Verse of the Day

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Tenth Sunday after Trinity

On Point
Someone asked, where do the quotes come from?  The answer is from the people who uttered them.  But, how did you find them?  Oh, that.  Most are from Rev Bryan Dabney, a few from other places, but overall mostly from Bryan.  He always has a few great ones to share.  On to the On Point quotes –

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.
Exodus 3:14

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8

And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
St. Luke 12:4-5

What the ark was to Noah, what the Passover lamb was to Israel in Egypt, what the manna, the smitten rock, the brazen serpent, the pillar of cloud and fire, the scapegoat, were to the tribes in the wilderness, all this the Lord Jesus is meant to be to a man’s soul. None [are] so destitute as those that are without Christ!
JC Ryle
19th  century Anglican bishop and author
(Holiness, p. 324)

While it is true that all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, it is not true that a mere utterance of that phrase will suffice. The utterance must be a genuine and sincere confession of faith from the heart and not the head. It must be followed with evidence of salvation. A new man must be in evidence following the confession.
Jerry L. Ogles
20th and 21st century Anglican Orthodox Presiding Bishop

We Americans are presently being governed (and have been for some time) by a political oligarchy. Whether it be Republican or Democratic, its primary purpose and goal is both its own preservation and the acquisition and maintenance of the autoritas [support base] of each member of the oligarchy, while viewing the rest of us... [who] serve the oligarchs as a source of power and [who] must be flattered and wooed every few years during elections... [as] otherwise unfit to have any political power or independence of [our] own. Hence the disdain of [the Republican leadership] for the Tea Party... The question then inevitably comes to mind: has the nature of America and its people changed to the point where our nation can no longer be governed de facto in accordance with the principles of the Constitution?... However, at this point any restoration of the republic will have to come from outside the oligarchy. . .
William J. Meisler
21st century American commentator
(“American Oligarchs”, American Thinker, 27 July 2013).

The exercise of force without the restraint of law is terror.
Clarence Carson
20th century American historian

All governments turn on their own people in their final days in order to retain power... Something Americans don’t understand: There can be no free society once government has granted itself the power to confiscate property, imprison people under any pretext (or without a pretext) and without charge. This is now true in America. . .
Bob Livingston
20th and 21st century American conservative commentator and editor
Personal Liberty Digest

The Propers for today are found on Page 203-204, with the Collect first:

The Tenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

ET thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants; and, that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Dru Arnold read the Epistle, which came from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, the Twelfth Chapter beginning at the First Verse. Paul starts off by telling us that no man who “speaketh by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”  He goes on to say, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but by the same Spirit.” “…it is the same God which worketh all in all.”  Every one is gifted in one manner or another by God, the question really is not do you have a gift from God, but will you use it?  Our gifts are so different in their character that we sometimes fail to recognize them for what they are, gifts from God, meant to be used, not ignored.

oncerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.  Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

Hap Arnold read today’s Holy Gospel started in the Nineteenth Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke, beginning at the Forty-First Verse.

The Gospel tell of Jesus’ time in the temple wherein he sees the people selling their wares having made the temple a den of thieves rather than a house of prayer and cast them out.  He also predicts the fall of the temple saying it shall be laid “even with the ground, … they shall not leave one stone upon another,” because the people of the temple had rejected Jesus.  The message to those who accept Jesus and his teaching is clear, their temple shall not fall.  The message to those who will not hear his message will never be heard, let alone clear, their first indication of a problem will be when their temple falls.

Often people take this Gospel to preclude jumble sales at church.  It does not preclude that.  It does literally preclude cheating people at those jumble sales!  You must understand that the “perfect” sacrificial offerings to God the temple hawkers were selling were perfectly defective “sacrificial lambs” which would be recycled over and over.  Those buying were likely for the most part honest in their attempt to offer unto God that due Him, yet their effort was being diverted and redirected by those “in charge”, the priests and hawkers.  In their very successful effort to make money they were defrauding the people and insulting God in His own House.  It should also be pointed out that a church should be a place of worship.  It may be a Prophet Center, but not a Profit Center[1].  If the building needs constant commercial enterprise, then perhaps the emphasis is on the wrong center.  A church should be funded for its needs by its members and its wants should come much later, if not in fact unheeded.  A church is about Him, not about IT.

nd when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves. And he taught daily in the temple.

Sermon – Reverend Deacon Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Today’s sermon tied the Epistle and Gospel together and is mainly contained in the forewords above. 

