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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, June 30, 2020

Hymns of the Church – Tell Me, My Savior – 30 June 2020, Anno Domini


M
Y beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.  I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.  (Song of Solomon 6:2-3)

T
HE LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:1-4)

This is a little known, but theologically sound, hymn by Charles Seymour Robinson, DD. Most of the author’s work involved the illustration of hymns both old and contemporary to his time (1829-1892). The tune is a very popular one, especially to me – it is the tune to which the West Point Alma Mater is sung – LYNDE, a Thuringian Folk tune.

Tell Me, My Savior

Tell me, my Savior! where Thou dost feed Thy flock,
Resting beside the rock, cool in the shade.
Why should I be as one turning aside alone,
Left, when Thy sheep have gone, where I have strayed?

Seek me, my Savior! for I have lost the way.
I will Thy voice obey; speak to me here!
Help me to find the gate where all Thy chosen wait;
Ere it shall be too late, oh, call me near!

Show me, my Savior! how I can grow like Thee;
Make me Thy child to be, taught from above;
Help me Thy smile to win; keep me safe folded in,
Lest I should rove in sin, far from Thy love.

            1 Tell me, my Savior! where Thou dost feed Thy flock, Resting beside the rock, cool in the shade. Why should I be as one turning aside alone, Left, when Thy sheep have gone, where I have strayed? The true Shepherd will always be found wherever the Sheep are – not because He follows them, but because they follow Him! The query in this verse is pointed – ‘why should I, or any other, turn aside’ except when falling victim to the temptations of the flesh and the world. The faithful sheep will not lose focus of the Shepherd but will follow hard on wherever He leads. If we would know of the Bread of Heaven and the pastures of plenteous delight, we need not ask ‘where dost Thou feed they flock?’ We need only follow where He leads. As the Psalm says, 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me What could be more spiritually opulent than being led to a place of perfect peace and provender, beside the Waters of Life, receiving a renewed heart and soul, led in all right ways, and even at the moment of our physical death, He is with us to comfort us in our passage to the bosom of Abraham.

            2 Seek me, my Savior! for I have lost the way. I will Thy voice obey; speak to me here! Help me to find the gate where all Thy chosen wait; Ere it shall be too late, oh, call me nearDo we drift from the Narrow Way in which the Lord leads from time to time? Yes, we all do so. We may drift away due to lack of attention to the Shepherd, or led off by the tempting foliage beside the way, or due to some hurt which we have not addressed to the Shepherd. When we drift, the Lord desires to hear our own voice of appeal in prayer. He will then come into the rocks and crevices of the wilderness to rescue us. WE know the Shepherd’s Voice and will respond when He calls: he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. (John 10:3-5) It is the Lord that calls His own to the gate, not the dead sinner.

            3 Show me, my Savior! how I can grow like Thee;  Make me Thy child to be, taught from above; Help me Thy smile to win; keep me safe folded in, Lest I should rove in sin, far from Thy love. The Lord has already showed us in unmistakable ways how we may grow closer to Him. All of the Laws and the Prophets have directed our study to that way. We have the Commandments of Sinai and the Lord’s command, 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1:15-16) (see also, Leviticus 19:2) Christ reminded us of the ancient Commandment of the Old Testament:  36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets(Matthew 22:36-40) (this was a restatement of the Old Testament – see Deut 6:5 & Lev 19:18) This was not a new Commandment given by our Lord, but rather a counsel to remember it as given of old. So, what new Commandment did our Lord give to help us be more like His divine Person?  34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

            With our Good Shepherd, we shall always be safely folded in, for He loses none that the Father has placed in His hands. Of course, the glaring answer to all our doubts, disobedience, and roving is related to that one element that joins together all of the Ten Commandments – LOVE. That is the mystery revealed in the Two Great Commandments given by our Lord. Love is not an automatic response – it is a willful decision of the soul. It is also learned as we become more able to relate to the pain and suffering of others with compassion. Have you mastered the gift of LOVE?

Sunday, June 28, 2020

AOC Sunday Report - Third Sunday after Trinity



Happy Third Sunday after Trinity as we progress through the seemingness unending Green Season.

The AOC Sunday Report can be downloaded RIGHT HERE!

We have really great sermons from Bishops Jerry and Roy, as well as Revs Jack and Bryan and also today Rev Ryan.  They are each different in content, approach and style, but all are outstanding.

There are a lot of people who need your prayers, start with Bill, Bob and Shamu and work out from there.  Do not forget to pray for our various governments as they confront both the Covid matter and the various forms of civil unrest, these are matters not primarily what they seem, but driven by the Prince of this World.

Evil aside, there is still a great week hiding out there that can only be found with the help of the Holy Ghost.

