Verse of the Day

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Twelfth 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 Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
St. John 6:35

For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
I Corinthians 3:9

Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
Revelation 1:7

Come into the lifeboat of the one true church. This old world will soon break into pieces! Hear you not the tremblings of it? The world is but a wreck hard upon a sandbank. The night is far spent — the waves are beginning to rise — the wind is getting up — the storm will soon shatter the old wreck. But the lifeboat is launched, and we, the ministers of the gospel, beseech you to come into the lifeboat and be saved. We beseech you to arise at once and come to Christ.
JC Ryle
19th century Anglican bishop and author
(Holiness, p. 284)

The ... problem of the Bolsheviks was that ... they were truly captivated by utopian delusions ... [All] utopians ... advocate systems and ideas that can only work with imaginary idyllic humans, but never with real human beings. When they discover that real human beings refuse to knuckle under and behave according to utopian expectations, the utopianists respond with violent rage. The greatest strength of capitalism is that it actually works with real human beings ... Capitalism does not require idyllic fictional humans in order for it to work. The most violent terrorists and oppressors of others have always been the utopians. The French Revolution turned violent and the guillotine was introduced [in an] attempt to terrorize actual humans into behaving according to the expectations of the utopianists. The leaders of the Soviet Revolution were no slower or more squeamish in following the same route.
Dr. Steve Plaut
21st  century professor of economics.

The Propers for today are found on Page 206-207, with the Collect first:

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen

Dru Arnold read the Epistle, which came from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, the Third Chapter beginning at the Fourth Verse.  Paul reminds  us through the Grace of God we can be able ministers of the new testament, on our own we can be in the end no good.  If we are able to completely follow the Law, with good intent, we can through that please God, but inasmuch as that is impossible we fall short.  The letter of the Law, which cannot be complied with is death.  But following the spirit of the Law gives life.  That is Jesus’ message, for in the Law is death and in the spirit life.  For if there is glory in administering the Law, how much more glory is there in the spirit of the Law, which is Jesus’ message?

Uch trust have we through Christ to God-ward: not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
Hap Arnold read today’s Holy Gospel, which started in the Seventh  Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Mark, beginning at the Thirty-First Verse. Jesus came in to the coast of Decapolis[1].   The people brought unto him a deaf mute.  Jesus examined the man, put his fingers in his ears, touched his tongue and said “Ephphatha”[2], that is, “Be opened.”  What Jesus did here for the deaf mute physically is what he does for each of us spiritually.  Through Jesus, we hear the Word of God and are given the ability to speak it.  Conversely, there are none so deaf as those who will not hear and none so blind as those who will not see.  It is up to each of us to choose if we will remain blind, deaf and dumb or open our eyes to see, hear and speak the Word of God.  When we receive the gift of sight, hearing and speech we embark on a new life of freedom.

esus, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.

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

Consider the words from the Collect, wherein we ask God … more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask …

We continually pray to God, asking Him for what WE want.  Yet, how oft do we listen to Him when He responds?  If we will listen to Him and DO what He asks, He will give us more than we have need of, more than we ask for, more than we can even desire.  Yet, it requires us to listen to Him, then ACT on what we are told.  When we ask His forgiveness, when He gives it, we need to accept it and live it; if we live in the past, we never will benefit.

God gives us guidance through the Holy Ghost, if we will but accept it.  He gives us the power to act in the spirit of The Law.  The Law or actually 613 little laws turned out to be in of itself a death sentence.  The Jews could or would not comply with the 613 Mosaic Laws, which brought them death.  Jesus gave us the summary of The Law, which through Him would bring life, everlasting life and happiness here on earth:

HOU shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Only two laws to comply with, which though simpler, are harder:

1.     Love God
2.     Love your neighbor like yourself

Think about it, if you do those two things, you will find you need no other real moral guidance.  If you understand the Big Picture, you know what to do on your part of the Little Picture to make your world line up with His World.  The problem is just like the Jews, we cannot perfectly follow those either. But we can at least do our very best to follow those directions and change course whenever we aren’t. Doing our best is all that God asks of us, not just saying we are doing our best when we aren’t.  But, happily for us, Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf accounts us as just before God.  So, now that we know that, who do we tell about it?  Do we let people know, or do we hide our allegiance to the Lord?   If you hide your allegiance, you really have none. But we must be open about our alligence and share the Good News with others, that they in time may come to seek the joys of His Kingdom. They may not understand right away, but the seed of the Lord may germinate and grow within them, so that within due course they may understand the Word and come to seek Him.

