Verse of the Day

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Ordination of Rev Jack Arnold - Ninteenth Sunday after Trinity

On Friday, 4 October 2013, Jackson Eugene Arnold was ordained a priest in the Anglican Orthodox Church by Bishop Jerry Levon Ogles, Presiding Bishop of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide at the Church of the Faithful Centurion.  In addition, present were:  Debbie Ogles (lovely wife of Bishop Jerry), Dru Arnold (loving mother of the newest minister in the AOC), Tuck and Robie Arnold (aunt and uncle), Albert and Ali Esquivel (cousin and her husband), Greg Chase, Don, Sandy and Nick Patton, Betsy Lane and very importantly the wonderful guest organist Marianne Lane, and of course Rev Hap Arnold, father of the new minister.  Each of our congregation has been a large part of Jack’s church life over the years and their presence was most appreciated. 

Weather was lovely, but as it is now approaching fall and we were in the middle of a Santa Ana condition with reasonably strong winds, the service was held inside.

The propers for the service are found on page 537 of the Book of Common Prayer:

The Collect.
LMIGHTY God, giver of all good things, who by thy Holy Spirit hast appointed divers Orders of Ministers in thy Church; Mercifully behold these thy servants now called to the Office of Priesthood; and so replenish them with the truth of thy Doctrine, and adorn them with innocency of life, that, both by word and good example, they may faithfully serve thee in this Office, to the glory of thy Name, and the edification of thy Church; through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.

Jack Arnold read the Epistle which came from Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, the Fourth Chapter beginning at the Seventh Verse:

NTO every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

Hap Arnold read the Holy Gospel which came from the Gospel according to Saint Matthew, the Ninth Chapter beginning at the Thirty-Sixth Verse:

HEN Jesus saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

After the ordination, during the course of Holy Communion, Jack preached his first sermon as a minister:

Reverend Jackson Arnold – Sermon – Time and Action
Consider the words of the Collect:  “hast appointed divers Orders of Ministers in thy Church; Mercifully behold these thy servants now called to the Office of Priesthood; and so replenish them with the truth of thy Doctrine, and adorn them with innocency of life, that, both by word and good example, they may faithfully serve thee in this Office, to the glory of thy Name, and the edification of thy Church

God Appoints ministers and fill these in particular with the true doctrine of Christ as laid out in scripture, to guide them in life to be a good example to the Church and give them inspiration of speech so they can be a credit to God and instruct His Church. These are the goals that God has laid forth for his ministers.

Saint Paul tells the people of Ephesus and us that we each given grace by the gift of Christ.  God came as man to earth and returned to heaven after a brief, but filled time here, having given His earthly life in sacrifice for our sins that we might have eternal life.  Now, God has given various gifts to various people to do His Work.   In the instant case He has given the gift of ministry to some; I am fully aware of the confidence He has in me!  I will do my very best to fulfill the goals that He has laid out for me to the best of my ability.

Saint Matthew tells us of Jesus looking out at the many people around Him, people who had no teachers, no leaders, no guide.  He looked at them and said, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.  That is to say, there are so many people who need to hear the Word of God, and yet so few who wish to spread that Word and do the needed hard work to bring the Word to fruition.  For otherwise, we end up like the Parable of the Soils, often called the Parable of the Sower, where either people don’t even hear the Word or they hear it and really don’t understand it to the point they begin to ACT on it.

It seems to me that the Word of God is often a parable in of itself, in that many people upon hearing it, do not understand the message, but those who truly believe it, will after thinking and through the Holy Ghost understand the message. The Word of God is the only thing that preachers should be preaching and nothing else. When you deviate from preaching the Word, you are deviating from the faith once delivered by Christ and His Apostles 2,000 + years ago.

That is why we ministers, and especially me, must be very diligent in studying the Word, so that we can know any deviations from the appointed Gospel. Often, we are battling false preachers who preach against the Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. The sources are often surprising to us. We might think when Christ told us of false prophets, ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing, that he might be talking about others who preach a different Gospel, for example: the Gnostics, the Roman Catholics, Mormons, etc.

But while that is true, I also take that anybody who preaches anything that is contrary to scripture is a false “preacher.” Take for example the Theory of Evolution which is taught as “fact”, it is a theory, and not only that, Evolution is a religion of itself. Really, when it boils down to it, Christianity vs Evolution it is not religion vs science, but religion vs religion.

