Verse of the Day

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Saint Bartholomew the Apostle, superseding the Tenth Sunday

Today we celebrated the feast of Saint Bartholomew the Apostle superseding the Tenth Sunday after Trinity.  

On Point
Someone asked, where do the quotes come from?  The answer is from the people who uttered them.  But, how did you find them?  Oh, that.  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 –

Past, Present, Future
[The demon Screwtape writes:] The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity. It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.
Jack Lewis
The Screwtape Letters

For about a hundred years we have so concentrated on one of the virtues—‘kindness’ or mercy—that most of us do not feel anything except kindness to be really good or anything but cruelty to be really bad. Such lopsided ethical developments are not uncommon, and other ages too have had their pet virtues and curious insensibilities. And if one virtue must be cultivated at the expense of all the rest, none has a higher claim than mercy—for every Christian must reject with detestation that covert propaganda for cruelty which tries to drive mercy out of the world by calling it names such as ‘Humanitarianism’ and ‘Sentimentality’. The real trouble is that ‘kindness’ is a quality fatally easy to attribute to ourselves on quite inadequate grounds. Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment. Thus a man easily comes to console himself for all his other vices by a conviction that ‘his heart’s in the right place’ and ‘he wouldn’t hurt a fly’, though in fact he has never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature. We think we are kind when we are only happy: it is not so easy, on the same grounds, to imagine oneself temperate, chaste, or humble.
Jack Lewis
The Problem of Pain

The word FAIRNESS is not in the Bible and the word FAIR is used only in the sense of beautiful, ie, fair young maiden.  Fairness is not the goal, right is.  Think about that.
Rev LTC Hap Arnold

What about me?
From the place of His habitation He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.
Psalm 33:14-15

...Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
St. Mark 5:19

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
St. John 14:2-3[1]

For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Galatians 5:17

As the principle of grace in us will not [allow] us to do all the evil which our corrupt nature would prompt us to do, so neither can we do all the good that we would.
Matthew Henry
17th and 18th century English pastor and author

Egalitarianism is simply equalism... Biblical justice requires the same standard be applied equitably to very different men. Humanistic egalitarianism insists that a multitude of standards be applied to men who are assumed by faith to be the same... Egalitarianism demands equality of result, equality of outcome. Because this is not the way God made the world, the world must be rigged if these egalitarian results are to be realized... the tendency of egalitarian dogma is always down. In a world of inequalities, if educational standards are constant, then the students will achieve very different results. And if the students must be the same, then the standards will have to be constantly adjusted.
Douglas Wilson
20th and 21st century American theologian and Christian Classical educator

When a man ceases to believe in God, he does not believe in nothing. He believes in anything.
GK Chesterton
19th and 20th century English writer and commentator

Beware of antichrist; for unhappily a love of walls has seized you; unhappily the church of God which you venerate exists in houses and buildings; unhappily under these you find the name peace. Is it doubtful that in these antichrist will have his seat? Safer to me are the mountains and the woods.
Bishop of Poitiers, 4th century AD French theologian

Idolatry came to Israel when she refused to be patient with God, when she removed her expectant gaze from the mountain of God and looked instead to her own self made religion. When human invention replaces divine revelation in our priorities, idolatry invariably results. Certainly, we are not immune in today’s Church with so much emphasis placed on community centredness, sociological and psychological usurpation of scriptural authority, and politically correct secularization of the Christian moral vision. 
Lewis How
20th and 21st century Anglican Orthodox minister

The man who has the clearest view of God's requirements will have the highest sense of the value of Christ's atoning blood.
JC  Ryle
19th century Anglican bishop and author

It is a contradiction to say that a man is like God, or is a partaker of his nature, who does not love what God loves, and avoid what he hates.
Charles Hodge
19th century American theologian and author

Someone should tell [the president] that 1984 is not an instruction manual. 
Steve Stockman
21st century American congressman

Television is altering the meaning of ‘being informed’ by creating a species of information that might properly be called disinformation. Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information— misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information— information that creates the illusion of knowing something, but which in fact leads one away from knowing.
Neil Postman
20th and 21st century American author and critic

The Propers for today are found on Page 249-250, with the Collect first:

Saint Bartholomew the Apostle.
[August 24.]
The Collect.

 ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst give to thine Apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach thy Word; Grant, we beseech thee, unto thy Church, to love that Word which he believed, and both to preach and receive the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

And, as this Red Letter Day falls on a Sunday, we read the Collect for the Sunday also, which can be found on Page 203:

The Tenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

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

The scripture for Epistle comes from the Fifth Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles beginning at the Twelfth Verse:

Y the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.

Today’s Holy Gospel comes from the Twenty-Second Chapter of the Gospel according to St. Luke, beginning at the Twenty-Fourth Verse:

ND there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 

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.

