Verse of the Day

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fourth Sunday after Easter - Sunday Report

Today was the Fourth Sunday after Easter, the central event of the Christian year, the celebration of our Lord, “Christ the Lord is Risen!”

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 some great ones to share.  On to the On Point quotes –

On Action, not just Diction
Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. That is why children’s games are so important. They are always pretending to be grown-ups—playing soldiers, playing shop. But all the time, they are hardening their muscles and sharpening their wits so that the pretence of being grown-up helps them to grow up in earnest.

Now, the moment you realise ‘Here I am, dressing up as Christ,’ it is extremely likely that you will see at once some way in which at that very moment the pretence could be made less of a pretence and more of a reality. You will find several things going on in your mind which would not be going on there if you were really a son of God. Well, stop them. Or you may realise that, instead of saying your prayers, you ought to be downstairs writing a letter, or helping your wife to wash- up. Well, go and do it.
Jack Lewis
Mere Christianity

On grief
Real sorrow ends neither with a bang nor a whimper. Sometimes, after a spiritual journey like Dante’s, down to the centre and then, terrace by terrace, up the mountain of accepted pain, it may rise into peace—but a peace hardly less severe than itself. Sometimes it remains for life, a puddle in the mind which grows always wider, shallower, and more unwholesome. Sometimes it just peters out, as other moods do. One of these alternatives has grandeur, but not tragic grandeur.
Jack Lewis
Experiment in Criticism

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
St. Luke 15:7
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
St. John 15:13-14

For whosoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
I St. John 5:4

When princes become tyrants and persecutors, their thrones will be neither easy nor firm.
Matthew Henry
17th and 18th century English pastor and author

All things are safe in Jehovah’s hands; what we entrust to the Lord will be secure, both now and in that day of days towards which we are hastening.
Charles H. Spurgeon
19th century English pastor and author

This world is the Devil’s world. In that fatal hour when man fell from his allegiance and devotion to God, he carried the world with him in his rebellion... The world gets its deadly and fascinating snares from the Devil. The world is not simply the ally of Satan, but also is his instrument and agent. It represents him with the most servile and complete loyalty.
EM Bounds
19th and 20th century American pastor and author
(Guide To Spiritual Warfare, p. 67)

The blessed Religion revealed in the word of God will remain an eternal and awful monument to prove that the best Institution may be abused by human depravity; and that they may even, in some instances be made subservient to the vilest purposes. Should, hereafter, those incited by the lust of power and prompted by the Supineness or venality of their Constituents, overleap the known barriers of this Constitution and violate the unalienable rights of humanity: it will only serve to shew, that no compact among men (however provident in its construction and sacred in its ratification) can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the sapping current of corrupted morals on the other."
George Washington
American patriot, president and hero
(fragments of the Draft First Inaugural Address, 1789)

Treachery is the basest crime of all.
6th century B.C. Greek philosopher and author

Mammon, n. - The god of the world’s leading religion. His chief temple is in the holy city of New York.
Ambrose Bierce
19th and 20th century American author and misanthrope

A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.
Robert A. Heinlein
20th century American science fiction author

Each Sunday there are Propers: special prayers and readings from the Bible.  There is a Collect for the Day; that is a single thought prayer, most written either before the re-founding of the Church of England in the 1540s or written by Bishop Thomas Cranmer, the first Archbishop of Canterbury after the re-founding. 

The Collect for the Day is to be read on Sunday and during Morning and Evening Prayer until the next Sunday. The Epistle is normally a reading from one of the various Epistles, or letters, in the New Testament.  The Gospel is a reading from one of the Holy Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  The Collect is said by the minister as a prayer, the Epistle can be read by either a designated reader (as we do in our church) or by one of the ministers and the Holy Gospel, which during the service in our church is read by an ordained minister.

The propers are the same each year, except if a Red Letter Feast, that is one with propers in the prayerbook, falls on a Sunday, then those propers are to be read instead, except in a White Season, where it is put off.  Red Letter Feasts, so called because in the Altar Prayerbooks the titles are in red, are special days.  Most of the Red Letter Feasts are dedicated to early saints instrumental in the development of the church, others to special events.  Some days are particularly special and the Collect for that day is to be used for an octave (eight days) or an entire season, like Advent or Lent.