When you think about it, evolution takes even more faith than that of Christianity. Christianity at least, the writings of the synoptic Gospels could verify quite truthfully of Christ’s presence. Whereas with Evolution, there is nothing that supports Darwin’s claim of species “evolving” into other species, for example, fish into humans. There are quite a number of holes in the Evolution theory, whereas, there are none in the Gospels.

I think that many people are not aware of other sources of false preaching, not just from other religions, but from people in authority, i.e the government, higher education professors, etc, could be considered as “false preachers” in God’s eye. So you have to be wary of not just other religion’s preachers, but that of authority figures in society. For human nature dictates that people are most likely to want to follow their own wants and ignoring the Scriptures. Scriptures are in place to counteract our nature, if we follow the Scriptures to the best of our abilities, then we will be able to fight against our inner most nature.

The whole idea of Christianity is to follow God with all our hearts and soul and mind, and love our neighbor as ourselves. This is how Christ summed the Law up in the “Summary of the Law.” If we, as Saint Paul says, “Fear God, Love our brethren and honour the king”, we will profit greatly in spiritual gains here on earth.  The whole idea of this sermon was to communicate to you that if I do not follow Scripture, or one does not, his ministry is all for naught.  But, if we follow Scripture then we will profit greatly in the spiritual realm. 

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Ninteenth Sunday after Trinity
Saint George’s Anglican Episcopal Church

Sunday’s service was on the road in Ventura, California at Saint George’s Anglican Episcopal Church (AEC).  While Bishop Jerry was out for the ordination, he took the opportunity to visit Saint George’s.  The AEC is another jurisdiction with similar viewpoint to the Anglican Orthodox Church (AOC).  Their local bishop, Dave Pressey is a good Christian leader, a great fellow and a true patriot.  We took the opportunity to join Bishop Jerry and his lovely wife Debbie on the visit.

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, 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 –

When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly: while you are making them you cannot see them. You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk. Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.
CS Lewis
Mere Christianity

We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin. I have heard others, and I have heard myself, recounting cruelties and falsehoods committed in boyhood as if they were no concern of the present speaker’s, and even with laughter. But mere time does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin. The guilt is washed out not by time but by repentance and the blood of Christ: if we have repented these early sins we should remember the price of our forgiveness and be humble.
CS Lewis
The Problem of Pain

We must learn by experience to avoid either trains of thought or social situations which for us (not necessarily for everyone) lead to temptations. Like motoring—don’t wait till the last moment before you put on the brakes but put them on, gently and quietly, while the danger is still a good way off.
CS Lewis
a personal letter to a friend

What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.

God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.
CS Lewis
Mere Christianity

When you come to knowing God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him. And, in fact, He shows much more of Himself to some people than to others—not because He has favourites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition. Just as sunlight, though it has no favourites, cannot be reflected in a dusty mirror as clearly as in a clean one.
CS Lewis
Mere Christianity

Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment ‘as to the Lord.’ It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.
CS Lewis
Weight of Glory

[The apostle Paul] does not deny that death is a gloomy thing. He does not laugh at it; he does not say, “Oh, it is nothing to die;” he describes death as a monster; he speaks of it as having a sting; he tells us wherein the strength of that sting lies; and even in the exclamation of triumph he imputes that victory not to unaided flesh, but he says, ‘Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’
 Charles Spurgeon

When Satan cannot get a great sin in he will let a little one in, like the thief who goes and finds shutters all coated with iron and bolted inside. At last he sees a little window in a chamber. He cannot get in, so he puts a little boy in, that he may go round and open the back door. So the devil has always his little sins to carry about with him to go and open back doors for him, and we let one in and say, ‘O, it is only a little one.’ Yes, but how that little one becomes the ruin of the entire man!
Charles Spurgeon
– from a sermon on Exodus 8
The Propers for today are found on Page 215-217, with the Collect first:

The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

 GOD, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle for today came from Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians beginning at the Seventeenth Verse of the Fourth Chapter.  Typical of Paul, he uses a spiral argument with a seemingly confusing structure to further instruct the people on how to become the New Man.  Our nature is not good, but rather straying from good.  We have to work at good, by ourselves good is not attainable, but through Christ, we can attain good.  Paul asks us to lie no more, particularly to ourselves, but rather to “speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”  If we are angry, we must “let not the sun go down upon our wrath.”  We should not live off others, but rather, “labour, working with our hands the thing which is good, that we may have to give to him that needeth.”  Speak good, speak that others might learn.  Put away ill feeling, give in to God and be “kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  God wants us to be happy, to be good and to enjoy life.  If you find this no other place, listen to the words of St. Paul.