When Jesus opened the ears and mouth of the deaf mute, He did for him what the Holy Ghost will do for us, if we will but let Him open first our ears to hear, then our mouths to testify, communicate and direct.

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
Twelfth Sunday after Trinity
Saint Andrew’s
Anglican Orthodox Church
18 August 2013, Anno Domini

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who art always more ready to hear than we to pray, and art wont to give more than either we desire or deserve; Pour down upon us the abundance of thy mercy; forgiving us those things whereof our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things which we are not worthy to ask, but through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen

esus, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things

Two Spirits That Drive The Christian

The Seeking Spirit:

            Our text opens today following the visit of Christ to the coast of Tyre and Sidon where, we are told in verse 24, “He could not be hid.” Because He was SOUGHT out by a Syro-Phenecian woman who had HEARD of Him, came and fell at His feet pleading that He cast out an unclean spirit from her precious little daughter, her prayer was answered. This Christ did. The lesson, of course, is this: Christ can in no wise be hidden from those who seek Him. How may the “Light of the World” be concealed in the desert night? Moreover, He delights at being found by those who seek Him. As our Prayer of Collect says: He is “always more ready to hear than we to ask.” So Christ deliberately desires to give us that for which we ask – as long as we ask for those things that it is His will to grant. One of the characteristics of the spirit of a Christian is that of a SEEKER. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”  (Matt 7:7-8)

            No man comes to Christ if he has not sought Him out. So first and foremost, we must have a Seeker spirit. There must have been a great guilt that has impinged upon our consciences at some point, evoked by the Holy Spirit, to cause us to feel and know our absolute depravity and sin.  Even a dying child, or a dreadful disease, may awaken us to our great need – ‘the soul’s sincere desire.’ Some, like the lost sheep, know not where to seek; so they bleat and scurry to and fro in the wilderness rocks until their cries are heard by the Good Shepherd who comes to them in their loneliness and fright. Shouldn’t we, if able, be like those Greeks who came to Philip at Bethsaida, and desired of him, inquiring: “Sir, we would see Jesus!” (John 12:21 (KJV) But, like the lost sheep of the parable, are not able to go to Him, so they cry out where they are. Some are blind, cannot see, and are BROUGHT to Christ so that the scales may be removed from their eyes and they may see. How does such faith come? “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) Have you both heard and believed from the Word of God? Someone must have TOLD you. Have you told others?

            Now, in order to share good news, one must be the recipient of Good News – the Good News that is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! Knowing a truth of imponderable benefit to others must compel us to speak out. Have we remembered the Lord’s very last prayer before His ascension? “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matt 28:19-20) Have you gone to those who have not heard, who cannot see to come to Christ?

            Now Jesus returns the shore of the Galilean Sea – to Decapolis. We are told that, without the news of His coming being published in the newspapers or broadcast on radio, men brought a fellow to Christ who could neither see nor speak. How did they know that Christ was coming? Perhaps bad news does travel rapidly, but Good News travels with the speed of light – the Light of the World. Every place that Christ went, healing and doing good, the witnesses heralded his name and movements everywhere. The news was simply too good to keep silence. It is impossible to know Christ and keep silent. There are no secret Christians!

The Missionary Spirit:

            Once we have seen, heard, and known Christ, there is a second spirit that must evince itself – the MISSIONARY SPIRIT! So how is Christ greeted on His arrival at Decapolis on the coasts of Galilee? Men bring to Him a friend who was both deaf and had a speech impediment. Such impediments of speech are common to those who have not, and cannot, hear. All who have not heard the Gospel are also handicapped from speaking it to others. These men who brought this deaf man to Christ had already heard of Him and knew that He was able to heal. So they put feet to their faith and brought a man who could not have heard of Christ. Faith is like a newborn babe – it cannot lie still. It must exercise itself and cry out and, thereby, GROW! Our own faith is increased when we share that faith with others and observe the resulting miracle!