Have a great, nay EPIC week ahead!

Godspeed,

Hap
Church of the Faithful Centurion
Descanso, CA

Sermon Notes - Third Sunday after Trinity - Lost - Saint Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church - 28 June 2020, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)



Third Sunday after Trinity.
The Collect.

O
 LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us; and grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray, may, by thy mighty aid, be defended and comforted in all dangers and adversities; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.


Before our prayers are answered, they must be heard and recorded in Heaven. Prayers that fall short of the will of God, or which are offered out of a heart that harbors sinful inclinations. So, the opening line pleads for the hearing of our prayers by God Almighty. God hears our prayers, precisely as the Collect says, out of mercy and not some presumed constraint. There are churches today who have opted for the heresies of ancient days in teaching that God has no choice but to hear and grant our prayer requests. Who is Sovereign, God or Man? I may upset the comfort of many in declaring my belief that there is more error taught in the modern church than truth. It is no wonder that our nation and people have sunk to their lowest moral point in history while churches teach that adultery, homosexuality, luke-warm obedience and a laxity of worship is acceptable so long as the treasury of the church offering pot is filled. 

There are churches here in Alabama which note seven or eight different categories of offering on the Offering Envelope. If one or two boxes are not checked, the pastor makes public notice of it. There are special secular holidays, such as New Years Eve, at which the preacher prays for all the children of the church. These young innocents line up to be blessed by the pastor holding an envelope containing an offering clearly stated on the outside as to amount. If the amount is handsome, the prayer and blessing seems to be more intense and of greater duration.  May I ask the difference between this principle and that of Roman indulgences which spurred the great Reformer, Martin Luther, to flee to Protestantism? Our first prayer should always be that our lives and actions reflect the character from which God may hear our prayers: O LORD, we beseech thee mercifully to hear us.

". . . grant that we, to whom thou hast given an hearty desire to pray." Our petitions will be more in line with God's will to grant is our prayers emerge from a hearty desire to pray. Are your prayers and desires to pray hearty? Do you pray at first and last light of day? Is your life a perpetual attitude of prayer?  Prayer is a privilege at least as much as a duty. If we pray out of obligation only, our prayers are not offered in the proper spirit. People often petition to meet their Senator or Congressman to redress some trivial human grievance. They may wait days or weeks before the meeting is granted, and then the request may be given lip service only. But no one must wait in line to make their petitions known to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. What a privilege to have the veil of separation in the Temple ripped from top to bottom so that all men may come on equal footing for their personal prayers to a Holy God. How can we neglect so great a privilege! Having so much greater vision than we have - in fact, perfect vision - God will even edit our requests so that a greater good to us will result from that for which we, at first, asked. We are children lacking a wider knowledge of the science of life, but God knows and answers our prayers accordingly.

". . . may, by thy mighty aid, be defended." God is truly our ONLY defense. That defense is reserved in greater measure for those who are minded to pray. Though God may not send mighty acts of nature to destroy a wicked people, He is inclined to defend His people from the effects of such cataclysmic events. Our youth in the public school system are not afforded the privilege of prayer to which I was exposed as a child. Therefore, evil and wickedness have a welcome door and access to our youth of America. God bless those parents who are able to home-school their children.

Not only are we defended, in our prayers, from many dangers, toils and snares, but we are comforted therein as well. ". . . and comforted in all dangers and adversities. This principle is confirmed over and over in Holy Scripture. It has even been confirmed in my own life. It is not the case that God has spared me from very trying and difficult situations, but He has comforted and defended me therein. I have experienced a sense of ease even when those whose duty it is to render medical treatment are near panic. I do not wish to leave this world not knowing if my family is well, but I do not either fear death. It took me a while to develop that level of comfort in God, but, having it, I am relieved of many tensions and stresses. This last phrase of the Collect was appropriately added by the Prayer Book revisers of 1662, for it is not only a defense that we are granted, but a comfort and peace of mind under all circumstances.

The Gospel
T
HEN drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4 What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?   (Luke 15:1-4)

E
ITHER what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?   (Luke 15:8)

A
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 want.    (Luke 15:11-14)

            The Gospel Text for the Third Sunday after Trinity next is the Parable of the Lost Things,  but I believe that Parable takes on greater meaning when  the Prodigal Son is added to the equation. All three parables address something that is lost in varying degrees of measure. Each has, I believe, a significant relevance to the nature of being either lost ‘in’ Christ, or lost ‘to’ Christ.

            To set the stage for our study, let us recall the Words of our Lord’s prayer in the Garden at Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal. 

