Friday, August 30, 2019
In earlier devotions, I have often mentioned the maiden, Hagar, and the calamities wrought by her mistress, Sarai (later, Sarah), in trying to satisfy the letter of God’s Counsel in providing a seed for Abram (later, Abraham). God is perfectly capable of fulfilling His every promise without any support whatsoever from His created beings. The promise of God to Abraham was to be miraculously fulfilled as a matter of course in satisfying God’s intentions of the greater Seed of Abraham to come in the Lord Jesus Christ. The son of Hagar did not meet that standard of the seed which God had promised – Ishmael having being born out of the benefits of marriage. God intended the son of Abraham to be born of the wife whom He had given Abraham – Sarah! Even if God delays in granting His promises, we must wait upon the Lord’s time for its fruition. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. (Psalm 37:7)
Sarah waited for a time, but not long enough. When she reached the age of child-bearing impossibility, she surrendered to a lapse in faith and rigged the outcome according to the will of the flesh and not the will of God. I believe we all have committed the same mistake in some way or other in life.
Isaac came by miraculous intervention to a woman of advanced age who was well beyond the age for bearing children. He came by miracle (as was the virgin birth of Christ). He was offered by his father to be sacrificed on the same Mt. Moriah upon which our Lord was sacrificed. He bore the wood for his own sacrifice, as did our Lord, up the mountain to be offered up. Before ascending the slopes of Mt. Moriah, Isaac inquired of his father: And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
If you miss the depth of meaning of Abraham’s response, you will miss the beauty and meaning of the entire event.Abraham, perhaps unwittingly, revealed that God would provide HIMSELF as the lamb for the offering. In other words, God would never ask man to do the impossible in offering up his own only begotten son as a sacrifice for sin. So, when Abraham drew back the knife to sacrifice Isaac, his hand was stopped by the Angel of the Lord and Abraham turned and saw a ram whose head was caught in the thorns of a bush for the sacrifice. Perhaps these thorns were the same type that pierced the head of our dear Savior at His own sacrifice at Mt. Calvary (Moriah). God is the Sovereign of His own work of salvation for man. Man can have no role in it for the thoughts of the hearts of men is continually wicked without the moderating and endearing Spirit of Love with which his heart is imbued at the moment of salvation. And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5) Such a heart is incapable of making righteous decisions without the supernatural drawing of the Holy Spirit. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23) (see also Romans 3:10 & 6:23).
Surely, the life of the Christian must be marked by the evidence of good works emanating from a divine love that is not his own. The love we bear in our hearts has a divine source. All love descends from God as the morning dew to the rose petal. We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
It should be remembered that there remains one divine attribute that covers ALL sin. What is that attribute? It is the immense love of God that compelled Him to send His own Only Begotten Son to die on the cross as a covering for our sins. Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. (Proverbs 10:12) Please observe the immense depth of meaning of this last text. How could love cover all sin? The simplicity of the statement shrouds the depth of meaning which is profound.
In explaining the matter of complete obedience to God with my sister yesterday, she wanted to know how we could keep, inviolate, all of the Commandments of God. In fact, Christ came because man cannot be perfect as was Christ. But we can, in a spiritual sense, keep all of God’s Ten Commandments through the utility of LOVE. My sister has two little dogs with which she is consumed with love. If she did not love these dogs, she may not sacrifice to feed and shelter them. She will never lift her hand to commit harm or injury to either of them. She obeys the divine law of compassion and kindness in caring for these two little gifts of God. She does so because her heart is motivated by the love she has for the two little creatures.
When the love of God is spread abroad in our hearts, we must necessarily love others – and even the creatures God has made. We cannot love God without loving our fellow man. It is the element of love that empowers us to keep the law of God in our hearts and in our actions. There are two views of the Law of God. The first is that we must keep the Law of God implicitly without fail. If we could have done this, our Lord would not have suffered on the cross for us. The second view is that the Law of God has been done away and no longer bears upon the responsibility of Christians to obey (antinomianism). There is great error in the latter, and some usual misunderstanding of the former. God’s Law has in no sense been annulled. It is just as constraining as the day it was thundered from atop Mt. Sinai. But the manner in which we view our means of obedience to the Commandments has definitely changed.