HIS I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Today’s Holy Gospel came from the Fourth Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew beginning at the First Verse.  Jesus came upon “a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus, seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.”  Present were scribes of the temple.  They thought to themselves., “This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house.  Sometimes we are tempted to view the troubles of this world as the only issues we have to confront.  Surely the trouble we have here pales to that we have if we make the wrong choices here and end up in the pit.  Many can heal the palsy; only through Jesus can our sins be forgiven.  In this case, the sins were forgiven and the problems of this earth resolved.  The power of Jesus was again made manifest.

esus entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus, seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marveled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

Sermon – Rev Jack Arnold – Time and Action
The collect continues on the theme from last week, that without God’s mighty help  through the Holy Spirit, we would not prevail in our battle against the sin of this world. This trend is evident in the Epistle, where Paul writes to the Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 17. “Yet henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened and alienated from the life of the God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.”

Paul basically is saying that we should not do as the world does and look into ourselves for guidance for our spiritual lives. That is just inviting a nasty disaster for our souls when we die and wake up from our death to find that we are not only physically but have died a spiritual death, a permanent separation from God, as we are away in that “fixed gulf.”

Going on, Paul says that we need to fix ourselves upon the waypoint of Christ and God and not use ourselves for a moral compass. For if we use our sense of direction, we shall not get far and indeed we will be in much distress, though we would not think of it otherwise due to our easily corruptible minds. However, if we rely on Christ as our navigator, He shall never fail us in His directions, if we will but listen to him. He, unlike us, will never let us down or withhold anything that we need to know, but the catch is that we have to be willing to listen to him.

We move on to the Gospel, where Jesus, attending to a sick man, picks up on the evil thoughts of the temple scribes., who think to themselves that Jesus blasphemed. However, if they realized who truly the Son of God was, Jesus, they would be shocked if they realized that they had just accused God of being a liar and blasphemer. However, their darkness in their hearts, like the vanity of the Gentiles minds that Paul talked about, prevents them from seeing the truth of the person of Christ.  Then he asks them, which is easier, to say that the sins are forgiven, or to actually say “Arise and walk”, or in other words, the command or the actual physical action of the healing, of which is more important?

The command is important, but we find Jesus doesn’t just talk to hear himself talk. Unlike some of the more modern “Christian” televised preachers who do, but to make a point and to act according to that point he makes. If we believe His commandments, we will keep them. The book Acts of the Apostles, isn’t “Meditations”, “Philosophies” of the Apostles, but Acts.  Jesus puts forth emphasis on “Actions speak louder than words” through his actions.

If we profess to be Christians, then we need to act like Christians, not just say that we are Christians. As the ending sentence at the end of the sermons I have given thus far go, “Be of God”, “Live of God” and finally, last but especially not least “Act of God.” We have to Be of God, and Live of God, to live our lives in a Godly and Christian way, which means as Paul said “Henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk”, so should we not walk in the ways of the world but that of God and His Heavenly Kingdom. Though originally, the term Gentile meant non-Jews (Ephesus was an early Gentile Christian church), nowadays Gentiles are those who conform to the world’s philosophies, including Christians that are Christians in name only and not in deed/actions, who do not follow “Be of God, Live of God and Act of God.”

To Act of God, we must follow the commandments of Christ and act according to them, loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. If we do the three step process “Be of God”, “Act of God” and “Live of God”, we will find ourselves in a much better position than walking in the ways of the World.

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
Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity
6 October 2013, Anno Domini
Delivered at Saint George’s Anglican Episcopal Church, Ventura, California

The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

 GOD, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

            As the Collect for the day suggests, we are not able to please God in the ways of righteousness, but we can be pleasing to God in the strength of our faith in the Righteous One – Jesus Christ.  Even the little acts of faith we exhibit are not ours, but come at the grant and mercy of the Holy Spirit.  If He rules our heart, our ways will be pleasing to God. There is no other way in which we can please Him.

            Our Epistle for the day speaks of ‘walking’ whereas the Gospel speaks of one who is incapable of walking, however, many of those who are mentioned in the Epistle walk in the wrong way. They are physically able to walk, but their dark spirits carry them into wickedness and sin. We are told to walk NOT in the path of darkness, but that of the Brilliant Light of God in Christ!