The Propers for today are found on Page 174-175, with the Collect first:

The Fourth Sunday after Easter.
The Collect.

 ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

This week’s Epistle came from the First Chapter of the Epistle of Saint James beginning at the Seventeenth Verse. James tells us we are the pinnacle of God’s creation, destined to be the stewards of His world.  This position has its privileges, but even more important it has its responsibilities.  Most of the time, we seem to concentrate on what we like, the privileges, and forget about those responsibilities which require work, putting off instant gratification, persistence and sometimes courage.  As Saint Paul so often tells us, we must become new people, putting aside our old ways, considerate of what we should do and let ourselves become open to His Word:

VERY good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

This week’s Holy Gospel came from the Sixteenth Chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John beginning at the Fifth Verse.

You must recognize we are imperfect creatures with free will.  For us to do God’s Will, not ours, we need help.  We need that bit of good leaven, which will let our hearts rise to the occasion.  We need the Holy Ghost in our hearts and souls.  Listen as John tells us:

ESUS said unto his disciples, Now I go my way to him that sent me; and none of you asketh me, Whither goest thou? But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

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 - Fourth Sunday after Easter - St Andrew’s Anglican Orthodox Church
18 May 2014, Anno Domini (In the Year of our Lord)

The Fourth Sunday after Easter.
The Collect.

 ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

44  Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. 45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. (John 12:44-50)

            We have often referred to Christ as the Light of the World and all that the Light means. A Light reveals the true path of security and righteousness. That is what Christ did for us, and He made it possible for us to have the scales removed from our eyes and hearts that we might be benefitted by that Light which He is. The Way itself is a Way laid out by God the Father. All that Christ did or said was in conformity to that commandment given Him by His Father in Heaven. His death and resurrection made the path available to us, as well.

            It would be impossible to believe on Christ and omit the Father. That which the Father is, so is Christ; and that which Christ is, so is the Father. The Triune God of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are truly One in Mind and Purpose. It would not be possible for Christ to act in a manner, or speak in a style, that was not in complete agreement with the Mind of God the Father. We believe in God the Father because we have believed on His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ – “… like Father, like Son!” He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. There is no line of separation, either in Power or Majesty, between God the Father and God the Son. Of no other man could this be said without blasphemy.

            We are called Christians because we are, presumably, the children of God in Christ. Just as there are many who are not Israel who are of Israel, so it is true that there is a very large percentage who call themselves Christians but do not approach the qualifications to be so called. 45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. Do you KNOW God the Father? If so, are you bound to His Will by those iron-bars of love that compel obedience to His Commandments and reverence for His only Begotten Son? Jesus was so closely bound in love to the Father that He was precisely like the Father. There could not be daylight between His Will and that of the Father. When folks saw Christ, whether they knew it or not, they were seeing the selfsame likeness of the Father. This presents to us a great question: When people see us, are we so close in Mind and Purpose with that of Christ that they see Jesus? I read a touching illustration of a poor little boy who was standing before a storefront window admiring a pair of shoes. It was winter, and the boy had only wrappings for shoes. A kind lady saw the boy and invited him into the store. She bought him a new pair of shoes along with socks and gloves (it was winter time). When she bade the boy Godspeed and began to leave, he called out behind her: “Say, Ma’am, are you the wife of Jesus?”  Should we not all behave in such a way that innocent little minds will think we are very much like Jesus?

            The Way is already laid out from Eternity Past. But who shall be blessed to find that Way in a sin-darkened world? 13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matt 7:13-14) Forgive me if I quote these verses too often, but the meaning is so crucial to our understanding that they must be emblazoned in blood on our hearts and minds. That Road that leads DOWN to destruction owes its ease and comfort to its downward plane. It is wide and filled with far greater numbers than the Narrow Way that leads up life eternal. Why would anyone desire to belong to a small and struggling conglomeration of churches called the AOC? They travel a difficult incline, and the Way they travel is considered, by the more sophisticated of the churches, as Narrow-Minded. Yes, we are Narrow Minded, and I pray that we can keep that Narrow focus on our Lord and savior and not opulent buildings, salaries, and prestige. Those are reserved for the Broad Way that leads down.