If you are familiar with the Reformed worship of the traditional Anglican Prayer Book, you will be well aware of the term, Summary of the Law, proclaimed at the beginning of each observance of the Holy Communion (or Lord’s Supper). What is the summary of the Law, and does it ameliorate the binding nature of the Ten Commandments? Here is the summary of the Law as given in the Old Testament as well as by Christ Himself: 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 lovethy neighbour as thyself.On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)I have heard well-meaning ministers misinterpret this to mean that the Ten Commandments are no longer binding. This is a fatal mistake. This Summary of the Law reinforces the obligation to keep the Commandments and even makes them more stringent, but in a different way. What is the catalyst that enables the Christian to keep the Law of God? The summary clearly establishes the element of LOVE as that catalyst. What one truly loves, one cannot hurt or harm. The Ten Commandments hang upon the love that enables us to keep BOTH tables of the Law.
In the day our Lord walked upon this earth, no one knew the Law better than the Scribes and Pharisees; and no one was more lost to God than these men. They kept careful record of their own behavior and that of others with a stone-cold and impersonal view of the Commandments of God. They lacked the very element necessary to enable them to keep those Commandments (Love). What was the difference in the Law of Moses and that which Christ proclaimed?
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3:3)when the Law of God is written with the red ink of love on the soft sinews and in the deep chambers of our hearts, they are no longer a foreboding list of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’t’s’ – they are made desirable for us to obey out of the love we bear for their Author. The Tables of Stone of the Pharisees are done away!
Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar (helenized for Hagar). For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free. (Galatians 4:21-31)
Can you see how Sarah’s approach, and that of the Pharisees, to satisfy God’s demands defers from that of free Jerusalem which above? Man-enforced obedience to God always results in sorrow and bondage. When we surrender our supposed ‘free wills’ (or self-wills) to God, and take into our hearts His will for us, then only are we free indeed!
Thursday, August 29, 2019
Hagar flees Sarai:
AND the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. 8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. 9 And the angel of the LORDsaid unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. 10 And the angel of the LORDsaid unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. 11 And the angel of the LORDsaid unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. 12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. 13 And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? 14 Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. 7 And the angel of the LORD found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur. 8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai. 9 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. 10 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. 11 And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the LORD hath heard thy affliction. 12 And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. 13 And she called the name of the LORD that spake unto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him that seeth me? 14 Wherefore the well was called Beerlahairoi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered. (Genesis 16:7-14)
God is referred to by many names in Holy Scripture, not because He acts with different motives, but because He is a God of all Power and Resources.
1. God, or Elohim
2. Lord, or Jehovah
3. God Almighty, or El Shaddai
4. Most High God, or El Elyon
5. Lord, or Adonai
6. Everlasting God, or El Olam
7. Lord of Hosts, or Jehovah Sabaoth, and many others.
But in every instance, He is the same unchangeable God that He has been from Eternity Past. The various names we ascribe to God merely define a particular characteristic that is manifested in His dealings with man.
Hagar was a young Egyptian slave to whom Pharaoh likely gave Abraham as a token of trust and fidelity. She may have been of simple and natural beauty. But Hagar was wrongly used by her mistress, Sarai, to help God keep His promise of a seed to Abram. In so doing, Sarai’s misguided actions serve as a perfect example of what great calamity can arise when mankind attempts to trespass on the work and will of the Lord. We have an abundant example of this today in man’s attempt to control; populations through the sinful means of abortion of innocent babies and the abomination of homosexual marriage. In some countries, such as south Korea, this has resulted in a critical imbalance between male and female children – male children being preferred in Asia to female, and wrongfully so. The young men are desperate to find wives among a small female population.
As Sarai grew old in age, the dream of childbirth faded as a distant candle in the forest window. But the Lord had said to Abram: Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. (Genesis 15:5) Unable to imagine the power of the Lord to give her, miraculously, a child of old age, Sarai undertook to do God’s work in His stead. She gave Abram her innocent attendant, Hagar, by whom she intended the promise of God to be fulfilled in giving him a son. Abram accepted without argument. In actuality, there was only one innocent party among the three in this sordid deal – and that was the maiden, Hagar.