           Jesus, in the previous chapter, has just cast demons, which He sent into a nearby herd of swine, from two young men. The two men were set free from these demons, but the swine, possessed of devils, rushed over a cliff into the waters below and perished. The herdsmen rushed into the city and told all. We are told the entire village turned out to meet Jesus – not to express gratitude for the goodness to those possessed of demons – but to prevail upon Christ to depart from their shores. They feared loss of revenue more than loss of their own souls. This is much like the modern church. So Christ departs, since He is a gentleman and does not impose His company upon those who do not welcome Him, and proceeds across the Sea of Galilee to His own hometown. It is here that we pick up on today’s text.

And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city
            It is likely that multitudes were anxiously following the movements of Christ by word of mouth. Every rumor of His coming was eagerly received. Were it the same today!

And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed
            Amazingly, there were men who had early heard of Christ’s crossing to them from the Gaderenes. They had already, by their strong faith, gone to the home of their cherished friend and prepared him on a stretcher to bring to Christ. We are not told of the faith of the man afflicted by palsy, but the faith of his friends would prove sufficient.  The man being brought to Christ had a serious illness. It was a CHRONIC illness much as sin is to every man born of woman. His illness had taken away his liberty to move, to associate, and to speak out on matters of faith and life. Doesn’t sin steal away our liberty in the same way?
            Now this man is being brought to Christ, on the strength of his friends’ faith, to make him whole. It is much like the woman taken in adultery being dragged before Christ – the only source of healing and forgiveness – by men who intended her no good at all. We have all needed a friend, or even a stranger, to bring us to Christ and introduce us to that great Personage and Lord. The man with the palsy was in a most miserable of human conditions. So were we before we were brought to Christ.
            There are two powers revealed here in the text – the power of sin to destroy and make miserable, and the power of Christ to make whole and impart joy and liberty. We see in this account that our own faith may be essential to bring another to the point of being made whole in Christ. We learn, too, that often the efforts of more than one is necessary to bring one to Christ, and these must work in unison (in carrying the bed level at all corners).

Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.         
            Jesus’ notice is fixed on the faith of the men who bring the victim sick of the palsy – not the victim. He sees THEIR faith and is moved to compassion and amazement. One point I will make at the onset of the account: the furthest thing from the mind of the man afflicted by this horrible ailment is most likely not forgiveness. He desires, above everything else, to be made free of the disease.  But he does not realize that faith precedes freedom and liberty. In first aid, we learn that the most important consideration in treating a victim of some violent crime or accident is to STOP THE BLEEDING, if there is any bleeding. This is the medical procedure of ‘triage’ which requires treatment of the most serious and life-threatening condition first. Our most serious affliction is not leprosy, or palsy, or physical blindness! It is SIN. Sin kills finally and forever! Jesus treats that affliction first! Be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.
That’s right! That same old gang of detractors and doubters that followed Christ everywhere. They still follow Him and doubt the miracles of life and love of which God is benefactor.  They saw Christ heal blind Bartemeus; they saw Him call Lazarus from the grave at Bethany; they saw the young daughter of Jairus restored to life – yet, they believed not. Why not, do you suppose? I believe it was because they did not WANT to believe! If we believe Christ, we must abandon self. Our free wills must be exchanged for that Will (Mind) which was in Christ! No longer would they be king of the mountain, but Christ would be – so they traded their birthrights in God for a bowl of Esau’s porridge. But never doubt – our thoughts are not kept from the notice of Christ. He knows our hearts better than we know them ourselves.

And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
Be not deceived, God is not mocked! Jesus knows all of our thoughts – past, present, and future! Perhaps these rascals were shocked that Jesus read their hearts without their speaking. Why do ANY of us think evil in our hearts? Because, until we have known Christ as Lord and Savior, we have all of the traits and characteristics of our father, the devil.

For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
Jesus Christ is God also. He has His seal of authority to prove all things. Any man could falsely proclaim, Thy sins be forgiven thee! But what would be the result? Our sin would remain just as excessively as before the words were spoken. But when the same words are spoken by Christ, they bear the seal of Divine Authority! In truth, they are not the same words when spoken by Christ. Our words are like gold-colored lead coins compared to His 24 karat solid gold words of the Realm of Heaven. He proves all things by the Power of His Word. It is easy for man to speak false forgiveness, but what of speaking true healing? Forgiveness is an inward and invisible work of Grace granted by God. Physical healing is an outward manifestation of miraculous proportion. The first is greater, but the second is more observable! The foolish high churchmen (Pharisee) have been asked a question they dare not answer. Nonetheless, the answer is immediately revealed to their doubting eyes!

