Verse of the Day

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday

Today was the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday.  The weather was interesting; a veiled quarter moon and a star at sunrise with a temperature of 68°F, rising to 78°F by the end of church under skies.  Once again, the gathering song gathered not one and we ended up with 3 people present for the service.

Gathering Song
Jack Arnold played Just a closer walk with Thee for the gathering song.

Just a closer walk with Thee
I am weak, but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I'll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

Take my hand, Lord Jesus, take my hand;
Take my hand, Lord Jesus, take my hand;
There’s a race to be run, There’s a victory to be won;
Every hour, give me power to go through.

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

When my feeble life is o'er,
Time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely o'er
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore.

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

We try to pick our gathering songs to have a wonderful message, be easy to sing and suitable for guitar accompaniment.  Just a closer walk with Thee is a parish favorite.

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.  Some from Bishop Jerry, many from Rev Bryan Dabney, a few from other places, this time some from Rev Geordie Menzies- Grierson, but overall mostly from Bryan.  He always has a few great ones to share.  On to the On Point quotes –

I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.
Benjamin Franklin
On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, 1766

The way of holiness that leads to happiness is a narrow way; there is but just room enough for a holy God and a holy soul to walk together.
Thomas Brooks

There smites nothing so sharp, nor smelleth so sour, as shame.
William Langland

But the safety of the people of America against dangers from foreign force depends not only on their forbearing to give just causes of war to other nations, but also on their placing and continuing themselves in such a situation as not to invite hostility or insult; for it need not be observed that there are pretended as well as just causes of war.
John Jay
Federalist No. 4, 1787

The prosperity of the wicked is short and uncertain. The high places in which providence sets them are slippery. Their destruction is sure, and sudden, and very great. They flourish for a time and are undone forever.
Rev. Matthew Henry
17th and 18th  century English pastor and author

But we are apt to look upon the apostles as extraordinary beings, scarcely subject to the same weaknesses and temptations as ourselves. Yet in so doing we are forgetful of this truth, that the nearer a man lives to God the more intensely has he to mourn over his own evil heart; and the more his Master honours him in his service, the more also doeth the evil of the flesh vex and tease him day by day.
Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon
19th century English Baptist minister and author
(Morning and Evening, p. 374)

Jesus Christ has already paid the sacrificial price for our sins. The great tragedy is that millions of people choose not to reap the benefits of his sacrifice.
Dr. Grant Jeffrey
20th and 21st  century Canadian Christian author

What are cold, wandering, selfish, irreverent prayers, but offences against God, whom we pretend to propitiate by services which are but a mockery of his holiness?
Rev. Charles Hodge
19th  century American theologian and author

The firewall we have against postmodernism (which is a fancy name for paganism) is an inerrant, authoritative Bible. Our sin problem finds its remedy through the gospel that is revealed in the Bible. We find morals and restraint from our sinful tendencies through the law of God revealed by God through the Biblical writers. Western Civilization used to be based on such ideas.
Bob DeWaay
20th and 21st century American Christian commentator

If you ever look about yourself and find that your country is a Goliath, towering over a small enemy, be afraid. God enjoys letting giants grow, giants like Persia, or our own country, but he always fells them, and he always fells them with something small or petty, a stone, or a ragged bunch of impoverished Greeks with schizophrenic gods. It is a curious thought to consider what God will use to rein in our present predominate unrighteousness.
Douglas Wilson
20th and 21st century American theologian and Christian Classical educator,

Never give to your friend any power that your enemy may some day inherit.
Paul Weyrich
20th and 21st century American Conservative and author.

The Propers for today are found on Page 209-210, with the Collect first:

The Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

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

Dru Arnold read the Epistle, which came from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, the Fifth Chapter beginning at the Sixteenth Verse.  Paul tells us that Heaven and Earth are in conflict in our lives, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”  If we are led of the Spirit, we are not under the law.  If we are subject to the law, which we are bound to break due to our own inability to be ultimately good, we are also bound to the pit.  But if we are with Christ, we are forgiven of our sins, providing we are truly repentant.  We will enjoy “the fruit of the Spirit … love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

 say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Hap Arnold read today’s Holy Gospel which started in the Seventeenth Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke, beginning at the Eleventh Verse.  Jesus comes upon ten lepers who appeal to Him,  “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  He does and tells them, “Go shew yourselves unto the priests.”  As they left him, their leprosy disappeared.  One of the ten, “when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan[1].”  Jesus marveled at the nine who turned not saying, “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?  There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.”  Once again a Samaritan, the “least” among the Jews was the only one to recognize and offer thanks to the Power of God.  Do we recognize the power of God in our lives and do we thank Him for the good He does us?

