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

Verse of the Day

Sunday, September 29, 2019

AOC Sunday Report - Saint Michael and all Angels superseding the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

The AOC Sunday Report is RIGHT HERE!

Sermon Notes - Saint Michael and all Angels, superseding Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 29 September 2019, Anno Domini

Saint Michael and all Angels.
[September 29.]

The Collect.

 EVERLASTING God, who hast ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order; Mercifully grant that, as thy holy Angels always do thee service in heaven, so, by thy appointment, they may succour and defend us on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

We also use the Collect for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity found on Page 210:

The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

EEP, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy Church with thy perpetual mercy; and, because the frailty of man without thee cannot but fall, keep us ever by thy help from all things hurtful, and lead us to all things profitable to our salvation; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

The Epistle
(Galatians vi. 11)
E see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

The Gospel
(Matthew 6:24-34)
O man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 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? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.  

            Our Lord, in His Sermon on the Mount, teaches us that a believer cannot be divided in his faith. He cannot travel the righteous path that is Narrow, and leads up to Heaven, and the wicked path called the Broad Way that leads down to destruction, at the same time. There remains before us, just as in the days of Noah’s Ark, an open door. It is an invitation to salvation. Whosoever will may enter in by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? There is no place in the Church of God for duplicity. If we so much desire to retain our old free will, than we shall also retain the consequences of our sins; but, if we surrender our wills to Christ, and accept His will for our lives, then shall our lives (thought, word, and deed) be directed from on high and not from the depths of Hell. 

            As pointed out in the Prayer of Collect, our righteousness is not our own, but belongs to Christ. He covers us with His righteousness else we would fall miserably short of the mark. He sustains us moment by moment in the way that we should go; yet, He knows our frail frames and, as the Good Samaritan, finds us, heals us, provides us transport, and lodges us in the fair harbors of His love as we fail and flounder on the Way. His love and care are a perpetual love and care; and those things that we overcome by faith are profitable to our salvation. 

            Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians for today, warns against any labors of the hand to achieve salvation. It is not the good work we do by our hands that make us worthy of the family of God, but the work that Christ did on the cross – to satisfy the terms of the law on our behalf – that is edifying and efficacious for our salvation. Men will attempt to convince us to do all sorts of works, and comply with all kinds of formulas, to EARN salvation; but it cannot be. There is only One Way – the way of the cross of Christ. He paid it all!

            Just prior to the text today from the Gospel of Saint Matthew, Jesus has taught us how to give alms – how to do, as well, our works of good – in secret so that our reward will be in heaven and not seen upon earth for self-gratification. If our gifts are to Heaven, they shall not be seen openly upon the earth; and if they are made openly to be seen on earth, they shall not grace the walls of Heaven. Our Lord also, in verses 5-15 of this same chapter, teaches us how to pray. He also gives us the Lord’s Prayer that is to be prayed in communal worship (i.e. Our Father….), as well as private moments of devotion.  He gives us a rule for fasting so that we appear to the world not to fast. Our Father in Heaven knows every secret thing, and He cherishes those acts of righteousness that are performed for His own glory alone and not that of any man.

            So Jesus begins today by telling us that we cannot serve two masters. Since as masters has full authority over his subject, such a prospect of having two masters is logically impossible24 “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” God is not divided in His sovereignty – He is either the sovereign of our souls, or the flesh is that sovereign. It cannot be both ways. Our flesh is constantly warring to gain the ascendancy, but a firm reliance upon the sweet blessings and leading of the Holy Spirit will give the soul victory in the righteous Way. If we are obsessed with the false and dimming lights of the world, the greater and eternal Light of Heaven will be obscured just as it was to the Wise Men who were blinded to the Star of Bethlehem when they entered the dimly-lit gates of Jerusalem. Consider the matter logically: is it possible to go UP, and to go DOWN, at the same time? Is it possible to love God and His great enemy at once? Can you prize righteousness above all while harboring wicked thoughts in one’s heart?  Let our master be single, and let that Master be the sweet and loving Teacher of Galilee – the Lord Jesus Christ.

            Are we anxious of tomorrow? Who owns tomorrow? Is it not God Almighty? If He is your Lord, you need not worry of provisions for the day.  He has furnished our abode for our comfort and shelter, He has prepared the Bread of Heaven for our sustenance, and He has woven a white and silken Robe for our covering. What profit is in worrying? Will simple worry change any outcome in the slightest? Our Lord was driven into the Wilderness to suffer the trials and temptations of the devil. He went without food that we might be fed. He went without drink that we might have the full cup of His blessings. He vanquished the Devil in the Wilderness of this world. Why do we linger in longing looks back to that Wilderness of sin25 “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” Is there not bread enough, and to spare, in my Father’s House(Prodigal Son)  We have been invited to a sumptuous dinner at the House of the King. Shall we bring with us our stale and molding bread of the earth when He has prepared the finest cuisine of Heaven? Shall we lug along our waters from the poison fountain when He has provided the pure Water of Life for our health? Perish the thought!