When Hagar had conceived, she bore resentment to Sarai, and Sarai treated the maiden harshly. Hagar ran away into the Wilderness of Shur. Not by happenstance, the Angel of the Lord found Hagar there by a fountain of water. He comforted Hagar and confirmed that she would, indeed, have a son whose name would be called Ishmael (God who hears).
Hagar bore Abram a son and called His name Ishmael according to the counsel of God. But Ishmael was not accounted the heir and only begotten son of Abram because he came by way of the will of man and not of God. God gave us a dire prophecy of Ishmael: And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.This prophecy has been fulfilled before our very eyes. Ishmael is the father of the Arab nations who band together in tight proximity in the Middle East, and they wage war constantly – if not against a foreign foe, than against each other. God counselled Hagar to return to her mistress which she did. She called the name of the place where the Angel of the Lord had found her, Beerlahairoi – ‘Fountain of the God who Sees Me.’ And that is yet another characteristic of our Lord. He is the One who sees us in every venue of life – in troubled, as well as pleasant, times. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. (Psalm 34:15)
Our Lord is the God who sees us always. Neither cloud nor darkness can hide us from His sight. 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)It is both a comfort and a cause for careful consideration to know that the eyes of the Lord are forever fixed upon us – no danger comes to His elect without His knowledge, but, as well, no sin goes unnoticed in His sight. For the eyes of the LORDrun to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings. (Proverbs 5:21)
In conclusion, allow me to illustrate a very hurtful moment when the eyes of the Lord beheld one whom the Lord held dear to His heart. On the night of our Lord’s betrayal, we read of this incident outside the court of the high priest:Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him. And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean. And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:54-62)
Imagine with me the shame, hurt, and heart-wrenching misery Peter felt when he looks into the eyes of His Lord at the very moment of his denial of Him. Peter wept for three days and three nights. But even from the Tomb, our Lord was aware of Peter’s pain and assuaged it through the message the Angel of the Lord gave to the disciples at the Garden Tomb: And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. (Mark 16:5-7) I hope the amazing beauty of this last message of the angel did not escape your notice. Peter having suffered in bitter remorse for three days would now be comforted by this very message. It was only Peter who was named specifically as a comfort to Peter after days of mourning. Our Lord is full of mercy and love. He is the God who sees us – BEERLAHAIROI!
Wednesday, August 28, 2019
OEunto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. 12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they arewithout water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. (Jude 1:11-13)
When I wrote a devotion on this subject a few years back, the condition of the Church was becoming a shamble. I need not tell the faithful believer today that the Church has reached the perfect definition of the word ‘shamble.’ Churches have today, without excuse as in a few years back, completely cast the admonition of Holy Scripture aside and gone into the deep waters of wickedness and abhorrent sin. No longer is the Water of Life offered in sermons across American and, instead, the poisoned waters of the Rivers of Babylon.
Jude gives us a serious look at the lackluster Christian and deceiving prophets of our own day in these few verses. There are subtle references to a congregational form of democracy against which Moses stood in the gain-saying of Korah. I believe it is for this reason that the Church, from the first century, has observed an Episcopal form of government and not a congregational form. God’s will is not decided by a majority vote. Of course, we see that the Episcopal form of church government is itself capable of great error and wickedness if the head is rotten – i.e. the Episcopal Church USA. Ministers who preach for reward, as did the wicked Balaam, are categorized with Korah and Cain – I certainly would not want to find myself in that company! And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.(Ex 16:2)When the murmuring begins in the congregation, there will always be found usurpers standing by the wayside ready to take the congregation away from God for their own profit. Korah is the perfect type of those deceitful ministers who await every expression of dissatisfaction of the people to take them away from the truth.
Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye taketoo much upon you, seeing all the congregation areholy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD? And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face: And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to morrow the LORD will shew who arehis, and who isholy; and will cause himto come near unto him: even himwhom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.(Num 16:1-5)It is always possible to find some souls in the congregation that do not desire to hear truth preached. As they complain, the men such as Korah is, step into the void to work mischief. These are the Core’s of today and the spots in the feasts of the Church. The problem is not small, but an accelerating one today. Look around at the churches! They have turned to the filth and error of the world over the everlasting truth and hope of God!