            But the world is dark and gloomy. How can we find the Way that leads to life eternal? 46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. Jesus came to us in love, and only to those in whom His love is finally reciprocated. He comes as a Light to SHOW us the Way. Those who reject the Light need no judge, for the darkness itself is an overwhelming judgment and relegates their eternity to the fires of Hell. Oh, sorry, Mr. Episcopalian and Mr. Joel Osteen follower – I forgot that the word Hell is a no-no. It makes people unhappy (Osteen). If we are lost in sin, no one can do us a better favor than to teach us of our depravity before God that leads to a remorseful unhappiness that can only be resolved by a direct fleeing to the Throne of Grace. If we have the Light of Christ to illumine our dark souls, then we will see the Way and will follow it.

            Does God judge a man and condemn him to Hell? God’s judgment is His Word. It is the Word that will judge us. God has very fairly and openly taught us of His Will in His Word. If we reject that counsel, we have chosen to make our beds in Hell. It was OUR decision! 47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The world was already lost when Christ came. He simply came bearing the fruits and wisdom of salvation. He came teaching us of the Way, and the Truth and the Life. If we choose to ignore that truth, we simply remain in our lost and damned condition. Even if the world, in its fallen state, were allowed to enter Heaven, it would be the most miserable of all conditions. The world could not obey and reverence the Lord who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They would still love their sins, and there would again follow war in Heaven.  That war has already been fought and Satan was cast down along with his errant angels.

            Isn’t it a sad state of affairs when you decide to invest in an enterprise against the anguished pleadings of your friends, and then lose all in the gamble? Your friends would have every right to say, “I told you so!” Jesus has, indeed, told us so. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. When we label an openly homosexual practitioner as a profligate sinner, whose judgment is that? It is the judgment of the Word of God and not our own judgment. God’s Word is a two edged sword to either convict of sin for the purpose of salvation, or to condemn of sin for the purpose of legal damnation.

            Jesus came as an Emissary of Heaven. There were moments when He was so tired He could hardly lift another foot, yet He kept going from before sunrise until after sunset in teaching and preaching – souls were at stake! He was often thirsty and hungry, wet and cold, yet He kept going for us – all the way to Calvary’s crown. As an Emissary and Likeness of the Father, He came with all of the Authority of Heaven. Emissaries do not make treaties and agreements out of their own imaginations, but in accordance with the Will of the governing authority. In Christ’s case, that governing Authority was God the Father. 49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. What commandment did God give to His Son that seemed different from the Ten given at Sinai? A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34) What function does this valuable essence of love offer? It writes all of the other Commandments upon our hearts in the red blood of love so that it is love that compels our obedience and not fear. Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. (2 Cor 3:2-3) Did you catch that brilliant ray of streaming truth, friends? When the world looks at us, they should see the Word of God written upon our hearts. We are the letters (epistles) of God written. No longer written with an iron pen on Tables of Stone, but God’s Law is written with the ink of Love on the fleshy Tables of our Hearts. I love God’s Word, don’t you?

            50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. Which single commandment leads to life everlasting? It is the same Commandment called ‘NEW’ given by Christ in John 13:34 above. Love is the one essence that survives death and is victor over ever hateful thing. Christ Himself is LOVE personified. He is our Ark against the coming calamity just as the Ark of Noah was for those eight souls spared from the ravages of the Deluge. Look with me, in conclusion of today’s sermon, at these beautiful truths given in Romans:

 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:36-39)  The Holy LOVE of which Christ spoke survives every challenge – even death!

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above. 

We are in the Easter Season which consists of Easter and the following four Sundays, until we get to Rogation Sunday.  This is a time we should work on centering our lives on the central figure in our religion, Jesus Christ.

Consider these words from the Collect:

who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed, where true joys are to be found

The very first phrase is critical to understanding our relationship with the world.  We want to follow our own hearts and they will lead us down the path to Donkey Island and eventually the pit.  This explains the “unruly wills and affections of sinful men.”  Our natural wills and affections are towards sinful things and not that of God. God’s commandments to us are to re-shape our affections from things of mammon, to things of eternity. We have one hope; that we will listen to the instruction God freely offers us.  If we will just do what He asks we will find true joy.