Consider the words from the Collect, wherein we ask God to give us … be open to the prayers of thy humble servants; and, that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee …

Once again, this Collect is kind of a follow-on to last week’s Collect.  First, we ask God to hear our prayers, this is funny in that He always listens intently to us when we pray and we very seldom listen to Him when He answers.  It is an odd paradox, He listens but we never seem to listen.  It seems as if at times we should pray that we should listen not Him, as He always listens! Nonetheless, we ask His help to ask for those things we need, not those things we want and are bad for us.  We need to be humble when we ask.  What does that word mean?  According to the dictionary, to be HUMBLE means to be:

·      Modest
·      Respectful
·      Lowly

Modest - unassuming in attitude and behavior
Respectful - feeling or showing respect and deference toward other people
Lowly - relatively low in rank and without pretensions

We cannot change what is our station in life, but we can change our attitude towards God.  He is God, we are not.  We are His creatures, imperfect with free will.  We must recognize that when we ask for His Help.  We badly need the guidance from the Holy Ghost so we can ask for what we need, instead of what we want.  NEED and WANT are two four letter words that are used to oft interchangeably that do not mean the same thing.

While our needs must be fulfilled, there is nothing wrong with wanting, just so long as you want things that are good for you.  Once again, we are asking God to help us to want the right things that will be good for us and help us develop in our Christian lives.

Paul reminds us that we each have differing talents, but if we use them to the Glory of God, without concern for who gets the credit, all will be well. I can think of no finer example of this than the Marines that were serving on Pelielu with Eugene Sledge, in the 3rd Batallion/5th Marines. I was reading his memoir, With the Old Breed, when I realized that in my reading, none of the Marines he served with cared a bit who got a credit, but all they cared about was helping their fellow Marines get the objective done. They didn’t do what they felt like, at least not the good ones. They did what was right without thought as to who would get the credit. Their main thoughts were to work as a team to defeat the Japanese. So too, must we work with our fellow Christians, as the Marines did on Pelielu, using each of our talents to further His work and to defeat the forces of Satan. There may be a lot of hardships to endure, just like the Marines endured, but if they could endure the hells of Pelielu, then surely we can endure whatever Satan can throw at us, if we just trust in Him and listen to Him. Do what you can, not what you feel like.  If you will but read the Bible, what God wants you to do will be clear.  If you do your best to do His Will all will be well with you.  Death is a pretty hollow threat if you do your duty.  The people of Jerusalem would not have been in the pickle they got in when 70AD came along, had they only done what God wanted.  But, it was too hard for them.  In 70AD, what had been so hard seemed pretty easy compared to the fix they were in, but by then it was too late.  By that time they were left with only “There are none so poor as cannot purchase a noble death.”  But, for most of them by that time they had no will.  It left when they failed to follow God’s will.

When Luke wrote of the sales in the temple, he had a point.  The point was not to preclude jumble sales at church.  He was not abhorring the sales, but the cheating in the name of God.   This Gospel does literally preclude cheating people at those jumble sales!  You must understand the temple hawkers were selling perfect defective “sacrificial lambs” which would be recycled over and over[2].  In their very successful effort to make money they were defrauding the people and insulting God in His own House.  It should also be pointed out that a church should be a place of worship.  It may be a Prophet Center, but not a Profit Center.  If the building needs constant commercial enterprise, then perhaps the emphasis is on the wrong center.  A church should be funded for its needs by its members and its wants should come much later, if not in fact unheeded.  A church is about Him, not about IT.

Do what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it.  That is duty.  It does not matter how you “feel” about black or white.  Black is black; White is white.  Do your duty. Work as hard as you can, do the best you can, trust in the Lord.  By the way, cheat no one.  If you follow that, you won’t need to be told, “Particularly in God’s House.”

Action counts.  For by their actions ye shall know them. 

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

Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
We are oft fortunate to get copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.  Today is one of those Sundays.  Today’s sermon starts off with the collect, and like always, it will give you a lot to consider in your heart.

Sermon Notes
Tenth Sunday after Trinity
Saint Andrew’s
Anglican Orthodox Church
4 August 2013, Anno Domini

The Tenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

ET thy merciful ears, O Lord, be open to the prayers of thy humble servants; and, that they may obtain their petitions, make them to ask such things as shall please thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Paul’s letter to the Romans, the Twelfth Chapter, Verses One through Nine:

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.  (Romans 12:1-9)

            Paul’s Epistle for today takes on that old besetting and very formidable enemy of the souls of men – PRIDE. I might add that it was PRIDE that also led to the fall of Lucifer from Heaven along with a third of the angels who rebelled with him. But for every admonishment, God also provides an edification.