Such deceitful men, and their followers, are as the clouds that build in late afternoon on the desert horizon – too late to produce droplets of rain, and only offering a false hope of it. They are blown about by every conceivable wind of doctrine. Paul describes it this way: That we henceforthbe no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, andcunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive. (Eph 4:14)Is doctrine important? Yes, certainly, doctrine is important, but it is the steadfast and immovable doctrine revealed in God’s Word that is important and not those alternating and paltry doctrines of men. The fruit of any doctrinal tree that is not well-watered by the Word of God will wither and perish.
Here we see a beautifully illustrative verse: Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. The waves of the sea rage and foam at the tidal limits, but their bluster will not grant them a greater boundary for their seas. God has already set the limits at Eden. One of the most eloquent of artful word pictures, to me, is that which the Lord calls, Wandering Stars.What, pray tell, are Wandering Stars?
The Wandering Stars to which Jude refers are not unlike the meteor, or even the comet. The meteor is defined by Mr. Webster’s dictionary as the luminous phenomenon observed when a meteoroid is heated by its entry into the earth’s atmosphere: also called FALLING STAR. A comet, on the other hand is a conglomeration of gases and dust particles that produce a long tail that points AWAY from the sun as it passes near it. Both of these objects are wandering stars. Surely the blustery gases of the false prophet point away from the Sun of Righteousness!
The meteor has no fixed place or orbit in the heavens. It wanders from one end of the galaxies to the other. It generates no light for it has no fuel by which light may be produced. Its only light comes as the friction of atmospheric layers begin to heat it up to a glow as it falls from the heavens. Its only destiny is to perish in utter darkness as it either is consumed in its own flames, or is buried in the surface of the earth or some other planet. Too many pulpit 90-day wonders fit the description of these ‘wandering stars.’ They burn brightly for a moment and disintegrate in the heat of God’s judgment taking many deceived souls with them.
How many ministers have we read about, and perhaps even know, who fit perfectly that description in a spiritual sense? They have no fixed position on anything for they are ‘crowd pleasers’ as was Korah. They do not remain in the orbit of God’s Word, but are mavericks, wandering off into the darkness without a compass or a chart. They have their end in scandals revealed for all the world to see as they fall in flames from their pedestals. Their great grandfather, Lucifer, also was a Falling Star. He was cast out of heaven and drew a quarter of all the Angels of God with him. 1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: 2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered. 3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. 4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.(Rev 12:1-4)
The Great Red Dragon (Lucifer, or Satan) was cast out of Heaven with no place reserved but the darkness of the earth which he coveted. And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Rev 12:7-9)I believe this gives the old practice of wishing upon a star a new name. I would far prefer to hope upon the Bright and Morning Star that is so completely dependable in its generations than to wish upon a falling star whose end is flames and darkness.
So, the Wandering Stars of Jude are those ‘professing’ Christians who will believe anything and stand for nothing. They are the false ministers who have no light and whose preaching is darkness. But Christ has given us an Anchor of the Soul. That by two immutable things, in which it wasimpossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hopewe have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, evenJesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (Heb 6:18-20)We are not to drift aimlessly from one end of heaven to another. We are held in orbit by that Strong Anchor of the Soul that is Christ Jesus and His Word. That Great Anchor, and the Chain of the Holy Ghost, will never let loose or give way. The Anchor holds mightily, and the Chain of the Holy Ghost prevents drift out of the place of safety. Is your soul equipped with that Anchor, or are you a Wandering Star?
Tuesday, August 27, 2019
ORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? 2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. 3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. 4 In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. 5 He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. (Psalm 15:1-5)
I am very happy to re-discover this gracious old hymn – it is one I heard often on WBLJ Radio, a local public radio station in my hometown after the end of World War II. In those days, every local radio station would seem better than Christian radio today for they played the old classic hymns and no light and fluffy child’s music masquerading as Christian. They also had at least one hour of preaching from different pastors, but always it was from the King James Bible. Shakespeare claimed, All the world's a stage,And all the men and women merely players;They have their exits and their entrances,And one man in his time plays many parts. This is true, however, the parts are not lightly and randomly played – they are directed from a Sovereign on high who has written the play and who will call the curtain at last. Even in our years of wild abandon, the Lord looks on and directs us in the path He will have us go. What a joy and comfort for the elect to know and believe!