Saint Bartholomew the Apostle
Tenth Sunday after Trinity
Saint Andrew’s 
Anglican Orthodox Church
24 August 2014, Anno Domini

Saint Bartholomew the Apostle.
[August 24.]
The Collect.

 ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst give to thine Apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach thy Word; Grant, we beseech thee, unto thy Church, to love that Word which he believed, and both to preach and receive the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

And, as this Red Letter Day falls on a Sunday, we read the Collect for the Sunday also, which can be found on Page 203:

The Tenth Sunday after Trinity.

The Collect.

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

24 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. 25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve27 For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth28  Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations29 And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel(Luke 22:24-30)

            It is often said, and I believe it to be true, there is greater strife in the House of God than in the local cocktail lounge. There is constantly a struggle of the spirit of man against his neighbor who seems to be getting above him in the offices and functions of the Church. A far greater number of churches in our day have split up over the interior décor of the Church than over more serious matters of doctrine and practice. It is in the nature of man (and unfortunately in the Christian as well) to assert SELF over his fellows. We must constantly strive to put our selfish pride and interest beneath those of the greater Church and people – especially so if we are ministers of God. Paul strove constantly to subdue his own desires for the greater good: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Cor 9:27) Paul tells us that it is possible for the preacher to preach, and not abide by his own words. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:18-19)

            Now, unless we ministers and laity are far better than Paul, we must admit that we often strive for those things that bring shame upon ourselves, the Church, and the ministry itself. We take umbrage at trifles and let the weightier matters go unaddressed. We argue and complain because we are not admired and respected enough by inferiors, or even superiors. We desire the uppermost seats in the fellowship of the Church and to be addressed with deference. I am a bishop by the calling of God. I am by no means worthy to be called a bishop, but God has called me; and that to which God calls us, He will make us worthy to perform. It matters not to me if others call me bishop. It is enough for me that I can be called a brother in Christ by those who know me. I deserve no higher honor among the brethren than that which they recognize. We are all in that category whether vestryman, committee member, treasurer, grounds keeper, or whatever. We are all One in Christ Jesus and no lines of trivial authority can divide us as being One in Him. Certainly, our positions as teachers and preachers of the Word are vitally important, but that calling is important because of the Word Itself and not because of any personal merit in our own souls.  

            Let us observe how Jesus handled this strife that came among His disciples: “And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.” If there was unbounded strife among the disciples of Christ, surely there must be the same in our midst to a greater or lesser extent (depending on our sanctification in Christ). It is important to remember that, if we are One in Christ, we shall be One with each other. Strife’s and differences disappear when we all share that same faith in Christ. But the disciples are concerned with SELF!  Jesus addresses the matter as a serious one.

            “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.” Yes, the world loves titles, power, and pelf, but not so with God. The princes of old loved to be called ‘benefactors of the poor’ and so do many who perform works of charity in our day. It is the invisible had that gives which is rewarded in heaven and not the one which is clad in scarlet silk. In the time of the Reformation, clergy were not addressed as “Father” or ‘Reverend” but as Mister So-and-so. The point was to remind those of us in the ministry that we are not above the flock of which we are only under-shepherds and not the Good Shepherd. “But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.” No, we shall not hold rank or title above the people to whom we are supposed to be servant unless it be “SERVANT.” The chief among us should be willing to do his part in cleaning the floors, emptying the trash, and doing all such chores for which he may have the time. Often, it is an utter necessity. For fifteen years, I was forced to serve – not only as bishop and priest at St. Andrews, but also as janitor, secretary, and babysitter. I wish I had done so willingly, but there was no choice. I grew into the position of janitor and came to like it. The young people also saw when I was working to clean the church and they chipped in and wound up doing most of the work – VOLUNTARILY. I love them! If we put ourselves down, and others up, we will find that we, too, may GROW into the role.

            A great Anglican priest and poet of the 17th century wrote a series of tracts to clergy on how they should treat their flock. Mr. Herbert was noted for his humility and love for the brethren. I quote the introduction to his book below:

I, BEING desirous, through the mercy of God, to please him, for whom I am and live, and who giveth me my desires and per formances ; and considering with myself that the way to please him is to feed my flock diligently and faithfully, since our Saviour hath made that the argument of a pastor s love ; I have resolved to set down the form and character of a true pastor, that I may have a mark to aim at ; which also I will set as high as I can, since he shoots higher that threatens the moon, than he that aims at a tree. Not that I think, if a man do not all which is here expressed, he presently sins, and displeases God ; but that it is a good strife to go as far as we can in pleasing of him, who hath done so much for us. The Lord prosper the intention to myself and others, who may not despise my poor labours, but add to those points, which I have observed, until the book grow to a complete pastoral. GEORGE HERBERT.