A
ND now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee.. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. 12  While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. 13  And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14  I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15  I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  

NOTE: Those our Lord proclaims to be not lost includes Peter who denied the Lord three times this very night. Peter was secure in the predestined calling of God even though he stumbled that one night three times over.

            There are few routine occurrences more unsettling than to lose something even if of little worth, but to lose an possession that is very valuable is heartbreaking. One will search high and low, over and over again, until that thing is either recovered, or all hope of finding it is abandoned. A mother of ten children could never choose one of the ten to be eternally lost. They are all of equal value. In fact one is worth the ten in a mother’s eyes. 

            The three parables under consideration today speak of someone, or something, that is lost. But each lost thing represents a certain stage of one’s standing in Christ.

            The first parable is of one sheep out of one hundred that is lost (1% lost). The second speaks of one coin out of ten that is lost; and the third speaks of one son out of two that is lost. What do these lost things refer to individually. Let’s examine them one by one. 

The Lost Sheep
What is the nature of a little sheep? It has very little situation awareness. It feels safe under the watchful eye of the shepherd. But is lacks distant vision. It can see clearly only a few feet ahead. I believe this lost sheep represents the baby Christian whose faith is not deeply rooted in the Word. He or she has only recently come to know the Lord, so their understanding of the wiles of the devil are not fully developed. They follow along behind the animal just to their front, but are tempted by a bit of grass just a little distance from the trail. Thus, they wander there to eat, but see more grass even further beyond. Suddenly, they look up and neither the other sheep nor the shepherd is anywhere in sight. At first they panic and run to and from to find the shepherd and the flock, but to no avail. They wander aimlessly in fear of wolves and other predators. They are on their own without any defense in the absence of the Shepherd just as we Christians are lost without our Lord when we drift away from our sensibilities of Him.

            So, what does the little sheep do? It begins to bleat among the rocks and crevices of the mountain slopes. The shepherd in due time misses the little fellow and secures his ninety and nine in a secure fold while he searches for the little one. At length, the shepherd hears the bleating (praying) sheep and carries it home on his shoulders to his friends “saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.” Our Lord rejoices when an errant son or daughter of His elect wanders from faith but is finally awakened by the desperation of their circumstance. A newborn Christian has faith from the beginning but lacks the depth of spiritual knowledge and training which often results in their wandering into the wilderness of the world. Once aware of their lostness, they begin to pray (bleat) and seek the face of their Shepherd who knows their predicament and will bring them home to the fold.

The Lost Coin
What of the woman with ten silver coins one of which she loses (10% lost). A coin is not like an animal or a person. It is inanimate or dead just as the lost without Christ are dead in trespasses and sins. In fact, until we heard the Voice of Christ calling, we were all as the coin – dead to all around us. The coin is like the lost sinner who is dead in trespasses and sins. When a woman of Israel was wedded to her husband, she was given a diary by her father in case she was ever summarily divorced by her husband – a practice not uncommon in Israel. The diary was her emergency fund on which to live in event of such a contingency. So, the woman was desperate to find the silver coin. God has His diary for the Bride of His Son (the Church) and every one that is chosen to make up that diary is important in the eyes of the Lord. He will never fail to find and make alive that lost coin of His heritage. “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;) (Ephesians 2:4-5)  “those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost,

The Lost Son
There were two sons, and the younger demanded his inheritance, early, even before the death of his father which was customary. The father was a kind and insightful man who granted this demand of a rebellious son. Not many days after, the boy packed his goods and set out on a world of adventure (50% lost). The old father watched sadly as the boy disappeared over the road leading to a far country. But the father was not blind to the boy’s excesses in that far country. He was careful to hear reports of how the boy was getting on. He realized that forcing the boy’s return would not be wise. Well, the boy wasted his money on fine living and drink. As long as the wealth held out, he was blessed with many ingratiating friends; but, once he was without money, he turned to see his friends, and none were there. He was hungry and homeless. He associated himself with a stranger (the devil) who cared nothing for the boy except in how he could use him. So, the stranger sent him into the pigs’ sties to feed and care for them. This was particularly demeaning to a young Hebrew. Once, when he came to his right mind (for none of those who wander from their father are sane) he repented and resolved to go to his father and to repent.

The old father sat on that same porch watching the same horizon upon which the boy had disappeared long ago. Though the boy was ragged, stooped, and covered with the filth of pigs, the father nonetheless recognized the boy at first glance, ran to him, embraced him, had shoes put on his feet (freedom), a signet ring placed on his finger (authority), and a robe on his back to cover his filth (the redeeming blood of Christ). The boy was still his son and had ever been even in a far country; but now the son was home, and all was joy.

