Verse of the Day

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Fourth Sunday after Easter

Read the last part first!

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.

Ryan Hopkins read this morning’s Epistle, which 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, thus we should be considerate of what we 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.

Deacon Striker Jack Arnold read today’s Holy Gospel came from the Sixteenth Chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John beginning at the Fifth Verse:

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.

Sermon – Time and Action
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.  We have one hope, that is that we will listen to the instruction God freely offers us.  If we will just do what He asks we will find true joy.  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.

All good comes from God, who is always with us; always the same; a true bearing in world in a constant state of flux.  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?  We need the Holy Ghost to enter in to us so that we can understand what is of God.  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.

Bishop Ogles’ Sermon
We are oft fortunate to get copies of Bishop Jerry’s sermon notes.  Today is one of those Sundays.  Bishop Jerry almost always bases his sermon on the lectionary readings.  Today is different, his sermon is based on one he did for a funeral this week.  You might ask yourself, what does that have to do with the lectionary and the Easter season?  Read it and find out, I personally guarantee it will be well worth your time! 

Sermon Notes 4thSunday after Easter
6 May 2012Anno Domini

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.

The Great I AM - not the I WAS, or the I SHALL BE, but I AM – a constant Presence

I AM the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die. (John 11:25-26)

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6 (KJV)

I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)

I am the bread of life (John 6:35)

I am the bread which came down from heaven. (John 6:41)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:7-10)

Jesus Christ is our Constant Presence. He is always with us.  He has said: I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5)

Perry's favorite Psalm was the 23rd: ****I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (John 10:14)

23rd PSALM

1.     The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2.     He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3.     He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
4.     Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5.     Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6.     Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Let us examine together this powerful Psalm beginning at the first verse:
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want

Let there be no doubt about that lovely Person who is the subject of this Psalm – it is the Good Shepherd of John 10. The LORD is my Shepherd.

If the LORD is our Shepherd, we shall lack nothing of our needs.
In Philippians 4:19, we read – But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Jesus Christ (our Shepherd).

Our wants will become the Will and desire of the LORD if we love Him. The LORD is the subject of the Psalm and we are the Object or beneficiaries of it.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. It is true that often we do not know what is best for us and the LORD takes our hand and leads us, like a little child, to the place of comfort and safety.

The pastures of the Lord are not of weeds and briers, but bright and green. Healthful to our souls and bodies.

The STILL WATERS by which He leads us are not tumultuous and troubled, but calm and smooth. Deep Water is always calm water.

The nostrils of a lamb are very close to its mouth. If the water is disturbed, the lamb has difficulty drinking from it without choking on the water that enters its nostrils. So the Good Shepherd takes us to waters that are convenient for our use.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

When we have been too long on the deserts of life, the Lord comes to us as a refreshing Fountain of Pure Waters. We drink from His Wells and are restored. He makes us alive anew.
He always prompts us, through His Holy Spirit, to walk in good paths. We are sons and daughters of God the great King. If, as princes and princesses, our behavior is shameful, we dishonor our Father the King. Because we love our Good Shepherd, we are dedicated to living a life that will not bring shame to His Name.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Is a shadow real? It is not. It is only formed by the light that has been blocked by our bodies. Death casts a shadow before us. It is ever near to us. But it is not real to the Christian, but only a shadow.

We live in a Wilderness of Sin in this world. It is full of death and suffering, but such specters of death as we imagine are not real to us. We shall not die if we have hope in Christ – we shall only be changed at the moment of mortal death.
I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die (John 11:25-26)

Christ is always nearby His Sheep. I will fear no evil: for thou art with me thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. The Shepherd's staff is like a candy cane – straight on one end and hooked on the other. The straight end is sharp as used as a prod when we go out of the way of safety which the Shepherd has set for us. So He uses the sharp end to chastise us in life. The other hooked end is used to rescue us from rocks and crevices when we have separated ourselves from the Good Shepherd and His Flock.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

The Lord often saves our best wine for last just as He did at the Wedding at Cana of Galilee. Beethoven's most notable achievemnent was the ninth symphony, 5th movement. So has He saved the best wine in MY OWN life for the Autumn days and coming Winter of my Soul.  He has filled our tables with good things, and He has made our enemies jealous with His graciousness toward us.

He anoints us with the Oil of His Holy Ghost and prepares the way for our service to Him.

The true blessings in the life of a Christian are like a cup filled to overflowing with the Wine of Love, Mercy, and Grace.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever

That Mercy and Grace of God shall be constantly with us all the days of our lives – even that last moment of this mortal life.

