Verse of the Day

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday next before Advent

Stir Up Sunday
Stir Up Sunday is an informal term in the Anglican Church for the last Sunday before the season of Advent. The term comes from the opening words of the collect for the day in the Book of Common Prayer:

STIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Through an association of ideas, the day subsequently became connected, especially in England, with the preparation of Christmas puddings in readiness for Christmas. Also,  though with no real religious significance, Stir Up Sunday is located just the right time of the year to make the fruit cakes, Christmas Puddings and the like to be consumed on Christmas.   In many English culture homes, the afternoon of Stir Up Sunday is dedicated to measuring, stirring and cooking the Christmas Pudding!

The Christmas pudding is an important part of the Christmas Day celebrations in the UK.  Christmas pudding is a round, rich and heavy pudding made from fruit, eggs, sugar, breadcrumbs, suet, spices, and alcohol such as brandy or rum. Many families have their favorite pudding recipe, which is often passed down through generations of family members.

Stir-up Sunday is traditionally the day for making your Christmas pudding; giving it a month to mature before eating it on Christmas day. Stir-up Sunday is on the 20th November this year.

According to tradition, everyone in the family (especially the children) takes a turn to stir the pudding and makes a wish while stirring. Traditionally, the pudding should be stirred from east to west in honour of the three Kings who travelled from the East to see Jesus; and it should also have 13 ingredients to represent Christ and his disciples.

It used to be common for people to put a coin in their Christmas pudding. This was supposed to bring wealth in the coming year to the person who found it.

Christmas puddings are popular in the UK, but many people now buy their puddings from their local supermarket.

In the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 and later, this collect is listed for "The Twenty-Fifth Sunday After Trinity", with accompanying rubric specifying that this collect "shall always be used upon the Sunday next before Advent". This reinforced the significance of this day as forming part of the preparation for the season of Advent. The rubric is necessary because the last Sunday before Advent does not always fall on the twenty-fifth Sunday after Trinity: Trinity Sunday is a moveable feast and the Advent season is fixed, so the number of weeks in between varies from year to year. The 1928 Book of Common Prayer solves this dilemma by marking only 24 Sundays after Trinity and setting this Sunday apart as “Next before Advent.”

On Point
Someone asked, where do the quotes come from?  The answer is from the people who uttered them.  But, how did you find them?  Oh, that.  Some from Bishop Jerry, many from Rev Bryan Dabney, a few from other places, some from Rev Geordie Menzies-Grierson, but overall mostly from Bryan.  He always has a few great ones to share.  On to the On Point quotes –

Duty is never a burden, it is an honor.
Hap Arnold
The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.
James Madison
President of the United States and Founding Father

I Surrender
In an army hospitals lay a wounded officer, about to enter the valley of death. While strong and rich he resisted God; but now, when conquered, was willing to listen to the terms of surrender. At first he could not understand them. At last the words, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," applied to his soul with power by the Holy Ghost, reached his heart. His face grew brilliant. He raised himself from the pillow and, stretching out his arms, exclaimed with thrilling earnestness, "I accept the terms: I surrender!" That was his last word.
625 New Bible Stories and Illustrations

We are not made righteous by doing righteous deeds; but when we have been made righteous we do righteous deeds.
Martin Luther

1. The Spirit awakens a person’s heart.
2. The Spirit teaches a person’s mind.
3. The Spirit leads to the Word.
4. The Spirit convinces of sin.
5. The Spirit draws to Christ.
6. The Spirit sanctifies.
7. The Spirit makes a person spiritually minded.
8. The Spirit produces inward conflict.
9. The Spirit makes a person love the brethren.
10. The Spirit teaches a person to pray.