 “For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.” Jesus came among His disciples as a servant. They SAT, and He SERVED. Which do you think the greater of the two? His entire ministry was one of sacrifice and humble teaching and preaching. He only took umbrage with one class of people – the proud ministers of His day (Scribes, Pharisees, and priests of the Temple). There are times when I believe that I have accomplished some great objective in preaching, but the Lord always brings my infantile understanding back to the truth of WHO He is and who I am. The contrast is stark to say the least. I pray always that I never attempt to exalt myself above those to whom God has given me to teach. If we believe we are brother, sister, mother, or father to those in the family of God, how dare we place our own interest above any of them, or feel better or more holy? Jesus makes this very clear.

In all our works of piety and humility, do we believe God is unseeing? He watches and knows all. He sees our secret acts of mercy, but disregards our public show of the same. “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.” He knows that His disciples have followed close on for the years of His ministry. But He does not desire them to take that as a source of pride, but of unbounded love. When we suffer for Christ, the more we keep it private, the more He notices. Jesus did give us a new Commandment that entails adherence to the other Ten: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35) Who do you suppose Christ is addressing with this new commandment? Was this addressed only to those who call themselves Christians? No, it is addressed to the clergy and laity alike with equal emphasis. We cannot scream at, or curse, someone who is at the center of our affection, can we? Love across the whole spectrum of the Church eliminates discord and disunion. If we are not loved, perhaps it is because we have not loved enough. Love is a magnet that draws love to itself. Have you known this?

Do you recall the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus?” The author of that hymn was a man named Joseph Scriven of Port Hope, Canada. He lost those he loved the most to tragedy and death and moved from Ireland to Canada to get away from the sad memories. There at Port Hope, he became known as the Good Samaritan of Port Hope. He chopped fire-wood, mended fences, and did general repair work for the widows and orphans of the city. He could not be hired for he did all of his work at no cost. The love he had shared with those he lost was transferred to those who needed it most while alive.

The reward of the saint is not in this worldly theater, but in the coming Kingdom – that Kingdom of which Christ is Lord and Sovereign. “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;  That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” If we are to drink and eat at the Table of the Lord, we must serve the tables of the socially downcast or lowest member of the church – whether we are a pillar of the Church, a vestryman, or especially a clergyman. For all are One in Christ Jesus.

Sermon – Reverend Jack Arnold - Time and Action
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon tied the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and talked, as is oft the case, of the need for action, not simply diction.

But, before we start, who was this Bartholomew?

Bartholomew (Greek: Βαρθολομαῖος) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, and is also referred to as Nathanael  or Nathaniel.  He was introduced to Jesus by the Apostle Philip.

Bartholomew meaning son of Tolmay or son of the furrows (perhaps a ploughman). Bartholomew is listed among the Twelve Apostles of Jesus in: Matthew,[10:1–4] Mark,[3:13–19] and Luke,[6:12–16] and also appears as one of the witnesses of the Ascension[Acts 1:4,12,13].

As Nathanael, Bartolomew is introduced as a friend of Philip. He is described as initially being skeptical about the Messiah coming from Nazareth, saying: " Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (John 1.46). Jesus immediately appraises him as, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" (John 1.47)  He reappears at the end of John's gospel [21:2] as one of the disciples to whom Jesus appeared at the Sea of Galilee after the Resurrection.

After the Ascension, Bartholomew went on a missionary tour to India, where he left behind a copy of the Gospel of Matthew. He continued serving as a missionary in Ethiopia, Mesopotamia, Parthia, and Lycaonia, then on to preach the Gospel in India, and Greater Armenia.  Along with his fellow apostle Jude Thaddeus, Bartholomew brought Christianity to Armenia in the 1st century. He converted Polymius, the king of Armenia, to Christianity. Astyages, Polymius' brother, consequently ordered Bartholomew's execution  He is said to have been martyred in Albanopolis in Armenia, perhaps beheaded, or flayed alive and crucified, head downward.

He took his faith seriously, to the point of death.

Consider the words from the Collect, wherein we ask God to give us … didst give to thine Apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach thy Word; Grant, we beseech thee, unto thy Church, to love that Word which he believed, and both to preach and receive the same …

Even though this is a special day, dedicated to the Apostle Bartholomew, this is kind of a follow-on to last week’s Collect.  In this case, we acknowledge that God (through the Holy Ghost) gave Bartholomew the full belief in Him and thus the inspiration to preach His Word.  We go on to ask for that same inspiration to be delivered to the Church today and to each of us that we might effectually spread God’s Word, first to our own hearts, then to others. We must take care of the beams in our own eyes and hearts, before we go on to treat others with the same problems as us.