            Jesus invites our attention to the provision God has made in nature for every creature thereof. Does He not provide for them? What is the source of nourishment to the young calf, the baby lamb, the frail, newborn pony? He has provided a means in nature for each of these to prosper in health and nutrition. It is an unbroken source of plenty.26 “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” I often wonder where the sparrow goes when the clouds burst open in a deluge. They return in joy to the trees after the rain. Where did they hide from the tempest? They depended upon the protection and care of God unseen to our eyes. They do not worry about harvest and sowing, yet they prosper according to God’s perfect plan. A sparrow is of much less value to God than the crowning achievement of His Creation – Man. So why do we worry so that the provision will fail, and we shall perish for want of food, clothing, or shelter?

            We are created in the image of God. Why should we mar that image by tattooing our persons or, more importantly, our souls, with deviant marks and vulgar signs? Can we make ourselves larger than God has made us? Perhaps so if you consider immoderate diet and obesity to be growth. But God has made us to be like unto our Maker. Our only growth can take place when we grow more like Him by surrendering our free wills and taking upon ourselves the Mind and Will that is Christ’s27  “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?”  Rather than enlarge ourselves by effort, we grow smaller. Only when we allow God to grow our hearts, minds and bodies may we grow in love and grace.
            Our world today is filled with stress and anxiety. Men’s hearts fail them for looking for the things coming upon the earth. Reason teaches us that 95% of those things that occupy our anxious minds in worry never come to pass. So the worry was only a ruse of the devil to distract our hearts and to shorten our lives. 28 “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 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?” 

            Lilies are beautiful beyond measure, yet, despite our art, the only lilies we can create are unloving ones. But God clothes them, not only with beauty, but with exuberant life! A dead body can be decorated with silken robes to no avail for it remains dead. But God clothes the Lily better than Solomon was able to clothe himself, and the life God gave the Lily is an innate characteristic of His grace to the smallest of creatures. The grass is giving raiment suitable for its living, yet, it has only a short span to run, and is trodden under foot, withers, and is blown away by the wind. Do you worry that the same God who provides for the sparrow, the Lily, and the grass of the fields cannot provide for you whose value far exceeds all these? The soul of man is eternal whether destined for Heaven or Hell, whereas sparrows, grass, and lilies exist only for the present as robes of beauty to cover the earth. Is our faith so small that we cannot acknowledge the care of God sufficient for our preservation?

            So what counsel does our Lord provide for our frailty and doubts? 31 “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” If the Christian son or daughter goes about worrying, just as do those who do not know God, of what advantage is there to being a son or daughter of God. Does a prince or princess concern themselves for their basic provisions in life? Is our Father, and King of Kings, not able to supply all things according to His “riches in glory?” Do we believe that God is unable to see our need? Perhaps we see only our DESIRES, but God sees our NEED!

            We need not concern ourselves with any worldly concerns if we place God first in all our thoughts, words, and deeds. If our priority in all things is God and His will, we will have no time left for worry and vain pursuits. Our Lord gives solution to all our problems with His concluding counsel for today’s text:

33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” To those of you who timidly subordinate your duties to God to your perceived obligations to the state and society, Jesus draws a clear line in the sand: We do not seek to please governments or society in politically correct philosophies, but GOD! His will is paramount over every earthly power be it the US Government, or any other government. We observe a hierarchy of government from God above every other government. In America, we have local, state and Federal laws. Does not the ultimate power predominate in law? And even in the Federal Government, we have a separation of powers that must be observed so that not entity has absolute power even at the Federal head. But God is the ultimate Law-Giver. His law takes precedence above every law of man. Too many believers today have bought into the lie of a separation of church and state. What does that mean? Does it mean that religious morality cannot influence the state, or even be mentioned in reference to it; or that the state can dictate every detail of religious faith. If the Christian faith is not the basis of government, then the government will intrude and be the arbiter of the Christian faith…simple as that! God will provide ALL that we need as long as we acknowledge Him above and beyond every other consideration. 

There is great evil in our present day. We must address the enemy at hand rather than occupy ourselves with contemplated enemies that may arise tomorrow. The world is WICKED today. The only day we are assured in this life is TODAY. Go forth to battle that enemy of our souls that presents itself at the leading edge of battle and worry not of the enemy’s reinforcement for tomorrow. If we win the current battle, there will be no wickedness to reinforce. Fight today, and take in hand the new threat as it presents itself. God is with the valiant and true servant to fight his battles for him. Stand with God and no lesser power can approach33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

What are your priorities for today? Are your first awakening thoughts devoted to God and in seeking His will for you TODAY? Or do you give space in your heart to needless worries that steal the space in your heart that should be reserved to God? Do you seek after righteousness and let the results fall where they will? If you place your trust in the only One who can order not only your life, but your soul, you will be in good Hands for certain. Do not make your intentions of righteousness dependent upon tomorrow’s events. Do what is right, and God will see to the rest! He is the great Captain of your soul, not society, not Mammon, and not government. When you approach the White Throne at the conclusion of all time, will you concern yourself with rulings of the Supreme Court, or acts of Congress? You may trust me – they shall not present themselves at that Holy place.