We have to make ourselves listen and not only listen, but follow His Commandments. It is not enough to hear the Word, we need to act it, to live out the meaning of His Word. We need to show others that we are dedicated to following the Lord, and not just say that we are following the Lord.  Our life will be better when we follow His directions and if we will allow God to rule us and desire His help, we will be able to attain the state of happiness we will then deserve. He knows what is right and what is wrong for us. He does not want us to lead Puritanical lives with no fun allowed whatsoever, but we must have fun the right way and not the wrong way. Many people think that God forbids things for us, because He does not want us to have fun. Nothing can be further from the truth. He forbids things that are harmful for our spiritual well being, and allows us to have clean spiritual, joyous things in our life that will develop our spiritual well being.

We need God’s help (this is one of the places the Holy Ghost comes in) to be able to want for ourselves that which He Wants for us.  If we can desire what He Wants, our ability to follow His Instructions will be much enhanced.

We are God’s creatures, first among all His Creation with all the privileges (which we like) and all the responsibility (which we are not so keen on) which come with that status.  All good comes from God, who is always with us; always the same; a true bearing in world in a constant state of flux. While the world may change, the Word will never change, no matter what happens in the world today. His Word is refreshing constant, in this world where things are changing every few years it seems, but His Word will never change. It’s meaning never changes, as God never changes. We need to listen to not only Him, but those around us, think before we speak, think more before we act in haste.  We must put ourselves to good and separate ourselves from evil and superfluity of naughtiness so we can hear His Word, which will save our souls.

So, how can we hear?

When Jesus got ready to leave this world for His, He told the disciples that He would send them the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, to keep them in Him and to help them understand what they had so far been unable to truly grasp.  Unless we allow the Holy Ghost to enter into our hearts, we will never truly understand that which is from God.  We need the Holy Ghost to enter into us that we might be able to hear the Word of God, and more important than just hearing the Word, we need the Holy Ghost to be able to act upon the Word. We must allow the Holy Ghost to enter in to our hearts and souls so we can understand what God has for us.  It is that simple.  Open your heart, pray for God to send Him into that open heart.

For with the Holy Ghost’s help, you can hear, understand and act on The Word.

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

Roy Morales-Kuhn, Bishop and Pastor - St. Paul's Anglican Church - Anglican Orthodox Church
Bishop Roy is pastor of the biggest AOC parish West of the Mississippi and is in charge of the Diocese of the Epiphany. 

Fourth Sunday after Easter
18 May 2014
Ps 116 - Job 19:21-27 - John:12:44-50

If you see me, you see the Father[1]

44 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me.
46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.

In order to understand this passage of scripture you must go back several verses to what was happening with those who were listening but not learning about Jesus. Look at verse 37 and following:

37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.
42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:
43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

The “fear factor” was kicking in here. Even though those who followed, both his close disciples and those who were curious, were being exposed to many signs and wonders; a fair number still did not believe Jesus. So Christ makes reference to the Isaiah passage, once again using scripture to interpret the heart of man, and also showing prophecy being fulfilled. Now mind you this is just before Christ is arrested, so there are still some things that are not quite clear to the close followers let alone anyone else who walked with Jesus.

We now go back to this passage that relates to an incident that predates the death of Christ. This is so we can see that all along Jesus was “telegraphing” his ministry and the future of his Church to his closest disciples. They just weren’t getting it at first. With hindsight we, having the Word written down, can see what those living this time could not see very clearly.

It is still this way today. We are sometimes afraid to share why we are different from the regular person on the street. (v. 42,43).

Now comes the interesting part. Even if we don’t believe, Christ isn’t condemning you, the Word of God is; if you don’t believe that, list off the Ten Commandments, and see if you have kept them all. Jesus told the rich young noble to keep the Commandments, for if you have broken one; you have broken them all. Wow.

Some people will say that Jesus came to replace the Law, well yes and no. When asked which of the Commandments was most important he answered the Scribes with this from Mt. 22:37-40

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Can we say that we keep these commandments every day? It is hard at times to love your neighbor. Loving God, maybe not so hard. But loving your neighbor, at times, takes a great deal of work to fulfill[2].

