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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

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Devotion on Hymns of the Church - Hymn 406 – Art Thou Weary Art Thou Languid – 31 March 2020, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord


A
T that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes26  Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight.  27  All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.  28  Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:25-30)

            Perhaps equal interest to the lyrics of this ancient hymn is the story behind its origin. Atop an isolated prominence overlooking the Kidron Valley and the Dead Sea – about 10 miles from Jerusalem – is the monastery of Mar Saba. The monks of that monastery adhere to a very strict disciplinary regime, and most remain isolated in that desolate fortress-like mountain citadel throughout their lives. There were three men of that monastery who served there from around 725 AD to 794 AD – St. John of Damascus, St. Cosmos, and St. Stephen - the younger of the three who entered the monastery at the age of ten years and remained there until his death sixty years later (never having left that gloomy isolation). It is sad to realize that those lives may have been spent more profitably for the Lord had they gone forth into the world and preached the Gospel rather than secluding themselves in monasteries for the sake of growing personally more holy. But those were days of a different kind, a time when men and women were actually pleased to give their life-blood rather than deny faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. The monastery today is home to twenty monks of the Orthodox Faith.

            Imagine life in such desolate isolation! In evening hours, wolves and jackals would gather at the base of the cliff upon which Mar Saba rested and add their sorrowful howls to the already dark and unbecoming halls of the monastery. It was in this joyless atmosphere that St. Stephen composed the lyrics to our hymn. The hymn has survived intact for more than 1200 years. The monastery still stands amid the gloom of stone and darkness.

            The tune for the hymn is, STEPHANOS, by Sir William Henry Baker in 1868, and the English translation was rendered by the Anglican clergyman, John Mason Neale.
            
Art Thou Weary, Art Thou Languid

Art thou weary, art thou languid,
art thou sore distress'd?
"Come to me," says One, "and, coming, 
be at rest."

Has he marks to lead me to him,
if he be my Guide?
"In his feet and hands are wound-prints, 
and his side."

Is there diadem, as Monarch,
that his brow adorns?
"Yes, a crown, in very surety,
but of thorns."

If I still hold closely to him,
what has he at last?
"Sorrow vanquished, labor ended,
Jordan passed." 

If I ask him to receive me,
will he say me nay?
"Not till earth and not till heaven
pass away."

Finding, foll'wing, keeping, struggling,
is he sure to bless?
"Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs
answer yes." 

            Art thou weary, art thou languid, art thou sore distress'd? "Come to me," says One, "and, coming, be at rest." After centuries of futility in keeping the Sabbath of the Lord Holy, to which had been added many mundane ordinances by the Jewish religious rulers, comes the Lord Jesus Christ – our Burden Bearer – to fulfill the true meaning of Sabbath Rest – not just for the seventh day, but every day of the week. Our rest is in Him regardless the physical efforts we expend. He takes our burdens upon Himself and gives us rest. All our works are His works. It is Christ who works in, and through, the Christian. Only those works done out of our own motives and will are those to which we may lay claim, and they are all empty of worth.

           Has he marks to lead me to him, if he be my Guide? "In his feet and hands are wound-prints,  and his side."As the prolific blind hymnist, Fanny Crosby, exclaims, 

I shall know Him, I shall know Him
And redeemed by His side I shall stand,
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
By the print of the nails in His hands.

            I believe we shall know Him without need of any physical manifestation. The Holy Spirit will so powerfully abide upon the elect of God that all mystery of His being shall be revealed in a flash.

           Is there diadem, as Monarch, that his brow adorns? "Yes, a crown, in very surety, but of thorns." The crowns of kings in ancient times were very heavy – some weighing as much as 200 lbs, believe it or not!. I suppose the weight of the crown was intended to symbolize the great weight of responsibility that the role of a king bore with it. But the crown of Christ was not made of gold, silver and precious gems. Its frame was of course vine, and its adornment was of exceedingly long thorns (approx. one and a half inches). Not only was this crown placed upon His brow, but it was pushed down on his head with much force so that the large thorns cut gashes into His scalp which bled exceedingly. 

           If I still hold closely to him, what has he at last? "Sorrow vanquished, labor ended, Jordan passed." The waters of Jordan loom ahead for each of us. If we will enter the promised land, as did the Children at the end of their Wilderness journey, we will need a hand in crossing – and that Hand is the hand of our Lord Jesus Christ. With faith in Him, we shall not cross Jordan alone, but hand-in-hand with Him on dry ground. Without Him by our side, we shall perish in the flood waters.