Without God’s entering into our hearts in the form of the Holy Ghost, we will never be able to do what must be done.  With His Help, there is nothing that needs be done that cannot be done. With His Help great things can be accomplished, so great that until we have Him within us, we cannot conceive of these marvelous wonders.

When Luke writes his account of the Acts of the Apostles, he tells of the apostles performing “many signs and miracles.”  Unfortunately, the power to perform earthly miracles was left to the apostles only and not passed on.   They were apparently given this special power that the Word of God as given by our Lord and Savior might spread quickly, effectively and attain critical mass as soon as possible.  This was done so that the fact that is Christianity, the Word Incarnate, would be a self-sustaining chain reaction.  There are no longer designated “miracle dispensers” regardless of what you might see or hear on television.  By the way, you note that no one was ever charged for a miracle, so if someone asks for money to pray for you, you know they are not of God.  

But, on to the miracle issue.  Does that mean there are no more miracles?  Yes and no.  If you mean the kind where Jesus said, “Arise and walk.”  Or, perhaps similar miracles done by the apostles?   No, those are gone until He returns.  

So, miracles are over, done with?

No, not at all.  We have the miracle of salvation, the miracle of the change in each of our lives, the miracle of the Peace of our Lord.  This is the biggest miracle of them all, and the most important one. Salvation will change our hearts into something they were not before, something pure. This pureness comes from God alone, and only with Him abiding in us, can our hearts remain pure. This is all foolishness to those who will not open their hearts to the Holy Ghost and so obvious to those who will let Him in.  Open your heart to God, let Him in to your heart, let Him carry your worry and give you guidance and inspiration.  He will help you get that miracle across to others.  But, it has to happen in you first.

Before we go on, look what earthly miracles can breed, “…they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.”  A shadow is a thing, it can do nothing beyond provide shade from the sun.  Yet, people would worship it and give it power, if given half a chance.  Perhaps that is why earthly miracles were of one generation. So that people would not worship the act, but worship the origin of the act,  Our Heavenly Father.

That brings us to the next point; again, that of Saint Luke.  Credit.  First, debt is not your friend, nor for that matter is credit.  As William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be; 
For loan oft loses both itself and friend, 
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. 

This above all: to thine own self be true, 
And it must follow, as the night the day, 
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

While that is really not the kind of credit Luke was talking about, it is a very interesting point.   What we are talking about is the sign that was on the desk of both President Truman and Reagan:

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

Jesus is cautioning against wanting to get credit for what is being done, rather He suggests getting it done and let the credit fall to the side.  The most amazing portion is the part where He says, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.”  We often think of benefactors as someone who “gives” us things.  Jesus points out that those who “give” you things often turn out to be tyrannical rulers when in the end payment is due.  Remember there is no real free lunch.

Let us go forth today and ACT on the Word of God.  Make His Word REAL in our lives, by our actions.  TODAY!  

How about tomorrow?

Tomorrow is not good enough.

Time stretches from the far forgotten past to the unknowable future.  The present is where the Finger of God touches the Line of Time.  We live in the present, we can never re-live the past and for us the future will never come.  We live and act only in the present.  To do something tomorrow is not possible.  If it will be done, it must be done now, that is today.

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

Heaven is at the end of an uphill trail.  The easy downhill trail does not lead to the summit.

The time is now, not tomorrow.  The time has come, indeed.  How will you ACT?

It is by our actions we are known.

Be of God - Live of God - Act of God

Bishop 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:

Christ in Psalm 25
Psalm 25
Feast of Saint Bartholomew
August 24, 2014

            The average reader looks at the Psalms and sees accounts of people facing the various situations of human existence. To these readers, the Psalms are lessons in living from which they draw strength and faith, for they face the same human situations, and experience the same frustrations and fears and faith expressed in the Psalms. This is a good and proper way to read the Psalms.  Let’s look at Psalm 25:

Psalm 25
King James Version (KJV)

NTO thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

O my God, I trust in thee: let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me.

Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed: let them be ashamed which transgress without cause.

Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.

Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.

Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.

Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me for thy goodness' sake, O Lord.

Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.

The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way.

10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.

11 For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.

12 What man is he that feareth the Lord? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.

13 His soul shall dwell at ease; and his seed shall inherit the earth.

14 The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.

15 Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.

16 Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me; for I am desolate and afflicted.

17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.

18 Look upon mine affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sins.

19 Consider mine enemies; for they are many; and they hate me with cruel hatred.

20 O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.

21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.

22 Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.

            Some readers attempt to read the Psalms in light of their original settings.  In Psalm 25, for example, these readers attempt to discover what enemies David faced, and to see his prayers and faith in the face of his troubles.  This, too, is a good and legitimate way to read the Psalms.  In fact, I heartily recommend it when reading any kind of literature.  Who were its original readers?  What was its message to them?  What is the original intent of the author?  These are important questions, and you cannot understand any document until you know the answers to these questions.