            You will note in the Prayer of Collect that the mercies of God are besought for those of a HUMBLE heart. Once more, as in the Lord’s Prayer, we pray that God will give us the mind and will of Christ in asking for those things that accord with His Will, and not our own. If our hearts and minds are fully reconciled to God, all that we desire will also be precisely that which God wills for us.

            The verse that I wish to expound upon most particularly from today’s Epistle is the third: “3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

            The devoted Christian is a tool or vessel in the hand of God. He can take no credit for the artwork God has used in making him and, since his very hands belong to His Maker, he can take no credit for whatever good works they perform. The Christian should be very much like a magnifying glass to enlarge the very Person of God with his mouth, with his works, with his thoughts, and with his desires. A magnifying glass is only a tool that helps enlarge detail so that we might know more of the object it magnifies. If we are close to God, His image will be magnified and enlarged. If we view him, even through a magnifying glass from a distance, His image will be small in our hearts. We must “draw near by faith” as in close and constant Communion with our God. In looking through a telescope, we see images brought nearer. But if we look through the same telescope from the opposite end, all images are made to look smaller and insignificant. Our lives should magnify that image of God and diminish our own image. That is the right relationship we should have with God. As the Psalmist has said: “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.” (Psalms 69:30)

            If we are erudite in wisdom, we will know that it is faith that enables us to know God – and this faith comes from the attending grace of the Holy Ghost in opening our eyes to the Word which we have both heard and read. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) And even in the hearing and believing, we may take no credit for it is the grace and power of God drawing us by the efficacious working of that Holy Ghost in our hearts. Did you choose Christ to follow and believe? “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.(John 15:16) Paul makes the point very clear that we may boast of none of our virtues for they are from God and granted by His Grace. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)

            Paul opens this chapter with great plea: “… present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” A sacrifice takes no account of its own desire, but is made and given solely to the love and praise of God. A sacrifice to God is given with no intent for personal benefit but only to the glory of God to whom it is given. The Temple Lamb would have preferred to forego its sacrifice, but it had no means of enforcing its own will. When our wills are subdued and given over to that Mind that was in Christ, we, too, will have no carnal will to defy that Will of God. His Will becomes ours. This is not a great accomplishment of the Christian – it is simply the LEAST he can do: “….which is your reasonable service.

            Paul also issues a dire warning to the Church as well as to the individual Christian. The Church is just like a great ship. A ship is designed and created to be seaworthy – to navigate the Ocean Seas with its cargo and passengers. Its designers have made it to be secure from the waters in which it sails. It is provided with water-proof hull and sails that will enable it to take advantage of wind currents for movement. It also is equipped with a tiny instrument that will determine success or failure in navigation – the compass. The rudder, being less sizeable than the main sail, is nonetheless, extremely vital to the ship’s direction and handling.

            The ship is made to be in the Sea, just as the church is made to be in the world. The Church also has a compass – the Word of God as its chart & compass. It has mighty sails to take advantage of the gentle winds of the Holy Ghost to give it movement. And the Church has Jesus Christ as its anchor and foundation to keep the world from seeping in. The Church is made for the world. As long as the Ship is in the sea, all is well and good, but when the sea gets into the ship, disaster follows. As long as the Church is in the world, and separate from it, all is well. But when the world seeps into the Church, all is lost in SHIPWRECK! Today, the world is not seeping into the Church – it is flooding into the Church. The philosophy of the world, the music of the world, the PRIDE of the world, and the false ministers of the world have entered into the Church and abide as the fowl of the air (demons) in her branches as in the Mustard Tree of Matthew 13:31-32.