These are the great marks of the Holy Spirit’s presence. Put the question to your conscience and ask: Has the Spirit done anything of this kind for your soul?
JC Ryle
Having the Spirit
Do you think that you are getting no good from the Bible, merely because you do not see that good day by day? The greatest effects are by no means those which make the most noise, and the most easily observed. The greatest effects are often silent, quiet, and hard to detect at the time they are being produced. Settle it down in your mind as an established rule, that whether you feel it at the moment or not, you are inhaling spiritual health by reading the Bible, and insensibly becoming more strong.
 JC Ryle

Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
C. S. Lewis
20th century English author

The propers for the Sunday next before Advent can be found on Page 225-226:

The Sunday next before Advent
The Collect.

TIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Dru Arnold read the Epistle for today, which came from the Book of Jeremiah, the Twenty-Third Chapter, beginning at the Fifth Verse.   Foretelling the arrival of Jesus, Jeremiah prophesied, “I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”  He prophesied the New Covenant, moving reference of the Lord from Egypt to Israel and the return to one people of those driven out of their homeland across the world.

EHOLD, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.

Jack Arnold read the Holy Gospel for today which came from the  Gospel according to Saint John, the Sixth Chapter, beginning at the  Fifth Verse.  John relates one of the feeding the masses in the wilderness events.  This forshadows the arrival of the Christ at Christmas coming to feed our spiritual needs in the wilderness of this world.

With five thousand men with them looking for food in the wilderness, “One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down…”  Reminding us that if the Son of God gave thanks to God for His food, so ought we, “Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, ‘This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.’”

Compare to saving our souls and feeding the inner hunger we have for God’s love, feeding a mere 5,000 men is child’s play, but then Jesus said we should accept God and His love through Him as the children do.  So perhaps it really is child’s play.

HEN Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

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

The Sunday next before Advent
The Collect.

TIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

As is oft the case, today’s propers are all tied together.  As is usual, they call for action not just thoughts.  In fact the collect is among the most direct, asking God to stir our hearts that we might ACT in a manner which will result in good things!  Jeremiah prophesies the coming of Jesus out of the branch of David that He might unite God’s people as one under a New Covenant.  Christ is the key piece to the puzzle of the Old Testament Prophecies. John tells us Jesus not only comes to fill our hunger, literal in that if we follow Him we will do much better here on earth than if we do not, and figurative only He can fill the hunger in our hearts for God.  We are spiritually starving creatures that need His love, and that our spiritual hunger can only be sated by seeking His love, by acting upon His Words and filling our hearts with His Word, can we truly be satisfied.

We shall never be satisfied with the riches and the cares of this word, like junk food, but like food that is truly healthy for us, we will always be satisfied with His Word. If we keep on learning the Word and acting upon it everyday, something that everybody in some way needs to work on, not least myself, we will become more like Him and that is what He asks of us. He asks of us nothing special, but to do our very best and not just say it.

Interestingly, He tells the disciples to “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.”  It seems He is talking about the sheep that He tends to, He wishes to “gather up the fragments that remain”, meaning the people that are apart from His flock, that “nothing be lost”, meaning that their souls may not be lost for eternity. Think about that and take what it is offered before it is no longer on the menu! And be thankful for All His Blessings in our lives, for our friends and our family that He has placed in our lives.  

We should be fortunate that we are in a spiritually rich group (The Anglican Orthodox Church) and are in communion with some very good men and women across the Earth in the AOC Worldwide Church, that hold true to the principles of Scripture. God has blessed us all by bringing us together. I am thankful for each and every person in the AOC Church and my family and friends. As we near Thanksgiving, we should be thankful most of all for God sending His Son to die for us, that we might have eternal life instead of eternal misery.

As they say, actions speak louder than words, but coupled with well meaning words and actions, we can do many marvelous things in the lives of people around us, through His Spirit and Word and we will help to fill people’s spiritual hunger, through acting through His Word, in thought, word and deed.

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:

Christians and Ministry
Psalm 90, Ecclesiastes 12, Hebrews 13:1-21
Sunday next before Advent
November 24, 2013

“I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16:18).  “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Mt. 28:19).  “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13).  “[T]he church, which is His body (Eph. 1:23).  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers… for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:11, 12).