            32 “And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.” Men, who were able to know of Christ by HEARING of Him, now bring one to Christ who had no such benefit. I love the spirit of love and compassion that is generated in a heart full of faith. Please note that these men ask nothing that would be shocking of Christ. They do not make demands in their prayer such as the modern church advocates. They besought (pleaded) only that Christ “put His hand upon” the deaf and dumb man. Why were they not more specific? Do our prayers have to be specific in detail? Not at all! In the Lord’s Prayer, we simply ask that His will be done. If the will of Christ is done in our lives, it will be enough! These men could not demand that Christ restore the man’s tongue and loose his ears. So, they knew that the mercy of Christ would do all things needful. We never inquire or suggest the means by which Christ should answer our prayers, we should settle always for the happy result and not the means. We might properly remember that “His ways are not OUR ways, and our ways are not His ways.”

            There is no secret formula or incantation whereby the miraculous works of God are produced. The simple and mysterious manner in which Christ healed this man could be replicated precisely a thousand times by mere men with no such result. The power was not in the MEANS, but in the LORD! 33 “And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue.”  The example here is one of intimacy. We would sooner drink from the same glass as our child than that of another’s. When we are healed, it is a matter between the one being healed and the healer. So Christ took the man away from the multitude. Our greatest healing from sin is ALWAYS a matter of our coming face to face with Christ and apart from the multitudes. Christ touched the man by placing His fingers in his ears, and spit and touched His tongue. The man was not repelled by this intimate touch. His great need was to speak and hear – not to worry about the means. Many of my own prayers have been answered in amazing and surprising ways – almost never the way I expected. Jesus is a Lord of surprises. He will answer our prayers in ways that will result in our greatest benefit and in ways that we could never have imagined. When we pray, we must expect to be touched by Him, and we must expect to receive Him into our innermost being.

            Christ did all things in perfect fellowship with the Father. When we undertake to serve God with a great work, even though our intentions may be commendable, we must first look to God. 34 “And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.” Even our Lord Jesus Christ, the only Begotten of the Father, looked to His Father in all of His works and miracles. He did so because, first, He wished to have His Father’s concurrence in all things; and, secondly, He desired to glorify the Father in all that He did. So must we! Do we boast of our success at organizing a worship service that attracts man, or our success at Bible studies that attract many? The glory is not ours, but belongs to God. In healing, Jesus ALWAYS took compassion on the person who sought it. The Good Samaritan was the only one who took compassion on the poor Jew who lay dying on the Road to Jericho. He felt the pain of the Jew. Jesus feels our pain as if it were His own. He makes Himself One with whomever He touches to heal and forgive.

            What was the results of the Lord’s command of “Ephphatha!”?   35 “And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.” When Christ speaks a single word to our hearts, the response is immediate – just as immediate as Paul’s being struck down on the road to Damascus.  The mystery of god is at work in opening eyes that they may see, or even in blinding the eyes that we may KNOW Him as Paul was blinded on that Road. Once our eyes have been opened to the beauty of the Lord, our tongues shall also speak plainly of Him -  “….the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.

            The counsel of our Lord in the next verse may seem a bit strange, but it has a great lesson secreted in its heart. 36 “And he charged them that they should tell no man: but the more he charged them, so much the more a great deal they published it.” Please tell me: was this not a bit improbable that a man could be healed of speech and hearing and should remain silent about it? Do you really believe that Jesus intended that they MUST not tell anyone? Remember the young man, blind from birth, whose sight Jesus restored and commanded to tell no one? Or do you remember the leper that Christ healed whom He commanded, “Tell no man!” What profound truth was Christ conveying with such counsel? I believe the answer to that question is apparent based on what I know of the loving Lord. How can a man who has been unable to speak keep silence after having his speech restored? It is natural and irresistible that the first thing such a man will do is practice his speech, and tell every soul how he recovered it. The same with the blind man who was healed. How can he go home to his parents and not tell them the obvious – that once he was blind, but now he sees? Or the leper, who was forced to separate himself from friends and family, not tell all that he no longer has leprosy and why?

            Jesus is making this point: Once the power of god has worked a marvelous work and a wonder in your soul, how can you keep silence even if commanded by God Himself! Jesus is saying to us, “Though I command your silence from telling others all that I have done in healing your guilty soul and your body, you cannot bear to keep silence.” Once you have known Christ and His Gospel, it will be IMPOSSIBLE for you to keep that secret! You must proclaim the good news from the roof tops!