           If I ask him to receive me, will he say me nay? "Not till earth and not till heaven pass away." How do we know for certain that we are secure in our salvation? Have we been blessed with the gift of faith and grace? Do we believe with humble hearts and love the Lord without mixture of compromise. If so, the Holy Ghost has moved in our heart and drawn us to the bosom of Christ, and those whom He has been given will never be forsaken by Him. “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:37-40)

            Finding, foll'wing, keeping, struggling, is he sure to bless? "Saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs answer yes." We need no further explanation here than the Lord’s own promise: “ 5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. 6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.  (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

AOC Sunday Report - Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called Passion Sunday



The AOC Sunday Report is available RIGHT HERE!

There are really great sermons today from Bishops Jerry and Roy, as well as Revs Jack and Bryan.  Each is quite different, though they cover some of the same Scripture.  You should enjoy each of them.

There are always a lot of people who need your prayer, today is no exception.  Please start with Bob and Shamu and work out from there.  In particular, we ask you pray for the governments around the world to be guided into appropriate reaction and scientists find cures and vaccines and that the corona virus pass each of us by.

There is an epic week ahead, with very little travel predicted.  But, you will not find it without help from the Holy Ghost, take it and use it!

Godspeed, 

Hap
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California

Fifth Sunday in Lent - Passion Sunday - 29 March 2020, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)


The Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called
Passion Sunday.
The Collect.

W
E beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

And due to the rubric, the Collect for the Day is followed by the Collect for Ash Wednesday, which is found on Page 124:

The first day of Lent, commonly called
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


¶ This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.

W
HICH of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.  51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by(John 8:46-59)

     God speaks to His own, and His own hear His Voice. If we are born of God, we shall surely enjoy His counsel and comfort. When God’s Word is proclaimed with power and conviction, no argument can stand against it. Since the enemies of God cannot brook the preaching of the Word, and cannot refute it, the weapon of choice is to attack the messenger. Their great problem in attacking Christ is not only the fact that He is the Messenger, but also the Message. How often have we seen their futile attempts to trap Him in His Words redound to their detriment? Even the Church has often struggle with faith. The Church of the modern era no longer struggles with faith – they have lost it! Can it be true that those who believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ shall never see death? If we believe God, we will believe all that He has told us. Every material entity in a material world must fade away and die, but those who are born of the Spirit in Christ have spirits that shall never perish in death or Hell. What is it that makes a man own a reputation of character and strength? It is not his own bragging of himself for reputations are established by more than mere words – it is the testimony of others who know the man and his life that establishes strong reputation and character. Christ did not testify of Himself because His Father in Heaven had already given, and was giving, a Holy Testimony and Revelation of His Son. When we are under God’s care and protection, the most violent of criminals cannot lay hand on us without the Father’s permit.

          46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? Has any man present brought charges against Christ? How often did they tempt Him to make a misstep, but He always turned the tables on clerical rascals every bit as greedy in nature and egregious in false teaching as those modern day wonders who populate pulpits across America in our own day. Even when He proved to them their error, they never turned from it. To be honest, they could not turn, for they were of their children the devil.

         47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. I never heard the counsel of another father and mother in my own home though it was given in every home in my neighborhood. I heard only the counsel of my own God-given parents.  If we are sheep of our Special Shepherd, we may even hear the mumblings of other shepherds with other flocks, but is the Voice of our own shepherd that we hear and follow. It is a fact that wolves will not hear the gentle commands of the Good Shepherd. It is not their intent to hear, but to tear and destroy the sheep. They do not hear and follow because it is not in their nature to hear and follow.

         48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devilSince Christ has truly identified these culprits as not true members of the family of God, they return to their old, trite argument of bloodlines. They call Christ a Samaritan (which they do not consider members of Israel). Suddenly, just by merely speaking words of reason and logic – and doing or saying nothing vile – Christ is labelled as having a devil! Need I remind you that rulers of the Jews have committed blasphemy and, this, not the first time?

         49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. Christ has accused these men of nothing that is not an absolute of the Holy Scriptures. Since Christ honors the Word of God the Father, and these men do not, which of the two have a devil? The Pharisees and Jews refuted, in custom, tradition, and action, the Word of God. They dishonor God thereby and even so His Son.