The Church was God’s idea.  Not just the spiritual church, not just an intangible feeling of unity, not just believing the same things other Christians believe; but the visible tangible organisation with hymns and liturgy and clergy and creed.  That Church was God’s idea, established to be His unique people, to edify and bless His people, to continue in The Faith given by Christ to the Apostles and through the Apostles to the Church, and to proclaim that Faith to all people for as long as this earth shall last.  We can easily discern several major ideas in the verses I just read.  First, the Church belongs to Jesus.  Second, He is its builder.  Third it has an organised, identifiable membership. Fourth, it has an organized, identifiable ministry, clergy.  Fifth, it has an organized and identifiable creed, a body of belief. Sixth, baptism, though it has many other meanings, is baptism into this organized visible Church.

I want to take make two of these ideas the subject of the sermon today.  The ideas are, the Church’s ministers, and the Church’s members.

Let’s talk about the ministers first.  In one sense, every member is a minister.  It is also true that God has ordained an official clergy for His Church.  In times past the clergy included Apostles and prophets.  The office of Apostle passed when the last Apostle, probably John, died in the early second century A.D.  The office of prophet, a much different office from that imagined by most people today, passed when the New Testament was written.  Apostles and prophets were extraordinary offices because they were temporary and limited to a very few men. The ordinary offices, those that remain in the Church until the Lord returns, are Deacons, Presbyters, and Bishops.   Deacons assist in the worship and care of souls in the local congregation.  The presbyter, sometimes called a priest, is the pastor of a local church. The Bishop ordains ministers and ensures that the clergy and churches in the diocese proclaim and live the Biblical Faith.

All of that is an introduction, because what I really want to talk about today is what every true minister wants for his congregation.  If we look back to Hebrews 13:7,8, we see three important phrases.  First, “who have spoken unto you the word of God.”  A true minister preaches the word.  He preaches the Bible.  He does not preach his own ideas.  He does not preach sentimental stories.  He does not preach idle chatter.  He does preach the Bible.  His sermons will be true to the Bible.  They will explain the Bible’s meaning, and will show how it applies to life.  His explanation of the Bible will be in conformity to the faith once delivered to the saints.  If we look back through the history of the Church we will see that it has always followed a carefully preserved body of belief.  It has a creed. Yes, there have been disagreements over some issues, but the true church has always clung to the faith.  Likewise the true minister believes and teaches that faith.

The second phrase is, “whose faith follow.”  The true minister wants everyone in the congregation to follow the true faith.  Please look at Hebrews 13:9. “Be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines.”  Now picture a river, a swift, wild river.  The river has strong currents, which can carry you away.  They can harm you, they can even kill you.  So anyone who goes onto the river has to be careful of the currents.  Diverse and strange doctrines are teachings that are alien to The Faith, and they are like those river currents.  People get caught in them and get carried away from the true faith.  Watch out for the currents.  Be not carried away by them.  I say again there is a body of belief, a body of doctrine that has been preserved and handed down through the Church from the beginning.  It was given to the Apostles by Christ.  It consists of all He taught and did and commands.  The Apostles preached it to the world and preserved it in the New Testament Scriptures.  The Church has believed and preserved it for us today. Follow that faith.

The third phrase is, “considering the end of their conversation.”  The end and goal of a true minister’s conversation is “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).  He wants you to know Jesus Christ.  He wants you to know the forgiveness of sins.  He wants you to know the peace that passes all understanding.  He wants you to have a home in that House of many Mansions.  He wants you to have peace with God.
You noticed that Hebrew 13:7 opens with, “Remember them which have the rule over you.”  Who are “them which have the rule over you”?  They are those who have “spoken unto you the word of God.”  Hebrews 13:17 elaborates on this saying, “Obey them that have the rule over you” and identifies them as those who “watch for your souls” No true minister wants to be your lord and master, and that is not what the Bible is teaching here.  The Bible is teaching us to develop a cooperative and respectful spirit toward His ministers.  We should always address them in respectful tones, just as we should always address one another in respectful tones.  Our respect for each other should be evident in our voices and actions.  God has charged His ministers with preaching the Gospel and caring for our souls, and we should honour them and follow them, unless we have good evidence they are teaching and asking us to go against Scripture.  I think the meaning of all that I have been trying to say here is well summarized in Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”  He says something similar in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, “Ye became followers of us, and of the Lord.”  A true minister directs you to Christ and says, “I am going with Him, come with me.”