            Some readers look for Christ in the Psalms, and, indeed, throughout the Old Testament.  I remember the words of a well-known minister who was asked about his method of preaching from the Old Testament.  He said, “I choose a text, and make a bee-line for the cross.”  This, too, is legitimate.  Jesus said, “Moses wrote of me” (Jn. 5:46).  When Jesus appeared to the disciples on the Emmaus Road, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk. 24:27).  The Apostles taught Christ from the Old Testament.  Thus, the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:3, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures,” meaning in accordance with what is taught in the Old Testament.  The New Testament book of Hebrews is about how Christ fulfills the meaning and promises of the Old Testament.  So this, too, is a legitimate way to read the Psalms.

Psalm 25 is a good example of how we can see Christ in the Psalms.  Take the words of verse 1: “neither let mine enemies triumph over me,” and verse 18: “Consider mine enemies, how many there are; and they bear a tyrannous hate against me.” No one has ever had more enemies than Christ. They were everywhere, always looking for some way to twist His words in order to accuse Him of heresy. When Christ healed the man with the withered hand, the Pharisees “took counsel with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him” (Mk. 3:6).  In John 8 the leaders of the Jews accuse Jesus of being demon possessed.  In John 8: 59 we read, “Then took they up stones to cast at Him:” In His phony “trial” the chief priests and elders, “spit in His face, and buffeted Him; and others smote Him with the palm of their hands” (Mt. 26:67).  In Matthew 27:22 we see Pilate ask the Jews, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?”  Their answer was the angry chant of mob violence, shouting over and over, becoming louder and angrier with each chant; “Staurwson, staurwson.” “Crucify him, crucify him.”

It is hard to imagine a person more surrounded by enemies than Christ on the cross.  The hardened Roman soldiers cast lots for His garment.  The Jews gathered to watch Him die, and to taunt Him as He suffered.  Even one of the thieves being crucified “railed on him” (Lk. 23:39).  Since that day, billions have hated, and continue to hate Christ. Whenever I read, “Consider mine enemies, how many they are; and they bear a tyrannous hate against me,” I think the words have never had more meaning than in the opposition of the world to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 16 says, “The sorrows of my heart are enlarged.”  Again I say no mere man has ever known sorrow like Christ.  We behold Him in the Bible as the Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief. John 11:35 says pointedly, “Jesus wept.” John 13:21 tells us Jesus “was troubled in spirit.”  In the Garden Jesus says, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death” (Mt. 26:38).  Christ was in agony, and His sweat was as “great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Lk. 22:44).  Certainly He writhed in pain under the scourge and the nails and the cross. But more devastating than the physical pain was the pain of bearing the wrath of God for our sins.  It was that pain that burst His heart and killed His body.  We cannot begin to imagine the inner agony that caused the One who is called, “God With Us,” to cry out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsake Me?” (Mk. 15:34).

Psalm 25:3 says “Show me thy ways, O Lord, and teach me thy paths. Lead me forth in thy truth, and learn me.”  I remember childhood schoolmates who used the word “learn” as a synonym for “teach.” The teacher always corrected them, but that is exactly the way “learn” is used in this Psalm, and it was the proper English of the educated people when the Psalm was translated into English.  Obviously the teacher had never read Psalm 25 in the Prayer Book.

Jesus was/is God’s Great Teacher.  When Nicodemus came to Christ at night he called Christ, “Rabbi,” meaning, “teacher.” “Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher sent from God.”  When the disciples heard Christ in prayer they were moved in their souls, and begged Him, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  In the Bible we see Christ teaching beside the sea (Mk. 4:1) and teaching in the synagogues (Mk. 6:2).  Acts 1:1 refers to the Gospel of Luke as what Jesus “began both to do and to teach.”  Psalm 25:8 says God will “learn” the gentle in His way.  And, if you look at John 14:6 you will read the words of Christ, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.”  Jesus shows us God’s way, He is God’s way, and He is the way to God.  Good English, or bad English, let us pray with David, “Show me thy ways Lord, and teach me thy paths.  Lead me forth in thy truth, and learn me.”

Psalm 25 is a song of forgiveness.  “Be merciful unto my sin; for it is great” says verse 10.  “Forgive me all my sin,” repeats verse 17.  The entire Psalm echoes with the consequences of sin.  It is because of sin that David’s sorrows are enlarged.  It is because of sin that he is in adversity and misery.  Do not misunderstand me.  I am not saying every mishap and sorrow of life is God’s punishment for your sins.  I am saying that all the miseries of life are due to living in a world that has essentially rejected God.  Sickness, war, crime, death, loneliness, and pain, became part of human existence when sin became part of human existence.  They are part of the misery of sin.  But the real misery of sin is far deeper than the sorrows of life in this world.  The real sorrows of sin are the alienation from God that naturally happens when we intentionally choose sin over God.  The real miseries of sin are living under the wrath and curse of God, now and forever.  That misery never ends.