            What has allowed the world and her demons to take such possession of the modern church? I believe it may all be traced to the PRIDE of the flesh to which Paul has alluded in verse three. We think of ourselves more highly than we should. We desire, not only the acceptance of God, but the acceptance of man as well so that we will be respectable and accepted. We desire, as did Israel, a king like unto all the other nations round about – instead of having God as our King. The Church has willingly accepted every abominable sin including homosexuality and the murder of innocent babies as the norm. As we read in Revelations, Jesus is no longer inside the modern Church but rather stands at the door without and knocks. At the conclusion of His words to the Seven Churches, see what Jesus says to them: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.  To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev 3:20-22)

            How is it possible for the body to hate its own heart, lungs, stomach, brain, etc.? The Church is the Body of Christ and should remain not only Holy, but One with Christ. If the Church is ONE with Christ, how can there be divisions? Christ is not divided against Himself, so how can the Church, being His Body, be so divided? It is because the larger Church has ceased to be the Body of Christ and grown many cancers that destroy its soul. “4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” Does the heart perform a most vital function? Yes, for without it the heart, there would be no blood supply to all other cells and organs of the body. Do the lungs have an indispensable function? Yes, in providing life-giving oxygen to every part.

            Each Christian servant is gifted with unique gifts of service that will benefit the entire Body of Christ. There is no Christian that stands in some greater office than the least of these. Without kidneys, the body will perish. Without lungs, the body will perish. Without a heart, the body will perish. The eye of the Body is the Holy Ghost. The ears are for hearing the Word of God. The mind is for giving over to that Mind which was in Christ Jesus. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. (Phil 2:5) The prophesying referred to is the preaching of truth. Faith engenders greater desire and hunger for the Word of God. The greater the faith, the greater the zealous and diligent study of the Word – not in pride of knowledge, but in love of sharing that most valuable possession.

            A much neglected gift in the church is that of exhortation. Our friend, Mr. Webster, defines exhortation as “…to incite by argument or advice: urge strongly.” Please do not be taken aback by the term incite, for to incite action is to urge by the facility of the spirit or emotion. Of course, we often think of mob violence when we think of incite, but when the full body of reason, truth, and spirit are combined in convincing, no power shall stand in the way. After all, what did Christ say to the Samaritan Woman at the Well concerning worship? “…..the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”  (John 4:23-24) Knowledge of the truth is not enough. That knowledge must be acted upon in humility and faith.

            One last point of great importance: The Christian and the church should ABHOR evil! There should be a far greater righteous indignation over the evil that has befallen our Church, the nation, and our children than is obvious today. (Abhor that which is evil.) Instead of an uncompromising abhorrence of evil, we see, instead, the modern Church embracing evil. How can this be? Perhaps it is because the Church has ceased to“..cleave to that which is good.” Can we not judge sin according to the clear Word of God? Have we become impotent of truth and naïve to sin? Where is the red blood of indignation at evil of the Christian today? Perhaps they have followed their blind guides, who seem so silent over the evils of our day, into the ditch of deception!

            So both the members of the Body, as well as the Body as a whole, need to be humble in our worship, reverent in our communion with God, faithful in our living and witness, preferring the feelings of others to our own selfish desires, hospitable to all, intolerant of sin in the sanctuary of God (church discipline), and pursuing all things in the same Mind and will of Christ. Reading the Bible straight through 50 times will no avail – though that would be commendable if the Spirit of God attends the reading. Boasting of our studies is an undesirable side-effect of such an approach. Loving the God who has written His Love Letter to us will INCITE us on to a deeper knowledge and understanding of His Person. He will be magnified and glorified in all that we say, do, or think. That is our object of today’s lesson. “A word to the wise is sufficient!”

Bishop Dennis Campbell’s Sermon
Bishop Dennis is a brilliant speaker.  He is able to take biblical precepts and make them perfectly understandable, even to me.  Oft he provides the text of his sermons and I take the utmost pleasure in passing them on:

Christians Want
Psalm 145, 1 Corinthians 12:1, Luke 19:41
Tenth Sunday after Trinity
August 4, 2013

What do Christians do?  This has been the topic for the sermons in Trinity Season, and today’s sermon is, “Christians want.”  That may seem a strange title for a sermon, especially since one of the most famous verses of the Bible, Psalm 23:1, says, “I shall not want.”  Want, in this verse, is used as it was in England in 1611, and refers to the lack of necessities.  Thus, the Prayer Book, which uses the Coverdale version of the Psalms, says, “The Lord is my shepherd; therefore can I lack nothing.”  But when I say, Christians want,” I am not talking about lack.  Want, as I am using it, means to desire.  Christians desire certain things, and what we desire is the real topic this morning.

Some of our desires are common to those of many other people.  We want food, comfortable homes, safety, companionship, and love.  We would like to see world peace, justice for all, freedom for all, and all people living responsibly in harmony, freely giving others the kindness and consideration they would like to receive in return.