Let us now turn to the members of the Church.  It is clear that true Christians will attempt to follow a true minister, attend a true Church, and believe the true faith.  That’s not all.  If you look at Hebrews 13:21 you read Paul’s prayer for his fellow Jewish believers, asking God to make them “perfect in every good work to do His will.  The word, “perfect” means to have a sanctified mind, a mind turned toward God.  The result of having such a mind is to do the will of God.  That’s the point I want to make.  The true Christian wants to do the will of God.  He does not live in resentment against God.  He does not live in rebellion against God.  He does not consider the commandments of God as intrusions on his fun.  He knows the will of God is good, and he seeks to do it.

Second, the true Christian wants to be “well-pleasing” to God.  In one sense the only way to be well pleasing is to have our displeasingness covered by Christ’s atoning sacrifice and transformed by the Holy Spirit.  But Paul is talking about our will, our goal, our desire, and the actions that come out of them.  He is talking about what happens in our lives when we have that sanctified mind I just spoke about.  Our actions and our attitudes and our values and our words and the way we treat others are changed. They go from being displeasing, to being well pleasing to God.  True Christians want to be well pleasing to God.

Finally, true Christians “suffer the word of exhortation.”  I know some of you think you have suffered this word of exhortation long enough, but be patient for a few more minutes, please.  Paul is talking about receiving the faith.  He is talking about being patient to receive Biblical preaching without needing to have your ears tickled with fluff.  The Bible tells us to eat spiritual meat, but most people want sugar.  Eat the meat.  Listen to Biblical preaching.  Tune your mind to hear it.  Train your mind to listen to it.  “Suffer the word of exhortation.”

Obviously, not all who call themselves ministers are true ministers.  Likewise, not all who call themselves Christians are true Christians.  Let that not be so of us.  I resolve this day to be a true minister.  And, if I go the way of the Lord, come with me.
+Dennis Campbell

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

Rev Bryan Dabney of Saint John’s Sunday Sermon
We are fortunate to have Bryan’s Sunday Sermon.  If you want people to come to The Truth, you have to speak the truth, expouse the truth and live the truth.    This is really a good piece and I commend it to your careful reading.

Sunday next before Advent

In his first epistle to the Corinthians (11:17-29), St. Paul discussed a major deficiency in that church regarding the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. He noted with disapproval that there were divisions or schisms which had created a good deal of disharmony amongst the membership. The body of Christ must have unity of purpose, mind and spirit; but such cannot be made manifest if the members of the church cannot agree on what is and what is not acceptable conduct for worship. Quarreling does not engender godly love and those who are filled with the excesses of this world will poison the atmosphere of any church of which they are members through their resistance to the truth and their insidious advancement of heretical notions. You cannot achieve unity in the Spirit through division and that is why the apostles counseled the faithful to be of one mind (Romans 12:16; 15:6; I Corinthians 1:10; II Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 1:27; I St. Peter 3:8).

St. Paul had labored to strengthen the body of Christ and to that end, his epistles contain the very mechanics of our faith and practice. From his epistles, we understand that Christian churches are supposed to be conduits for the offering of the good news of Jesus Christ to the world by means of a doctrinally sound episcopate as well as a biblically informed laity. God’s expectation has been from the beginning that every true Christian body is supposed to be populated by regenerated souls who have been born again of the Holy Ghost. Said churches are also supposed to be places where the pure word of God is preached, taught and lived, where God’s ordinances are properly observed, and where worship is done in reverence and good order in all holiness.