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

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

Today we talk consider The Law and how it failed to solve the problems of the people it was designed to help and think about how getting around technicalities is different that doing what is right.

Consider the words of the Collect, “…give unto us the increase of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain that which thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command …”

The Collects often are repetitive, in that we ask the same thing, week after week in differing ways.  Why is that?  Sadly, we have the same needs and the same failings week after week.  We are WEAK, we need God’s STRENGTH.  Today, we ask Him to help us, through the Holy Ghost, to increase our faith, to help us love what He wants us to do, to make His Wishes our wishes.  To make us want to follow Him that we might gain the prize which He has promised us.  That prize has multiple aspects, first and foremost eternal life which begins when we accept it, not when we die.  Second, as a benefit of that eternal life, we live our lives here in far greater happiness than we would otherwise.  We have peace of mind, as well as a better physical life.  If we can but just put our hearts in His Heart. And if we can also remember the benefits of the prize of following Him, it would be easier for us to follow the path, maybe not much easier, but easier enough to keep our eyes on the prize.   We often forget about the Holy Ghost, that Third God Guy.  Without Him in our hearts, we are lost.  With Him, we, like John Newton, are found.  We will have that vision He gives to us in our lives and we will be able to see the way God wants us to travel.

That brings us right in to Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, and us!  We need to walk in God’s Word and in His Spirit.  We need to put aside the things of this world which are not in accord with the Way of God.  If we are of God, then we will act of God, then only will we be of God.

What is important is not what you were born to, for we were all born to death.  A king is born, a king dies.  We are born into this world, our body will die in this world.  Yet through the grace of the King, we live on.  There is much conflict in us, look at all those “fun” things Paul lists in the Epistle.  Those “fun” things do not bring happiness, they really just bring us closer to death.  We all struggle with fun and happiness, two words that often do not mean the same thing.

Yet, God has the answer for us.  He sent His Son to bring it to us.  Who will listen?

The only people who listen are those who are in need, hurt, pain and despair.  Often it is because they or one of their loved ones are ill or injured, perhaps near death.  Perhaps they are unemployed or undergoing some family upheaval.  Their situation is less than perfect.  They need help and they know it.  In their own mind, they are the Samaritans of this world.  It was no accident that Jesus oft cast Samaritans as the stars of his parables and stories.  It is also no accident that Jesus parables and stories center on actions, not words, thoughts and meditations.  Actions are who you are.  Without action, there is nothing.  “Those who believe on me keep my commandments.”  Actions!

Yet, those who turn to God in “need” are no different than each of us.  To quote Paul, “None are perfect, all fall short.”  We, each and every one of us, needs God’s help.  Perhaps some need it more, none need it less.

When Luke tells us of Jesus and the ten lepers whom He heals and only one expresses thanks, do you think he is only telling of lepers?

In a sense are we not all lepers, outcasts with unhealable conditions?   We are outcasts of this world so to speak, we only have God and our friends in Christ to help us. The world cannot help us, but those in Christ, and God can. We cannot be healed by this world, yet there is One who can heal us and will if only we appeal to Him,  “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  We pray to Him every day, He listens every day.

Through our Lord, God is there for each of us if we will accept His help.  When He gives that help, how do we react?  Frankly most of us just think it our due.  We oft fail to give thanks for all that He gives us.

Even if we get an answer we don’t expect, do we thank Him?  What if we get an answer do we thank Him?

Like the lepers only one in ten will show thanks for the mercy and help given them.   In the case of the lepers, it was the Samaritan[2], showing that fancy dress and rules are not as important as doing what is right and being grateful for what we are given.

Are you part of that 10 percent?

Remember, it is Please and Thank You that are the magic words, not Please and I don’t have time for you.

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
Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity
Saint Andrew’s
Anglican Orthodox Church
1 September 2013, Anno Domini

The Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

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

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

            The Prayer of Collect reminds us of the biblical principle that faith and love come from God. He is the author of both faith and love, and neither can be self-generated by man.

            In national diplomacy, we often refer to the “Full Faith and Credit of the U.S. Government.” The implication is that all that the American government has and believes is behind, and supports, a certain policy. Today’s Gospel theme is like unto that phrase, but with an added dimension – gratitude. We may have full faith, but that faith must be backed up with gratitude for blessings received.

            Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem to be crucified for us – for the people at Jerusalem, for the very Romans who nailed Him to the cross, for the Galileans, for the Samaritans, and for all nations, tribes and tongues who believe on Him. It simply “came to pass” that he went through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. It was not otherwise essential for Jesus to pass through Samaria, but He did for a purpose – the same purpose decreed from eternity past; and that purpose involved ten lepers whom He knew He would meet on His way. Jesus is always going through the midst of nations for a specific purpose. Somewhere along the extended route He always took, perhaps He met YOU along the weary road, seemingly by happenstance! But it was not happenstance, for nothing of God happens by happenstance. You were dying of a filthy and odorous, blood-borne disease called sin, but He healed you and restored you, if you called out to Him as did these poor lepers. How like sin is the disease of leprosy. It was deadly, it was insidious, it rotted away the very being of a person, it could not be covered or escaped, and it relentlessly ate away at the limbs and vital organs of the body just as sin does the soul. THERE WAS NO KNOWN CURE! What was needed for a person with leprosy was simply a miracle!

            Perhaps we do not understand that our salvation – our healing from our deadly disease of sin – came by the same miraculous Word that healed the lepers on the way to Jerusalem. The kind of love that Jesus offers is not a sentimental or tentative love – it is an all-consuming, miraculous kind of love. All true love descends from God. And all that God touches is a miracle! How could One of perfect righteousness – sinless in every respect, Holy and unable to even look upon sin - take all of our filthy sins, and the sins of the world, upon Himself in the shame, humiliation, and torture of the cross? Was it not a miracle? If a bitter enemy comes near and you were to insult him with your greatest offense, or even strike him or his only son, would it not be a miracle is he gave his life in preserving your own?  

            When you were first aware of your disease of sin, did you try to conceal the rotting tissue – the ominous and repulsive odor with perfumes? Did you cover, as long as possible, the signs of leprosy (sin) with your best apparel as did Naaman, the Assyrian Captain? But after a bit, it becomes impossible to cover such a disease that slowly advances toward certain and eternal death. Sin separates the sinner from God, and from his loved ones, just as leprosy separates the leper from his family and friends. You will soon find that, like Naaman, you need a miracle, and that miracle can only be had in Christ.

            Jesus wittingly went to Jacob’s Well that noonday hour for a specific purpose – to meet a woman of ill repute there who sought physical water, but left with the Water of Life. He then used that woman to draw many more Samaritans to Himself. It was no accident of chance, but an event of purpose and known action. So our narrative from the Gospel text opens with Jesus passing through Samaria and Galilee on His final earthly visit to Jerusalem. 11 “And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.” The Samaritans were cast-offs from the Judean religion, but Christ NEVER forgets the cast-offs. In fact, He makes special provision for them in meeting them WHERE THEY ARE TO BE FOUND, just as He came to you where you could be found. It may have been in a busy office, a train, a lonely midnight street, or even a barroom, but He always comes to where you are with His gentle prodding’s of the Holy Ghost. You looked from the place where you stood and saw Him coming to you!

            You will well know, if you are a person of faith, that sin separates us from God. Adam and Eve hid themselves in the Garden after sinning against their loving Creator. Cain also hid from the presence of God, or tried to do. Sin makes a great abyss between us and God just as broad and impassable as that which existed between the Rich Man and Lazarus. Only God can breech that abyss, and He must come to us in doing so. 12 “And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off.” Jesus never separated Himself from lepers. In fact, He is the only One I read about who actually dared touch a filthy leper in Scripture. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (Matt 8:2-3) God does not make a separation between us and Himself – WE are the ones who make the separation through our sins or leprosy. The lepers were not allowed to approach near people. If they met on the road, they were required to shout “Unclean, unclean!” as a warning for others to stay clear of them. So we see these lepers were afar off from Christ when they saw Him coming.

            These ten lepers were obviously of mixed tribes for the Gospel specifically points out that one of them was a Samaritan. It may be logically assumed that some, at least, were Jews or Phoenicians. But sin unites across racial and national boundaries. Being outcast from God, the sinners are united in their darkness. The sinners travel together while their disease separates them from God and His Church. Have you known the time in your past when you slithered beneath the rocks at the rising of the Sun to shield your eyes from the great Light? Did you not find fellow creatures there who loved the darkness more than the Light?

            When we have wronged our best friend, how we avoid looking that friend squarely in the eyes! Sin separates!

            13 “And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When sin has choked out your last breath and paralyzed your heart, you then know that your condition is hopeless. But then you look up and see the Giver of Life and the Healer of the nations on the road coming your way. What will you do? Will you avail yourself of the Healing Balm, or will you say, “I don’t need it! I shall die in my sin?” There are three circumstances common to these ten lepers: 1) they ALL have leprosy and are dying of the disease; 2) they are together in their demise; and 3) they all have faith to call upon Jesus for healing. Their faith was not all equal, for nine only sought healing from the deadly physical disease that afflicted them, but one had faith sufficient to plead for the spiritual healing of Christ as well. Do you pray for healing of the body to the neglect of the soul? We are in a constant war against sin and evil. Our full faculties must be mobilized to watch out for the intrigues of the enemy, but also for the arrival of the Captain of our souls along the weary road to Jerusalem!