            When Christ has forgiven your sins, and received you by adoption into the family of God, all people will see the change and wonder of that marvelous work come over you.  37 “And were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.” When Christ works a miracle in your life, it is seldom solitary – it is a healing of all ills the first of which is your deadly disease of sin. He practices ‘triage’ in addressing our most serious affliction first – and that most serious affliction is always sin, for its end is eternal death and darkness.

Rev Rick Reid of Saint Peter’s Sunday Sermon
We are happy to have a sermon from Reverend Rick Reid, minister of Saint Peter’s, whose congregation is right at the Worldwide Headquarters of the Anglican Orthodox Church.  Rev Rick has all the resources and challenges right at hand.  Speaking of at hand, here is his sermon for the Eleventh Sunday after Trinity (last week, but it got in late):

Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted

St. Luke xviii. 9.

In our Gospel reading this morning Jesus told a parable. In the parable, a Pharisee “stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess’”Luke 18 11-12, Another man, a tax collector, “standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner! Jesus stated the hated tax collector was the one who returned to his home justified, “for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Another time Jesus noted some who were invited to a wedding feast choose the best places.  He instructed them instead to seek the low places and allow others to exalt them; once again:“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:7-11).

The real problem with each of these individuals is they thought too highly of themselves.

When Jesus was at the house of Simon, a Pharisee, a woman who was known to be a sinner came in and began to wash His feet with her tears, wiping them dry with her hair, and anointing them with a fragrant oil. Luke 7:36-38

When a Pharisee saw this, he thought to himself, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is, who is touching Him, for she is a sinner” Luke 7:39.

Jesus, knowing his thoughts, told a story of two debtors who were both unable to pay their debts (Luke 7:41-42).  The point of the story was to show the Pharisee though this woman was indeed a sinner; so was he.

Neither the woman nor the Pharisee had the ability to pay for their sins, and they were essentially the same, in God’s eyes. (Luke 7:44-48)

The Pharisee's problem was he thought himself more righteous than the woman. So confident in his self-righteousness that he could not see his own sin.

This, you see, is the root problem of self-righteous. If you cannot acknowledge your faults, you cannot fix them. 

It is typical of those who can neither find fault in themselves or accept the fault found by others that they have no problem finding numerous faults, real or imagined, in others.  This is not only blatant arrogance but public display of another fault on their behalf, yet characteristically they see that not either.

The self-righteous of consider themselves and their personal ideas and ideals gifted from God, while paying no attention to God and His Word.  In their mind, God's Word is not the standard, and not even Christ is the standard; their standard is THE standard.

This ego centric standard was manifest in the religious leaders who sent officers to arrest Jesus, but could not do so.

Saint John tells us those same officers, after hearing Jesus, said, “No man ever spoke like this Man!” (John 7:46).  When the religious leaders heard this, they said, “Are you also deceived? Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.

Once again they revealed their obvious self-righteousness, holding themselves up as THE standard, denigrating the common people who believed in Jesus.

There are Christians within the church today, who have a high regard for themselves and their opinions. We have all probably seen them with our own eyes and heard them with our own ears.  The writer of the book of Hebrews instructs us to “fix our eyes" on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).  When we look at Jesus, we will not be looking at others, and worrying about whether or not they match up with our own righteousness or lack thereof.

We must look to Christ for THE standard and realize we have no ability, let alone right to set the bar.  We will never be perfect, only through Him can we be accounted as so.

Charles Inglis (Ĭng´glĬs, Ĭng´gəlz), 1734–1806, was an Anglican Bishop who immigrated to America in 1755 from Ireland.  He wrote he knew who he was [a sinner] – he knew where he belonged [afar off] – he knew how he felt [ashamed] – he knew what he needed [mercy] – he knew from whom to get it [God] – and he knew when he got it [that he went down to his house justified], just as in the parable that Jesus told.

God cares not how much we have accomplished or how good we think we are.  He does care if we did our best to do His Will.

The essence of God is Love.  Our concern should be that of the publican, we are great sinners; in Jesus we have a great savior!  Be not like the Pharisee, concerned about how well you have done, while failing to notice how you have failed.

