of pride and arrogance. He spoke in terms the people could understand in the simple ways that would lead to profound understandings as they grew in knowledge and truth. But Christ never lowered the holiness of his language. He used terms of respect and high regard for all whom He addressed. He never irreverently referred to His Father as ‘Dad’ or the Holy Ghost as ‘that helpful fellow.’ He used classical language in all of His speaking. We use such language on legal documents, why not when addressing the Supreme Law-Giver?
In the 23rdand 24thverses of our text today, Christ makes reference to a certain day. Which day is it? An ambassador makes treaties and agreements in the name of the sending authority. Christ came and fulfilled all the terms of our redemption. He completed that work on the cross at Calvary and, three days later, by rising from the Tomb. He is our Justifier. He is our Redeemer. He is our Savior. He is our Advocate. When Christ was physically present with the disciples, they felt free to ask of Him anything. Christ prayed to the Father for our benefit; but in His glorious ascension, we may approach the Father directly in petitioning for our needs. However, we must approach God the Father with a Letter of Introduction. That letter is Christ. Whatsoever we ask of the Father, we ask in the name of the One who has qualified us to ask.
Let me ask you, what does the following mean from Verse 23: Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you? If we desire something out of our lust or greed, is God constrained to great that prayer? Contrary to the charismatic religions, God is NOT at all going to grant those petitions. What Christ means by “ask in my name.” That means with my authority, with my concurring will, and in the same Gospel intent I have taught you. We will not ask for anything that does not comport with what God wills for us if we have taken on that Mind of Christ to think and to act. In the verses immediately preceding the Gospel text today, the disciples are desirous to have some mystery of Christ revealed, and that is something that Christ is always pleased to grant – that we KNOW Him better, and His will.
King David perfectly understood those things of God that are waiting in abundance for our sincere prayers of faith. “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” A little lamb may have no knowledge that he needs protection from the ravishing wolves of the mountain, but the Shepherd knows and provides that want. Want is a word that means ‘necessity!’ Whatever it is that we need to preserve our lives – physical and spiritual – day by day, the Good Shepherd supplies. We do not know, like the little lamb, all that we need, or all that may be harmful to us. But the Shepherd knows, indeed. David also said: “…. they that seek the Lor dshall not want any good thing.(Psalm 34:10)We shall LACK nothing that is a “good thing”. If we receive, not, perhaps it is because we ask amiss or out of a heart that regards iniquity. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: (Psalm 66:18) Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume itupon your lusts.(James 4:3)Is our God a captive audience for our every desire? Is not prayer two-way communication? When we pray, are we careful to examine our hearts for the response God whispers? Is it OUR will for which we pray, or is it HIS will for which we pray?
Remember that Christ has opened the Holies of Holies up to us so that we may approach God directly without an intermediary other than that Holy and Sacrificed Son of God – Jesus Christ. At His death, was the Temple Veil not torn from TOP to BOTTOM – not bottom to top? Only God could make the invitation, and He did so symbolically by the tear in the Temple Veil.
When God gave us the Ten Commandments, we were not ready for the implementing Rule of Love that we must develop to understand those Ten Commandments. He allowed us to fumble and stagger under our futile attempt to be righteous under the Law. Once we had learned that we were powerless to gain heaven by our own righteous works, Christ came in the fullness of time to teach us that without LOVE, there could be no true obedience to God. We must Love God with our whole being, and our neighbors as ourselves. This was the implementing Rule of Love that will enable us to keep the Commandments – all of them – of God. Love is the OBJECT, the Commandments the EVIDENCE of that LOVE. “….love covereth all sins. (Prov 10:12)This is no invitation to hedonism, but we cannot obey the Commandments of God without those two implementing Commandments of Love for God and Love for our neighbor. No one will violate the Law of God if He keeps the First Law of obedience in Love of God, and the second in Love of neighbor. Christ came speaking in parables and proverbs as a fundamental approach to our ignorance of the spiritual law that attends the legal law. Now, He speaks clearly to our hearts once we have passed the barrier of ignorance to love. 25 These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs: but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father. The Ascension of Christ into the glory of Heaven was not a matter of despair to us, but a benefit and blessing. Rather than always speaking to us in human terms, He now speaks in spiritual and heavenly terms through the agency of His Holy Ghost – our Comforter. Instead of speaking in our ears, He now speaks in our hearts. They physical evidence of His death, Resurrection, and Ascension opened the audible channels of our hearts to hear truths that cannot be uttered in simple language. The end-proofs of His Divinity in rising and ascending are a stamp of authenticity to all else that He uttered while with us in the Body.