The elder son was angry at the treatment his young brother received. He resented the reception given his lost brother and though himself far better than the Prodigal. This older brother represented the scribes and Pharisees whose badgering had resulted in Christ giving the three parables: Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them (Luke 15:1-3)

            We, and they, have enough to be concerned about with our own souls instead of condemning those we consider of lower class or stature. That is the lesson simplified. 

Rev Ryan Underwood’s Sermon - Third Sunday after Trinity - Rewarding evil for good - 28 June 2020


Rev Ryan Underwood’s Sermon
Bishop Jerry asks you carefully consider this sermon from Rev Ryan Underwood of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide.  You should find this interesting and instructive.

Sermon Notes
Third Sunday after Trinity 
Rewarding evil for good 
28 June 2020
Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide 

1 Samuel 23 & Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house. -Proverbs 17:13. 

In 1 Samuel 23, we hear how David saves the inhabitants of Keilah from the Philistine Host while he is being chased by Saul’s men. The events surrounding this battle vividly portray the truth which David later laments in his Psalm, “hey rewarded me evil for good to the great discomfort of my soul.  Proverbs 17:13 tells us that rewarding evil for good is sinful, that it mightily displeases God and transgresses His Law, and calls down the dreadful curse of God upon all who commit it. With this in mind, let us examine this theme by looking at four examples of how men reward evil for good in the events surrounding the Battle of Keilah:

1.     Saul rewards evil for David’s good.
2.     Saul rewards evil for the priests’ good. 
3.     Keilah rewards evil for David’s good. 
4.     We reward evil for Christ’s good. 

Saul rewards evil for David’s good.
We know how David faithfully served his King and country before the battle of Keilah, how he valiantly fought against the Philistines and secured the borders of Israel, how he beheaded Goliath, how all Israel loved David for his good deeds, and how the fair maidens of Israel sang of David’s victory through the streets, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” Thus, David put his life on the line in the service of his country, and gained many a victory for Israel. David did good towards the house of Saul and the whole commonwealth of Israel. 

Now, how does King Saul reward David for this good service? Does Saul reward David with good? No, rather, Saul rewards David with evil. Saul hates David and fears David, Saul is David’s continual enemy, because Saul sees that God is with David, because David is that man whose House will supplant the house of Saul in its rule over all Israel. Therefore, Saul rewards David’s faithful and good service with hatred and ill will. Saul attempts to kill David for no crime and without trial. Saul throws a javelin at David in the throne room. Saul sends David into battle in the hope that he would be killed by the Philistines. Saul abuses his royal authority, ordering his knights and servants to attempt the unlawful nocturnal murder of David in his own bed. The plottings of Saul force David to leave his wife and flee his home in the middle of the night. Saul and his men chase David like dogs chasing a fox, so that David, a man who had only done good towards Israel, is forced to hide in caves, in forests, in holds, to flee for his life. David is hunted and persecuted by his countrymen. See how Saul rewards David for his good and faithful service. Saul rewards evil for the good David showed towards him. 

Saul rewards evil for the priests’ good. 
As David flees the wrath of Saul, David resorts to the priests of the Lord at Nob for food and arms. David presents himself and his men as the commissioned servants of the King. Ahimelech the priest knew David, how he was the good and faithful soldier of the King, and therefore had no reason to doubt David’s story. The priests supplied  David with arms and food. In this, the priests were acting as good and faithful subjects of the King. Since they believed David to be the King’s representative, we can say that the good which Ahimelech did for David was also done for the King.
How does Saul repay the priests’ good and faithful service? Saul orders the Ahimelech to appear before him, and charges him with conspiring with David. Ahimelech answers that he helped David because he believed David to be the King’s faithful servant and a member of the royal family. Thus, Ahimhlech plainly denied any malice against Saul in his conduct towards David, claiming that his actions were out of loyalty to the Crown. But this does not satisfy Saul. Rather than thanking the priests for their good and faithful service to the Crown, Saul ordered the massacre of the whole priestly family. Saul’s judgement is so perverted by sin that he dares to raise his hand against the Lord’s ministers. Here again we see that Saul rewards evil for the good which the priests had done towards him and his kingdom. 

Keilah rewards evil for David’s good. 
Next we see David rendering good to the city of Keilah. Although David is a hunted man, he does not forget his office as the Lord’s servant and the Lord’s soldier. After hearing that an Israelitie city is besieged by the Philistine hordes, David goes to the Lord in prayer asking what he should do. He does not have a commission from Saul to defend the city, but he knows that ultimately it is the Lord’s Commission that counts. When God blesses David’s mission to save Keilah, he rallies his men to the field and proceeds to drive the Philistines from the city. Thus, David saved Keilah, and did good to Keilah that day. 