The lyrics of this hymn are, unfortunately, by the old Oxford Movement proponent, John Keble. He had a spiritual streak in his poetry that belied his Roman-leaning tendencies. We owe the peacock-like vestments of the high church with their pointy hats to John Keble. But he struck a gold vein in the writing of this hymn. Keble completed the lyrics on November 25, 1820. The tune is, HURSLEY, named after the home village of Keble, though there are varying claims on the origin of the tune. The hymn was even adapted for use by the French Protestant Huegenots.
Sun of my Soul, Thou Savior Dear
SUN of my soul, Thou ‘Savior dear,
It is not night if Thou be near;
0 may no earth - born cloud arise
To hide Thee from Thy servant' s eyes.
When the soft dews of kindly sleep
My wearied eyelids gently Steep,
Be my last thought how sweet to rest
Forever on my SAVIOUR’ S breast.
Abide with me from morn till eve,
For without Thee l cannot live;
Abide with me when night is nigh,
For without Thee I dare not die
If some poor wandering child Of Thine
Have spurned to-day the voice divine,
Now, LORD, the gracious work begin;
Let him no more lie down in sin.
Watch by the sick enrich the poor
With blessings from thy boundless store
Be every mourner' s sleep to- night,
Like infant' s Slumbers, pure and light.
Come near and bless us when we wake,
Ere through the world our way we take
Till in the Ocean of Thy love
We lose ourselves in Heaven above. Amen
SUN of my soul, Thou ‘Savior dear, It is not night if Thou be near; 0 may no earth- born cloud ariseTo hide Thee from Thy servant' s eyes.As we grow older, we look upon the sure promises of God with ever increasing regularity. As one of my youthful students said, The elderly read the Bible more often because they are cramming for the FINALS. There is some truth to that. In youthful years, we may believe that we shall live forever, but the trials of time and age prove us wrong as we feel the increasing physical limitations imposed by years of careless living. If ‘life’s evening sun is sinking low’, it is only the sign of a more glorious Sunrise in our Lord. He is our Sun of Righteousness that shall arise for us with healing in His wings. (Malachi 4:2)To be sure, our Lord is the brightest and nearest Star in our Heaven. He is the Day Star to lighten our path and brighten our soul. We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (2 Peter 1:19)
When the soft dews of kindly sleep My wearied eyelids gently Steep, Be my last thought how sweet to rest Forever on my SAVIOUR’ S breast. It is difficult, especially for the young and healthy, to imagine a time when we shall close our eyelids on this earth forever. There will come a day when we arise from our beds for the last time in morning and enter into the eternal rest of the righteous at evening. As we draw closer to that event, our prayers may be that we have a smooth and happy passage. The Christian has nothing to doubt or fear about this final sleep in the bosom of our Lord. What better care could we seek – far better than any we sought in our troubled lives. We shall arise in joy even if we lie down in sorrow: We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)
Abide with me from morn till eve, For without Thee l cannot live; Abide with me when night is nigh,For without Thee I dare not die. Christ is LIFE. Death cannot cohabitate with life in Christ. He has conquered death once-and-for-all for His people. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. (Luke 24:29)Well, Christ cannot be constrained – He knew that He would enter into the home of the two men long before they ventured out on the Road to Damascus. I believe every faithful Christian will rest in the sure hope of his resurrection in Christ at the moment death approaches, and he will not fear.
If some poor wandering child Of Thine Have spurned to-day the voice divine, Now, LORD, the gracious work begin; Let him no more lie down in sin. If we are not to allow the sun to set on our anger, even more so, we should not allow the same on our sins. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: (Ephesians 4:26)Yes, it is possible to be angry with righteous indignation, but not falsely so. Going through the night with unrequited anger is harmful both to its object as well as to its owner.