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Eve of Time – 27 September 2019, Anno Domini

ND the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22  And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23  And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25  And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:21-25)

            At the beginning of the pre-Deluvian era, the earth was void and without form, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. Just how long the earth had lingered in this morass of water vapors, atrophied elements and marshes of suspended gases and dissolved earth, we do not know. It was the Beginning! We might normally expect that God would never have created such a molten globe in its imperfection since all that He does is perfect What caused the earth to be void and without form is not our business, else the Lord would have told us. But we do know that the six day Creation of the world began when the earth was in that state. The more science is able to uncover truths buried in the sands of time from that moment, the more certain one can be of the veritable truth of the six-day Creation. The Earth was shrouded in heavy darkness – darkness so smothering that one could have cut it with a butcher’s knife. There were no moon or stars to illumine the night sky. There were no heavenly bodies at all when the Creation moment began in God’s time. 

            One thing we know: God began the Creation of the world, and all things thereon, in abject darkness. The world stood apart from God in the beginning and lacked the improving touch of His mighty creative imagination. In fact, all things remain in darkness unless acted upon by God Almighty for God is Light! God gives us a perfect chronological table of Creation which science, after long-suffering to prove otherwise, has begrudgingly come to admit is unchallenged in its accuracy.

            God created a beautiful world for His crowning achievement of Creation – Man. The air was clear and pristine; the waters flowed in rivers of pure abundance to water the Garden eastward in Eden which God had prepared as a Paradise for man to live. He divided the waters from the waters above and those below. There was no rain in those days since there were likely no clouds. Many scientists speculate that there was a layer of water above the firmament to shield the world from toxic sunrays and to maintain a constant temperature perfect for life. This was broken up during the days of the Flood; however, God made a heavy dew to arise at night to water the Garden and all plant life. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground(Genesis 2:4 -6)

            On the sixth day of Creation, God created animal life to wander the earth and to be pets and helpers for man – and He also created man on that same day. Those pets we love and cherish were likewise created, cell-by-cell, in their mother’s womb just as is man. 

            Now, the Lord God only created one man in the beginning, but He saw that man would need a helpmeet and a support – someone to claim as the darling of his heart. So God created woman (womb-man) from the opening of the man’s side from which He took a rib to create woman. 

            God named the man ADAM meaning ruddy or earthy, since he was created from the dust of the earth. Adam named his bride, EVE, which means Giver of Life. Without woman, there would be no man to populate the earth. God had planned it this way from the beginning; He therefore created one man for one woman to be a model for our Lord’s Bride, the Church which was also created from the wounded side of our Lord. Noteworthy is the fact that both Adam and Eve shared the same name - ADAM. (see Genesis 5:2) So in Christian lands, the man and woman claim the same last name.

            I have often written of a beautiful river in Persia (modern Iran) called the Zayanderud (Giver of Life). Flying across the desert on my military missions, I saw a green belt of vegetations perhaps five miles wide on either side of the river as it meandered through the dry and desolate desert dunes and sands. Everywhere that river went, it gave life-giving water. It died in a dead sea (Ghav Khuni – blood of an Ox) some one hundred miles from its source - the melting snows from the heights of the Zagross Mountain Range to the west (biblical Elam) of Esfahan. That river also could be compared to the life of Christ which was brief but life-giving. He died for us in the wilderness of our sins and purchased, thereby, our salvation.

            God had commanded Adam not to eat of only ONE tree in the Garden. Even that one commandment, Adam could not keep. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die(Genesis 2:16-17) I call the reader’s remembrance to the fact that there were TWO trees in the midst of the Garden – the Tree of Life (representing our Lord Jesus Christ and whom we memorialize with lighted and decorated trees at Christmas) and the other Tree of ill wind to all. 

            Adam and Eve represent the prototype of mankind from the beginning. It would have been Adam’s responsibility to emphasize to Eve the importance of avoiding that Tree of the Knowledge of Good and evil. It seems that he had definitely warned her, but with what emphasis I am not certain. God had commanded the same to Eve. You may not have noticed, but I can tell you from my own observations that the distaff of the gentler sex does not suffer from a lack of curiosity. They desire to know EVERYTHING – where we have been, whom we met, what we said, how long were we there, etc., etc. Eve was no exception. Instead of going before the Tree of Life, perhaps her curiosity was pricked by the commandment AGAINST eating or touching that bad tree. Her first mistake was mental. She determined to WALK to the tree. She STOPPED before the ill-natured Tree. She LISTENED to the voice from behind the Tree. She conversed with that Voice and allowed her soul to be tempted thereby. The Voice (Serpent) first question what God had said (as our modern bible perversions do). Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  God had said no such thing. God had said the couple could only not eat of the very Tree before which Eve stood. The Serpent then MISQUOTES Scripture. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. Eve was thusly seduced by the Serpent. Her curiosity and trusting heart knew no compass. She ate of the fruit of the Tree and gave to Adam.

         These two had been naked from the beginning in the Garden, but felt no shame, for they knew only ONE moral law which was to avoid the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Where no law exists, or has not been given, there is no sin. But when the couple ate of that Tree, their eyes were, indeed opened, and their countenance fell and their faces turned crimson with shame. Hiding from God was not a very successful ploy for them, or for us. Sewing fig leaves together to cover their nakedness (sin) was a great failure as well since mankind cannot cover its own sin. God then gives us the first manifestation of the sacrifice of His only Begotten Son some four thousand years hence by taking the life of an innocent animal that He no doubt loved, but found necessary as a temporary covering for the sins of Adam and Eve. The death of the innocent animal provided a covering for the pair. 