But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
            The Seal of Authority of Christ is a plain manifestation to those who doubt. The man, stricken with the palsy, has been healed of his most critical disease (Sin) and is now given liberty to move and to shout after being healed of his palsy. He not only arises from his bed, he obeys that voice of authority and picks up his bed, and carries his bed to his house. Liberty in Christ is a TOTAL liberty! We are no longer held down and bed-ridden, but have liberty not only to move, but to bear burdens and to go to our wonderful home that awaits all who belong to Christ. And he arose, and departed to his house.

But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men
            It is paradoxical, indeed, that the multitudes of common folk recognized the miracle as coming only from God, but the Pharisees did not! Of course, even the multitudes did not recognize that it was God Himself that stood before them, in Christ, to perform this miracle. How many today see the miracles but not the hand of Christ behind them? How many walk the lonely road to Damascas, wanting to see Christ, when He walks right beside them?
Behold, I am with thee always, even unto the end of the world!

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

Christians Please
Psalm 72, Job 24:1-17, Titus 2
Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity
October 6, 2013

Our Lessons for this morning show two ways of living.  Job 24 is the way of life that is against God and all goodness.  Titus 2 is the way of life that seriously intends and works to please God.  It is the life we pray for morning and evening when we ask God to help us live a godly, righteous and sober life.  Today we continue to talk about what Christians do, and today’s sermon is, “Christians Please.”  Of course we are talking about pleasing God, because Christians live to please God.  That is our first and last priority in life.  We can say this in many ways, and indeed the Bible uses many phrases to express this idea.  We can say our first duty is to be the people of God.  We can say our first goal is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind.  We can say our goal is to be filled with all the fulness of God, to walk in the Spirit, and to dwell in Christ and have Him dwell in us.  One of the most pointed and graphic ways of expressing this is found in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  That is your goal, Christian; to live in such a way that it may truly be said you are crucified and now live in the faith of the Son of God.  You died when Christ died on the cross.  You were crucified with Him, but now you live in Him.

How do you live in Christ?  The first thing you must do is believe in Him, for you live in Christ by faith.  You believe He is who He says He is, Emmanuel, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Word who became flesh.  Then, you believe He did what He said He did.  He came to this earth and lived as a man.  He taught us about God, gave us the Christian faith, and died and rose again to restore us to fellowship with God and His Church.  As we read earlier in Titus 2:14, He, “gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works.  He “gave” means He Himself on the cross.  He purified us by dying for our sins.  And He forms us into a unique, or special, or “peculiar” people.  That means a people for His own, special family.  Those who would live in Christ, must first believe these things.

Second, you deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, according to Titus 2:12.  You will notice at once that this verse is the source of the closing words of our General Confession with which we opened our prayers this morning.  Look at the words at the bottom of page 6 in the Prayer Book and compare them with Titus 2:12.  It is possible to make the same comparison between most of our prayers and Scripture.  That is why we often call the Prayer Book “the Bible in devotional form.”  To deny ungodliness and worldly lust is to resist them.  Actually, the Bible often uses a much stronger word than “resist.”  The Bible uses the word, “crucify.”  “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” says Galatians 5:24.  Again in Galatians 6:14 we read, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”  Strong language that.  Yet that is what the Bible calls you to do if you would deny sin in your life.

If you are thinking it is impossible for any human being to live the way I have just described, you are absolutely correct.  And you have just confessed to yourself one of the foundational truths of Scripture; you are a sinner.  Being a sinner is more than just committing sins, it is having a disposition, or, natural inclination to commit sin.  In other words, sin is both the sinful action and the urge to do it.  So before we can make any progress toward living the Christian life, or, as I have called it this morning, pleasing God, we need God Himself to help us.  We need Him to do something about this urge to sin that still lives in us and makes it so difficult to deny sin and live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.”  We need God to change us because we can’t change ourselves.  We can make some changes.  We can break bad habits and form new, good habits.  We can change our attitudes.  We can even do a lot about changing our dispositions.  Most of us never make such changes because they are hard to make.  It is much easier to wallow in the same old things than make the changes.  But you can change, and God will help you.