            These ten lepers pled for mercy! If they could receive mercy from the Lord of Life, that would certainly suffice for their healing of leprosy. It is interesting to note Jesus’ response: “14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests.” They sought healing, and they believed that they would have it if they followed the surprising Word of Jesus. Jesus does not always respond in the same way. He could have simply healed these lepers on the spot as He had done others, but He had a point to make to His disciples, so He told the lepers to show themselves to the priests so that they might be declared clean and able to return to their families and friends. Have you, too, received a counsel of God that simply does not seem to fit your prayer? Has Christ told you to obey some counsel that did not, at the time, make sense? If so, what did you do? Did you follow His Word, or disobey?

            Sometimes, in order to answer our prayers, Christ sends us on an errand that may not make sense to us. These poor lepers all OBEYED though they were not immediately healed. Is this not an amazing miracle in itself, I mean, that they did obey without question? What was the result? “And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.” The faith they demonstrated in both calling out to Christ, and promptly obeying His command, was an elemental faith that would result in the healing of one deadly disease, but not another more serious affliction (sin) for nine of them. As they went to see the priest, they realized that they had been healed. By now, they have made some distance from the One who healed them – it is probable that they were not ‘out of sight’ of Jesus. How do they respond? Perhaps they reckoned, “Well, we have that for which we came. Let us not trouble the Master by returning and giving thanks. He will know that we were healed?” Their immediate joy perhaps overwhelmed their sense of gratitude so that their gratitude was diminished by their senseless joy. Now they could return to their families. Now life would again be normal for these suffering men. But what about the One who gave them such a wonderful gift? Not worth their time to return to express their humble gratitude? Do not children often grow up to resent the very parents who made their lives possible?

            When we pray to God, we must accept whatever answer is forthcoming even if we do not understand it at the moment. We must be thankful enough to express that gratitude on bended knee. But do we? Do you remember the great national appeal to God through prayer that happened all across America on the Eve of the Desert Storm Operation in January 0f 1991? Churches and communities turned out for prayer vigil unlike anything sense the Second World War. Our troops were heralded by well-wishers from the bridge overpasses as their convoys wheeled toward the points of disembarkation. It was a most encouraging and inspiring moment. There seemed to be hope for the moral decline of America at last. It was expected that the allied Forces might sustain a casualty rate as high as 60,000 in the first four hours of battle. God moved in the Heavens and His Angels of War soared above the heads of our battle elements in a manner not unlike that wonderful Pillar of fire that followed the Children of Israel out of Egypt. The causalities were quite minimal – sixteen fatalities and only a few injured. What was the result? Did the nation’s churches again turn out in droves to return thanks and gratitude to the God of Battles who sustained our forces in the field? No, not appreciably. Instead, we were treated to debriefings and continual news flashes of our good General, “Stormin’ Norman” Schwartzkoff, outlining how our brilliant technology and strategic planning had “won the day.” God was, sadly, not mentioned.

            God always has His one faithful soul in every mixture of ingrates. He had Abel who stood against the growing evil of the first generation of men. He had His Samuel who stood against all of Israel in their desire for a king to rule over them – other than the King of Heaven. He has had his Ruth’s and Naomi’s, His Paul’s and His Stephen’s – and He now has one out of ten healed lepers whose heart, more than his body, has been touched and healed, all the way through, by Christ. “15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.” All quickly went on their way to the priest at Christ commands. All were healed on the way; however, one, just as promptly as recognizing his healing, immediately turned back to the Source of his healing to glorify God. This is wise for two reasons: 1) it is always wise to be grateful for gifts received. A heart of gratitude is reward unto itself for health and joy; and, 2) when we fail to express gratitude for blessings granted either by God, or by friends, we shut off the flowing Fountain of Living Waters for future blessings. This one leper was not timid to glorify God with a “loud voice.” He cared not who heard his glorifying. He, in fact, wanted every living creature in earshot to hear his praises of the One who had healed his leprosy, and his heart.

            How uncharacteristic, in the eyes of the disciples, for this particular leper to be the only one to return thanks for he was a disgusting Samaritan! What were you before you came to Christ, friend? Were you better than this leper? Were you better than the other nine? How the modern church disdains a poor and itinerant sinner who wonders into their marbled palaces in disarray!