            One last point: Eve was deceived by the Serpent, but Adam was not. You may wonder why we do not ordain women to the ministry? It is not because they are bad. They have overly-trusting hearts and can be deceived by a sweet and gentle voice. Paul tells us outright. We do not base our doctrine on this alone, but other revelations which are beyond the scope of this devotion: But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety(1 Timothy 2:12-15) I have heard Paul’s counsel assailed by many proponents of women ordination, but they seldom quote the passage fully. Instead, they say Paul made reference to some local dispute; but the verses that follow in context explain WHY Paul gave the counsel. But without the love and nurture of women, this old world would be in a more sorrowful state (uninhabited) than it is today. It would be without form and void.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Bowl of Red Porridge – 26 September 2019, Anno Domini

ND Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: 30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? 33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright(Genesis 25:29-34)

            A vow is an important declaration. We should not make promises and vows that we are not certain of being able to fulfill. If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth(Numbers 30:2) It is for this reason that asking church members to obligate themselves to pay a certain amount of money in future, to enlarge the church, can cause them to sin. Suppose I obligate myself to pay $25,000 over the next five years for a new sanctuary. After one year, I become disabled and unable to pay.. Have I not sinned according to the law of God? But if I commit my soul in my heart to do so, without a commitment, and cannot comply, I have not sinned in principle according to the next verses: When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee(Deuteronomy 23:21-22)  

         From the very beginning, there were stark differences in Esau and Jacob. Esau seems to be a warning to the world since everything in his life seemed to come up RED. Even at birth, Esau came out from his mother’s womb red and ruddy. Rebekkah conceived and bare sons to Isaac: 22  And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. 23  And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. 24  And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25  And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau26  And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them. 27  And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents. 28  And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob(Genesis 25:22-28) 

         I am reminded of the first sons born upon earth – Cain and Abel. Like Esau and Jacob, the first son was ungodly, and the second a true prophet of the Lord. 

         There are a few terms here given which mean the same thing – RED. Esau is the name meaning RED.. He sold his birthright for a bowl of RED porridge; therefore, he was called an Edomite – again, meaning RED. The Bible tells us that Easu was a cunning hunter, a man of the field. In other words, Esau was a man of the world (field). The field is the world.  (Matthew 13:38) He was doubtless attractive to the ladies with a mean streak. He was more fixed on the here-and-now than he was on the hereafter. When the pangs of hunger and desire cried for satisfaction, he would prefer the satisfaction of the present to any future reward. Of course, he may have made his vow lightly, not believing his brother (and the LORD) would hold him to the jot and tittle of it. But that is a lesson for all of us – we must make our vows and promises seriously and sincerely.

         Now comes the day when Esau has been out in the wilderness enjoying a hunt – killing was, indeed, his pleasure. When he came upon his brother, Jacob, he saw that he was boiling a porridge of lentils. He wanted that porridge at all costs. Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. You will recall that Esau was the firstborn, but Jacob had taken hold of Esau’s heal at birth. His name means ‘one who supplants,’ or usurper. Here we begin to discern a fundamental difference in the two brothers. Esau was minded to cherish the things of this world, but Jacob was one who fixed his focus on a future objective and held on tight until that objective was accomplished. Remember, he first loved Rachel, and was fooled into working seven years for her hand in marriage; but Jacob was duped into marrying the older (and perhaps uglier) sister, Leah. But Jacob was not the type to forget his first love. He worked another seven years for Laban for the hand of Rachel. Remember the Lord’s warning to the Church at Ephesus: Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love(Revelation 2:4)

            Perseverance and determination characterizes Jacob throughout his life. He even wrestled with the great Angel of the Lord at Peniel, and the Lord was pleased with Jacob’s grit and determination in wrestling with both man and God. Sometimes we need to wrestle with God to learn our calling. We will in no wise win the Lord to our side, but we may at least be won over to the Lord’s side.

            As a result of the light-hearted vow Esau had made to his brother, Jacob, he would lose his inheritance even if by cunning and trickery on the part of their mother Rebekkah. That story is found in Genesis 27:1-40.

            What can we glean for our modern day in the story of Esau? Have things of the world changed so much since that day?

            In our day, the bowl of RED porridge is socialism in all its forms – Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Fabianism, etc. We do not wish to boil our own porridge, so we are willing to trade our Godly heritage as a free people for the RED porridge made by others – the so-called ELITE. Once we have partaken of that RED porridge, we no longer have a birthright, or any rights at all. Every decision of our lives will be made by the collective. Though we may have toppled the government of freedom and liberty with outraged demonstrations and screams of ‘unfair,’ such will not be allowed by the hard rule of socialism under which we may have fallen.. The steel-towed boot will replace the voter’s franchise and the aggrieved petitions of the persecuted. All voices to the contrary will be silenced and, believe me, the socialist regimes know how to silence the contrary voices since no man objects to anything from the dungeon or the grave. 