But your nature, your being, your natural desire to put yourself first, even if what you want for yourself is wrong, is something that takes supernatural help to change.  It is a lifelong process of being under construction as the Spirit of God remakes you into the person He wants you to be, and the person you, by God’s grace, want to be.

So, without Christ’s atoning death we cannot please God.  Unless we have received the gift of forgiveness from Him we are still in our sins and alienated from God.  We need His help, His sacrifice to make us acceptable to God, to make us pleasing in God’s eyes.

Without the Holy Spirit working holiness in us, overcoming our sinful urges, and helping us desire the things of God, we cannot please God.  For without this work of the Spirit, we will be unwilling and unable to do the things that please God.

O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee; Mercifully grant that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
+Dennis Campbell
Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Church Diocese of Virginia
Rector, Holy Trinity Anglican Orthodox Church
Powhatan, Virginia
Rev Bryan Dabney of Saint John’s Sunday Sermon
We are fortunate to have Bryan’s Sunday Sermon.  If you want people to come to The Truth, you have to speak the truth, expouse the truth and live the truth.    This is really a good piece and I commend it to your careful reading.

Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

In our Old Testament lesson for today (I Kings 21:17-22) we learned that  God sent his prophet Elijah to pronounce judgment on wicked King Ahab and his entire family. The LORD had the prophet publically proclaim before Ahab that on account of his murder of Naboth and the illegal seizing of his property, the king would have no male descendants to inherit his place on the throne of Israel. If one reads further in the books of I and II Kings, you will find that God did indeed put an end to the line of Ahab, and in the gruesome fashion which the prophet had set forth.

From the beginning, God has called on mankind to live by his rules for life, but this they would not do. He even created a means whereby men and women can be saved from his just wrath to come through the atoning work of his only begotten Son. Nevertheless, base humanity continues to listen to the hiss of that same serpent who inspired our first parents to rebel against our Creator God.

In spite of all that God has done to assist mankind, a sizable number persist in their belief that they are able to save themselves, and that the next leap forward for humanity — apart from God — is just around the corner. If only such people would examine the words of the apostle Paul to young Timothy then they might see things differently. The apostle warned his pupil that, evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (II St. Timothy 3:13). The apostle spoke of no revival. He spoke of no paradise of progress for humanity as the modernist and the social progressive espouse. He prophesied that evil men and deceivers will continue to grow in number until our Lord’s return. And such is a fact of life which we must accept. We cannot fight the good fight of faith if we are in denial about the presence and power of evil not only in individual mortals but in the multifarious institutions of government which have been and are now in place across the world.

From its inception, human government has been twisted by Satan to serve his purposes. Even our Lord was tempted with the power to control the nations and empires of the world when Satan made his offer to our Lord saying, All this power will I give thee and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine (St. Luke 4:6-7).

The Devil’s message to our Lord was not unknown to him. The Bible tells us rather plainly that evil had gained control over this sphere after the fall of man in the Garden. And because he has possession, Satan exerts his influence over those whose hearts lust after power, wealth and fame. So through his placement of such persons within the various governments across the globe, the Devil has created a willing cadre of elite followers who will do literally anything to retain their offices. Clearly, said individuals are not born again in name of our Lord. And because they do not possess the Holy Ghost, they are powerless to resist the Devil’s will and suggestion unless a holy God preempts him. The apostle Peter once noted in his second epistle that, The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished (2:9). Evil people everywhere should cringe at that passage. God knows who they are and has reserved for them a place in the fires of perdition. Nevertheless, the wicked and the unrepentant are not bothered by God’s word while they remain in the precincts of this life. Only afterwards will they discover, to their eternal sorrow, the absolute truth of what God had set forth before them in his word written.

The Rev. E.M. Bounds once noted concerning human governments that, “Satan seizes and directs all the mighty forces of this world! War is seized ... and is no longer the patriot’s struggle for freedom or the defense of home and native land. Instead, it becomes the tool of despotism; it crushes liberty and enslaves freedom. War carries on a campaign of lust, rape, cruelty, desolation, and death ... Money ... is diverted by Satan for selfish and unholy purposes ... Men become illustrious and esteemed ... when they are money-getters and money-keepers. Education ... becomes a source of pride and ungodly power ... Under the guise of Christian learning, education becomes the most powerful ally to Satan by unsettling faith in God’s Word and opening a wide door of skepticism in the temple of God.”