Some of our wants are quite different from those of other people.  We want people to know the grace and love of God in Jesus Christ.  We want them to know peace with God and the fellowship of His Church.  We want to see people’s hurts and hopes and fears and brokenness touched by the healing hand of God.  We want to see their lives and homes and communities and nations healed as only God can do.  That’s why I’m in the ministry.  That’s why you pray for other people.  Because we want them to have the good things of God.

Christians also want something more, something higher.  We desire what Christ taught us to pray for in The Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  We want God to be loved and honoured and worshiped and obeyed as He deserves.  “The heavens declare the glory of God,” says Psalm 19:1, but we want the lips and lives of people to declare it too.  That is why we ask God to help us “live a godly, righteous, and sober life to the glory [His] holy Name.”  That is why we pray, in the Collect for the Tenth Sunday after Trinity, that our prayers will ask God for the things that please Him.  Pleasing Him is our goal in life, and we want all people’s lives to please Him.  We desire all people to love God and live for Him so that they will be able to say what the Apostle Paul stated so well for us in Philippians 1:21, “For me, to live is Christ.” We want this because, “Great is the Lord, and marvelous worthy to be praised” (Ps. 145:3).

This morning’s reading in 1 Corinthians 12 applies readily to our topic.  There we read again of this mysterious subject of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the Church.  The topic of these gifts is warmly discussed today, and the discussions usually produce much more smoke than light.  So did their practice in Corinth, where the people were more concerned about using the gifts to impress others than they were about using them to please God.  Some had, and others pretended to have, special gifts from God that enabled them to heal diseases, speak in different languages, or work miracles.  While Paul acknowledges that God did indeed give such gifts to some people, he makes it plain that the gifts were for the good of all, not for the honour of those who had the gifts.  Paul, in the same letter, makes it plain that the Corinthians were conducting themselves in ways that were dividing the Church and glorifying people.  He urges them to forsake this sin and to seek and do the things that please God.  He makes it plain that not all Christians receive the ability to work miracles or speak in tongues, but every Christian can receive the power to love, which is far more important and far more pleasing to God.

The reading from Luke’s Gospel also applies to our topic.  There Christ mourns over Jerusalem for its self absorption and neglect of God.  Going their own way led them, to reject the things of God, so that, even in Jerusalem, the religious center of Israel, people did not want what God offers.  They did not want to please God, nor did they pray for such things.  They rejected God, and their rejection ultimately led to their own destruction.

By contrast, Psalm 145 shows the blessed joy of those who live to please God.  Here we find phrases like, “I will magnify thee, O God, my king; and I will praise thy Name for ever and ever.”  “The Lord is gracious and merciful.”  “The Lord preserveth all them that love Him.”  What is the Bible talking about in these verses?  It is talking about God giving good things to His people.  And these good things are the things that please Him.  And here is the really wonderful thing about these things of God; we find they are the things we really need and want in life and in eternity.  These are the things that “fulfil the desire of them that fear Him.”
+Dennis Campbell

Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Church Diocese of Virginia
Rector, Holy Trinity Anglican Orthodox Church
Powhatan, Virginia
Rev Bryan Dabney of Saint John’s Sunday Sermon
We are fortunate to have Bryan’s Sunday Sermon.  If you want people to come to The Truth, you have to speak the truth, expouse the truth and live the truth.    This is really a good piece and I commend it to your careful reading.

Tenth Sunday after Trinity

In the Second Book of Samuel 1:17-27), we are told of David’s lament for King Saul and his son Jonathan. The very last verse is key: How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished (v.27)! The scriptures tell us that Saul was anointed the first king over Israel. Almost from the beginning of his reign until his death, Saul was as stiffnecked as the people he oversaw in the LORD. His final act of disobedience came the night before he went into battle against the Philistines at Mount Gilboa. The Bible tells us that Saul was indeed a mighty man in battle; but even his courage and valor were insufficient to give him the victory over his enemies when the God of heaven and earth had decreed otherwise.

Why did the very God who had Samuel anoint Saul as king over Israel abandon him and his army at Mount Gilboa? God took his hand away because of Saul’s willful disobedience to his word. If you examine I Samuel 28, you will find the answer. Saul had gone to the Witch at Endor to obtain information about the battle which was only hours away. He asked the witch to call up Samuel whom God permitted to return in the spirit and speak to Saul, terrifying the witch and likely everyone present. Samuel listened to Saul’s complaint and afterwards proclaimed God’s message to him. In simple terms Samuel told Saul that God was against him, and that tomorrow, the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and... thou and thy sons [shall] be with me. . . (vv.15- 19).