            Esau and his progeny have been lost in the dust of time. No one pleads his cause, or remembers his hunting exploits; but, Jacob is remembered in God’s Book in prominent mention. His name was changed by God to Israel. He is in the spiritual lineage of all who remember their First Love in Christ. Just as Abraham was the father of Isaac and Jacob, and Esau was not (though in the bloodline), so are you and I in that same lineage in being adopted into the family of God through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ.

            Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God(Romans 8:12-16) 

            Please read and digest this important passage whose terms are so clearly stated as to need no exposition: Cometh this blessedness then upon the circumcision only, or upon the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. 13 For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.  14 For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. 16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (Romans 4:9-16)  

            I hope you will resist the error of computing the Chosen of God based on race and bloodlines and resort to faith-lines instead. We are sons and daughters of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob! Believe it!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The Spirit in Genesis One – 25 September 2019, Anno Domini

ND Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 17  And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased(Matthew 3:16-17 (KJV)

            A cardinal phrase in our traditional Doxology reads, As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen, Amen. It pleased God to have His only Begotten right beside when the worlds were made, and not only the Son, but the Holy Spirit. The Triune God was present at the beginning of the Creation of the World, as well as at the beginning of the Creation of the Kingdom of God in Christ. You may wonder what it is that I mean by that? Patience, friend, and I will explain.

            As I have explained numerous times before, the Word for God in Genesis One is Elohim. Elohim has a very curious application which English cannot match. Eloah (אלה) means God, (see Deut 6:4) Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:  but Elohim is the plural for that Word; however, it is, in its application, a plural/singular Word meaning the Triune God – Three in One. 

            God the Father was present at the beginning, and so was God the Son: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was GodThe same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. . . . 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 (KJV) 

            We can all acknowledge this truth of which we are commonly reminded with each study of John 1; however, what of the spirit of God? Was He not present at the Creation of the World? Was He not present at the beginning of the new World after the Deluge? And was He not present at the beginning of the Kingdom of Heaven when Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. Yes, all three were present at that baptism. The only Begotten Son was present with John to be baptized; the Spirit of God came down from Heaven as a Dove over the river waters; and God the Father spoke from Heaven, This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

            Let’s examine the Holy spirit of God at the beginning of the old Creation: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 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.  

            It is interesting to note that each cardinal point of the Holy Spirit’s presence in Genesis and Matthew 3:16 occurs over the waters – in the beginning the Spirit moved upon the face of the waters; at the end of the flood I believe the Spirit of God is symbolized in the dove that was twice released before finding the new creation to be drying of water. In both case the Dove flew out over the waters of the flood. The first time symbolizes (in my consideration) the old world that was dead – the dove found no place to set its foot. The second time, the dove found returned with evidence of LIFE! That is the new Eternal Life made available in Christ:

  And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made:  And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.  Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;  But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. 10  And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; 11  And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. 12  And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more(Genesis 8:6-12)  The third time, the Dove did not return. It had yet to return in general application until the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ.

The Spirit of God did speak to the prophets in old time to impart the Word of God in prophecy and Truth. This is how we received the Word of God. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began(Acts 3:20-21)

The Holy Spirit has always been the instrument of God to awaken men and women to the glorious truth of the Gospel – not just in the New Testament Church, but also the New. But in our day, we need no priestly intercessor for Christ is our High Priest and He is our Advocate with the Father. The Holy Spirit will never speak of Himself – that is not His Divine purpose. The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to forever point us to Christ! Any other claim by modern-day pulpit brigands is false. The Holy spirit will not inform us of some infamous reputation of another believer in times past. He will not teach us some new thing that is not written in the Word. He will make the Word clear to our understanding and remind us of all that is written in the Word at the time most needful. 

 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you(John 14:26)

The Holy spirit, as in the beginning, brings order out of the chaotic waters of life. He is our Comforter. He has not changed from the very beginning. He saw Hagar weeping in the Wilderness. He saw the short fellow, Zacchaeus, hustling to get up the sycamore tree. He saw the Woman at the Well with desponding heart come to meet a Stranger there, and left knowing the King of Glory. He saw the poor wretched woman dragged half-clothed by men who sought her terrible death to the only Source of her Salvation – the Lord Jesus Christ.

He sees you and me, friend, as we move about and have our being in mundane matters, and in those of great import. If you take the time to read His Word, He will open your eyes to many wonderful truths that you never imagined could be possible. Just as He did at the beginning, He follows in the order of the Triune God to create Light to our eyes – Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path(Psalm 119:105) The Holy Spirit is the oil that makes our Lamps light, and the Light itself to point the Way.

            This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one(1 John 5:6-8)

There is neither any division of truth, nor power, nor of purpose in the Triune God. And He is unchanging in purpose and intent – the same yesterday, today, and forever! That same spirit that moved upon the waters of the old world is the same that broods over the waters of your heart.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Hymns of the Church – Lord, I’m Coming Home – 24 September 2019, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)

ND  he said, A certain man had two sons12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want15And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.  (Luke 15:11-18)

Though this hymn represents some emotional appeal typical of many modern Gospel songs, it nonetheless has an underlying biblical relevance. It expresses quite clearly the very sentiments of the Prodigal Son who went away from his father into as far country. 