How will we come before God?  Pleased with our miserable performance or as sinners in need of His Mercy, His Help, His Forgiveness, His Accounting on our behalf.

Come now, miserable offenders, if we come as the repentant tax collector…we can all go down to our homes justified, and be exalted in due time, for as St. James said:

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4:10

St. Peter said: Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time –

How will you leave here and come before the Lord? 

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.

Twelfth Sunday after Trinity

In our Old Testament lesson (Isaiah 29:18-24) we were treated to an interesting set of verses that speak not only of a near-term event in Isaiah’s day, but of something that is even beyond our present, and which is drawing ever nearer as I speak. Look again at verse 20 wherein we read that, For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off.
In the prophet’s day, the Assyrian king Sennacherib was preparing his army to march against King Hezekiah of Judah. The Assyrians were well known by the 8th century BC as a cruel and vicious people. They were approaching the land of Judah with an army which likely exceeded of two hundred thousand strong. The bulk of that force would eventually lay siege to Jerusalem. In the face of so great a host, the LORD informed the prophet that he would preserve the city and turn Sennacherib back. In a later chapter (37:33-37), the prophet set forth the details of the invasion and siege by the Assyrian army, as well as its destruction. What a relief it must have been for the people of Jerusalem to see the corpses of the Assyrians who only the day before had been preparing for their initial assault upon their city. This miracle was accomplished by one angel who passed through the Assyrian camp and slew the whole lot of them. Sennacherib’s military campaign against Judah was further complicated by news that the Ethiopian king, Tirhakah, was approaching to do battle with him. The Assyrian king was then in command of a much smaller force which had been besieging another town. Finding the bulk  of his army destroyed, the king retreated to his own land only to die at the hands of two of his sons (37:38).

The scorning commanders of the Assyrian army as well as the army itself were defeated by him who has never known defeat. The mocking comments by Rabshakeh — or “chief cup bearer” of the king (36:2-20) — were brought to nought with the destruction of the Assyrian army assigned to take Jerusalem. God had been angered by the Assyrian king’s hubris, while at the same time he was pleased by King Hezekiah’s humbleness (37:1-7). Humility on the part of the kings of Israel and Judah was a rare commodity and God rewarded Hezekiah for his recognition that he, the LORD, was his sure defence in the face of such an overwhelming force.

Throughout the history of mankind, God has acted against Satan’s minions who have sought to harm those who are of the camp of God. Sennacherib’s campaign against the kingdom of Judah is just one example for us to consider. Others, such as Amalek (Deuteronomy 25:17-19); Haman (Esther 3:1-13); as well as the wicked rulers of Edom (Obadiah 10-14) had also lifted up their hands to harm Israel and, as a result, were brought down and ruined. Just as Jeroboam (I Kings 12:25-33)and Ahab (I Kings 21:17-26) had sought to turn the people of God from his worship and to follow after false deities, so too did God judge and destroy their houses.

God does not delight in the destruction of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23), but he will pour out his wrath upon all who are so involved, which includes those who would harm his own. The prophet Nahum was given to prophesy of the coming destruction of Nineveh which was the capital of ancient Assyria (3:7). Isaiah prophesied against Damascus (17:1) saying, ... it shall be a ruinous heap. Ezekiel prophesied against the great city of Tyre (26:1-6) saying, ... I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock. It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea. . . Jeremiah prophesied against the wickedness of Moab and said that he, ... shall be destroyed from being a people (49:42) on account of their idolatry and their trust in riches. All of the above at one time or other had taken advantage of God’s people either through the transmission of idolatry, or of conquest, or of meanness. While these are Old Testament examples, in the New Testament, God has promised to bring vengeance upon those who persecute his church (See II Thessalonians 1:5-10; and St. Jude 14-15).

In the future, God is going to deal with those who have rejected his Christ and who will attempt to destroy the descendants of Jacob. God loves Israel with an everlasting love. He promised their forefathers that he would, in spite of their stiffnecked and refusenik attitude, eventually restore them. The LORD gave the prophet Jeremiah to proclaim to those same disobedient and backsliding people of his day that, Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers ... which ... they brake ... but this shall be the covenant that I will make ... after those days, saith the LORD. I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people (31:31-33).

The prophet then wrote the following: Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and stars for light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever... If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that have done, saith the LORD (31:35-37).