Throughout the history of Israel, God called on the people to turn from their sinful and disobedient ways. The prophet Isaiah was given of the Holy Ghost to document the reasons for God’s coming judgment of the people when he wrote, Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people of the house of Jacob because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers (2:6). Matthew Henry said of this passage that, “God had set them apart for himself as a peculiar people, dignified above all [others] ; but they were replenished from the east [that is] they naturalized foreigners [and thus] did they profane their crown and covenant.” It was not so much that they brought in the strangers but that they permitted them to alter their religious character through sorcery, occultism and idolatry.

Another point of contention between the LORD and the children of Jacob was their quest for ill-gotten gain. Their land is full of silver and gold, neither is there any end of their treasures; their land is also full of horses, neither is there any end of their chariots (v.7). Gold, silver, horses and chariots speak of great wealth. In the ancient world, to possess a horse— much less a chariot— meant that you were a very well-to-do person. From this verse we can see that the economic and social order in Judah was dominated by wealth and a quest for more of it. The point here is not that simply having wealth is bad, but that their focus was continually upon gaining riches without any consideration for how they were obtained.

God then had the prophet tell them of his coming judgment in Isaiah 3: For behold, the Lord, the LORD of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water (v.1). God was going to take away those items most needed for sustenance of the body. He would also remove from them those soldiers and leaders who would supply protection and good counsel, and in their place he would give them the immature and the naive (vv.2-4).
He further said that there shall be injustice and oppression amongst the people (vv. 5-6). Matthew Henry said of this passage that, “God would allow an evil spirit among [the people]... [and these] shall be oppressed... and their princes, being children, will take no care to restrain the oppressors or relieve the oppressed.”

Pastor Dave Guzik noted about these verses that, “... this principle of God’s judgment endures to this day. One way God may bring judgment on a nation is to curse them with incompetent, ungodly leaders. Often, this is the simplest avenue of judgment: giving people what their wicked hearts desire. This crisis of leadership can happen even in economically prosperous times (Isaiah 2:7 is part of this same prophecy). The terrible effect of this judgment of God, the granting of incompetent and ungodly leaders, may not be immediately seen, but it will be certainly seen, apart from the repentance of a nation and the mercy of God.”

The prophet Isaiah was also given to point out that those who, in ordinary times, would be termed “good leaders” will turn away from the people’s request to lead. They will do so as they have seen, as it were, the handwriting upon the wall (Daniel 5:5, 24-28), and will not take upon themselves the blame for the bad actions of those responsible (Isaiah 3:7-8). They likely saw that the government was not working and that the society was looking for a scapegoat. As Matthew Henry once observed, “The government shall go a-begging... Rulers must be healers, and good rulers will be so; they must study to unite their subjects and not widen the differences that are among them.” He then explained why the good man would not rule. He would not on account of the fact that the wicked had, “... brought their destruction upon their own heads, for their tongue and their doings are against the Lord. They provoked him to his face.” King Saul and those wicked rulers who followed him were notorious for provoking the Almighty. And in so doing, God gave them and their people into the hands of their enemies. That ought to be of great concern to us for God has not changed his mind about sin, and will mete out his judgment against all who profane his name and his commandments. This especially applies to any country or people who have previously received his blessings and who had once upon time agreed to follow his precepts for life.

There is no denying that our country was formed by men who recognized the Godhead as the Creator and author of all liberty. While many of our founding fathers were not orthodox Christians, they nonetheless saw the hand of the divine in the establishment of this country, and they spoke of him in reverence within our country’s birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence. When we look at what God has given to us, more particularly in the ways of commerce, industry, and personal freedom, we ought to kneel in thanksgiving for all that he has done on our behalf. In times past, our good and gracious God has preserved our land through trial and tribulation.

But things have changed in the character of both our society and our government as an ever-increasing number of our people have succumbed to the lusts of the world, the flesh and the devil. And so it should not be surprising that those biblically-based moral values which were once the hallmark of our country have dissipated into the mire of every sort of degradation.