The author of this hymn, William J. Kirkpatrick, like Christ, was a carpenter of Duncannon, Pennsylvania. The hymn was published in 1892. The tune, COMING HOME, is also the composition of Mr. Kirkpatrick.

Lord, I’m Coming Home

I've wandered far away from God, 
Now I'm coming home; 
The paths of sin too long I've trod, 
Lord, I'm coming home.

Coming home, coming home, 
Nevermore to roam, 
Open wide Thine arms of love, 
Lord, I'm coming home.

I've wasted many precious years, 
Now I'm coming home; 
I now repent with bitter tears, 
Lord, I'm coming home. [Chorus]

I've tired of sin and straying, Lord, 
Now I'm coming home; 
I'll trust Thy love, believe Thy word, 
Lord, I'm coming home. [Chorus]

My soul is sick, my heart is sore, 
Now I'm coming home; 
My strength renew, my hope restore, 
Lord, I'm coming home. [Chorus]

1 I've wandered far away from God,  Now I'm coming home;  The paths of sin too long I've trod, Lord, I'm coming home. Sometimes even the mind of a well taught child of God may drawn away by the glitter of the things of this world, and he wanders into a place far away from God His Father into a far country. The Prodigal did not make a snap decision in leaving the father. He had given this matter much thought and was gradually compelled by a strong self-will, and a weak binding of faith, to take his inheritance early and leave the good, old father who had cared for his every need from birth. I know this can happen, for I, too, was one such son for a time. We all have been to some extent. It is high time to go home, is it not?

2 I've wasted many precious years,  Now I'm coming home;  I now repent with bitter tears, Lord, I'm coming home. All years spent in sin are years of waste in a certain sense; but they also may be years of hard teaching. We may never learn the horrors of sin unless we are immersed, hand and foot, therein. It may be a means of the Holy Ghost to draw us kicking and screaming to Christ. Like the Prodigal, the day may come that we look upon our sad predicament, nurtured by sinful living, and weep bitter tears. Where did that innocent heart of the boy or girl of our youth get lost? Like the eagle at moating season, we become utterly disgusted, shed our old feathers of sin for the new robe of righteousness offered by our Lord. Then we may renew our strength as in the days of our youth to follow in the Holy teachings of our father and mother. 

3 I've tired of sin and straying, Lord,  Now I'm coming home;  I'll trust Thy love, believe Thy word, Lord, I'm coming homeWhen we awaken to reality (come to our right minds), we look about at the ruins of our lives whether in a pig sty or a bar room. This is clearly not how we intended our lives to be. It was not what God intended either. In fact, we are incapable of ordering our lives or steps apart from God. He is the great Architect of righteous lives. An aircraft pilot, flying under instrument conditions in which there is no outside reference, must trust the instrument gages on the panel before him or perish. That instrument panel tells us where we are, and how to navigate to where we want to go. The Holy Ghost is our spiritual instrument panel. He tells us where we are, what direction we are headed, and how to get to the place God wants us to be.

            4 My soul is sick, my heart is sore,  Now I'm coming home;  My strength renew, my hope restore, Lord, I'm coming homeThe sin-sick soul suffers in the same way as the leper of New Testament. Times. He has an incurable blood disease which is highly contagious. All who closely associate with the sinner are influenced to sin. The disease, like leprosy, is usually insidious causing a slow and painful death. As the important things of our lives fall away, we have little desire to salvage them. We grow ugly – so much so that polite and decent people avoid us. We smell bad with the odor of sinful living. Our souls hurt deeply inside and we may not know what remedy we can claim for relief. But the call of the Holy Spirit has not ceased to sound. To those called and chosen, the alarm grows in intensity until the sinner can resist repentance no longer. In a moment of keen awareness, his eyes are opened to his miserable condition, and he weeps bitter tears of repentance. He resolves to go home to God, to confess his unworthiness, and become a lowly servant in the household of God. He then follows up on his resolution, and arises from the filth of sin, and returns to God his Father where he is warmly received despite the odor of the pig sty.

Coming home, coming home,  Nevermore to roam,  Open wide Thine arms of love,  Lord, I'm coming homeOnce a sinner has been to the depths of the pits, and awakened to his dire predicament, it is not likely he will return to that mire and vomit of the pit. The lesson was a hard one, but a strong one. The arms of our Lord’s love for His elect never fail of that love. He loves His elect with an eternal love. He waits for us at the Temple Door. He saw when we left, and He sees when we are returning. He did not accompany us in that long journey to a far country, but when He sees us returning, He rushes on the road to meet us, embrace us, cover us with His fine Robe of Righteousness, place His ring of authority on our finger as a Prince or Princess of God, and shoes of Liberty upon our bare and hurting feet. 