26 At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: 27 For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.All that we pray should be in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our Ark and Advocate. He is right beside the Father and has His undivided attention. He constantly intercedes for us when we offer our Godly prayers. And those Godly prayers receive the same respect and consideration of God as if Jesus had asked it of Him. How can this be? Because God loves you in the same way He loves His only Begotten Son. If we love Jesus and claim that redemption He has made available to us, God the Father views us as His own Son because it is the covering Blood of His son that He beholds when He looks upon us.
We are strong in words and often, unfortunately, weak in courage and faith. One who believes too quickly may also be disillusioned too suddenly. The disciples claim to believe all that Jesus has said and are steadfastly convinced of who He is. However, the following events of the arrest, trial and crucifixion of Christ disarms their courage and results in their fleeing from Christ in terror. How fickle is the heart of man. Those same ones who threw down palm branches shouting Hosanna just a couple of days earlier would be gathered on the paddock outside Pilate’s judgment hall shouting ‘Crucify Him. His blood be upon us and our children!” How chilling!
Knowing the hearts of His disciples, Jesus knew precisely the hearts of those disciples then, just as He knows your heart today. 29 His disciples said unto him, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. 30 Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth from God.You took a vow at your Confirmation, perhaps your Baptism and your Wedding of certain things. How tenaciously have you kept those bold expressions of fidelity and faith? We weaken over time in the face of threat, dangers, and temptations. It is for this reason that we need to consume our Daily Bread from Heaven in god’s Word. When the soldiers marched into the Garden at Gethsemane to arrest Christ, when hundreds or thousands were gathered without the Hall of Pontius Pilate screaming for His death, when they saw the horror of the crucifixion – it was then that their hearts grew fearful and faithless. But those same disciples showed no such fear in the course of their lives AFTER the Resurrection and Ascension. They now had unchallengeable evidence of who Christ was, and their faith was firm even unto death. Peter denied Christ once he was physically separated from His Person. But once Peter had been blessed with the constant Spiritual Presence of Christ with the benefits of the Holy Ghost, he never again wavered. Do you have that assurance and courage?
Christ knew their weakness, and did not condemn them for it. He knew what they would later do, and how they would die for His Gospel. 31 Jesus answered them, Do ye now believe? 32 Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.This prophecy was fulfilled within hours of its being spoken. But when one is left alone by all men, the Presence of God is of far greater worth than all the world. When you may be the ONLY one who stands upon the promises of God – when all others deny the Word – you will be standing on the Immovable Rock with God. When the dust settles, you will still be standing there while the world vanishes into the mist of doubt.
Why did Jesus speak so frankly of their coming failure? He did so to bolster their faith, and OURS. When we have been clearly told of all that may befall us in this life for our testimony of Jesus, we will be armed to withstand the withering gales of wickedness and deceit. Jesus ALWAYS knows more and better than we can know. He KNEW the coming betrayal and passion. He KNEW the burial and Resurrection. So, He abides their ignorance until their faith is made invincible in the facts of His Resurrection and Ascension.
In spite of the heartaches and troubles the world may send your way, we have One who has conquered every power of the world and furled their flags. He tells us in prophecy of all troubles that may lie ahead. This is to bolster our faith when the moment comes and recall that Christ went before and won the victory for us. 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.Unlike those who claim that Christians will be taken out before the hard times roll, Christ teaches us otherwise. We can even see the pitiful and ungodly plight of Christians in china, in North Korea, in Vietnam, Pakistan, Iran, etc. Christ forearms us by forewarning us: 17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. 20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. (Matt 10:17-20) Did you believe these times were limited to that of the Apostolic Age? Are these things not happening now in many parts of the world, and there is an odor of the same beginning to arise in our own Beloved Land. BEWARE!