Now how does Keilah reward their saviour David? God tells David that the men of Keilah will deliver him up to Saul when he arrives at the city. This city faced imminent destruction at the hands of the Philistines, but David saved them. Now, they will hand their saviour David over to the murderous Saul! How ungrateful is fallen man! How often do sinful men reward evil for good!  

We reward evil for Christ’s good. 
Thus, it can be seen how these faithful men were rewarded with evil for the good they did towards Saul and all of God’s people. However, was this evil pointless, or was it allowed by God for a purpose? Matthew Henry makes an important point here, that David suffered, “the ill treatment that was given him; for he must render good for evil, and therein be a type of him who not only ventured his life, but laid down his life, for those that were his enemies.”

The Lord Jesus Christ does good to us continually. He, the eternal Word of God, became flesh for our sakes, that we condemned sinners might behold His glory! During His perfectly righteous and sinless life, the Lord Jesus Christ showed forth His goodness to wicked men, turning water into wine, forgiving sins, healing the sick, raising the dead, teaching men and women the saving truth of His infallible Word. In His Death, the Lord Jesus Christ bears the penalty for our sins that we might be counted righteous in Him and reconciled to God in eternal life. The Lord Jesus Christ makes the full perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world on the Cross of Calvary!  By His Life, Death, Resurrection, Ascension, and sending of the Holy Ghost, our Good Lord delivers every one who believes on Him! 

But how do we fallen men reward our good Lord for His goodness towards us? Do we love Him? Do we give Him all praise, honor and glory? Or do we often backslide into sin, do we often transgress His holy Law, do we often follow the example of Saul in rewarding evil for good? We sin daily, we sinfully reward our Lord evil for good, and so fall into the same condemnation as Saul and Keilah. But there is good news. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ saves all sinners who believe on Him from their deserved condemnation. Our Lord gives us His goodness, His grace and unmerited mercy, although we give Him our evil. Let us then repent of our sins, and turn to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in faith, trusting in Him for the forgiveness of our sins, lest the curse of our text fall upon us, as it falls upon all who reward evil for good, Whoso rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house. 

Oh friends, pray we may not give our Lord evil for good, but good for good, that by His Spirit working in us we may show forth the praise of Jesus Christ with our lips and our lives by giving up ourselves to His service, and by walking before Him in holiness and righteousness all our days to His honor and glory alone, in whose precious name we pray. Amen.  


Friday, June 26, 2020

The Final Goodnight – 26 June 2020, Anno Domini



V
ERILY, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24)

B
EHOLD, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Corinthians 15:51-57)

            Perhaps the most important, and yet most neglected consideration in life is the destiny of the soul. Our earthly life can in no wise compare with that eternity future that awaits every man, woman and child. It is likely that the butterfly has as little awareness of a coming death as the average unbeliever.  For some reason, we come into this world believing that we shall live forever. That fact is not far from true since the soul will, indeed, spend eternity at one or the other of two destinations – Heaven or Hell. 

            The federal head of the human race, Adam, brought both physical and spiritual death upon his progeny. But the second, Adam, - Jesus Christ - has granted eternal life to all who have been granted mercy and grace through His shed blood at Calvary such as that enjoyed by the beggar Lazarus. Others, like unto Dives (the Rich Man), will spend an eternity looking up from the fires of Hell with grievous regret and mourning. There exists at this very moment a room of dying for each reader of this devotion – perhaps to be reserved for this very day, tomorrow, or even decades in the future. But that room will be our last glimpse of light in this life sooner or later. Then what? For the Christian, there is no dread of that eventual ‘good-bye.’ If our lives are on deposit in that Great Stone Vault which is Christ, we should even be joyful at the coming prospect.

            A single grain of wheat would scarcely serve as a meal for any of us. As long as we hold it in hand, it remains a single grain; however, when we plant that grain in the soil, well-watered and cultivated, it will shed it’s protective covering. The tiny spark of life in the heart of the seed will convey life to a new plant which has emerged from the germinated seed. It remains hidden to the farmer’s eye until it struggles to break the surface and burst into the effulgent light of the sun. Instead of one tiny grain of wheat, the farmer will, by-and-by, have a great multitude of seed which have been born of that single grain. This is why our Lord died for us – that we may be born anew and produce much fruit. It is the life of the first grain that the wheat crop will possess. For the Christian, our life is in Christ, and He in us. We have a new life that is made to conform to His life which is now in us. 