What a Father and Lord we have.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sermon Notes - Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 22 September 2019, Anno Domini

The Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

LMIGHTY and everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

nd it came to pass, as Jesus went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan[1]. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole (Luke 17:11-19)

How does one attain to the salvation of one’s soul? Does salvation come by personal merit, good works, a commendable spirit, sacrifice, or bloodlines? No, salvation comes by none of these according to Holy Scripture. Then from whence does it come and by what means? Please review the following text – parse every phrase and word – then, answer by what means we are saved:  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:4-10) Did you discover a single thing that you can do to enter into the salvation of the Lord? At the moment of salvation we were ‘quickened’ (made alive) to know and to love God. We did not love God before He came to love us. If we DO love God, when did we come to know and love Him? We love him, because he first loved us(1 John 4:19) 

If we were, in fact, “dead in sins” how could we hear His voice or appeal to His mercy? We could not. A dead person can do NOTHING. It was His grace and love which spoke through our dead ears and pierced the chambers of our dead hearts – lying in state – in a dead and dying world. His grace revived us when we could not hear, see or speak righteousness just as the thief upon the cross.

Our Collect for this 14th Sunday after Trinity brings to our remembrance Scriptural Truth concerning our means of grace and salvation. ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity. The beauty of the Collects of the English Book of Common Prayer is that each Collect is based wholly on Scriptural Truth, each word proven in biblical texts. Are we born with a faith in God, or do we somehow acquire that faith from some source along the way? For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boastMany of us prefer to base our view of Scripture on the writings of some great theologian, and identify our understanding by that man’s name – Calvin, Arminius, Luther, or Cranmer. Admittedly, all of these were stellar biblical scholars; but these men do not define for me what I believe. I may agree with one, or more, of them in many respects; but I do not base my faith in those names but in that Name above every other Name – the Lord Jesus Christ – the Living WORD!!!

nd it came to pass, as Jesus went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan[2]. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole  (Luke 17:11-19)

Among very many other blessed truths in today’s text is one stark truth that stands out like the Sun at noontide on a clear day: that truth is the importance of GRATITUDE! What is gratitude then? Gratitude is the direct and natural result of Grace! The composition of the Universe that God has made is a splendid and perfect example of a closed system (Space-Time Continuum) in which every object of its composition conforms to the perfect laws of nature and of nature’s God. The Sun, Moon, and Stars, obey the natural laws of inter-gravitational pull and balance which forces them to remain in their respective orbits or trajectories. We see the same laws respected in the plant kingdom. An apple seed will always produce an apple tree and never a peach. The animal kingdom as well adheres strictly to the laws laid down by God in their propagation. Sheep will always, as God commanded, reproduce after their own kind. This signals a great reciprocity in the natural creation; however, man is an exception to the general laws of behavior among men and his interaction with all other aspects of Creation. Man, unlike other creatures of the animal or vegetable world, has will and reason. God has deemed this essential if man can possess the gift of love for love must be a result of will. So, we will observe in today’s sermon text that gratitude is a function of will and, ultimately, of love itself. 

AND it came to pass, as Jesus went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.” I love the casual manner in which God introduces a great event as if it is simply a thing that happens by chance along the way; but it is not! The usual route of Jewish travelers was to avoid passing through Galilee and, especially, Samaria (due to the ill-winded assumption that these people were ‘less clean’ than the Jews). Jesus did nothing by ‘accidental’ incident. He was well aware that ten men awaited His coming at a ‘certain village’. It is unlikely that the men themselves knew of a surety of the ‘arranged’ meeting, but Christ knew that He would perform a great act of healing at this place. 

And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: and they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Now, we will all understand, I am sure, that leprosy was no disease lightly to be taken. It was a slow and cruel killer. The flesh of its victims literally rotted on the body causing limbs, ears, and even noses to be eaten away. The odor was putrid and unbearable. Slowly, by increasing miseries, it brought its victims to the long home (grave). There was no cure for the disease in the arsenal of man’s medical knowledge and resources. The disease could not be hidden from others due to the emitted odor and the marred features of its victims. They were shunned from the public and cast out into colonies apart. If a non-leper approached, they must shout “Unclean, Unclean!” “And the leper in whom the plague is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean. All the days wherein the plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.” (Lev 13:45-46)

What a horrible existence was this! It is, in a great many points, exactly like sin. It is putrid, disfigures our persons, alienates us from the family of God, and, in the end, it murders its owner.

There are volumes of books written about ‘effective’ prayer, but if you would like to know a good and simple prayer that brings results, observe the prayer of the lepers: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” How did these men know that Jesus was among the approaching throng? We are not told, but they must not have ever seen His face before, and even now they stand afar off. I believe that they may have heard a rumor of His coming and that rumor, combined with an insight from on high, gave them a conviction of Him. To them, He was Jesus, Master! You will observe that they asked for no specific healing or grant of favor – only MERCY! This, too, is the perfect prayer of the sinner. Nothing else will profit the sinner ere MERCY is granted him. Of what is MERCY made? The answer, of course, is all of GRACE. Mercy comes not as an entitlement, but as a free grant of goodness (Grace). 

And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” Immediately upon sighting the need, Jesus provides the cure. Of course, the Kingdom of Heaven requires reciprocity of faith in its provisions of Grace. I am amazed at the simple faith of these ten lepers in responding to the counsel of Christ to “Go and shew yourselves unto the priests.” To what end? They knew, as surely as all in the party of Christ, that the leper must be pronounced clean by the priest in order of re-admittance to society. These men, not yet being noticeably healed, immediately began their journey to the priest in OBEDIENCE to Christ. Our faith requires us to be obedient to God, not to our own desires and reason. Once these lepers embarked, the healing began. Just as Naaman was wholly healed on the seventh dip into Jordan waters, so were these lepers when they responded to the Lord in FAITH. “And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.” “….and it came to pass….” How common in tone, but exceptional in result! It was not their walking that resulted in healing, but their faith and response in Christ.