 “16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.” He did better than all the other nine who were comprised of at least some of the better race – Jews. Do you not yet see that God cares not for color of skin, or national origins? He looks upon the heart only! This humble Samaritan knew how Jewish society regarded lepers, but he also knew how it perceived Samaritans as well. He was BOTH, yet this loving Savior took pity upon him despite his shortcomings and condition. He was not ashamed to fall at the feet of such a beneficent Savior. Are you ashamed after all He has done for you?

Jesus’ following question was rhetorical: “17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” Of course, He knew where the others were – they were still hurrying to the priest to settle pressing personal consideration, not having time to return and thank their Benefactor. Even when we depart from Him to cherish our sins, He yet knows where we are. Jesus is asking this question to draw a vivid impression in the minds of His disciples. When we read the Word of God, and hear it preached from the pulpit, we may not at first understand fully, but the Holy Ghost will, in time, bring all such things to our recollection and understanding. These same disciples, though they could not grasp the full gravity of Jesus’ inquiry at the moment, later proved their apostolic understanding in the lives that they lived, and died, for Christ!

This stranger? This stranger was once Jerry Ogles! We were all strangers to God before we came to Him in faith and gratitude. “18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.” When we seek the favors of God, we do not go half way, but ALL the way. We must not simply “eat the fish and leave the bone.” We feed on every Word that comes from the mouth of God whether every Word is personally pleasing or not. Our modern society has decided that it can edit out certain egregious sins from the Holy Bible – sins such as the murder of innocent babies in their mother’s womb, or abominable sins such as homosexuality giving, it rather, a place of dignity among society and even the church. How apostate can we become! But only ‘this stranger’ returned out of ten to give thanks. They were all in the same congregation. All sought the same Lord. All heard His healing Words. All obeyed His command (to a certain point). But after that point of healing, nine failed of gratitude and grace expected of a Christian. Is not the same thing happening in congregations all across America today? Have we not labeled that which is good, ‘bad;’ and that which is bad, ‘good?’ Have we not sat and listened to the sermon with closed minds and ears – or, else, has the minister himself not compromised away the Word and will of our Holy Father to the detriment of millions of souls? Are we so much in a hurry to get back to the things of the world after our prayers, that we neglect gratitude for the mercies of God?

It was faith in Jesus that brought the leper to the point afar off to call upon Him to have mercy. It was a stronger faith that compelled him to return to the Source of his blessing of answered prayer. And it was faith that drew him to Christ. Though it was Christ who healed and forgave, it was faith that was the agency whereby he was drawn in the first place. His faith was a surpassing faith that went beyond simple belief, but went on to a loving gratitude that welded his soul to that of Christ. “19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” Only when we come to Christ on bended knee can we ‘arise’ from our paltry predicaments and face a new life of salvation and righteousness. Christ does not heal halfway, but All the way if our faith enforces gratitude. Have you thanked God today for your next breath, your next heartbeat, and all of the more obvious ways He has blessed and healed you? If not, what are your intentions?

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.  I think you will enjoy his sermon.