            I performed a funeral service for family friends last week. I had done so four years earlier for the husband, and now for the widow’s son. Naturally, she was overcome with grief. The mother was approaching 80 years of age, and her son had died at 55 years. I asked the mother this question: Suppose you are in great need to make your house payment when a benefactor offered to give you, free gratis, a sum of $55,000 to pay off the balance of your home. Would you simply accept that sum with gratitude, or would you ask for a bit more? She responded that she would accept the amount with gratitude. I then suggested that the 55 years of her son’s life was just like that gift of God, free gratis, for that term of life. I believed that helped her to understand and appreciate the gift and not mourn the brief period of the gift. All life is a gift of God. Whether the gift is for two years, five years, twenty years, or even one hundred, it is still a gift of that duration. Moreover, the departed soul is in the best, most loving, merciful and just hands of any other. There is no room to mourn the departed, but those of us who remain in this world of trouble and strife rightfully mourn our own continuing worldly life.

            I read a brief account in ‘Signs of the Times’ which tells a story of similar nature:

            A lady, when her husband was absent, lost both her children to cholera. She laid them both out with a mother’s tenderness, spread a sheet over them, and waited at the door for her husband’s return. 

            ‘A person lent me some jewels,’ she told her husband on his return., ‘and he now wants to have them back. What shall I do?’ ‘Return them by all means,’ said the husband. Then she led the way, and silently uncovered the little forms of their beloved children

I consider this a beautiful manner of softening the loss for her husband, for it is true. 

I have several Federal Reserve Notes minted in the 1950’s. These are called, Silver Certificates, because the one who possesses these bills is assured that the bill is redeemable in REAL silver at the nearest Federal Reserve Bank. The problem with this instrument is the fact that the nation has been taken off the silver standard and the promise is no longer valid. The guarantee has expired. 

The same is true of our bodies of flesh and bones, but without expiration. Our lives are based on the Gold Standard of Heaven. Though wrinkled and soiled, we will carry these worn out bodies to the great Exchange and receive, in their places, the pure Gold of Heaven’s treasure. The passing soul will be more than fiat currency – it will be more beautiful and genuine than ever before. Instead of a bill of fiat, we have the actual promise fulfilled in the gold granted. The paper was never of any worth whatsoever – it was the promise of the Sovereign that gave a potential value to the currency.. There is no greater Banker than God, and no mightier Sovereign than the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

If we have lived a life of depravity and sin, our lives will be as the expired Silver Certificate, for they have been printed on counterfeit paper.

I do not know precisely what to expect when my body is buried and my spirit has returned to God who gave it.  . . . . because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: 6 Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. 7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it(Ecclesiastes 12:5b-7) But I do know that to be absent in the body is to be present with the Lord, and there can never be a more blessed or joyful place of eternal abode.

I do know the promises made sure by the Word of God. To expound upon the second leading text of this devotion:

1)      We shall not all sleep – those who remain alive at His Coming shall not suffer the first death.

2)      but we shall all be changed – indeed, these corrupted and decomposed bodies shall be instantly reconstituted from the divine atoms which have scattered to the four winds.

3)      In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump – The change will be instantaneous. The sleeping body will sleep so soundly that it will have no awareness of time having lapsed while the soul awaits reunion with that new body.

4)      for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed – a trumpet is a military instrument alerting the sleeping soldier to awaken as the Armies of Heaven, led by our Lord of Lords and King of Kings, returns with the armies of Heaven. Our risen bodies will no longer be subject to pain, sorrow, or death.  

5)      For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. The curse of Adam shall be cancelled and we shall be changed from the soiled currency to the gold of the realm.

6)      So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory – No more death. Death and Hell were conquered by our Redeemer. Instead of the bars of Hell, we shall behold the glorious victory of the long and hard fought battle. 

7)      O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. That old harbinger of darkness (death) will no longer trouble our minds and hearts. The Christian saint, just as his Lord and Savior, shall exchange his borrowed tomb for the white robe of righteousness purchased by our Lord. Our Lord has satisfied the demands of the Law, and we are set free in the Perfect Law of Liberty.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

In the Image of God – 25 June 2020, Anno Domini


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ND God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:26-28)

A
ND the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ(1 Thessalonians 5:23)

            There is a subtle reference in the very first verse of the Bible (Gen 1:1) to the Trinity, Elohim being a plural form of a singular entity – an idiosyncrasy of the Hebrew language. We have no comparable noun in English. But Elohim refers to the Triune God in wholeness. In his book, “Trinity in the Universe,” Dr. Nathan R. Wood, former President of Gordon College, gives a detailed account of how the Triune God is evidenced in Time, Space, and Matter. All the universe is comprised of elements of three’s - without either one of which there could be nothing but nothingness. For example, we learned in elementary geometry that a point in space is nothing more than a reference point having no substance. But two points in space describe a line – one dimension. Three points in space describe a plane – still without substance. But four non-linear points in space describe a three-dimensional space. This space may be comprised of spatial ether, or of any description of matter common to nature. There can be no material object without these three dimensions. Though a brick has three dimensions, it is still one brick. 