Sadly, much of modern Christendom is in need of a refresher course concerning the content and meaning of St. Paul’s epistles because they have deviated mightily from the truths he proclaimed. If we know anything about God, we know that he hates sin; and anything that he despises ought to be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, much of modern Christendom possesses a noticeably different understanding of God’s word written. And on account of such, these errant churches stand in mortal danger of having their candles snuffed out (Revelation 2:5). The Bible tells us that from the church’s inception, Satan has worked to foster within it all manner of false doctrine, heresy and schism for the purpose of dividing and perplexing its members with the end result being the overthrow their faith. The epitaph of Christopher Wren reads, “If you seek his monument, look around” and is a fitting tribute to a man who did much to beautify the city of London. In an inverse fashion, Lucifer has a large number of monuments to his efforts only they are not marvels of construction but of destruction. He has wrecked a host of churches, doing his best work from within rather than from without. Nowhere is this more apparent than his deception with regard to the sacraments, particularly the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.

In our world today, a sizeable number of Christians are unfamiliar with the word sacrament largely because of changes in denominational linguistics since the Protestant Reformation. For all intents and purposes, a sacrament is best defined as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. We Anglican Orthodox Christians recognize two: baptism and the Lord’s Supper because they were blessed by our Lord’s participation and they are to be observed per his commands to us— the former in the Great Commission and the latter at his celebration of the Last Supper prior to his arrest and crucifixion. Sacraments are signs because those who participate in them are affirming their commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ.

In the service of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion, we hear the following words of institution given us by our Lord: do this in remembrance of me. We also hear the words, this is my body and this is my blood. Satanic influence has led some to believe that these words of institution affirm the false doctrine of transubstantiation, or, that the elements of communion once blessed, become the actual physical representations of our Lord. Admittedly, without a proper bible understanding of this sacrament, one could miss its true meaning.

J. C. Ryle once observed that, “The conduct of the disciples at the Lord's Supper forbids us to believe that the bread they received was Christ's body and the wine Christ's blood. They were all Jews taught from their infancy that it was sinful to eat flesh with the blood (Deut. 12:23-25). Yet they were not startled by our Lord's words as if they perceived a change in the bread and wine. Our own senses forbid us to believe that there is any change in the bread and the wine. Our own taste tells us that they are really and literally what they appear to be. Things above our reason the Bible requires us to believe, but not what contradicts our senses. Our Lord's true human nature forbids us to believe that his body can be in more than one place at one time. If our Lord's body could sit at table and at the same time be eaten by the disciples it is perfectly clear that it is not a human body like our own. But this we must not allow for one moment. It is the glory of Christianity that our Redeemer is perfect man as well as perfect God. The language in which our Lord spoke made it quite unnecessary to interpret his words literally. The Bible is full of similar expressions. Our Lord spoke of himself as a door and a vine so we know that he used emblems and figures to describe himself. There is therefore no inconsistency in his using figurative language in instituting the Supper.”

What Bishop Ryle has written about the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is based not on a pronouncement of some earthly body or council, but upon the very words of God. We cannot escape the fact that in our eating of the bread and drinking of the cup we are memorializing his death and sacrifice— remembering his passion and giving thanks for his free gift of grace to us. But there is more. When we hear the words of the Invocation (page 81 of the BCP), that we “be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us and we in him,” we have a clearer understanding of this sacrament: that we are joined with him via the Holy Ghost who resides within every born-again believer. And so, in our partaking of the communion elements, we are affirming the very presence of our Saviour within us. Holy Communion then is more than just a memorial feast, it is a spiritual linking of ourselves to Jesus Christ.

St. Paul warned the Corinthian church not to take lightly their participation in the Holy Communion when he penned the following admonition, For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord (I Corinthians 11:26- 27).