Bishop Dennis Campbell’s Sunday Sermon
As is oft the case, we are honored to present Bishop Dennis’ Sunday sermon presented to his parish.  Dennis has a special sermon for the Fourth Sunday after Easter:

God Our Delight
Psalm 116, James 1:17-21, John 16:5-14
Fourth Sunday after Easter
May 6, 2012

Our God is wonderful.  To know Him is to find everlasting life. To become His servant is to find perfect freedom.  To value Him above all else is to gain a treasure that no one can ever steal, cannot be devalued by depressions and recessions, and will never tarnish, wear out, break, or fall apart.  In addition, you will never grow tired of Him.  Unlike the treasures and pleasures and toys of earth, which quickly become boring, God becomes continuously more exciting and compelling.  The more we learn about God, and the deeper we go into what the Bible calls, dwelling in Him, the more we want to learn and the deeper we want to dwell in Him.  We find more and more that we can say, "My delight is in the Lord."

Thus, our Collect for this Fourth Sunday after Easter beseeches God to order, or, rule, our wills and affections in a way that enables us to love, or, delight in, the things He commands and desire the things He promises.  James 1:17 reminds us that every good thing is a gift from God, and John 16 tells of the mind staggering gift of the Holy Spirit who comes to comfort our souls and guide us in all truth.  Psalm 116 joins the praise of God with the words I quoted just moments ago, "My delight is in the Lord."

The Psalmist's words do not express the view of the conventional "wisdom" of today.  The conventional "wisdom" teaches people to throw off the "oppressive yoke of Christianity, and free themselves from its outdated doctrines and morals."  Those who accept its teaching view Christ as a myth and Christianity as tyranny.  They are like the heathen of Psalm 2 who rage together and imagine vain things against God and His Church. Thus they follow the ideas of whatever is current and popular, and trendy, and politically correct, without thinking and without weighing the consequences.

The Bible pictures them as being tossed about by every wind of doctrine, like waves on the sea or dead leaves blowing in a storm.  Thinking is not allowed in their system.  Only mindless conformity is permitted. Pierce your tongue, get a tattoo, memorise the mantra and follow the crowd; this will bring happiness, they promise.  But it doesn't work.  Ask the people in prison.  They were told right and wrong are nothing more than personal opinions; no one else can dictate what is right or wrong, or fun, for them.  That was for them alone to decide.  But when they acted on that principle they found their teachers very quick to condemn them.  They may have cried, "It's not their fault.  It is our culture that is guilty, not these people."  But they still found them guilty in a court of law, and they still sent them to jail.

The life of self-indulgence, which is the essence of the conventional wisdom of every age, always leads to misery because the human heart is never satisfied.  People with annual incomes in the millions of dollars complain of being broke and having too much month left at the end of the money.  Why? Because they are not satisfied with what they have; they want more, and they overspend to get it.

But there is another source of misery in this world.  The world is fallen.  It brings forth thorns where we plant crops and weeds where we plant flowers.  I am not speaking here only of fields and gardens.  I am speaking of life in general.  It is not always the best qualified who get the promotions.  It is not always the smartest who become rich.  It is not always the fastest who win the races.  You can give love, yet be rejected and hated.  Just ask Jesus.  You can do good, yet be called evil.  Just ask Jesus.  You can take a stand for God, yet be considered a devil.  Just ask Jesus.  The author of Psalm 116 understood this.  I don't think we know who wrote this Psalm, for he is not identified in the Bible, but we do know he suffered terribly.  He may have suffered a devastating illness.  He may have been in grave danger from enemies.  He may have been reaping the results of foolish decisions or wicked living.  We don't know.  But his suffering brought him very close to death.  The snares of death surrounded him.  The pains of hell "gat hold" of him. This is deep, deep suffering.  I tend to think his was suffering caused by sin.  I think this man was similar to the Prodigal Son.  He wasted his life, embraced wickedness, and neglected the gifts of God's guidance and love.  And he woke up one day near death in sickness and depression, with the fires of hell reaching for him like hands trying to pull him in.  And this pulled him down into the deepest misery of body and soul a person can face this side of hell.

I said a few minutes ago that life sometimes grows thorns where we plant crops.  But, as though that were not bad enough, we actually help the thorns. We plant them in our own lives.  No wonder they seem to dominate out lives.  And it doesn't take much to bring forth a harvest of thorns.  You don't have to commit the "big" sins.  Years of small bad habits, of  neglecting the means of grace, of failing to do your duty at work and home, of sarcasm and criticism instead of edification, and giving in to small self indulgences instead of doing your Godly duty in even the little things of life, is like planting small handfuls of thorn seeds in your life.  Over the years, they just crowd out the crops and the flowers.  As St Paul wrote, "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

"But God."  Those are two of my favourite words in all of Scripture.  They come from Ephesians 2:4, which, in full reads; "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He hath loved us."  The next verses finish the sentence and go on to describe how God in mercy reverses the pattern of sowing and harvest in our lives.  He causes us to reap fruits flowers and vegetables, rather than the thorns we have sown, and He teaches us how to sow crops and flowers rather than thorns so we can increase the harvest of good things. The point of the preceding verses in Ephesians is that we were dead toward God because of our sin.  Our souls were dead toward Him and we neither loved nor wanted Him, except on rare occasions, and then only on our own terms.  And we were unable to change this attitude in ourselves.  We were unable to make ourselves love God, or desire God or delight in God.  We preferred to eat the thorns of our sin rather than the fruit of His love.  And we would have stayed in that condition for all of our lives and for all eternity, "But God."  And the rest of the book of Ephesians is about the way God brings forth goodness in our lives.  He gives us all good and perfect gifts, as we saw in our reading from James 2:17.  Those who have tasted the goodness of God may rejoice with the Psalmist that the Lord has delivered their souls from death, their eyes from tears, and their feet from falling.  For their delight is no longer in the rusting trinkets of this world, their delight is in the Lord.