            The above example also applies to the Triune God. He is three-dimensional in His nature and Being. There is no Triune God without Christ, or the Holy Ghost, or the Father. These three are distinct, but ONE. The great difference is this: the dimensions of our God are infinite in all directions. The width, depth, and height cannot be measured for they are infinite comprehending all the physical Universe and more.

            But God made man in His own Image. What does this mean? There is much disparagement of images today. We have military and political statuary that is intended to reflect the most perfect likeness of the person of whom it is made to commemorate. Yet, it is only an image and not the original. There are movements of unbridled hatred today that attempts to destroy these monuments of our nation's past glory.. The images are marred, or even pulled down in an attempt to erase the political memory and principles of a people. Those who seek to demolish monuments of a nation and to destroy private property inherit that sinful inclination from their father the devil. They are simply imitating their father.

            Man was a glorious image of His God at the early dawn of Creation at Eden. He was created sinless and given dominion over the Garden and the many wonderful animals and foliage of the Garden. The Lord communed with the couple, Adam and Eve, in the Garden – what an unparalleled privilege! But there was another personage in the Garden whose heart was filled with hate for the beautiful Creation God had made. The personage was the fallen Lucifer who held a special animosity toward the man, God’s crowning creature of His Creation. The image of man (after the likeness of God) was beautiful both in physical features and in personality. Like the iconoclasts of our own day, Satan resolved to mar that image – and he did so by appealing to the pride of Eve.

            So, man no longer bears that perfect likeness to his Maker. That image was marred in Eden. It was not Satan’s intent to merely mar that image, but to pull it from its pedestal and destroy it. But the Creator intervened. He was not surprised at the fall of Adam and Eve. In fact, He who knows all things, knew that man would not be able, by his own merits, to live sinlessly. He, therefore, provided a sacrificial Lamb from before the foundation of the world to cover the sins of our primitive parents – the federal head of the human race. That Lamb of God, was predestined from before the foundation of the world to restore the image which Satan had marred. Our Lord Jesus Christ was more than a mere image of the Father, He was the very issue and substance of the Father. 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; 4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?  (Hebrew 1:1-5)

            The righteousness of man is as filthy rags.. He is dead in trespasses and sin (Eph 2). He can do nothing to save himself from his awful predicament; however, Christ has come to redeem from that marred image – to impute His righteousness to every one of His elect so that they enter the Holy Gate with that imputed righteousness and not the old filthy rags of their own works and choices. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6 Like the statues of our historic statesmen whose images have been toppled from their high alters,  the marred image of man cannot lift himself up and restore his Edenic image. Only the sinless blood of Christ would suffice to cleanse that marred image and restore it to the chosen community of God the Father.

            An early picture of the great Sacrifice of the lamb of God was given in Eden when God found it necessary to kill one of His beautiful creatures to provide a covering for the nakedness (sins) of Adam and Eve. He loved that creature, but even more, He must have felt revulsion at the sin that made such a death necessary. It represented another innocent Lamb that would be sacrificed for our own sins in the fulness of time. That Lamb, being the ‘express image’ in the Person of the Father – an image that was not superficial, but the very substance of the Father. He was the only Begotten of the Father – not the ‘one and only son’ as modern apostate Bibles aver NIV, ESV, Jehovah Witness bible, etc.  “14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

            The image of our Lord is coin of the realm – authentic, pure and complete. How is He different as the only Begotten Son from His elect who are also sons and daughters? Our Lord is God in the second Person of the Trinity. He is of the same substance and issue of the Father having His exact image and likeness, character and personality. We, on the other hand, are not natural children of God. Our image has been marred by sin. We are children by means of adoption. He has chosen us to be His children by adoption through the agency of His Son who purchased our salvation by mercy and grace of the crucifixion – not negating the law, but fulfilling the judicial requirements thereof.

            Being the ‘express image of the Father’ the image of our Lord makes known to us the nature and Being of the Father. A counterfeit bill may appear to be an express image, but it falls short either in artwork, paper, or quality. But the true image is the genuine currency of the Kingdom. How shall we know the counterfeit from the genuine? 