The Grateful Leper   Luke 17:11-19
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem traveling along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him …and he was a Samaritan.
 Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."St.  Luke recorded this message for us, so we might learn some important things about following Christ.
Jesus and his disciples are moving closer and closer to Jerusalem. Here Jesus is traveling in the border area in the province of Galilee, and at the north end of the area where the Samaritans lived.
Luke reminds us that this took place in a racially-mixed area, so we will be ready for the surprise at the end of the story: "….. and he was a Samaritan."
Leprosy in Biblical times was a terrible thing. Those diagnosed with leprosy were banned from society, after a visit to the priest who deemed them to be unclean.  To touch a leper defiled a Jew almost as much as touching a dead person. They looked at leprosy as a sign of God's disfavor.
To rabbis, the cure of a leper was as difficult as raising a person from the dead. In all Biblical history only two people had been cured of leprosy. Miriam, who had leprosy for seven days as a punishment for speaking against Moses' leadership (Numbers 12:9-15), and Naaman, General of the Army of Aram, from Damascus.    (2 Kings 5).
When he obeyed Elijah's instruction to wash seven times in the Jordan River he was healed. Healing a leper had not been done in Israel for over seven hundred years."
The Lepers stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, 'Jesus, Master, have pity on us!' (17:12b-13) When Jesus and his disciples drew near; the lepers immediately recognize him and call out his name. The word “Master" translates to a term used in secular Greek for various officials, teachers, and leaders.
The lepers ask for pity, and when Jesus saw them, he said, 'Go, and show yourselves to the priests.' And as they went, they were cleansed." (17:14). Remember those words": And as they went, they were cleansed.
Even though we talk about someone who "believes, “we know that faith is exhibited in what we actually do. Because the lepers believe, they begin to obey and they went to the village where the priests live.
As Jesus' brother James says, "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by works or action, is dead" (James 2:17).
"One of them, when he saw he was healed came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him ….and he was a Samaritan." (17:15-16).  All ten lepers realize they are healed, but only one comes all the way back to Jesus, praising God for his mercy in healing him.
Notice the thankful leper's response. He throws himself at Jesus' feet as a sign of utter humility. The leper gives glory to God and thanks Jesus. The thankful leper may not know Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, but he knows who healed him and he knows that thanks are due.
"Jesus asked, 'Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God, except this foreigner?' “(17:17-18) Ten were healed but the only one who knew thanks were due and followed through was the Samaritan.  Samaritans were at the bottom of the Jewish hierarchy.  They did not have all the rules, but somehow they appear to know what is right each time they come up in the Bible.
This observation agrees with several other indictments of the Jews living in Jesus' day. Jesus points out in the Parable of the Tenants (20:9-19) that, by and large, God's people have rejected his appointed Son. John's Gospel begins with the sad observation, "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become,children of God" (John 1:11-12).
The account concludes with Jesus' departing blessing:"Then he said to him, 'Rise and go; your faith has made you well.' “(17:19) This passage hints at the fact that Jesus offers this leper more than others. They received healing, but this Samaritan receives a deeper salvation in addition.
His faith has prompted him to return to the feet of Jesus in thanks, and that personal contact, that personal submission signifies a healing of the soul, far greater than just the skin.
What are we as followers of Christ supposed to learn from all this? Perhaps most obvious is that outsiders are sometimes more responsive than God's own people. One central lesson of this story is that the faith that healed the lepers was by acting on Jesus' words. Jesus said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests," implying that they were healed. If they had done a quick physical check to see if they were healed before they headed off to the priests' village…. they never would have started. The healing didn't take place until after they obeyed.
We sometimes want instantaneous healing before we'll believe that Jesus has healed us. But the faith here is shown in the going. "My point here is that we as followers of Christ we need to know that Jesus expects us to show gratitude. In the account of the Thankful Leper, Jesus is clearly angry and disappointed at the ingratitude of the nine lepers who didn't return.
Gratitude is an important component in our salvation. Were all ten lepers healed? Physically - yes. Were they all saved?  No – Nine of them took the surface gift of physical healing and turned their backs literally on Jesus.  One drew close to God in thankfulness and dependence.
The nine were saved physically but not spiritually. "Where are the other nine?" Jesus asks. Healing that doesn't bring a person to Jesus is incomplete and without spiritual growth.Sad to say, but being a believer can sometimes result in spiritual deafness.  One is not a "believer", but rather only one who claims to believe, when they do not ACT on those beliefs.  Remember, the second half of the Book of Luke is The ACTS of the Apostles, not the beliefs, thoughts, contemplations or other non-ACTIONS.  
If you ACT on your beliefs, you will not find yourself deaf. We must train ourselves to show thanks, to give thanks, to be filled with thanksgiving. Without being thankful disciples, we won't be pleasing to Him.
Actually, if we are not thankful for all He does for us, we are not His.  
Be thankful in all things, not for all things. God offers more that we ask for.
The question is - Do we accept, or just take what we asked for.  
The lepers wanted clean skin, God gave a clean soul.  Only one took it.

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.

Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity

Acts 17:16-34
King James Version (KJV)

16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.
17 Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
18 Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection.
19 And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?
20 For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean.
21 (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.)
22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars' hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.
23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, To The Unknown God. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.
24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;
25 Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device.
30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter.
33 So Paul departed from among them.
34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
In Acts 17:16-34, we were presented with St. Paul’s message to  the people of Athens on the Areopagus, or Mars’ Hill. As he made his way through that great city, the apostle viewed the statues of those deities which the Athenians worshipped. But among those stone impressions of their gods and goddesses was an altar bearing the inscription, To the Unknown God. Later, when he delivered his sermon, the apostle remarked about how superstitious the Athenians were in their acknowledgment of even that one deity with whom they were unaware and who might cause them grief. In the simple parlance of today he was saying that they were “covering the bases.”

Now the Athenians were hardly dissimilar from the other people of the ancient world whose worship of false deities was done without any real devotion, but rather out of fear. The Greeks and Romans regarded their gods as merely immortal versions of themselves. Their gods and goddesses were capricious, hateful, and prone to vengeance should any mortal cross them. The myths and legends concerning those deities contain accounts of numerous aggressive acts against mortals such as murder, mutilation, seduction, deception, revenge, and war.