Reflect upon the Words of Jesus.

Jesus gives us a clue as to what he is doing now in heaven, sitting at the right hand of God. He is doing the Father’s will. He is advocating for each and everyone of us who call upon his name and are saved. Now that is a great comfort. He tells us that his words, which come from the Holy God, whom we can not approach because of our sin, condemns us.

But he, being the Savior, doing the will of his Father, seeks to save us. Interesting paradox. Jesus words, “not of his own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life.”[3] The paradox being; “I do not judge them who do not keep the Word of God, the words I speak will condemn them at the last day.”[4]

Have you ever wondered about the unpardonable sin? Here in these passages you will find the clue. When the Church is set up and reaching out to the lost, it is working through local believers who are guided by the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit awakens a lost soul, through the Word of God, the example of a Christian neighbor, the kind word of a friend, loved one, or even a stranger; that person has the choice of their lifetime. They can accept the perfect gift of God, the Son of God, Jesus, who is crucified in our place, dies, is buried and comes back from the dead to save us from eternal Death; or they can reject that gift.

That my friends is the unpardonable sin. If you reject the perfect gift of God, the ultimate sacrifice, given for you, then you will face condemnation on the last day. Once condemned because of your rejection of Jesus and his perfect work, you go to eternal, unforgiven punishment.

But notice that Jesus still gives you that one last opportunity: “I know that his (God the Father) command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”[5]

Believe and be saved.

Let us pray:

 gracious Father, since it is of thy mercy, that another day is added to our lives; We here dedicate both our souls and our bodies to thee and thy service, in a sober, righteous, and godly life; in which resolution, do thou, O merciful God, confirm and strengthen us; that , as we grow in age, we may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

ow unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy; to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen

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.  This sermon is great and I think you will enjoy it.
Jesus and the Holy Spirit
(John 16:7-11)

Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit when He said in today’s Gospel reading:  Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:  Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the "Comforter."  “Comforter” is one of the most encouraging words in the Bible. The dictionary defines a comforter as: somebody who comforts: that is somebody who helps to relieve other people's grief or anxieties. Just one of the many things the Holy Spirit or “Comforter” does for us.

In these scripture passages we learn many things about our Lord and Saviour, and the Holy Spirit. For instance, when Jesus is about to teach a subject of great importance. He re-emphasizes, what He is about to say… is indeed the truth.  The fact is that Jesus never lied! Not once! In fact, according to St. Paul’s letter to Titus (1:2), "God cannot lie."  And again in Hebrews 6:18 we read: "It is impossible for God to lie." Everything our Lord ever spoke was the truth, and still is!

For, if God were to lie, that is not to always be truthful, He would not be perfect, thus He would not be God.  It is critical to understand that God never lies, God never misleads, confusion is never of God.

Oft when He talked to accent the importance, He would begin:  verily, verily, which means truly, truly. It is a translation of the Hebrew word “Amen “.  So literally, Jesus says “Amen, Amen, I say unto you.” And in Amen, we find the meaning, “so be it”, that is a pronouncement of both truth and agreement.   In today’s scripture He says: "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth."

Now, the Disciples are sorrowful Jesus is going away, back to Heaven, after His death, burial and resurrection. So, our Lord is about to teach them why His departure will be a good thing! That's why he begins His Sermon with "nevertheless."

Jesus is saying, You all are sad ... but ... My going makes possible the Holy Spirit's coming! And that is for your benefit.

We should note the world had been persecuting the Disciples. Therefore, the world needs the Holy Spirit to come and "change" it and to “convict it!"  To put it even more plainly, "save" it!  Jesus’ presence, and then the presence of the Holy Spirit, will change everything, for many, in this very dark world of sin.

And then we read: And when he is come, (meaning the Holy Spirit) he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:

The word "reprove" in this verse is a Greek word "Elegcho" which means to verbally correct someone who is doing something wrong, thereby bringing the wrongdoing to light, rebuking the person for wrong doing, and encouraging them to turn from their wrongdoing and to do what is right.

Who is it that the Holy Spirit convicts? Let's look again. .And when he is come, he will reprove the world …..The Holy Spirit reproves the world of sin.