Thanks be to God, there is forgiveness in Christ.  The forgiveness spoken of in the Psalm is accomplished by God on the cross.  On the cross, He who was without sin became sin for you.  We often talk about criminals paying their debt to society.  By your sin you became a debtor to God.  Christ paid that debt by dying on the cross.  In Him your sins have been paid for.

Psalm 25 is alive with the ministry of Christ.  He faced His enemies, and ours, and they will never triumph over us.  He faced sorrows greater than those of any mere human, and, facing them, He delivered us from the sorrows of our hearts.  He is the Great Teacher who leads us forth in His truth and learns us.  Because of Christ, we can say with Psalm 25:4, “thou art the God of my salvation; in thee hath been my hope all the day long.”
+Dennis Campbell

Bishop, Anglican Orthodox Church Diocese of Virginia
Rector, Holy Trinity Anglican Orthodox Church
Powhatan, Virginia

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.  

St. Bartholomew the Apostle
24 August 2014
Ps 91 • Gen. 28:10-12,16-17 • John 1:43-51

43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me.
44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
45   Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.
49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.
51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

Bartholomew, aka Nathanael*
Son of Tolmai, one of the twelve apostles (Matt. 10:3; Acts 1:13); generally supposed to have been the same as Nathanael. In the synoptic gospels Philip and Bartholomew are always mentioned together, while Nathanael is never mentioned; in the fourth gospel, on the other hand, Philip and Nathanael are similarly mentioned together, but nothing is said of Bartholomew. He was one of the disciples to whom our Lord appeared at the Sea of Tiberias after his resurrection (John 21:2). He was also a witness of the Ascension (Acts 1:4, 12, 13). He was an "Israelite indeed" (John 1:47).
I have discussed with fellow clergy over the years, the importance of biographies and even auto-biographies as an integral part of learning, especially when it comes to our spiritual journey.   After all, isn’t the Bible filled with many biographies ?  We can read about Adam, David, Jonah, Jesus, Paul and many others in our daily reading of the Bible, the Word of God.   What can we make of this ?  Well in the short term, we can learn by example.   In the long term we can learn by example.   Wait, didn’t you just repeat yourself ?  Yes.   A godly example can teach us many things about living in a godless world.   And for that matter, a godless example can teach us what NOT to do in a godless world.   There are a few godless examples shown in the Word of God.    What not to follow, so in both senses a good example, all coming from the Word of God. 

Examples; a blueprint or template for daily living. 

So let us look at this fellow named Bartholomew or Nathanael.*   At first we get an idea that he may be somewhat sarcastic. “...can there any good come out of Nazareth?”  This is Bartholomew’s response to Philip telling him about this Jesus.  This region of occupied Palestine, Nazareth, wasn’t known for much good or for that matter bad, maybe just blase’.  Philip, his friend then entreats Bartholomew to come see about these fellow Jesus of Nazareth.          Something to remember, Jesus is the Greek name for the Hebrew Joshua.   So when Philip says come see this Jesus that would not have been an uncommon name.   What gives significance to Philip’s statement, he says “ whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write...”.   Now Philip is giving Bartholomew a reason to come see this Jesus guy. 

   It is Jesus turn to show Bartholomew who he, Jesus is.  Bartholomew asks Jesus how he knows him, Jesus answers ‘...I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you...’   Notice Bartholomew’s response. He acknowledges Jesus as a teacher {rabbi}, and more especially, the Son of God and King of Israel.     Jesus now foretells much more than just seeing Bartholomew under the fig tree, he tell the future apostle that he will see many greater things including the heavens opening up with angels ascending and descending on earth.   Here Jesus makes a direct reference to Jacob’s dream, the so called ‘Jacob’s ladder’.  

I look at this reference to Jacob as Jesus showing the disciples that in the same way Jacob was the start of the twelve tribes i.e. physical Israel, these fellows now being called would be the physical/spiritual founders of the church on earth.   The twelve would be the extension in taking the mission started by Jesus to the utmost parts of the earth.   How you say ?  Well other than with the possibility of  Mark or Thomas going to Egypt or India, most of the other apostles will remain in the area where Jesus taught.  It would be the second and third generations of Christians, the followers of Christ who would spread the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth.   And as with Israel they started out with twelve, but through the process of leading others to Christ, both by example and by the Word, the church would continue to grow to this day .