And St. Paul noted in his first epistle to the Corinthians, What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should fellowship with devils (10:19-20). Thus we may safely conclude that the Athenians — along with every other idolater — worshiped demonic spirits. Dr. Merrill Unger once noted that, “The subtle allurement of idolatry and fanatical zeal of its devotees can be explained only on the scriptural basis — I Cor. 10:19-22 — that ‘behind the idol there are terrible spiritual presences — demons (E. Langton, Essentials of Demonology, p. 185).’” And should we be surprised?

Long ago, God stated in his word written that, I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me ... I am the LORD, and there is none else (Isaiah 45:5-6). But to the Athenians and others he was, the Unknown God: that one among many gods whose name was yet to be revealed. The apostle Paul reminded us in his epistle to the Romans that those of the unregenerate, hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse (1:18- 20). And the apostle also noted that because of their lack of any consideration for the person of God, he darkened their hearts and gave them up to uncleanness in their bodies (1:21-25).

It should be understood that God is from everlasting to everlasting. His handiwork is visible to all who would open their eyes to the complex world around them. The Greeks and the others of the ancient world used their religion to explain the nature of the things they observed. Nevertheless, they erred in their thinking which the apostle attributed to their ignorance. They had crafted the image of God into multiple personages which they tailored to fit their worldview. Now a worldview is set of beliefs and assumptions that governs how one views the things of this sphere, and includes in some fashion those things that ought and ought not be done in a person’s daily life. Base humanity possesses a system of morality, but it is hardly a God-centered one. While unregenerated man can come up with law codes, rules and ordinances to govern conduct, he will not follow them. And such is problematic for unregenerated man on that account. For if he will not follow his own rules, then what do you suppose unregenerated man will do with regard to keeping the laws of God? He will not because he cannot. Original sin prevents the unregenerated person from doing anything that can please God. Satan understands man’s nature all too well and that is why he pioneered paganism and idolatry with their worthless worship practices as a way to give humanity something to fear and reverence while at the same time keeping them away from the true worship of the living God.

The pagans made offerings of various kinds to their gods. Some of the nastier deities were said to require human sacrifice, while others were thought to be sated with food or drink offerings. Some encouraged sexual promiscuity, while a few called for their members to disfigure themselves. The tragic lesson here is that if one followed the commandments of the one true God, the offerings and sacrifices which he called for were — and remain — quite different.

Orthodox Christianity teaches that our God requires obedience. He calls on all to accept his only begotten Son as Saviour and Lord. God desires fellowship with mankind and through that fellowship he wants to give us life in abundance.

He does not charge a fee as the pagan religions did. He does not demand that we give to our detriment in our offerings and gifts. Our God is love in the most truest and purest sense. No other religion can allege that their deity is as pure and holy as the LORD Almighty.

Still, there are those today who will try and “cover the bases” with their verbal acceptance of God. But their motives are the same as the pagans of ancient Athens. The pagans placated their gods and goddesses, while we Christians, on the other hand, humble ourselves before our LORD and seek his forgiveness for our sins and trespasses. The pagans were not interested so much in forgiveness from their deities, only a pass to prevent them from being harmed by them. They sought to use their litany of magical incantations to manipulate the immortals as if anything that a mortal could come up with would be proof against the powers of the eternal.

Faithful Christians know that the Bible is not a collection of sayings designed to appease God and have him act, as it were, on cue. Our worship is about giving praise to him for his blessings and includes our confession of sin to the Father in the name of his beloved Son. Further, it includes a presentation of God’s word written, and a sermon concerning its meaning. God’s word is timeless as it bears an enduring message that will never pass away. Our worship also includes a memorial to his death and sacrifice in our celebration of the Lord’s Supper, as well as our symbolic death to this life and rising to life anew via our participation in the sacrament of Holy Baptism. There are occasions where we celebrate the union of a man and woman via the Solemnization of Matrimony. At other times, and when the need arises, we pray over and minister to those who are ill with our Order of Visitation of the Sick. And we also comfort one another over the passing of a brother or sister in Christ via our Order for the Burial of the Dead. We do these things as a church because we are called to be witnesses to this sin- filled world and because our Lord has called us to look after one another. There is much comfort in being a member of a true Christian body and we should rejoice that our God has given such to us.