         50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Christ came to redeem and not to judge. The judgment has already been made by God’s Holy Word. It is by the standard of that Word that men are judged. If we are IN Christ, we are not under the terms of the Law and condemnation. But these men were far from the gates of the Holy City of God. Their deeds would judge them by that perfect standard of the Law.

         51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. This solution is too simple – too plain bread – for the sophisticated oracles of Judaism. How short a stride from hate and condemnation to freedom and liberty in Christ, but East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet: 

                     OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,     
                     Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;

     Rudyard Kipling (1865–1936)      

         52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of deathThey are actually accusing Jesus of denying that Abraham followed God. They know that there is a grave in Machpelah that contains the bones of Abraham. Their dim wits, lighted by darkness only, cannot comprehend (or refuse to) the words of Christ. All they know and understand is the “here and now”. An eternal Heaven escapes their imagination. They may make allusions to that Heaven, just as false professor of our own time do, but they do not believe any “educated” marvel could ever seriously believe it.

        53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyselfThey know DEATH, but they do not know LIFE! Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Their scale-covered eyes do not see because they have dwelt in darkness so very long that they are blinded by Light.

        54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: How can men know intimately a great King and not recognize His sons and daughters? It is actually impossible. The King sends His Son to greet those who claim His sovereignty. He forewarns them of His son’s Coming. He has written to them of it, spoken of it to them by the prophets whom they killed, and now the genuine Article stands before them and they know it not – or DO they?

         55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. It is likely that the Jews have a head knowledge of God, but they have changed His character and description from that which He claims to be, to one which suits their own passions. When we know God of a truth we cannot disavow His sayings as the Chart and Compass of our lives.

        56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Quite often we fail to remember that Abraham was a Christian like unto the true Christian of this day.  His view of Christ was ALL of faith. He looked forward, in faith, to the Coming Redeemer in Christ. He was preached the Gospel and he believed the Gospel. Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.  And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed(Gal 3:6-8)   It was not the Stones of Sinai, or of Moses, that saves, but the Grace of God in Christ Jesus.

        57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen AbrahamGod is the God of the living and not the dead. Of course, Jesus has seen Abraham. As a matter of fact, grasp this: He saw Abraham before Abraham saw himself.

        58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Yes, He was before Abraham, He was before Adam, He was before the worlds (which He made) were cast into orbit by the artful Finger of God. He was before Gabriel and all created angels. Don’t we recall that He was before the beginning of all things? There was never a time when Christ was not in the Eternal Presence – I AM!

        59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by. Ah, yes, the Ancien’ Regime! Destroy all opposition – if not by words, then, by all means, with stones. Though truth may lie trampled beneath the iron heel of hate,  it cannot be destroyed. Like the Spirit Itself, Truth shall arise time and again after the futile attempts of the ungodly to silence it. But, alas, it was not the appointed time of Christ to offer Himself. Though they would have stoned Him, He wonderfully passed through them, out of the Temple, under cover of Light. So may we all be protected from the wiles of the devil!

            It is a great comfort to realize our Lord is Eternally Present with His people, and He passes by unobserved by those who reject Him. Do you know the Presence of Christ in your heart today?

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called Passion Sunday - Explanation, Propers and Rev Jack's Sermon

Passion Sunday
Passion Sunday is the fifth Sunday in Lent, and the first Sunday in Passiontide, the last two weeks of Lent, beginning on Passion Sunday and ending on Holy Saturday (the Saturday before Easter). 

All crosses, pictures, images are covered with opaque purple veils and Gloria Patri is often omitted during this period. Passion Sunday is so-called because in the gospel for that day (John 8:46-59) Jesus begins his sufferings by being stoned out of the temple.  Under the old calendar, Passion Sunday was also known as Judica Sunday, after that day's Introit: Judica me, Deus (Judge me, O Lord) from Psalm 42 (43), and was called Black Sunday in Germany. This alternate name originates from the fact that after Passion Sunday, the Judica Psalm was not said again until Easter; the German title comes from the old practice of veiling the crosses and statues in the church on that day.

The Roman Catholic Church has completely suppressed Passiontide and eliminated Palm Sunday during the course of abandoning much of the Christian history and doctrine.  They now refer to Palm Sunday as Passion Sunday.  Traditional catholics[1] still observe Passiontide as well as its rites and ceremonies.  Passiontide is observed in the Anglican Communion.