As modern day Christians essentially living in a ‘post-modern’ world, we need to live our lives as a ‘living’ biography.   Just recently I read of a nineteenth century evangelist who made a comment about Christians during his day.  “...many people know the four gospels but have never read them, instead they read the fifth gospel.  The fifth gospel is the daily life of a Christian that is ‘read’ by non-believers.   These non-believers may never have read the four Gospels, but they certainly read the fifth one...”    What are non-believers reading in that fifth gospel ?   Are we showing by example, by biographic nature a gospel that is not parallel to the Gospel of Jesus ?

As followers of Jesus Christ the Son of God, we need to display by our lives, our actions, our very being the true Gospel of Jesus.    We need to show by example, we need to show by our biographies, that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by Him.

Folks, let us live our lives for Jesus. He gave his life for us. 

Let us pray:

 ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who didst give to thine Apostle Bartholomew grace truly to believe and to preach thy Word; Grant, we beseech thee, unto thy Church to love that Word which he believed, and both to preach and receive the same; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

 ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, we give most high praise and hearty thanks for the wonderful grace and virtue declared in all his saints, who have been the choice vessels of his grace and the lights of the world in their several generations; and pray unto God, that we may have grace to direct our lives after their good examples; that, this life ended, we may be made partakers with them of the glorious resurrection, and the life everlasting.   Amen

LMIGHTY God, the supreme Governor of all things, whose power no creature is able to resist, to whom it belongeth justly to punish sinners, and to be merciful to those who truly repent; Save and deliver us, we humbly beseech thee, from the hands of our enemies; that we, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore from all perils, to glorify thee, who art the only giver of all victory; through the merits of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. 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.

Tenth Sunday after Trinity 

Saint Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthian church (12:4-11) reminds us: ... there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit... dividing to every man severally as he will. And St. Peter noted in his first epistle (4:10) that: As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. The Rev. Matthew Henry once noted,  “...that whatever gift, ordinary or extraordinary, whatever power, ability, or capacity of doing good is given to us, we should minister or do service with the same one to another. The talents we are entrusted with are our Lord’s goods... It is required in a steward that he be found faithful.” In our epistle lesson for today ( I Corinthians 12:11; and see also Romans 12:6) the apostle Paul informs us that our spiritual gifts are to be used for edifying those within the body of Christ, while serving as a beacon to those without that they too might be motivated to enter into the fold of Christ. 

Consider also the variety of spiritual gifts which the Holy Ghost imparts to believers as noted in I Corinthians 12. We have, the word of wisdom, and the word of knowledge, (v.8); faith, and the gifts of healing,; (v.9); the working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues (v.10). It is not uncommon for some Christians to have more than one of these gifts. Likewise, it is not uncommon for some to receive only one. However, whether a Christian has been given one or all nine, the purpose of these gifts is furtherance of the gospel of truth in this sin-darkened world. The Rev. Matthew Henry carefully examined each one, so let us look at them in the light of his study. 

The word of wisdom refers to “a knowledge of the mysteries of the gospel and [the] ability to explain them, an exact understanding of the design, nature, and doctrines of the Christian faith.” Pastor Dave Guzik said of this gift that it, “ the unique ability to speak forth the wisdom of God, especially in an important situation, as shown in Stephen (Acts 7)...” St. Stephen was given to proclaim the truth of Christ Jesus to the temple authorities who were cut to the heart (Acts 7:54) on account of the words which the Holy Ghost gave to him. It does not take a seminary-trained leader to receive such from God. The Holy Spirit puts a zeal for the study of God’s word into select believers for the express purpose of teaching others. 

The word of knowledge has to do with the “knowledge of mysteries wrapped up in the prophecies, types, and histories of the Old Testament. Others say [it is] a readiness to give advice and counsel in perplexed cases.” Pastor Dave Guzik has supplied us with a good example of this gift. “When Charles Spurgeon was saved, it was at the preaching of a man who directed a portion of his sermon right to young Spurgeon, and who supernaturally spoke right to where Spurgeon's heart was.” While this gift is similar to the previous one, there is a difference in application. This one seems to focus on the implementation rather than instruction. In order to be wise in the faith, one must possess a knowledge of it. 

The third is faith which refers to “the faith of miracles, or... in divine power and promise by which they were enabled to trust God in any emergency, go on in the way of their duty, and acknowledge and profess the truths of Christ [regardless of] the difficulty or danger.” This is the one gift which all born-again Christians must have because without faith we cannot come to that saving understanding of Christ. We must believe that God can work miracles, that he can exercise his divine sovereignty in matters related to this world because he is the Creator and Maker of all things both visible and invisible. St. Paul noted in Hebrews 11:1, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. To quote Matthew Henry another time with regard to this passage: “Faith demonstrates to the eye of the mind the reality of those things that cannot be discerned by the eye of the body.” To be a Christian— a true and faithful Christian— you must have the gift of faith. 