Sadly, there are folks today who are just as lost as those Athenians who refused to accept the apostle’s teaching. While they are largely found outside the church, they also can be found within the various denominations of apostate Christianity because the wayward church is much more tolerant of sinful behaviors than those churches which adhere to an orthodox understanding of the faith. They will feign an appearance of being in Christ by attending the weekly worship service, singing hymns, listening to sermons, and contributing at collection time. They might return home from Sunday worship feeling justified because they read from the scriptures to the congregation, or that they taught a Sunday school class, or that they participated in some sort of musical exposition. But, folks, do these things save a person? Where is the blood of Christ on them? Where is their heart- felt confession to the Father? Where is their obedience to him who said, If you love me, keep my commandments (St. John 14:15)?

The worldly Christian is so choked by cares of this life that he has no will to focus on the things of God. He is likely too self-absorbed. He may even come with an attitude that God does not see his evil deeds. Ergo, he does not seek God’s forgiveness, and if he asks at all, it is only to “clean the slate” so that when he leaves the precincts of the church, he can then go forth and sin anew. Doubtless he will possess the same mindset about his sins the next time he shows up for church. So you see, the worldly, self-satisfied Christian is really no different from the pagans in ancient times. He is not saved, but is doubly damned for his lack of faith. Christ is not inside of his heart, but is outside knocking to come in (Revelation 3:20). If anything, he would be afraid of our Lord’s return. The Bible tells us that such people will say, to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand (Revelation 6:16-17)?

Dearly beloved in Christ, we do not worship the Godhead because we are afraid of him, but because we love him. The Bible tells us that, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom . . . (Psalm 111:10). In our understanding of who God is — in our knowledge of him — we fear — or respect — his mighty power and his awesome majesty. But then we learn that, There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love (I St. John 4:18). In the beginning when we came to know who God is, we did indeed fear his power and might. But when we came to know of his condescending love for us through Christ, then that fear was cast out and we reverenced God via our love for him. As the apostle John noted, Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world (I St. John 4:17).

The apostle Paul brought the knowledge of the one true God to the people of Athens. He preached to them Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected. He put a name to that which they had worshipped in ignorance. God gave St. Paul the earnest desire to preach to both Jew and Gentile the truth of his word so that they might turn unto him and be saved. Today, God is calling out to every person in the world to do likewise. Whether you understand who God is or not, you are being called upon to know him. You are being called to recognize him, and in that recognition he will no longer be unknown to you in this life. But to pass the precincts of this mortal life having never known him in a saving sense will be to gain such knowledge for an eternity in separation from him. Choose this day to seek after him and his Christ and be freed from the power of sin and death.

Let us pray,

Ather give us the grace to so present the gospel of thy Son to others that they too might know him as their Saviour and that they might be freed from their sins to live a life dedicated to thee; and this we ask in thy Son’s most precious name, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+

Chain of Command – by Henry M. Morris, PhD
sent by Jerry Ogles, Presiding Bishop – AOC Worldwide
"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it." (Joshua 1:9-11)

In the army of the Lord, typified here by the Israelites as they prepared for the conquest of Canaan, there must be order rather than irresponsibility. This is evidently the first reference in the Bible to a chain of command in these armies. God commanded Joshua, who had previously been appointed by God, through Moses, to be their human commander-in-chief. "Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people," who were thereafter to "command the people."

Similarly, there must be a system of orderly responsibility, with loyalty to the Lord exercised through a recognized chain of command, in any church or other Christian organization before any kind of victory for our supreme Commander can ever be won. When "every man |does| that which |is| right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25), the organization will fail.

Jesus Christ is the "captain of |our| salvation" (Hebrews 2:10), the Greek word for "captain" meaning, literally, "chief leader," and it is He who calls and commissions those who are to serve as leaders under Him. Leadership, however, does not imply dictatorship. They must not act as "lords over God's heritage" but as "|examples| to the flock" (1 Peter 5:3).

Whether we are called to be leaders or followers in God's spiritual army, each of us must also be willing to "endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life" (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

[1] Samaritan - Of or pertaining to Samaria, in Palestine. -- n. A native or inhabitant of Samaria; also, the language of Samaria. [1913 Webster]
  Samaritans were descendants of those who had stayed behind during the Captivity and had been separated for many years from the body of Judaism.  They had not developed, nor did they subscribe to them, all the rules the Jews managed to invent during their separation.  The main body of Jews viewed them as lesser peoples, not really Jews.
[2] Samaritan - Of or pertaining to Samaria, in Palestine. -- n. A native or inhabitant of Samaria; also, the language of Samaria. [1913 Webster]
  Samaritans were descendants of those who had stayed behind during the Captivity and had been separated for many years from the body of Judaism.  They had not developed, nor did they subscribe to them, all the rules the Jews managed to invent during their separation.  The main body of Jews viewed them as lesser peoples, not really Jews. 

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