Dr. Merrill Unger detailed for us the magnitude of the satanic nature of government when he wrote, “Not only is Satan the directing head of [this] world system, but according to Scripture, the system itself is wholly evil ... [it] is characterized by pride, lust and war ... [it] presents a perpetual peril to the child of God ... [Satan] is the god of this age, the head of a powerful world system, and through human governments is the director of the affairs of unregenerate men, albeit unknown to them . . .”

Just as evil King Ahab and his conniving wife Jezebel maligned and then condemned Naboth so they could take his vineyard; likewise governments today, under the leadership of Satan, conjure up ways to take the wealth of their people through theft, deceit, and every sort of craft imaginable. Brandon Smith once observed that, “Big government is not a ‘necessary evil’. It is just evil. Like the ring of Sauron, it lures in the weak with promises of power, but this power is a ruse. Each side of our false left/right paradigm, Democrat and Republican, thinks that if only THEY were the bearers of the ring they would ‘finally use it for good’. But once in their possession, they are overtaken, overwhelmed, and corrupted by personal temptation . . .” There is no using evil to bring about good because we are not God. God alone has the power to turn evil to our good if it is within his purposeful will to do so. But those who seek power, wealth and fame when faced with such an offering by Satan will not say as our Lord said, Get thee hence, but will rather offer to kneel and even kiss the ring of the evil one in order to get what they desire — what they might term as “My Precious.”

While God is sovereign over his creation, the Devil has a limited scope of authority for now until our Lord returns to cast him out. Look at Revelation chapters 21and 22. We who are born again of the Holy Spirit will inherit a kingdom unlike anything this world has seen since before the fall of man in the Garden. For it is that kingdom which God has prepared for all who truly love him and seek his will. But for the moment, the plan of God is to let evil run its course until the glorious appearing of our Saviour.

So what should be we be doing now? We ought to be spreading the good news of God’s grace to all who will listen. We ought to be working to preserve the good things about our governments and our countries which the Lord has extended to us. We ought to follow the prescription of the Founders in their dealings with our “Mother Country”. Where peaceful resistance to tyranny can win the day, then we ought to stay on that path. But there may come a time when words will fail us. It is at that point we ought to remember the words of our Declaration of Independence which I have amended for our use: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce [us] under absolute Despotism, it is [our] right, it is [our] duty to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for [our] future security.”

The Bible says in Romans 13:1, Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Our higher power is not a man or group of men but the Constitution of the United States. Wisdom would indeed counsel us to consider the words of the “Serenity Prayer” as we can only make changes by the will and power of our God. If he be for us, who can be against us?

If he be against us, what could we do to stay his hand?

It is clear from Scripture that we should be busy — occupied — until the return of our Lord and King. Jesus the Messiah is coming back. Our duty then is to live following his commandments and continue to stand for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (St. Jude 3). Wicked governments and evil rulers will increase culminating in the worst of them all, the Antichrist and his wicked governmental system. We know that he is coming, but we know from Scripture that he will not endure for, in the words of Martin Luther, “. . .lo, his doom is sure. One little word shall fell him.” So then keep to the true faith. Read your bibles and follow God’s word for they are the words of life. The institutions of today, and the people who fill them, are transitory and temporary. Consider that last point in light of the words of the poem Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822):

I met a traveler from an antique land Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown, And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command, Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed; And on the pedestal these words appear:  “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare  The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Such aptly describes the coming end of all human government. St. Peter tells us that the world and every thing upon it shall one day be burned off by the word of God. As the apostle noted, But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night: in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness ... (II St. Peter 3:10- 11).

God has promised us a glorious and everlasting home in the New Jerusalem in which righteousness dwells. So then let us stand fast today in the hope of that great day when we shall know as we are known — when our Lord returns to take us to that home which he has prepared for us.

God is not coming to put us in a FEMA camp, or a housing develop. He has a mansion for each of us — a place of indescribable beauty and comfort beyond our understanding. He is not coming to manipulate, control or use us for some selfish purpose. He is coming back that we might have life, and have it in abundance. If you have not committed yourself to Christ, do not reject his calling and his free gift. Accept it and live, and then tell others that they too might do likewise. The greatest and best government is that of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ. Embrace him today, and then go and communicate the same to others.

Let us pray,

 most holy and gracious God, whose hand no being either natural or supernatural can turn aside, give us such a filling of thy Spirit, that we would live in obedience to thy will, and do those things which thou hast given us to perform in thy service; for these things we ask in the name of our Lord and King, even Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+ 

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