[1] In this case the word catholic catholic (derived via Late Latin catholicus, from the Greek adjective (katholikos), means universal) comes from the Greek phrase (kath'holou), meaning on the whole, according to the whole or in general, and is a combination of the Greek words meaning about and meaning whole.  The word in English means including a wide variety of things; all-embracing in particular as relating to the historic doctrine and practice of the Western Church.   It was first used to describe the Christian Church in the early 2nd century to emphasize its universal scope. In the context of Christian ecclesiology, it has a rich history and several usages.  The term has been incorporated into the name of the Roman Catholic Church, arguably not actually a Christian church, though with many Christian members, under the Bishop of Rome.  Other Christians use the term catholic (normally with a lower-case letter c) to refer not to the Roman Catholic Church but the Christian Church and all believers in Jesus Christ across the world and across the ages, regardless of denominational affiliation.
-------------------------------
The Propers for today are found on Page 132-133, with the Collect first:

The Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called
Passion Sunday.
The Collect.

W
E beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

And due to the rubric, the Collect for the Day is followed by the Collect for Ash Wednesday, which is found on Page 124:

The first day of Lent, commonly called
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.


The Epistle for today comes from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, the Ninth Chapter, beginning at the Eleventh Verse:

C
HRIST being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.


Here endeth the Epistle.

This morning’s Gospel comes from the Gospel of Saint John, starting at the Forty-Sixth Verse of the Eighth Chapter:

Glory be to Thee, O Lord

J
ESUS said, Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words:  ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you; but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.

Praise be to Thee, O Christ

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 


Consider these words from the Collect:

… thy people; … by thy great goodness … may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul …

In the Collect, we acknowledge without God’s great goodness and divine intervention, we cannot be preserved in either body or soul.  This is a constant truth through ought the Bible and the New Testament in particular.  Without God’s great goodness we simply cannot be preserved. What does asking for God’s great goodness mean for us? It means when we ask we might be governed and thus preserved by His great goodness, we are in effect asking for His Guidance for us, so we can be preserved in both body and soul. We acknowledge God is the ultimate good and is the source of all truth, and we need His Help if we are to succeed. This concept is constant throughout all the collects. It is constant because it is the truth. We can only follow the narrow uphill path towards heaven with His Goodness and His Guidance.  As always, if we are left to our own devices and desires, we are lost.  Guided means we need to ask, then listen to what He Tells us, then actually follow those instructions.  

For us who are not perfect, following instructions can be hard at times but it must be done nevertheless. For if we do not follow His Instructions, we will never make it. Fortunately for us We have His guidance through the Holy Spirit available to help us make progress on the narrow uphill trail towards heaven. 
                                                                     
If we are looking to Him for guidance, we then need look to Him for safety.  Safety meaning only the safety of our soul, our eternal life. It does not mean safety from dangers to the body here on Earth. The body is just a temporary shell for our soul to be carried in while we do our best to do what God asks of us. We aren’t asking God for safety from the dangers to the body; but more importantly, we are asking safety for our soul. When our bodies fail and die here on earth, it is not a big deal compared to what happens to our souls after Death. What we need above all is protection from what we deserve by our own nature; eternal damnation.  So, the safety of us on this plane of existence is not nearly as important as in eternity. 

Our only means of being accounted as perfect when we come before God is to rely on the sacrifice and intermediary priesthood of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ to account us as perfect before God on that final day. Christ has replaced the intermediary priesthood of the Jews with himself our one and only High Intermediary Priest.  Your AOC ministers, while officially titled as priests, are not intermediary priests! The day of the intermediary priests have come and gone for us with the Old Testament in the past. We only need Christ, there are no middle men between us and Jesus.  He is our Savior, our Leader, our Teacher, our Master, our Example! 

Christ came to succeed the Old Covenant marked by sacrifices of innocent animals; killing off animals in an effort to atone for our sins really did not do the job. It has always required Jesus’s sacrifice. The Old Covenant simply existed because it had to be on Earth first to prepare the people for the coming of the New. He established the New Covenant marked by His death on the Cross for our sins; this has done the job intended. God knew He had to set in place the Old before He could set in place Jesus and the New Covenant. People simply would not be prepared for Jesus’s message otherwise.

Going back to the concept of action, not just diction, Jesus commanded us to follow this concept by spreading the Gospel, the story of Jesus’ death and sacrifice for us for all time, and for all mankind, to all nations. In this, He said very clearly if we are His followers, we will do as He asks, in acting for Him. Action, not just diction, is what He is looking for. So, let us act for Him! 