Now what does the Lord ask of those who want to delight in Him?  Two things.  First, that you receive the cup of salvation.  It is amazing that He wants to give and give and give us more and more and more.  Not only does His Law teach us how to find a sense of happiness in life by avoiding the things that cause sorrow and suffering, but He also made a way to forgive your sins and draw you into His eternal peace.  This Way, this Cup of Salvation, is Christ who went to the cross for you, in your place.  So the first thing this generous God wants you to do is to receive the Cup of Salvation from Him as His gift to you, through Biblical faith in Christ.

Second, He asks that you pay your vows.  When you receive the Cup of Salvation you are telling God you are turning away from the old patterns that made your soul dead unto Him. You are putting them behind you, and you are taking up His ways as the pattern and the purpose of your life.  Let it be well understood that you are not "being good" to earn a place in Heaven.  You are turning to God and delighting in Him because He has built a place for you in Heaven, free of charge to you.  He has shown you the way of life and peace, and only asks that you walk in it.  Making this vow is an integral part of receiving the Cup of Salvation.  But even more, making, and devoting yourself to this vow is the way you delight in God, and it is the way you discover more and more how delightful God is.

Dearly beloved, baptized in the name of Christ and confirmed into communing membership of His Church, who claim to have received the Cup of Salvation and made your vows unto God, I beseech you to devote yourself to paying those vows.  I beseech you to live for and in Christ every day of the week.  I urge you to put away lesser things and delight yourself in God and His service.  For your sake, for your good, as well as for the glory of God, I desire you to able to proclaim with the Psalmist, "My delight is in the Lord."

Point to Ponder – The Voice
The start of this came to me from one of my very good friends, a lovely lady.

It is easy to underestimate the impact that our words, facial expressions, and body language have on others. Some men, for example, may not be fully aware of how deeply their words affect women. One sister said, “It frightens me when my husband angrily raises his voice at me.” Strong words may exert greater force on a woman than on a man and may stay with her for a long time.  This is especially true of words spoken by someone a woman loves and wants to respect. An experienced married brother illustrated why a husband should treat his wife gently, as “a weaker vessel.” “When you hold a precious and delicate vase, you must not grasp it too firmly, or it may crack. Even if repaired, the crack may remain visible,” he said. “If a husband uses words that are too strong with his wife, he may hurt her. This might cause a lasting crack in their relationship.”

The relationship of husband and wife is complex in many respects and yet simple as the two become one. 

God intended the husband to be the protector and provider, the wife to be the caregiving, home keeping, child raising one.   He outfitted us well for those roles, with men having far more upper body strength and a mentality fitting one whose job is to provide and protect.  God gave women far more insight, far more sensitivity and concern for others’ welfare.  The two work together very well to be a single unit with far more capability than the sum of the two.

On the other hand, as husbands, men need to understand their role, their limitations and how they can be more effective.  As protectors and providers, we are necessarily less concerned with what people think and say than what they do.  But, if we carry that attitude over to our homes and our wives, we can create huge problems where there should be great peace and harmony. 

Wives are to view their husbands as their protectors, the ones who keep the evil of the world at bay.  Can you imagine the effect on a wife when her protector attacks her?  But, you say, I would never attack my wife.  Consider the effect of what might be called sharp words.  Jesus loves us.  He is our ultimate protector.  The church is spoken of as His bride.  Do you hear him using sharp words?  The answer is NO.

Your wife should be the woman you most respect in this world, your partner and best friend.  If she is not, blame only yourself and change the way you think before it is too late.  She must be treated with the respect due a person of that position.  She must be accorded the honor due her.

Think before you speak, think longer before you act.  If, after thinking you decide to use sharp words, or heaven forbid, yell; think again.  Words can never be retracted.  Once launched they are fire and forget[1].  Except your target likely will not forget.

These words are applicable to not only marriage but any interpersonal relationship between men and women.  The two are different, as God intended.  Do not consider one better than the other, all things considered.  But, fully understand that in any one aspect they may have completely different approaches, outlooks, capabilities and views.

[1] Fire and Forget is a term used for missiles that are self guiding once fired and require no more input from the aircraft or pilot.  This concept does not work with harsh words.

1 comment:

Bishop Dennis Campbell said...

You encouragement to husbands is something that needs to be spread to every corner of the globe. It is sane and Biblical advice that is much needed in our disposable people era.

Grace and peace.