            Bank tellers handled thousands of bills a day. Yet, they are not taught the images of the counterfeit – they are taught to recognize the genuine so well that any imitation will be immediately detected. The same is true of the Gospel faith. If we learn of the Word to such accomplishment that we have an intimate knowledge of the Lord that is represented wholly by the Word, we will immediately recognize and imposter whose lies reveal the counterfeit that he is.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Remembering the Old Paths – 24 June 2020, Anno Domini

 

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OR from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. 14 They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. * 15 Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the LORD. 16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. 17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken. (Jeremiah 6:13-17)

            Our beloved country of America stands at a critical crossroads today. The condition of our nation could have scarcely been imagined by the patriot of five or six decades ago. It took two centuries to build an enviable and proud record of freedom and Constitutional government, but the weeds of wickedness work much faster. Our sons and daughters of today may be the last to breath the air of liberty between our two ocean shores. Our youth lack real education and have been indoctrinated at the taxpayer’s expense for several decades. Many could not name even one of the Bill of Rights, but they are able to regurgitate the Communist dogma they have been taught in our ‘premier’ universities and colleges.

            The great object of the illiterate masses today is to storm the Bastille of Liberty, destroy our historical memory and monuments, undermine trust in our laws, and to undermine every vestige of morality and family life. This is not new to the vandals of history. The ancient art of Greece and the Middle East has been intentionally defaced and destroyed by hordes of irrational radicals bent on a totalitarian state. ISIS and Al-Qaida are the most recent examples in the Middle East. Hitler’s Nazi Party did likewise in Germany, and so did the Communist Party of the old Soviet Union and Red China. If a nation can be made to forget who they are and from whence they are descended, enslavement of such a people is made quite easy. Today, we have vandals, looters and so-called Antifa (read disguised Fascists), doing the same. They are paid pawns in a larger global effort to destroy the last bastion of freedom remaining on earth.

            Our Lord has warned us of the danger lurking in our very midst which, if unchecked, could speedily topple our Constitutional Republic and reduce our populace to misery and servitude.

            The Lord has placed a burden upon His ministers to sound the alarm regarding the insidious insurrection and subterfuge that has become prevalent in our society. Few are doing so which brings into question whether they are called ministers of God in the first place. 

            I can tell you that I will not forfeit my responsibility to sound the trumpet. I may do so with less than a polished oratory, but the trumpet has its own voice and sound. We are in grave danger. We can no longer procrastinate and deliberate. Action is now the requirement of the day. As Patrick Henry, that greatest of Founding Fathers warned,  Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!  (Before the second Virginia Convention, 1775)

            I am amazed at the bottomless political swamp which the backwaters of corruption and deceit have brooked in our national capitol. Generals such as Chairman of Joint chiefs of Staff, Milley, Gen Kelly, and others, who should know better, have claimed that Federal troops are intended for battle against a foreign enemy – not against insurgents inside our borders. Have these political pawns forgotten their oath of office that every officer takes at commissioning – to “defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, FOREIGN and DOMESTIC?” I suppose they would have objected to using Federal troops against the women, children and soldiers of the Southern States during the War Between the States.

            All of these men have been exposed to the lessons of history in their growing up years. Many are graduates of the United States Military Academy on whose campus the likeness of General Robert E. Lee is proudly displayed. Most have been assigned to military post with names such as Fort Polk, Fort Hood, Fort Benning, Fort Lee, Fort Bragg, etc; but, suddenly find offense at the names of those who they label as traitors gracing the banners of these posts. It does not take a very long time for a political pawn to change positions when there is no character or principles to abate his choices.

            I have known that God called me to minister from a very young age, but I attempted to close my ears and heart to that calling. But, alas, after a long chase, I surrendered some forty years ago and accepted my Christian responsibility. My life has been filled with an abiding peace since that time. So, I feel that I must do all in my power to preserve this nation as a beacon light, not only to her own people, but to yearning masses around the world. We are the Camp of the Saints, but we can be quickly overrun by the hordes of Satan if we compromise our faith and commitment to our Lord.

            The Old Paths to which Jeremiah refers are those which our Fore-Fathers blazed in a hostile wilderness. They relied upon the leading light of a providential God to direct their steps. Even when growing up in the rural Blue Ridge country, I remember the daily converse of men in commerce and social life. They never failed to call to mind a biblical text to support their challenged position. As a boy growing up, we did not know a single divorcee, nor did we believe that there were any men who desired to marry other men. Marijuana was unknown, and addicting drugs were only mentioned in detective comic books.

            Robert Frost, in his poem, describes the dilemma of two diverging paths. One was well-traveled, the other not so much, but overgrown with weeds:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

            There is some question about what point Frost was making, but when it is applied to America, I believe we must take the Path MOST traveled – the Path our Fore-Fathers laid out for us at our early founding as a nation – GOD, Country, and Family!

            I do not expect all who read this message to heed the warning, but I know that those who love our country will see the danger and respond in Godly virtue and courage. May the good Lord preserve us according to His perfect will by awakening our people and drawing us back to His governance even if a hard chastisement is necessary for the purpose. Amen.