The fourth, the gifts of healing has to do with “the healing of the sick, either by laying on of hands, anointing with oil, or with a word.” St. James noted in his epistle that Is there any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he hath committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. How often this gift has been misused and in turn been made a mock of by “worldlings” who see the hocus- pocus show of charlatans, who pass themselves off as servants of the Most High. They promise healing to broad gatherings and then because no one is healed the unbelieving critics heap ridicule on all believers. Yes, healing is possible. We know that because we have faith in God’s word written wherein it says healings can be had. But all has to conform to God’s plan and purpose. There were many righteous people in the Bible who never were healed of their ailments. But this does not disqualify the gift of healing, rendering it fraudulent. We ought to follow the directions as found in St. James’ epistle, then leave the rest to God in the firm belief that God can heal if he so wills to do. 

The fifth, the working of miracles refers to “the efficacies of powers, such as raising the dead, restoring the blind to sight, giving speech to the dumb, hearing to the deaf, and use of limbs to the lame.” We know that at any time, God can do these sorts of things for it is part and parcel of his sovereign authority in all areas of life and death. If he should so empower one or more members of the church to carry out such works, then those thus empowered ought to exercise that gift with much reverence and humility: not for gain or for fulfilling the desires of flesh, but for the glory of God. 

The sixth is prophecy and is described as “the ability to foretell future events... or to explain scripture...” Prophesying remains a controversial subject. Still, nothing in any prophecy offered by one supposedly under the influence of the Holy Ghost will be at variance with Scripture. This will require discernment on the part of the one uttering the prophecy, as well as on the part of the listener. God calls his own in different ways and we must not discount any prophetic communication without first being Bereans in our studies of the word. But study we must, for if we will not, we may end up being taken in by one the Devil’s minions whom he has sent our way. 

The seventh is the discerning of spirits which refers to “the power to distinguish between true and false prophets, or to discern the real and internal qualifications of any person for an office, or to discover the inward workings of the mind by the Holy Ghost...” St. Peter was given this in his dealing with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11) and with Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:5-25).  Consider what Pastor Dave Guzik once wrote concerning this gift. “... Sometimes people who seem to say the right things are really from the devil (Acts 13:6-12; 16:16-18) [so it] is important to test the word of anyone who claims to speak from God (1 John 4:1-3) [as] Satan can work deceiving miracles (2 Thessalonians 2:9-10, Revelation 13:11-14).” 

The eighth and ninth, which are divers kinds of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues must be exercised together. In the exercise of the former, the latter is absolutely essential. While the gospel does contain elements that are enigmatic; nevertheless, its presentation is to be plainly spoken and in a language that all can understand. If the use of tongues is carried out otherwise, the words of God will be rendered of no effect. Ergo, those who do not speak the language being uttered must have an interpreter present to translate. While certain charismatics will use Acts 2:1-11 as the proof text for their practice of speaking in tongues, such is clearly not in line with what took place at Pentecost as there were people from different countries present in Jerusalem to worship, and they each heard the wonderful words of God in their native languages. 

Therefore, speaking in an unknown tongue has been and remains largely for the benefit of the unregenerate whom God is calling to himself. That is why in St. Paul in I Corinthians 14:1-40 set the specific requirements for speaking in tongues. Matthew Henry once noted that, “The Christian religion is a sober and reasonable thing in itself... and should not be made to look wild or senseless. Those [who do so] disgrace their religion and vilify their own character who do anything that has this aspect... Religious exercises in Christian assemblies should be such as are fit to edify the faithful, and convince, affect, and covert unbelievers. The ministry was not instituted to make ostentation of gifts and parts, but to save souls.” If we are not about that last point, then all else is show and spectacle. 

We must remember that these spiritual gifts were designed to render glory unto God. Therefore a proper exercise of these gifts will be to our eternal good. Likewise, we should be cautious in our assumptions of these gifts, especially if we are doing so without godly permission. God will not bless our presumed efforts, and we will find that our exercise of them will be for naught on that day when we will have to give an account to our Lord Jesus Christ regarding those gifts (St. Matthew 25:14-30). St. Paul’s admonition to the Galatians (6:7) still stands: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap... Let us therefore live in obedience to his word written in all things. 

Let us pray,

ATHER, impart to us a proper knowledge of those spiritual gifts which thou hast given unto us, and then assist us as we utilize them in thy service; for this we ask in the name of him who is giver of every good and perfect gift, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Have a blessed week, Bryan+ 

[1] One of my very favorite, inspiring and comforting texts in the entire Bible - Hap

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