Other prophets such as Ezekiel (36:16-38), Daniel (9:20-27), Micah (4:1-13; 5:1-15) and Zechariah (2:8-12; 8:1-8) were given to speak on the matter of the regathering and reclamation of the nation because from it would come the Messiah — the deliverer for all mankind. All who will love and seek after him, will be freed from their sins and trespasses. And all, therefore, who trust in him shall never be confounded (I St. Peter 2:6). But Satan and his minions have sought to undo the eternal plan of God to restore his creation and vanquish evil for ever. So we should not be surprised to see the devil using his puppet rulers upon the earth to short-circuit God’s plan of redemption. As Sennacherib was dismayed and forced to retreat, so shall the same happen to all who come against God’s plan and purpose for his people in Jesus Christ.

Are there days in your life when the forces of darkness seem to surround you? Do you hear the taunts and the malicious remarks of those who bear not the blood of Christ upon them? It may seem that such people will overwhelm you but be of good cheer, . . . because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world (I St. John 4:4). We have the Holy Ghost the Comforter. We have the Spirit of the living God within us. Yes, we will face trials and tribulations, but we know who our Lord is and what he has promised that he, . . . will never leave [us] nor forsake [us] (Hebrews 13:5).We also know that on a predetermined day in the future, God will bring his judgment upon the wicked under the leadership of the Beast of Revelation (13 & 14). The apostle Paul noted that this man of sin and son of perdition (II Thessalonians 2:3) whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming (II Thessalonians 2:8) will opposeth and exalted himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped ; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God (II Thessalonians 2:4). The arrogance and hubris of this man of sin will exceed even that of Sennacherib in his pronouncements to King Hezekiah. The same force who was behind the wicked Sennacherib will thus find his masterpiece of evil in the Antichrist.

The Bible tells us that people like Sennacherib will come and go. The vicious, the hateful, and those that vex our souls and dampen our spirits will be present with us as long as we are in this world. But we know in whom we trust. We know that our good and gracious God has not left us without a comforter. We know that at his right hand is our Saviour and he will do for us in ways that we can hardly perceive beforehand, but will, nevertheless, be made abundantly clear through their operation before our eyes. So let us trust in Christ Jesus our Lord and lean upon him. For in his strength we find strength. In his love we find grace. In his forbearance we find mercy. And in his righteous judgment we, who were formerly fit subjects of God’s wrath, are now justified by the Saviour’s blood. Let us therefore go forth and proclaim his message of salvation to all that they too might turn unto him and be saved from his wrath to come.

Let us pray,

 Holy and righteous God, whose mighty hand no power can turn away; protect us from all the evil plans and designs of the devil, that we might better serve thee in this life as we look for that life to come; and these things we ask in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+

A Confederate Soldier’s Prayer
This comes from "Devotions of Soldiers of the South" by Anna Marie Cummins-Greer, 1873.  It is the finest summary of what should recognize in our daily lives I have ever come across.

A Confederate Soldier's Prayer
Author Unknown,
(found on the body of a Southern soldier on Manassas Battlefield)

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed.

[1] Decapolis - ten cities=deka, ten, and polis, a city, a district on the east and south-east of the Sea of Galilee containing "ten cities, " which were chiefly inhabited by Greeks. It included a portion of Bashan and Gilead, and is mentioned three times in the New Testament (Matt. 4: 25; Mark 5: 20; 7: 31). These cities were Scythopolis, i. e., "city of the Scythians", (ancient Bethshean, the only one of the ten cities on the west of Jordan), Hippos, Gadara, Pella (to which the Christians fled just before the destruction of Jerusalem), Philadelphia (ancient Rabbath-ammon), Gerasa, Dion, Canatha, Raphana, and Damascus. When the Romans conquered Syria (B. C. 65) they rebuilt, and endowed with certain privileges, these "ten cities, " and the province connected with them they called "Decapolis. "
[2] Ephphatha the Greek form of a Syro-Chaldaic or Aramaic word, meaning "Be opened", uttered by Christ when healing the man who was deaf and dumb (Mark 7: 34). It is one of the characteristics of Mark that he uses the very Aramaic words which fell from our Lord's lips. (See 3: 17; 5: 41; 7: 11; 14: 36; 15: 34. )

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