Still, many Christians will partake of the Holy Communion and never give a moment’s thought to their true spiritual standing with the Lord. They will not make any serious attempt at self-examination prior to partaking of the communion elements; and upon their leaving the church, they will continue to live as they did prior to stepping through the church door. To put it another way, they will show up at church, say the prayers in the bulletin, or in the prayer book, or on the screen, hear the word spoken, partake of the communion and walk away unchanged. Hell contains a host of those who knew about Jesus Christ but never knew him as their Saviour; who attended a church body but never became part of his body; who did some good works in the name of our Lord, but never accepted the atoning work he did for them; who heard from various sources the word of God, but never took his word to heart; who sought to placate God with their bodily attendance at weekly worship, but never sought to please God by being obedient to his word and commandment; who lived lives attuned to the spirit of this world, rather than having lived as a people born again of his most holy Spirit. My how the devil smiles when such persons attend church. He knows their end, but sadly, they do not as they seem to care not one wit concerning what awaits them in the next world.
Many will say on that fateful day of Judgment, “Did we not participate in the Lord’s supper? Were we not baptized in the church? Did we not do this or that good deed in thy name? The true believer in Jesus Christ knows that partaking of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper is not something that is trivial or merely for show. It is not something “to-do” on Sunday and then forget about until the next time. It is not a work that saves, but a work that reveals that one is saved.

Consider again the words of the apostle on this subject: Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. To partake of this sacrament in an unworthy manner will bring God’s judgment as witnessed by the apostle’s admonition: But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged (I Corinthians 11:28-31). Clearly, God will judge us if we will judge not ourselves, and the consequences of such judgment might be dire. Nothing brings an errant soul quicker to God than illness and the thought of impending death. God desires his own to come to him and be made whole via confession. If a person is outside of his hedge of protection, the devil will come and work his will upon such person. All too often, it only when a wayward Christian is beset with troubles that he or she will likely come to God. The apostle’s admonition was meant to encourage Christians to do those things which are pleasing to God rather than the opposite. I was told in my youth that “a word to the wise is sufficient” and such was the intention of the apostle for each member of the body of Christ.

To recap, the sacrament of the Lord’s supper is not to be taken without self- judgment, followed by confession of what we have found amiss in our lives as per the commandments and ordinances for holy living as set forth within the pages of Scripture. Then and only then can we truly partake of the communion elements in a manner acceptable to God.  And after we have received the elements, we are to praise and thank our Lord for his sacrificial act on our behalf. Only then are we ready to receive God’s peace and blessing which every born-again believer needs in his or her daily life. God’s peace and blessing will come if we believe on Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God, and if as part of our belief, we are obedient to his word written. Therefore, come forth and receive the elements of the Supper of the Lord, but remember to give God due consideration in this very sacred time and avoid the satanic insincerity of mind and heart that might make any partaking of this sacrament a detriment to you.

Let us pray,

ather, we come before thy throne beseeching thee to grant us true repentance and amendment of life so that we might do all such things as thou has purposed for us to do in thy service; for this we ask in the name of him who was, and is, and ever shall be our Lord and Saviour, even Jesus Christ. Amen.

Have a blessed week, Bryan+

Notes from the Mother Country
Bishop Jerry is on travel to England to visit AOC people there and to participate in the consecration of a new Bishop with the Church of England (Continuing), Bishop Malcom.

I had the pleasure of attending Morning Prayer at Saint Mary's this morning - a member church of the Church of England (Continuing). The Church is a beautiful and well-furnished structure built in 1798. Charles Simeon was a close friend of the church and hails from Reading as well.

The people were so very kind and attentive to newcomers.

I must say that I heard one of the most meaningful and well-delivered sermons from Bishop Malcolm that I have ever had opportunity to hear. His sermon text came from the lectionary text for the day: "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good. " (Eccl 11:6) It was a sermon for our time, and delivered with articulate conviction. Bishop Malcolm did not make any noticeable reference to notes, which indicates a total familiarity with his sermon material. I was much moved and convinced by the sermon, which obviously was not manmade, but given to the bishop through inspiration of God.

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