Watch by the sick enrich the poor With blessings from thy boundless store Be every mourner' s sleep to- night, Like infant' s Slumbers, pure and light.The Christian is the emissary of Christ to the poor, the halt, the sick, the dying. We are not to pass by any in need and leave them to perish by the Road to Jericho. Let those who mourn turn their hope and trust to the Lord and He is certain to give comfort in waking and in sleeping.
Come near and bless us when we wake, Ere through the world our way we take Till in the Ocean of Thy love We lose ourselves in Heaven above. Amen The Lord need not come near us when we wake for He never left our side while we were sleeping. He is ever present. The Lord blesses according to our response to His gift of Love. Since it is His love that first generated the little love we return, we must remember always to echo that love back to its source in Christ. Our morning and evening prayers generate blessings untold throughout the day. I love the old hymn, The Love of God, from which comes the precious lines,
Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made. Were every stalk on earth a quill And every man a scribe by trade, To write the love of God above. Would drain the ocean dry Nor could the scroll contain the whole. Though stretched from sky to sky.
Sunday, August 25, 2019
Sermon Notes - Tenth Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 25 August 2019, Anno Domini
The Tenth Sunday after Trinity.
ET thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants; and, that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen.
“…..and I dwell in the House of the Lord Forever” Psalm 23:6b
A New Kind of King
NDwhen He was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; 38. Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in thehighest. 39. And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto Him. Master, rebuke Thy disciples. 40. And He answered and said unto them, I tell you(Luke 19:37-48)
This trip to Jerusalem is the last in the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, but, in spite of His knowing of His coming Crucifixion, His will is steadfast and unflinching. He “went on before His disciples.”A good leader always leads his men and does not follow in the safety of the rear echelon.
Luke 9:51 says, “And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem.”
This is a rare form of courage that is beyond our understanding. In Luke’s account of this event, the emphasis is upon the Royalty and Kingship of Christ
(I) The narrative brings into prominence Christ’s part in originating the triumphal entry (vs. 30-34).
He sent for the colt with the obvious intention of stimulating the people to just such a demonstration as followed. Notice the Lord’s own preparation and command of the events to follow: (Luke 19:30-36)
30 Saying, Go ye into the village over against you; in the which at your entering ye shall find a colt tied, whereon yet never man sat: loose him, and bring him hither. 31 And if any man ask you, Why do ye loose him? thus shall ye say unto him, Because the Lord hath need of him.32 And they that were sent went their way, and found even as he had said unto them. 33 And as they were loosing the colt, the owners thereof said unto them, Why loose ye the colt? 34 And they said, The Lord hath need of him. 35 And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. 36 And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way
The nature of His dominion is as plainly taught by the humble pomp as is its reality.
A pauper King, who makes His public entrance into His city mounted on a borrowed ass, with His followers’ clothes for a saddle, attended by a shouting crowd of poor peasants, who for weapons orbanners had but the branches plucked from other people’s trees, was a new kind of king.
We do not need Matthew’s quotation of the prophet’s vision of the meek King coming to Zion on an ass, to understand the contrast of this kingdom with such a dominion as that of Rome, or of such princes as the Herod’s.
We see at the beginning of our text how the disciples and all the people began to praise Christ and welcome Him as King.
We witness a contrast here in the crowds of people: The Disciples proclaiming Him to be King, and the background filled with hostile spies.
This was unlike any of his actions before. He had previously downplayed his role as King of Kings, but now knows the time is near to proclaim it out of the mouths of babes and commoners.
(II) Look at this humble procession:
We have the humble procession with the shouting disciples and thebackground of hostile spies. The disciples eagerly caught at the meaning of bringing the colt, and threw themselves with alacrity into what seemed to them preparation for the public assertion of royalty, for which they had long been impatient.
Luke tells us they lifted Jesus on to the seat which they hurriedly prepared, while some spread their garments in the way — the usual homage to a king:
How different the vision of the future in their minds and His! Theydreamed of a throne;
He knew it was a Cross. Round the southern shoulder of Olivet they came, and, as the long line of the Temple walls, glittering in the sunshine across the valley, burst on the view, and their approach couldbe seen from the city, they broke into loud acclamations, summoning, as it were, Jerusalem to welcome its King.