There is also a ripple effect with regard to wickedness. It is like throwing a stone in a pond of still water and watching the ripples move out from the point of contact with the water. For every evil plan or scheme there are primary, secondary, as well as tertiary victims to consider. It is not difficult to identify those who are the primary victims— those directly affected by some maleficent plan— but few are cognizant of the others. God is treated to the cries of all who have been wronged, or abused in this life. What we should understand is that evil and wickedness affect the whole of society, not just the person or persons to which it was initially directed.

There is story from the days of World War II in Germany about a church that was located near a rail line where the members would hear during their worship services the cries of anguish from those who were on train cars bound for the death camps. It is said that the congregants could not bear to hear their cries so, in response, they would sing as loudly as they could to drown them out. Even though the members of that church were not being persecuted by their wicked government, they nevertheless were affected by the misery it was inflicting on others to which they were a party. They were witnesses of its effects even if it was only in their hearing. They were helpless to do anything else as they may have supported the Nazi regime at its beginning and were shamed by its actions. Often when people feel helpless they simply fold up and comply with the authorities in the face of persecution especially if the authorities have the capacity and inclination to use deadly force. Their time to act against the scourge of Nazism was at its beginning, but this they did not do and the rest is history.
But what of our country? Aren’t we the fabled “bastion of liberty” in this world? Of all people, we should be aware of our liberties and exercise whatever rights we have left to counter the appearance of evil in our churches and in our country before such a condition of helplessness can fully manifest itself as it did in Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is tends to bow before the powers that be. That is the path of least resistance. And what are the consequences for such behavior? If all we can do is turn up the volume in an effort to drown out the sound of wickedness going on around us, then what sort of people are we in God’s eyes? If we still have the ability to resist and speak out, then that is what the God of liberty expects; otherwise we will lose our freedoms to the Philistines of our day.

Are we headed for our own version of Mount Gilboa? Will people in other lands say of us as David said of Saul: How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished? If one truthfully answers those questions the responses would not be what most Americans would want to hear. I fear we are on the cusp of some major changes in our world, and none of them bode well for our liberties. God has been largely removed from our public life, and he has been expelled from the private lives of many— even those who call themselves Christians.

It has become painfully apparent that when God leaves, his blessings depart with him. You cannot expect a blessing from God if you are not obedient to his will. It does not matter how many tanks, troops, ships or planes we have in our arsenal. No weapon forged by the craft of man can undo or hinder the will of God. It does not matter how much paper currency the Federal Reserve prints up. God will not lift his hand to protect this country and this people apart from their repentance to him in Christ, and their obedience to his will as found in the Holy Bible. No power which man possesses can force God to do anything. The judgment of God is coming as the tide of wickedness rises. As one pastor put it, “There is an everlasting ‘too late’ when God calls into account the litany of sins perpetrated by the wicked. We should do all we can to not be numbered among them.

So, what should we do as believing Christians? I would ask all of you to pray as you have never prayed for the sake of God’s elect in this country and throughout the world. We cannot fix all that is amiss within our society and our government; but we can do those things which God has given us leave to perform. Prayer is a powerful weapon. God wants to hear from us and we must ask in faith believing on him as our provider. So I encourage you to pray. Pray for our country as Abraham did when he asked God to spare the cities of the plain for the sake of but ten righteous souls (Genesis 18:23-33). Pray that God would grant our leaders wisdom to turn away from doing those things that have put this country and this people at variance with him. Pray that he would turn the hearts of the unregenerate masses as Jonah’s preaching did in Nineveh. Pray for his guidance so that in all our actions we will not be ashamed to stand at the judgment seat of Christ and give an account of our lives in his service. Pray, and again I say: Pray!

Let us pray,

 Holy and gracious God, whose word and commandment are dear to us; protect this thy people from the way of the wicked; and grant to us that quiet confidence of thy ministering Spirit, that we being so endowed may pass through this life under the shadow of thy wing knowing that all is in thy hands; for this we beg in the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+

[1] A fine set of very apropos terms I first heard from Bishop Dennis Campbell in 2011.
[2] The concept of being truthful in the efforts we make to spread The Word is not a separate subject by any means, but would take more time to talk about than we have time for here.  Suffice it to say that we must take every care to spread The Truth and not what our audience, whoever that may be, would like to hear.  When we bring our “sacrifice” to the “temple” we needs make certain it is in fact as perfect as we can make it.  This is so hard that one of the recurring themes of the Collects is asking for guidance to ask for the right things.

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