We wonder, why does the Holy Spirit reprove the world of sin? Jesus said: . . because they believe not on me . . . Jesus died for our sins. We enjoy the benefits of a relationship with God when we trust in Jesus, and His shed blood on the Cross.

The Holy Spirit reproves the world, meaning, of sin, and shows us of our inability to measure up to God’s law. He also convicts unbelievers of the fact that they have not trusted Christ, and His sacrifice, for the remission of their sins.

The Holy Spirit also reproves the world of righteousness and judgment.  Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

So the Holy Spirit points people to righteousness, outside of themselves and their deeds. He testifies of Jesus' finished work. He speaks of judgment. The devil has been judged, defeated and destroyed by Christ’s work on the cross. The Holy Spirit convicts the lost world of judgment…. "judgment… because the prince of this world is judged. Jesus said in St. John’s Gospel that the prince of this world" is the devil, John 12:31 31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.                                     We continue to read in St.John’s Gospel 14:30:   Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.

But, who is going to judge the devil?  As we also read in John 5:22-23   Jesus is! "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father."

So we see that God does not judge without the Son; which is another proof of their equality in the Trinity: for that he does judge is certain; he is the Judge of the whole earth; he is God that judgeth the earth, and governs the world with his Son. And we read in the Nicene Creed: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, And was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, And was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried: And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.

Jesus tells us all power in Heaven and Earth has been given to Him by the Father.  So if we believe in Christ and have asked Him for forgiveness, we have been forgiven!

The devil will spend eternity in the lake of fire and brimstone.  Who will put him there?  Jesus will, He being the Judge that sits on a great white throne!  Let’s read from the book of Revelation 20:10-11
"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night   for ever and ever. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it." Jesus!

No wonder He is called by God, Saviour in Matthew’s Gospel!" thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins." Matthew 1:21

He is my Saviour….  I pray He is yours, also!  Amen

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.

Fourth Sunday after Easter

Some years back, I was involved in a discussion group on matters of faith where one of the participants espoused the false notion that there was no one single true religion, and that there were many ways to God. While it is quite understandable to hear such pronouncements from various pagan practitioners; it is rather disheartening to hear such from those who profess to be Christians. These souls actually believe that they, as well as the vast host of the unregenerated, will one day gain admission through “the Pearly Gates” simply because, as an Episcopal deacon once pronounced in a sermon, “We're all covered”. In truth, they are delusional. You will not gain admission into God’s kingdom simply because you said the right prayers or the right creed. And you most certainly will not gain access to God’s heavenly precincts on your own merits and deservings. The only way for anyone to gain salvation from death, hell and the grave is through a true and lively faith in Jesus Christ as one’s personal Saviour and Lord, and by living one’s life in obedience to his will.

In today’s gospel (St. John 16:5-14), our Lord promised the disciples that he would send the Holy Ghost the Comforter to reprove the world of sin (v.8). To reprove a thing means to call attention to it in the form of a rebuke. It means identifying sin as anything— thought, word, or deed— that is objectionable to God. Sin cannot hide from the light of God’s Spirit as he will make it manifest and open— shed of its disguise— for all to see.

The Holy Ghost also directs us in the use of God's word written. For within its sacred pages, we have been supplied with examples for our edification (v.13). Consider the following passages for they reveal both the error as well as the consequence for sin:

·      In Numbers 25:1-9, the Hebrews turned away from the Lord God to worship the Moabite gods at Peor and were punished with a plague.
·      In Judges 2:11-15, it is noted that following the death of Joshua, the Israelites did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the gods of the Canaanites, Ammonites and Moabites. Because of this, God gave them over to those people to punish them until such time as they repented and called again upon his name.
·      In I Kings 16:28-33 and 17:1, we find Ahab, king of Israel, worshiping and serving Baal and Astarte which resulted in a curse on his kingdom as well as upon himself and his entire dynasty.
·      In II Kings 21:13, 15, Manasseh, king of Judah, rebuilt the high places where foreign deities were worshiped and built altars for all the hosts of heaven in the house of the LORD. Because of this, the Lord God promised: I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down...because they have done that which was evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day.
·      Several of the prophets spoke against the idolatry of the children of Israel. In Isaiah 44:9-20, the prophet penned a scathing piece concerning the utter futility of idol worship. He detailed how a man fashioned a deity from the trunk of a tree. The prophet— in a clearly mocking tone— observed how an idolater used part of the wood to warm his home and cook his food, while with the other portion he made a god to bow before. Isaiah saw, first hand, how the people of Judah had been redeemed from the hand of the Assyrians by the LORD under King Hezekiah; as well has how quickly they turned their backs on him. He called the people to return to a proper worship of the LORD, but his pronouncements fell on deaf ears— just as the LORD had told him (Isaiah 6:9-13).
·      The prophet Jeremiah also saw the evil of the children of Israel. Speaking under the influence of the Holy Ghost he said, I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands (1:16).
These are, of course, only a few of the numerous examples found within the pages of Scripture. But lest you think “that was then, this is now”, beware! The Christian Church also has a checkered past of heresies and intramural squabbles. Within the New Testament we find the following:

·      St. Paul (in Acts 20:28-31), warned the Ephesians elders to: Take heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers...for I know this, that after my departing, shall grievous wolves enter among you...also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
·      Again in Galatians (1:6-9), the apostle warned: I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him who called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel, which is not another; but there be some that trouble you and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed... if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
·      He also advised the Colossians (2:8), Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
·      And to the youthful Timothy (II St. Timothy 4:2-4) he wrote: Preach the word! Be instant in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
·      St. Peter noted in his second epistle (2:1): But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them...

Several years ago, I read a position paper by one benighted soul who wrote, “God is like an ocean who washes up on different shores in different forms.” If that were even remotely true, then God would have not commanded the children of Israel to avoid the religious practices of the various nations surrounding them. Remember, the Holy Ghost guides us into all truth, so such an idea did not come from on high, but from our adversary who had succeeded in leading that poor soul away from God.

God’s works are apparent to all who would but open their eyes to behold them. Some are easily understood while others are amazingly complex and mysterious. As he informed Isaiah (55:8), his ways are not like ours, neither are his thoughts like our thoughts. Yet, God would not have us ignorant as he has given us his word written to serve as a light unto our path and a lamp unto our feet. Within its pages, the truth about God and ourselves is clearly set forth. Ergo, all who are of his elect and beloved, as St. John noted in his first epistle (2:3), will heed the words of Scripture.

God revealed himself to the Hebrews in the wilderness via the works of Moses and Joshua. He gave his promise of redemption through the prophets, and he confirmed said promises through the miracles and teachings of his only begotten Son. Needless to say, the world was not satisfied. Truth be known, the world will never be satisfied because its master will not permit such, and therein lies the rub. Consider the following questions: Are you a child of God, or are you a child of the god of this world? Do you hear and heed the gospel message, or do you turn to pagan teachings and practices for relief? Do you believe God has sent the Comforter into the world to reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment? or, Do you deny the judgment of God in favor of a more inclusive approach to salvation?

All who are of God will heed the urging of Holy Ghost and will turn from their wickedness and live. God’s Spirit is not to be taken lightly, and neither should his work and standing as a principal figure in the Godhead be diminished. We should bear in mind that true Christians are Trinitarian in their belief. A true Christian accepts the mystery of the triune nature of God. True Christians understand that the workings of the Holy Ghost are for their edification. They will not quench the Spirit of God but will keep their vessels— their bodies— as clean and swept as they can for they know who resides within them.

We have been called of God to embrace the Saviour. We have been summoned to the marriage feast of the Lamb. Our attendance at that long-called for gathering of the saints can only be realized through our acceptance of him who is our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. He has called us to obedience; in obedience we come to worship the Godhead looking for and praying for the coming of that day when he returns.  May God grant you his peace and blessing in believing on his only begotten Son.

Let us pray,

ather, help us at all times to love those things which thou lovest and to seek those things which are above where you sit; for this we ask in the name of him who now sits at your right hand interceding for us, even our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+

[1] Paraphrase
[2] “The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.” GK Chesterton
[3] Paraphrase
[4] Paraphrase
[5] Paraphrase

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