In the Gospel, Jesus explained to the Pharisees before Abraham had even been conceived, He was. In fact, Jesus was the one who created this Earth, so He has been around since before the beginning of the planet. The Pharisees could or would not grasp in their heads Jesus was who He claimed to be, the Son of God. They chose to try to destroy His ministry rather than follow Him. Time and time again we see them confronted with the truth Jesus offers and they always choose to reject it rather than embrace the truth.

This is a very common pattern with the enemies of God. Their hearts have been blinded by their love of their selves, pride and greed. They cannot see the simple truths we see as followers of God. They look down upon us and think we are the ignorant ones, when reality is the other way around. 

They cannot, or will not, see that the priceless gift Jesus came to offer us. Jesus came to save our souls and give us eternal life, eternal life starting right then.  Not just for the Jews and Israel, but the whole wide world, Jew, Gentile, Greek and all others.  Jesus brought salvation and life to the entire world.  That was not what the Pharisees were looking so hard for with their magnifying glasses as they examined Torah and The Law.  They were looking for what would be only a temporary power, power on this physical plane. This pales in comparison to safety and happiness forever, for all eternity.  Pharisees were not big picture people, and as Calvin told Hobbes, We big picture people rarely become historians or Pharisees, I might add.   The Pharisees were very obviously not big picture people; they misinterpreted the prophecies of the Messiah. Regardless, even though some people chose to misunderstand the prophecies, He came and He made that one sacrifice, at one time, for all mankind, for all time. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life[1].

Who is Jesus?  Our Savior?  Indeed.  But, more He has been since before the beginning of the world, for He is One with I Am.

Through His Actions, we are saved.

Do ye likewise:

ACT

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God



The Propers for today are found on Page 132-133, with the Collect first:

The Fifth Sunday in Lent, commonly called
Passion Sunday.
The Collect.

W
E beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people; that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

And due to the rubric, the Collect for the Day is followed by the Collect for Ash Wednesday, which is found on Page 124:

The first day of Lent, commonly called
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.

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LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.

The Epistle for today came from Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, starting at the Eleventh Verse of the Ninth Chapter.   Paul summarizes both the symbolism and the substance of the Lord’s sacrifice on our behalf.  Paul opens the secret of the One Perfect Sacrifice, One Time, for All Time and All Mankind.  Paul is clearly appealing to the sense of the Jews when he asks them if the blood of goats will set aside or atone for sin, how much more can be done by the Perfect Sacrifice made on our behalf?

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HRIST being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

This morning’s Gospel comes from the Gospel of Saint John, starting at the Forty-Sixth Verse of the Eighth Chapter and tells the story of Jesus’ confrontation with the Pharisees in the temple.  Like much of John it is filled with deep explanation of Jesus and His purpose here. 

Knowing them looking to find the worst in Him, Jesus asked, “Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?”  In a point central to Christianity, he went on, “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.”  When we hear the term Jews here, we should hear the world in general, for He spoke to all who would not hear.  When they would not hear, He pointed out He sought not glory or praise from them, but only from the Father whom in reality they knew not.  Here He offers the singular benefit of Christianity, “If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.”  This concept being foreign to them, they asked if He thought He was greater than Abraham.  That brought the crowning touch, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day.”  Knowing He was only in his early 30s, they could not grasp how he could have seen Abraham.

In a demonstration of the non-linearity of God’s time, He said, “Before Abraham was, I am.[2]”  As might be expected, this offended the Keepers of The Law.

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ESUS said, Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God’s words:  ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you; but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple.



[1] If the text of this sentence seems familiar, it is John 3.16, probably the most widely quoted text of the Bible.
[2] This response was similar to God’s answer to Moses’ question, “Who do I tell them sent me?”

Friday, March 27, 2020

Answer Me! – 27 March 2020, Anno Domini



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HEN the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,  Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?  Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.  Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?  Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;  When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?  When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it, 10  And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, 11  And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?  (Job 38:1-11)

            It is true that God answers the petitions in prayer of His people – but not always with a YES. We are God’s children regardless our age in years. When we appeal to our Father for things hurtful to us, He will refuse the appeal. God, contrary to popular opinion, does not hear or answer all prayers. Prayers offered up out of pride, doubt, unbelief, or intentional sin are neither heard, nor answered, by God. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” (Psalm 66:18) – if we are living a rebellious life of sin, God will pay no heed to our prayers. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”  (James 4:3) – if we ask for things outside the will of God to grant, we will not receive. In order to insure every prayer is answered, always pray with the Mind of Christ!