Let’s examine verse 39: And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto Him. Master, rebuke Thy disciples.
The Pharisees were not there to add anything to the celebration. They were there to undermine Christ. They still do so! The modern pulpits are filled with men who are willing to allow Christ to be mentioned, only, “please do not make so very much of Him.” They are always with us to deter us and prevent our full blossoming of Faith.
Does the Gospel depend, in any respect, on the effort of mere men? Not at all. Whatsoever the Lord decrees, it shall come to pass.
If no man speaks the Word of Truth, then the very Stones will cry out!
41. And when He was come near, He beheld the city, and wept over it,
Why did Christ weep over Jerusalem?
· He saw the future of that city. 40 years later.
· He saw the massed Roman Armies under Titus coming to encircle and to suffocate the City,
· He saw trenches dug about its perimeter and battlements erected against its walls.
· He saw the starving children within her sieged walls, and the inhabitants eating their young for famine…..and ….He wept!
At the moment of His triumphal entry, we see Him plunged into utter sorrow for the people of Jerusalem.
That sorrow is a sign of His real manhood, but it is also a part of His revelation of the very heart of God. - The form is human, the substance divine.
The man weeps because God pities. Christ’s sorrow does not hinder His judgments. The woes which wring His heart will nevertheless be inflicted by Him. Judgment is His ‘strange work,’ alien from His desires; but it is His work.
The eyes which are as a flame of fire are filled with tears, but their glance burns up the evil.
Note the yearning in the unfinished sentence, ‘If thou hadst known.’ Note the decisive closing of the time of repentance. Note the minute prophetic details of the siege, which, if ever they were spoken, are a distinct proof of His all-seeing eye. And from all let us fix in our hearts the conviction of the pity of the judge, and of the judgment by the pitying Christ.
45. And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; 46. Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.
I want each of you to imagine that this little church decided to abrogate our policy of not conducting fund-raising enterprises.
· Suppose we held a bake sale, or yard sale here in the yard of our church.
· Suppose many people were coming to buy our merchandise and we were looking at the hope of building a new edifice. “Except the Lord buildeth the house, they labor in vain that buildeth it.”
· Suppose a good man of the community comes without warrant or warning and begins to turn our money tables over and chase us off the property with a cane.
How would we react?
But that is exactly what Christ does in the Temple. The Church is not our private property to raise ill-gotten money. It belongs to God!
He will provides the resources for its building by the love of the people, not their merchandising.
The Church is a House of Prayer and not merchandise. Let the other churches transgress His will, we shall not.
How was the reprimand of Christ received by the preachers of that community?
Read for yourselves: 47. And He taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy Him, 48. And could not find what they might do: for all the people were very attentive to hear Him.’
Let us trust in the Lord for all our provision and we have the peace that belongs to the company of God’s Elect.
Friday, August 23, 2019
ND Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.AMEN (Matthew 28:18-20)
We observe the Real, Spiritual Presence of the Lord at each observance of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion. The family of God feeds on the Lord’s Supper together just as close families of the world have always eaten their evening suppers together. It is right and proper that the Presence of our Lord be observed in that meal as well as with all of the other members who have been blessed to have been adopted into that royal family.
We may have little trouble understanding that spiritual Presence of the Lord during the Communion Service, but do we recognize His Presence with us in all other sundry times and occasions? If we do realize His Presence with the believer, how do we view that Presence? Is the Lord not with His people in every circumstance, and is His power in our lives not manifested in many wonderful ways?
The many roads to Emmaus that the Christian travels are fraught with stones and dangers; but does not the Lord travel those roads right beside us every step of the way – even if we do not recognize His merciful hand and sympathizing demeanor. Our recognition of Him may well be delayed until the breaking of bread before us that we remember His promises fully. Of course, that is yet another one of the purposes of observing Holy Communion.
You may recall our two brothers on that distant Road to Emmaus who conversed along the way with the risen Savior and knew it not until the breaking of bread: And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. (Luke 24:28-31) This is only one episode of the misidentification of the Lord in His real Presence.