And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.” The actions of this poor leper could cause a mighty warrior to weep with humility. This leper believed God. This leper obeyed God. This leper was healed by God, and he KNEW it! No longer was his first priority to go to the Priest and be pronounced clean! His very first priority was to run to that One who had made him clean. He turned back from his own purposes and objectives to those of God. With a louder voice than that used in begging for mercy, he glorified God. He fell on his face at the feet of the Beloved Son of God and gave thanks. Have you ever felt so miserably dirty from sin and pleaded the mercy of God, and then been granted cleansing and forgiveness? There are certainly sins in every man’s life at some point which should compel him to the pleading. 

The other nine lepers got what they desired – healing of body, but only one came back to return praise and thanks to the Healer. The Author, noticeably and with purpose, informs us that this one leper who returned to give thanks was one of those hated Samaritans. Why are we so frankly told this? What does it add to our understanding? It informs us that none are beneath the merciful favor of God to heal and forgive. It is often the one who stands in the lowest esteem of man that may rise to the greatest regard of heaven. “And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? Where are the other 90% who have received the grace and mercy of God besides this 10% who have returned to give thanks? Does this not speak to the great body of ingrates who occupy the pews of America’s churches every Sunday? One is kneeling at the feet of Christ, the other nine have separated themselves from Christ once their desire is granted. What a shame and a testimony to ingratitude! “There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” Quite often it is the stranger that becomes a more worthy child of God than those who have been received into the family of God from their youth. 

There is grave counsel in the final words of our Lord to the Samaritan stranger, but also to us: “And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” Do you grasp the significance of this last clause? “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” The faith and gratitude of this one leper has made him not only well of leprosy, but whole in every other way! To be wholly well is to be cured of the greatest disease, and that disease is not even the deadly sin of leprosy – it is the deadliest of diseases from which no man can recover except by the grace of God! That disease is – SIN!

Please observe the difference between the one leper who was made whole in every whit, and the nine who were only cured of the immediate and most apparent malady. The difference was the GRATITUDE expressed by the one who returned to praise God and return thanks. How often do we pray for a cherished blessing and, when it is granted by God, we go our way into the world without returning on bended knee to give thanks for the grant? All that God gives is a result of GRACE. All that He expects in return is GRATITUDE!

In the natural Creation, we observe that all material bodies conform to the physical laws put into place by God at the instant of Creation. Gravity is in effect twenty four hours per day. Darkness will always immediately flee from the presence of light. Sound will always travel through the medium of space via wave lengths. Electrical current will always require a return in order for electrons to move from a positive to a negative pole. If the ground return is interdicted, the current ceases to flow. This is just like Grace. God freely grants grace to those of us who can never merit it, but God will not blindly grant grace to those who are unwilling to express gratitude for it. Gratitude is a function of Grace. If the return line (Gratitude) is interdicted, the current (Grace) will cease to flow. 

I will relate here an explanation of Grace I found in my father’s papers whom he credits to an E. Willams:

 “Gratitude is a temper of mind which denotes a desire of acknowledging the receipt of a benefit. The mind which does not so feel is not as it ought to be. When the apostle Paul says of the heathen, "Neither were they thankful," he seems to stamp the sin of ingratitude as peculiarly odious. But, like every other grace which is required of us, virtuous gratitude depends, in part, on right views. A right view of benefits received, of the source from whence they flow, and of our own demerit, has a direct tendency to excite gratitude; and while the mind is influenced by sovereign grace, this will be the pleasing effect. The devout Christian surveys the sovereign benevolence of the Creator in every person, in every object, in every quality, and in every event. Sovereign benevolence forces itself on every sense, and pervades his grateful heart. And then, when he extends his views to a future state, and contemplates the operations of grace—sovereign, distinguishing, efficacious grace—he is melted into reverential awe and grateful praise, and exclaims, "Why me, Lord!" Glory, everlasting glory to Him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb of God that was slain, who hath redeemed us to God by His blood, and hath given us the earnest of His own inheritance.”

We have this from the good John Flavel concerning the opposite side of the coin - Grace: “There is many a learned head in hell. Gifts are the gold that beautifies the Temple; but grace is as the Temple which sanctifies the gold. One tear, one groan, one breathing of an upright heart is more than the tongues of angels.” 

If we would pray for grace, we must express gratitude after its giving. Do we?

[1] Samaritans were descendants of those who had stayed behind during the Captivity and had been separated for many years from the body of Judaism.  They had not developed, nor did they subscribe to them, all the rules the Jews managed to invent during their separation.  The main body of Jews viewed them as lesser peoples, not really Jews
[2] Samaritans were descendants of those who had stayed behind during the Captivity and had been separated for many years from the body of Judaism.  They had not developed, nor did they subscribe to them, all the rules the Jews managed to invent during their separation.  The main body of Jews viewed them as lesser peoples, not really Jews