            Please note the model communal prayer of Matthew 6:

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FTER this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name10  Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven11  Give us this day our daily bread12  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.  (Matthew 6:9-13)

            Notice that the only requests made in this prayer are four-fold: 

1)    Let YOUR (i.e. God’s) WILL be done both on earth and in Heaven; 
2)    Give us nourishment for this day only; 
3)    Forgive us our debts just as we forgive others their debts;
4)    Give us the right spirit to avoid temptation and to overcome it. 

Simple and succinct – nothing about fine clothes, riches, or personal success. The Lord’s Prayer is offered after that principle anunciated by our Lord: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) All our needs, not all our wants, will be provided by the Father who knows what is best for our lives. 

            One of the most egregious shortcomings of those who pray is the failure to seek diligently for the Lord’s answer to prayer. Our Father in Heaven is not a Genie to whom we address our dreams, but a loving Father who is both interested in our faithfulness in praying, but also eager to give counsel regarding our petitions to Him. Even before offering prayer, should we not consider how our prayers will line up with Holy Scripture? Should we not make our approach in prayer with humility and high honor for the Sovereign to whom we seek succor?

            If we pray in the proper spirit requesting the leading of the Lord in any matter, should we not pause to hear the Lord’s answer? It may be that, like His only Begotten Son (Jesus Christ), God may answer our petition with a question of His own as in Luke 10: “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?(Luke 10:25-26) Before we ask a question of our science professor, should we not have sought out the answer in our textbook first? If we seek counsel of God, should we not have inquired first of His counsel as laid out in Holy Scripture? Our Father may sometimes inquire of us to reveal to us that we have not properly thought through our request to see if it aligns with the Word of God.

            I am the creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God and returning to God; just hovering over the great gulf; till a few moments hence I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing, the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this end He came from heaven. He has hath written it down in a book. give me that book! At any price give me the Book of God! Lord, is it not Thy word – “"If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God? Thou givest liberally, and upbraidest not. Thou hast said, if any be willing to do Thy will he shall know. I am willing to do; let me know Thy will."” from EM Bounds, On Prayer

         To the casual reader, the counsel of Job’s friends seemed reasonable and Godly; however, the Lord took umbrage at them. So, He demands an answer to a multitude of questions, none of which neither Job nor his friends could have answered. So why did God ask these questions of Job? It was to reveal, not only to Job, but to his three friends, that they could not scratch the surface in knowing the mysteries of God. It revealed the great glory of God compared with the gossamer understanding of man. It followers the presumption of prideful scientists who forecast the end of life on earth in coming decades due to Global Warning while they cannot forecast with certainty the weather for the next week; or those scientist who claim to know all that is to be known about life and how it came to be on earth, yet, they cannot even create a small gnat that lives. They have all of the ingredients necessary, but cannot put the one millisecond of life into their creation. “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:20-21)

            In what ways does God demand answers from us in prayer. Quite often, it is by a stunning silence, a feeling that we may have gone a bit far in our requests, an awareness of conscientious presumption.. Remember the Canaanite woman who came out of the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and her prayer? To begin with, there was nothing wrong with her prayer of faith, but Christ seemed to make a gentle rebuke. The rebuke was not made for the amendment of the woman’s prayer, but for the edification of faith in the eyes of the disciples – many of whom did not possess such mighty faith: “22  And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23  But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24  But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25  Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26  But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27  And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. 28  Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”  (Matthew 15:22-28)

            Perhaps you have prayed with a heavy heart, but the canopy of Heaven seems to be covered with brass. Hopefully, you made an acceptable request out of a faithful heart. But no answer was forthcoming – neither YEA nor NAY.. But, by the grace of God, you did not give up on making your repeated petitions to the Majesty on High. In the process of time and repetition, the Lord answers your prayer fully. Why the delay? It just may have been for the same purpose that our Lord Jesus Christ did not answer the Canaanite woman at the first appeal. Perhaps your constancy in prayer was a source of interest to your friends and neighbors. Perhaps their lack of faith led them to believe that your prayers fell on the deaf ears of God. Perhaps later when your prayers were profoundly answered, it caused a spark of faith to grow in the hearts of those friends and neighbors who knew her to be an ardent lady of faith – and her persistence proved her faith.


            Never be discouraged when making a Godly appeal in faith. Never give up for it is the Lord’s will to grant every faithful plea. But also do not fail to listen to God to determine what answer He will demand of you.