I invite your attention to the boy of twelve years age left alone in Jerusalem following the Passover. It was this occasion the parents believed the Lord to be present with them when He was not but was, instead, back in Jerusalem dialoguing with the chief priests and doctors in the Temple. If we have been negligent of our duties and responsibilities as members of the Christian family, we may erroneously believe the Lord is with us in our clumsy forgetfulness, but He may not be. He may be performing the very duties elsewhere that we have neglected. The way to renew His presence with us is to be about, as He is, our Father’s business.
Remember the precious lady who so loved the Lord as to share His sufferings beneath His cross at Calvary? The same who waited at the cross until His body was taken down? The one who remained at the Garden Tomb until the stone boulder was sealed by the Roman Pontiff’s seal? The one who came early, while it was yet dark, on the first day of the week to prepare His body more properly with oils and ointments? It was Mary Magdalene, one of the most amazing women in the Bible. She loved the Lord with an enduring love that surpassed the presumed life of the object of her affections – the Lord Jesus Christ! She came to properly treat the dead body of her Lord. She was heartbroken to find the Tomb empty when she should have rejoiced at the sight. She believed that someone – perhaps the Gardener - had removed the body of her Lord. As she took a lingering look into the open Tomb, weeping profusely, she saw two angels who asked, Woman, why weepest thou? Of course they KNEW. But the question was asked to drive the glory of the moment home to Mary’s hurting soul. The two angels were looking toward Mary and beyond. They could see the figure approaching her from the other direction. What a precious and sweet moment. She turned to see the figure whom she mistook to be the gardener – even though He was truly the Gardener of Souls. Her eyes brimming with tears, Mary could not recognize the form approaching. The presumed gardener repeated the same question the angels had asked, Woman, why weepest thou? And followed on with another question the answer to which He was fully aware: whom seekest thou?Sweet Mary responded, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. I love Mary! I love Mary because Mary loved the Lord – even if she believed Him dead! And I love Mary, too, because the Lord loves Mary! Mary came to honor a dead body little realizing that she would find the LIVING body of her Lord!
Jesus saith unto her, Mary.No one ever called out the name of Lazarus of Bethany as did Jesus; and no one ever called out Mary’s name as did her Lord. The compassion and love conveyed through that voice echoes throughout the annals of eternity! She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
How often do we consider the nailing to the cross to be the end of the story of our Lord. In some churches, it is even taught to be the last. But it was not the last, and thank God Almighty for that. There comes a resurrection following the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Mary was there to be the first to behold the risen Savior, and she was the first to bear the fullness of the Gospel to the other disciples and apostles. What an honor for Mary, and she wasted no time in doing so – neither should we.
We learn from Mary we may mistake the presence of the Lord for some random Good Samaritan – of course, He is! Or some compassionate man or woman in line at the grocers who pays the bill a poor widow is unable to pay for groceries. Of course, that is Christ working through that vessel of His to perform the good. But do we recognize that presence working in others. In Islamic countries, few care about the fate of widows and orphans except to use and exploit them to the fullest. But I know a Christian husband and wife team who run a mission in such a country where they train widows and abandoned women to sew and to do other kinds of work to make a living. The same couple take in orphaned children who are mentally challenged and who would lie, as did the beggar Lazarus, before the gates of the wealthy begging crumbs were it not for the labors of this couple. Do we recognize that the good works of such saints is not due to their own goodness, but that of the Lord working in and through them?
When Christ approaches near to us when we are distraught over matters too sorrowful to cope with, we should make no suppositions for we KNOW it is He who is always there to take our uplifted hand and pull us from the briny foam.
I will relate a story coming out of Egypt about ten years back of a man who murdered his wife (a rather small crime in Arab countries). He buried his wife, but he also buried alive their small daughter in the same grave. The irony of the story begins. Searchers located the grave FOUR days later and exhumed the body of his wife and daughter. After four days of burial, the daughter was miraculously still alive and returned to good health. When asked how she survived that long period covered in the grave, she told the inquirers that there was a kind Man who stayed with her and talked to her so that she was not afraid or lonely. It is amazing even the Muslim news broadcasters admitted that no one else but Jesus could have been that Man since that is exactly the kind of things He was prone to do.
Friends, will we have to be buried alive to be prompted to share our testimony of newness of life in Christ Jesus?